Is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream turning into a nightmare?
America has a deep, racial divide. Despite having elected a black man to the highest office of the land, the divide gets worse. Some argue that Obama adds to the divide.
We’ve all been shocked by recent events in Dallas, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge, and our prayers go out for all the survivors of the victims of the recent violence related to racial conflicts.
Tragically, violence-minded individuals, such as the shooter in Dallas, have hijacked what would have been a peaceful protest against perceived injustice.
Interestingly, a recent study, conducted by a black man, calls into question some popular, but apparently misleading, notions about police violence and racial bias.
Writing for the New York Times (7/11/16), Quoctrung Bui and Amanda Cox, penned an article, “Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings.”
They write, “A new study confirms that black men and women are treated differently in the hands of law enforcement. They are more likely to be touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed by a police officer, even after accounting for how, where and when they encounter the police.” This certainly shows a racial bias.
Yet it adds, “But when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias. ‘It is the most surprising result of my career,’ said Roland G. Fryer Jr., the author of the study and a professor of economics at Harvard. The study examined more than a thousand shootings in 10 major police departments, in Texas, Florida and California.”
Meanwhile, J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold-Case Christianity, has extensive experience working for law enforcement in Los Angeles. After the Dallas shootings, he wrote an article, entitled “Six Things That May Change the Way You Think About Police Officers.” One of those things is that the few (relatively) bad cops make it bad for everybody, including the good cops.
He notes: “When I was working undercover in the inner city, I noticed how residents there (even the committed gangsters) afforded fire, paramedic and rescue personnel a great deal of respect.” But the police officers were “less popular” because they took people to jail.
One of the things he spells out is the disproportionate number of crimes committed by African-American teenagers. He adds, “Police officers are disappointed about this. Many of us are African-American. I personally wish, as a police officer and follower of Jesus, this disparity didn’t exist.”
Tragically, there are some people who exacerbate racial tensions in this country. It’s almost as if their goal—at least among some protesters or their funders—is to not have peace, to not have reconciliation, to not have a color-blind society.
So what is the ultimate solution to the racial divide in America? Jesus, because in Christ, there is no black or white—we are one—when we are in Christ.
One time I interviewed for Christian TV a former racist, who had been with a violent wing of the Ku Klux Klan.
His name is Tommy Tarrants, Jr., a native of Mobile, Alabama. The FBI agent trailing him called him a “mad dog killer.”
After a shoot-out in Mississippi, Tarrants was arrested, and the November 28, 1968 newspaper headline read: “Tarrants Found Guilty, Sentenced to 30 Years.”
The story reported, “A self-styled guerrilla waging a ‘holy crusade’ against a ‘Communist-Jewish conspiracy’ was convicted Wednesday night of the attempted bombing of the home of a Jewish businessman.”
But even this man, blinded as he was by racism, bigotry, and hate, found the truth in a life- changing encounter with Jesus who can shatter racism and every other –ism in the human heart.
While reading the Bible in prison, God removed the scales from his eyes. He said, “I got on my knees in that cell and just gave my life completely to Christ…I said, ‘Lord, I’ve ruined my life, but if you want it, I’ll just give it to you completely. Here it is.’ And something changed inside of me when I did that, I could even feel it. Something happened and I became different.”
Tarrants was eventually released and got involved in ministry in the D.C. area, including as a pastor of an inter-racial church. Tarrants even wrote a book with John Perkins, a black evangelical minister who had been beaten during the Civil Rights days. The book is called, “He’s My Brother.”
Dr. King’s vision of a color-blind society, where people are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, is a great ideal to strive for. The change of the human heart—which can happen in Christ—is what can ultimately solve America’s racial divide.