Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson & Ken Petersen

Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson & Ken Petersen

Author:Benjamin Watson & Ken Petersen
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: RELIGION / Christian Life / Social Issues, BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Sports, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Discrimination & Race Relations
ISBN: 9781496413321
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Published: 2015-11-17T05:00:00+00:00

I’m confused, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policemen abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I wrote this statement on my Facebook page the night of the Ferguson decision, with my emotions flowing out of my fatherhood. It was a desperate cry to those young men, sons of fathers, to understand: This is the world you are in. For your own sake and for the sake of life itself, I beg you: Just do what the man in blue says. Let go of your fear, your rage, and your defiance for just one moment in order to live another day.

I know that your every instinct is to run, as it was for me that one night driving through New Orleans. But ultimately there’s only one thing to do. And that is to do what the policeman says.

Upon reflection, I understand one problem with what I wrote that night. It’s the word obey. Obedience is what masters once required of their slaves. After the Civil War, obedience by black people was built into the Black Codes: laws applying only to blacks that limited their freedoms and became essentially another form of slavery. Obedience echoes the separate-but-equal requirements of the segregation era. Obedience smacks of the harsh commands to black people by Southern cops in the 1960s.

To black people, obey is a loaded word.

Some radical factions in the black community have called for black people never to obey “the white man’s law.” In an interview on CNN with Anderson Cooper, New Black Panther Party spokesman Minister Mikhail Muhammad said, “I don’t obey the white man’s law, I don’t follow the American law. The American law—the American law does not protect me, Anderson. I’m not a citizen. So I have no right to respect American law.”[54]

I don’t believe that, of course, and neither do most black American citizens. But the feeling and attitude toward the command to obey is deeply entrenched. Being told to obey—especially to obey white authority—is as offensive as anything to young black men and women who struggle for respect and dignity in a culture of poverty and challenge.

Much has been made of the Bible’s commands to slaves to obey their masters. And those verses were indeed used by slave owners to convince slaves that their plight was divine in origin and that any rebellion would be a rebellion against God himself.

Although the Bible does speak to slaves, admonishing them toward obedience with sincerity of heart, it also instructs masters to treat justly the slaves under their control, showing them goodwill and concern. Clearly, many American slave masters skipped over that part of the verse.

And though slavery was a practice in the culture of Bible times, it is often misunderstood as being the same as what was practiced in America. The Bible explicitly condemns kidnapping, which was at the center of the transatlantic African slave trade.


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