Pastor Najuma Smith-Pollard
By Pastor Najuma Smith-Pollard
St. James A.M.E. Church
“My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city.” (Lamentations 2:11)
Recently, I heard breaking news, another black son was killed in the streets. Later, as I passed through the neighborhood, there it was — the street-side memorial site in front of a liquor store. Gathered around were grieving friends and family, and a cameraman setting up to report the news.
As a mother of boys and pastor who works with a lot of young people, it is heart breaking to witness this scene repeatedly in Los Angeles. I can only imagine what relatives close to those fallen young boys and girls, who have died senselessly in the streets of our city, must be experiencing.
As I pulled off slowly from the scene, immediately Lamentations 2:11 came to mind. In the text, Jeremiah gives us his eyewitness account of the devastation in his hometown. The people were in plight and children were falling faint (dead) in the streets from starvation. Jeremiah cried so hard and so much, his tear ducts dried-up. His heart was broken and his spirit was in agony.
When I consider the senseless drive-by shootings, gang fights that often have a fatal end, and the violence perpetuated by young people against other young people, like Jeremiah, I want to lament. Lamentations are a collection of songs, poems and expressions of deep grief and sorrow. In addition, it was a call to the people to make whatever changes necessary, for that time, in order for their situation to turn around and change.
As we see this kind of street tragedy unfold around us today, we must lament; cry out, wail, weep and mourn such senseless tragedy. But, these tragedies are also a call to action that we must do whatever we can, to see things change.
We must ask the questions, ‘What can I do?’ ‘What is my part?’ ‘How can I get engaged?’ Then, we must respond.