McKinney, TX and the Myth of "Earning" Respect


The very idea of recapping this event for you before I begin what I have to say is exhausting.  I've decided instead to include some video footage of the event, as well as some links that describe what happened.  So if you don't know what #McKinney is all about, start here.  Otherwise scroll down.

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I currently live in North Texas, about 45 minutes from McKinney, which does not bestow upon me magical unicorn authority to speak on the details of this particular event (a fact which, judging from social media, not everyone concurs on).  However, it does cause everything to hit just a bit closer to home.  A home which, incidentally, includes a beloved black son.  So yes, I'm more emotionally invested in this case than the average white American.  BUT I SHOULDN'T BE MORE TROUBLED BY IT.

If I am a white American watching these videos and reading these accounts, and I am not deeply shaken and concerned for the state of my country, there is something very, very wrong.

I am appalled by comments made in my Facebook feed pointing out everything these teenagers did that was "wrong" or "disrespectful".  Can I just be the one to state the obvious here?  They are teenagers.  With still-developing prefrontal cortexes.  In a state of extreme stress, fear, confusion, and chaos.  Teenagers do stupid things and act in stupid ways, and that's why they have parents to ground them for a week and why the natural consequences that come from bad choices are an excellent part of the universe.  (In case this is unclear, having a gun pulled on you is NOT a natural consequence for lingering near your friends to make sure they're going to be okay.)

Let me ask you, white reader.  When you were a teenager, were you ever once pinned to the ground on your swimsuit-clad stomach with an armed police officer's knee in your back while you ate grass and cried for your mama?

No?  Me neither.  Because unless you'd posed a violent threat to another human being, this would be wildly inappropriate and unjust.  AND IT IS.

There were adult chaperones at this party.  They were not sought out.  Minors were.  We thought we'd come so far.  But we keep finding out it's been a lie, a mirage.  Just under the surface, there is still a rumbling.

We have work to do, my fellow Americans.  And it doesn't start with a Facebook rant or this silly blog post.  It starts with practicing the recognition of the God-given dignity in every human being in little ways, in little moments, throughout our day.  This goes deeper than race, even.  It sinks past that and goes into every single one of our prejudices, every single way that we see people for less than they are, every single time we let thoughts go through our minds without catching them and telling them to get the hell out.  

It's about the big fat bold faced lie that "you have to earn respect".  No I don't.  No you don't.  No we don't.  No they don't.  Every single human being deserves to be treated with a base level of respect, even when circumstances are necessarily tough.  Because each one of us has a piece of the Divine within us.  And what's more, if you claim to be a Christian, to disrespect that is to disrespect the Incarnated Christ Himself.

EDITED TO ADD: The backstory of what this police officer had endured earlier that day on duty is addressed here.  We simply must change a policing system that dehumanizes cops.

*I wrote more about the topic of the current race relations in America here.  It is not something I feel particularly drawn towards writing on, but I refuse to look back on my life and regret being silent in the face of injustice.*


Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)