In their poem “Dear White America,” Danez Smith writes “i've left Earth" — left the atmosphere in search of “darker planets” and “a new God.” Because this planet is too white, and this God, too white-washed: “his miracles are inconsistent. i want the fate of Lazarus for Renisha, want Chucky, Bo, Meech, Trayvon, Sean & Jonylah risen three days after their entombing.”
Four years have passed since Smith wrote that poem, and now we find ourselves in National Poetry Month with even more stones to roll away for Black and brown people shot by police: George, Breonna, Adam, Ma’Khia. This week’s three guilty verdicts are good, but resurrection is better, and no bullets is best.
“i’m sick of calling your recklessness the law” Smith continues in the poem. “how much time do you want for your progress?” Progress takes too much time, especially when we need so much of it. As Adam Russell Taylor wrote this week, “We cannot train or reform our way out the crisis of racialized police violence.” We have to reimagine. Consider the stories below as fuel for the prophetic imagination.
1. dear white america
“i do not trust the God you have given us. my grandmother’s hallelujah is only outdone by the fear she nurses every time the blood-fat summer swallows another child who used to sing in the choir. take your God back. though his songs are beautiful, his miracles are inconsistent.” By Danez Smith in Don’t Call Us Dead.
2. U.S. Policing Is Broken. Christians Must Reimagine Public Safety
“Yes, this verdict is an occasion for relief and even celebration, but it is not the end; this verdict must be a catalyst for the courageous work that needs to be done to imagine a new vision of public safety and build the beloved community.” By Adam Russell Taylor via sojo.net.
3. The Chauvin Verdict Represents an Absolute Minimum of Justice
Bringing the cops to heel cannot happen through individual prosecutions. We need to address systemic racism in law enforcement and the permissive culture of violence against people of color. By Elie Mystal via thenation.com.
“Dolphins will return to Venetian canals, / elephants will drowsy dream in Chinese tea gardens, / humans will shed their fear and guilt to hope and taste.” By Gretchen Bartels-Ray via Sojourners.
5. Bad Future, Better Future
A guide for kids, and everyone else, about climate change — and what we can do about it. By Julia Rosen and Yuliya Parshina-Kottas via nytimes.com.
6. ‘The Struggle Continues’: Faith Leaders on Chauvin’s Conviction
“George Floyd’s life mattered. It mattered to this jury. It mattered to God,” Joshua DuBois said. By Mitchell Atencio via sojo.net.
7. No, You’re Crying About a Helicopter on Mars
“Its historic flight feels hopeful because it has coincided with a different moment for Americans: the thaw of spring, the steady distribution of vaccines, the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.” Marina Koren via theatlantic.com.
8. There’s Room for Everyone in the Church of Brandi Carlile
“We believe in creating a musical, spiritual, good-humored home for the rejected. That’s who we want to play for.” By Elamin Abdelmahmoud via BuzzFeed News.
9. Dear Public Officials: We Don’t Need Calm, We Need Mourning
In the Hebrew Bible, leaders respond to suffering with calls for public mourning and nationwide repentance. By Michael Rothbaum via sojo.net.
10. Living Nonbinary in a Binary Sports World
While many trans athletes have become political lightning rods, nonbinary people like the WNBA’s Layshia Clarendon are left out of the conversation. In a sex-segregated sports world, where do they fit in? By Britni de la Cretaz via Sports Illustrated.