Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 11:30 pm (Updated: January 17, 11:30 pm)
I’m glad it’s not obvious I’m interracial. I know how can someone named Kimble be interracial? My grandmother’s a Womack with Native American ancestry. Also, family rumors resurfacing after one of my grandfathers died, suggest I’m also partially African American. Therefore, I’m interracial. I’m glad it’s not obvious because of what that means in terms of my chances of spending time in prison? The reality is almost 60 percent of all imprisoned males in the U.S. are African American and estimates suggest those numbers will grow to one in three black males spending time in prison. Native Americans aren’t far behind at rates almost 40 percent higher than the national average. According to a 2014 Hechinger Report concerning juveniles, “At least one in three of those arrested has a disability, ranging from emotional disability like bipolar disorder to learning disabilities like dyslexia and some researchers estimate the figure may be as high as 70 percent.” The report goes on to say that “the vast majority of adults in American prisons have a disability, according to a 1997 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey.” If you’re poor, you’re 60 percent more likely to spend time in prison because you can’t afford an attorney; settling for a plea bargain. If you’re angry and think it can’t be true, I challenge you to do some homework. Brace yourself. If you can’t handle disturbing discoveries about innocent people populating prison ranks because of race, class or mental state of being, you may want to sit this one out. In fact, if America continues down the current path, we’re eventually going to need to revise the Pledge of Allegiance. Taking God out won’t be the issue, but adding words will. The pledge would read, “with liberty and justice for all who can afford it.” Where is the justice and equality for all? What does true justice really look like? I’m reminded of a place in the Bible where it says to administer real justice and show brotherhood and compassion. Is that an ancient outdated idea? Lincoln said we should work “to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace.” What does he mean? Maybe it means meeting others where they are, at their point of need, caring for them in a manner that empowers all of us to move from where we are to where we really need to be. What does this kind of meeting look like? How does it administer true justice capable of achieving lasting peace? When my youngest son was 4 and we lived in Texas, I learned what true justice looks like and how its power actually works. The night before Valentine’s Day, I was tucking him into bed. That’s the moment it happened and everything I believed changed. My son asked me to pray to make it snow for his birthday. I skeptically replied, “That’s a big birthday present.” Besides it doesn’t snow often in Texas. I started leaving his room when I had a moment of truth – my son doesn’t need me nearly as much as I need him. You see, I’m still thinking, “I’m the adult in charge who thinks he’s in total control of what’s happening.” The fact I grew up in Texas, never seeing snow in February, do I think that allows me to predict and control the weather too? What an illusion of control. I’m the one who needs to meet my son where he is, so I can get to where I need to be. Free from thinking I have power to control others just because they’re smaller or weaker, I knelt down and we prayed there would be snow for his birthday. When we woke up, a fresh layer of snow was covering the ground. You can’t imagine my son’s elation with his heavenly birthday present. Sometimes administering true justice isn’t about what we see and believe is possible. Maybe it’s about meeting with others, even if they’re different or in a position giving you certain perceived powers over them. The willingness to meet others where they are provides strategic opportunities, creating settings and achieving justice and lasting peace. This kind of caring meets a need for lasting justice in both your lives, keeping one of you out of prison and allowing you to share and cherish your freedom together. God only knows how to use snow to administer true justice and open our eyes to see our need to meet others where they are. May your prayers for snow be answered. And may you never take for granted your need to be involved, escaping the illusion of the control trap, ensuring liberty and justice really is available for all. Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clincal pastoral counselor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.