I Deviate

imageConfessions* of
“an older, white woman” **
A struggling attempt

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.

.

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I Deviate

Work these days
consists mainly of
word choices
page breaks
300 dpi cover photo construction
margin justifications
publishing standards:
Book Release.

But
I deviate.
Stop.
Shift focus
to
mourn
pray
weep
rage
lament
pound my desk
agonize
all
because of
NINE people
attacked
brutalized
dehumanized
slain.
#Charleston

These NINE
represent
hundreds
thousands
countless
who have gone
similarly.
Unjustly.
Brutally.
IN COLD BLOOD.

Deviate:
to branch off
be sidetracked
diverge
digress
detour.
The very
realization that
I
CAN
DEVIATE
is in itself
admission
of
#whiteprivilege

Black
churchgoers
family members
legislative representatives
employees
clergy
athletic coaches
professors
mothers
grandmothers
fathers
grandfathers
drivers
shoppers
students
sons
daughters

any human designation
that can be listed
CANNOT
DEVIATE.

CANNOT!

When the news
gets to be
too much
too gruesome
too graphic
too torturous
I CAN–
I have the ability to
change the channel
exit newsfeeds
get some work done
I am in a
position
to say:
I can’t take it anymore
I must
think about something else.
Yes, I can do that.
#whiteprivilege

I choose,
therefore,
to groan
with you
knowing that
those of
you whose
flesh and blood
lie in pools
of blood
cannot
move beyond the blood
because the
blood cries in the streets.

What have you done?
Divine words
query the
murderer described
in the religious
narrative
after killing
his own flesh and blood.

What have you done?
His blood cries out to heaven.

No,
don’t move on
too quickly.
Consider.
Ponder.
Answer:
What have you done?
WHAT?
YOU?
ME?

Calling too
quickly for all
to forgive
reconcile
restore peace
live in unity
denies the blood
that cries.
That blood
still warm
involuntarily
spilled
forced to
surrender
its life-giving
vibrancy
hope
love.

Crying to heaven.
What have you done?

I deviate.
It is
a choice
while you
don’t have one.
I choose to
stand with
those who
feel
reel from
face
fear
live and
stumble in
stagger under
the weight
of a burden
not of your choosing.
I am humbled
by
those
of you
who
rise
despite
unspeakable
terror and
injustice
to carry on.
Survive and thrive
standing as a
beacon of
strength and hope.
Courage.

But I deviate.
Because
I could

…. I truly could
move on as if
nothing had changed.
I CAN
ignore the
earth reaching
a saturation
point
with the blood
of people
who have been
knocked down
chained down
beaten down
cursed down
and mowed down.
I CAN
I COULD.
#whiteprivilege

But
I won’t.

I deviate.

“By your words you shall be acquitted or condemned…”
Words well known to churchgoers.

My life consists of words
I changed
literal “words” in the 11th hour …
yesterday
…just before sending the
manuscript off to be
published.
I wept over my
keyboard
searched my own soul
grasped for
nuances that may
inflict injury
incite malice
fuel hatred.
Because you see,
I can change the words.
My words.
The rhetoric
spoken
written
published.

As if words change anything!
Oh, but they do.

Words change everything
Words seep into our souls
Form in us either compassion
self-justification
hatred
love
empathy
and every other human emotion.

Words are used
to rationalize
justify
lecture
condemn
construe
avoiding some words
while choosing others
to define
defend
decry
denounce
victim,
action
and
criminal.
Words can–
subtly or
blatantly–
change the focus.
If words are
not–read–
IF words are
not drowned in
pools of blood.
On the street
on a playground
in a store
in a church.
Anywhere.
#whiteprivilege

So I do not deviate
at all
for my work
consists of
word choices.
Words are my
vehicle
justice my
navigation system
passion my
fuel.

***

* to be understood (as a very partial response) from within the context of the United States, simply because I have not had the time / opportunity to adequately reflect on what this means globally.
**a descriptor used by one workshop participant I had some years ago.

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20 thoughts on “I Deviate

  1. Your words did complete justice to the horrendous crime. Incidents like these make me doubt the existence or righteousness of God. :/
    I found it hard to write about it because probably I couldn’t find the courage to express myself. Reminded me of the 2002 communal riots in India. How can someone be so insane that it feels okay to kill humans on the basis of how they look!
    You are right. We are privileged to talk about it and then to move over it. It is hard to completely understand how victims of any hate crime feel.
    But words like these and thinking like this among the majority give me hope 🙂 You did a lovely job here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking so much time to respond, Prateek.
      Hatred runs deeply; history shapes powerfully. And yet, I am humbled when I hear and observe the victims’ families’ extending forgiveness. It astounds me. It’s here that I see an expression of God. Calling for justice is also an integral part of expressing God as well as our humanity.
      I appreciate you mentioning parallels in your own country’s history. I know there are nuances of difference from one culture to another, and yet the underlying thread is hatred.
      Despite the horrific occurences we hear and read about, and many live with, I am a firm believer in “love wins”. Ongoing resolve to NOT sit back, NOT allow these kinds of crimes to go unaddressed is what allows for hope to flourish. We, then, offer hope to one another.
      Thank you again, Prateek.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maintaining hope. Resolving to do right. Not opting for what is necessarily the smoothest or easiest path. Exactly! This changes everything. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Athena. Finding ways to house grief is very difficult. The burden not to look away, yet find something to make a meaningful difference is a great challenge. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow!! Julia…this is so powerful…just wow! I, too, have felt so sad since this tragedy. I am not so naïve to think that everything in this world should be bright and shiny…but this kind of senseless evil that only continues to make a divide is so sad. Thanks for sharing ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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