Yesterday, Sunday, instead of services, my church joined with other groups across the city and country to protest the recent grand jury decisions and, in general, the increase in aggressive policing tactics. I attend a multi-generational, multi-ethnic church so there are always lots of opinions—in this instance we were on the same page.
I was proud of us and the energy that went into the message. There was art, singing, and performance; we certainly got people’s attention. The most powerful demonstration was when we put “bodies”—clothes stuffed to look like bodies out in the middle of the road with sheets covering them. The sheets had names (representing several recent policing fatalities) painted on them in black lettering.
Now for a self-revelation: I was really uncomfortable during the protest. I didn’t want to walk in the road, stop traffic, or perform civil disobedience. It wasn’t that I was afraid because in a heart beat I’ll speak up or unwisely intervene in stuff happening right out in public, in my vicinity. But I barely could get the words out of my mouth . . .
This discomfort annoyed me. I wanted to be better than this. I wanted to be bad ass. I had to ask myself—don’t you believe in justice, racial equality. Yes, but do we have to make such a big deal about it? Do I need to be here?
I remember having these kinds of conversations with my mother over civil rights. Actually conversation might be stretching it. She usually shut me down straight away by saying this is just what I think or every time I look at him/her I just get sick to my stomach. This is just how it is. Please don’t try to change me. Or, I don’t want to change.
Yesterday I was confronting my past, my family, just how things are, my fears, my prejudices, my brokenness. It wasn’t supposed to be easy or fun. It was meant to bring attention, raise the consciousness/consciences of every single person.
I was part of the “die-in.”