A Prayer of Lament for Charleston

Last night, a young man, 21 years old, spent an hour at the AME Church in Charleston, SC before opening fire and killing 9 black people engaged in a Bible Study and Prayer Group. This is a hate crime.

I have entered the collective grief, the best way I know how, as white, middle class, suburban, stay-at-home-mom. My grief must involve asking myself many questions regarding my white privilege and the white privilege of my family.

Lord,

Let me not be so comfortable in my white skin, that I fail to recognize the privilege of my family. The fear I don’t have to have because my boys are white. I know a bit of the fear, having a daughter. I recognize the vulnerability of her gender, but she is white and middle class, there will be justice for her. 

Skin color can remove this insurance. Skin color alone put my family and me in a place of privilege. Certain rights are ours by virtue of our race. Until we all start to see the ways in which we succeed based on nothing we’ve done – we will not see change for our African American brothers and sisters.

How do I live in response to these truths?

Check and confess my white privilege, my assumptions, my racism.

It’s in all of us and until it is brought into the light, recognized and confessed, recognized and confessed, recognized and confessed, there will be no healing for our collective.

Lord, forgive me. For my blindness, my relief, my cushion of comfort because my husband and boys aren’t black.

Forgive me for the thoughts: If they’d just listen and follow the rules. If they’d just….  If they’d just….

NO! 

If we’d just stand with them.

If we’d just put ourselves in their place for one moment.

If we’d just stand firm, against our own white privilege and demand our African American brothers and sister receive the same rights.

If we’d just challenge the systems, in solidarity.

If we’d just talk to our kids, show them the news, read the accounts, raise our children to see and celebrate color…not just white. 

If we’d just subject ourselves to the same level of fear, day in, day out.

Lord, forgive us. Have mercy on us. We beg of you.

My prayer time today is Twitter. I will be following the discussion from Austin Channing, Shaun King, Crystal Lewis, A’Driane Nieves. My next days will be devoted to participating in the collective grief, in reading, learning, paying attention.

I will join in the lament, the best way I know how, imperfectly and with love.