After the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, I met with Black female staff of the Charlotte Rescue Mission women’s division Dove’s Nest to pray with them. They explained they had to instruct their children to put their hands on the steering wheel when they are pulled over by a police officer. They are worried their children will be shot. I, as a white man, worry that my car insurance rates will go up.
At the same time, I met with a prominent Black pastor. He explained there are systemic issues that need to be addressed including 1) Employment; 2) Transportation; 3) Housing; 4) Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department relations; 5) Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
I am heartbroken at the murder of George Floyd. I don’t understand how we ignore Jesus’ new commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.” How do we ignore these words from Scripture: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
A Black woman shared these words with me, “I am deemed subhuman. Moreover, racism and its byproducts are coded in every cell and replicated in every institution. Black and brown people were robbed of the peace, dignity and opportunity that should be a birthright, especially in a nation where the very soil cries out for those lost to genocides. Thus, “hatred” does not honor the experience of institutionalized racism.” What is the institutionalized racism?
• At the end of World War II, the GI bill afforded returning soldiers to go to college on the GI bill. It was one of the greatest creations of the middle class; that is unless you were Black. You may have risked your life in the war, but you were ineligible for these dollars.
• There were subdivisions and properties where the deed did not permit ownership by a Black man or woman.
• When Social Security was established, it included everyone except domestics and migrant farmers, excluding the Black woman and the Latino community.
• Pre-WWII, Charlotte’s city leaders decided the Black community would live on the west side. If you look at Charlotte today, the wealth is like an hour glass, wide above center city and wide below it with the poverty stretched as a crescent – the West side.
• Job applicants with white-sounding names get called back about 50% more of the time than applicants with Black-sounding names, even when they have identical resumes.
• Black students are three times more likely than white students to be suspended for the same infractions.
Once Black children are in the criminal justice system, they are 18 times more likely than white children to be sentenced as adults.
• If a Black person and a white person each commit a crime, the Black person has a better chance of being arrested. It’s also true that, once arrested, Black people are convicted more often than white people.
• Redlining essentially barred Black people and other minorities from sharing in the American Dream and building wealth like their white counterparts.
• Black drivers are 30% more likely to be pulled over.
• A majority of doctors have “unconscious racial biases” when it comes to their Black patients. One study found that 67% of doctors have a bias against Black patients.
Systemic racism persists in our schools, offices, court system, police departments and elsewhere.
As a Christ follower, I was given a new commandment – “Love one another as I have loved you.” I cannot practice the sin of racism and be obedient to that commandment.
I’ll be back soon. Let’s pray for world peace.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the president/CEO of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. He is available to speak to your group. Go to www.charlotterescuemission.org and go to contact us- just ask for Pam.