Last night I watched the local (L.A.) news reporting the Black Lives Matter protests going on in Los Angeles, demanding justice once again – this time in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd while handcuffed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck as he screamed that he couldn’t breathe, while other officers stood nearby and did nothing.
I watched as the protesters moved from City Hall to the 101 freeway, and I remembered just a few years ago when protesters began shutting down freeways as a way of making their demands heard, that I’d felt uncomfortable, thinking that stopping traffic was going too far. What if someone had an emergency? I thought.
But last night as I watched, I only wished I were there with them, standing in solidarity and stopping traffic. My anguish for all these deaths and injustices seems to have taken over my discomfort; I hope it always will, for we are in a time of emergency.
Today I found this piece written by UU minister Kent Doss:
We can’t breathe…
because we are choking on the tears for our lost brothers and sisters:
For Eric Garner, Eric Harris, Michael Brown, Alicia Thomas, Javier Ovando, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Ariane McCree, Steven Taylor, George Floyd, Miles Hall, Terrance Franklin, Darius Tarver, Brandon Weber, and a list longer than anyone dare imagine.
We can’t breathe because we are choking on tears for the broken world that our children are growing up in.
We can’t breathe because teargas and pepper spray have choked our voices in the streets.
We can’t breathe because the history of racism and police violence weighs heavy on our chest. It infects the air we breathe with a stench of injustice.
We can’t breathe because when we send our sons and daughters out into the world, we hold our breath until they make it home safe.
We can’t breathe because we have run this race so many times. We have struggled for years, decades, centuries as black and brown women and men have been murdered in the name of justice. We are exhausted.
We can’t breathe because the Spirit of Life, the breath of God is being smothered by the sins of fear and hatred.
We can’t breathe. We can’t breathe. We can’t breathe.
We can’t breathe because for some, the scales of justice have been replaced with the noose of hatred. And injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We can’t breathe because the winds of change seem to have stopped blowing; the progress toward racial equality that once seemed inevitable, now some days feels impossible.
We can’t breathe because watching our brothers and sisters kneeled on, beaten, shot and strangled to death takes our breath away.
It is shocking, disturbing, disgusting, and it should be.
We can’t breathe because we are holding our breath for a dream.
Holding our breath for a day when all children live in a world “where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
We can’t breathe, but we will stand, and we will march.
We will pray and we will sing.
We will speak our truth and we will be heard – till all can breathe freely.
May this be so. Amen.
Rev. Anne (she/her/hers)