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In the wake of Ferguson

As a parent I know what it’s like to worry about your teenage son. You worry when he gets his driver’s license and is out driving your car. You worry about his schooling and his grades. You’ve seen the news and you know the statistics so you worry about the pressures he is facing to do drugs, to have sex, to drink and take risks. You worry and hope that he’ll make good choices.
What I don’t know is what it’s like to worry about your teenage son who because of the color of his skin is judged every time he walks out the door. I don’t know what it’s like to hope that he doesn’t get stopped while he’s driving your car because he’s in the wrong neighborhood, or what he’s wearing while he is walking home. If he does get stopped, I don’t know what it’s like to worry that he keeps his hands in clear view, that he is polite and doesn’t mouth off like teens are wont to do.
What I do know is that it’s wrong to judge someone based on the color of their skin, their gender, the way they are dressed, their piercings and tattoos. In scripture, we find that God created us all in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27-28) which tells me that all people have infinite worth. In Acts, we find Peter speaking after experiencing God on the rooftop at the home of Cornelius. He says that “God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean” (Acts 10:28b). And, of course, perhaps the most famous scriptures reads “love God and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). For far too long in this country, it seems to me, we have swept it under the rug and refused to talk about it. Worse than that, we minimize it, or even worse, we refuse to see it.
If we could just talk about and find a place where we could be honest with one another, hear each other’s voice and listen, just listen to each other’s stories. I have to wonder, though, as I read some of the comments online and I shake my head at the hate. I wonder, when did we lose our way? When did we fail our children, all our children? I’ll admit, I don’t know the truth of what happened in Ferguson, but what I do know is that another young black man is dead. I do know that racism still exists, and I believe that it will continue to exist as long as good people do nothing.

Carol Hallman is resident minister at First UCC, 207 W. Horah St.

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