“This is a calling for a conversation
a calling for a high invocation
that transcends blues song full of apologies…
a lifting of voices into new echoes
love songs of intimacy, love notes flowing like sweet rivers
winding themselves into new wells
to finally rest in peaceful refrain….”
Because I am feeling the echoes of the past pulling on my heart strings and I hear songs of freedom calling for a healing, I am deeply troubled. I am feeling the emotions of thirteen years ago being revisited. I had to find internal peace within the safety of my own words as I did back then. The journey became a portal of peace, my writing my book entitled Echoes and Ashes. For three months, I poured out forty years of thoughts and feelings.
I realized I had spent my life looking for reflections of love. It was not just looking for romance, but looking for acceptance and honor as a human being. I was looking for a reciprocal love, a love where love was there to give and be given. I wanted to be able to achieve the American Dream. I wanted to taste the juices of living my “pursuit of happiness.” I wanted to experience the freedoms fought for in the 1960’s.
I want equality for women, gays and lesbians, transgendered people. I wanted to taste the fruits of the Martin Luther King “Dream.” I want to feel my belly full from eating from the plate of America. I refuse to live in fear. I find I have a dream, a reason to speak up and be present. My voice matters. My story and the story of my people matter. His story and her story are valid stories. The salvation and the story of this planet matters.
We are caught up in a power struggle of money, fear and modern slavery. Now slavery is an equal opportunity employer and the most obvious factor is how we are treating people of color, women and children. We are no longer a democracy. We are a country ruled by money and personal oppression, ruled by the 1%.
As a black man in America, I feel the squeeze of fear in the palms of my hands.
I have to find something of substance to attempt to hold my faith and sanity in place in this repetitive, seemingly unchanging story of race relations in this country. I, too, at one time was racked with rage, fear and disappointment. I knew the depth of feeling unheard and unseen as a valuable human being.
Now, I pick up my book to read my words of protest, my words which were cries for love and a healing in a modern world in the midst of trauma and conflict. Even though I wrote the above words thirteen years ago, I can hear the echoes of history in today’s time. I hear the cries from the voices wanting the recognition of sacredness of each individual voice in America. The voices are echoing from the people in the streets today. We are all praying for relief. We need to stand against the wind of America’s unconscious racial bias, embedded within the lyrics/poem of the unspoken racism of the “Star Spangled Banner” where Francis Scott Key cries for the blood of former slaves fighting for their freedom on the side of the British to wash the new land free. Freedom for the aristocrats, but slavery for the blacks, the inferior sector of the society was the mode of the day. I see echoes of this truth today. The legacy of America is in serious jeopardy because people are angry and in deep protest.
The protesters are black, white and brown people, crying out against police brutality and systemic violence. We need to find our way through the maze of the silent unspoken. Each living individual has the divine right of living in personal safety, to live in an environment that fosters a possibility to live a life which includes the “pursuit of happiness.” The cries we hear in the streets are cries for change, cries for solution. These cries are cries for peace in the streets. America is in the midst of failure. When it comes to the solution of race relations, we have not found the complete and compassionate solution to systematic violence being inflicted upon people of color. The failure comes from a lack of not having an ongoing dialogue, the healing conversation that would result in an affirmative solution.
I originally wrote my book to relieve my soul, free my heart and cleanse my mind. I had a dying need to speak of the growing pains of my soul. I had fallen into behaviors of addiction as my personal protest. I no longer felt the aching pain, but I was no longer present to participate fully in my everyday world. My cries and reactions of release were not working because they were not acts of solution. I was not conducting conversations of solution. I was just acting out, being reactionary. In writing the book, I opened a portal, a new door to walk through so I could begin the conversation of deep healing. I realized as a writer and a visual artist I was always doing two things, praying or protesting. I soon realized the two entities were the same, a crying or calling for a need for change.
I feel change is needed and the change lies in the blood of conversation. Just as Francis Scott Keys called for the cleansing of American soil with the blood of the slaves fighting on the side of the British in an attempt to achieve their freedom, we can achieve our country’s freedom by feeding our soil with the blood of conversation. We can use a loving ear, an open heart. We can practice the art of compassion. We can give and receive forgiveness in a unified healing. We can free our history from its silent chains. We can deconstruct America’s unconscious racial bias and stop the violence breeding in our American blood and in our American streets. This is a “calling for a conversation.”
Whether we are kneeling on a bended knee or raising a clenched fist in earnest protest, we are calling for a different kind of conversation. We are calling for a more intimate and loving conversation. We want a deeper knowing of our vista and a mutually shared vista of the American Dream. We want to be in the arms of our “United State.” It is time to bring America back to greatness. We need to bring America back into its true sense of being the “land of the free.” If black people in America are not free, then none of us are really free. I trust we have the common sense to know how to turn around the mistakes of the past to turn everything around, stitch back together the torn pieces of our “American Quilt.”