As the creator, curator, and leader of The Way of the River, I absolutely and in the strongest possible terms condemn the murder of Black people, especially by agents of the state sworn to uphold the law–by police. These murders are steeped in a tradition of police militarization and brutality, upholding racism and the capitalism that spawned chattel slavery in the United States.
I honor George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Arbery, and Tony McDade. I offer whatever comfort is welcome to their families.
Eight minutes and 46 seconds, friends.
Nearly nine minutes George Floyd suffered while a repeat offender —whom, by the way, Amy Klobuchar declined to bring charges against multiple times—stopped George’s voice, his pleas, his breath. As the breath of Black, and brown people has been stopped by a disproportionate number of deaths by COVID-19, George Floyd’s breath was stopped.
I also condemn the generations-long, systemic violence perpetuated against Black people in the names of “public safety,” “the common good,” and the “safety of ‘our’ (white) women,” in particular.
How long, O Lord, the Psalmist cries. How fucking long indeed?
I do not ask that we seek peace, reconciliation, or even hope in these times.
Justice is the only possible way forward, and that justice will come at great cost. After all, “Politics is the art of deciding who feels pain.” And as President Trump teargasses peaceful protestors for a blasphemous photo opportunity, it is clear who he has decided must feel pain.
Authoritarianism is alive and well and martial law is in place in our nation’s capital.
The 82nd Airborne, previously deployed to Iraq, was deployed to the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital, this past week. A toddler was tear gassed multiple times. Protestors in Philadelphia were backed up against a highway wall and tear gassed repeatedly. All of these on the orders of those tasked to protect and serve. Serve whom, I ask you?
Politics should be the art of defending the common good. But our leaders have clearly failed at that. They have defended the wealthy’s good, the ravagers’ good, the pillagers’ and the rapists’ good.
I’m a white, fat, queer, cis woman. I don’t have all the power, but I’ve got my share of privilege. Those of us with privilege are going to need to give way or some shit is going to get burned down in this culture. And maybe it has to be, before something just and honest can be built. We need to dig deep into our own wells of spirituality, our own grounding, our own traditions and practices to keep us well and centered at this time. Come to The Way of the River Facebook page and write about your experiences, recognizing that I will not tolerate racist sentiment in that environment. But come and ask questions, come and seek help, come and tell us what life has been like for you this past week.
As a spiritual seeker with privilege, I honor the lives of Black people who live in a police state, and I commit myself to using whatever platforms I have to speak out for the leadership of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color. I will continue to condemn acts of domestic terroristic violence.
And on that note, the uprisings don’t need to be polite, restrained, or peaceful. They are the outcry if a people who have generations of trauma, many of them since the 18th century, crying out that enough is enough. Crying out in despair, terror, and outrage.
I pray for all the demonstrators who have been and are going out into streets and to capitol buildings. Please let all of us know if you’re going to be among them. Praying for you and yours. Be safe and be on the lookout for provocateurs like the white nationalists who were preparing to set fires in residential areas of DC earlier this week, and like the white nationalists who came into Portland, OR to disrupt protests.
PS—Reflections was written earlier in the week, and so it will not address police terrorism or the murders of Black people. Consider this piece in addition to Reflections this week.
PPS— Stay safe as safe as you can, masked, and careful, all y’all who are out there. Remember, there’s still a pandemic on.
Rev. Catharine Clarenbach The Way of the River http://thewayoftheriver.
The Fatiha, The Opening, rendered by Neil Douglas-Klotz
Upon hearing the Irresistible Voice of the Love’s Wellspring and Goal,
we are led to affirm that (1)…. We ask you to reveal our next harmonious step.
Show us the path that says, “Rise up, get going, do it!”
which resurrects us from the slumber of the drugged
and leads to the consummation of Heart’s desire,
like all the stars and galaxies in tune, in time, straight on. (6)