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Greg Ondo

A Different Lens 

It is safe to say I did not really start having genuine discussions on race in America until the death of George Floyd. The death of George Floyd was felt around the country and sparked the beginning for me, like many Americans, to have genuine, real, and honest discussions on race in America. There was something so dark and evil about his murder; that lead to protests on police brutality and racial injustice. 

As I watched the rallies and listened to leaders speak on racial injustices, there were many common themes. One theme that focused me to look inward was, “This keeps happening.” I had to answer the question, “Why wasn’t I upset over racial injustice before this?” 

Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, and Philando Castille were all cases I remember well that did not make me pick up books on racial injustice. I remember having conversations with people about those cases and saying things like, “They shouldn’t have been doing what they were doing,” or “They should have just complied with the officer.” How could so many people look at the same event and see it totally different?

I would come to realize that it is all about the lens through which you view the world that will shape how you feel about something. 

Through our church book study of “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi , I was able to look at things through a different lens. To read about how people of color have been systematically persecuted throughout history was truly eye opening. These subjects were not discussed enough in my early education.

What was discussed in detail in my early education was music. My drum teacher had pictures on his ceiling of all the great jazz drummers. Of the dozens of pictures, you could count the number of white drummers on one hand. I reflect back to that room and studying their music when I think about race. Realizing so many artists such as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones were all influenced by Black Americans was important in learning the proper history of music.  

My hope in sharing my story is that people look inward and ask themselves why they feel the way they do. It is important to be well educated on these difficult topics. To read books, have difficult discussions with people of different backgrounds, and view the world through different lenses.

Lastly, the love that Jesus showed us was never grounded in judgment and situational analysis. It was simply to love your neighbor.  

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