My confession as a Black Father and Christian minister
As a black father of two black boys, I haven’t had this conversation with my first-born son, who will soon to be 13 yrs old in August this year, about Police brutality, the fragility of black life and the uncertainty of black existence in America. I do not want him to cultivate internal hatred for his country and the Police whose duty include safety, protection, and service to the community. I do not want my first-born son to fear for his life as a human being and American. I want him to live with dignity as other human beings and Americans and without any fear one day he too will be harassed by the Police or a victim of Police brutality. I want my first-born to love his country, respect authority, and honor Police Officers for their bravery and commitment to human flourishing in this country.
On the other hand, I do not want my first-born son to be mistreated and dehumanized by anyone or even a Police officer because of his race and/or the color of his skin. I’m reluctant to undertake this conversation with him. But, I’m afraid he will have to confront the truth about the desecration and dehumanization of black life in America–Should I fail to teach him about the history of race relations, racial injustice, and Black people’s encounter with the Police in the American society. I do not want to fail him as a father and parent. I want to fulfill my fatherly and parental duties, which may include teaching, protecting, providing, and loving my family.
As a Christian minister, everyday, I pray to God for the safety of my children and for his presence to be omnipresent in their lives. While I believe strongly in God’s omnipotence, I also believe firmly individuals are capable of doing evil and making others suffer –even to the point of death. I also believe even good Christians and sons of good Christian ministers can be victims of racial injustice and police brutality. Yet, I’m terrified to tell my soon-to-be 13 yr old black son that he is not safe in this country because he is black and that black lives do not matter in the country of his birth.
Like the Psalmist, I must continue trusting in God the Sovereign Lord and Ruler of the Universe. On the other hand, I’m traumatized (Should I rather say I am terrified?) by James Cone’s thought on black suffering and the seemingly absence of God in black life: “The cross places God in the midst of the crucified people (black people), in the midst of people who are hung, burned, and tortured… No historical situation was more challenging than the lynching era, when God the liberator seemed nowhere to be found…Throughout the twentieth century, African Americans continued to struggle to reconcile their faith in God’s justice and love with the persistence of black suffering” ( “The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” pp. 27-8).
Again like the Psalmist, I should assert firmly that God is my Shepherd and Salvation. Whom Shall I fear?
* I have been wrestling with this thought for a while now. I was just afraid to share it in public with other individuals. Yes, I’m very vulnerable. I must confess and accept it as my life reality.
Here are few pictures of Terrence and Me