Every once in a while members of black communities rise up. They have always been pushed there. It is never unprovoked. It has been after many failings of society as a whole to acknowledge what harm we allow to be inflicted based on race and excuse it or ignore it altogether. The talk that comes out about the rioting uses the pronoun 'they,' which always pisses me off. There is an almost accepted idea in society that every individual involved in the rioting is a representative of every American with dark skin. It also occurs to me that every time I have heard mention of the killer in the massacre of nine innocent souls in their house of worship last week, he has been offered to me as a lone wolf.
Last week was so hard for the country. We are repeatedly handed opportunities to see our failings and sincerely make a change. Collectively we opt out. Every time. This time seems to be different, though. We were offered a very personal look at the families who lost their loved ones in the massacre when they were in court and each of them, with shaking voices full of sorrow and tears, offered forgiveness to the killer. That is grace. That is a beauty we don't see in our society. That is in exact contradiction to what the hateful racists of the world were telling us their community was going to do. Those very least among us were hoping for another riot. They wanted to see the community outraged and attempt to revolt so America could remind itself that 'they' are angry. Instead we were offered grace. And love. And genuine beauty.
When I read Maya Angelou's poem "And Still I Rise" as a young woman, I misinterpreted it. I thought that because of her many life experiences she was telling all of the people who had ever looked down on her that their opinions were irrelevant. But I kept hearing lines from the poem in my head last week whenever the news would play a clip of the families in the courtroom. That was who she was speaking about. That was about the unified black experience. The unified black soul continues to rise. And it juxtaposed with things that white America chooses to see. And what white America refuses to see.
I see it. I hope everyone can take time and give a loving, thoughtful reflection on Maya Angelou's words here. I hope we can all aspire to rise. Together.
And Still I Rise
You may write me down in history