I resonated with much of Austin Channing Brown’s recent post about “unity” to her e-mail newsletter “Roll Call.” Austin encourages her readers to be aware of ways we might be asked to participate in a kind of unity that works against justice rather than for it. You can check out the post here if you’re interested – it’s worth reading.
This poem, entitled “These Lines,” encapsulates some of my reflections and points of resonance.
These lines are old, too old, like time etched into limestone faces monolithic and unmoved, unmoving, and the face of founding father is the face of the slaveholder is the face of the confederate, the face of the white moderate, the face of CEOs and pastors like priest-jesters choosing their captivity to live and serve in courts of dying systems, and these lips through all these centuries have uttered the same words, lines that have lived too long like dreams deferred like blasphemies still spoken after time has shown them lethal lies too many times. These lies still dress in power, clothe themselves in tones of wisdom, yet upon examination show themselves thin masks for white supremacy; and yet we’re trained to trust, trained to believe the ones who speak with sincere eyes and faith in their own goodness that runs deep. So speak, keep speaking, if you must, these lines, of ships so large that take so long to turn, of donors we must not offend, of increments and evolution, the survival of the institution, and the need for patience, always patience; keep on speaking, speak your violence, do not leave it silent― speak it, do not prop it any longer on soft lies of innocence, speak stress into the bones that can’t afford to wait another day for justice, won’t be put off one more generation and another still; keep speaking all your lies, for as you speak you speed the day we will no longer listen, speed the day we will no longer stand and lay the gift of our participation at the feet of shit-filled institutions that have lost, or sold, their souls.