|screen capture from thepottershouse.org|
LISTEN NOW! WATCH FULL PROGRAM! [Part 2 of 2] In the span of three days, Alton Sterling was killed by police officers, Philando Stile was killed by a police officer; and then 5 Dallas Police officers were murdered, along with two innocent civilians after shooters targeted them at the end of a peaceful protest in the streets of Dallas. Many around our nation are grieving right now. America is grieving. What do we do? The world is attempting to have the conversation, but the Church must talk about these events. That is exactly what Pastor T.D. Jakes did while he hosted a diverse panel of guests in Dallas located at the Potter’s House, A Conversation with America.
Pastor Jakes captivating presence has not only guided his congregation during this difficult time, but also the city of Dallas and those needing a spiritual leader. His beginning words highlight the importance and gravity of this discussion, “…in a discussion that is going on in America, it is a difficult discussion, but it is an important discussion.” He continues to share the wisdom about this moment, “I have learned in life that you cannot avoid difficult discussions. It’s not healthy, it’s not wise, it’s not smart. You have to talk about things even if you put yourself at risk by exposing your own feelings; and if you don’t do that, it leads to the detriment of a relationship not to be able to talk.”
What began as a peaceful protest, resulted in gunshots filling the air and crowds of demonstrators running for their own safety. The media has its way of portraying the demonstrators that were present, but we must take a closer look. “The kind of demonstration where mothers had strollers. These weren’t thugs. People brought their kids out…Don’t let the media fool you. It wasn’t just black people. It was all kinds of people.”
During times such as these, it is critical that a city have leadership that is able to guide and lead the people through. Dallas’s Mayor, Mike Rawlings, is one of those types of leaders. Pastor Jakes made a point to talk first with Mayor Rawlings, to not only thank him for his leadership and representation, but to also allow him to share his heart. “I know how tough leadership is. You have so many people to answer to…where do we go from here?” Mayor Rawlings shared, “Well, first of all we have to do some mourning. These families are burying their loved ones. Whether they are in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, or Dallas, Texas; and I think mourning is an important thing. We come together when we mourn.”
As Mayor Rawlings continues to share, he asks two important questions, “Do we want to change?” He highlights how often we respond by expecting the other person to change, but it can’t work that way. He applies this very reality upon his own shoulders, “It’s our generation…that somehow have not worked on change for these young men and these young women.” His second question highlights morality, “Can you be wrong and still be good?” He continues to elaborate this important point by sharing, “Can someone disagree with somebody but not demonize them…you don’t demonize people. You say, hey I think you got it wrong here. Okay. But God loves you and I’m gonna lift you up.’”
Understanding the reality that we are currently in, it is vital to make sure that we make the decisions that not only point us in the right direction, but guide us there and not right back where we came from. Pastor Jakes asks this important question, “How do we keep it from slipping back into the quagmire of tribalism and indifference?” Mayor Rawlings points to history in order to answer, “You have to understand how history works. History works through those tipping dominoes. So every action is important because you don’t know the repercussions.” He continues to share, “Yes, it is about race but underlying that is the income disparity, the education disparity, the opportunity disparity.” What we see on the surface is not the whole story, it is how we got here. “It’s not because your pigment is like this and mine is that way, it’s the history of 200 years, of the last 30 years, and understanding where we are today because of that.”
The questions that Mayor Rawlings continues to ask reveal the heart of the matter, “Do we want to fight yesterday’s battles or tomorrow’s battles? I want to build a bridge and get over it. But, that is hard work cause we’re gonna have to take God’s grace and forgiveness and understand that we’ve got to deal with policy issues…”
Pastor Jakes highlights the importance for all of us to cross the lines of our comfort zones by understanding each other. He highlights, “You don’t have to be a racist to become complacent and comfortable in staying amongst people who dress like you, who vote like you, and think like you. But, if we’re going to be one nation, we’re gonna have to cross the line.” Responding, Mayor Rawlings quotes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “The most segregated time in America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning.” In his own words, he continues, “We have got to learn to worship with one another.”
In light of this important reality, Pastor Jakes brings up an important truth. “In the interest of being honest, I think that it is easier for African Americans to come out of our comfort zones, because we had to go to school out of our comfort zones, we had to go to the bank out of our comfort zones, we had to go to work out of our comfort zones. It is really the general populous that has the difficulties, sometimes, in coming into other cultures.”
Pastor Jakes not only spoke with those present, but also with those who were not able to attend physically. Quineyetta McMillion is the mother of Alton Sterling who was tragically murdered in Baton Rouge. Understanding that Alton is more than what is reflected through media outlets, Pastor Jakes asks this important question, “What type of person was he and how would you like to see him best remembered?” She shares, “Alton was a very generous guy, there’s nothing you could have asked him for. If he had it, it was yours, without a shadow of a doubt. He was very caring; he was very sweet.” She continues to share, “remember him as his legacy, ‘the CD man’”.
As a man who understands what it’s like to lose their father at a young age, Pastor Jakes asks her how Quineyetta’s son is dealing with the loss of Alton. “We’re trying to stay away from social media…just continue to pray with each other.” Pastor Jakes continues to ask, “If you had the chance to talk to the officers, what do you think they did not get or understand about Alton? What are we missing about these individuals that we have preconceived ideas about? In response, she shares, “I would first ask, what did he do? Second of all…who what, when, why, and how? But, you’re right, it’s far too late now for that.”
Pastor Jakes turns the attention to SenatorWest on how and where we go from here. “From a government perspective, from a legislative perspective, you really can’t legislate morality. You can’t make people love each other. You can’t make people do the right thing, but what can we do to create an atmosphere of harmony between the various communities and police officers; and from a government perspective, what do you think is next?” Senator West highlights in response, “This is ground zero for change. Not only here in Texas, but throughout this country.” He continues to share, “The shooting of our Dallas police officers wasn’t about the Dallas Police Department, it was about law enforcement in general.”
Pastor Jakes highlights a recent interview he was having and a lady’s comment that “Black people are tired…from Emmet Till, these sort of images coming up again are very, very frustrating”. He continues, “when there is a case that is investigated, and the evidence seems to lead towards the fact that a particular police officer may of made a poor decision, by the time they get through bantering around in court, they’re always exonerated.” The bottom line is the desire of a fair system. “I don’t think that most African Americans or minorities, or Latinos, are wanting favors, they just want to be sure that justice is just.”
Senator West points out certain happenings within the city of Chicago that highlights why people have lost trust in the justice system. As a response to this, he shares, “I think it’s very important that we make the statement as the millennials are making the statement, that black lives do matter…we’re not saying that all lives don’t matter, we’re just saying that black lives do matter.” He continues to expound on his statement, “There appears to be situations with law enforcement, that there’s no justice and we need to make certain that we restore our faith in the justice system…” In response, Pastor Jakes highlights, “We can no longer think of people in terms of colors alone, we have to think of people in terms of hearts and love.”
This is an important and vital conversation that is being had. It is vital that we all take part and that we all listen to what is being said. Hear the full discussion and so much more. Greg and John shared in this segment.
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