At my core, I am a journalist with the desire to fight for truth and justice. This identity blossomed during my time with my university’s newspaper and continued in the years following graduation (especially while working as a reporter). While I thought I was pushing the limits of my surrounding conservative culture, it was not until the 2014 murder of a gay man in a North Carolina hotel room that my journey towards gaining radically new eyes began.
My husband (then boyfriend) and I had our first big fight while discussing that news story. He called it a hate-crime; I said, “How can you be sure it wasn’t just a (terrible) murder, one unmotivated by his sexual orientation?” I naively thought this fact was irrelevant. Thus began the painful and long process of shedding the scales of my white, American upbringing to recognize the power of race, gender, and socio-economic status in my culture.
Over the coming weeks and months, I was introduced to and read/listened to newfound news sites, journalists, thinkers and philosophers, and public figures. They put me through the wringer and upset the ways I’d previously thought. Many more heated conversations between my significant other and me catalyzed my mind and heart in a new direction—feeling deeply for those who are terrorized, brutalized, and killed because of the color of their skin.
At the same time, I was experiencing the beginning of a spiritual crisis. I increasingly saw a trend among many evangelical Christians in the United States: intolerance towards the idea that prejudice and brutality against certain races exists, and resistance to questioning the authority of the police to execute these acts. With each new police killing or act of brutality that made breaking news, I observed many Christians who profess love for Christ put down anyone who criticized the actions of the police–calling for the exaltation of those who “put their lives on the line for us every day.”
Turning a blind eye to the epidemic in our country, where the lives of some are not valued as highly as the lives of others, is an atrocity. Watching people who profess Christianity, the religion of a slain God who was unjustly killed by the authorities, side so quickly with the institution carrying the weapons that brutally kill 12 year olds, 20 year olds, and 32 year olds without repercussion is heartbreaking, and even angering, for me.
It’s especially difficult when I see people I love deeply, who are loving and compassionate people, perpetuating these ideologies. It shows me that this response, like a tradition, is passed from one generation to the next. However, just as some traditions need to be broken, so does this mentality..
I now sit, nearly two years into this process of self-evolution, frustrated with the many who refuse to have their worldviews altered, while understanding the intensity of undergoing such change. Yet, I am still perplexed as to how to move forward in a faith that is populated with so many ignoring the instructions of Christ, instead aligning with an ethnocentric religious patriotism. Simultaneously, I am driven with the desire to educate and fight for something in which I deeply believe—that until black and brown lives matter, all lives do not matter, and that giving up on people as unchangeable is not an option.