He cried for his Mama
I heard an earthquake today.
We were at the Capitol steps
keeping vigil, lest the Senate decide
to adjourn without doing justice
(albeit too late) for George Floyd.
At the start of an open mic time
a woman stepped forward
looking a bit uncertain
as she took the megaphone.
She lowered her facemask
and began to speak haltingly,
which I mistook for nerves—
it was, in fact, rage,
tempered by anguish,
but I only realized that later.
This earthquake began in near silence.
“My heart is heavy,” she said,
in the brightly clipped English
of an African (Nigerian) immigrant.
“And I just want to say ‘thank you.’
I am a parent, and I cannot
tell you how scared I am.”
She went on to try and do just that:
voice the fear that abides,
that grips her soul every moment
her son is out in the city on his own,
wondering whether he
will make it home this time.
Fearful because George Floyd
didn’t make it home that time.
As she spoke, her voice rose in strength,
drawing together raw anguish
and righteous anger.
After decrying those who would
stall, weaken, or belittle
the calls for police accountability,
she yelled, “This fall let us vote in
people who have hearts!”
And I felt the earth tremble.
But then she said, still at an all-out pitch,
wrapped in a mother’s holy rage,
“George Floyd, he cried for his Mama!
A grown man!
A papa himself!
A grandpa, even!
AND HE CRIED FOR HIS MAMA!”
She wailed, and the earth split beneath me,
and I, also a grandpa, fell in.
David. R. Weiss – June 18, 2020
NOTE: I learned (only later) that her name is Ngozi Akubuike, and she is running for a Ramsey County judgeship. She did not announce herself that way; this was no stump speech. But I will tell you, she earned my vote, because I would instinctively trust her deep resonance with anguish, which is often the very place where justice is born.
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David Weiss is a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist, doing “public theology” around climate crisis, sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. Reach him at email@example.com. Read more at www.davidrweiss.com where he blogs under the theme, “Full Frontal Faith: Erring on the Edge of Honest.” Support him in writing Community Supported Theology at www.patreon.com/fullfrontalfaith.