I experience a range of emotions when I think about racism and injustice in the world–from anger to sadness to frustration and fear – but I do try to remain hopeful. As the Black theologian and pioneer of Christianity, Augustine of Hippo said, ‘Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are, and courage to see that they do not remain as they are.’
There are practical things that we can do at the moment to try and combat racism but in the midst of the protests, campaigns and petitions, it is also important to deal with the emotions inside of ourselves and to not lose hope. When I feel like I am losing hope, I bring my negative emotions to God and trust him to change the things I cannot. Therefore I wrote this prayer.
It is a prayer of exhaustion, frustration and grief. I hope it helps you to process your emotions too and remain hopeful that the things beyond our control can and will change.
God, I feel tired.
Many Black people feel exhausted right now. We have all been created in your image and have all been given freedom to live our lives in this world. Yet for some reason it’s as though the world has been designed to systematically oppress Black people.
After hundreds of years of slavery and colonialism, segregation, suffering, protests, marches, Civil Rights movements, campaigns and fighting, the world has still not learned. Peoples’ eyes are still blinded by their privilege. People still use their positions of power to destroy, marginalise and kill those they view as inferior.
A system supposed to protect us is actually putting many Black people in fear and in danger. What have we done to deserve it? What did our ancestors do to deserve this? They slaved away for years, faced suffering, injustice, lynchings, rape, were burnt alive and treated worse than animals. They were used as cheap labour to build up the economies of countries who are basking in wealth today, whilst their home countries suffered and were stripped of their workforce and thus remain in extreme poverty today. And this is their repayment?
Racism did not end when slavery ended. It did not end when the colonial period ended. It did not end when the USA elected its first Black president. It continues to exist and manifests itself in different forms. We witness it, experience it and feel it everyday. Our people have been suffering for as long as we can remember and continue to suffer everyday.
When will this be over? Will I be next? Will my brother be next?
God help us. Help our country, help our world. This is a fight that we cannot win alone. We understand that we struggle not merely against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities – those institutions and systems that keep racism alive by perpetuating lies.
Heal your family God, and make us one with you. We are all your children, all created in your image and should all be able to live in countries with institutions that are designed to protect us and help us, not take our lives.