A Neverending Season of Lament
It’s been a year since we lost Antwon Rose to state-sanctioned violence.
I live on the east side of Pittsburgh. The visage of Antwon Rose is as commonplace as the economic displacement that currently rocks this side of town. I’m reminded every day of his story, his life, his death, his legacy. Every teenage boy I see walking from Obama Academy or riding on the bus from Lincoln Avenue reminds me of Antwon. They are Antwon. They would all be Black boys running from imagined trouble only to be murdered without cause.
I pray that we haven’t forgotten about him. We still utter his name inside of our house of God but do you? I say that not to assume or shame but as a reminder that for all the united-body-in-Christ talk that took place in the aftermath of the verdict, the Earth still reigns with racism and oppression that murders our children without warning. A terror we feel called to fight beyond just one Sunday when the news overwhelms us all to think about Antwon’s life. So as I sat in on the pew last Saturday and witnessed Antwon’s face on a screen inside of my church, I knew that our lament never ceased but I wondered if we were alone in our grief.
Lamentations is God’s people as their most brutally honest selves: crying, complaining, overwrought, overwhelmed, wrecked yet hopeful. When Black bodies die at the hands of law enforcement, we cry and complain and crumble under the wreckage created by hatred and oppression but yet have hope that one day, we will return home to a place of comfort, peace and love: humanity at its purest form. We’ve never seen it but we know it exists and we’re going to fight for it.
We’re always in a state of “why us?!” but in agreeance that both calamities and good things come from the same source. We are afflicted and downcast but mindful and full of hope. Grief may be brought but compassion can and will be shown. Rejected and abandoned but yet heard and told not to fear. This dichotomy of God’s wrath and love mirror or pain and hope in a moment where nothing seems to change. We know the light exists, we just need to find it.
But it’s also a state of confusion. “Why should the living complain when punished for their sins?” In this moment, confusion carries over the land. Why would an officer would shoot an unarmed child? Why couldn’t a jury of our peers see what we failed to ignore? How is a man walking free for murder but our sons and daughters are locked up for less? And murdered for nothing? We still feel cast off, left on our own. Altars abandoned, cities abandoned, people abandoned. And it’s all our fault because existing in this Black body brings consequences that no other group of people can experience.
It’s beyond unfair. It’s gutless. it’s happening. But yet through it all, we dream to see Zion restored. We fight to see a place where our children are loved and cared for and safe from harm. A place where we raised leaders and not lead-wearers. A place where city on the hill shines brighter than the badges that threatened to take our children away.
The third book in Lamentations is about Jesus. It’s about hope, redemption, compassion and faithfulness. It’s about mocking enemies yet the justice that shall prevail.
Even through this season, justice will prevail in a way that our humanly justice system could never impart on the world. Until then, let’s lament and be hopeful. We’re still in exile but one day, that will change.