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The heavy work

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I will not watch the desecration and destruction of black bodies.

I’ve seen pictures my entire life. Read books and watched documentaries. Heard horrible stories from family members in my living room. Written articles and obituaries. Watched my dad come home after ensuring that black people, disrespected throughout their lives, at least had dignity in death.

This has shaped my life and my work. It is a filter through which I have raised my son. It brought on an anxiety that accompanied my marriage. It is the breath I take before answering the phone when one of my relatives calls, knowing at any moment it could be our turn.

Every day, I pray for Jesus to guide my hands, my words, my work toward justice. Every day, I view story after story of people oppressed by an unjust system that folks give lip service to unraveling, but excuse time and time again. Or worse, they do nothing.

I spend a lot of time conflicted. I am grateful for the existence of cell phone cameras and social media so people who spent years denying the validity of black folks’ stories can finally see for themselves that we have not been too sensitive or overreacted, grateful that there is now at least a conversation, even when due punishment happens at a snail’s pace or not at all.

I am also a black woman in trauma. I am a mother who keeps encountering the actual murder of men who look like my son because people keep resharing the video and the media keeps airing it on the news. I am triggered to the point that it is hard, and sometimes impossible, to function.

The call on my life is exhausting. It is lonely. It is heartbreaking, and many times I’m misunderstood inside my home and outside in the world. There is no self-care regimen that can alleviate this particular stress. And that’s where I have to step into my faith because of course I cannot afford to not function. This work requires warriors who heed the call not to become weary in welldoing.

But it’s heavy. It’s heavy to watch my nation form an alleged promise of solidarity in standing up to a virus while ignoring the virus of systemic poverty and racism that has caused the virus to kill black and brown people in disproportionate numbers. It’s heavy to watch a black man threatened and people care more about a dog than his life.

And as a black woman, it’s especially heavy to watch this, to love black men so much, when we often are not shown that same love in return.

Jesus, help me see like You see. Help me love like you love. Help me.

LaMonique Hamilton is a Wilson resident and former Times reporter and copy editor. She is the national deputy director of communications for Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.