Like a Stone

Stack of stones in a forest.
Photo by Sudarshan Bhat on Unsplash.

Sometimes grief is like a stone in your guts. A knot that you can't unwind no matter what you do. Sitting there, unmoving, uncomfortable, unresolved. Some things that hurt us are out of our control, and then you swallow another stone.

As I'm writing this, the state of Kentucky still hasn't arrested any of the police officers responsible for the killing of Breonna Taylor. They shot her to death eight times while she was still in her bed. They entered her apartment with a "no-knock warrant," and when her boyfriend attempted to defend himself with his own, licensed handgun, the police shot more than 20 rounds indiscriminately into the apartment, killing Breonna through her bedroom wall. No one is disputing that this happened. So why no arrest?

Because there was a warrant? Because Breonna's boyfriend fired his weapon first? Because she was a Black woman?

I suspect it's each of these things, maybe all of them. My hunch is that the AG probably doesn't think he can get a conviction if he brought these officers up on murder charges. Whatever the reason, these police killed an innocent woman in her bed, and very likely none of them will pay any substantive price. There will be no real justice for Breonna Taylor. And everyone in this country and on this world who feels unresolved grief will all swallow another stone.

Black Americans have swallowed countless stones like this over the 400-year history of their lives in this country. Powerless in the face of a legal system designed to oppress them at every turn, they have swallowed stone after stone, endured injustice upon injustice. For what? A little more melanin in their skin? The absurdity of the scale at which this country has defiled these humans over such a small difference is truly staggering.

Yet somehow Black Americans have adapted to life under these conditions. Somehow they have learned how to use these stones as fuel to keep marching, keep praying, keep making beautiful art and beautiful music. They have taken in stones and made them bread. And I am in awe of that.

The stones that I have swallowed in my life sit in my guts right now. They are many fewer than those of my Black friends and family. I don't know how to turn them into bread. My life has not taught me how to do that. I feel them sometimes, and I have the privilege to ignore them sometimes. Less melanin, you know.

So I sit here and I do what I can from the confines of my COVID quarantine. I have been buying and reading books by Black authors, sharing resources that support social justice causes, and donating what money I can. I've been listening and reading and learning and hoping that these young people in the streets don't give up. I want to be an ally, but I fear I am a stone. God help me not to be another stone.