It’s been a year since George Floyd was murdered. Since books by Black people rocketed to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list. Since corporations made anti-racist statements declaring Black Lives Matter and people turned their social media profiles black in solidarity with the suffering.
What has changed? In you, in me, in the world… What has changed?
Did we rush too quickly to fix, to absolve ourselves of discomfort? To avoid the pain caused by a long history of messes made, realities ignored.
Did we learn how to be sad together, to grieve with or just be? To allow the weight of the moment to be its own masterclass.
Or have we rushed in, brandishing our savior capes to plant a chair over the poop so our houses have an appearance of ordered cleanliness regardless of the smell?
I am a product of the South. I have stood in fields where my enslaved ancestors fled through the trees being chased by dogs and guns. I’ve stood in fields where war was fought, where decisions were made as to whether a being was a person or property. I’ve stood in blood-stained fields as a living breathing witness to symbols of “heritage” that promote right appearance and right belief as ideals that are more important than the right of people to freely exist in their own skin.
I’ve known of bankers, judges, teachers, preachers, people who serve and smile by day, then gathered around burning crosses in hooded white robes at night. Smug in the rightness of it all. The right to pursue. The right to chase. The right to end a life for any reason they deemed appropriate. A rightness that sadly still hums through many police forces in the US today.
As a child of the South, I lived in the fear that dripped from my family’s muscle memory. A fear that ordered my coming and going, my way to be in the world. Demanding that I be small, invisible. That I shrink myself to the tiniest possible existence so I wouldn’t be next. The next one to die. The next one to be raped or maimed.
Even when the white robes made its way to the back of people’s closets and lynching and cross-burning were no longer a thing, in the South we knew there were still ways to be lynched, still ways to be railroaded. Still police willing to carry out long-held beliefs.
What is a reckoning without truth-telling, without acknowledging what has shaped us? Have we really slowed down enough to hear?
One year has passed since George Floyd was murdered. In that span of 365 days, have we made space for people to vent and unburden their insides without crowding out discomfort, theirs and ours?
2020 was a year of pus draining from old wounds. A necessary thing to stave off infection. But not everyone can tolerate open sores.
Phobias and -isms have no place in the healing work of Love. Therefore, we look for the healers, those unfazed by gore. Those who know how to love with strong stomachs.
Who around you has learned to handle the gruesome, can sit in the discomfort of their own pain and allow space for others to sit in theirs? These are the ones whose touches of love will turn us toward one another.
It’s been one year since George Floyd was murdered. People are still split open.
Indeed it may be necessary to allow air to hit our open wounds. Give them time to breathe before applying salve.
As a young adult in the South, we ended our church services by singing, “Bind us together. Bind us together with chords that cannot be broken. Bind us together in love. Ohhh, bind us together.”
This is the thing about healers, they won’t rush the binding. They know the importance of timing in the healing journey. If anything has changed in the year since George Floyd was murdered, may it be that we resist the urge to move too quickly through the sacred process of healing work.