We Are Poured Out Like Water

Reverend Buford offered these remarks on October 2, 2016, about a month before the presidential election, at the Beyt Tikkun High Holy Days services at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Ca.

THANK YOU Rabbi Michael Lerner for the invitation to make some brief remarks about what it is like to be an African American in the twenty-first century. This makes me think of W.E.B. Dubois who was answering a similar question over hundred years ago. For him, the question boiled down to being asked “What is it like the be THE Problem?” Everybody has problems and we usually have more than one problem. Shakespeare said that “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.”

Illustration by Tania Advani | www.taniamaya.com

To be Black in the twenty-first century means that you have the same problems that everyone else has, plus the added burden of being seen as the problem by the dominant culture. We will be blamed if Hillary Clinton wins. We will be blamed if Donald Trump wins. With Obama in the White House we can’t win for losing.

In the neighborhood we say “What do it mean?” “What it is?” and “What do it be like?” It’s like waking up every morning with a bad hangover of survivor’s guilt. Walking the streets and catching the bus with the walking wounded and the walking dead who are just waiting for a fresh grave to open up; where every road is either a dead end or an intersection of the Avenue of the Damned and the Boulevard of Lost Souls.

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Source Citation

Tikkun 2017 Volume 32, Number 1: 40-41


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