Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Awful Grace of God. - Shery Bailey

“The Awful Grace of God.”
by Sheri Bailey

On April 4, 1968 it fell to presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy to announce the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. to a crowd of people in a Black community. In testament to the sincerity of his words -- where he spoke was one of the few cities that did not burn in the aftermath of pain and grief that gripped the country in the wake of Dr. King’s murder.

The words of this white man of privilege who himself would be dead by an assassin’s bullet a mere two months later carried the power, poetry and brevity of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address. The simple use of poetry as in “Fourscore and seven years ago” instead of “87 years ago” identified Abraham Lincoln as a man capable of keeping the Union united.”

And like Lincoln ’s two minute speech RFK’s words on an inner city street corner were not immediately recognized as ones that would survive the ages. Some of what he said to the people there were some words from a favorite poet whose words give title to this essay. He implored this group of men and women, boys and girls to not react in anger at the “awful grace of God.” He spoke of the loss of his brother to violence and said that he could understand why Black people would have anger and hate in their hearts against a white man but he hoped that they would not. He asked them to “Say a prayer for understanding … compassion.” And he continued, “These are difficult times. We have had difficult times in the past. We have difficult times to come. But let us do as the Greeks said, “To tame the savageness of man and make gentle the light of the world.” Let us dedicate ourselves to that. Let us pray for our country. Let us pray for our people.”

On July 7, 2008 I was working on Juneteenth business at the home of Juneteenth’s board president Ernest Lowery when suddenly his wife came into the office and said, “Sheri, I don’t want you to be upset but someone hit your car and there’s a woman here who is an eyewitness.” Confused I went outside where Kara Cuffey started explaining how she was driving behind a grey Dodge pick-up when suddenly a white male, early 20’s hit my car and sped off. With her young teenage daughter in tow they followed the assailant until they were able to get the license plate (VA tags ......................................(Info' removed by the Imani Foundation.). I got all of this information from the Chesapeake Police Department. Thank you, Officer Jancewicz and Detective Weir.

Now I was truly exasperated by the fact that I had been assaulted by a thoughtless stranger, but my witness balanced the situation. What looked like buzzard’s luck was really good luck. And then I had profound luck. Detective Weir paid the Hill family a visit. Fortunately, the incident was so insignificant to (Name removed) that he had not bothered to run his truck through a carwash. Consistent with my ’93 Honda Accord parked on the right side of the street was evidence of maroon paint chips on the passenger side of his truck. And then Detective Weir told me something that blew me the hell away. Master Hill sports a Confederate flag emblem on his bumper sticker!

Now here’s the deal. Whenever I see the Rebel cloth, I go ballistic. I speed up, give ‘em finger, mouth the word “@$*%0le” and generally put myself and whoever else is nearby in grave vehicular danger. My daughter, now a college sophomore, vividly recalls grabbing the dashboard and hanging on for dear life when she was dependent on me for all her transportation needs. And because this is Virginia this was a fairly common occurrence during her formative years.

The biggest ones are in S-folk. The most on front porches are in P-town. C-peak has the most KKK types and VA Beach is a wild combo of poor and rich racist trash. Norfolk is the best place not to be offended and we don’t know enough about the rest of the region.

And now (Name removed) who can be reached at (Number withdrawn by Imani Foundation) has hit my car and made me realize that it’s not about me giving him the finger. It is about me using my God-given gifts in ways that encourage openness and decency. Today and everyday hungry children die in a world full of food. Torture and rape are allowed by the law of the land. Fear is the master of all, but I want to be a part of the healing that comes with forgiveness.

I want to be a part of a Kwanzaa performance on Saturday, December 27th from noon to 3pm at the Norfolk Public Library Lafayette Branch surrounded by Lakewood Park , Willard Model Elementary School and the home of James and Jennifer Cooper at 1705 Cromwell Drive . There’s plenty of parking, but very little space inside the library. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Call 757.397.5963 for more details. Please come and enjoy the holiday season with the Juneteenth Players.

My job is to share the stories of the past with accurate, entertaining lessons about today’s times. A scared young man using a symbol as a shield against his deepest fears is to be pitied. On the backs of daily acts of courage we will lift up those who would be burdens. And in those times when the world makes the least sense we must try to understand the awful grace of God.



Anonymous said...

My folk is from Dayton. Over off of Dayton Liberty Road

Anonymous said...

how dare u, u are very inconsiderate, if u dont like the confederate flag u dont know ur history, lady!! go back to booker t. washington, i went there and im white and im not racist like u think most people are that have a confederate flag, we are proud of our heritage, we are proud to be southerns, we are proud to say we are not yankees, the south will rise again and when it does we shall be there for our forefathers! Please dont post nothing else of my husband. You were wrong in the first place, u tried starting something that should of never been started. Thats just trying to cause a fight with putting someones address in there.

theaccusedwife said...

U Mam, are the most up roaring person i have ever seen online. You never heard the say " dont judge a book by its cover" You think u can read people. Well darling u cant... I believe in the confederacy, but you know what, i am not rascist, i will call a white person a nigger.... it means ignorant person, not all african americans are one, there have been a lot them in the history books, i went to a high school of a african american historian, and i am white.. I have causican and african american mix family, does that mean i am rasist against my own family. Last i checked i wasnt, i can have ur own opinions and blog them out to whole world for all i care, but take this into consideration not everyone is like what u say they whether they are in ptown chesapeake va beach suffolk or where ever....