The Angels of America have spoken

In Houston, LA and Hoboken. 

And this is what they said:

“We can’t breathe. 

We came here to help, to give you some space

But now we can’t breathe — there’s no air in this place. 

You’re fighting corona, hence masks on the face

But far worse than that is a virus called ‘race’

(Exported from Europe in every case.)

Weeks of lockdown have brought many tears

But our nation’s been bleeding for 400 years. 

What’s crushing our chests are the stones of foundation

We’re choking to death on the sins of the nation.

Look at the founding of the ‘Land of the Free’ — 

Try saying that to Apache, Sioux, Cherokee. 

The pattern continues with black lives destroyed —

Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, George Floyd.

Or a million slaves in the hold of a ship

Ripped from their homes on a hellish trip

To labour and toil with their dignity stripped, 

Under the lash of the first slaver, a Brit. 

Far, far from love. 

Where was God, in the Heavens above?

What wicked trade, what evil in flood!

Most nations were founded in conquest and blood. 

Genocide, slavery, plunder and gold,

Not a great start for a nation not old. 

We’ve knelt on the neck of a nation of tribes

Who we’ve slaughtered, corrupted, swindled and bribed. 

From soaring plains where the buffalo roamed

We’ve taken their culture, their spirit, their home.

(And in so doing did the same to our own.) 

We’ve poisoned the rivers and fouled the air,

We’ve worshipped money and laid the earth bare. 

We’ve made a God of the unholy dollar

Now it’s gripping our throat like an iron collar. 

We’ve knelt on the neck of a million slaves

We’ve feasted like kings on a million graves. 

From where we sit, it’s plain to see — 

We buried our hearts at Wounded Knee. 

We come with a message, and our message is this: 

There is a way back, a return to our bliss. 

And we come here to help, not to judge you ill; 

Heaven above sees the Good in us still. 

But first we must heal the cruel and the wrong

To unite a nation where all men belong. 

We can’t turn the clock back or undo what’s been done

But we can acknowledge our wrongs, one by one. 

We must open our hearts and look deep within

To root out the bias, the hate and the sin. 

You can pass all the motions, enact all the laws

Sign all the statutes, seal all the doors.

Announce the change with fancy parades.

But without kindness and love it’s just a charade.

America! America! 

Cross the Colorado, the Platte and the Potomac.

Scale the Rockies and the Adirondacks,

Soar above the grasses of the Great Plains,

Dance in Alabama’s rains. 

Greet California’s golden sun.

And as a people, bind ye together as one. 

Let’s open our wings, take a knee, bow the head. 

In returning to kindness to God we’ll be led.

Open hearts, touch spirit, feed the soul. 

Let all nations heal and be whole. 

We are the Angels of America, from Houston to LA to Hoboken. 

And we have spoken.” 

In memory of George Floyd, killed in police custody on the streets of Minneapolis 25 May 2020