When Doing Everything Right Is Not Enough to be Treated Equally
By: Bryant Turner
*Bryant is a friend of mine. After the death of George Floyd he shared parts of his story with me I had never heard before. I broke down in tears. Before talking to him I thought things like being pulled over by the police is something we all have to deal with. I was wrong. This is much different. Other things he shared with me were ugly parts of our culture that I know exist but did not want to face. The kind of man that Bryant is, the best of the best, forced me to realize these painful realities are hurting good people. I could no longer ignore the problem because I was not directly part of it. He originally shared what is posted below on his Facebook page. It has been shared and liked thousands of times. I thought it was a very important post so I asked for his permission to also share it on my blog. I know you will enjoy his story.
Still Not Enough
Have you ever had the exhausting feeling of doing all you can to make someone happy, but they still are not satisfied? Maybe you work with someone, that no matter what you do, they already have their mind made up about you. There is nothing you can do to change it.
What if that feeling didn't come from one person or one situation, but was something you had to live with all of the time? What if you were black and did everything right, but continued to run into the wall of your best not being good enough simply because of your skin color?
This is not something I usually do. I typically do not speak up about my daily reality. However, when it comes to the issues of police brutality and systematic racism, I can no longer be silent. If you allow me to show you a little bit of what it is like in my world maybe you can understand why I have to say something now.
The Color of my World
My world is white. For the most part, this world has been good to me. I have always lived in the suburbs. All of my schools have been predominately white. I currently work at an office where less than 10% of the over 250 employees are black. My current community and church are predominately white. My wife is white.
I have done everything I can to live up to the expectation of being a black man in a white world. It is a weight I carry every day. I have never done drugs or been arrested. I stay silent on controversial issues. I do not speak up on politics. I smile and nod even when what you are saying is ignorant and hurts my feelings.
But what am I supposed to do when that is not good enough? How am I supposed to respond when I have done everything you want me to do, but it is still not enough to be treated equally?
Enough to Be Suspicious
Police have stopped me and searched my car just for driving down the street. This has happened more than once. That is what happens when being black is also enough to be suspicious.
Recently, I was pulled over five minutes from where I live. I was only a couple of songs on the radio from the home where my two beautiful daughters and wife live with me. You may be wondering what I did to get pulled over. I'll tell you - I waved.
A police officer saw me drive by his house. I waved when I drove by. After that, I turned around to head home. Then, from my rearview mirror, I saw him get in the police car parked in his driveway and follow me. I tried to wave. You know, be friendly when I first saw him. That was not good enough, and we all know why.
Eventually, he stopped me. He asked for my license. He read my address out loud. Then he questioned what I was doing in his neighborhood. Really? I live in the same small town as you. Actually, I was doing my job as a real estate agent. I was showing a home. So now I can be stopped from even doing my job - the thing that feeds my family because the face God gave me is suspicious to some.
Not There Yet
How am I supposed to tell my little girls they are safe in this world when I have tried to do everything I can to live by your rules, and it is not enough? How can you expect me to continue to experience this horrific pain from simply being black, and not at some point get angry?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr dreamed of a world where people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. If that is the standard of equality, I can tell you by experience, we are not there yet.
I have experienced the pain of hate by people who should love me, but do not, simply because of the color of my skin. Who I am was never given a chance. My skin color said all they needed to know before I was given a chance to speak for myself. How would you feel if this was your daily reality in America? Would you still say racism doesn't exist?
Stop and Listen
The issue is real. George Floyd was just the latest tragedy. We are currently seeing an explosion of pain bottled up from as far back as Emmett Till.
I am not looking for an apology. You do not owe me anything because you are white and I am black. Please do not feel bad for being born white.
Here is something I would like you to do after hearing this from me. Please stop and listen to what people are saying. Let your guard down for one second. Acknowledgment is key. I personally believe the ultimate goal is to bring awareness. This is where the church needs to step in. I pray all these actions start real conversations that create real change. This is not a legislative thing. John Gray said it best "you can't pass a law to change someone's heart."
Love and Hate
I am filled with both love and hate right now. I HATE what is going on in our nation. However, my phone has been blowing up from my white friends and family with real deal conversations. That part, I LOVE. I am hearing how people really do care. They want to know if they have missed the mark or have a blind spot. I have faith that God is working in our country like never before. If you have made it this far, I want you to know I am still the same Bryant you know and love. Please feel free to contact me anytime if you would like to discuss any issues. I love each and every one of you!
Bryant Turner Jr. is a former Canadian football defensive lineman. He made his professional debut with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2011. He played college football at UAB. You can follow him on social Instagram @blitz_turner.
Here is a great book by Benjamin Watson. It offers a Christ-centered perspective on the racial divide we are facing in our country.