Most of the time, I feel very removed from the situation in Ferguson. Teaching in a predominantly white elementary school in West County where roughly 11% of the student population is black, the terrible killing of Michael Brown sometimes seems as if it happened across the country, instead of a mere thirty minute drive northeast. The social injustice that is occurring today is an afterthought to many, and it seems as if some would like to sweep it under the rug rather than face the fact that there are people in our city who are denied rights and treated inferiorly every day because of the color of their skin. Comments such as, “When are they just going to stop already?” And, “Haven’t they gotten it out of their system already?” make my heart hurt because no they haven’t, and no they won’t, and no they don’t have to.
I think people should speak up about social injustice. A young black man was killed and nothing was done about it. The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep. People are weeping because of fear and anger. If you are removed from the situation, make an effort to understand what it is like to be a black person living in St. Louis today. That would be love in action.
In addition to working full time in a public school, I have the privilege of working at Freedom Arts. Our student population is predominantly black children from North City who suffer from poverty, neglect, and sometimes even trauma. I love them dearly and cherish the opportunities to spend time with them. After spending the afternoon recently with five of our little girls, my heart was full after we laughed together, talked about how much Jesus loves us, and how to treat their brothers with love and kindness. Though I met them three years ago, I feel like our journey together has just begun. Freedom Arts is committed to mentoring these little ones for many years to come and although I have answers and advice for them now, they are going to grow older and start asking questions about their culture and society that I want to be able to help them figure out answers to. As of right now, I still have a lot of questions myself. If one of these kids asked me, “Why did this happen to Michael Brown?” I would talk about sin and how it can consume us. I would lead them to the truth of God’s word, which is our peace. But…I’ve never been a little black girl from North City who suffered from poverty, neglect, and trauma. I’ve got a lot of learning to do. They are growing up, alright. I want to be there for them along the way because I love them.
As a Christian, I believe that we are called to do and serve more. We need to be a light for others, for those who don’t know the Lord. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We know these things, so we should be sharing them. I refuse to forget it or sweep it under the rug. I come into contact with too many impressionable young people to forget how valuable they are. We need to be ambassadors of Christ by getting involved and sharing the love.
Be aware. Listen carefully. Be open. Stay humble
People can be fearful and angry and hateful. We should follow Christ’s example and love them. After all, that’s the greatest thing that there is…
Beth Gibson (Academic Coordinator, Academic/Visual Arts Mentor)