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  • Writer's pictureAshley Gray

10 Things I Think... God Doesn't Negotiate with Terror

I have been questioning God lots lately. I'm not sure why slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow, Police brutality and other violent practice and legislation have happened. As I sit knowing who God is in my life, I also wonder why this continues to happen. The last few weeks have been a real struggle for me. I'm in DC, away from family. I'm working remotely. I'm dissertating. AND, I'm barely taking care of myself. BARELY. I'm going to walk you through 10 things I am struggling with currently.

  1. People refuse to #SayHerName. Be it Breonna Taylor, Priscilla Slater, Sandra Bland, Pamela Turner, Tanisha Anderson, Atatiana Jefferson, Shantel Davis, Alexia Christian, Nina Pop, Kathryn Johnston, Shukai Ali Said, Tameka Lashay Simpson, Cynthia Fields, Dominque "Rem'mie" Fells or Riah Milton (not an exhaustive list)... people refuse to acknowledge the sisters who've fallen. It's heartbreaking.

  2. All last week, I was haunted by Breonna's death. Much like Sandra Bland. Everytime I closed my eyes, I wondered if I was going to be the next Black woman. It's a terrible haunting feeling that makes you live small. Breath minimally. Not take up too much space because all it takes is one white person not being able to police their supremacy and we end up hashtags. So I told God something I won't repeat here and the response I got was "God doesn't negotiate with terror"... God doesn't need folks offering themselves up so no one else can go. My faith tells me that sacrifice was made some 2000 something years ago. But here we are just begging not to even feel close to the pain that the Brown, Marin, Garner, Bland, Floyd, Jefferson, Arbery and Taylor families (just to name a few) feel.

  3. It's awful seeing the club of the families of fallen Black folk emerge. I watched a little bit of George Floyd's Houston funeral and the number of Black families who all had a shared bond of grief broke my heart. They held each other and wept. No one should have to be a part of that club.

  4. And life is still going on during all of this. I still work in white space. And I'm still being asked by colleagues to tell them when they are being racist. The labor of Black folks can't demand we take on course-correcting white folk. First, it's dangerous. Many of the offenders are more afraid of being called racist than doing the work to unlearn it. And it's been my experience that retaliation is never far away.

  5. There's still a pandemic happening inside the nation's first pandemic of racism. And guess who's disproportionately impacted? Black folks. Not solely, our Native family is grossly impacted by police brutality and COVID-19 alike. And people care enough about Black life to risk their Black lives which are already more likely to end due to protesting during COVID-19.

  6. I read an article today about how when Black folks die, White folk start book clubs. A sobering reality. Books like White Fragility and White Like Me fly off shelves and BLM signs go up in gentrified neighborhoods so folks can say they've done their work. And truthfully, I don't have anything to tell white folk. I can't make you feel better about me feeling terror. It's almost like some of my colleagues would rather outcry me so they can prove to themselves that this hurts. I'd rather you examine your heart and check your folks than try to prove to me you care. This has never been my doing and I can't undo it.

  7. God, are you there? I remember growing up I was so fascinated by Judy Blume's "Are you There God, It's me, Margaret". It taught me a lot about how to prepare for my period, how to do the we-must-increase-our-bust dance that "eventually led to boobs". I seriously learned a lot about how to prepare for this step towards "womanhood". And there's no manual for learning how to survive while Black. When you add other historically minoritized identities on top of that, the tangled web deepens. Don't get me wrong, Black folks are an oratory people. We teach each other survival and I'm saddened that we no longer have the stories from George Floyd or Breonna.

  8. And anti-Blackness doesn't solely belong to white folk, it lives in other minoritized groups and even in Black folk. Some of my worst hurt came in the name of other Black folks doing the work of white supremacy and/or patriarchy. Seeing the babies from Spelman and Morehouse Colleges being drug out of the car and tased for no reason hurt me. SO bad. And some of the officers looked like me. It's a reminder that many of us still work in white supremacists spaces even though we don't claim to hold the same views. It's still rewarded to think and act in alignment with it.

  9. My dissertation centers the pathway experiences of Black women college presidents. This week I kept wondering who was holding them up as they prepared statements, drove home, kissed their Black children and spouses and hoped to serve another day in the name of higher education. Who holds the folks that have to hold others up?

  10. All of this has been on a serious note, but I'll leave with this. I have never in all my life hated someone enough to kneel on their necks for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. I have never felt enough rage to feel the blood and breath under my knee go from racing to still. I have never hated anyone enough to standby with my hands in my pocket and see someone being murdered. And I never will. The silent oath they all took that day forever marks them. To remain silent is to add a knee. I pray no one gets any sleep until we all wake up. And God, you won't negotiate with terror and I don't think you should. I just beg that not one more knee gets to take the breath out of Black people. Not one more. Not one more story like this. No more videos. No more state-sanctioned murders followed by brutality of folks exercising their constitutional right to assemble. No more. Please, God- no more.

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