In the wake of the news about the murder of George Floyd, I took the day off of work today. I needed a mental health day. It was too much for me to try to just push through the day.
This came on the heels of Christian Cooper being harassed and threatened with police violence for asking a white woman to leash her dog in a park where the rule is to keep your dog on a leash. The irony. She was asked to keep her dog on a leash and her response was to attempt to put Christian on a leash—to remind him of his place in our society.
This is also on the heels of the news that Breonna Taylor, a Black Woman, was murdered—gunned down in her own home by police who had barged into her apartment in the night. I read that she had been shot 8 times. In her home. When the police had broken into her home, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, attempted to defend her home with his firearm. Before the charges were recently dropped, they had charged him with attempted murder of a police officer…for defending his homestead against intruders.
The news of Breonna’s murder was preceded by the discovery that Ahmaud Arbery had been hunted down and shot in the street like a dog. Out for a jog, some neighbors saw his Black body running and assumed he must have been committing crimes. These white men chased him down, attacked him in the street, then shot him when he tried to defend himself with his bare hands. They had the audacity to record their crime. Law enforcement officials declined to charge any of the murderers. It wasn’t until the recording of the murder made it’s way to the internet that these cold blooded killers were even arrested.
This came on the heels of the murder of Atatiana Jefferson. Another young Black Woman who was gunned down in her home by police. Responding to a non-emergency call about a door being open, the police came onto Atatiana’s property, saw her shadow through the window, and one of the officers shot her through the window—without every actually laying eyes on her. She was not safe in her own home.
This came roughly on the heels of the case of Botham Jean. Botham was a Black man who was shot in his own home when his downstairs neighbor—a police officer—pushed her way into his home and shot him. She claimed to have mistaken his apartment for hers. Botham was murdered in his living room. Even though his murderer was found guilty and sent to prison, a key witness—another Black man—was murdered shortly after the trial, before he could testify in the civil case. We were told he died in a drug deal gone bad. I haven’t come across anyone who believes the version of the story we were told.
So yeah, I took the day off.
I have two sons and a third on the way. Aside from my inability to ensure my own safety, as a Black man, I fear for my boys. If I am not safe at the store, in the gym, in my car, at the park, outside exercising, or even in my own home, how can I keep my boys safe? I might possibly be able to protect my wife with my own body…and that’s a strong MIGHT. But my boys? All I can do is prepare them for what’s outside.
And what if something happens to me? Then my wife becomes a single Black mother of three Black boys. Our society doesn’t care about how Black Women become single mothers. I believe this is because our system has some mechanisms in place to isolate Black Women and leave them alone and defenseless. Another story for another day.
Value me better. In my post from this past weekend, I expressed how I believe that Christians are called to live like Jesus. Part of NET Church’s mission is just that: Live Like Jesus. I presented a brief case that in order to truly live like Jesus, we must value people better. The Bible tells Christians that we ought to think of others as better than ourselves. The way we think about people informs how we will treat them. We will never truly and sustainably treat others better than the way we think about them.
Disdain always comes out. Resentment always rears its ugly head. I think we tend to disdain from a distance and resent in relationships. So even in our attempts to fake it ’til we make it, in relationships with people we don’t truly value, our resentment will always eventually reveal itself.
My request is that you would try to see the value in me, and others like me, based on the image of God we were created in. I know none of us is better than another. I just ask that we try harder to see in each other what God sees in us. We cannot expect to start with agreement. Instead, we should focus on alignment.
Those of us who are Christians should seek to be in alignment with God and His will. If we do that together, then we will be in alignment with each other. If we’re honest, we don’t even always agree with God and the things He does or allows. So it’s not reasonable to expect we’ll agree with each other from jump.
Isaiah 56:1 | “Keep justice, and do righteousness…”
Micah 6:8 | “…do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”
There are some Christians who would tell you that justice in the Bible is not related to social justice. They’ll spend quite a bit of energy doing so, too! By my observation, many who believe and support this interpretation aren’t negatively impacted by its implications. Perhaps that makes me biased. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with being biased toward a Christian responsibility to seek justice for and do right by those who are disenfranchised and oppressed.
The Bible tells me that it is not simply looking out for my own interests that helps to identify me as a Jesus follower (Philippians 2:3-5). It is what I do for others, in the name of representing Jesus, that helps to identify me as one of His followers. Can we follow Him together?
Would you join me in doing for others? Would you join me in displacing yourself from comfort and privilege (which I have too)? Would you be willing to make yourself uncomfortable to bring about and maintain justice? Will you use your influence to do what is right for all? Can I ask you to see us all as neighbors? Would you then love your neighbor the same way you love yourself? Is it possible for you consider others better than yourself?
You might believe you value me. In fact, if you read this far, I believe you value me too. I’m just asking that you value me better.
I’m not asking for special treatment. I’m asking for Christian treatment.
Sincerely, in Christ… Keith
Keith Goosby II is the founding minister of NET Church. He has served in ministry for over 20 years, in various capacities–including music, social media management, teaching, preaching, consulting, and leadership. Keith’s first church experience as a child was a home church. Since then, he has attended and served at churches sizing from just a few to over 10,000–of various denominations and affiliations. As NET Church is being planted, Keith continues to serve at his Dallas home church, Golden Gate MBC, in Dallas, TX, under the leadership of Minister Vincent T. Parker. Keith is married and currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife and three sons.