I always find it interesting that life is a series of coming out or coming into oneself. #BlackLivesMatter is not just a powerful protest slogan. It is a coming out. I look in the mirror, which ain’t always easy to do and say, “Black Lives Matter”. And you know what for the first time in a very long time I see myself . . . mattering. The struggle to be me has always stemmed from wondering if my body mattered to anyone other than myself, my people, my tribe, my folks. In the grander scheme of things it means that I have spent a lifetime seeking out places and people where my Black Life, where my Black Body matters.
And I holler! Who in the world gave the powers and municipalities I encounter everyday to doubt whether I matter or not. Who in the world gave the powers and municipalities I encounter everyday to determine how I matter and when I cease to matter. No one in this world has the right to make me question the veracity of my being. But it was I. I gave the powers and municipalities I encounter every day the power to instill that doubt, to determine my existential fate, to lead me to doubt the veracity of my being.
I am grateful to a generation of people who are standing up and resisting the authority of those powers and municipalities to determine how and even if they matter. I am grateful to a generation who refuse to let theology look the way it has always looked. I am grateful to a generation that bring their bodies to the streets—black bodies, brown bodies, sepia bodies, peach bodies, muted golden bodies, white bodies, etc.—screaming “#ThisIsWhatTheologyLooksLike!”
Bodies that reflect the very nature of God. Bodies that know how to be in the library and live the learnings in the street.
There are so many lives that have been taken from the world, from black communities by the authority—police, district attorneys, investigators, the justice department, the FBI, the CIA, the UN an others too many to name. There are too many black men dying in this new era of authorized and televised lynchings. Hey ABC, CBS, NBC, NY 1, CNN, FOX do you think my children need to see murder on the television screen at every turn. Do 12 year old black youth need to see a grainy video of a Tamir Rice being gunned down for playing in the playground? Do my people need to see Eric Garner choked over and over and over and over and over every time his name is mentioned? I understand that we need to see that Mike Brown’s body laid a “smoldering in the street” for four and a half hours underneath the white sheet the photographer’s lens so salaciously lingered upon? But how do we not let it get so engrained in our conscious that we do react like I find myself doing—experiencing trauma at the sound of sirens and lights?
Hey you out there! Black lives matter! What are you so afraid of when you see us walk down the street? Michael Brown was not a hulking giant. Darren Wilson was tall too but he had a gun, pepper spray and a wall of blue behind him. Eric Garner was what we call a big boned man. But the officers that grabbed him weighed more than him in their combined weight. They had guns, batons, etc. And as Eric Garner lay on the sidewalk dying the EMT watched. How are EMT afraid of an incapacitated man? Oh yes, his skin was black.
These are my ramblings to be sure, but and may not make much sense. But let’s be clear I am a black man and am shocked to find myself just now in my life shaking of the fetters of this deeply entrenched injustice as normality. It’s easy to preach it and to shout for justice from the hilltop of Harlem Heights, but to actually loosen the chains that have had me bound—to dislodge that poisonous bit of mentality from my psyche and my spirit is intense and powerful. I feel like a tumor has been removed and I must find take the time to adjust to life without said tumor.
Reading this, you may not get the sense of how powerfully important this moment in time is for an SGL Black Man of a certain age. But in the totality of myself I stand tall with hands up not asking “please don’t shoot” but actually demanding “Don’t Shoot!” and reclaiming my life from the bullets headed my way. Before when I said, “I can’t breathe” it was a solitary grasp for air, for life. Now when I say, “I can’t breathe” I know it is because “we can’t breathe”. And when enough of us can’t breath God hears and sends the breath of life to us. The world can’t have my breath because it’s God’s breath.
At this time and in this space something is changing from the inside. No baton can beat it down, no bullet can pierce it, no jail cell can stop it, and not even death can make it not matter. A change this deep can never be taken away.
Just some thoughts . . .