An Open Letter to My Readers

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy. /

Ouvre ta bouche pour celui qui ne peut pas s’exprimer,
pour la cause de tous les délaissés!
Ouvre ta bouche, juge avec justice
et défends le malheureux et le pauvre!

Proverbs 31:8-9 / Proverbes 31:8-9

Do you ever think yourself into a headache?
As with everyone else, my heart is heavy.

I don’t have the words. And I don’t think anything I can say would be good enough. I am disheartened, angry, and hurting.

I genuinely think humanity desires justice in the heart of our being (because we were created by a perfectly just God). Justice, in some form or fashion, was embedded within us. I think of Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo when he says, “Je me suis substitué à la Providence pour récompenser les bons… que le Dieu vengeur me cède sa place pour punir les méchants!” (I have substituted myself for Providence in rewarding the good; may the God of vengeance now yield me His place to punish the wicked.) I think of allll the Bible verses discussing the need to seek justice, live justly, etc.

The truth is, we all desire to see evil extinguished and yet we know each of our hearts is capable of the evil we see in others. Injustice is everywhere. And we must not turn a blind eye to what makes us uncomfortable.

Problems of racial injustice are not new. Let us be quite clear about that. However, that does not diminish the gravity of the current situation. I have struggled to put my thoughts into words for weeks now, but I feel burdened.

As though I need to speak up.

As a Christian–first and foremost–and secondly as someone who grew up very much sheltered from the realities of racism in action. I grew up in the South of the United States. I had one (let me repeat.. ONE) black friend growing up. She died of cancer when I was six or seven years old. I carried with me an unconscious incompetence in my understanding of the lived realities of my fellow Americans. It was not until college that I began to understand this. COLLEGE.

Posting a black square on your Instagram or Facebook feed does absolutely nothing if we are not willing to simply have conversations.

So, let’s talk.

But not merely you and me.

I want to leave space in this post for voices that aren’t mine.

Voices that have experienced first-hand racial discrimination. And more importantly, people I love and care about. Let me introduce you to people who can say things much more eloquently and passionately than I. These dear friends of mine were willing to share with you their words of wisdom and their experiences as black men. And I want you to hear quite clearly and blatantly what they have to say.

Brandon Beneche

From: Massachusetts
Currently in: Georgia
Age: 25

Brandon and I met in college while working on the newspaper staff together.

It feels odd to share anything about myself considering the historic weight of this moment (our country is in upheaval, our president sucks, we’re reaping the consequences of an unjust system that’s been defended, supported, and perpetuated for generations.), yet I believe that we must value and learn about each other’s backgrounds now more than ever.

I’m biracial. My dad is a Haitian immigrant, and my mom is a white New Englander. My heritage is something I’m proud of, but it gets complicated. We were closer to my mom’s family growing up, so I was largely raised in a white, middle-class home in Massachusetts. We didn’t have many conversations about race, and I didn’t claim any racial identity for most of my childhood and adolescence. 

As I got older, it was brought to my attention that I was brown, and I eventually began to explore more of my black side. I took better care of my curly hair, and I began consuming more black content. I’ve even learned to make Haitian food.

It has been a worthwhile process, but it hasn’t been easy. I see issues that a lot of the white people in my life don’t, but I don’t have the upbringing or experiences that a lot of black people I know have had. Some days I feel too colored to be with white people, and other days I feel ashamed for not being black enough.

Right now, we’re in the midst of a racially diverse mass protest of police brutality and systematic injustice towards black people in America. I’ve lost so much joy in our country these past few years, and while I’m certainly not happy about the state of our nation, I am finally hopeful. I have hope that people will demand change and that they will be heard. I have hope that more white Americans than ever will be empathetic towards people of color, and I have hope that black people will have their voices amplified and valued. 

Being biracial can feel like a constant state of division, but this moment is reminding me of something important: I’m living proof that unity is possible.

Romel Juba

From: Miami
Currently in: Tennessee
Age: 25

Romel and I became friends over a game of Rockband
(and I still admire his awesome guitar skills).

Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Being pushed to my limits. Nearing numbness.  My Christianity calls me to love my enemies and pray for those who treat me badly; but I continue to struggle with that challenge.

Racism has reared its head numerous times in my life, dating back as early as the third grade. The part that, in hindsight, is troubling? I shrugged it off like it was normal…like it was okay. It’s hard to look at the climate of the world/the general lack of compassion and feel an ounce of hope.  As a black man, I’d love to see the world become a better place for people who look like me. Being a part of some of the protests that have happened, it was refreshing and rejuvenating to see the wide range of support from all sorts of ethnicities and races. The new generation and the intolerance for oppression makes me smile.

Politically, things are happening. Laws are being passed. People are being held accountable for their actions at an increasing rate. I worry that for the sake of social acceptance, people may jump on the bandwagon of change. Maybe that is a little pessimistic of me, but the fact remains: laws can’t change the heart. What we need is love. People loving their neighbor as themselves. The question is, how do we go about creating this deep cleanse? How to we teach people to love?

I wish I had an answer…

Phillip Warfield

From: Southwest USA
Currently in: Washington D.C.
Age: 24

Phillip and I met because of our mutual love of Michael Jackson!

Black people are tired. After years of trying to tell people that these things were happening all around them, very many of us feel unheard and unseen. Last year, I was invited to a wedding in Miami, Florida. My girlfriend and I piled into my car for the long ride and had an incredible weekend. On our way back, something happened that soured the entire trip. There was something in me that broke down in frustration. We were stopped by a police officer for doing absolutely nothing while parked at a convenience store near Orlando.

It was nighttime, so the police officer flashed his light into the passenger seat—on my girlfriend’s side. I froze and told her not to lower her window. I opened the door on my side and asked if there was a problem. The officer asked me what I was doing and why I was doing it. His facial expressions quickly gave away his distrust as I told him we were on our way back to our university in Tennessee after a late wedding in Miami. He asked for my license and registration. After sitting and waiting for what felt like half an hour, he returned and asked me something that left me dumbfounded: “Is there anything illegal in your car?” When I answered in the negative, he pressed me again, “Are you sure?”

I’ve never had anything illegal in my car. All I was doing was calling a family member to make sure we could come over. Instead I was caught minding my own business in front of a store and asked to surrender my identification. I felt powerless. I still feel powerless.

As I take a daily walk around my neighborhood, I think of Ahmaud. When I’m in my house at night sleeping, my dreams wander to Breonna. When I’m at school studying for my doctorate in United States history, I’m pained that our country has never cared about us. I just need everyone to take this time to think, read, and learn. Sometimes I’m tired of teaching, but if this is what it takes, then I’m willing to help people see. But I’m tired, so give me space to recover too.

Just believe me—believe us, and please listen to our stories.


Friends and acquaintances, let us “weep with those who weep” during this time (Romans 12:15). If we truly believe that Jesus “loves the little children of the world,” let us act in that.

I am extending an invitation to any of my black followers or friends: if you would like to contribute to my blog, sharing your experiences or information that my audience might not otherwise hear, please write to me. I will be happy to give you a platform to speak. I am in your corner. I am fighting for you.

Black lives matter.

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