Here we are, near the eve of July 4. Though it’s a day to be proud of our nation, so much has gone so wrong. My comments follow Maya Angelou’s poem.
Glory falls around us
as we sob
a dirge of
desolation on the Cross
and hatred is the ballast of
which lies upon our necks
We have woven
robes of silk
and clothed our nakedness
From crawling on this
murky planet’s floor
we soar beyond the
through the clouds
and edge our way from hate
and blind despair and
to our brothers, and to our sisters cheer.
We grow despite the
horror that we feed
upon our own
Maya Angelou, poet; found in Sterling’s Poetry for Young People series, page 47.
Published in 2013 by Sterling Children’s Books, New York, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Editorial material © 2007 by Edwin Graves Wilson; Illustrations © 2007 by Jerome Lagarrigue|
I’m reminded of John Stainer’s heart-rending chorus from The Crucifixion, with its invitation to pay attention to ‘the king of grief’ instead of simply passing by.
From the throne of his cross
the king of grief cries out to a world of unbelief,
‘Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by?’
It’s one thing to celebrate the insight, agony and beauty of Maya Angelou’s poem. It another to understand that most white people in the USA would prefer to walk on by and try to get on with their lives.
A few weeks ago a friend from seminary days recommended a new book. It’s helping me understand our current impasse here in the USA. It’s written by Drick Boyd, and is titled Disrupting Whiteness: Talking with White People about Racism.
The main point? It’s time for white people to start talking with each other about our individual and collective racism. What are our earliest memories about racism? What forms does racism take? When did we start assuming most white people are superior beings? How do we give up what feels ‘normal’ but is not? How can we support each other for the long haul?
As James Baldwin pointed out in The Fire Next Time (pp. 21-22):
White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this—which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never—the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.
Thanks for stopping by.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 July 2021
Photo of Maya Angelou found at usatoday.com
Book covers found at amazon.com