|screen capture from thepottershouse.org|
LISTEN NOW! WATCH FULL PROGRAM! The Conversation with America continues [Part 1 of 2] as Pastor T.D. Jakes hosts an integral discussion at The Potter’s House regarding the recent murders of Alton Sterling, Philando Stile, the five Dallas Police Officers and the grieving that our nation is enduring right now. The world is attempting to have the conversation, but the Church must talk about these events.
Pastor Jakes continues this important dialogue with a handful of those effected by the tragedies that have recently taken place throughout America. He asks the mother of Alton Sterling, Quineyetta McMillon’s Attorney where we go from here. “Extremism is seductive, that it seems like it’s making change effective, but it’s not. Faith is slow, but its powerful and it comes.” He continues to emphasize, “We shouldn’t be mad at every officer. Who do you call in the middle of the night? If you need help, you call 911. You don’t call your homeboy, you call 911. So we can’t get rid of cops and cops can’t get rid of the community.”
In trials such as this, Pastor Jakes questions this attorney as to how he prepares for trials in this case. Specifically, he asks, “do you feel at a disadvantage, and if so, what are those disadvantages?” “…There is always a character assault on my client. No matter who it is.” When he remembers specific instances of being behind on child support or past criminal records he highlights the truth of the matter. “Those had nothing to do with the day of their death.” From a perspective for those who may only know these situations through media, he emphasizes, “Don’t believe everything that you’re reading and put it in compartments. Put their background in a compartment that had nothing to do with running away and getting shot.”
When Pastor Jakes speaks with family members, he approaches Alton’s aunt about how she is responding. “I can see the pain on your face…first of all, how are you coping.” Revealing the reality of grief, she expresses, “It’s hard. I haven’t slept or ate since he passed. So, it’s really hard.” As Pastor Jakes continues, he asks, “Are you satisfied with the process that we’re currently in to get to what really happened. Are you getting the cooperation that you need from the Police Department…?” “It should have been done the first day”, she responds. “When I saw the first tape, it hurt me and it pained me…but when I saw the second tape he suffered, he suffered and it should have been done the second day.”
Outside of the support of law enforcement, he asks if her family has been receiving support from counselors. “We haven’t had many counselors, we rely on ministers like you, and basically the spiritual people that came out. We don’t have a lot of support like that because we’re a small town. So, we’re protesting every day, every day we’re out there trying to get justice for Alton.” It is in this season of seeking justice that often times family members do not go through the process of grieving as they should, and is natural to do. Pastor Jakes reveals, “A lot of times, when we cover up our pain, anger becomes our anesthesia, our frustration becomes a disguise, a camouflage for the fact that we’re broken. I’m not saying that we ought not to be activists, but when do you get to be activists, when do you get to be an auntie, when do you get to be a daughter, a son, and just go through that process that is so important?”
As the one who captured the live footage of Philando Stiles breathing his last breath, Diamond shares about her experience as Philando’s girlfriend and what happened on that day. “We feel like we were in the car with you…as a father, when I looked in the back seat, and I saw your daughter, writhing in pain, I was so broken about what you were going through with Philando and how devastating it was…” She shares about the strength of her daughter, “She hasn’t cried or anything. She talks all positivity and keeps telling me it’s going to be Okay.”
Pastor Jakes shares how he read in reports that Philando had been arrested about 52 times on minor charges. In light of this, he asks, “Did you think in your mind this was just going to be another one like the many times he had been through before?” She shares, “Absolutely. Every time he’s been pulled over, he felt as if he was black. This day was nothing like no other so we were going to proceed like it was any other day.” As she continues, she points out this important matter, “What we have done in our past does not make us who we are.”
Taking into consideration the amount of times this had happened before, Pastor Jakes asks, “At what point did you recognize this is not going to be like the other times?” Quickly, she responds, “When the officer was scared. I heard it in his voice. When I heard it in his voice, it instantly clicked in me that this is something that is much bigger than myself and that day.” She continues to express why she recorded the aftermath, “Was not for anything other than to be heard, for justice; because at the end of the day, people that are here to serve and protect us, we call upon them when they are in need, but when the officers are the ones who are hurting us, who do we call?”
It is in these situations, that we must learn, as Pastor Jakes reveals, “One thing that we are all learning is that life is so fragile. One blink and the one person that you love is gone…what started off as a beautiful day turns into something horrible.” As he exposes his heart in this matter, he reveals, “I’m learning to say something. I’m learning to make myself open my heart…it goes against my machoism, but I’m learning that if you love somebody, you better say something.”
Steve Gentry was one of the Dallas Officers that was on duty the night of the tragic shooting. When asked how he was doing, he bluntly responded, “I haven’t slept much. I went back to work Friday and did my job.” As he continues to share what it was like driving into work on that night, he begins to highlight all of the men and women who work as law enforcement, he emphasizes, “None of us wake up in the morning hoping that someone is going to pass away. Whether it be one of our people or a citizen.” He expresses his heart as to how he got into law enforcement when he shares how his mother left him at a children’s hospital when he was born. A police officer received the call for an ‘abandoned baby’ and after praying about this situation with his wife, that same officer returned to the children’s hospital to pick up that same baby. His father worked 50 years at the same department. This is where Gentry was introduced to law enforcement. “It’s a lot worse today than it was yesterday. In the last two years there has been a lot of blame on both sides and I hate it. It disturbs me. It keeps me awake at night.”
As Gentry arrived on scene, he saw his friend, the DART officer that had been shot in the face and killed. He continues to share, “Whether you like police officers, or you don’t; you’ve had good experiences, or you haven’t had good experiences with police officers, or the sheriff department, or the feds, whoever, we are not over you, we are with you.” As Pastor Jakes embraces Gentry, he comments how he is literally trembling while holding him. “There is so much pain here. He’s hurting. He’s human. We are with you. It doesn’t matter the color of our skin. Pain is not prejudice.”
Pastor Jakes talks to another Dallas Officer, Corporal Grant, he asks if he is feeling the support of his city. Before he truly begins to share, he openly states, “I’m not speaking on behalf of Chief Brown.” He continues, “We need more training, we need better tools so that we can serve you better.” As he is assigned to recruiting, he expresses how hard it is to do this while their numbers are down. When asked if he is receiving quality applicants, he responds, “We’re getting the best applicants that are applying.” He travels nationally in order to find recruits. “It’s getting tougher with the news media. It used to be soft a profession. Everybody wanted to be in law enforcement…. We’re not robots. We are human.” As he continues about the need for support, he highlights the reality that all of the officers in Dallas do not have Tasers to help with de-escalation.
As one who has to grieve the death of close friends like anyone else, Corporal Grant describes his perspective. “It’s hard. You can’t sleep at night. I’ve had about three hours of sleep since Thursday. I had to go into work Thursday night into Friday and it was the first time I saw my wife cry when I left to go to work. My kids are like, ‘Dad, are you really going to work?’ I have to, this is my profession.” Men and women in law enforcement are also family. “It’s tough when you see one go…It’s a family member. It’s no different than losing your kid, or your loved one. Every one of those men and women that lose their lives in the line of duty, they are fathers, they are mothers, they are husbands, they are grandpas, we’re the same. We’re not different.”
This is truly a powerful time of convergence. The world is trying to have this conversation, but it is the Church that must have this conversation. Hear this full discussion and the first part of this discussion to hear this riveting, impactful discussion, and so much more. Greg and John shared in this segment.
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