Tonight, I attended a rally. We chanted, we cheered. Pastors spoke. Teamsters agitated. There were coalitions, organizations, associations, and societies. Agendas were pushed. Politicians decried. White allies spoke up. Black leaders reached out. And we chanted and cheered some more. For a moment, we were organized, a salute to victims of police brutality, a beacon of hopeful desires and expectations.
Even with the ominous storm above, the scattered lightening and ensuing thunder, the small crowd held together for a couple of hours. It was a diverse gathering; young and old, white and black, male and female.
As a finale, the religious leaders and organizers gathered on stage to close in prayer. I missed the name and qualifications of the man who launched us into this rite, but with a raspy voice, he spoke into the microphone.
His opening admonishment to the crowd was a call to save our black sons. The follow-up to this request was a statement and question. “It must start with us because where do our sons come from?”
“Mothers,” he said in an oddly decisive manner.
“Mothers, do not kill your black sons.”
Then with no further comment, he tumbled forward into a prayer caught halfway between supplication and sermon.
At first, I thought there had been some mistake or perhaps I had misheard. My gaze was drawn to a well-dressed black woman ambling through the crowd. Our eyes met and perhaps she saw the disbelief in my expression or maybe I was an opportune audience. Whatever the motive, she said in an elevated whisper, “they would manage to blame it on a woman…bring it back on us.”
And then she was gone.
People, get woke. The Civil Rights Movement is not over. And it’s bigger.
This is not a shortsighted “All Lives Matter” post. Rather, this is a queuing up. This is a reminder of what’s to come. Behind this deluge of holy unrest, fights for justice and resistance to racist institutions, there lurks another torrent.
As a single multiracial career woman, trust me. I will be in this first wave. And I will be in the next. And the next. There are layers upon layers of archaic social constructs to wash away.
Yes, black lives matter. America as a post-racial nation is a dangerous illusion. There are severe and dehumanizing systems in play. These must be destroyed and rebuilt.
After that, myself and others will still be on deck. We live in a patriarchal society where the style of my reproductive organs subjects me to verbal assaults, physical violence, and possible rape. Because I am a woman, the burden of prevention falls on me.
In another amazing expression of endemic male entitlement, the government wants to lay claim to my body and determine the purpose and validity of my very biology. To add insult to injury, the brothers I cry out to support cannot extend the same level of equality or recognition that they themselves so desperately desire.
The barriers to my equal participation in society do not end with the victory of racial equality.
But the beginning of their removal does.
While in a Birmingham jail, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned a letter placing the struggle in Alabama onto a far larger and national scale writing, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
While racial injustice prevails, I will be loud and proud in my resistance. If we can bring the truth of “black lives matter” to bear on the unequal and oppressive system of American education, law enforcement, food access and more, then we open doors for other marginalized groups to make their way closer to freedom as well.
A rising tide lifts all boats.
To the pastor who used a closing prayer at a rally for racial justice as podium for his opinion on women’s rights, take a look in the mirror. The oppressive system you desire to defeat is a deep-rooted obstruction. You gasp for freedom from this chokehold. So do I. Please remove your hands.