Four years ago yesterday, July 6, Philando Castile was shot dead by St. Anthony police after he was stopped for driving with a broken tail light.
One of the officers asked Castille for his drivers license and registration. Castile informed the officer that he had a firearm (which he had a license to carry.) When Castile reached for paperwork, an officer shot him seven times at close range.
Castile joined the growing list of black men killed by police.
Hundreds of people gathered at Luther Seminary for a Service of Prayer and Lament honoring Castile’s life, one of many such services. A particularly moving part was a reading by Afro Christian scholar Rev. Yolanda Pierce called “A Litany for those who aren’t ready for healing.”
I came across it again today. Given George Floyd’s murder and the events that followed, it seems like an appropriate to reprint it.
A litany for those who aren’t ready for healing, by Rev. Yolanda Pierce
Let us not rush to the language of healing, before understanding the fullness of the injury and the depth of the wound.
Let us not rush to offer a bandaid, when the gaping wound requires surgery and complete reconstruction.
Let us not offer false equivalencies, thereby diminishing the particular pain being felt in a particular circumstance in a particular historical moment.
Let us not speak of reconciliation without speaking of reparations and restoration, or how we can repair the breach and how we can restore the loss.
Let us not rush past the loss of this mother’s child, this father’s child…someone’s beloved son.
Let us not value property over people; let us not protect material objects while human lives hang in the balance.
Let us not value a false peace over a righteous justice.
Let us not be afraid to sit with the ugliness, the messiness, and the pain that is life
in community together.
Let us not offer clichés to the grieving, those whose hearts are being torn asunder.
Let us mourn black and brown men and women, those killed extrajudicially every 28 hours.
Let us lament the loss of a teenager, dead at the hands of a police officer who described
him as a demon.
Let us weep at a criminal justice system, which is neither blind nor just.
Let us call for the mourning men and the wailing women, those willing to rend their garments of privilege and ease, and sit in the ashes of this nation’s original sin.
Let us be silent when we don’t know what to say.
Let us be humble and listen to the pain, rage, and grief pouring from the lips of our neighbors and friends.
Let us decrease, so that our brothers and sisters who live on the underside of history may increase.
Let us pray with our eyes open and our feet firmly planted on the ground
Let us listen to the shattering glass and let us smell the purifying fires, for it is the language of the unheard.
God, in your mercy…
Show me my own complicity in injustice.
Convict me for my indifference.
Forgive me when I have remained silent.
Equip me with a zeal for righteousness.
Never let me grow accustomed or acclimated to unrighteousness.