Dry Gratitude, Wet Tears

I sat down tonight to write an article about gratitude to correspond with the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday.  But, I can’t.  I started it, went and got some pistachios, then some Cheetos, then a cup of tea, then some more pistachios, and then I decided to be honest with you (as I’ve always tried to be).

Of course I’m grateful:  I have shelter, food, incredible friends, my health, and a beautiful family.  I am so grateful that I started this blog this year, which has brought me so much joy because I’m finally answering my call to write.  I am in love with life—I really am.

But there is a cloud of sadness and worry hovering.  I’m feeling tired; but not just tired, my soul is genuinely weary.

I forced myself to look at the video of Laquan getting murdered–shot 16 times. I’m calling him by his first name because I feel as if I know him, as if I could have known him, as if he could have been one of my troubled students when I was a high school English teacher. I watched Laquan die: 16 shots in 15 seconds; around 10 cops and no one checked on Laquan- 1 just walked over to kick the 3 inch knife away. 13 months before there were any charges. 13 months–even with the video (which the cop erased but ironically there is a tape of him erasing the video.). Then I watched the politicians not be outraged, but urge for peace.   I watched them persecute people for crimes that hadn’t even happened yet, while giving space for the court of law to decide if Jason Van Dyke is guilty.

Laquan is gone. Laquan’s chance for bettering his life is gone.  So, it’s a struggle to write about being thankful right now.  I feel as if thankfulness is almost a trick that has been used to silence Black people—to placate us.  Every year during the week of Thanksgiving there is an announcement about the brutal killing of one of our children, or the brutal raping of one of our folks by the judicial system.  It was exactly one year ago yesterday that 12 year old Tamir Rice was murdered.  And it is the same week that we learned that the police officer, Darren Wilson, wouldn’t be indicted in the killing of Michael Brown. And now, 13 months later, the tape of Laquan’s gruesome murder is released. Why is it always around Thanksgiving?

Have these timings been coordinated because the establishment has become reliant upon our forgiving nature (because forgiveness is the Christian thing to do)?  No one but us forgives our murderers before the murdered can even be buried.  There is a pattern: one of ours gets murdered, we publicly forgive, the news stations laud the family for its Christian values, and if one family member or community leader dares to speak out or strike out they are admonished and vilified.  Don’t worry about them Black folks doing nothing, they will just be praying and giving thanks.

Correspondingly, on every news station, they usually call on “our spokesman” to  always be a preacher.  Why?  Are we looking for our modern day Martin Luther King, Jr.?  Am I wrong for saying that I don’t want to hear about prayer right now or God right now; but someone who can talk about real, tangible solutions?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m praying.  I pray for my boys and for Black people and for World peace.  I pray; but I want my leader to be limited to just that tool in their struggles with whomever they are sparring with.  Don’t send in a preacher to talk intelligently with a police commissioner, a judge, a lawyer.  I don’t want Black people to be just a “praying folk,” but a “doing folk.”

Am I wrong for becoming suspicious that maybe they are using the church to keep us calm, yet somewhat weak?  I mean what would happen if we became outraged, engaged, informed and powerful?  What if we didn’t just march, but we moved (mentally, financially).

Trust me, I am a Southern woman.  I know the worst thing I can be called is ungrateful.  I promise you, I am not.  I promise you that I recognize my blessings; but I can’t block it out. I can’t block seeing all the murders committed by the people charged with protecting us and whom we are supposed to trust the most.  I can’t bury my disgust, my fear, just because it’s a holiday, because Aunt Lena made my favorite pie, or because my boys are safe and healthy . . . for now.

I watched that child get shot 16 times. Forgive me, but my soul is weary.


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About Randi B.

Randi is a diversity and inclusion strategist, speaker, trainer and writer, focusing on making connections and cultivating empathy in this diverse world one trip, speech, article, book and conversation at a time.

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