Pictures. Supposed to tell stories. Worth a thousand–a million words. Pictures. There is a picture of me and Sakura (my oldest) after she was born because my wife was still out cold from the C-Section and I was told skin-to-skin was good for my daughter, even though mama wasn’t available. So take off your shirt. Hug your daughter. Feel the exhilaration, the fear of the unknown, the hope for tomorrow, the love you never knew existed. Feel it breathing upon and warming your chest.
That picture, which I shared via social media, means little in a society that will erase the story this picture tells because of stock narratives used to justify and conceal violence. To those who continue to justify violence perpetrated by the state, I’m done.
To those who equate civilian violence with violence at the hands of the state, I’m done.
To those who think me hugging my daughter(s), obtaining a PhD, being a pastor and professor, and having a “professional” wife will “save” me from this… I’m done.
Salvation comes from God and the practice of love, not from a social arrangement of “success” that requires disposable people. Bob Dylan once asked/sang, “how many deaths will it take until he knows, that too many people have died?”
My job is not to convince anyone that I’m a human being who loves his just-born daughter and that at that moment, I could give a damn about modern constructions of identity called “black” or “white.” I praise God that I’m not beholden to the maniacal categories (post)modernity has bequeathed to us.
But I live in a society that doesn’t know the meaning of conversation. I live in a place where being human is routinely confused with the power to dominate. I love and live in a social arrangement where pundits often fall into two camps and argue retread platitudes, all the while the bodies continue to mount… from inner-cities to Appalachia. And the trending topics, hashtags, bobble-head pundits, and mass media never seem to ask: why are there disposable people here? How did that happen?
The answer my friends, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.
I’m not feeling hopeless though, because my hope isn’t in the state or in contemporary constructions of identity. My hope lies in a kind of love that creates compassion and incarnation. If anything, what we are seeing is that our status quo is bereft of compassionate and incarnational love and therefore bereft of justice and mercy. When I see pictures and when I read posts on Facebook or tweets, I make sure that I use them as a way to sensitize myself to the realities of people beyond our designations of personhood. I tell myself, “this is somebody’s loved one… son, daughter… friend…” It’s not easy, but I try.
It’s clear that when folks have their hands raised and four other officers are close by, these are not the (loving) thoughts that enter into the mind of those who shoot unarmed persons of color.
What do we always hear? Fear, fear, fear.
We have one fearful and violent status quo. This fear and violence can only lead to death.
Faith, Hope, and Love
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