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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Philando's Funeral--You Ain't No Thug, You're Royalty

Today, we joined more than 3000 family, friends, colleagues and citizens of St. Paul, Minnesota, to celebrate Philando Castile's life. 

I have not much time and some hungry children, so here's just a few moments:

* Seeing his face without the spirit in it. Jews don't do open coffins, so I was trying to explain to my little one as we headed in--"he might be wearing makeup. He might look a little odd. He might not look like Mr. Phil." But I was the one who felt smacked in the gut. He's dead. He really, truly is dead. He wasn't in there. It was his kind face, but he is gone from it.

The area near his coffin was lined with funeral parlor ladies, dressed all in white, holding tissue boxes. I was grateful. I needed more than one.

My youngest and I found a seat. Suddenly, I felt a hug. It was another class mom, small and round, African-American, working on her doctorate in education. "I just wanted to give you a hug," she said. "I can see how you are hurting. I hold myself together in public," she said. "I'll probably fall apart when we get home."

"He's really dead," I said.

She nodded, her eyes filling up. "I'm a Christian, and it helped when I saw him. When I realized that his spirit is home. His spirit is no longer on earth. He's home."

The Reverend talking about how Phil was killed because he had a "wide-type nose." Then, he introduced Sounds of Blackness singing, "Royalty,"

"You got a message from above," he said, "you ain't no thug-- you're royalty."

Born with two strikes against you
Trapped in poverty
Generations of injustice
And inequality

Ancestors changed the world
Though they came in chains.
In you the strength and hope
Lives and still remains.

You’re mighty and majestic
Descendents of kings and queens
Royal blood rolls through your veins.
Children of the dream

So hold your head up high.
Keep reaching for the sky
No matter what, know you can take it.
No matter what, you’re going to make it.

You’re royalty

You are royalty.
You got a message from above.
You ain’t no thug, you’re royalty.

Brother, you’re a king, sister, you’re a queen.
Children of the dream.
If you never been told
Time for you to know

You’re royalty." 

At the cookout later, a fellow cafeteria worker, wearing his uniform, hollered, “I, too, am Philando Castile. I wear this uniform. I feed the kids. I started working here right after high school. We got a choice, we can work summers or we can take them off. I saw Phil a week ago, and I said, "Why you working this summer?" He was working summer school at Chelsea Heights. ‘Why? You could take it easy? Take time off?’ He said, ‘I love the kids. It’s all about the kids.’”

If only that officer could have seen Phil as he is. Message from above, he ain't no thug. He was royalty. 

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