By Miles Jaye
What God is it that strengthens and steels a people to withstand the persecution my people have? What is it within, that finds yet one more tear after all other tears have fallen? Author Lailah Gifty Akita says, “The light in my soul is inextinguishable.”
Inextinguishable is irrepressible, unquenchable, eternally, persistently present. It is a cobalt blue burning flame; a fire that cannot be doused. Inextinguishable is enduring and everlasting. More than perseverance, it’s the sun, an indefatigable soul. More than perseverance, it’s the Son, it’s a wholly Holy Spirit.
What God is it that renders irrepressible our resolve to rise and stand defiant in sunlight or rain, and to rest peacefully through violent storms or in the quiet darkness of moonlit nights. Eternally, persistently present are the spirits of our ancestors keeping us clinging to our charge, clutching our indebtedness for generations, millennium of oblations given our Father, which art in Heaven.
Unquenchable is our hunger and thirst for dignity, justice and peace, so we fight, scrap, scrape, and sacrifice for our human and civil rights. We endure the ignominy and degradation of their inhumanity, in constant pursuit of the honor, esteem and respect we deserve. Voracious and insatiable are our appetites for dignity, justice, peace and honor, so we will go on, wait on, march on, and fight on, until we are fed and full.
Indistinguishable from immolation, bodies bathed in gasoline, burning in the public square, we too burn. However, our self-mutilation is our refusal to comply or concede. Ours is a spontaneous combustion, and we burn, and burn, and burn. Like a cross in the front yard… we burn.
With each slain body that falls, each new name we must remember, the fire burns hotter and higher. When will the world have enough? Another slain body has fallen. When will God have had enough? America has gone from celebrating life, birthdays and holidays to commemorating slayings, and it hasn’t stopped. Will it ever stop, or do we just continue to burn? We burn like the Buddhist in the street, but we’re left wondering if it will have any effect on the hearts of onlookers. Will it even matter?
America has watched us burn for generations. Men, women, children, cities, homes, churches and businesses burn, and America watches. America watches our mothers weep, and our fathers fall to their knees, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Black lives do not seem to matter in America.
Black men and Black women could bathe themselves in gasoline in front of the church house at 10 a.m. on any Sunday or in front of the state capitol building at noon on a Monday and set themselves ablaze and America would not be moved beyond the spectacle of it all. So we burn!
What God is it that has rendered us inextinguishable? The same God that has strengthened us and steeled our resolve to withstand the murderous persecution we endure day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.
May God grant us comfort, a peace that passes all understanding, and an end to the oppression, discrimination, and tyranny.
That’s what’s on my mind.