In the Wake of Yet Another Death

candlelight-vigilby Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper, Associate Minister

“How long, O Lord, how long?” are the words heard over and over, the Biblical refrain of lament. I hear cries of lament, of grief and rage, echoing across our country, hurled to the sky, lobbed at passers-by like the tear gas that has become almost as inevitable as the linked arms of protestors responding to the latest death of a Black man, woman or child.

I hear over and over again, this has to stop, at the same time I hear, but I don’t know how. And surely I understand the horrible tension and fear of trying to stop an unstoppable force. Systemic racism is a many-headed beast, a Hydra or a Cerberus, which will not easily be defeated. And yet, we must work together to defeat it, we must. We who are white must work to change the system we did not create, but from which we benefit. A system will work hard to remain in stasis, especially when forces are trying to change it from within. Knowing this we must push harder than the system’s need to remain stable. We’ve got to start listening. We’ve got to start amplifying the voices of people of color. And if you’ve already started these things, that’s wonderful, and let’s keep listening, amplifying, and pushing for change.

It is a fight for the soul of our nation, perhaps, but more than that, a fight for the lives of our comrades, our siblings of color.

Even as I write this, I am sure there is nothing to be said that has not already been said. And yet, I cannot remain silent. My initial lament of, “How long, O Lord, how long?” turns into a deeper understanding that in our Unitarian Universalist tradition, the question does not get asked of the Lord – an agent outside of us who is expected eventually to fix the problem. We must ask the question of ourselves.

How long, my friends, how long?

How long will we let the racist system triumph?

I once heard a colleague say that the arc of the moral universe does bend toward justice, but that it is our job to reach up and help.

How long, my friends, how long?