First, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you spend this day in love and gratitude as you spend time with your friends and family. As much as I love this holiday, I would be remiss if I did not mention the grief that folks carry around this time of year. Last year, I struggled to appreciate Thanksgiving, because I was grieving over the loss of my sister. I did not really want to hang out with friends and family, but I forced myself to do so.
This year, I have been thinking about another loss. Along with others around the world, I received the news on Monday night that Officer Wilson would not be indicted for the death of Michael Brown. When I first heard the news, I was shocked. I am not sure why I was shocked. I should not have expected anything different, but I wanted to believe that the American justice system would actually stand for justice. Unfortunately, it did not. Indeed, people have different views on the news, and some wonder why there is such an outrage over the situation. There is outrage because Michael Brown’s death represents the deaths of numerous young black men in this country. There is frustration because these deaths show us that black lives are devalued. But I know that black lives matter.
Since Monday night, I have felt the stages of grief. Shock, anger, and sadness are all a part of grief. I grieve because I do not want to see any more black women or black men die at the hands of racism. Whenever a black woman or black man dies, I feel that I have lost a brother or sister. I also grieve because I do not want racism, as a system, to be ignored. Despite some of the progress that has been made, we are still a country that grapples with racism. As a country, we need to think about racism as a deadly, disgusting, and nasty disease that effects everyone.
Often, I think about my response. As a black woman and a Christian, I see racism through two lens. I view racism as a system of power, in which, people of color experience social and economic disadvantages. I also view racism as sin, as something that God does not approve of. I know that God loves justice, and wants people to experience justice.
With these two lens, I hope that I will have an active response. Right now, with grad school and work occurring at the same time, I do not know how I can respond. I find the work/school balance to be overwhelming at times, and it makes me unable to participate in rallies and protests. I am afraid that my inactivity will look like as though I do not care about what is going on around me. I wholeheartedly care and want justice to abound! Inside, I have an activist spirit that thrashes around, and I pray that God will show me how to be useful. Maybe, I will have to just write about the issues that I am passionate about.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I do not want to forget about what I am grateful for. Although, I think about the losses that have happened in the last couple of days, months and years; I must talk about the few things that I am grateful for.
I Am Grateful For…
1. God-He is my Lord, Savior, and my Help!
2. Parents-They love me even when I am being a brat! They care about my physical and emotional well-being. They are supportive of my work in grad school.
3. Extended Family-I have a huge family, and I may not see them as much as I would like to, but I still love them. They’re my fam!
4. Friends-I love my chicas. They listen to my whining and support me through my trials.
5. Wheelock Cohort- I am beginning to get to know a group of smart and extraordinary folks. I appreciate how down to earth everyone is, and how eager everyone is to learn and grow. I appreciate the encouragement that folks have given me, when I have wanted to give up on grad school.
6. My Community-So, I have been known to hate on Worcester, but there are a lot of activists and grassroots organizations around here. I have been very proud to see how many folks have come together in light of the Ferguson events.
When I feel overburdened by the pains of this world, I find it helpful to think about the things that I am thankful for. As a Christian, I have to believe in hope, even when things look very dark.
“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalms 107:1