By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
I wasn’t looking for the story about Elijah McClain. I was looking for something else, and I happened upon the video which showed the sequence of events which resulted after someone called the police on him because he was wearing a mask.
It was a year ago.
I watched it, but I wasn’t prepared. The image of life slowly oozing out of the body of George Floyd is still way too stark. I was prepared to see police wielding brutal force on a Black body, because that scenario is unfortunately the norm in this country, but I was not prepared to see not only the brutality but to hear the cries for mercy and life from young Elijah.
They stopped him, they said, because he “looked suspicious.” That’s what they always say. It gives them license to stop people and to harass them and then arrest them for “resisting arrest.”
Elijah kept asking, “What did I do?” And the officers just kept saying, “Stop resisting.”
I read where a lawmaker said that the Black Lives Matter movement is a terrorist organization. We are called terrorists because we dare say to law enforcement that we are tired. We are called terrorists because we plead for our lives and for the lives of each other. We are expected to be oppressed, repressed, suppressed and be quiet about it.
Black people have been exiles in a strange land called America. We were brought here to help make this country wealthy, and then became the bane of those who believe in the rightness of being White. We, like African Americans who play sports, were used during the 19th century to “make America great.” We were essential workers, yet expendable.
It’s not only law enforcement, which is working to keep us from breathing. It is this president and his administration. For some reasons, Christian nationalist Republicans do not like or approve of public education; they want to eliminate it. They do not believe that Brown v Board of Education was a correct decision by the United States Supreme Court, even now. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has vowed to take money designated to help test people from COVID-19 and put it into funding for private schools.
The children of Black, Brown, and poor Whites will suffer even more as money is deflected from education.
The president’s administration has filed a lawsuit to again try to gut the Affordable Care Act. If the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to do it, millions of people will lose their health care. This, in the time of pandemic …
In spite of the pandemic, the president is already setting the stage to call the general election “rigged,” and he is doing all that he can to make sure people cannot vote by mail. He wants to win…
Now we hear that this president has been silent in spite of learning that the Russians were paying people to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. We do not know what Vladimir Putin has on the president, but it must be serious, because Trump lets Putin do whatever he wants, at the expense of his own intelligence team’s reports.
We, like George Floyd and Elijah McClain and Eric Garner and who knows how many more are saying, “I can’t breathe.”
They don’t want us to.
We are sitting by the rivers of Babylon, but we are also walking and protesting, and we will continue. We will not be quiet or still.
We need to be allowed to breathe.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. Her latest book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.