A Prayer for Black Lives

Almost a year after the racial reckoning launched off of the neck of a black man, George Floyd, the cop who murdered him was found guilty, and a collective ease swept the nation. As we near the end of this pandemic we are all so eager to return to the freedom we once knew. It seems just as eagerly so many of us are returning to the willful blindness and inaction in the face of the truth that the freedom we all desire does not, and has never extended to Black bodies.

In this last year many of us have learned about, witnessed, and felt the full extent of the systematic oppression of Black bodies. The police brutality, health disparities, Black Trans-antagonistic violence, mass incarceration, education gaps, the list goes on and on. The powers that be in this country have been invested in this systematic oppression for 400 years. As we have seen in this past year, they refuse to be held accountable to real transformative change because that would risk the stability of the systems preserving their power. They will instead continue to give us bread crumbs to subdue the movement until we tire and reach mass resignation, a state of complacency that no longer challenges the current state of white supremacy.

Murderers should be brought to justice. A conviction is not accountability. It is not an indication of any real systemic change, but rather an opportunity to appease the movement, and hopefully choke it down to a moment.

In Austin, TX there was a rally in the wake of the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer held to commemorate, commiserate, and refocus the efforts of the community in our collective liberation. There were maybe 150 people in attendance, in comparison to the 1,000’s who attended a similar event, by the same organization last year at the height of the Black Lives Matter resurgence. It felt like mass resignation had definitely set in. It seems many people are tired and more comfortable leaving the Black Lives Matter moment behind, focusing instead on the promises of escape from lockdown.

The ease with which we walk away from the Black Lives Matter movement is indicative of a fundamental gap in our understanding of humanity. It speaks to an unconscious belief that we are all separate. That this is a Black problem, allowing all others to walk away from this fight. The truth is this movement is not just about Black lives, it is about all of us. White supremacy hurts all of us. Racism is not a Black, or Latinx, or Indigenous, or Asian, or Middle Eastern problem, it is a human problem. Until we can feel that truth and act accordingly, until we can come to terms with the interconnectedness of humanity — we will never be free. When George Floyd choked out “Momma! Momma!” with his last breaths it was a call from a child to all mothers, a call to our common humanity. A call to reorient the world to the truth that our separation is imagined, and the humanity that binds us is the key to our freedom.

We have a decision to make. Are we ready to move on? To disregard the dehumanization, and continued coordinated execution of Black bodies and leave the momentum of Black Lives Matter in the past?

If the answer is yes, we are ready to move on. Stop reading this. Choose the dehumanization of the Black body. Close this page and move on.

If the answer is no, it is time to refocus our calls for accountability and change. To do this in integrity we must first begin with ourselves. We must take responsibility for our own actions and the consequences of our inactions, and understand the impact of them. To this end we are presented with an opportunity to grow, and we will take it.

A warning to Black bodies — this piece is not for us. We may listen to this if we feel inclined, but we are encouraged to not engage with it deeply. Instead, we are invited to go spend time nourishing our souls in whatever way feels good.

“You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.”

-Grace Lee Boggs

I am not here to hold space for the emotions that come up for you around this piece. If this piece has impacted you and you would like to show appreciation feel free to pay this Black femme for her work. My venmo is Devyn-Harris-3, paypal is devdharris@gmail.com, and cash app is $devynelove1. Beyond that sit with yourself and unpack what’s coming up, learn to relish in the discomfort — that is where the growth is. Below I have listed a few books and podcasts to aid in the understanding of how oppression is enacted in the body, and how you can work to unlearn those habits and patterns. Share this piece. Talk to your friends and family about unlearning white supremacy, especially the overtly racist ones. Avoiding the uncomfortable conversations is quietly consenting to the harm the willfully racist people in our lives inflict on people of color. We are better than that. One of the most important things for all of us to remember is that transformative racial healing work cannot be done without love and compassion. If we move from anger and hate, we will simply recreate the same world with new hierarchies, but if we create a world grounded in love and compassion, anything is possible.

Books

My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem

Oppression and the Body by Christine Caldwell and Lucia Bennett Leighton

Embodied Social Justice by Rae Johnson

Radical Dharma by Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams

You Belong by Sebene Selassie

The Politics of Trauma: Somatics, Healing, and Social Justice by Staci Haines

Podcasts

ReRooted with Francesca Maximé

Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast

CTZN Podcast with Kerri Kelly

Mending Racialized Trauma: A Body-Centered Approach, Interview with Resmaa Menakem, SEP

Resmaa Menakem, Notice the Rage, Notice the Silence

Becoming an Embodied Anti-Racist for Collective Trauma Healing with Francesca Marguerite Maximé

As a love warrior, Devyn is in this world to support healing through love. She is a mental health coach, bodyworker, organizer/activist, and artist.

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