“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.” – Isaiah 43: 1a-2
Collective grief and trauma are often experienced after catastrophic natural disaster or acts of war or mass violence. For centuries, African American people have lived under the pall of white supremacist terrorism – concerned that being in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ could lead to violence, torture, humiliation, or death. Whether it is because of cultural identity or for shear survival, we see ourselves as one. We cried out for our mother along with George Floyd before his death; we mourned with the mothers of Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and India Cummings. We see ourselves as one and not distant from random acts of hate and wanton destruction of life. If there is a silver lining to all this pain, it is that now those who once stood on the sidelines have joined us in our grief and fear. Their participation is one step closer to the creation of a stronger movement for freedom and equality. Our vision is that a new generation can be born that will not have to unlearn white supremacy, because we did not teach it to them in the first place.
Our prayers go out to everyone who was a victim of the mass shooting in Buffalo, NY. We pray for the witnesses, especially those who are children, who will live with the horror in the long run. We pray for people in the surrounding community, who will walk in fear from now on. We pray for those of us with a desire to do more and are feeling helpless, scared, angry and sad. We also pray for this young man, his family and others like him and their families, who are indoctrinated into hate and turn their own self-loathing and pain into violence towards others. White supremacist terrorists aim to sow division, keep us all afraid and generate more hate through violence. Each time they act, they simply strengthen our movement for connection and peace. Keep showing up! Keep speaking out against hate.
Do not suffer alone. Reach out and talk to someone today.
You are invited to join an online prayer vigil for peace tonight – May 17 – from 8-10 p.m. You may register for the vigil online.
All are welcome!
You are loved!
Gabrie’l J. Atchison, Ph.D.
President, Bishop Holly Chapter, UBE