More thoughts on Ferguson

Okay folks, I expect to get some flack for this but here goes. I get it, there is a lot of anger over the events in Ferguson. What I don’t get is the multiple stories I have read regarding “white privilege.” Does it really ease the pain that people of color experience DAILY that you recollect a time that you got away with a crime or your spouse back talked a policeman and got away with it?

I think there is a distinct difference between standing in solidarity with the black community in Ferguson and making apologies for your having taken advantage of your station in life and touting that you feel guilty about it now.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a good thing to recognize the privilege you have experienced. But what is the effect of that recognition? Will you be an advocate for change? Will you hold elected and law enforcement officials accountable henceforth or are you simply making a statement to assuage your self-imposed guilt?

Where was your outrage over the shooting of Ezell Ford in Los Angeles last week? Where was the outrage for the shooting death of James Boyd in Albuquerque last month? As a matter of fact, since 2010 the Albuquerque police have shot and killed 26 people. There were protests in March that turned violent…where was the outrage?

Did you know that between March and the end of April, 2014, there were three police officer involved shootings is Salinas, California?

What about the shooting death of John Winkler by L.A. Sheriff deputies? He was the victim of a stabbing, had called 911 and was “mistaken” for an aggressive person and shot by officers. So was a second victim.

What about Bobby Gerald Bennett in Dallas? He is mentally ill, as was Mr. Ford.

The list goes on and on.

Let me say once again, an average of 400 people killed by police shootings every year. This number does not reflect surviving victims of police-involved shootings . These names above include Latinos, Blacks and Whites. They include the mentally ill, the poor and the homeless. They are the same folks we are likely to exclude from our pews

If you’re going to stand in solidarity with the residents of Ferguson, or any community of color, don’t make apologies for privilege. Rather, make concerted efforts to dismantle institutional racism. Make concerted efforts in your communities to require greater accountability of law enforcement. Walk with people of color not only in protest but also in your day-to-day lives. Walk with them into our pews. And most importantly, talk to us, people of color, racial and ethnic, as well as cultural difference, about our experiences and perspectives , we want you to understand us. Believe me…we know what white privilege looks like without your telling us.


About Vince Gonzales

United Methodist Laity, married to a recent Seminary graduate seeking ordination. Active at all levels of the Church, I sit on the Board of The General Commission on Religion and Race of The United Methodist Church, one of our 13 UMC Agencies. I also am the Chair of the Racial and Social Justice Task Force of Churches Uniting in Christ, an ecumenical group of communions, dedicated to the reconciliation of ministries and fighting racism, as well as representing the UMC at Christian Churches Together's Hispanic/Latinx Ministry Gatherings. Additionally, I am one of two committee members from the South Central Jurisdiction serving on the DisAbility Ministries Committee of the UMC. My polity pendulum often swings to both extremes so one never knows what they might find on this page!
This entry was posted in Ezell Ford, Ferguson, Inclusiveness, Michael Brown. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to More thoughts on Ferguson

  1. ckpk3337 says:

    Vince, if you write on a controversial subject like Ferguson, you will get flack whatever you say. I think white folks (I am one) sometimes cultivate a guilt complex–white privilege, our ancestors were slave owners, genocidists ad infinitum ad nauseum–as a kind of shield against doing something positive. I have plenty of white privilege, some of my ancestors were slave owners, many of them were genocidists, some were confederate soldiers (at least one was a union soldier so that helps balance that out), but all my mea culpas do no excuse me from doing what I can to correct the systemic injustice in our society and in our economy. Thanks for posting.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful response Charles. I have seen your deeds and good works in action across a number of areas. Tulia is one that will always stand out. When one turns their privilege into advocacy for those less fortunate, positive change occurs. You succinctly reiterate my point. Your wisdom is greatly appreciated.

  3. Bravely you write spot on, Vince. I reside in a non-agency sponsored (but verbally supported by my local church family and a minister’s alliance) setting of a “local mission ministry”. Poverty, abuses, marginalized, all-caucasian ethnicity due to regionality — where I can spend hours to specify causes. Major trickle down/up is greed. Greed creates orphaned and vulnerable children, widows, aliens and suffering. Solidarity is not a piecemeal excuse in my humble opinion to then return to affluency. Each individual is encouraged in seeking one’s relationship with our Creator and their unique way.Accountability is in joining with someone to hone honesty with self, then others.
    Please keep writing reminders of our weaknesses and strengths in your position of leadership and respect. Just in my few 75 years, I do not recall anyone of your likeness and well-written straightforward challenges to cross lines and systems and regions and cultures with such a true compass for you know where you are grounded. blessings/

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