I must have been off of social media for nearly two months before learning about the recent deaths of #GeorgeFloyd and #BreonnaTaylor. Amid protests, the quarantine regulations in Nashville had been loosening and things were finally getting back to normal. I moved here in December and since then, we have had a tornado, a few storms, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Like many Nashville residents, I worked throughout the pandemic as an essential employee. Life, outside of my ‘social media’ fast, had been taken up by sleep, work, church zoom calls and prayer walks with a few hikes.
With my roomate back home and no cable and social media, I had to find out about #GeorgeFloyd by my newly appointed Sergeant—private security—at our roll call meeting. However, I gathered no real details from our meeting except news about the “riots”. I must admit, being the only Black and female officer, I was not outrage… yet. Details came through my younger sister during a surprise visit to Nashville for my 29th Birthday. As she braided my hair, she mentioned that a Black man had been murdered by Police. One thing that stuck with me, past her visit, was her description of #GeorgeFloyd’s death and his call for his mother moments before his last breath. Images of what it could possibly look like for a grown man to call out for his mother, made me cringe. I felt an overwhelming weight of sorrow. Anxiety soon filled my heart. To avoid those feelings, that night, I asked my sister to stop sharing—out of fear as I continued on with my week in avoidance.
However, the protests got louder. My church got louder. All of my Christian, White friends became vocal-ish. Then, I saw it. The pain and hurt in my boyfriend’s eyes and posture. We had both been on social media fasts—mine was a lot longer. It made me realize that even as a woman in uniform with very few connections, I had no power to protect him. I get it. He’s suppose to protect me—and he does but any woman in-love would want to protect her man, also. That’s a no brainer. That’s the reality that broke me, though. My thoughts went on to include my unborn, future children. How can I protect them? I tried to seek counsel from a few Black married women in church. I assumed that they would have some advice to give to me to help encourage my Man. Unfortunately, no one had an answer or advice. As a History major, my thoughts— waves during a bad storm— could not help but to brush upon the shores of the bloody past of Black-Americans by the hands of their White-American countrymen. Anger and helplessness, swept over me like a small boat during a tsunami. The speeches of vocal Black men like, James Baldwin and Malcolm X filled my thoughts and occupied my dreams. Then, again, I plead with God and His Son, Jesus Christ as I attempted to fight off anger.
As a History major, my thoughts— as waves during a bad storm— could not help but to brush upon the shores of the bloody past of Black-Americans by the hands of their White-American countrymen.
The other night, I decided to watch the video of #GeorgeFloyd—who by the way, is more than a hashtag, but I am going to keep his name trending over here! Since then, I have spent several nights, scrolling through my YouTube page, watching other videos surrounding news coverage on the most recent injustices towards Black men and women. As a Christian, I have to say that it is hard to do without anger. So, I will not do this without anger. I am angry. I have been pleading to God for justice. I still am. I have felt a lot like the prophet Habakkuk—sobbing and asking the Lord has He seen the pain inflicted on my people. Which is silly—because of course He has. However I’m desperate for Him to move on our behalf! We need agency and we need it now. Which brings me to end on this: How can you, the Christians, help? Be in prayer to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, asking for Him to step in and bring peace to His church (of all nations). The world may never be unified in this, but as The Church, His Bride, we should be. And yes, ACT. Pray, speak up, and act (do something). I challenge us all to have the conversations. You know which ones I mean. The uncomfortable ones with people that do not share your race, age, gender, and culture.
Pray, speak up, and act.
Today, during my routined–nightly scroll through YouTube, I watched a video entitled: “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” Emmanuel Acho, a Black man and the host, featured Matthew McConaughey, a White man and actor. I recommend that you watch it. I appreciated the video in its fullness—especially the ways of which Acho breaks down a few things to help his audience to comprehend and/or relate. Towards the end, McConaughey shuts it down with a quote from an African American poet, Langston Hughes. I had never read this poem before, and after some internet searching, I found it. He quoted only a portion of this powerful poem and so I thought it would be great for everyone to read it in its entirety. It is a powerful piece of literature that we as Americans should read. I hope you all will begin to dream and pray for a better America. Let’s not “Make America Great Again,” but let us make America great, PERIOD. To God be the Glory.
Let’s not “Make America Great Again,” but let us make America great, PERIOD.
The late Langston Hughes: 1902-1967
Poem was found on: Poets.org.
“Let America be America again”
“Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again.”
-Langston Hughes, late 1930s.
Poem is from: https://poets.org/poem/let-america-be-america-again