It is a wiry monster,
This system of oppression,
Who keeps his knee upon the neck
Of those deemed less than me.
The monster dons the authority
Of state-endorsed might
Choosing to enforce white-rightness
At the cost of life, of liberty,
Of full community.
It presumes my innocence
At the very moment it presumes
That a jogger in the wrong place
With the wrong color skin
Is somehow a thief of what is mine.
It presumes white property
Is worth more
Than black or brown lives,
Even when that property
Was gained through advantage.
Even as those same lives are put at risk
To deliver whatever I want to my doorstep
Or clean the hospital rooms
Or provide the doctor’s care.
It presumes that violence is justified
Whenever resistance is expressed,
Seeing resistance to authority as an affront
Even when it is the authority, itself,
That is the monster’s tool.
It presumes, because I am white,
I will not stop to see these truths.
Indeed, my hasty assertions of innocence
Make it hard for me to wake
To my very real complicity with the monster.
It whispers conflicting messages in my heart,
Trying to confuse and silence me.
It tells me of my ‘right’ to privilege
Even as it claims I have no ‘right’
to speak out against oppression
Because I am white and I couldn’t really know.
The monster claims that the words of resistance
From a white mouth
Must somehow be wrong, and so I must sit still.
And it is true, I do not know
The full expression of life – and death – beneath that knee.
But the truth of this monster’s presence
Can no longer be denied.
And I must acknowledge my complicity,
Even though my words are not free from the monster’s stain.
My silence would be worse.
It is not about finding the right words,
Or somehow erasing the stain upon my soul
Through (even if sincere) confession.
It is about finally seeing the truth,
Recognizing the monster’s web around me,
Acknowledging its tentacles around my heart.
It is about the unbelievably slow process
That will finally break the monster’s grip.
Somehow we must begin to see that our society
Is built upon the twin pillars of privilege and oppression.
It is not the ‘great’ society we’ve touted,
But the very failure of our hopes and dreams.
The presumption of superiority
Is proof enough of the lie.
And so I repent my complicity
And I praise the stalwart faith and hope
Of those who fight for a different way,
And have fought for centuries
In the face of this evil.
I pledge my feeble voice
To the deep melody of grace and strength
Sung by the black and brown elders of the struggle,
Raised by the brave, young protesters,
Following their lead toward true community,
Where, at last, they, too can breathe.
Oh, God, forgive me.
Oh, God, empower them.
Oh, God, our God,