400 Years of Wounds, 400 Years of Bleeding
Some medical professionals will tell you that there are 4 stages to wound healing: 1) bleeding, 2) scabbing, 3) rebuilding and 4) strengthening. Metaphorically, I liken the aforementioned stages to perhaps what will be required to truly heal and eradicate the systemic, racial injustice, oppression, inequity and inequality that has scarred our country, and wounded African Americans for 400+ years.
The problem is that the wounds inflicted aren't just physiological, but they are psychological, economic, political, emotional, educational and even generational. Wounds that have crippled a people and crippled the progress of that same people. The assessment of the injuries to African Americans with respect to racial discrimination is so complex that it's hard to describe in simple terms. Sometimes one feels that even the most detailed description of such systemic atrocities is an understatement. Atrocities that have been propagated and perpetuated for centuries. And frankly, in my opinion, we are just at Stage 1, bleeding; and we've yet to get that under control. The moment we run to one bludgeoned, wounded area of the body of our people, another wound is inflicted. We are literally fighting just to stop the bleeding. In some cases, a part of us has bled out. In other cases, the bleeding is not even seen but felt because it's internal.
Each time a knee has been planted on the neck of African American men as a result of systemic racism and hatred, new wounds are opened, and the bleeding continues. Each time an African American woman has been killed in her own home as a result of being racially profiled, a new wound is opened, and the bleeding continues. Any time a young African American boy can't play on the playground without being racially profiled as dangerous, aggressive or a threat, new wounds are opened, and the bleeding continues. Our conversations as parents with black children and black adults about safety and compliance with law enforcement authorities, in an effort to simply "live" or "survive," have become as cyclical and routine as the occurrences in which such black lives are wrongfully taken. Even TV and radio commercials have become advertisements for racial injustice survival tips instead of sales pitches. Who would have thought in 2020 we'd be facing a known, systemic pandemic during the time of an unknown pandemic. The wounds continue to be opened, the bleeding continues.
Now, anytime there are wounded there are injurers. The wounded know they are wounded, and have acknowledged and expressed the level of their pain, and the complexities of their discomfort, like a pain level emoji chart at a doctor's office. But, historically, a perpetuated trend is that of injurers not acknowledging the wounds, nor the pain, nor the bleeding. Two parties, groups or cells were involved when the painful, unmerited violation occurred. As such, two at minimum are necessary to initiate the healing process. Anytime one's pain is conveyed but ignored, the opportunity for healing is yet evaded.
Medically speaking, I find it interesting that white blood cells are necessary and critical to the protection and repair process of the wounded, including the fight against infection. In like manner, systemic race issues have been infectious even in today's climate because the injuries continue to occur absent of critical cell groups.
But this time around, perhaps things are changing. Acknowledgment by the injurer of the wounded is inevitable. I believe that we are on the precipice of change. If hate, oppression, inequality and inequity has had its knee on the neck of African Americans, then the knee is now being replaced by those across this globe who are committed to putting their knees (plural) on and in full eradication of such systemic and cyclical forms of inequality. True, some of our wounds as African Americans are self-inflicted. But there are generational wounds and bleeding we've never recovered from as a people that began from the time we were taken involuntarily from the shores of our ancestors. We bled and died on the shores before we were taken. We bled and died on the ships after we were taken. We bled and died on the shores once we arrived.
The intent is not to remain the victim. The intent is not to live as victims. African Americans aren't playing the victim card. We are simply looking for vindication. Vindication that will occur in part as a result of acknowledgement, repentance and empathy from the injurer. From this, forgiveness from the wounded can be given, and change envisioned will become change realized.
As a form of entrapment, leaders of Jesus' day asked, "What is the greatest commandment?" Jesus responded, "Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself." This is the umbrella or standard all people must stand under; the cure if you will. The vertical relationship and the horizontal relationship. Imagine if we were able to get this part right. Then perhaps we'd see all colors standing together above ground vertically and no one color dying together below ground horizontally. This is where empathy will rule over apathy, and a statement about the significance of a life will not be rebutted with a statement about the significance of a life. We will just value life and lives....period.
When the wounds cease, the bleeding cease to exist. I believe this change is not only inevitable, but also the healing that will accompany it. Let's keep working at it. I don't tire easy. Together, we can.