When a dear friend loses a loved one or when you have personally experienced loss of someone near to you, there is significant wisdom and solace in having friends who are just able to be present with you. Some of them rest in the place of empathy, having experienced the same loss, and others are just present and grieve because you grieve. They ache because you ache. They find little time to offer solutions or wax poetic about the meaning of life because in that moment you simply ache. In that moment as a person who has lost someone you love, you simply want and need the space to cry. To grieve. To lament. This in fact, is a healthy part of the process.
During the past hours, many of us have heard the media accounts of the #Charlestonshooting at a church in South Carolina. Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church is a church that represents so much rich history for African Americans in South Carolina and it was a key part of the Civil Rights Movement. It was at this church, that a young man of caucasian ethnicity, came into the church, was welcomed and sat among the congregation throughout an hour long bible study and then he shot them. When I heard this, all my heart could do was ache. And all my heart could do was grieve. As a young woman who is a member of a diverse church and has attended many mid-week bible studies, who has deeply benefited from friendships of people who do not look like me; I could only ache. His intent was clearly to harm people in this group because of their black skin. Yes this is 2015. Yes, we are here again. Have we ever really left this place?
It is quite difficult to change a mindset that has been embedded in our nation for generations, but it is not impossible. It will take time and grief. So, as I think about where we are today in America, I ask those that are friends of mine, those that love me, those that have a heart for justice, those that have a heart to see the gap closed regarding present day inequalities in many social and economic strata of our society…I just ask you, this time, to be silent. Sit with me. Grieve with me. Pray with me. Cry with me because innocent people who gathered in a space that has been deemed safe and sacred to worship and to pray, maybe even for the souls of those like #DylannRoof, were shot in cold blood. And when I see the reports, I understand that it could have been me sitting in a pew at a bible study in a place that I deem sacred. This.is.not.just.some.other.story. This.can’t.just.be.another.story.
At this point, I don’t need data to show me how things have improved racially in our country. At this point, I don’t need comments about this being an isolated incident.. At this point all I ask is that you just cry with me. That you allow the space for me to grieve the loss of people. Of lives. All lives matter and many people in the past have been targeted because of what they look like. But in this moment, I simply grieve because in a place where a young man received the very opposite treatment from those he was among; treatment of love, of acceptance, of caring, of common humanity, he chose to kill because of a superficial difference.
To grieve is human. So, please, don’t try to fix this one. Don’t offer me any solutions. Just let me cry a little or a lot. Grief is necessary in order to continue to stand for justice. It is the road oft traveled by those in advocacy work. Our passion for justice must be deeply rooted in our passion for humanity. If you love people, how can you not love justice? So today, I fall to my knees in prayer and in grief so that I can continue to stand and be a voice for those who have experienced and continue to experience injustice.
The very last lines of a poem I heard today written by #BrittiniGray sums up my sentiment. “…Just cry for my people when they die. Cry for my people when they die. Just cry. Just cry when they die. Cry for my people, if you can just cry. That would be enough. Until you are ready to get into the rough stuff, save your words and your rationale because I have no space for it.” – Brittini Gray, Brittini was one of the artists performing at The Summit 2015 (summitforchange.com).
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1,4