Saturday, November 29, 2014

Let Us March On

“I don’t want to talk about it.” The eyes that I have known since birth fill with water, and she turns away from me. I see her glance at my son, her darling grandchild, as she retreats to the kitchen. 

God of our weary years

But for some reason, I have to talk. There are others....She knows this. Still I go on through the list: the twelve year old boy, shot dead because of a toy gun; the young woman, shot dead after a car crash; the young man, shot dead because of loud music...

God of our silent tears

My mother shakes her head; her light brown hair catches the sun as she whispers the words, “How will he be safe?” Johnny is eating cereal and slurping his milk. He cannot hear the fear in her trembling voice. My son, with coffee colored skin and eyes so deep and dark I could stare into them forever. 

Thou who hast brought us thus far on our way

I cannot see what is next. What will happen in the years to come. I remember the words of a white acquaintance when Johnny joined our family. “Oh, I just love brown babies. They are so cute.” And I wanted to scream. Because they grow into black teenagers, and once they are no longer cute babies, some of them get shot.

Thou who hast by thy might led us into thy light

People warned us over and over again when we moved to Zambia, “Oh, please be safe. Oh, please take care of yourselves. It is dangerous over there.” I look at Johnny and I wonder. How do I keep him safe? Will it ever be safe for him in my country of origin? 

Keep us forever in thy path we pray

My mother has rocked him and sung to him and loved him since the day he joined our family. In her eyes, I see my love for him reflected. I know that his life beats in her heart. I know her suffering when she hears of black boys shot.

Lest our feet stray from the places our God where we met thee

And then I think of Michael Brown’s mother, and Trayvon Martin’s mother, and all the mothers whose worries have been realized, whose fears have broken through into horrifying reality, who don’t have to speculate; instead, they must say good-bye with weeping and wailing.

Lest our heart drunk with the wine of the world we forget thee

To be the mother of a boy with brown skin. My words fail me here. And so, I have been listening to these words, over and over, performed by the Boys Choir of Harlem... 

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty...

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.

Yes, please. Please, dear God. Let us march on til victory is won.

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