As I write this article I am listening to my friend’s beautiful cello arrangement of the familiar hymn, “Amazing Grace”. My friend is a professional musician who shares her gift freely with our church and with so many others, including the terminally ill. As I listen to the sacred chords and lift up the words of the hymn in my heart, I am also at this moment so aware of the pain that has engulfed our nation in the last two weeks.
Tonight marks the fifteenth night of protests ignited by the death of George Floyd, a black American who was killed in full view of the world. We all saw a police officer calmly holding his knee in Mr. Floyd’s neck as he struggled, saying over and over again, “I can’t breathe.” As he lay there dying he called for his mother. The officer never moved, even had his hand in his pocket.
This is an image that can never be erased from the world’s consciousness. We saw it happen. We saw a man die. And yet, it is only because someone had a video camera and filmed it that the world knows. How many other lives have been taken without any record and without any possibility of accountability?
We will never know.
After all the words, all the protests, all the promises, all the political uproar, only one thing is left. Black people are dying at the hands of authorities, and no one is held accountable.
I am hoping that change is coming. I am hoping that this time the reality that we are seeing will make a difference. Things like the NFL’s commissioner admitting his error regarding black players’ protests at games, the NASCAR group announcing that Confederate flags are banned from cars and arenas – these are promising. I just heard that “Gone With the Wind” has been removed from streaming and will be returned only with an explanation of the historical inaccuracy of its presentation of the institution of slavery. Perhaps these are only cosmetic changes, but perhaps also they reflect an awakened sensibility.
Maybe more people are getting it – not just black and brown people, but white people, who have to get it in order for real change to happen. It is no longer up to black and brown people to teach white people what to do. We have to be willing to learn, and to do that we have to look at ourselves.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.”
May a world that has been blind to the death of black and brown men and women be awakened by this new reality. May the world truly change.
About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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