I read your letter a couple of days ago and immediately knew I wanted to respond to it and to you, but just as quickly knew that my response would not be immediate. I will try not to get too flowery, but I fear I won’t succeed. Because like a person dying from thirst in the blasting, relentless heat of the desert, if sweet water finally passes her lips, you can forgive her for at first questioning her sanity and wondering if what she is experiencing is real, or if exhausted and delirious, she has resorted to pouring grains of sand down her own parched throat.
As Americans of color, for whom since Reconstruction, promises have been made and then systematically reneged upon, we are conditioned, like Charlie Brown, for the inevitable, “Sike!” that follows as our government and our fellow citizens, yank the football from us, Lucy-style, just as we are at the height of our momentum. As I read your letter, I realize I was holding my breath; my lack of confidence in your ability to truly understand, to really “get it”, causing me to steel my solar plexus- preparing for that all-too-familiar punch to be delivered (even inadvertently) when I am at my most vulnerable and you have coaxed me into lowering my guard.
But it never came.
No. Your full-throated, visceral yelp for justice, understanding, human compassion and personal responsibility on the part of the perpetrators did not disappoint. It did not deviate from its course and it pulled no punches. I’m new to all of this blogging and Twitter stuff. I’m no baby; I was born in 1959. I was born to a beautiful brown-skinned woman of Native American, African and Mexican descent and raised by her and by a man everyone would agree upon is white, of European descent. Not easy times for a mixed-race couple in Chicago, IL. And yes: there were neighborhoods we would not have ventured into, but I swear: I see and feel more racial animosity, tension and fear, walking around in the Northeastern suburbs of Los Angeles today, than I ever did in Hyde Park back in the 1960's.
Cancer, unchecked, simply grows.
With your letter, you have injected a much needed dose of chemotherapy into the veins of our National consciousness. The cancer will fight back, as is its nature. But please, please, please… don’t give up, Angriest Angel. I almost didn’t write this response. I thought: “Who am I? Will I provoke the haters with my words?” Who knows? Who cares? The time for caring about that and them, is over. We must stand together, we must fight, we must persist.
We must win.
Thank you. I stand with you and beside you. We are not alone.