A Lament for Eric Garner
A year ago today, a grand jury declined to indict a police officer for his role in the death of Eric Garner in New York. In his book Prophetic Lament, theologian Soong-Chan Rah wrote a prayer-poem, inspired by Lamentations 5, on behalf of Garner and Michael Brown and suffering black communities throughout the United States. It's excerpted here.
Remember, Lord, what happened
to Michael Brown and Eric Garner;
look, and see the disgraceful way they treated their bodies.
Our inheritance of the image of God in every human being
has been co-opted and denied by others.
The children of Eric Garner have become fatherless,
widowed mothers grieve their dead children.
We must scrap for our basic human rights;
our freedom and our liberty has a great price.
Corrupt officers and officials pursue us and are at our heels;
we are weary and find no rest.
We submitted to uncaring government agencies
and to big business
to get enough bread.
Our ancestors sinned the great sin of instituting slavery;
they are no more - but we bear their shame.
The system of slavery and institutionalized racism
ruled over us,
and there is no one to free us from their hands.
We get our bread at the risk of our lives
because of the guns on the streets.
Michael Brown's skin is hot as an oven
as his body lay out in the blazing sun.
Women have been violated throughout our nation's history;
black women raped by white slave owners on the plantations.
Noble black men have been hung, lynched and gunned down;
elders and spokesmen are shown no respect.
Young men can't find work because of unjustly applied laws;
boys stagger under the expectation that their lives
are destined for jail. . . .
Woe to us, for we have sinned!