January 14 – May 31, 2019
This week, like many others over the course of the past year has reminded me of my privilege in society simply based on my skin color.
I saw a graphic on Facebook indicating that twice as many white people had been killed by law enforcement than black people. The person posting it said, "why aren't white people rioting?" implying a superiority of response simply because white people are more civilized.
As a mathematician, I saw those numbers and was appalled at their disproportionality. Why is that? In order for those numbers to be weighted according to percentage of population then there should be twice as many white people in our country as black people. Then it would be a "fair" distribution.
However, that's not the case. According to the US Census bureau, white people comprise roughly 77% of the population and black people approximately 13%. In other words, there are almost 6 times as many white people than black people in our country; 6 times.
Do you see the problem? Law enforcement does not kill white people at 6 times the rate of black people. The disproportionality of deaths is why there is rioting in Ferguson, Baltimore, and other cities. Black people are targeted more frequently than white people and are killed at higher rates. This is wrong, very wrong.
So, what do we do? First, let's get educated about the simple math. Second, listen, listen to the stories that trigger the uprisings. Third, be kind. Fourth, reserve judgment until we've done the first three. Fifth, love our neighbors as ourselves.
Rev. Mary Wilson is the pastor of Church of the Savior in Cedar Park, TX (a BPFNA Partner Congregation). This was originally printed in the April 30 issue of the Church of the Savior newsletter.