Hestia of the home,
Hestia of the home city,
Hestia of the homeland,
Athena Who defends the defenseless,
Athena Who girds with armor,
Athena who sounds the war trumpet,
Zeus of liberty,
Zeus of justice,
Zeus of all the people,
and any other Gods Who care
that Charleena Lyles was murdered
for being a black disabled woman
and that her unborn child died with her
and that her other children watched her die,
in the same week
that the man who murdered Philando Castile
before the very eyes
of his girlfriend and her child
was deemed not guilty in the matter of
the death of Philando Castile,
I call all of You
by whatever names You choose to be known.
Charleena was not safe in her own home.
Charleena was not safe in her home city.
Charleena was not safe in her homeland.
Charleena needed defense against those she called to defend her.
Charleena needed armor against the bullets of her saviors.
Charleena needed a war trumpet calling armies to her cause.
Charleena cries out for liberty.
Charleena cries out for justice.
Charleena cries out for all her people.
There is a fable told by Aesop.
An Athenian on a sinking ship
prayed to You, Athena, for safety.
A sailor swimming by called out,
“Pray to Athena all you like,
but move your arms!”
You tell us thus, O Gods,
that You will refuse to aid us
in gaining things that we ourselves
do not work to gain.
Michael’s, Eric’s, and Trayvon’s,
Rekia Boyd’s and Sandra Bland’s,
have worked and worked and worked and worked
to gain for all the people
the liberty and justice
we the people of the United States
have been promised.
My white people
have attained these.
have been denied.
I have little to offer You, O Gods,
only incense, only wine—
only one white voice
who might perhaps be listened to
when black voices go unheard.
As Andreas Hale once said,
“We march, y’all mad.
“We sit down, y’all mad.
“We speak up, y’all mad.
“We die, y’all silent.”
So I pray this prayer in public
and I hope my voice is heard:
I ask You, O Gods,
to defend Charleena’s people,
to gird with armor Charleena’s people,
to sound the trumpet calling armies to Charleena’s people’s cause,
that Charleena’s people may be safe
in their own homes,
in their home cities,
in their homeland,
so that when we read the famous phrases
in the United States Declaration
“all are created equal”,
“life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”—
so that when we read in the Preamble
to the United States Constitution
“common defence” and “general welfare”,
“justice” and “blessings of liberty”—
so that when we proclaim
in the United States Pledge of Allegiance
“one nation”, “indivisible”,
“liberty and justice for all”—
we do not by our actions
and by our inaction,
by our speech and by our silence,
make these famed words
For this, O Gods, I pray.
Dear white people:
When will it end?
When will we stop?
When will we have taken enough respect from them?
When will we have taken enough wealth from them?
When will we have taken enough blood from them?
When will we have taken enough lives from them?
When will we have taken enough from them?
When will we be satisfied?
When will we stop?
When will we make it end?