To whom it may concern:
My name is Benjamin Watson. I am a Christian. I am an American. And culturally I am Black.
Let me be clear. I hate black on black violence. It sickens me and is a vivid reminder of the lack of respect, identity, hope and dignity in many black Americans individually and collectively. It’s embarrassing, inexcusable, and crippling to future generations. So when some in white America dismissively respond with sarcastic and retaliatory slogans of #AllLivesMatter in direct reaction to black outrage over an inexcusable killing at the hands of law enforcement I feel thoroughly insulted and demeaned.
When people push back and change the subject at hand by pointing to the numerous black on black murders in cities like Chicago I want to scream! Don’t you think I care about people dying!? Don’t you know I cringe every time I see a black face immortalized as a mugshot on the evening news and think about his family and that of the victim? Don’t you know I weep inside thinking of the children who must grow up without a father because he is dead or incarcerated? Don’t you know that my heart aches for the mothers who are left to pick up the pieces?! Don’t you even realize that outrage is not an either/or proposition? I have the capacity to loathe multiple categories of violence simultaneously. Can you not do the same?
I’m also intelligent enough to recognize the difference between violent crime AMONG the citizenry and abuse by those in a position of power, leadership and protection directed AT that citizenry. The following analogy falls short but my response to an abusive father is remarkably different than my response to quarreling siblings. I would seek to quickly end both but it is much more disturbing and unconscionable when the injustice comes from those sworn to protect and to serve. THIS, coupled with a lifetime of witnessing such occurrences, as well as their grievous and unjust outcomes, makes the present outcry so passionate. I can only speak on what I have seen, but I struggle to recall a single video of any man of any other ethnicity being chased down and shot in the back, or being misunderstood and shot when reaching for a wallet! It seems that what has previously been subjected to the secrecy of the dark is now being broadcast to the world in bright light.
In the wake of another graphic killing with racial undertones I am undone but I share too much mutual love and respect for individuals in groups that the world says I should hate to completely succumb to the temptation of blind accusations and blanket generalizations. Incensed by all that has occurred, they are soldiers of peace and understanding, willing to join with me as we humbly confront our biases together. May many more bravely come to the this table of reconciliation especially during this trying time.
Yes I am a black man in America but regardless of my melanin count these three things have I committed my life to. TRUTH. That I live by, react in, and uphold that which surpasses opinion, rhetoric and emotion. JUSTICE. That I stand for the plight of the downtrodden, fight for uniform accountability and fair consequences, and hold others to the same standards that I seek to live by. The GOSPEL. That I fervently address the physical ills of the world with the hope of sharing the essential, equalizing and everlasting spiritual cure for mankind’s most pressing dilemma. The avenue by which I desire to embody these three must be paved with compassionate strength because as angry and discouraged as I am at times, a gentle answer turns away wrath and may open the heart of the hearer.
No matter what happens in this country, and no matter how these tragic incidents wreck my spirit, this is my calling and for this I will continue to live.