Watering while black: yep, there’s no racism problem in America, right?

The title is both rhetorical and sarcastic.  That’s because this story about a pastor who ends up handcuffed for “watering while black” is beyond any outrage I can possibly convey in text.

Anyone who reads this article about a black pastor being handcuffed and arrested for watering his white neighbor’s flowers, and claims with a straight face that systemic and ongoing racism is NOT a problem in America – especially down here in the south where we supposedly live in the “Bible Belt”?  I’ll give you good odds that person is a part of the racism problem we still have.

I’m still practically in a state of shock after reading this article.  A neighbor, watering his out-of-town neighbor’s flowers, has another neighbor – a “nosey Nellie” see a black man at a white man’s home and automatically assumes that “SOMETHING IS WRONG!!!!!”, calls the cops, who then harass, handcuff and illegally charge him with obstruction (and that is EXACTLY what the cops were doing; they were beyond their authority in asking the man for an ID, should have accepted his “NO” as his right accorded by the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, and their blatant disregard for those matters is going to cost the city of Childersburg, Alabama a TON of money once this lawsuit hits the courts. (And it SHOULD cost them big bucks:  It appears that money is about the only way to get anyone’s attention anymore.)

We should be better than this.  Especially we Christians who claim that our discipleship is something that entails every aspect of our lives.  I find the fact that we are not any better than this remarkably sad – but true.

I can personally testify to that truth.  A couple of years ago, after Ahmaud Arbery‘s and George Floyd’s murders, I had these banners on the left printed and hung them out by the church driveway entrance.  One our members – a good, ole southern boy who often spoke and acted like his personal racism was a badge of honor instead of the clear character flaw it was – confronted me in the parking lot, damn near apoplectic that I would “DARE PUT THAT TRASH UP LIKE IT’S COMING FROM ALL OF US!”  I stayed calm – as calm as possible anyway – and replied to him, “These banners aren’t so much there for the rest of the community; they are there for US.  They are there to remind you – and me – that WE are racists and we’d better decide it’s time to repent of that sin.”  As he was leaving (really, REALLY pissed off, by the way,) he uttered words we hear all the time. “I’M NOT RACIST – I HAVE FRIENDS WHO ARE BLACK!”  He reminded me of this guy’s conversation with himself over that very same matter:

Yeah, how many racists use that as their excuse?  Will we EVER be healed of this evil in our collective nature?