Were you there when a defenseless man was pinned to the asphalt with a knee pressed down upon his neck?
Were you there when a policeman knelt triumphantly on the neck of a dying man?
Were you there when he pleaded for his life and exclaimed: “I can’t breathe”?
Were you there when this agonizing man called out to his mother moments before he took his last breath?
Were you there for one of the most horrifying and extralegal public displays of execution?
Were you there when a man’s death became another public spectacle of power, supremacy, and hate?
Yeshua continues to be crucified in black bodies, female bodies, gay bodies, transgender bodies, and all the bodies that fail to capture the dominant representation of the human. Instead of calling out to his father, Yeshua called out to his momma. Rather than shouting “I thirst,” he gasped out loud, “I can’t breathe.”
Oh I was there, I was certainly there… And still it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble…
Once again, were you there?
Oh you bet I was there… I was there alright. How could I not be? I stood at the Golgotha of my living room and watched on television while all the hatred of white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia, and xenophobia weighed down on a man’s neck as he released his last breath.
I swear I was there until all was done. Consummatum est!
Oh I was certainly there when they crucified George Floyd. But no one hid for fear of retaliation by association. Nor did anyone search out the living among the dead. No one shrugged their shoulders and walked away disenchanted. No, something extraordinary happened, something miraculous occurred. There was resurrection on the streets of Minneapolis. There was resurrection all over the world!
Oh I trembled, trembled, and trembled… But this time I trembled with excitement and anticipation. I tremble at the sight of courage and fortitude. I trembled at the thought of loving those who hate us and persecute us. I trembled at the paradox of the cross and the lynching tree. I tremble when death is robbed of its sting. But most of all, I tremble before the words of that haunting question… were you there?
Mural portrait of George Floyd by Eme Street Art in Mauerpark (Berlin, Germany). Source: Wikimedia.