No statements. We didn’t ask for you to tell us what we already saw on cellphone videos and know for ourselves. We’ve seen this before. The violation of the rights of African Americans is not new and neither is their murder; it’s been done before and with each generation. Instead, let us know when you are done with the work, when you have done what we’ve asked you to do: Arrest. Charge. Prosecute. Sentence. Change laws. Defund the police. Invest in intentionally marginalized communities.
No time to explain. I am too busy protesting. We didn’t ask to be interviewed by you. We don’t have time to answer your “why” or “how long do you think this is going to take”? Your questions are slowing me down. I have no time to point out all of America’s mistakes. Google them. Do your work.
No time to hold your hand. We didn’t ask you how you feel about it. Protest now; cry later. Dry your eyes and let’s march together. You can tell your therapist and “have a little talk with Jesus” later. We didn’t ask for your emotional support. Don’t “cry me a river.” Instead, we want “justice to roll like waters” (Amos 5.24)!
No ornamental justice. We didn’t ask for a mural or a street sign paid for by our tax dollars; instead, invest those monies into art programs at local schools, afterschool programs and community groups. Renaming buildings after George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others won’t raise the dead. Instead, put new laws in stone so no one has to die in the street or while sleeping in their bed.
No armchair protesters. We didn’t ask for your commentary, your pointers on what you would do better, your reminders that “this is a marathon and not a sprint” while we are holding signs, screaming, “Say their names” and marching at the same time. We didn’t ask for advice. Instead, “give me a cool drink of water ‘fore I diiie.”
Afraid you’ll be infected with the COVID-19 (known to us as “The Rona”) because there are so many protesters in the street, then sing, pray or prepare meals from the sidelines. When we’re done marching, we’ll be back for a plate.
No justice metaphors. We didn’t ask you for your sayings. “The wheels of justice turn slow.” We’ve heard this said so many times before. But justice moves quicker when we move our feet. This is why we are in the streets.
These systems, institutions, organizations are run by people. These laws are written, formalized, voted on and passed by people. These practices are taught and then enforced by people. We are the people. We need only change the people in order to change it all.
No book lists, book clubs or book reviews. We didn’t ask for a reading list and don’t ask us to provide one. Our “eyes on the prize” and there is a job for everyone. When we are done marching, maybe then, we’ll write one. But right now, we are making our words flesh.
Now, why don’t you do what we asked you to? Though we’re not really asking you but telling you. We will have more than our say. Our list of demands is actually a covenant. Wake up! Because this is a new day.