White comfort

We live in a country where white people generally feel very comfortable.

Try not to get defensive. Letting thoughts come easy and go easy might be one key to becoming a better person. (I don’t know that for sure, but I’m trying it.)

Comfortable. Like the not-too-hot, not-too-cold weather that we get in NYC only a few times a year, temperature so perfect you can hardly feel your skin. So comfortable your body just floats.

Coming from that state, any slight reminder of race or inequality feels like a blast of cold air. Unseemly, almost. An interrupted communal silence (that only some people were invited to.)

I heard a couple talking on the Long Island Railroad last night, out in the open, with no qualms. Oh, did you hear that she said the White House was built by slaves. Ridiculous. Them two always stirring the pot.

Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, says Bill O’Reilly, seemingly clarifying the sunnier side of slavery, how we really took good care sometimes.

(When they go low, we go high.)

I’m trying to dig in here, trying to understand how these things could be said, re-said, nodded to. Is it as simple, as evil, as plain, as: Take me back to comfort, Bill. Leave the pot unstirred. My comfort means more to me than the humanity of my countrymen. My heart can only admit so much light.

I am grateful that now we know more names, more stories, than we used to, of the too-many people that have been killed without sense and without justice. But this Information Age has not yet come to enough hearts and minds — we are in some in-between time I can’t quite conceptualize, with everything seen, too little felt. Too little real, for too many of us.

(Maybe: the time of unfulfilled empathy. Maybe: the cup will never be full.)

I keep coming back to the various studies on how many doctors and medical professionals don’t think black people feel as much pain as white people. How many hold assumptions that black bodies are more immune to pain — different down to our filaments, other at our most basic and vulnerable.

I grieve for us.

I don’t know all the answers.

But I know that we need to do a hell of a lot better.