Maturity, The Movement, & Other Vignettes About Humyns
Maturity is knowing when to reclaim your time and when to relentlessly and with precision waste the time of others for their own edification and upliftment. It should be duly noted, for the record, wasting other people’s time should also serve your end game of having time which does not need to be reclaimed. The end game is having time.
Crocheting time into grown children with babies of their own. Slowing down time like turning off the spigot slowly and turning it back up again real fast. Sitting time down because it moves too fast and offering it mint tea because there aren’t any lemons. Playing games with time. Beading days into 50 year necklace time.
Racism takes time. Black people sometimes have to say to racism, “Yeah, you go on and have that minuscule, petty aggravation. I have got better things to do right now.”
There were two things my father used to always say.
- “Your serenity is in the hands of the next fool who gets you angry.”
- “This small, insignificant person has this one opportunity to feel powerful. This person who is a. not serving us, b. standing in our way, c. triple checking our paperwork, or d. all of the above is a powerless person. Why would you begrudge them this one moment to feel powerful when you are powerful every moment of every day in every instance of your life?”
Vignette — Laughing with a White artist.
She asked, “Do you collect?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Who do you collect?”
“Mostly my Black friends,” I laughed. “It’s what Black artists do. Sometimes, I think nobody is actually making any money. We’ve just been passing the same $50 around and around for years. It always ends up where it is needed most and when someone else is ready, it moves on to them.”
“Hmmm.” she said.
“I collect us. Who will recollect us if we don’t collect ourselves?”
I smiled. “Do you see yourself as part of a never ending continuum of voices that are always in danger of fading away to nothingness and then being lost to time?”
She looked at her glass. It was empty. She moved on for another glass of wine.
I don’t drink. So, I stayed where I was. I am happy to be where I am these days.
A Black artist friend asked, “But where is the movement we do not have to make for ourselves?”
“The movement I am making is me.” I replied. “I am learning to be generous with myself.” When I am generous with myself, I am better able to be generous with others. To give for no other reason than that is what time it is. It is always time for something and not always what time we would like it to be. White people are just now learning about time.
They have been collected, so they never needed to be recollected. They have always had members, so they do not need to remember.
We have been pushed and shoved and buried and denied and stolen from, we are always, like Sethe in Beloved, adding another layer to the intangibly tangible essence of what exists regardless of the violence of being vanished or disappeared. Because we are always hunting, gathering, preserving, inventing, improving and recalling what exists, used to exist or will exist, we have more.
I don’t think White people consciously realize how very, very much more we have always had than they do.
When I am generous about sharing what I know, they are likely to redefine generosity. When I am generous with myself, so that I can know more, they are better able to witness the work it takes to be humyn. Then, they understand they need to be generous with themselves by becoming equally knowledgeable.
White people are just now learning they need extra time. Time to know. They have to learn generosity. They have to learn to give time to others. They have to learn to make time to know what to offer.
Vignette: Everyday Violence. Teff Flour
Grocery shopping. I see the large word “teff.” Brand name “Bob’s Red Mill.” Great. Socially responsible, worker owned company. Fits guidelines. Since I need it, I buy it.
I get home. The package reads “Grains Of Discovery.” I debate returning it to the store. They will ask, “Why are you returning this?”
I will have to smile, and calmly say in my best Standard American English, “It is against my principles to support White Supremacy Settler Nonsense.”
I call the continuous barrage of such quiet thoughtlessness “everyday violence.” This is what it is like being Black or Brown in America. A daily flurry of tiny paper cuts. Hours and days and months and years of tiny cuts slicing tender skin. Every day a new wound. Never knowing where it will land…a paper cut on the edge of an eyelid or the inner thigh.
Instead, I post a picture on Facebook. A White friend complains on the company’s Facebook page. Generous. She gave me time. That used to be my job. I’m happy not to work at The White Supremacy Complaint Chorus. It was a position I had to fill because there weren’t any qualified White people to do it.
The movement is not the 54th post of yet another great article about unlearning racism. The movement is not in the streets. It is not a boycott or a buycott. It is not in a library or a foundation. The movement is not a plan for reparations.
The movement is time. The movement is taking time. The movement stops to look at every action and see how it ripples out from you. The movement takes grandma’s hand very gently and says, “I love you very much, but, I love my children and the world I’m leaving them more. We can’t have you around the children anymore.“ The movement breaks hearts.
The movement mends fences and bakes bread. The movement learns how to grow food and can vegetables. The movement shows up to provide ease when respite is required.
The movement is mature. It makes decisions. It thinks. It does what it can do and forgives itself for what it can not do. It makes lists and goals and vision boards. The movement plans to succeed. The movement knows there will be casualties. The movement understands there is enough for everyone and that every great magic demands a sacrifice.