Seeking my Peace

Blog by Associate April Queener

I rode to work in silence last Wednesday. My peace had been disturbed and I was struggling to get it back.

We have been in a nonstop pandemic news cycle for months, story after story of the havoc the Coronavirus has inflicted on all areas of the country.

Now that the cycle has changed, we are being bombarded with more heavy news: a daytime killing of a jogger in Georgia; a woman threatening an avid bird watcher in Central Park that she would call the police and report him being “African American”; and lastly, the event that made me ride to work in silence — the video of a black man being held down on the street by another man’s knee, until he can’t breathe.

THAT should shake us all to our core. Watching a video of a black man being held down on the street by a paid civil servant who vowed to “protect and serve” SHOULD disturb our peace.

The video is nine minutes long; most people can’t make it through to watch the entire event that left George Floyd unresponsive in the street. Many onlookers begged the police officer to let up the pressure on his neck; they called for humanity. Floyd begged and even called for his mother; meanwhile, the officer remained stoic with his hands casually in his pockets not letting up the pressure.

I don’t know exactly what the crime was. There is rumor of a “forgery in progress” — that Floyd was passing a bad twenty dollar bill.

In my heart, I know that the penalty for this alleged crime should not be death on the street. I started to worry. I started to pray. I pictured my husband, my uncles, and  my son under that police officer’s knee.

My son is taking this latest event hard, when I got home from work he had written a song about what he witnessed on television.

My son is seventeen and will be a senior in high school this year. He is an honors student, an actor, a Shakespeare and musical theatre enthusiast, a musician, a writer, and he is a child of great faith. He has survived three open heart surgeries and lives with a complex heart defect. He also enjoys making rap music, has hundreds of records; and, I am proud to boast, knows all of the “good” old-school hip-hop.

As I listen to the song he wrote, I worry more, his voice is deeper. He sounds like a man. His words are poetry, articulating his feelings, his observations, his hopes and dreams. The song is the best he’s written and yet I worry.

Will people see all that is inside of him, his many interests and talents? Will they only see a boy in a hoodie that must be up to no good?  He is 6’3”. He has a beard. And, thanks to Coronavirus, he is overdue for a haircut. He needs to be protected.

When I made my rounds at work (the same day I rode to work in silence), I stopped in the room of a resident who is not always oriented to time and place. I asked her how she was doing and she replied she was “watching this poor black man in the street” and it was “hurting her heart.”

It gave me comfort and solace that she could see it. I was not alone. I knew then that I had to write this to reclaim my peace.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

66 responses to “Seeking my Peace

  1. April,
    Thank you for putting into words the fear and pain that has enveloped so many these days. I pray each day that honesty, justice , and healing will open our eyes to this and so many abuses that have happened to people of color., immigrants, because of the ignorance and hatred of people choose hatred rather than peace. Bless you for your thoughts and words.

  2. April, thank you for you words that so many of us are not able to say. My family has been in major discussion about
    what is happening. We grew up in the inner city of Philadelphia and I was graduating in 1968. I feel like I have been going round in circles. We are a white family who has black family members. We too are concerned every time they go out. We pray that they are safe all the time.

    I would so love to not have to worry about the tremendous pain that people of color are experiencing.

    I stand with you, next to you and among you. I pray that your son is always safe. God Bless you.

  3. April,
    I am deeply moved by your words. Images of your precious son float across my mind. And, of course, your relationship with him. I pray for you and all mothers who are increasingly worried about their precious son’s safety. Come, Holy Spirit, empower us to work for justice and equality.

  4. Not being a mother or a black person, I can’t quite feel your pain. I do feel for you and your son because I ache when I experience rejection, put-downs, or not listened to. Please accept my love and prayers.

    1. Thank you for doing what most wish for, empathizing and putting yourself in my situation and making it applicable to your own. Thank you for your prayers and love. I believe they both conquer all!

  5. April, you live in a fear I do not know and I am so sorry. Prayers that we will awaken soon so that we can make this world a safe place for ALL and in the not too distant future!

  6. Thank you, April, for your moving blog. My heart is hurting for George Floyd and all people of color who live in fear that they will not be treated with the respect and dignity of a child of God.

    May all the demonstrations bring attention to the sin of racism so evident in our world.

  7. April,
    Like you, I too was shocked by the murder of George Floyd. This kind of police behavior has to stop, and I am praying and writing a whole bunch of letters to my legislators. Thank you for sharing the feelings about your son, he sounds like a wonderful man, and I would love to read some of his poetry.

