“Our silence is abuse.”
Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas, made this statement to Hillsong Church-New York Pastor Carl Lentz this past Sunday.
And in the professional community with which I am most familiar – the Texas political community – the silence is most noticeable from my fellow conservative Republicans who are elected officials.
Texas has not elected a Democrat statewide since 1994. This state is led by Republicans – mostly Christian Republicans, as I am.
Not long ago, I consulted many of them on their campaigns. If I were to counsel them today in the wake of the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd (and numerous others), it would be a simple message:
Read Romans 12 and use the gifts God has given you.
Serve. Exhort. Teach. Contribute. Lead. Act.
Even Texas Longhorn Football Head Coach Tom Herman speaks the words of the Apostle Paul to his players: “You have a voice. Use it.”
America is the greatest country in the world, providing opportunity for all to live in freedom and pursue dreams. What is also true about this great nation of ours is that a crime in one community is a sickness is another.
Admitting, confronting, and correcting wrongs does not reduce our greatness, but reinforces it.
If I have a drug problem in the wrong ZIP code, I am a criminal rather than an addict.
If white kids act up at a mall, they are just kids being kids, whereas black kids are “thugs.”
White public speakers are inspiring leaders. Black public speakers are “articulate” and “speak well.”
There exists an innate compassion for non-blacks that does not exist for blacks. And therein lies the systemic injustice existing in our great nation our elected officials can confront.
Women in America as small business owners, broadcasters, pastors, and even professional sports have made great strides in corporate America, with the best yet to come. The black community is pleading for the same progress as women have seen in the United States.
Bishop Jakes also said the black community doesn’t need us to wash their feet – to feel guilty about what other whites did. They need us to make their issue our issue. Not a black issue, an American issue.
The black community would not stand silent watching a police officer to dig his knee into a white neck because they understand that experience and white Americans do not.
I have read tweet after tweet from Texas Republican elected officials, appalled at the riots, and rightfully so. But Antifa did not kill George Floyd. A member of the executive branch of a city government hired “to protect and to serve,” did. Their silence on the real issues today is deafening.
My wife and I are currently in the process of adopting a 9-year old boy from Haiti. Haiti is infamously known for its extreme poverty, rampant political corruption, devastating natural disasters and violent riots. Locally, these riots are called “manifestations.” They line tires across main highways and set them on fire them to shut down traffic; they hurl rocks and whatever they can get their hands on; and they chant their frustration with the political and ruling class. It is the only way they feel their voices will ever have a chance at being heard. And the rest of the world shakes its head at the dysfunctional Haitians, descendants of slaves, who just can’t seem to get it together.
And today, the rest of the world shakes its head at the dysfunctional Americans who just can’t seem to get it together.
My hometown of Austin (and many other cities across the nation) has never more resembled the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Haiti, more than it does now.
As a white kid from a very white city – Austin, Texas – I’ve turned a deaf ear to this for too long.
And we as Christians have been way too quiet, abusing our friends in the black community with our silence.
Hashtags and posts don’t cut it anymore. Those are good to break silence to a degree. But practically, there’s more we can and must do to attack this at its core.
Our brothers and sisters in the black community are weeping.
Jesus spoke up for women, Gentiles, prostitutes, criminals, the poor and the oppressed. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
We have to weep when they weep.
So I ask Texas Republican statewide elected officials, members of the Texas Congressional delegation, the Texas House of Representatives, and the Texas State Senate, specifically those on the right side of the aisle: who is your neighbor?
Are you weeping?
The issue is not about the protests and riots. Don’t use Antifa as a political escape hatch. Protestors are protestors. Rioters – Antifa – are rioters.
The protests are happening because of deep and historic patterns of injustice.
And the action to take is to recognize that and seek to understand.
You are the majority.
Romans 12:7-8 instructs you to “serve,” “exhort,” “teach,” “contribute,” “lead,” “act!”
You have a voice. Use it.
Corbin Casteel is a government relations consultant, former Republican political strategist, and former Trump campaign Texas State Director from Austin.