Watching the news

Editor’s Note: This poem was written by a young adult during his attendance at a Christian youth Passport Camp with other members of University Baptist Church, College Park, Md.

By Cyrus Burns

I never used to watch the news
You see I used to say that headlines were no concern of mine
I used to say I have no time for the trivial banter of a split society when God is by my side
But that is no excuse

Because in the word of God we must DO JUSTICE
But when it comes to understanding the world we claim it’s just us
We say “We’re not ignorant, it’s just them”
We hold ourselves in a pile of coal as if we’re the gem

You see I grew up in a reality where I was part of them
I was a lump of coal sitting in a field of gems
My mother was single and living off the streets
Even God’s glory could not lift us from defeat
But in that time we saw a light
Because in a melting pot of culture you would expect a fight
With African-Americans, Indians, Native Americans, Asians, Muslims, and Hispanics too
You would think racial friction couldn’t have been anything but true
But through the bond of a struggle God’s glory was in sight
And no matter what race, we treated each other right
Treating everyone regardless of race as her own kin
My mom fell in love with an African-American
Through love there came two brothers
Jayden and Adrian, my own blood, no different from others

I began to watch the news
And I realized what it may be like to grow up in their shoes
A nation haunted by gentrification, people with white supremacy affiliation, and incarceration
Living in a world where belonging is a situation

I attend this camp because God is what it’s about
Yet for years here I have seen ignorance break out
Most campers know God’s true love; they are prevalent by far
But those that speak words of injustice, you know who you are
I’ve heard generalizations about different cultures
Picking on the lives of other humans like vultures

Yet they still choose to act as though they are the gem
But they forget to understand
God gave glory to us and to them
Judgments based on skin is a form of disrespect, disrespect is hate, hate is a sin, and unless you’re acting out real love you will never feel salvation

One day my little brothers
will cross a sea of their own nerves only for their faith to be cut short
Because when they arrive at port will they have a passport to Passport?
Your lighthouse will be seen for sure
But will it carry them safe to shore?
And when they are lost and try to steer clear of the hate they fear
How will they ever build their kingdom here?

Say one of their heroes is our former president
A man who achieved this country and broke through the judgment of his skin
And while they try to grow together by singing a hymn
Will they stand next to people who make jokes by calling him Muslim?

These are small examples of jokes that can leave a scar
But leaving those ideas behind can go very far
Because when a human nearby hears words of hate
Their pain in this world can only duplicate

So please put away your pride, stop encouraging division
Know that this is not what the Holy Spirit envisions
Because God’s love is an everlasting opened door that lets everyone through
And outside those doors, welcoming people, should be you


A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School, New Orleans, Cyrus Burns plans to attend Louisiana State University after spending a year traveling to various countries. He hopes to someday work in public speaking or politics. He attributes his faith to his beginnings at University Baptist Church, College Park, Md.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.