  8. April, thank you for your powerful and heart moving sharing. This morning our Mohun chapel Easter “Allelulia” banners were changed to our ordinary time banners-“Peace be with you” and “Be at peace with one another.”
    I pray that God’s peace will be with you, your family, and all who suffer discrimination and violence. I pray too that all people may be at peace with one another. Peace…

    1. Thank you Sister Carole! I have noticed at Mohun that the banners are always fitting for the current situation or even mood you may be feeling! So many days I have looked to them and received just the right message at the right time! Thanks for all you do in providing us with a peaceful and loving work environment! 🙂

  9. April, thank you for sharing this with us. How can any of us see that video without being moved, horrified, angry, sad, knowing that we all have so much more work to do? I am grateful for your reflection.

    1. Sister Rose Marie you are right, so many of us have witnessed these terrible things and the feelings are intense. The images of peaceful protest and people of all backgrounds working together give me encouragement and peace. Our prayers and actions will make a difference! We should also be kind to ourselves as we all have to heal from the things that we’ve seen. Blessings to you!

  10. Dear April,

    I am humbled by your vulnerability in being able to express your fears and feelings, and I thank you. I am outraged by what I saw one human being dong to another. I find that image emblazoned on my memory and keep asking myself when will we ever be able to live as brothers and sisters. That you as a mother and wife have to be in constant fear for your son and husband….breaks my heart. Why are we so blind?? What are we afraid of? Will God ever forgive the injustices we have done since our country was founded? I ask myself, how have I been complicit? At the present moment I cry out for some leadership in our country to lead us to an awakening moment.

    1. Thank you sister Mary Faith, I hope that we are on the verge of some real and measurable change. I am uplifted by the number of people of all backgrounds that “see it.” Although you don’t see it every day on the news there are so many peaceful protests and unification of strangers from all backgrounds committed to making change. This uniting of resources and spirit and prayers will move things in the right direction. Organizations like DSOP have led the fight against injustices for many years, don’t underestimate all the good that has been done! I am proud to work for an organization that would allow me to express myself in a time such as this, it is truly exceptional to me.

  11. April, I am sorry it has taken so long, so many lives taken and brutally treated by the police to get everyone’s attention that there must be change. Thank you for sharing about you son and fear as a Mother. My Learners from the Dominican Learning Center have shared the same. God has made all people and made all beautiful in our own way. Not only brutality but also, poverty, housing, jobs, fair wages etc. The murder of Mr. Floyd brought me to tears. There must be change.

    1. Sister Shawn, I agree there must be change. It is unfortunate that the country must deal with a pandemic, record unemployment and protests for equality all at once. It is a lot for most people to process it all. Thank you for the work you do at the Dominican learning center, it is a way to seek equality by education and I know you provide your students with so much more…encouragement, love and peace!

  12. April, I stand with you, and that your son will be protected and strive to use all his talents and that he will shine like a STAR and be a leader for Peace. When will we ever look for the good in each other as being human and not at color.

  13. April– your message brought me to tears. I am so sorry for all the injustice in our country.

  14. April,
    As we celebrate Jesus’ breathing His Easter Spirit of Love and Peace into his disciples, sometimes I’m scarcely able to breathe as I contemplate Covid-19 sufferers and George Floyd crying out, “I can’t breathe.” It’s a sad commentary that it may take violence to awaken the White community to the depth of fear and rage in the Black community. Let’s forge a better path toward reconciliation.

    1. Sister Jeanne,
      I agree it is so much right now with the pandemic and the nation in turmoil. It really seems so surreal. I wrote this blog before the first protest even happened, when I wrote it i just felt the need to release the feelings I was having. A week later I am amazed at the nations response. The protests are growing everyday, I do not condone the violence and looting that has occurred and I am hopeful that behavior is receding leaving behind the peaceful protests. The images I have seen in the last 24 hours of positive protests with people of all races and backgrounds makes me hopeful for the future. Thank you for all DSOP has done for justice!

  15. April, thank you for this sharing. It is so honest and yet so awful. I won’t even pretend to think that I can imagine your fear, your need to protect your children. However, like the Mohun resident I do know my heart is hurting…is broken. Be assured we, your Dominican family is with you through it all.

