Why the Fishbowl?
On September 6, 2013 at the McGee Center in Conway, Arkansas I will host The Fishbowl: Ethnic Relationships. The fishbowl was developed by my wife and me to answer questions from young couples concerning questions about life, marriage and all that other good stuff.
This town-hall in September will focus on ethnic relationships. Obviously we are all aware of the court case that recently concluded concerning George Zimmerman. The goal is not to rehash the situation because the jury has rendered its verdict. The purpose is to discuss, listen and grow as people. In light of that, I offer three observations.
We need to be honest about our sins and prejudices. When we are honest, we are then able to seek justice and forgiveness. True justice requires change within oneself before demanding that change of others. Forgiveness means we set a person free and that will cost us.
At the same time, we need to be honest about the beautiful manifestations of our individual ethnic groups. These are manifestations that should be celebrated because God has given each group the creativity and ingenuity to do so.
Finally, you may ask, “What is his motivation?” Well I will tell you. I desire to be happy and that happiness is living as a son of God who seeks to be a peacemaker. The Church has the awesome opportunity to serve as an ambassador and mediator of a peace that passes all understanding. My secondary motivation is simply to serve people by providing all types of people an opportunity to listen and learn.
So, I hope to see you there!
George Zimmerman heard from a jury of his peers that he is not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The case is indeed sad because one man took the life of another man in a violent action. The case is sad because the fabrics of two families lives have been torn and will never be the same. I sympathize for Trayvon’s parents because no parent desires to bury their child. I sympathize for Mr. Zimmerman because he acted in a manner that will forever be embroidered on his heart and his name. The jury examined the evidence and determined that George Zimmerman acted in such a manner that it warranted a not guilty verdict.
Below is just a snapshot from different voices about the verdict of the case:
“Saturday, July 13, 2013 (New York, NY) “The acquittal of George Zimmerman is a slap in the face to the American people but it is only the first round in the pursuit of justice. We intend to ask the Department of Justice to move forward as they did in the Rodney King case and we will closely monitor the civil case against Mr. Zimmerman. I will convene an
emergency call with preachers tonight to discuss next steps and I intend to head to Florida in the next few days."
disappointed by this decision. It is a pattern involving young black men that is too often repeating itself.”
The fact is no one will be satisfied with the verdict, yet this is our justice system. We are innocent until proven guilty. We are judged by a group of our peers. We hope that justice is blind and simply weighs the facts of the case. Yet in the lead up to the case, many raised their voices to Lady Justice and asked to lift up her blindfold, to see race and make a verdict based on race.
Notice, prior to the trial, race was injected into the discussion and now voices decry the not guilty verdict believing it was based on race. We can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Skolnik is right on one thing, we need to have a hard conversation about “young Black men in America,” but to the larger African American community as well. We need to speak with a strong, dare I say, prophetic voice because African Americans are missing the larger issues.
In the African American Church community there is the periodic call for a prophetic voice regarding situations occurring among our ethnic group. Voices such as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Phyllis Wheatley, and Martin L. King Jr. were made to ring loud by God to speak first to the people in whom they belonged. Look closely at the Biblical record and you will find the prophetic voice was sent by God to the people of the prophet first. (Obadiah, Jonah and Nahum represent three exceptions).
The biblical and historical record forces me to turn to the men and women who we share a common ethnic ancestry. African Americans are consistently calling on other ethnic groups to be held accountable for acts against African Americans. When will we have voices in our own community who will decry those same acts we perpetuate against ourselves? The Sharptons and Jacksons of the world are quick to scream, pick up stones and cast them at bigoted white men, greedy corporations and violent police; yet they remain strangely silent about the niggerization of our language, greedy prosperity preacher pimps, and the violence of Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and Little Rock. African American women should wail like Rachel. We should wail with Mrs. Martin who lost her seventeen-year old son and we should wail with the millions of African American women who have aborted millions and millions of our sons and daughters.
I must say without equivocation, ours is the voice of hypocrisy, not prophecy. Our voices once demanded exceptionalism, creativity and fervor for the glory of Christ in our homes and larger community. Our voices demanded that men would care for their families, children would go to college and respect for elders. Our voices demanded we would give our very bodies and lives in the pursuit of seeing one another as image bearers of God.
Here is the reality. A young man in the African American community in the next seven days will be murdered. Statistically, it will not happen by a Hispanic but by an African American. A young man or woman in the African American community in the next seven days will be murdered. Statistically, it will not happen by a white woman but an African American woman who will submit herself and her child to a “reproductive” procedure.
What will be the sound of our voices? Will it be the hypocritical cries to judge a man who is not guilty? Or, can we finally realize our community is in desperate need of humble and bold voices willing to speak hard truth accompanied with Gospel solutions.