One question remains unasked in the George Floyd case. Who will replace the four police officers who were fired? I agree. They should have been fired. The one is being charged with murder. What happened to George Floyd was a horrible injustice. Unfortunately, it’s not an isolated event, which is why so many people are so upset about it. We want less racism. We want more accountability among law enforcement officers. I agree. All of these are good things. But who will step up to the plate to be that non-racist cop? Who will vow to do the right thing next time? Who will change the future?
I have three action points. First, consider Jesus. He also died an unjust criminal’s death, but was completely innocent. Meanwhile, a known murderer, Barabas, was set free (Matthew 27:15-26). Jesus knows racism. He dealt with it Himself. He reached across racial lines. Read the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4. George Floyd knew Jesus. He had been changed from the inside out after coming to know Christ. Only Jesus can bring real and lasting change. Let’s start with prayer.
Next, try your profession. If you’re a stay at home mom, begin there. Treat your customers and coworkers well, despite their race, background, or economic differences. Moms, love on all your kids, not just those whom you connect with better. Ask questions and learn to appreciate differences rather than feel threatened by them. Let me share an example from my experience working in a restaurant.
When I became a waitress, I chose to never check my tips after a table left. I simply checked to make sure the customers paid enough to cover their bill. Many people I worked with had preconceived notions of the types of people who did and didn’t tip well. I didn’t want to treat people differently based on how I thought they’d tip. I wanted to treat everyone well. So I chose to never check my tips after a table left. In all my years, I broke this rule of mine only two times intentionally, and a third time on accident:
- When my grandpa came in. I wanted to see what kind of tipper he was, in case I went out with him in the future and needed to add to his tip. He tipped me well. (Yet my parents often came in and I don’t remember ever checking their tips.)
- A black couple that a certain black server didn’t want to serve at the end of the night. The server said the couple wouldn’t tip well, so he didn’t want to serve them. I gladly took the table. Since he had said such a thing about his own race, it piqued my curiosity. I checked their tip once they left and I was happy they tipped me well. It confirmed my conviction to continue not checking tips.
- I didn’t purposely check, but I noticed a certain Asian group had left their credit card receipt blank, leaving me no tip at all. It was the only time I know of where I was stiffed. Having been to Asia, I knew that culturally in some parts, they considered it offensive to leave a tip. Since the majority of their meal, they hadn’t spoken English, and our restaurant was across the street from a convention center, I assumed they weren’t accustomed to American ways. I didn’t mind because I knew that.
I share my own experience to ask you, in your profession, do you do things that make you treat some people better than others? Discrimination is ultimately treating one person better than another. Racism is believing one race is better than another. The Bible speaks against this in James 2 “don’t show favoritism” (James 2:1). Yeah, in another place in the Bible, God says, “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated” (Malachi 1:2-3, Romans 9:13). But Esau and Jacob were of the same race/family/background. Let’s keep this in context. Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:29-34). He chose the things of the world over the things of God. Esau grieved his parents by marrying non believers (Genesis 26:34-35). Jacob sought God’s favor, and received it as a result (Genesis 27, 32:22-32). God says those who seek Him will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Esau didn’t seek God. Jacob did.
Now back to the passage in James. The James passage is referring to two people who come into a place dressed differently, “one man wearing fine clothes…[and another] man wearing filthy clothes” (James 2:2 and following). I’ve been there. I’ve walked into stores and been treated good or bad based on my clothing. Are you that person? Do you treat clients or customers better or worse based on what they buy from you? Or what you think they’ll buy? Do you fix all complaints from customers with a large portfolio? But ignore complaints from smaller, less important customers? Sadly, I know business owners who do this. You never know when a small customer might become your best customer. It’s best to give everyone the same amazing service. Thankfully, I also know business owners who treat everyone well! This still leaves room to reward your top clients occasionally without treating others poorly.
Lastly, please consider: who is going to replace the four police officers who were just fired for this? Of course, they should have been fired. But I’m not planning on applying to be a police officer. It’s never been a job I wanted. I know very few people who would ever desire such a role. We get upset at the police for doing a poor job, but no one wants to take on that role themselves. Everyone wants change, but who’s willing to step into the position that actually has the most power to make positive changes?
What will ensure those hired to replace them do a better job? Last I checked, there weren’t a lot of people signing up to be cops. It’s a risky job with an average salary. My state requires cops to be 21, have a record free of criminal activity, and a GED or high school diploma. I know someone who had a college degree and applied at three different departments to be a policeman. He felt he was called to be a cop. No one hired him. So he applied to some IT place and got a job making lots more than he would have enforcing the law. Does this mean more people would try to be police officers if they were paid more? If more people applied, would the caliber of people chosen improve? I don’t know. But these are questions we should be asking. We need to be praying for good people to become police officers.
That’s my two cents for change. Start with prayer and follow God’s lead. Next, try your profession. Then pray for our law enforcement officers and the system designed to keep us safe.