Faithfull Utterances: Babylon Confusion in 2020

By Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

This has been a difficult week. Processing my feelings—my pain, my anger, and my disillusionment. It was like a rollercoaster of emotions and I found myself reliving my own experiences while juggling the frustration of my young adult daughter and my elderly mother. We have all had experiences with racism. In a recent Facebook post, I shared my recent encounter with being stopped by a State Trooper earlier this year.

I was driving back from visiting my daughter in college and I jumped in front of a state trooper. I wasn’t speeding, just trying to get home. I was pulled over and I couldn’t understand why. He said I didn’t have a front license plate. I informed him it was a rental car I was returning the next day. He then accused me of drinking because he smelled alcohol in my car. I reached down to pick up the hand sanitizer that had fallen on the floor.

I was then interrogated about why I rented a car and why I wasn’t driving my car. When I replied I don’t drive my car long distances because it’s older, he then asked me how old it was it. Questions that were in my opinion, intrusive. After running my tags, he found nothing. I drove away shaking and angry. This was the same county Sandra Bland was killed in. All I wanted to do was go home safely, alive. I ultimately filed a report with the Inspector General’s office and spoke with some others in leadership about my experience. I was blessed to use my voice.

George, Breonna, Sandra, Eric, Philando, Trayvon, Aubrey, Tamir, Jordan, and so many others did not have that opportunity. I could tell you stories about being stopped in different parts of Dallas. And it does not matter that I have a Ph.D., say the right things, do the right things- -because of the color of my skin, assumptions are made about me. It has been heartbreaking listening to friends as we share our fears for our loved ones.

Terrified of them jogging, bird watching, leaving parties, listening to music in the car, going to the store, sitting in their homes. A friend said his 13-year-old grandson asked if he could be taught how to deal with the police because he does not want to die. It is painful to prepare your kids for the first time they’ll be called the “N” word or stopped by authorities or mistreated because of their skin color and worry every time they are out if that will be the last time you see them.

My story is the story of many of our people. We know racism, discrimination, and hate. What makes it overwhelming is that this pain and hurt is generational. I have listened to the stories of my mother witnessing police brutality when she was a young woman or watching my grandmother as a senior citizen being called gal by a younger white woman when I was a girl. We carry this pain not only in our minds and spirits, but it is carried in our bodies. The stress is overwhelming and has both physical and psychological impacts on our well-being which is well-documented in Science.

Despite what I am feeling, throughout this entire season, I have been reminded of Babylon in the Bible. I strongly believe there are some nuggets of knowledge for us to examine. Babylon is mentioned several times beginning in Genesis 11 with the Tower of Babel. It was in this place that people became unable to understand one another because God confused their languages. They were trying to build a tower to reach the heavens.

Babylon is mentioned several times throughout the Bible especially during the time of exile of the Jews in the book of Jeremiah: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.

Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. 10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”