I had a flashback. In my very conscious effort to diffuse all that’s going on right now from my spirit and mind, I am reminded that I actually have the option to diffuse. I along with anyone who takes their emotional and mental well being seriously had to pull back at least a bit from last week’s tragedy. We cant be constantly reminded of tragedy, bury our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening, no, but we do have to be sensitive to how much information we take in. But all of this reminded me of a time when I couldn’t diffuse because I was in the front seat of grief.
A much younger cousin of mine came up to me only a few hours after my mother’s funeral and said, “Whew, I’m glad that’s over.” It that moment I thought to myself, yeah maybe for you. The funeral was only just a step for me in a very long process of grieving. We in the public, especially those who are African American can feel real grief, pain, threat, fear, all of that, as it relates to the killing of Black men and women by brutal police. This hits home because we understand full well that what happened to them could happen to us, or someone we know or love. But our grief cant touch the surface of those who are directly tied to these men who lost their lives last week, or last year, or 10 years ago, or 100 years ago. (Because we do know the killing of Black folk by police or authorities is not a new phenomenon right? It being caught on film is the only new thing… but I digress.) Like me during those grief stricken days closely connected in time to my own mother’s death, the family and friends of Mr Alton Sterling and Mr Philando Castile cannot so easily disconnect from their pain with distractions on television and Facebook.
Alton Sterling was a working married man. He was taking care of his children who adored him. In the picture to the upper right is his 15 year old baby boy, Cameron Sterling crying out during his father’s funeral. It was Cameron who most connected me to who Alton was during his outcry through last week’s press conference. It’s in moments of a human expression of agony that connects us to a sense of loss. I think they call that empathy. Cameron didn’t deserve to loose his daddy.
Philando Castile was an all around good guy who was loved by family, friends and his community. The picture to the upper left is a powerful photo that speaks to the spirit of the African American experience during loss. The hands raised represent the choosing to hold ones head high even when your loved one was taken senselessly. The white suits represent the purity of this young man’s spirit and the love he had for the children he served at the elementary school he worked for.
Neither of these men deserved to die. None of these families deserved to bury their loved ones today. Praying for Alton’s family and friends. Praying for Philando’s family and friends. Praying for Cameron who misses his father at such an impressionable age of early manhood. Praying for Diamond Reynolds and her daughter who witnessed murder in cold blood.
Have you ever had major surgery, or a major physical injury? You know the aftereffects, the stuff that follows? The aching, the swelling, the soreness, the sharp pains when you move wrong? This is exactly where I am this morning.
The aching is of the mind, the swelling is of the spirit, the bruising is of the heart.
The aftermaths of the blood of my people in the streets. The history of that bloodshed of real life eerily reminiscent of 1716 not 2016. The bloodshed of officers having nothing to do with offenses from corrupt badge carriers. The political spin doctor’s attempts to steadily divide among racial lines over the Blue lives lost. The remaining silence of many Whites claiming none of these incidents anything to do with them. That silence present also with some Blacks caught somewhere between the apathy of the masses, and the crippling of broken spirit. The looming paralysis of a church positioned in the falesy that social justice is not Godly.
I sit in a full bodied cast invisible to the eye, crying Abba Father. You are our only hope.
I find myself holding you a little tighter lately. I find myself watching you peacefully sleep. You don’t know all the madness going on in the world around you. But I will protect you from it as much as I can, and that will be until my death. The idea that I cannot protect you from all pain is indeed my greatest pain. I will be there when they attempt to criminalize you on the playground, in the classroom, in the boardroom. I will be there.