How long, O Lord? How long?
The common refrain of God’s people in the midst of suffering? How long will the oppressors win? How long will the enemies trample us? How long will our children be slaughtered? When will thy kingdom come? When will thy will be done?
2 years after the death of Dontre Hamilton, the city of Milwaukee and the nation continue to cry out: How long? How long until justice prevails in the land? How long until police and communities are no longer at odds with one another? How long until we stop hearing about the shooting death of an unarmed person of color? How long?
Perhaps this anniversary should be a day of lamentations. A day of wailing and grief.
Perhaps this day should be a day of righteous anger, of occupying public space and shutting down “business as usual.”
These reactions are justified. Anger and grief, rage and disbelief.
And yet the family of Dontre Hamilton cling instead to Psalm 30.
“ Then you changed my despair into a dance—
you stripped me of my death shroud
and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11
There are still days of grief and rage. There will still be days of action and protest. But in the midst of death is life. The Milwaukee Police department decided 2 years ago that April 30th would be a day of violence. A day of injustice. A day of profiling. A day of death.
But with hope of a God who delivers full and complete justice, the Hamiltons will not allow the forces of death or powers and principalities to define this day. With a faith in God, this day of tragedy for the family has been given to the community in celebration.
Changing the meaning of April 30th to become a celebration of life, of One Love, of a Milwaukee that does better – this is radical and subversive. More than protesting Christmas tree ceremonies and shutting down freeways THIS is the thing that should terrify those against the movement. Because unity is more powerful than division. Dancing is more enticing than mourning. Love is stronger than hate.
When love, unity, and celebration define us… we win!