Summer of ‘16
The following was written by me last summer. The year between now and then has been filled with many a revelation: about myself, my country, and countless other things I have a complicated relationship with. But…more on that later.
I see that a LOT of my Black colleagues, friends and family have been logging off and taking an indefinite social media sabbatical in light of the live-streamed murders of last week and the subsequent reactions (or lack thereof) from their own cohort, friends and family.
This is reasonable. This is normal. This is, perhaps, the most loving and sane thing a person can do for themselves right now.
And yet…here I am, staring straight into this gaping ugly racial Rubicon that social media has come to reflect in our country. It is hideous and terrifying; a painful experience that continues to warp my psyche and kill my faith in humanity.
And I can’t look away.
I find this to be, perhaps, the most disturbing thing of all. What does it say about me that I continue to slowly destroy myself by immersing my body and mind into the belly of White Supremacy? Why do I feel the need to keep refreshing my anger; to remind myself that still, there are so many people who, in their own ironic savagery, give more credence and value to the lives of some people over others?
As of now, in the wee hours of this balmy Summer morning, the only thing I can come up with is: honesty.
This is the most honest this country has ever been with itself…at least in my lifetime. This is the most honest I’ve been with myself about this country. In truth, I am just as angry today as I was on February 26, 2012; just as angry as I was on August 9, 2014; just as angry as I was August 29, 2005. No more and certainly no less. The only difference is, in all of those prior instances, I was compelled to tuck my anger in politely, to soldier on. I convinced myself, albeit in decreasing levels of plausibility, that it was just a widespread misunderstanding. And then I put that mask back on, smoothed out the wrinkles and hid the tears in my pretty dress, and smiled widely in that way that belied the domestic terror that had been wrought upon myself and countless other Americans who happen to look like me.
And that denial of my rage? The brutal and daily push of my anger and sadness so far into myself that others can’t see? That’s a whole other kind of death.
One I’m not willing to take on anymore.
I don’t know or understand where any of us go from here. The things we’ve seen and done to each other can’t be unseen or undone. The way I felt when I watched a man die in front of his child while his murderers treated his girlfriend like chattel? I’ll never forget the chill in my veins. Not because this experience was *so* foreign to me. But because it was irrevocably clear how many times in my life I’d been *so* close to being either one of them. And how likely it was that I could be again.
And maybe I should remember these things. Maybe I shouldn’t be able to just forget this rage.
Maybe, that’s just how *I* move forward.