How long, O Lord, how long?

June 4, 2020

The words of King David that appear in Psalm 13 of the Old Testament echo in the hearts of American people of color today:

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”

Oscar H. Blayton

Despite its self-aggrandizement, America is an ugly, hateful place, filled with pain.

The building blocks of this nation were not freedom and democracy, but genocide, enslavement and race hatred. The historical record is clear.

For more than 400 years since we were dragged here, existence in this country for African Americans has been heart-wrenching.

For more than a century before that, people of the first nations suffered systematic attempts at extermination at the hands of European invaders bent on genocide.

Spanish-speaking people, whose ancestors inhabited this land for many decades before the arrival of English speakers, have been robbed and abused at almost every point of contact with the oppressive forces of “Manifest Destiny.”

Asian immigrants and their descendants, who bent their backs to build this nation’s wealth, have at different times been unjustly barred entry into this country, deported for no legitimate reason and interned in concentration camps merely because of their cultural ancestry.

The perverse notion of white supremacy has done all of this. There are those who believe that, because of their “whiteness,” they are more deserving of the fruits of the labor of our community garden than are people of color. This evil notion of white supremacy can be tracked through the ages.

There no longer can be any pretext that America is populated with only kind and caring people who abide by the rule of law and respect the sanctity of human life.

We live in a country that placed a pernicious and perverse human being in the highest seat of authority. And in so doing, all the minions of the worst demons of this country were let loose to victimize the most vulnerable segments of our national community.

African Americans are not the only people bearing the brunt of white supremacy, but we see our humanity denied and cry out for justice for:

Ahmaud Arbery, killed while jogging in a Georgia suburb;

Atatiana Jefferson, killed in her home in Fort Worth, Texas;

Breonna Taylor, killed in her bed in Louisville;

George Floyd, killed on a Minneapolis street.

These are just a few of the Black victims murdered in the name of law enforcement in America.

But let us not forget the suffering of other people of color in America. Let us not forget the daughters and mothers of the first nations, whose murders and disappearances at an alarming rate cause little concern among most Americans and get little attention in the country’s media.

Let us not forget the Latinx children locked up in cages like animals because they tried to enter this country in the same manner as countless Europeans who came without passports or papers two centuries earlier.

Let us not forget the Asian Americans who are spat on, punched and kicked by bigots who believe Donald Trump when he lies about China bringing COVID-19 to U.S. shores, rekindling old fears and intolerance toward anyone with Asian ancestry.

There must be responses to these injustices. These transgressions must stop. Americans of all stripes must make a legitimate effort to stop them.

King David prayed for a cure to injustice thousands of years ago when he wrote:

“Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.”

We must open our eyes and not sleep the sleep of death. We must not let the enemies of justice prevail over us. We must march on, ‘til Victory is won.

Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia.