Powerful: having a lot of power to control people and events; having a lot of strength or force; having a very great effect; potent; having great effectiveness, as a speech, speaker, description, reason, etc; having great power, authority, or influence; mighty.
When the powerful – the ones in control – don’t speak up for those who have no power, we can probably expect a revolt at some point. Feeling powerless in a situation that is frightening adds even more fear, and engaging with a survival-mode mentality is a human response when we feel threatened.
I have been thinking about ways we are identified and what we do to protect ourselves, to refresh ourselves, or to remain incognito in certain situations.
When someone goes hunting, they don their camo.
When someone wants to stay dry or be shielded from the sun, they open an umbrella.
When someone wants to hide a hangover, they wear sunglasses … even if it’s cloudy.
When a doctor doesn’t want to answer medical questions on his day off, he removes his white coat and stethoscope.
When a cop or soldier wants to look like a civilian, they remove their badges or their uniforms.
When a Christian wants to hide their faith, they leave their bibles at home and they engage in conversations that are ungodly and void of the gospel.
But what if you were part of a targeted race?
What if you could not “take it off” nor could you “put it on.”
When someone wants to be seen, they wear bright colors.
When someone is hot or sunburned, they jump in the pool.
When someone is hurt, they shout or scream if they are able.
When a patient in a hospital needs help, they push the alert button.
When someone needs help, they wave a flag or flash lights.
When a Christian realizes the importance of sharing their faith, they become bolder and less inhibited.
The color of our skin can not become invisible. It can not be altered daily. If we expose our skin color to those around us, we are immediately identified with our race. Some may try to hide it with masks or hoods, but call even more attention to themselves. I have read memoirs of young children of color desperately trying in vain to remove their dark skin.
As a woman, I am vulnerable in certain situations. Because I am aware of this, I adjust. But I can’t imagine what it must be like to wake up and realize the importance of adjusting everything I do or say every single day just to feel safe.
Just because my skin is brown or black.
May the powerful ones show up. (Foster care, poverty, education)
May the powerful ones speak up. (Even when we don’t know exactly what to say or how to say it)
May the powerful ones suck it up. (Humble ourselves and listen)
“Open your mouth on behalf of those unable to speak, for the legal rights of all the dying.
Open your mouth, judge in righteousness, and PLEAD the cause of the poor and needy.”
“The bottom line is that the white experience and the black experience are not the same, and the white experience should not be considered normative just because whites are the majority. This is true in a variety of ways, and it is true when it comes to perceptions of law enforcement. I experience no fear of the police. None whatsoever. Neither do my children. Every single friend I have who is a person of color fears that they or their loved ones might have an unwarranted encounter with law enforcement, that it could go wrong for some reason, and that they could end up on someone’s cell phone video. Or not end up on video, in which case we would likely not ever hear about it, which is another problem entirely.”
Nathan Finn, Provost and Dean of the University Faculty at North Greenville University