Yesterday, we laid our dear brother George Floyd to rest. His murder inspired me to contemporized this classic Franciscan prayer for this Kairos moment.
May God bless you with holy anger at white supremacy, police brutality, and racial oppression, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from systemic racism, xenophobia, and anti-blackness, so that you may sacrificially reach out to them in love, learn how to stand in solidarity with them, and work alongside them to transform broken systems and structures.
May God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we really CAN make a difference in this world, so that we are able, with God’s grace, to help the Church do what others claim cannot be done: truly become an interconnected Body, where when one part suffers, every part suffers with it.
Today, on what would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday, I find myself reflecting on questions that my namesake W.E.B. DuBois raised in 1961. He wrote, “How shall Integrity face Oppression? What shall Honesty do in the face of Deception, Decency in the face of Insult, Self-Defense before Blows? How shall Desert and Accomplishment meet Despising, Detraction, and Lies? What shall Virtue do to meet Brute Force? There are so many answers and so contradictory; and such differences for those on the one hand who meet questions similar to this once a year or once a decade, and those who face them hourly and daily.” Those of us who face these questions hourly are weary and our souls are downcast today. We join the psalmist in crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” We are tired of our world, the Church, and our nation dressing “the wounds of our people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”
And, yet, we know that this inept response is rooted in the truth Dr. King declared in 1968, “there are two Americas.” Many citizens in the other America—those whom DuBois said are confronted with these questions once a year or once a decade—finds themselves bewildered and confused. Many people in this America are authentically searching for greater clarity and understanding. They are sincerely trying to understand what has led us to this watershed moment as a nation. While this is not a new reality for Black people in the U.S. by any stretch of the imagination, I do understand that one of the consequences of living in a nation that has failed to uproot white supremacy and systemic racism is an extremely flawed education system. I curated this historic resource—of poetry, song, Scripture, books, & viewings—to help answer this question for the other America.