On Sunday, I shared a story told by Bryan Stevenson when two police officers pointed guns at him and threatened to “blow off your head.” They threw him up against his car and searched it without a warrant for illegal drugs and weapons. His crime: sitting in his car listening to music for ten or fifteen minutes in front of his home after a long day of work…and being Black. He had just moved into the Atlanta neighborhood and, apparently, a White neighbor saw a Black man sitting in a car and called the police. As the police officers were leaving—after all the neighbors got a chance to watch him in police custody for about fifteen minutes—they said to Bryan, “Consider yourself lucky.” His response: “They were right: I was lucky. I survived.”
This story was told by Bryan in the foreword of the book America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis. Bryan is a Harvard-trained attorney and endured the above-mentioned injustice after a long day of practicing law. In the book, Jim Wallis shares his discover that virtually all African-American parents have what they call “the talk” with their children as they are entering their adolescent years. “The talk” involves telling their kids how to survive an encounter with a police officer—how to live through it. He asked parents if they have this talk with their kids and discovered that 100% of the African-American parents whom he asked did indeed have “the talk” with their children…and 0% of White parents whom he asked have ever had the talk with their kids.
These statistics alone should tell us that there is a huge racial injustice in our nation. In Jim Wallis’ book, there are many other statistics that shed light on how large and extensive the issues really are. Wallis gives insights into how some police departments operate according to racial biases and some politicians create laws and policies that are clearly unfair to people of color. He also gives solutions—things that have proven to work. Some of these are very simple solutions that we can begin enacting right away if we only have the will to do so.
I invite you to join me over the summer on Wednesday evenings at the Smith Memorial Parsonage for a group discussion on America’s Original Sin, beginning July 17, as we discuss racism in our nation and what we might do to overcome it. Please sign up at the church for a book ($14) and to let me know what evenings you plan to attend. We will begin with dinner at 6 p.m. (I’ll cook the first night.)
Click HERE to see a video of the message from Sunday morning. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.