Another shooting involving a black… Addressing Implicit Bias

Another shooting in the news.  Nine people were shot before officers killed the gunman in Houston, Texas.  Armed with a handgun, rifle, and 2600 rounds of ammunition, the scene could have been much worse.

Another shooting involving a black…  Let’s be honest.  Too many people would end that sentence with ‘man’.  This shooting?  This shooting involved a black…. Porsche.  That’s right.  The fancy Italian car.  The shooter was a white lawyer!  He parked in his black Porsche and shot pedestrians through the window.  Apparently he was struggling financially – I’m sure those Porsche payments were larger than most people’s mortgage.  Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters, “The motivation appears to be a lawyer whose relationship with his law firm went bad.”

The Danger of Assumptions

There is a danger in assumptions.  Too many people think white, highly educated people mean one thing while black, less educated people mean another.  That is absolutely false.  If you have not taken the Implicit Bias Test yet, I encourage you to do so.  Implicit bias is not about outward racism, but judgments we make automatically.  As Christ followers we need to be aware of our implicit biases and work toward overcoming them.

Not every wealthy white person who owns a Porsche is virtuous.  God never judges outward appearances.  He looks at the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7)  So should we.  None of us are able to see the human heart, but we are able to see outward actions that reflect an inward character.   We are to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven. (Mt. 5:16)

The Choice of Justice

I don’t know what happened to the lawyer in Houston.  Somehow he became so self-focused on his own perceived injustices, that he justified perpetrating injustice toward others.  His reaction was extreme, but I wonder if we don’t all fall prey to this tendency to lesser degrees.  At root injustice is selfish sin.  That sin leads to oppression.  Injustice is a choice.  So is justice.  Justice is sacrificial.  Justice looks to the needs of others. (Phi. 2:4)  Justice seeks to restore and set people free from the burden of sin and the entanglements sin creates.

We have to recognize all people are created in the image of God and He desires justice for all.  We should not be so quick to jump to assumptions.  We should be careful not to show favoritism toward the wealthy (Jms. 2:1) or despise the poor or those of another race, gender or ethnicity.

We should be people who live for others and not ourselves.  For the lawyer in Houston, life was not about him or his Porsche or his portfolio.  Today his life is over.  Sad.  He left no legacy.  He will only be remembered for terrible acts of violence.  Contrast that with my friend Dee Arnold.  She is another white attorney.  She got discouraged by the practice of law.  But she chose justice.  She chose to serve others.  She decided to use her gifts to make a difference.  Instead of shooting bystanders, she is serving them.  And in doing so, she is creating a lasting legacy.


You can too.

Visit our new site to join Dee and others.  Learn how you can change your story to leave a mark for good upon the world.  Contact us to get started.