The church bells are ringing, the birds are singing, the rains have washed the air clean and everything is fresh and full of promise. A glorious day awaits.
But there is a shadow cast over it all for me. Yesterday my 4-year-old granddaughter realized that she is wrong. Not for something she did or said, but for the crime of being born black in America. She was riding in the car with her father and asked if he was going to get killed by the police because his skin was very brown. Her one-year old brother is blissfully innocent of this, but his day will come as well. And as police continue their killing spree unchecked, I awake with fear for their future.
My Facebook page is filled with good-hearted people outraged, grieving, feeling helpless and hopeless about how to stop it. “Don’t mourn—organize” the advice of our social activist ancestors and I wonder why we don’t or how we could. We are facing the shame and horror of a big-fisted bully vying to lead this country straight into the gates of Hell and enough people who are neither mourning nor ashamed that put him in that position.
I have to believe he will be stopped, but that doesn’t excuse us from the massive work of healing and awakening to be done. It must include the bandaids of laws and accountability and treating trigger-happy cops like the murderers they are. But as Reconstruction taught us, laws and lawyers and politicians don’t dig deep enough into the cancer of hatred, ignorance and racism. We need educators and artists and genuine spiritual seekers to nurture and nourish a Spirit that leans toward love and understanding, that helps us enlarge the cramped cells we inhabit of our twisted thinking and shut-down feeling.
Off I go into the day to do my small part to unleash that beauty with 80 Spanish souls. I will tell them about my grandchildren and the shame of my country while teaching a jazz piece that reveals the triumph of my country and the glorious inheritance my black-blooded grandchildren will also know. And if the Fates are willing, I will take Zadie and Malik and their father Ronnie and step-brother Alijah to Ghana where the chief of Dzodze will welcome them to a home that celebrates their birth instead of criminalizes it.
Friends, let us enjoy each ring of the church bell and vow to work yet harder. Alton Sterling also deserved the chance to hear the church bells in Spain.