In Response to Another Black Life Lost

I am a white woman.

I have grown up with opportunities I did not have to earn, safety I took for granted, privilege I didn’t always realize.

I see it now.

I see that my life is easier simply because of my skin color, my gender, my family, my geography, my education, my privilege.

It is privilege.

We cannot pretend that it isn’t.

We cannot pretend we all are equal yet.

We cannot turn blind eyes to injustice.

We cannot ignore inequality.

We cannot stay silent.

Another black man was shot and killed by the very people who are supposed to protect us all.

Another murder.

It’s sickening, but it isn’t surprising, and that wrecks me.

He did not look like me, but that does not mean I cannot mourn and grieve the loss of his life. His life mattered. He mattered.

I did not know him, but I feel his absence deeply in my heart today.

How long? How long will this last? How much higher will the death count climb?

How many more lives must end before we stand up for justice, for equality, for life?

I have not spoken about this boldly before, and I lament the times I stayed silent in the face of such atrocities. I have not known the right words, but I realize I never will. I want to listen more than I speak, I want to hear more than I declare, but I also do not want my silence to be perceived as my acceptance or my ambivalence.

I am not ambivalent. I do not accept this. Black lives matter.

I do not pretend for a single second to understand. I do not understand. I have never lived in black skin, I have never seen or heard or experienced what black Americans have. I do not understand.

But I will not ignore the suffering.

I will not ignore the injustice.

I will not ignore the grief.

I will not ignore the loss.

I will not ignore the horror.

A word is inked into my skin, still healing from the needle. Beloved, it says in a language I don’t speak.

And here’s what I’m learning already: this word, this identity, this truth, it is not just for me.

I am beloved, and so is Alton Sterling.

I am beloved, and so is my black neighbor.

I am beloved, and so is my gay neighbor, my transgender neighbor, my lesbian neighbor.

I am beloved, and so is my Muslim neighbor.

I am beloved, and so is my enemy.

It is for all of us.

Jesus is for all of us.

We need to stand up for each other. We need to love each other. We need to protect each other. We need to fight for each other.

I refuse to let my privilege separate me from those who are different. I refuse to put a guard up, build a wall, stand on a pedestal, create distance between those who look differently, believe differently, live differently, or have different experiences.

I do not understand.

But I will not ignore.

Because I have privilege, because I have a platform, because I am alive and have a voice and have a God whose heart is for justice for all his beloved children, I will not be silent anymore.

I will listen.

I will mourn.

I will lament.

I will pray.

I will grieve.

I will celebrate the good I can find.

I will work.

I will hope.

I will engage.

I will not stay silent.

I will not turn a blind eye.

I will not pretend this isn’t happening.

Another life is lost.

Another human buried.

Another tragedy.

Lord Jesus, come.

Be near.

Oh, Jesus, come.


Originally published at www.racheladawson.com on July 6, 2016.