I am tired

Mary Hess Posted by Mary Hess, Professor of Educational Leadership, Luther Seminary.


I am tired.

I am tired.

I am tired of feeling like I am shouting out into a vast abyss, and nothing is changing.

If I feel like this, a middle class white cis straight woman (with all sorts of other privileges I’m not even naming), how much more fatigued to the bone are my sisters and brothers of color in this country?

This morning I was looking for a resource I knew I’d blogged about a while back that supports families as they seek to talk with children about racism, and in the process was digging into this blog.

What an archive of pain and anger about racism can be found there!

In March of 2012 I was writing about Trayvon Martin. In July of 2013 it was responding to the lack of conviction of Trayvon’s murderer. In August of 2013 I posted Javon Johnson’s searing poem “cuz he’s Black.” By November of 2015 I was collecting tweets in response to Jamar Clark’s death.

As I wandered further and further back into my archive, I found this sermon I preached — in September of 2003 — about learning from family, and religious identity development that reaches outward, rather than closing off. And a post about a pastoral letter our Archbishop (at the time, that was Harry Flynn) had written on racism. Not to mention Howard Dean’s striking speech on racism in December of 2003.

So just in the span of social media time it’s been more than a decade that I — and so, so many others — have been writing, marching, advocating to dismantle structural forms of racism. And yet here we are, in the first week of July 2016, mourning the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five police officers in Dallas, shot at a Black Lives Matter peaceful protest.

Fatigue can so easily turn to despair. And despair can so easily turn into anger and hatred.

Last night hundreds of people gathered in the Luther Seminary chapel to lament the death of Philando and the rending of our social fabric which is structural racism. I was seeking hope. Songs were sung, tears fell… and I still walked away with a deep pessimism about whether we might actually do something about all of this.

I can analyze all day and night, I can talk about neoliberal capitalism, and intersectional oppression and the ways in which embracing our differences can lead to change, but unless we actually do that, embrace our differences in love and humility and hope, nothing will change.

God, hear my prayer. Hear the prayers of all those who seek your transformative breath in the midst of our anger and pain and fear. Help us to see YOU in each other, in ALL of our “each others.” Help us to move beyond emoting, and sustain us in the hard and long and fatiguing work of changing the conditions in which we live, and the structures which keep us from each other.

Help us. Help me. Please.