I Just Wanna Live

A repost to honor Daniella Frazier, the courageous young woman who, at 17 years of age, filmed the murder of George Floyd on her cell phone; and who testified today that she lies awake nights apologizing to George Floyd for not having done more to keep him alive…
“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” Ezekiel 36:26 NIV
A month or so ago, I was moved by a song performed by a 13 year old black youth that went viral. It pierced my heart as I listened to him sing: “I just wanna live. God protect me”. It grieved my spirit to come to grips with the reality that this could be an anthem for our people as they observe persons of color become endangered species. It disturbed all my peace to think that, instead of contemplating their goals and future achievements, 13 year old black children could be singing, “I just wanna live. God protect me”.
This child was right to sing this for two reasons. Black and brown people have been and continue to be “the hunted”. Hunting slaves and returning them was the origin of policing. Removing black bodies from places that were inconvenient to whites became the claim to fame of “law enforcement”. Disposing of those bodies who have the audacity to show themselves at an inopportune time or place has become something of a pastime for some “old guard” policemen.
Yet another reason is the alarming rate at which we are killing each other. A byproduct of the disregard for black bodies by the dominant culture is that many of us believe the lie that our bodies do not matter. If one believes that his or her own body has no value, it stands to reason that they will not value another black body more than their own. The result is what some call ‘thuggery”. I call it self-hatred.
So this baby sings with all his might: “I just wanna live. God protect me”. And I weep. What I cannot understand is how someone who claims to be a servant of the people can listen to someone like Elijah McClain- a young man of small stature who played the violin for stray cats–plead for his life and not be moved by it. I am unable to process how a group of grown men could listen to him apologize for his very existence, saying he loved them, and not respond in a more compassionate way. I am sure that Elijah just wanted to live. George Floyd begged for his life. All of the bystanders pleaded for it, too. But it was all for naught because “Derek” refused to heed their cries as he made himself “comfortable with his knee on George’s neck.
This is why I agree with Ava Duvernay when she says that Black people cannot solve this racism thing; it is up to white people. We have enough on our plates when our teenagers sing about just wanting to live. If a white child would be found singing this song, it would have to do with school shootings, climate change or terminal diseases; but never with his or her personhood.
That heart of stone that ignores problems that do not affect one directly has to be removed and traded for a heart of flesh. Only God can do that. But can He or will He do it when doctors, lawyers, policemen, veterans and entrepreneurs band together to maim and kill lawmakers who oppose white supremacy? Have they made it to the point of “a reprobate mind” when politicians bow to kneel before the golden image of a corrupt and evil demagogue?
I don’t have the answers to those questions. But I do know that living in these last days even more questions will surface. A giant mirror is being held to our faces; and the image we see is repulsive. We desperately need a heart of flesh to replace the hardness of our hearts and produce a healing for our souls. Maybe then our children can give their focus to their purpose and destiny rather than spending time and energy worrying about their survival.
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Laura Thompson, Jeanette Odum and 10 others
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