Commentary: It’s Waking-Up Time
“Is it waking-up time, Grandma?” I have been asked many questions by my grandkids, but this is one that has stuck with me because of its many potential meanings. In the last few days, it has become increasingly apparent that it is indeed waking-up time for us in this country.
Dylan asked this question as I was trying to rouse him in the early morning as we rushed through preparations for the day ahead. Anyone who has been the caregiver of small children knows that it is counter-productive to abruptly wake them out of a deep sleep. Most of the time, Dylan was pretty pleasant about it. He yawned as his eyes opened widely. He liked seeing the morning sun that promised a new day.
My grandchildren have taught me how important it is to pay close attention, because children share amazing and prophetic stuff. Their questions and ideas have provided me with great insights that have found their way into my sermons and other writings. Of course, they always get credit for their wise counsel.
I was reminded about how quickly time passes when I attended Dylan’s high school graduation and all those memories came flooding back. We saw a collage of pictures from his growing years. The little boy who rubbed his eyes, yawned, and welcomed the morning sun is a young man facing the joys and challenges the future brings. My greatest wish is for his world to be filled with opportunity and hope.
While celebrating Dylan’s graduation with family last weekend, I was stunned by yet another recorded attack on young people by an over-zealous police officer demonstrating bad judgement to prove his authority at a Texas pool. The video account of the situation is frightening to watch. I can only imagine how awful it was for the young people who experienced it firsthand. The common refrain that the teenagers somehow deserved this attack is absurd! They may have been using the swimming pool without permission, but it hardly justifies a brutal physical and verbal attack on them. There was absolutely no excuse for Officer Casebolt to pull out a gun. It begs the question of how we are going to encourage our kids to trust police to protect them. Watching Office Casebolt throw Dajerria Becton to the ground, pull her hair, and wrench her arms behind her back must have been a terrifying wake-up moment for her friend, Brandon Brooks. Thank goodness that he courageously recorded the event. Otherwise, who would have believed it? Brandon, I believe you.
Brandon is a young person offering a perspective and a life story that we need to listen to. He is clear that racism played a significant role that day; he saw the obvious difference in the way white teens were treated in comparison to black teens. Brandon, I believe you.
We will never begin to address the underlying racial divide nor the institutionalization of racism in this country until we admit that we have a deep-seated problem. America — racism is true — it is waking-up time!
M. Linda Jaramillo is a National Officer of the United Church of Christ
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