Ben Watson At The Crossing Talking About Race

The Crossing cares about racial reconciliation because God does. Jesus sought out people different than him (John 4). Jesus died to tear down the wall of hostility that exists between races (Ephesians 2:14).

Racial issues are not social issues. They are gospel issues.

That’s why The Crossing wants to be apart of the conversation about race that’s taking place in our community and the wider culture. The next opportunity to further the conversation is Thursday, February 9th at 7:00 when Ben Watson speaks at The Crossing.

If you’re unfamiliar with Watson, here is an introduction based on something I posted about a year ago. By the way, I think you’re really going to like this guy.

We all remember the riots and protests that took place in Ferguson in August of 2014 after officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown and then again after the grand jury decision not to indict officer Wilson was announced in November. It seemed that everyone had an opinion about the shooting, the racial climate, or the angry response seen on the streets.

Somewhere in there I came across the name Benjamin Watson. I was somewhat familiar with him because he plays tight end in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and before that the Patriots, Browns, and Saints. But in the context of Ferguson Watson’s name crossed my radar because of something he’d posted on Facebook. Since I’m not on FB, this guy was a professional athlete, and I was a bit tired of hearing everyone’s opinion, I figured it wasn’t all that important for me to read. That was a mistake.

Here’s what he posted. It’s worth your time.

I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I’M FRUSTRATED because pop culture, music, and movies glorify these types of police-citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from the safety of movie sets and music studios.

I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law-abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and lawbreaking only confirm and, in the minds of many, validate the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I’M SAD because another young life was lost from his family; the racial divide has widened; a community is in shambles; accusations, insensitivity, hurt, and hatred are boiling over; and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I’M SYMPATHETIC because I wasn’t there, so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self-defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I’M OFFENDED because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I’M CONFUSED because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policemen abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M INTROSPECTIVE because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s “us” against “them.” Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.

I’M HOPELESS because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than that of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my relationships with teammates, friends, and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.

I’M ENCOURAGED because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced, and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot, and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his Son, Jesus, and, with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the gospel gives mankind hope.

Benjamin Watson went on to write Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race–and Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us. It’s really good. In the past I’ve recommended books on race (Divided By Faith and Disunity in Christ) that are well worth your time. But the truth is that you have to be a bit of a reader to make it through them. While Under Our Skin doesn’t address all the history and complexities of race in America, it is a far easier read. And for that reason it might be the best place for many to start.

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