Black and Blue: A Lament

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June 12, 2016 marked “the worst mass shooting in American History.” On that day “Pulse” became a household word and 49 innocent people lost their lives. An image of blood-soaked shoes reinforced the ugliness of violence, and President Obama addressed grieving victims for the 24th time in his eight year presidency. Orlando became #orlandostrong.

Thursday, while we metabolized the shooting of Alton Sterling and reeled from the video of Philando Castile’s death, we sat on edge as the “deadliest day in U.S. Law Enforcement since 9-11” unfolded on the streets of downtown Dallas where peaceful protesters united under the banner of #blacklivesmatter. Today we reel from these unimaginable events and weep over the loss of five courageous men who ran into the line of fire ignited by the racial schism in our country, and now we #prayfordallas.

Then, for the 26th time in his eight-year presidency, President Obama addressed a stunned, grieving and outraged nation, and Dallas joined the growing list of cities where this same bloody story stains the headlines again and again: Dallas and Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights and Orlando and Boston and Charleston and Chicago and San Bernardino and New Town and New York City and Ferguson.

How should we react to all of this? Rasool Berry, my Cru colleague and friend, posted this lament on his blog, and he puts into words what I cannot. With his permission, I’m sharing it with you.

Black and Blue

Another one shot dead
leaving my soul black and blue
Heart is hurt from the grief
wondering what am I to do

Why did they take his life?
“He wasn’t even threatening you!”
It’s like just being a black man
is probable cause to shoot

The hashtags are blows to the body
leaving me bruised black and blue
Consoling my wife and my daughter
“Daddy, why did they have to shoot?”

Took a walk went to my barber
He don’t trust no one who wears blue.
Says whites are mostly the enemy.
He’s tired of being black and blue.
Despair leads to anger – he “like next we gonna shoot!”
Only future he sees is one that is black and blue.

I tell him, those cops will see jail time.
Can’t blame him when he says:
“It’s not true.”
Conspiracies sound less like theories
when they pass “Blue Lives Matter” too
Which says: “The cops don’t gotta say nothing”
30 days to shape what is true.
The law just beat down justice
Leaving her blind, black and blue.

I know not all of them are bad.
They texting me sympathies too.
I’ve seen the Spirit change hearts
And reveal the claims of injustice are true
But he don’t know those people.
All he sees is the blacks left blue.

I feel a surge of hope
But then the shooting is shared on YouTube
And the same folks who cried for a gorilla
are now suddenly silent too
and even the church seems to be muted
Now even Christ Body’s black and blue

Woke up to another slaying.
The police chief was black and wore blue.
Talked of snipers on the rooftop
Officers down. 5 dead.
more injured too.

The footage blew my mind.
Cops sprinting into the chaos
while instructing civilians to move
These officers so courageous.
Protecting those protesting you.
See casualties on the street
a madman was sniping so cruel.
Saluting their fallen comrades.
It’s true, they matter too.

And now a new debate stirs
and new accusations too
Yesterday they were silent
Now they blaming protestors who
Cried out for Alton and Philando
slain and their families blue.
“#‎BlackLivesMatter creates distrust!”
As if they have to give us that view
They’re not causing the bruising
They’re just reflecting our wounds.

Can police do their jobs?
Without leaving us black and blue?
How do we hold them accountable?
And tone down the tensions too?
Don’t know and that’s so frustrating.
Not sure what we need to do.

I just know I hope in a Savior.
Cuz he was left black and blue.
The Law beat him down like Rodney.
Taunted and stomped on him too.
He died saying “Father Forgive Them.”
His bleeding was healing us too.
Came on a mission to save us.
One that left him black and blue.
But now we can be fixed – us & the system too.
He came to establish His Kingdom.
Justice for me and for you.
But we must do more than pray.
Cuz after Gethsemane came Calvary too.
We must be willing to sacrifice.
Yes, there’s a cross for us too.
And I’m not talking bout tweeting
we got much more to do!

“Lord help us to heal!”
We’re reeling so black and so blue.
I pray and I act. Lord “Show us what to do.”
And protect as we fight for the right.
Both for the black and the blue.

This lament was originally published on Rasool Berry’s blog.

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Cas Monaco

Cas Monaco holds a Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She serves as VP of Missiology & Gospel Engagement for FamilyLife.

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