Renika Williams, center, in the feature film Healing River.
This week in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a black man named George Floyd choked to death while a white police officer knelt on his neck, ignoring his pleas.
I am not qualified to speak about this. And by “this” I mean the ongoing pandemic of racism, an issue that white people in the U.S.–people like me–are perpetually blind to. Many of my friends, black and white, are speaking out about the incident. I haven’t spoken until now because, as I said, I am not qualified.
But one woman, a brilliant young actress named Renika Williams, whom I had the great pleasure of directing in her first feature film Healing River, has spoken both painfully and powerfully on the issue. I not only admire Renika’s talent, but love her as a person. She’s a joyful, faith-filled beam of light that floods every room she enters. And so I was particularly shaken by her convicting words to the clueless privileged like me who simply cannot see how endemic the issue is.
Imagine having to explain to your child why the police murder people that look like them. What a privilege it is not to have that conversation with your child. Imagine telling them that they can get murdered for going on a jog. What a privilege it is not to have that conversation with your child. Imagine being in third grade and learning about the history of slavery in America and realizing that you would be the only one in your class who would’ve been enslaved 400 years ago. What a privilege it is not to have to fully realize what slavery is at just eight years old. What a privilege it is not to have to think about all the ways slavery still impacts your daily life at just eight years old. What a privilege it is to look away from every post, hashtag, video, article. What a privilege it is to see these things every week and not feel completely enraged and physically and emotionally in pain as if it was someone you knew. What a privilege it is to never have to think that it could’ve been you.
May we read these words and think. Read these words and pray. Read these words and do all we can to assure no parent will ever have to explain this to their child again.