November 27, 2014

Ferguson... Goddamn!

The applause slowly settles as the playful rhythm begins. The camera turns from a white audience to focus on a black woman playing at the piano. As Nina Simone sings, she looks directly into the faces of her white audience. The up tempo tune allows the audience to be caught off guard by the lyrics. "Mississippi, Goddamn!" I've only read pieces of interviews over the years. I'm no expert on Simone's career. But from what I can gather, Simone knew what she was doing. The lyrics tell you, she's not gonna "go slow." She has a message that needs to be heard. This is intentional. She has counted the costs. Her performance displays a beautiful tension held between anger and joy, hope and despair. And all the while, she looks in the faces of her audience. You people need to hear this... Mississippi... Goddamn!

Ferguson... Goddamn!

I don't yet know how to write about Ferguson. I've tried to write this post too many times since Monday evening. About all I can say yet is, Ferguson... Goddamn!

I'm with Nina, it's not time to go slow. But I have yet to find words to describe what that means. So, here are a few things that offer words I don't have at the moment:

While some will be offended by his language, rapper Killer Mike named the issue in his on stage rant a few nights ago: This isn't about one incident. This isn't a trend. This is a broken system, a broken culture.

The conversation now is as important as the protests. We need to listen to each other. We need to be tireless at extending human dignity to each other. No matter what your personal history tells you about a particular people group. My white sisters and brothers would do well by considering the steps offered over at for engaging this issue with our black sisters and brothers.

This a systemic problem. It extends beyond you and me. It's complex and our reactions to this will be the same. Whether or not you follow the NFL, Benjamin Watson of the Saints has written one of the most beautiful yet complex responses to Ferguson.

May we not go slow. But may we go forward without violence and for justice.

Ferguson... Goddamn!

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