Poetry Identity The Arts Justice

Vindicate me, O Lord: A Prayer of Lament

Danne Pierre

“Do you trust me enough to let me vindicate you?” 

Did you vindicate my people when they died fighting for their freedom from the most brutalized form of slavery? 

Did you vindicate them when the French kidnapped and killed their leader? When white Americans sided with their oppressors and imposed fines on them that lead to debilitating poverty for centuries to come? When other nations came in droves to rape and pillage the land and the people, only to turn around and blame their demise on a lack of infrastructure? A lack of wealth? A “lack of faith in God?” 

Did you vindicate my ancestors when they were stolen from their land by the millions and forced to endure what the lowest in the animal kingdom do not inflict on their prey by those who proclaim your name and pervert your word? Did you vindicate them when the men were worked like oxen, the women bred like cattle, and the children stolen and slaughtered like sheep? Did you vindicate them when they then suffered the insults of being called unfaithful fathers, unfit mothers, and unworthy children?

Did you vindicate us when our bodies turned against us in anxiety and stress and plagued us with diabetes and hypertension? When our babies are shoved through the prison pipeline because of their joy and magic? When our young women go missing and unaccounted for? When the blood of our young men stains the concrete? 

When the Revolutions failed us. When the Civil Rights Movements failed us. When the school systems failed us. When the legal systems failed us. When the employment systems failed us. When the medical systems failed us. When the financial systems failed us. When the religious systems failed us. Did you vindicate us then?

Did you vindicate my brothers and sisters when they earned scholarships that they could not accept because, even after years of waiting, we were still not citizens; but my father broke his back to pay this country’s taxes while my mother cared for their old? 

Did you vindicate my sister who died at the tender age of 26 from ovarian cancer because who cares about another Black girl’s health? 

Did you vindicate me when my “secret enemies” (Ps. 64), cloaked in WHITE FRAGILITY (D’Angelo, 2018), admittedly lied about me to ruin my career? When they weaponized their privilege to deny me justice? When they were rewarded with promotions while I am discarded like an unwanted slave in order to keep the plantation financially solvent (Squire et al., 2018). 

Do I trust you? I don’t even know if I know you! 

You seem to only feel white pain. You seem to only respond to white tears. You are supposed to be a high priest who sympathizes (Heb. 4:15). Do you not sympathize with the lowly? 

My faith is integrated with fear. My love is co-mingled with hate. My peace is at war with anger. Are your ears silent to my anguish when I call? 

When I plead for you to, “Vindicate me!”. Show me that we matter to you, too!

And still, you ask me to trust you. You ask me to trust you to vindicate me. In Mark 7, you state that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, it’s what comes out of him (v.15). 

I have nothing left in me but a broken and bruised mustard seed. And it is dying under the weight of these crimes against MY humanity. 

I think of Job, who through tears uttered, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). I think of Daniel who dedicated his life to a cause he would not benefit from (Dan. 9). I think of David, hunted down as a criminal for doing his job well (1 Sam. 18:5-9). I think of you, hanging on the cross because your prayer for relief was not granted. I think of all the Psalmists who considered their afflictions and said, “Still…”

I know it is not promised. 

Still I pray, “Vindicate me, O Lord, and preserve this mustard seed.”