Hoods down; masks off

For the first time since the Sixties (when I was a teen) race conflicts are consistently above the fold and lead stories nearly everyday. I understand that the battle for racial equity is just that – a fight. Ongoing, understandable. Uphill, yes, since as a white guy, I don’t always understand the nuances in interactions that can be triggers for racial offense.

I get the obvious, since I grew up in the South and heard the racial jokes, felt the attitudes of superiority, and saw businesses close shop when a black family wanted to take advantage of the goods or services offered. And I was abhorred by it all. It was wrong and I felt the hurt all this caused – at least, from the white side of the exchange.

But this is more than just about being offended, or not getting one’s way. People offend people. And none of us are entitled to getting our way.  It is about values and respect. And above all, principles. No one person is less because of color, cultural origin, creed, or choice of lifestyle. They should each be valued as they are by God…period. More unpacking about this another time.

If this Ferguson, and now Baltimore, conflict is about principle, then stand for you principle.Don’t hide in the darkness. Say what you need to say in the public square, not with bricks tossed from behind a burned out car or with your own hurtful slurs; but with honest, from-the-heart dialogue. And build a coalition of people who want to help bring equity to the community.

I hurt for the parents of Michael Brown, and for Darren Wilson who has the weight of shooting him hanging over him for a lifetime. I hurt for Freddy Gray’s family. And I hurt for our cities and nation.

Don’t settle for hiding hoodies and masks or behind the pundits who claim to speak for us. Live out the principles of fairness and compassion and mercy we each, black or white or latino or wealthy or poor or Left or Right, are called to extend.

And above all, take down the hoods and take off the masks. If you want your voice to be heard, let your face be seen.

Believing the Best,


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