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Don’t speak to me of “healing” racism,
or “wounded souls” or the “painful hurt”
until you are willing to feel the scars
on my great-great-grandmother Laury’s back.

Don’t speak to me of “values”
or “justice” or “righting wrongs”
until you are able to feel the heartache
of my great-grandfather Graham
whose father may have been his master.

Don’t speak to me of “equity”
or “opportunity” or the “common good”
until you are able to hear the fear
from my grandmother Mae
as the only black woman in her college.

Don’t speak to me of “passion”
or “longing” or “standing on the side of love”
until you know the shame
felt by my mother Edwina
mocked by teachers for the curve of her back.

Don’t speak to me of “together”
or “understanding” or “empathy”
until you know my rage
as a young actor hearing the direction
to “be more black . . . more male.”

The pain you are trying to heal has no real name.
This “pain” you speak of has no story;
it is anonymous, vague, and empty.

Don’t speak to me of “healing”
for I heal the second I am ripped apart.
My wounds self-suture,
and like the clever creature I am,
I just grow new legs to outrun the pain ever faster.
It is something I have had to practice for generations,
that feel like an eternity.

So, please don’t speak to me of “healing”
because you cannot know what healing means
until you know the hurt.

About the Author

  • The Rev. Adam Lawrence Dyer is lead minister at First Parish in Cambridge Unitarian Universalist, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is the author of Love Beyond God , a collection of poetry and reflections focused on black identity and liberal religion. His blog...

Comments (2) (Open)

Bluestocking 2 years 11 months ago

I understand that as a white woman I can never fully empathize, but how do I feel the hurt so that I can speak of healing?

Hope.Vales 2 years 11 months ago
Love, Bluestocking. When you love someone on the receiving end of racism, it feels the same. Love, and you'll feel the hurt, fear, and the rage.... healing is an individual thing, we all have to find our way through, and to that. Racism does really nasty things to a person, and I hope you never experience what it does, you can not be prepared for it, so just love, it's not impossible to heal, today my thoughts go to a man dead, his family, and I can't stop my thoughts from going on my Son, my Brothers, my Nephews, and I know my thoughts will be there again another tomorrow, today's hard, HARD to not let it change you, I will never let heatred win, so I have to choose love, even with knowing there will be another tomorrow, and my thoughts will be in the same place, I'll choose it again... and the next time.. I hope this helps you understand.

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