Gary Curtis | Coming to Grips with American Racism

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

George Floyd’s brutal asphyxiation in Minneapolis ripped open the wounds of slavery for the entire African American community in our country. Being captured on video by eyewitnesses made it more graphic and grievous. It has given social-justice warriors justified reason to protest and for others to commit flagrant destruction and theft.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has added a “slogan name” to 16th Street, north of Lafayette Park and the White House. It now features street signage saying “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” She then ordered the actual street pavement painted for two blocks, using large, yellow, block letters in a mural saying “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

Later, she apparently allowed or aided local protesters to paint the pavement of the adjacent street with the controversial protest slogan, “DEFUND THE POLICE.” L.A.’s Mayor Eric Garcetti says this doesn’t mean to abolish the police but to “redirect” large sums from their budget to social-justice causes and minority efforts. 

But, reducing funds for police inevitably means a policing slowdown and a reduced police presence. This is not going to help reduce crime nor provide safer communities. Just ask the homicide-riddled communities in Chicago and the owners of businesses vandalized and looted in our major cities in recent days and weeks. Even minority-owned businesses were violently destroyed, along with the dreams of their entrepreneurial owners.

In his meaningful article, “American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go,” David French describes the challenges he and his family encountered after adopting a black child. The experiences she went through shaped his view of American racism. 

Near the end, French concludes, “You don’t have to be a critical race theorist, agree with arguments about implicit bias, or buy into the radical social platform of Black Lives Matter to reach consensus on some changes that can make a difference.” (The Dispatch). I urge you to read the entire article.

Apparently, the Black Lives Matter organization and a sister organization, Movement for Black Lives, promote more than racial respect and social equality. They also promote a “radical social platform,” which Ryan Bomberger, a biracial social commentator, identifies in his “Top 10 Reasons I Won’t Support the Black Lives Matter Movement” at, quoting from Black Lives Matter and Movement for Black Lives documents.

An African American friend explained to me the trauma he experienced as a young boy in the South, watching his father demeaned by “the N-word” and then threatened at knifepoint, “if you ever drive down this road again.”

That young boy grew up, served his country in Vietnam, went to college, and worked for elite companies, but still has to keep alert for circumstances that could be adversely interpreted or negatively affect him or his family. This ought not to be the case in this “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

He and my other African American friends, understandably, view the current protests (not the violence and looting) with a broader perspective than I will ever adequately perceive. But I want to! 

Black lives do matter! My pastor, Tim Clark, says it is “a statement of truth and worth.”

They matter to God and they must matter to me and to you.

I want to affirm and better appreciate and respect my fellow human beings, made in God’s image and for whom Jesus of Nazareth died and now lives forevermore.

I don’t want to “live for myself.” Rather, I want to better understand the hurt and the history of African Americans and Hispanics, as well as Asian, African, European and Middle Eastern immigrants — all immigrants, legal and illegal. (Legalities are a different set of issues and deserve humane discussions, constitutional decisions and governmental practices.)

If I want to “have the same attitude of mind” Christ Jesus had (Philippians 2:5), I must seek to “live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27). He was the incarnate God, yet he did not demand His godly rights or exercise His personal liberties. 

Likewise, if I am to share His attitude of mind, I must not be defensive and demanding. Rather, I must follow Him in humility and “value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-5.)

This, too, matters.

Gary Curtis


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