Did We Volunteer As Tribute?

It’s been a hard week. Truth is, it’s been a hard 400 years. I’m referring to the enslavement of Afrikans, kidnapped and brought to America. You can read the history books for the details, or trace the trauma in our lived experiences, but the remnants of the devastation are what you are bare witnessing to in the streets. Everyone has a different response. Some of us are protesting, some of us are setting fires, some of us are weeping, some of us are silent, some of us are praying and some of us are betwixt and between a myriad of all of the above. Wherever you fall on the continuum, there is grace for your state of being. If you’ve ever watched the first movie in the Hunger Games series, you may recall Katniss volunteering to compete in place of her younger sister. The competition was not designed with fairness nor with the intention of there being a winner. With traps, deceit, wickedness and despair, battling for a fundamental right are the trappings of the Hunger Games. As Black people, I feel as though we’ve been volunteering as Tribute for as long as time, battling for the right to live, breathe, simply be without systemic and systematic oppression. And the realization of our state of being or the reaffirmation of our state of being is a heavy weight, more like a boulder around one’s neck, suffocating the very breath of God placed inside our soul.

We find in the Word of God, that Jesus too volunteered as Tribute for us, as Katniss did her sister. Matthew 26:39 affirms, “And He went a little farther, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” The ancestors too desired for the cup to pass. However, it seems as if it keeps passing from one generation to the next, and not passing away. To be sure, we are not experiencing what Jesus did. But Dear God, we are hurting, we are grieving, we are angry, we are disappointed and we are tired. In my history, when I’ve experienced a flurry of emotions, there was only one anecdote, and that is the one who originally volunteered as Tribute. Through it all, we must rest on Romans 8:18 which reads, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” The sufferings are great, but the glory shall be greater! Amidst the pandemic we are witnessing the unnecessary, unjust loss of life, and now protests and looting and the lack of leadership is blaring. And just as everyone is either moving or immobile, those of us in the household of faith must continue to hold up the blood stained banner! That means we must never forget that we were bought with a price. In contrast, as Black people living in America, it feels as though our true worth and value is never known or deliberately ignored. I’ve heard the phrase, “All we can do is pray.” Listen. I’ve been guilty of saying that as well, as if it’s a last resort, a last hope, a powerless action. Yet when we pray, we are literally in communication with the one who sent the one who volunteered as Tribute. Although the suffering was unimaginable, we were afforded the gift of salvation, and because of that, we can get up, we can have hope and we can incubate joy; and not just any joy, but Black Joy amidst it all!

My fellow Tributans, God has got us. I’m not saying that in a cliche, matter of fact response. The actions each of us emit may differ. Some may elect to be on the front line. Some may engage sharing the narrative of our trials and triumphs through writing, speaking, presenting. Some may watch the children of those who march. Some may seek wisdom from the elders. Some may pray and worship and engage in spiritual warfare. Some may be rendered motionless. And you know what? All of it is okay. But through it all, whatever I elect to do (or you), we must hold on to a “for I reckon,” and pray, not from a place of defeat, but one of power, love and a sound mind, believing God for the impossible. Again. In the end Katniss won, and so will we!