“No one breathes”

Dear President Trump,

I wasn’t going to stay for service at all yesterday. The plan was to go to choir practice at 9 and leave right afterwards because there was a choir potluck later in the afternoon and I didn’t want the whole day given over to churchy stuff. The plan was going just fine until I stopped down by the sanctuary to pick up a program for the service (I still wanted to know what was going to happen and especially wanted to see the Contemporary Voice passage). I chatted with the usher about a mutual friend and he teased that he was going to charge me for the program since I didn’t plan to stay – easy, run of the mill, surface stuff. But there was music coming from the sanctuary that sounded different from the usual fare so I decided to just pause and listen to the rehearsal and then leave. That was the plan, anyway.

Up on the chancel were three white teens, a slight young woman singing, her brother playing percussion, and another young woman playing the piano and singing back-up. The song they were working on is called “I Can’t Breathe” and the lead singer wrote the lyrics and the other two wrote the music. I’m tearing up now as I write to you about it – the song is beautiful and devastating, and it’s really, really good. During the rehearsal they kept starting and stopping because the lead singer would stumble on a phrase or get a little lost. But it didn’t matter; they were taking the space and time they needed to work themselves out, work the nerves out, and get comfortable in that space.

I hope it’s ok to share the chorus of the song with you (and I’m assuming that because it was printed in the bulletin, it is) – it’s something you desperately need to hear and take in whether, or not, Jared is willing to call out your racism (he sounded like an idiot, by the way, with his “I wasn’t involved with that” or whatever it was he said in response to the question about your birther shit and whether it was racist).

So the chorus to “I can’t breathe” goes like this:

I can’t breathe
We can’t breathe
No one breathes
Stop tryin’ to make them all monsters cuz’ you can’t see the similarities
They’ve tried so hard all of these centuries
But you don’t believe cuz’ you don’t really wanna see

After the chorus she went on to sing about the privilege she’s been afforded by the color of her skin and how she doesn’t have to live in fear because she looks right (though when I heard this part of the song, I couldn’t help but think about the fear she probably carries and will carry about existing in this world as a girl/woman). A little later came the haunting lines “Oh no, let go, we can’t breathe, we can’t breathe.”

At that point I resolved to stay.

May we all be safe to breathe, to breathe in and to breathe out, again and again and again.
May we all be happy for everyone to take their full measure of air and space.
May we finally grasp that our collective health depends on seeing that each one’s breath is precious.
May we resist the tradition of fear and hate mongering you are perpetuating to keep us divided.

Tracy Simpson

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