Q. How do you find the fight to get back up after being shoved down so many times?
In the wake of the Chauvin guilty verdict I felt compelled to respond to this question. The short answer, for anyone with only a moment to decide if this is worth reading, "one can only hold their breathe for so long and ultimately you have to breathe or die".
I, like the rest of the world, have been on pins and needles awaiting the outcome of this verdict. Knowing clearly what the outcome should be, and if the roles were reversed what the outcome would be, but batting up against the stark reality of what the outcome would likely be. This is what it looks like and feels like to be black in America in the year 2021.
I've been "detained" at the airport twice. Once because I had too many bags and it raised suspicion. The reason given: I was a young girl coming in from another country with a number of bags, therefore I was flagged because I matched a suspected drug smuggling profile. Number of bags in my possession - 3 (a purse, a carry on and a duffle bag). I wonder how many others on the flight carrying 3 or more bags were detained?
And once for having too few bags, and it raised suspicion. Reason given: there are young girls coming in from Miami with only one bag smuggling in drugs and you fit the profile. Now to my never profiled, never under suspicion brothers and sisters in Christ, this makes perfect sense, it's simply protecting our country from the bad guys. But what if your mere existence is seen as the bad guy? No one explains "the profile" meanwhile I'm surrounded by people flashing badges so quickly it's all a terrifying blur. No hoodie or gang attire to deem me a threat, but a professional woman returning home from a business trip. No stop in Miami, just a direct flight from Los Angeles to New York.
"Detained" for jaywalking, threatened and kicked out of a bar an old boyfriend thought would be safe for a bi-racial couple to patronize, followed in stores and suspected of theft more times than I can remember, refused service, of course, at the owner's discretion. Truth is, I don't drink, don't smoke, I'm not a thief, have always traveled lightly, and have never done drugs in my life, but have been "detained often" for them all. You tell me, what's this "profile" we refuse to speak of and insist doesn't exist? Honestly, I'd like to know so that I can get off the list.
The Israelites often found themselves up against a system of oppression and they wandered and suffered for much longer, I'm sure, than any of them would have desired. They could have chosen to remain in the comfortable discomfort of Egypt or fight the ongoing exhausting battle for freedom. They fought. God chose them to fight. He used their struggle to change the world. The fight was part of their deliverance. I don't like that the struggle has landed on the backs of my people, but I accept that it has and, as with the Israelites, God has a plan to change the world through it.
How do you find the fight to get back up after being shoved down so many times? You decide if you want to breathe or die. George Floyd wanted to live, but was unable to remove the defiant obstacle, Derek Chauvin, pressing down on his neck. As Christians, we can remove what is pinning us down spiritually, but we must stop feeling sorry for ourselves in order to do so. I know that you're tired of fighting. I'm tired. As a person of color I'm tired of fitting the profile, tired of seeing bodies of color lying dead in the streets, tired of watching others not be prosecuted, tired of the double standards. As a woman I'm tired of fighting the stereotypes. As a mom, I'm tired of worrying about the safety of my son or the danger now of having bi-racial children. But tired is not a solution, it's an excuse to remain the same. As people of color we all know that this one verdict is simply that, one verdict. We will be fighting this battle until the end of time.
We fight on, no matter how many times we are shoved down, whether it is racially, spiritually, sexually or systemically, because it is part of our deliverance. The strength of a nation is rooted in it's struggle. Martin Luther King, Jr. said "“Whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent”. This is not just true for racial injustices, but any bondage.
It's time we as Christians took a lesson from the pages of the black struggle, it's time to stand up. Stop looking at what has been done to us (bent over) and look at what we now refuse to accept (straighten up). It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burden again by a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5:1-2)
Rebounding is an action, but it begins with a mindset.
Set your mind to breath again.