When I was growing up in the hood in the 70’s and early 80’s, people frequently referred to the police as “the man.” Even when there were two officers in the car, we said, “Here comes the man.” Supposedly, the man had authority and power that demanded respect.
The term, “the man,” has become passe over the years, but the power wielded by police officers has not. It is largely perceived as out of control. Even when citizens vote in local elections for officials they believe will have their best interest at heart, the reality has proven them wrong.
What is a person of faith to do aside from participating in protests, writing their elected officials (who often seem complicit through inaction), and hoping that God will make it alright? I’m beginning to wonder if there is anything that we can do. As a minister, this brings me great despair and frustration. I’m supposed to be a person of exemplary faith, even when the cards are against us. It’s extremely difficult to hold out hope under these circumstances.
It seems that police officers, such as those who Freddie Gray in North Charleston and Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati, have watched the same videos that I’ve watched about white cops killing black people. What about Sandra Bland being detained for a traffic violation? Surely they’d say to themselves, “I can’t let that happen to me under any circumstances.” Instead, each video conveys that the killing of black citizens by white officers is getting easier to carry out and there is no sign of restraint.
People of faith are still called to hold out hope, but continue to caucus and search for solutions. We must continue to show up at the polls informed about who will best represent us. We must pray and meditate. We must support the good police officers and demand more accountability in police departments.
We must not lose our faith because of “the man.”