The Terror of the Now
I’m trying to function in the terror of the now. The now that actively seeks my destruction and the destruction of those like me. The now that preys on brown children and brown bodies, blaming us for our victimization as whiteness feeds on our fear and intentionally manufactured vulnerability. The now that screams to me with violence and rage, warning me of what’s to come while providing me with no sanctuary.
I’m trying to live in the terror of the now, telling myself my fears are exaggerated. That my worries are unwarranted. That my anxieties are superfluous. I live in this sea of wrathful whiteness and tell myself it’s fine, quelling my survival instincts that are telling me to flee.
I’m drowning in the terror of the now, slowly sinking into my own demise. Comforting myself in the warmth of the hatred. Soothing myself in the claws of white rage. Feeling the lull of the nothingness of death.
I haven’t been writing.
Not all of it has been bad. I was working, had a few big projects, got sick, and then two conventions, OnyxCon and DragonCon. Both events were great in different ways and I’ll have some work coming out as a result but I’m also exhausted, physically and mentally, because the attacks and bullshit just keep coming.
White people are exhausting me, my significant other (S.O.) included. I am tired of being around white people trying to figure out how much of me is going to set them off. I’ve written about how white people are racist landmines, which they are and I’m tired of constantly being on the alert for the more dangerous ones. I’m also tired of them and their goddamn white guilt that they keep looking to me to absolve them of. I want them to be better people but fuck…is it my job? Is it my fucking unpaid job to nurture white folks through their racist bullshit?
I think not.
And yet, I found myself in this weird position of expecting to have to do just that because two weeks before DragonCon, it came out that one of the more well-known cosplayers was at the Charlottesville march, marching with the white supremacists. That incident sent ripples through a group of people I know pretty well. Geek spaces are predominantly white, and sometimes the Black people in those spaces cater a bit too much to whiteness for my comfort, so when it turned out that this woman was a white supremacist, I heard everything from outright denial, to people deciding that it didn’t matter. Black people deciding that it didn’t matter. This led to some self-reflection, some knowledge that I’d been letting my S.O. coast a bit, and the realization that DragonCon could potentially be a hot ass mess. I was not looking forward to it.
In fact, I was scared.
Fortunately, I had OnyxCon the weekend prior. And despite being somewhat ill, I went and met so many talented Black creators and supporters. It was fucking amazing. That room was filled with talented people and while all the art wasn’t my taste, I could not deny the talent. I met people doing fan art, creating comics, writing booking about pride in our 4C hair & physical differences…I met novelists, graphic artists, and filmmakers. It was an amazing experience filled with nothing but love and respect. My only complaints were that the room was a little small and I didn’t feel well. Other than that, it was an amazing event for meeting and supporting independent artists. And, most importantly, it felt safe. I just wish I’d felt better and had more time because I wanted to interview EVERYONE in the room. Unfortunately, I ended up spending the 2nd day of the event in bed.
OnyxCon reminded me that there is a huge community of Black geeks and creators in Atlanta, not to mention the many that descend on the city to participate in DragonCon. And this year, several groups created safe spaces for Black people interested in celebrating ourselves at the convention. The spaces weren’t advertised as such. They never are. They are just spaces that center Blackness and that’s really all it takes. It’s also why events like BlerDCon become so disappointing when the creators work to de-center Blackness. We want spaces where loving ourselves in the norm, not a fucking burden.
I spent DragonCon immersed in Blackness and I loved it. I mean, sure, the event is predominantly white. And sure, plenty of fuckery goes down. I’m sure you heard about those two women who were hit by chairs thrown off the 10th floor of the Marriott. Every year someone does some fuckshit, like they are trying to get the event canceled. Thankfully, both women survived despite stitches and hospitalization. I hate the fuckers who did that.
And here we are post DragonCon where I learned that DACA, Title IX, reproductive rights, and brown people continue to be under direct attack while hurricanes are headed in every fucking direction, including mine. Good times.
Real talk, when I heard about the hurricanes I thought, “dying wouldn’t be too bad,” to which my S.O. stared at me real hard for a long time before contradicting me. He’s wrong, though. There comes a point where it all feels like too much and the will to survive just fades away. I live a comfortable life…some would even say blessed and I feel that way. I just returned from a weekend full of great shit and still I feel exhausted by fuckery of whiteness. I can’t imagine if shit was harder for me. I don’t know if I’d try to make it.
And right now, living feels more like surviving the racist apocalypse and everyday it feels more like a mistake instead of a goal. But every morning I wake up and as long as that keeps happening, I’ll try to pretend that hope is real, change is possible, and the future can be better. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother trying anymore.
The terror of the now is real and it didn’t take a zombie apocalypse to make me hate survival.
Originally published at talynnkel.com.