“Pastor Joe! Please, when can I be baptized?”
An eight-year-old precocious and adorable little girl wrote that sentence every Sunday for what seemed like an entire school year on the prayer request card at the church. With her parents, the little girl and I would talk about salvation, sin, and having a covenant relationship with Jesus. At first, she rarely answered any of my questions correctly. Or one week she would answer a few correctly and then the next time she would get those wrong and answer previous questions with understanding.
Again, “Pastor Joe! Please, when can I be baptized?”
And again, “Pastor Joe! Please, when can I be baptized?”
Every single week.
Eventually, she lined up the questions with the right answers enough times, that I felt as is she knew what she was doing.
She prayed and invited Jesus to be her Lord and Savior.
Her life matters.
Two nights ago, her parents called and asked if I would publish a piece their daughter wrote in response to the murder of George Floyd and the riots that are raging around the world. I said I would read it and consider publishing something about it. You can read what she wrote at the end of this blog.
Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter
I’m not sure that my white family and friends understand that when people of color say, “Black Lives Matter” that they are not saying that only black lives matter and that “blue lives don’t matter.” What they are saying is something like, “Pay attention to the disproportionate killings of black people at the hands of police.”
What if my little town of Buena Vista, Colorado was wiped out by a flood of the Arkansas River with the death toll a staggering 80% of the town’s population? And what if the government aid that might help with the devastation went disproportionally to Canyon City to help them? And what if a movement was started to draw attention to the pain and sorrow we are feeling with a slogan that says, “BV Matters”?
Does that slogan and sentiment mean that the folks in Canyon City don’t matter? Or the folks in Joplin, Missouri don’t matter? No. It doesn’t mean that. It means, “We are hurting, and we are getting neglected! Please see us. Please hear us. Please help us.”
When we white people say in response to “Black Lives Matter” that “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” it is insulting to the hurting in the African American Communities because it diminishes their pain and it signals that white America is not listening to the broken hearts of the black community.
…A riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? … It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.” —Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Other America” speech at Stanford University, 1967
In Luke chapter 15 Jesus tells the story of 100 sheep, but one goes missing and Jesus implies that he would leave the 99, and searches for the one. Can you imagine the 99 complaining, “But…what about us? Don’t we matter?” Of course they matter, but they aren’t the ones in danger. The one is.
When my little friend kept writing on her prayer request card, “Pastor Joe! Please, when can I be baptized?” At one level she might have just been a little girl wanting to enjoy the thrill of being dunked, but at another level, she might have been saying, “Pastor, Joe, see me! Hear me! Notice me and my heart for Jesus. Come find me!”
Please read what that little girl, who has grown up now, wrote in response to the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests:
My name is Anonymous
I am Black and White.
Born of a Black Mother,
Born of a White Father.
Being a light skin,
I have been able to watch and learn from both sides.
I have been privileged enough to not have to put my hands on the wheel.
I have been privileged enough to be approached in public by authorities and not been scared because of what I look like.
I have been lucky enough.
I have been lucky enough to not have the cops called on my mother because I am “not her child.”
I have been lucky enough that when I experience racism to not hold hatred from it, but disappointment.
I have been unlucky.
I have been unlucky to feel neither accepted from the White community or Black community.
I have been unlucky to be told I have no say in the matter of racism.
I have been unlucky to witness the rifts that we have created whether between whites, light skins, or dark skins.
I have witnessed.
I have witnessed both black and white categorizing ethnicities into a single bubble.
I have witnessed White men and women showing hatred towards Blacks.
I have witnessed Black men and women show hatred towards Whites.
I have learned.
I have learned that The Black Lives Matter Movement holds an amazing statement.
I have learned that the movement is about raising our voices and fighting for social justice and equality.
I have learned that certain individuals within that community, both black, white, and all skins of color—have replaced their fight for social justice and equality with hatred.
I have learned that by replacing the fight for social justice and equality with hatred, has caused blindness to what the movement is meant to represent.
I have learned that hatred towards another race, no matter their origins, have kept us living in the past.
I have learned that only by accepting one another can we move forward.
I have learned that the violence during protests, whether caused by Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians and so on, have withheld us from moving forward.
I have learned that this violence has been uprooted through generations of hatred.
I have learned that this hatred that we have held onto will keep this country and this world in treachery.
I have learned that we won’t change every person’s heart,
But I have also learned that if we do not walk, side by side, hand in hand, with all ethnicities, that this movement holds no meaning.
And we will continue to live in a world of darkness forever.
We are all born,
But we cannot help who we are born from.
This serves for all ethnicities, not just one.
We can no longer show fear.
We were meant to demonstrate the voice with which we were given.
But we cannot do it without acceptance of one another,
And we cannot do it with hatred still carried in our hearts.”
Can you hear her? Will you listen to her?
Her life matters.