Surviving Racial Disasters

Surviving Racial Storms

It Happened. Again.

Sneaker waves of racist lashes and systematic suicides keep hitting our neighborhoods, news feeds and nerve systems.

Past reports about Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Ezell Ford have now been replaced with fresh videos of Walter Scott, Philip White, Eric Harris and Freddie Gray.

I have screamed, cried, cussed and cracked. I have spent too much time on Facebook, Twitter and CNN. I kept digging deeper into the rubble of social media because I was desperate to find a story that had some healing, some hope, some humanity. But instead of finding survivors I kept finding more names of dead Black bodies. And they are female.

Rekia Boyd. Aiyanna Jones. Pearlie Golden. Tarika Wilson. Shereese Francis. Adaishe Miller.

Delores Epps. Karen Day Jackson. Mackala Ross. Miriam Carey. Kendra James.

Shulena Weldon. Alesia Thomas. Heather Parker. Melissa Williams. Shantel Davis. Erica Collins.This is not the end of the list—but a pause. Because it is too painful to add one more. And unfortunately the reality is that as soon as I type one name there will be another murder by a police until . . . we make it stop!

This is not the part in this post where I stop and tell you how to do this. Only you know your prejudices, privileges and power. You alone can take the time to find the allies, alliances and associations right in your own backyard that are fighting for social justice and racial equality.

This is not the part where we stop and sing “We Shall Overcome” unless you have your hands tied to the plow of justice and you are ready to get your hands dirty with hope. As Believers there is no more time for plastic prayers or casual debates on whose side you are on.

Human beings being killed by police every 28 hours in America is not a Black issue, it is a social epidemic that is eroding our conscience, dignity and legacy as citizens of this nation.

In between learning about more horrid stories of Black murders I have also loved, laughed, lifted and lobbied. I have taken moments to stop.

Stop. And. Breathe. In severe social and natural disasters those who are spared and survive must find a way to go on. No matter how high the piles of bodies or long the list we must find clean water and fresh air.

My family of five spent Spring Break in Disneyland and we danced in the streets with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I’ve taken the time to soak my strong kinky locks with coconut oil. There has been Faith and Culture Conferences, hikes in the forest, date nights and Happy Hours with girlfriends with lots of french fries. Lots of french fries—cause when the world spins out crazy fried food really tastes good.

Give. Up. Something.

We are called to respond to our dark, broken (and yes) racist world—just like Jesus. Not only are we called to act but we are called to love. Loving the world right now in the place we find it in is not easy—especially if you are Black. We will all have to give up something if we expect to see real change and keep calling ourselves God’s redeemed. My “giving up” of something is going to look different than your “giving up” of something. That’s ok. Just find a way to love, to give, to believe—so we will not perish. My humanity depends on your humanity.

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16

I have to give up the American Dream.

This land is not my home, never has been, never will be. I will no longer look to this country to save, value or defend me. America is not my Savior—Jesus is.

I have to give up unkept promises and shady Allies.

Either you love, see and will advocate for me as your Sister in Christ or not. I will no longer personalize your rejection or casually let you sit on the fence. I will not sit on the bench and wait for you to choose me. I will speak truth in love—ALWAYS IN LOVE—but I will speak.

I have to give up my Black Son (and Daughters).

I cannot protect them from the evils of this world and coldness of a man’s heart. Oh, how I wish I could. But I will love them each day like it is the last. I will cup their faces high and hug them until it hurts—so they will always remember my embrace and that I am always with them.

I have to give up fear.

Despite future storms and decay of our country I will ask God to keep giving me the courage to love with an open heart, His power to stand for what is right and His wisdom to know when to fight and when to let it go.

Velynn Brown
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19 thoughts on “Surviving Racial Disasters

  1. Velynn, I so appreciate your beautiful voice….thank you for this.

  2. Amen. “I have to give up the American Dream.This land is not my home, never has been, never will be. I will no longer look to this country to save, value or defend me. America is not my Savior—Jesus is.” I’m in the trenches with you sister, fighting for a great Kingdom built on reconciliation, justice, love and understanding.

  3. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart. I hurt with you. I pray and beg God with you. I cry with you.

  4. “I have to give up unkept promises and shady Allies…”

    Say it and say it again – I bear witness to this. Sacred and secular institutions and systems and individuals cannot effectively name themselves as allies in a struggle if they do not stand to lose anything in the process. I would even add to your points, “I will no longer personalize your rejection or casually let you sit on the fence. I will not sit on the bench and wait for you to choose me…” that I will not acknowledge a self-naming of ‘ally’ if I am merely a representation of the ‘diversity requirement’ you need to fulfill. It is so important for sacred and secular spaces to have these conversations. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Oh Velynn, that Kingdom and Mama-love, it makes me ache and cry and say yes, SPEAK. We need your voice, your words, you. Thank you for your vulnerability and truth coupled together here. What advice do you have for your white sisters? How can we stand alongside you?

  6. I’m so grieved that we keep hearing these stories over and over, and I can’t imagine the pain it must cause to know your own children could be next. It hurts so much to hear you say that you have to let go of your children because their safety isn’t guaranteed in our country. Father, I pray for justice in our country. I pray for more of us white people to speak up and get involved. I pray that we would have insight about how to learn from our brothers and sisters who directly experience this kind of abuse. And I pray for Baltimore, that the African American community would feel empowered, heard, respected, and that their grief serves a greater purpose of changing things.
    Thank you so much for this brave post, Velynn.

  7. AMEN. // “Human beings being killed by police every 28 hours in America is not a Black issue, it is a social epidemic that is eroding our conscience, dignity and legacy as citizens of this nation.”

  8. Oh I how I love you my friend! Your words, your heart, your voice, so needed, so heart-wrenching, so raw. And, you always go back to Jesus-I so appreciate, “We are called to respond to our dark, broken (and yes) racist world—just
    like Jesus. Not only are we called to act but we are called to love.
    Loving the world right now in the place we find it in is not
    easy—especially if you are Black. We will all have to give up something…”

  9. Yes. This: “”This land is not my home, never has been, never will be. I will no longer look to this country to save, value or defend me. America is not my Savior; Jesus is.”

  10. Velynn, I see you. I love you. Thank you for speaking this truth with such grace.

  11. Amen. Thank you, V. We all need to know this truth.

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