  16. April,

    Thank you for sharing your personal experience, your silence, your prayer, your cry for justice.

    As I reflect on George’s death and all those who have died from Racial violence, my heart cries out. As I grapple with how to respond, this scripture came to mind:

    Thus says the LORD:
    In Ramah* is heard the sound of sobbing,
    bitter weeping!
    Rachel mourns for her children,
    she refuses to be consoled
    for her children—they are no more!

    Today, in America is heard the sound of weeping!

    1. Sister June that is so fitting! There is a collective cry from people everywhere. I pray those cries are met with miracles and change. I have hope for the future and what God will do! Thank you!

  17. Thank you April, for sharing your experience as a black woman, wife, and mother. It hurts my heart also, but I hurt for all the women, wives and mothers who live with the fear you expressed. You are not alone. Please know that so many of us white folks need to hear your message and feel your pain so we can connect as fellow human beings. Blessings and peace.

    1. Thank you Sheila, I appreciate your kind words. I agree when we connect as fellow human beings we are at our best!I am overwhelmed by the support of our Dominican family, I am not alone and that feels amazing!

  18. God’s peace be with the man’s family and with the whole of the African-American community during this terrible moment.

  19. April, I pray for you and your family, as well as, all people of color to have the peace knowing there is no racism. It is especially heinous to know that not all women and men that are supposed to protect and serve everyone are prejudiced against someone because of their color. Abuse and murder should not be tolerated. Bless you for your strength and continued faith in our Lord. I pray that these injustices end.

  20. April, Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. As a woman of color, wife, mother and admiistrator, you teach us to see the truth.

  21. As I well know, the Sisters are always a blessing to have in our lives. Lucky you.
    Love and prayers to you

  22. April, thank you. I pray for your peace, the safety of your human family and for new clarity in my vision.

  23. April, A very powerful piece. My heart also hurts for your son as well as for George Floyd. Carol Gaeke

  24. April, I wish I could say “I feel your pain!” But as a “white privileged“ person I can’t. But my heart aches for you and our world and the injustices that the black Community continue to experience. But I am solidarity with you to do what I can to somehow make a difference!

    1. Thank you so much Sister Margie! I feel so lucky to work in an organization that seeks justice and I am able to express my views. The moment I wrote this my load was lighter.

  25. Thank you April! I think of my beautiful, brilliant & talented grandsons, who will be HS junior & senior. I hate that they have to watch the news & understand just how dangerous it is to be black. My heart aches for them, for all black & brown people & for all the injustice in our systems. I have been praying for the Holy Spirit to be my guide & companion as I seek to work to change our country so that we might, at last, live up to our ideals.

    1. Bev, thank you for sharing your worries for your beautiful grandsons, I bet they are amazing people like you! I am from a biracial family and it has been the greatest gift. We have the opportunity from childhood to understand that we can be loved by our white and black family unconditionally! It has been one of my greatest gifts. I am sure your presence in their life is a great blessing!

  26. April,
    No words are big enough to embrace this whole horrific experience that we all have witnessed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts/feelings with us.
    Prayers for you and your son, and all Black families that have to live with this fear because of justice so long deferred by the blindness of white privilege.
    Peace of mind and heart to you . . .

  27. April, I hear you, I acknowledge your pain. I am so heartbroken by the video, the violence, the depraved indifference of the police officer and his fellow officers. I pray for all of us, especially young black men like your son and husband. I pray for justice, for peace, for healing.

  28. April, you, as a black woman as well as a mother, carry a very real fear. May ALL of us learn a lesson …that our white privilege needs to be examined, and that we may circle around and work to eradicate the racism that is so blatant in our midst.

  29. April, thank you for your very moving blog. I pray for your son and for so many other black men, young and old, who face daily the dangers of racism turned violent. Can you share your son’s song?

  30. April, you are absolutely not alone in this one. My heart hurts so much that I live in a place where this still keeps happening. I have some pretty deep feelings of hate right ow for those who espouse the white privilege that brought about George Floyd’s death. April, we will pray together and your son will be part of a new world because he believes in himself! Your peace is waiting! So proud you are one of our Associates.

    1. Sister Pat, thank you for your words of encouragement, I will keep those with me! It has certainly been a roller coaster ride of emotions, we will be stronger from turning our feelings over to God for continued guidance and strength. Thank you for empathizing with me, it means so much at this time!
      I am very proud to be associated with the Dominican Sisters of Peace!

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