There is so much that I want to say. So much that I want to share. And seemingly not enough words to describe everything. I look at the news. I look at the protests and I look at the death counts. I look at the signs, I look at the media and I look at the masks. Do you see the anger? Do you see the broken communities? Do you see the injustice? Do you see the dead bodies?
Where is the justice? Where is the “New World” we were promised? Where is the hope? Where is the truth? Can I dictate what should and should not happen? How can I critique any actions in light of my own privilege?
All these questions, All these hashtags and I find myself hopeless. Looking at my own hands for answers and I am wondering why I live such a peaceful privileged life. I listen to the “Hands up Don’t Shoot” chants and I want to throw up because I think about how many young black men have stated that phrase before a bullet entered their heads. My heart is ripped into two when I see George Floyds family honoring the life of their brother, so cruelly taken from this world. George should have passed away with grey in his hair on a rocking chair in his hometown. His last breath should have been 50 years from now with his grandchildren holding his hands. My eyes, they can’t see because of the tears. The angry tears that make me want to scream and smash every window of my own house. I want to burn myself into oblivion for living in a world that conspires against all that is beautiful and pure. And after all this screaming, shouting, and tears what is left? How can we reconcile all these wrongs? With mis-information and hate speech at the fingertips of so many, how can we create change in this world?
Then I think about the children. What world are they growing up in? They see a blank page of the world. Full of possibilities, potential. Through their lens, I wonder if they think grown ups are crazy. Willing to let pride be the definition of life. The fear they must feel and subconsciously know because everything is passed down through generations.
Then I wake up to the sounds of people screaming as tear gas blinds their eyes. And the coughing, the endless coughing. The gagging in the streets. The ventilators in the hospitals. Trying so very hard to keep people alive. The nurses cover up another face as another person dies trying to breathe. So many invisible viruses all resulting in death counts numbering more than our brains can comprehend. The other day I saw a funeral procession on the highway. At least 10 cars all in a line, blinkers flashing. I blinked in time with the flashers and wondered how many blinks George took before his last breath. Maybe 25?
So yes, I am angry. Angry at evil, racism and how it resolves to continue every second. Angry that the United States was built by enslaved people. Angry that somehow people don’t understand the institutionalized racism of our culture. Yes, I am mourning lost lives.The church bell tolling on and on for each person who left this world never to return. People taken by human hands and the virus. People who will never hear “I love you” ever again. Friends and family who now only have pictures to remember the soft warm embraces of their loved ones.
But even as my heart is heavy and I feel an ever growing dread, I know that I cannot rest just yet. I cannot lay down my weary head while the death counts rise. I must with my own two hands start to plant seeds of peace in the community I live in. The weeds are many but there is room for growth. I can listen, be intentional and above all pave a way for the children of this world to live in peace. It is not any easy road to achieve the vision of a reconciled nation. But I fear that if we do not define this goal, the protests, the rage, it will become just a sentence in a history book. Please, hear the angry voices, hear the protests and then look in the mirror and say “Am I willing to set aside my pride and sense of self to achieve a future that truly provides justice for all?”
Go. Run to your community and declare that change must be made. Come alongside your neighbor as you both weather this storm. Listen. Stop and just listen to the hearts of those hurting. And finally, let us be gracious to each other as we navigate change. A change that can bring healing and restoration to each of our communities. And one day after we have all passed away, our legacy will be defined by the positive change that we created.
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Donate to Out for Justice INC. a MD Criminal Justice Reform Non profit: https://www.out4justice.org/?fbclid=IwAR09SjGYYiNuuYuZVHTD2mnU1lPWbtVAwqHwF15cFlAm0Fq-jnjhh6tp7VE
Reading: Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/952-who-do-you-serve-who-do-you-protect
Films about Black American experience: http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/explore/10-black-history-documentaries-to-watch/