Prayer for America
Alicia Reese
July 5, 2022

Today, Alicia shares “A Prayer for America” by Lisa Sharon Harper

Holy Holy Holy God,
We call her America for short.
When we speak her whole name, it fills the earth and edges you out.
Her name is United.
It is Stately.
It is Empire.
It is White.
With awe and honor and brutality and genocide and exploitation
Of Native American and African and Mexican and Chinese
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers
Families are exploited here
Families are broken here
Children scream for their broken or removed fathers in their mother tongues here

Hoe cracks earth and breaks back
Thin lips part in the form of a smile
They do not see—they choose not to see—
Now we choose not to see—
The tobacco and rice and cotton and sugar
And oil
And gas
Are plucked and pulled and drilled and fracked from the earth

Comfort drapes over our bodies and bank accounts
Like white crinoline petticoats
And over our fingers like opera gloves.
We, America, cover ourselves in whitewashed crinoline
That looks white to the world,
But underneath, our skirts are packed with the blood and bones of the dead.
And we sway in the wind.
We like the look of our crinoline in the wind.
Only tiny pools of blood at our feet give our secret away.
We sway…and we smile

At least we are comfortable.
At least our red KitchenAid mixers sit neatly on our counters.
And at least our children are able to attend Montessori and the
university and graduate and own two cars and make two babies and
commute to work and at least their children will know what it is like to
grow up with a nanny.
And at least our daughters’ weddings don’t break the bank.
Our bank is big.
And at least we have our 401(k)s—even after the crisis.
And at least we can call ourselves the greatest nation on earth—America.

But under our feet workers’ cries push through earth.
Muffled screams six feet under topsoil and Miracle-Gro
They wail: “Poverty should not be my day’s wage!”
And under our feet Black mothers sob:
“Cancer took my baby!
It crept into our home from rancid water—
contaminated, ignored and dismissed. My little girl was dismissed.”
And under our feet Latinx families are torn asunder.
Children ripped from mothers’ arms.
They sit in cages
On concrete
Thousands cry: “Donde esta, Mami? “Quiero a mi papi!”

And on the other side of the veneer of perfect whiteness.
The softer set struggle to survive the domination of men
disenfranchised by their own votes against “the other.”
What they didn’t know was the other is them.
As long as they give poor and working white men,
give the nod to societies built on human hierarchies of belonging
As long as they shake hands with the devil, they will chase whiteness and
they will never find it. For it is only an illusion.
But in the meantime, they will blame foreigners and gays and women’s libbers and
The Blacks and The Mexicans
And they will blame China and the Middle East and liberals for threatening
their whiteness
And they will hold their boots steady on the necks of Black men pulled over for
driving while Black
And they will vote to restrict voting and job access and ordination and
reproductive services
And they will jury-rig elections and trials and hearings and the law—
simply because they can—because that’s what it means to be
a white man. You can.
And their women will join them, because they shook hands with the devil’s wife.
They know they are not white men, but at least they can be white.
At least they can have some power.
The formative years of America taught them how things work. They, too, were
owned. They, too, were ripped from their children. They, too, were raped
by their husbands.
They know beyond knowing: Without whiteness, white women are nothing in
America. And being nothing is not an option.
So, arms attached to bodies shrunken to the point of barely being seen
lift size zero hands and clasp in compact with Mrs. Satan.
And they all sing: “How Great Thou Art!”

This is how it has been.
This compact is leading our nation and the church to its end.

Oh, God! Intervene!
Save us!
Strike Saul from his horse again!
Get in his face and ask him:
“Why are you waging war against my image in your land?”
Rip scales from eyes before it is too late, Oh, God!
Help them to see.
Help us to see.
Help us all to see.