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Friday, June 19, 2015


Thus says the Lord:
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more."
Thus says the Lord:
"Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears;
for there is a reward for your work."

Says the Lord:
"they shall come back from the land of the enemy;
there is hope for your future."
Says the Lord:
"Your children shall come back to their own country."

- JER. 31:15-17

I'm hesitant to even comment on last night's news that nine members of a A.M.E. church in Charleston, S.C., were shot by a 21 year-old man who spent an hour participating in their prayer meeting before pulling out a gun and opening fire, reloading several times and continuing to shoot people despite pleas from the crowd to stop.

I have no business saying anything. I don't live there. I don't know these people. I can't pretend to know what it's like to be subjected to the kinds of subtle and overt aggression that people of color face, particularly in a state where symbols of a time when enslaving other people was acceptable are displayed on public buildings as a reminder that there are people among them, including people in positions of power, who wish it was still the case.

And yet I will.

I will because--if it was me--I would want to know that others felt devastated, too.

I will because it will never, ever be okay with me that my actions, or lack of actions, contribute to a society where one group of people is "more equal than others".  The older I get, the less comfortable I am with the idea that I can manipulate how I am treated by my appearance in a way that others cannot, and that assumptions will be accordingly made, privileges granted, opportunities extended.

I will because, despite that, I know all too well how it feels to have adjectives applied to you that you didn't choose, other assumptions made, and privileges withheld, because of a biological trait over which you have no control, but for which you should have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed.

I will because we all bleed red, and whether you are Caucasoid or Afro-Caribbean or Hmong or Coeur d'Alene, you are entitled to feel safe in your house, at your place of worship if you have one, or on any street in America, because your kin fought and died for that just as mine did, and I have no more right to that feeling than you do.

I will because I, and my sisters and brothers around the planet, meet in places very much like Emanuel with people we don't know, and offer them whatever comfort we can with the thought too frequently in our minds that something like this can happen.  And yet we do it anyway, because can you imagine what kind of a world it would be if we gave into our fear, and stopped?

I will because there are people whom I love who work in law enforcement, and i want desperately for the things I believed about members of law enforcement as a child to be, without exception, safe things for a child of any color or upbringing to believe. I am grateful for the men and women in blue, along with civilians, who put their lives on the line to swiftly apprehend this shooter.

As old as I am, I am still naively optimistic on most days that these things are possible and we will someday reach that promised land.  There is an expression I love, whose rightful authorship I have not been able to pin down: "We ain't what we could be, we ain't what we gonna be, but at least we ain't what we was."  I believe that, and I have to believe the arc of history will continue to lead us forward.

But today I'm just heartbroken.

1 comment:

  1. Dana A. Gaines19 June, 2015 11:39

    Well said my friend. Honesty and hope all rolled up in one statement.