BY BOB BEARDEN
Protests in Charlotte and an arrest and charges in Tulsa. Two different killing scenarios and two different ways of handling the situation. In one incident, complete transparency, and in the other, not. In Tulsa the protests have been peaceful and prayerful, in Charlotte confrontation, rioting and a death.
While I do not condone nor agree with rioting nor looting the different ways the two cities have handled these situations have obviously made a difference in the events that have transpired since. But the problem of why is still unanswered. Police shootings of people of color make no sense when you compare police confrontations with whites as compared to blacks.
These encounters are by nature charged with danger because when police come upon a situation they have no way of knowing what will transpire. But it seems clear to me that they handle these situations totally different when it involves a black man than they do when it involves a white man.
And in almost every state in the union there is some form or other of the Open Carry Law that allows any citizen to legally have in their possession a weapon of some kind and it can be and almost certainly is loaded. It amazes me that white men armed with AK-47s, loaded and holding them at the ready, can strut about in Wal-Mart and the police don’t even show up, but a black kid holding a BB gun in that same store walking around can be shot and killed and no one sees that as a problem.
There is no question in my mind that if a black man is stalled on the road that the police will approach that situation differently than if that man were white. It is the assumption of guilt that if you are black then you must be up to no good and you get no benefit of the doubt, but if you are white then there is no problem.
That has to change. Those scenarios are based on racial prejudice and the narrative today is being driven by our past. We as a nation and as a people have to change our assumptions on race and race relations. If we are to change those two scenarios we have to come to terms with the way we think and the things we believe.
Today a lot of racial prejudice and hatred is being driven by politicians who use our fears, our prejudices and hatred to fuel their political ambitions and we are at fault because we allow them to do that. It is time for that to stop.
We must not continue to allow politicians to divide us. We for far too long have allowed hatred, bigotry and fear to guide our lives and to fuel our assumptions. They are false assumptions. Whatever our color, whatever our religion we are inherently the same. We all have fears and those fears are being manipulated and directed. We must quit giving into our fears of one another.
We have much more in common with each other than we do not have in common. It is just plain stupid to allow ourselves to be divided by the fear of one another simply because of cultural differences, our religion or the color of our skin. We have to talk to each other and quit letting unfounded hate and fear drive us. We have to change our culture and change the narrative.
It is time we tell the politicians that seek to divide us on racial lines and skin color and religious philosophy to take a hike. We are a better people than that and we have to change.
We keep hearing we are a Christian nation. If that be true, where are the Christians?
– Bob Bearden is a trustee with the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation and a member of Mayflower Congregational Church, UCC, in Oklahoma City