“Fear will turn your neighbors into enemies.”
This is a profound statement that a colleague recently said to me. I couldn’t agree more. We are in deep trouble because of all this fear.
There’s now nowhere one can go in this country today and avoid headlines and soundbites concerning Trayvon Martin’s murder in Sanford, Florida, and now the five shooting victims in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I literally asked myself what year it is because I feel like I’m living in the height of Jim Crow with all these assaults on African Americans.
Fear is getting to us. We fear someone else is taking our jobs. We fear that some have taken our country. We fear that our borders aren’t protecting our interests. We fear the political party that disagrees with our views. And we fear people whose skin pigment, accents, surnames, nationality, religion, age, gender, or economic status is different from our own. As this fear mounts it leaves no room for love. Without love there is no trust, and without trust everyone who is different from our group becomes suspicious to us.
We (not just African Americans) have worked hard and fought long for the rights and safety of people in this country. Too much blood has already been shed for us to begin fearing that our ethnicity or choice of clothing (i.e. a hoodie) might put our lives in jeopardy.
Although the current news events strike chords of fear, anger, and despair in our hearts, we cannot resign our hope in unity. We cannot allow the heinous acts of a few sick individuals to convince us that no progress has been made. When it was legal to kill African Americans at will (and understandably some argue that it still is), we survived, raised our children, and sent them to college. Certainly, we will make the men and women who fought so hard for our freedom proud that we raise our heads and triumph in light of the recent tragedies. We will not allow these deaths to go unnoticed and we will use the memories of these slain individuals to motivate us to remind our children of how valuable our liberty really is.
While I am on the subject of what sickens me to my stomach ... I am tired of Black-on- Black crime, as well. There is no justification for this and it must stop!
Let’s choose to not live in fear and dread. Our ancestors did so much more with lots less than what we do with what is at our disposal. Many of them refused to let the harsh treatment of their world tarnish their hearts lest they sink to the same detestable depths as those who impose such racist practices. You’re better than that. Don’t take the bait. Choose love over fear and choose love over hate.
Dr. Gee is the senior pastor of Fountain of Life Church in Madison and the president/founder of The Nehemiah Corporation, a community-based leadership empowerment agency. You can find out more about Dr. Alex Gee at www.alexgee.com or follow him on Twitter at @alexgeejr.