“I can’t keep calm.”
“I fear for my black son.”
“I fear for my black daughter.”
“I don’t know if my husband will make it home safe.”
“I don’t know if I will make it home safe.”
“The world has gone crazy!”
“I feel hopeless.”
These are some of the sentiments that I’ve observed all week since the murders of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas 5. And I’m sick of it. I am sick of fear. All of it. Fear is what got us here, people!
Now, hold on, don’t misunderstand me. I have a great deal of compassion for those who feel this way. You are me, and I know your trials, because I experience them too. We’re in this together.
I have my own black son, daughter, husband, brother, mother, father, cousins, friends, nieces and nephews, in-laws, and my own black self that I cover in prayer daily with hopes that we will live to be our best, free from unwarranted, systemic harassment. I can’t tell you how many times in the last 72 hours I’ve stared at my 5-year-old daughter and had to shake off the thought of seeing her stunned in the back seat of our car after witnessing some vigilante cop lose his natural mind. Heaven forbid it.
I watch the man that I vowed to care for through the rest of my life come home every day, and I’m relieved that he didn’t encounter some crazed, poorly trained, afraid-of-his-own-shadow, Barney-Fife-acting police officer on his way from work.
But this season has me feeling empowered. Yes, empowered. Why? Because this is nothing new. According to 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No Temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man.” Oppression is ancient. Oppression is the rebar in our nation’s very foundation. We know these killings have been happening for centuries. But, we beat this before (the previous phase of it at least), and we can beat it again.
There is no reason for you to feel powerless unless you have chosen not to do your part. If you plan on twittling your thumbs, biting your nails, and simply watching from the stands while the winds of change blow around you, then yes, I guess you have a reason to fear. If you have no knowledge of your own power and the power of the creator within you, then yes, I can see why you are overwhelmed with fear. If you still don’t know that the Gods of our ancestors were themselves warriors, I get your fear. If you have forgotten that there really is no “they” and you’re currently blaming the mirror for reflecting this flawed world back to you, then I can see why you’re afraid.
See freedom comes in phases, and it’s cyclical, because unfortunately, humans get lazy. These trying times that ebb and flow through the eons are like labor pains, each one potentially getting us one step closer to birthing something better.
I respect your mourning, and I know that it is necessary. It is also necessary that you choose not to be paralyzed by your fear. Understand that the hopes, dreams, talents, strength, vitality, intelligence, and tenacity of all the dead are with us. In this sense, they never left us. Be quickened in the remembrance of them. And let the memory of them be your fuel as you move ahead in pursuit of freedom.
You are a powerful creation, and what you submit to in fear will only expand. So instead, let each one that has been snatched from us empower you to continue doing what you should have been doing long before and what you should continue doing long after this phase is over: develop your character, develop your community, and grow in love. Do that by any means necessary.
And if you still feel afraid, do it anyway.