Hello, beloved. It’s Mother Sweat. I got to be honest. I’m confused as . . . well, let’s just say—I don’t understand. I see there’s a black man in the White House. He’s there, y’all, I’m not making this up. Seen ’em myself. No, people are not happy about it, but he’s there anyway. Shouldn’t that mean something? A mark of progress? He gave us old folk some momentary hope, and then we remembered hope is a supernatural occurrence provided by our belief in God. Whew! A prayer away, this hope phenomenon. It’s the gateway to faith. I’m standing on faith right now. Both feet planted, firmly, immovable. God is planning something. As we old folk say, “This too shall pass.”

Now, don’t start yelling me down. I know it gets hard, waiting on the fervent prayers of the righteous to catch up with the ugliness of man. And, it sho’ is evil, the things men do. The angels must cry at our antics. They say they standin’ their ground? What you scared of me for? And, what can I do to make you stop trippin’?

And, while you fear the unknown, I’m scared of what I know. There is a killing field. It is the streets of America. It runs thick with the blood of those who don’t remain nameless, but they are one-dimensional in nature. They are black, they are young, and they are male. I don’t know their aspirations or their goals for tomorrow. Did they love the beach? Or was a warm hug on a cold night their favorite thing?

And, child, Mother’s bones grow stiff and achy in the wake of news reports of directionless looting and a city crying out in its pain. If only I could touch that boy’s mother, tell her it’ll be all right. But I know the road is long, and the agony severe. And even after a long stretch in time, all right; ain’t good, it’s just all right. Her son deserved better. They all did. We got pink ribbons for breast cancer. What color is the ribbon for the cancer of hate? Can we all get one and stomp it out in our lifetime? Hold a marathon? A 5K? I’ll take these old arthritic knees and run the course gladly. Help me save these children. Only one working on the cure is Jesus, and he need more volunteers to run the race.

I remember that they used to take children and place them in work houses. Right here in America. They were poor, and some orphaned. They just threw them away. It wasn’t their children. It wasn’t their problem. How we get back here again, or better yet, how come we never learned the lesson taught? These are all our children! These are still babies. Similac on their breath, bubble gum, not guns in their pockets.

I’ve learned that some of them weren’t perfect people; they made mistakes in life. When you young and dumb . . . you used to get the opportunity to stumble before you—fell. (Don’t get offended, we were all young and dumb once. We just got the chance to slow up and grow up.) Now, they fall, defenseless, but still a threat. Their very existence and offense against other’s sensibilities who have forgotten the definition of child and embraced the symbolic color of their skin as a passport into manhood.

It used to be southern trees bearing strange fruit. Now it’s America’s streets providing chalk lines of death instead of hopscotch. I long for those days when young pigtails flew innocent across squares that enabled our childhood to be laid out step by step, hopping into tomorrow’s purpose.

I’m praying for Sanford, Ferguson, New York (I know he was an adult, but Mother’s prayers are extensive.), Cleveland, and the next city, y’all. I’m praying for every city, in every town, who has someone who fears the very people he or she was charged to protect. If you can take in an armed man who bombed many, how come you can’t take in someone who you felt robbed a store? The equation doesn’t fit, and Mother’s mind is too old to calculate past two plus two equaling four. But this much I know . . . God is still on the throne. And hell ain’t half full.

So don’t you let hate win! Don’t start believing the lie. Because we are not alone. There are people who don’t look like me, but feel like I do. They’re my brother and my sister too. So keep your heart open, malleable. We can stand together if you don’t shut them out.

Me and Bishop Mo’ Sweat gon’ pray one more prayer. I suggest you do too!