Tuesday, June 23, 2015

One Wing



The last few weeks have been very hard, both for me and my extended family and I have not been around computers much. I do hope to catch up on all your blogs and emails very soon, but I did want to share this - especially in light of recent events.


A few weeks ago I attended a funeral.  I had only met the man a couple of months ago when he asked to meet with me, interested in obtaining affordable housing for people he was bringing here from Ethiopia.  He was a very kind man with a thick accent and a gentle rhythm about him.   Although he was a recent immigrant himself, he was already working to help others.  I liked him instantly.  And then he died suddenly after returning from a trip to Africa.   


Although I don’t like funerals,  I thought I would attend his, thinking that since he was a new resident there may not be many people there and it would be nice for his family to have some people in attendance.  


Arrogant, I know.  Of course the church was filled to bursting.  A man who spent his life helping others is bound to be surrounded by loving and grateful people..  


I entered, quietly took a seat in the back, and instantly knew that I was the only white person in the church.  It was a mildly weird feeling but also happily reminiscent of when Daphne used to take me to churches in Harlem where I stood out like a beacon in all my blond hair, blue eyed, whiteness.   


There was much weeping and wailing at the funeral.  And when I say weeping and wailing, I mean WEEPING AND WAILING.  Loud, doubled over, heart wrenching wailing.  I was crying and cringing just witnessing the outpouring of so much pain.  And again I remembered my former Harlem church days.   In those lovely gospel churches people would yell out whatever moved them in the middle of a service.  “Amen to that brother!”  “Lord hear our prayer!”   I was always a little jealous of people who seemed to literally be moved by the spirit.  Yeah, that would never have happened in the upright, uptight, almost all white churches of my youth.  


Besides being a racial minority of one, I didn’t understand a word of the service which was done entirely in an Ethiopian dialect.   I had no clue as to what was happening, I just sat and listened to the weeping.  Sorrow has no language barrier. I felt totally lost and yet very much included all at the same time and came home emotionally exhausted yet exhilarated to have been witness to such a loving culture, even if only for a couple of hours.



This was still fresh in my mind when I heard the news coming out of Charleston last week.   How many times have I been welcomed into black churches?   Wonderfully welcomed.  Warmly and sincerely welcomed.  Every single time.  


Hearing that the shooter hesitated because all those people had been so nice to him just broke my heart in pieces.  Why is it that the nicest people always seem to get the worst of it?  I am really struggling with this so I can’t even imagine what black folks are feeling.   I would think anger.  Lots and lots of anger. But then you turn on the news and they are all talking about forgiveness.  


I once experienced extreme violence because I was different.   Daphne experienced the homophobic violence but also the racial.   All those hate filled words, all those hate filled actions.  It all still rings in my head like it was yesterday.


Have I forgiven our attackers?  Yes I have.  Have I forgotten?  Never.  And somehow, today, I feel compelled to apology for my fellow race as I always felt compelled to apology to Daphne, though I never got the chance.  No, not everyone is a racist.  But if you are white and you are not doing something, anything, to help end this madness, you are not doing enough.  Please do something.


"We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another." - Luciano De Crescenzo

15 comments:

  1. hugs and many many prayers for you right now. love and light my dear friend.

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    1. Thank you. I know you and yours must be struggling too. Hugs and prayers to you.

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  2. I can't even imagine how these events must trigger memories of hatred for you. Prayers are being said for you, your extended family, the friends and family of the Charleston nine, and for all that have suffered injustice and hate. May you, and the world, fine peace.

    Our church raised a significant amount of money for the victims' fund and one member has offered to do an anti-racism program for our Sunday School. It seems so little in the face of such evil.

    Embracing you, my one winged friend.

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    1. Thank you for your kind thoughts and most especially for what your church is doing. Sounds like a great start.

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  3. Replies
    1. Right back at you. xoxoxox

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  4. Anger, yes. Extreme sadness, yes.

    Thank you.

    Peace.

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    1. Peace to you my friend.

      Maybe someday . . .

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  5. Indeed. None of us are free until al of us are free.

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    1. Indeed. But it will take a lot a heavy lifting to get us all there.

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  6. You are an ordinary amazing person, 8. I love who you are.

    I feel and think as you do. This racism is incomprehensible to me and yet I must understand. The graciousness from that community is so strong it's transformative; at least I think so. And that level of raw ignorant hatred: circumstance fuels that so it is circumstance we have to change.

    Thanks for this beautiful sad post

    Love
    kj

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    1. Personally I think it is more than circumstance. There is some powerful need to feel superior to others that lives in the hearts of many. And to feel superior they must diminish someone else. Sad.

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    2. yes, this too. this exists with power because the playing field is not level. change that and it's at least a fairer fight….

      love again
      kj

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  7. I understand so completely. Thank you.

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    1. I know you do. Thank you.

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