Close To Home

Yesterday morning, I read an article about a woman that was allegedly hit by a man that may have been associated with a white supremacist group, only hours after a rally occurred in the Middle Tennessee area. This assault didn’t happen in one of the cities where the supremacist gatherings were supposed to take place. It happened approximately 30-40 miles away, in Brentwood. The group of men kept inviting the woman in the couple to join them at their table and she resisted. The woman was sitting with a black man, which seemed to be the cause of the harassment. When she stepped outside to de-escalate the situation, the attack happened. In reading this, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of uneasiness as I looked at the details of the report. This occurrence really hit close to home.Without being overly dramatic, this could have easily been our family. I am biracial, my wife is Hispanic and I have a tri-racial son. We’ve driven countless times over to Brentwood as a family to share a meal together. There is absolutely no reason for me to not think that this could have been us. The supremacist rally was over and it was 40 miles away. And yet, it spilled over into the reality of this innocent couple sharing dinner. Upon reading the article, I immediately began to think of the multiple multiethnic families I know that could have been subject to this type of scrutiny by these individuals simply for being together as a family.If you've felt a sense of fear or anxiety connected to the display of overt divisiveness and racism, I just want you to know that your feelings are valid and justified. If you’ve been made to feel like your concerns and thoughts have been unwarranted, I want you to know that you are okay. If you’ve been feeling concerned for the people of color that you are in a relationship with, I want you to know that your feelings are valid and justified, as well.  Because of the frustrating, disappointing, and overwhelming nature of the days that we live in, I’ve had many people that genuinely care ask me how they can be supportive to others in times like these. There are no clear answers and no fix-all solutions. I know that there are a few things that come to mind that may be helpful when engaging with those that may be experiencing some of these feelings.Pray. Pray a lot. Pray often. Pray for peace. Pray for justice. Pray for redemption. Pray for restoration. Pray for hard hearts to be softened. Pray for past hurts to be healed. Pray for false perceptions of people to be brought into alignment. Pray for reconciliation. Pray for understanding. Pray to be understood. Pray for wisdom and supernatural insight. Pray for salvation. Pray for safety. Pray for friendship. Pray for unity. Pray.Try not to invalidate people’s feelings of concern or fear for themselves or their families. Listen well and allow them to process. Be a safe place for them to be open, honest, and vulnerable.Try not to immediately shift to resolution-based thinking. Sometimes, it’s important to remember that not every conversation is a problem to be solved.Try to examine your true feelings and be honest with your findings. I’ve had some friends share with me that they’ve experienced some clarity when thinking through their reasoning for the feelings they had about a situation. For example: In hearing the story of this couple, some people immediately moved to try to discover what the African-American man must have done or said to bring this beating on. Thinking that this MUST be the reason that the situation escalated can possibly reveal that there are deeper issues to be explored. When sharing that this could have possibly been me, some assumed that I’m “not dark enough” to fall victim to this type of instance. This could reveal further questions that need to be asked why one would arrive at that conclusion. Some may even feel as though this is an alarmist type of writing which contributes to the unrest because it makes people feel uncomfortable to read it. It is a disappointing realization that in response to a violent occurrence close to home that some would prefer silence than to understand the concern of their friends.Try to remain aware of the reality that tensions still exist in our day. Remain hopeful but be sober-minded in knowing that there are others that experience life differently than you.I don’t have all the answers. This list is certainly incomplete and may not apply to everyone. All I know is that for many, these types of instances are beginning to creep closer and closer to home. I pray that we remain faithful to the hope that we have in Jesus and remain intentional in loving those around us.