By E. Hughes
You are going to hell. At least that’s what the white church planter tells you over Facebook when you ask God to judge America about one week after Philando Castile’s murderer is set free because he’s a cop and three days after watching that same man (in a newly released video) shoot seven bullets in to a black man’s body with his partner and child in the vehicle.
You lay your head on the bible and cannot bring yourself to words. God must hate black people. No, that’s not true. God must hate me. No, that’s not true. You turn this over in your head for a few minutes then you think of Jesus and how he raised Lazarus from the dead, how he could have touched Philando and raised him. Jesus, you think, was raised in the ghetto. He knows what this must be like. He must not hate us.
Your body is sore. Almost like you’ve just been beaten. And you remember the church planter’s words to repent and to forgive white evangelicals. The white church planter knows nothing about you or your life. In fact, you think it’s odd that the church planter seems to think that you are angry at white people when your post specifically stated How can I love a country determined to destroy my body? I have no love in my heart for America. I pray it is judged for all its heinous crimes and tossed in the deepest pit of God’s hell. You know this is white fragility.
You think of the white friends who love you and whom you love. They’ve never said anything like this to you before.
On Facebook, you read comments about Philando’s little girl saying that her daddy will be gone forever and think of the other thing she said—We were just going to go get ice cream. You look at more comments from white people still blaming black people for being black. Fire in your chest. You think Oh God, slay the wicked.
You lay your head again on the bible. You are listening to Chance the Rapper’s “How Great”—thinking about the goodness of God and about the cross. Your chest is no longer on fire. You almost cry, missing God. You hate his church. You know this is wrong. You are angry. All you want is to touch his feet. You read out of John 12 about Jesus talking with Greeks about losing and hating their lives to gain eternal life in him. You think about being black and being a woman. You think about how everywhere you go, people want to rape you—rape your mind and body, rape your culture and freewill. You think how mostly white Christians have done these things to you. Then you read on, Jesus says For this purpose I have come. To hate his life, you think, so that his siblings might have life. You think of the anger Jesus must have felt going to the cross. These evil and ungrateful ass people who know nothing about love or how to live. You think of Jesus and the Father—how compelled by love they were for each other and the creation. The Holy Spirit comforts you, Let go of this anger, Erica.
You know that your life will never be normal, that you won’t ever have the things you desire more than most things—love and a family. Plus, the church planter said that you’ll never enjoy the joys of Christian fellowship. You think of hating your life for the sake of Jesus.
You grieve the cross God has called you to bear. You turn on J. Cole’s “Be Free” and post to Facebook, I might be going to hell for asking my God for freedom (for justice) from the bonds of Satan—white supremacy. You want to cry, but the thing that cries inside of you is sore. So you grieve in silence.
You can’t trust anyone. Not even people who claim to love Jesus. Deep in your heart, you know they don’t love you. At best, they tolerate you; at worst, they think they can tame and train you like a monkey. You think of the slaves. How the white slave masters would get them drunk and make them fight like beasts during the holidays as a technique to keep them enslaved. You refuse to be slave or a monkey. For this, the church has exiled you. You sing J. Cole—All we wanna do is take the chains off. All we wanna to do is take the chains off. All we want to do is be free. You add, Why can’t we be free?
You think of Jesus—strapped with a sword and tattooed on his thigh, and how he will, looking directly into the deep blue eyes of evil—slay the wicked.
Erica Hughes is working toward her MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry at California State University, Fresno, where she also teaches freshmen composition.