I posted the following on my Facebook page last week.I truly thought that all the news about the deaths of black men at the hands of police officers had not really affected me emotionally.
I was wrong.
“I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning. This time I took the cue and began to pray. I prayed first for the safety of my family. I prayed for the safety of that daughter who is often beset by anxiety that could look like a threat to a police officer. I prayed for the men in my life, that they would be surrounded by God’s protection, especially the one who is special needs whose actions might look like a threat, for that brother who has a hair trigger temper, for that friend who might just look like a bad dude. I prayed for a grandson, thanking God for something I never thought I would have to be thankful, and of which I have never been ashamed, his fair skin and blue gray eyes. I prayed for my nephews, that one in a state that is not so diverse, that his “difference” might not be seen as a threat and for that one in a city that is so diverse that each male of color might be deemed a threat. I prayed for me that I would not be consumed by fear. I prayed for us that we would continue to “march on till victory is won!”
I prayed for all of us.
All of us!!
I prayed and I pray:
God has not given us the spirit of fear…
Lord please surround us with your presence; fill us with your spirit and overshadow us with your love as we poor pilgrims of sorrow travel through this land. We look to you, O God! Hear our plea, attend unto our prayer.
My pain links to my history and your response to my pain links to yours!”
It may take a minute for that last sentence to sink in so please allow me to elaborate.
The pain and sorrow and pain I carry in my soul links to a history of sorrow and pain, the history of my family in America. The first link is the fact that I don’t know all of my history, that I can only go back so far before the trail leads to a dead end. I can only surmise that the first people through whose lineage I came did not come to the New World of their own volition. They did not just wake up one morning and decide to leave Africa behind to explore new frontiers.
My sorrow and pain links to my grandparents who spent their lives eking out a living by working for Mr. Charlie and Miz Willie. My grandfather was a brilliant man, but that brilliance could only be played out as the superintendent of White’s Chapel A.M.E. church. I get my love of reading from him and every time I travel, I grab a Reader’s Digest in honor of the many stacks of those magazines I devoured when I lived with my grandparents.
If your pain links to my sorrow and pain because you can relate to my history, then your response to today’s racial climate will most likely mirror my response.
But if you can trace your lineage all the way back to those days of yore when your ancestors were exploring and raping and pillaging and escaping to freedom only to return to enslave those not so privileged, then your response will most likely reflect the privilege you enjoy today as you mock what you deem the extremism of my reactions with a cursory, “That was then, this is now. Go back to Africa if you don’t like it here.”
At some point you may just realize that my ancestors were never voluntary immigrants.
My pain links to my history and your response to my pain links to yours!