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Ferguson, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner: Where do we go from Here?

The following is a guest post, written by H. Adeniyi Taiwo, a Wade-O Radio listener and supporter. Taiwo’s bio can be found at the bottom of this post. If you’re interested in guest blogging, please contact our managing editor, Mikaela.

I’ve been a Christian Hip-Hop fan since I gave my life to Christ three years ago. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend three CHH concerts since then. One thing that I really enjoyed about the concerts was the diversity of the crowd. Whether Lecrae, Tedashii or Andy Mineo were performing, there were Black, Brown and White people all cheering loudly and glorifying God.

Unfortunately, in the aftermath of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, racial tensions have been stirred up, causing division among CHH fans. I’ve been disheartened by the comments I’ve seen on Lecrae’s and others’ social media accounts. It seems that the Black portion of our CHH community generally distrusts the police and the judicial system.

Meanwhile, many White CHH fans in our community feel attacked for believing Officer Wilson’s version of events or thinking that Eric Garner largely contributed to his own death. The CHH response to these deaths must be articulated in a way that unifies these two groups. Although I’ve always thought it sounds trite, we should ask ourselves, what would Jesus do?

Mourn With Those Who Mourn

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4). Also, when Lazarus died, Jesus wept (John 11:35). Based on that I think we should first mourn with the family and friends of both Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

At the tender age of 18, regardless of what happened just prior to his death, Michael Brown was someone’s child. On August 9, 2014 Michael Brown’s parents had their greatest fear realized. As to Mr. Garner’s death, a widow and six orphans were created within a matter of minutes on that fateful day in Staten Island, NY. I wish we could all see that even the life of someone with a bad past has value. I wish we could all see that even people who have done bad things bear God’s image. I believe that the dismissiveness and self-righteousness that has come from some people shows a disturbing lack of compassion.

In general, it is far too common for some to be callous toward those people who commit or are even accused of crimes, many of whom are Black. Because many Blacks can identify with Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the lack of empathy by some contributes to the anger and distrust that is already deeply seated because of the well-documented history of racism in this country.

Therefore, I believe that the overall message from the CHH community should be that of compassionate above all else.

Seek The Truth

Jesus said “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). It seems to me that Jesus would want us to seek the truth concerning race-relations in America. Many who love CHH are drawn to artists’ willingness to be truthful about the lack of personal accountability that is encouraged by most mainstream Black rappers. I wish, as Bizzle addressed in “Unjust Scales Part 2“, those same people would be willing to truthfully examine whether Blacks are given a fair shake by police. I believe that if we were all trying to be open-minded about these matters, we could see that these issues are very complex. No matter where you are in this debate, we should be willing to hear what the other side has to say.

With a Christ-like spirit of compassion and the desire to seek the truth, CHH should join the push for policies that will foster trust by Blacks while supporting society’s legitimate need for law enforcement. One idea that has recently been advocated is that all police should wear body cameras. I think such a measure would help to protect Blacks from unfair treatment and cops from unfair criticism.

Additionally, as was recently done by the governor of Wisconsin, maybe we should have independent agencies investigate and possibly prosecute police shootings. This way police don’t get to police themselves and we can avoid the conflict of interest that can result when prosecutors are asked to bring cases against the very police departments they work with on a daily basis.

Regardless of what policy we support, let’s say something and let’s say it together.

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H. Adeniyi Taiwo serves as a deacon in his church's youth and young adult ministry located in Brooklyn, NY. He is also a practicing attorney and blogs at about politics and social issues from a Christian perspective.

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