Two young black men were riding home from football practice in my car. The four of us were laughing, cutting up, and making fun of each other. We came up on multiple police cars and officers investigating something. These two young men immediately folded their hands in their lap, became quiet, stared straight ahead, and were silent.

After we passed the officers there was a moment and then the teasing, laughing, and cutting up began again.

My brother and many of my closest friends are police officers. I love police officers. I am grateful for them and the service they provide. We could not live the lives we do without them.

But, in that moment it, there was fear, a raw fear that sucked the air out of my car. This fear demanded two young men to immediately become silent upon seeing officers even while being in the car of a white man.

We can love and respect and support our police officers and still recognize that there is something beyond broken in our culture. This fear was real.

But we need to make changes. Those of us who are white need to learn. We need to listen. We must not marginalize people’s experiences.

As a pastor, I have to lead in the pursuit of justice. I’m still learning what that means. I know that it won’t be done on social media. It will be done in relationships, relationships that I pursue. I will be able to lead only as I change.

All I know, is that there are good young men, honorable young men, hard working young men, who live their lives in fear. They know a fear that my son will never know.

*Originally Published: September 21, 2016

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