I'd like to say it was because I was crouching down, leaning in, coming alongside and listening, yes, listening to the unbearable grief of my black sisters and brothers.
But that would not be true.
The sound and fury of it all has overwhelmed my heart and soul to the point that I cannot listen because I cannot hear it. I cannot hear it, because I cannot bear it.
Perhaps because it comes on the heels of my own personal grief. In April, I lost my two remaining grandparents, one from each side of my family. One, who had lived in a nursing home for the past five years, died at the age of 84, alone thanks to the quarantine rules. The other died at 94, surrounded by limited family (also thanks to the pandemic), seven months after a stroke--having lived on his until last year. Neither suffered from coronavirus; both died naturally and for that I am grateful as much as I miss them.
Although my grief has been tainted by anger from not being able to join my family in mourning at a funeral, it has not be fueled by violence. My relatives died normally from old age, not because they were the wrong color at the wrong place at the wrong time as has been the case for Ahmaud, Breonna, and George and so many others throughout our nation's history.
As a Christian, I believe death is truly not the way things should, although it is way things are--at least right now. I believe Jesus defeated death through His death and with His resurrection has promised a future where death steals no longer. This is the hope I have and I rest in during my grief. I will see them again.
And yet, how do I take comfort when a death is unjust? For this I have no answers. So I just sit, in prayer asking God like Habakkuk of old:
How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
I am white and grew up middle-class. I do not pretend to know what the black community is feeling, what my next-door neighbors (who are black) are feeling. I don't even know how to ask them. And I'm ashamed to admit that I'm afraid to ask them. I know grief, and even the searing unjust grief of a miscarriage, but my loss did not affect an entire community. My loss wasn't perpetrated by someone with a face and a name. My loss has not resulted in millions of people to fear for their own lives and the lives of their children.
Tonight I ran across this Instagram post and suddenly was able to listen:
True statement, I didn't want a son because black boys face an evil world. I didn't want to teach him how to live his life under a certain threshold. Especially, when I believe he is without limits. The second I saw him I couldn't spot a flaw, so it's disturbing that upon single glance he's seen to have the biggest of them all.So from day one I've strived to protect him. Still; as the days go on the world grows more grim. I told myself if I raise him to love he can overcome anything. I told myself he could be the one to draw hearts in.For a little guy that's a lot of responsibility. I'm basically asking him to make blind eyes see. As a black mom it's unraveling. I find myself constantly questioning. What if that was my baby saying, "I can't breathe" @shorttecake
Her beautiful son is only a few months, my son's age really. Her son is black. Mine is white. Right now, all I can do is pray that God would help me raise my son so that he fights for a world where everyone can breath the precious breathe of life that God has given us. I'm not talking about another white savior. Jesus wasn't "white" and I want my son to be like Him. I want to be like Him. I pray my son becomes a man who steps down so others can step up. Who asks her son how to not be blind and stands next to him in this unjust world as equals in the sight of God, together working to make it more just. A son who, although the "color of privilege" by no choice of his own, is willing to share his inherent privileges with others by choice.
A son who listens and acts when he hears another say, "I can't breathe."
I pray the same for myself. Maybe I should go next door. And just listen.