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Monday, July 04, 2022

A Lament for July 4, 2022

“A lament reminds us that God is present, not only in the triumph of our day-to-day life but also in the suffering of our day-to-day life.”

I know. I know. I should lighten up.

Probably. Just for today. It being The Fourth, and all.

I'm such a drag these days.

I know. I know.

It's hard walking around with this occasional pressure around my temples and a dull ache in my heart.

You'll forgive me. This is the first July Fourth holiday in my adult life that I have had fewer rights than any other (male, white) citizen in these divided, United States.

Well, the truth is that I was barely an adult in 1973 when Roe was passed and I was *allowed* full autonomy over my body as a woman.

That's gone, now. We'll have to fight all over again to get it back. We will, but it's gonna take a helluva fight.

Again. Damn it.

And, excuse me, but Why? Why do I have to fight for what I was assured was "settled law"? In fact, why do I have to fight for what men don't even have to think about? And, mostly, don't.

It's only been since 2015 that I've felt like I had full constitutional citizenship. That was when the legitimacy of my 30+ year sacred marriage was recognized by the SCOTUS and we were *allowed* to make it legal.

All those years - decades, really - of worrying about what we'd do if one of us preceded the other in an untimely death. What would happen to the children? Who would get custody? Would they come and take the furniture? The house? Okay, so there's no remedy but where can we find a lawyer who will help us find some protection under the law? Does one even exist?

And then, June 26, 2015, happened. Seven years. It's been a lovely Sabbatical from anxiety.

That is being threatened, now, too.

I mean, you did hear what the Governor and AG of Texas said just five days ago, right? They said that if the SCOTUS decided to revisit the issue, they'd defend the sodomy laws that were on the books in 1860 but overturned by the SCOTUS in 2015.

It's like they want to scare us. Or, at least, keep us anxious. Because, then, you know, they really have a chance to win even more than they already have.

Even though Justices Alito and Kavanaugh have said that this is a different constitutional issue than Roe - with legal precedent - and I know they can't nullify my marriage, and while I'm not unduly anxious and paranoid, you'll forgive me if that does not give me cause to celebrate "freedom" today.

How can you celebrate freedom when there is an active movement in this country to TAKE AWAY LIBERTY from others?

And now, Ohio. Akron, Ohio.

His name is Jayland Walker.

I wrote about what happened to this young, 25-year-old Black man there just the other day. It's been radio silence until yesterday when the video camera footage was released.

Ninety times. Ninety times he was shot. Sixty times, bullets ripped through his body. Sixty times.

Did I mention that he had been pulled over for a traffic violation?

Did I mention that he was unarmed?


But, the police chief says we need to be patient and wait for the WHOLE story to come out. See? The video only tells one part of the story, he said. You can't always trust what you see with your own eyes, he said.

Let me inject a reminder here: It's 2022. Not 1984. That was Akron Chief of Police, Stephen Mylett, not dystopian novel author George Orwell.

Wait, he said. We're doing more research, he said. The whole story will come out. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It just takes time, he said.

That always seems to be the response of people in power when their power is being threatened.

Thanks for your patience. Thanks for being "good Negroes" and not rioting even though we had to cancel our July 4th celebrations because we were afraid of what you might do.

I'm remembering when one bishop publically thanked Elsa P. Walberg, a deacon who was supposed to be the 12th of the Philadelphia Eleven. He lauded her patience and said she was "one of the good deacons."

She wrote him right back - just as publicly - and said, "Don't you ever call me that again. Don't you ever make me have to choose between my sisters and the church."

The parallels are stunning.

Give me a few seconds. I'm trying to catch my breath here.

So, I've got some chores to do today. I'm picking up a table and chairs for the office at that church that I got at a yard sale. Then, I'll make my almost-world-famous cole slaw and make a Strawberry, Banana, and Blueberry dessert thingy (Hmm.. I just remembered a chant from my childhood: "Red, White, and Blue, makes a monkey out of you" Did we say that just because it rhymed or did we know something, then?).

Some friends will come by later. I'll do a little grilling and we'll eat out on the deck and watch the Boat Parade. I hear they've forbidden 'political flags'. So, at least I won't have to yell and curse at anyone when they pass by.

It'll be *nice*. It'll be *fine*. I'll be okay. I just won't celebrate, is all. Can't. Won't. Not right now, if it's all the same to you.

Right now, I am haunted by these words from Toni Morrison.

They are written on the wall of The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. It is a memorial "dedicated to the legacy of enslaved Black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence."

No, I'm not comparing myself or my estate to the horrors of slavery and the terrors of lynching. I am allowed, I think, to draw some comfort and inspiration from their courage and persistence.

Today, I'm going to celebrate my body. What it has done and what it is capable of doing. Still. The pleasure it has received/receives. The pleasure it has given/gives. Even though The Church doesn't want me to talk about that.

The fact that it has brought three amazing human beings into this world and the nourishment it has provided to them. What it has contributed to the cosmos in physical and mental and emotional and spiritual work.

On this Fourth of July, I am going to celebrate my body - all bodies - female and colors of brown and black and every color, shape, form, and condition of every one of God's creations.

I'm going to celebrate the freedom that is in our DNA and the yearning for liberty that is woven in every fiber and sinew of every muscle of our bodies that cries out for expression and recognition.

I can celebrate that. I can't celebrate a lie. Because, the truth is that Emma Lazarus, who wrote the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty, was right, "Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

Here are Toni Morrison's words which are inspiring me today:

….. And O my people out yonder,
Hear me, They do not love your neck unnoosed and straight.
So love your neck, put a hand on it,
Grace it, Stroke it and Hold it up.
All your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs
you got to love them.
The dark, dark liver – Love it. Love it.
And the beat and beating heart, Love that, too.
More than eyes or feet, more than lungs
that have yet to draw free air.
More than your life-holding Womb
and your life-giving Private Parts,
Hear me now, Love your Heart. For this is the Prize.
Toni Morrison

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