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  • Kerry D. Krauss

Dark Clouds

(Note: One of my writing rules is to allow ideas a day to settle. I am often writing 24-48 hours behind ‘real time’. It is hard to edit on the fly and impossible to take something back after you hit ‘send’. I let this sit so I could say what I wanted to say.)

This was supposed to be the story. White cherry blossoms delicately hanging like happiness in the warming sun. I’ve seen it for ten years. Fields upon fields upon fields of uniform trees, budding uniform white blooms radiating a scent of clean.

Friends down the road have a few acres of cherry orchard. They gave me permission to mix and mingle with the springtime wonder. A tractor on the next section turned up the earth and invited a congregation of seagulls.

But the story last night, to my surprise was not the white on white. Instead, this story dominated the scene. Dark clouds skirting to the north of the peninsula. They brought rain to someone somewhere. I saw it sidelong, from a distance. I wanted to submerge myself into the sea of white, close-up, but the panorama of the clouds in the distance overwhelmed me. I could not ignore the bigger story. The dark clouds required a different angle, a different lens, a different sensibility.

At the time I walked the McMahon’s orchard, I did not know the name George Floyd. I did not realize the dark clouds on the horizon foretold more than just rain. Those dark clouds hang over the corner of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis. And not just Minneapolis, the dark clouds hang over every American city, every bedroom community suburb, every small town and unincorporated village from sea to shining sea.

I cannot speak to the inequity that non-white suffers from the white. I will not waste real or virtual ink offering opinions of what I only know sidelong and from a distance.

I grew up in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. A very white suburb of Allentown. VERY WHITE. I did not know much Pennsylvania German, but I knew that ‘schwarze’ meant black. And I know when that term was used, the user was not talking about tires. I heard it muttered like a curse word. Muttered, not articulated, not confrontational, not direct, but sidelong, from a distance.

In 1979 or 1980 an African American family moved into the neighborhood. If I remember correctly there were three children and older boy and two younger siblings a boy and a girl. Within a week the older boy had been beaten up by someone else in the neighborhood. They rarely played outside after that. I think they moved away before the summer ended.

I knew then that it was wrong. I didn’t have words like ‘injustice’ or ‘systemic racism’. I couldn’t quote statistics nor did I know anyone who could supply them to me. I said nothing and became complicit. But it was wrong.

It IS wrong. It is unjust. It is racism that imprisons and punishes anyone who is not white. I can quote statistics. I know people that I love and trust who can supply them. Our 450-year-old war against non-whites in North America must stop.

A prayer (words by Jill Jackson-Miller)

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Let there be peace on earth, peace that was meant to be.

With God our creator, family are we.

Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me; let this be the moment now.

With ev’ry step I take, let this be my solemn vow:

To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally!

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

I love you.

I need you.

I hope for you.

Please be safe.

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