For Black People Who Don’t Know What to do Anymore.
After I heard about the murder of Alton Sterling last night, I spent my bus ride looking at cute things and fashion. I looked at Black men on my bus and said a small prayer to myself that they make it home okay. As I was walking when a police cruiser slowed to pass me, my hands shook hard enough, I put them in my pockets, I did not look at the cruiser and I forced myself to walk at a medium slow speed.
In my head, I had a running mantra of, “don’t look at me. I don’t exist. Ignore me.”
He moved on and I hustled my Black ass on home.
I did what I’ve learned to do every time this happens. Instead of clicking every link, watching the murder videos, etc. I turned off my phone and got into bed. I spent some quality time with myself working on my self-care. I ate a bowl of delicious pasta and played a mystery puzzle game.
I self-cared because I am alive and I’m devastated and terrified and I don’t know what else to do. I thought about writing, I’ve already done. And the new self-care writing, I’ve been doing and really spent some time thinking about action and inaction and self-preservation and all of those things.
I spent a lot of time pressing myself with the question what am I going to do?
I have to do something.
The answer is what I can.
The first thing I can do is stay Black and live. My continued existence is in and of itself a radical act. I am a 39 year old, not traditionally educated, woke as fuck, genderfluid Femme and I am alive.
I am still alive.
I am loved. I have chosen family. I am writing this right now and this is revolutionary.
The bigger thing I can do is keep talking. I can keep writing what I write through the complaints of strange White men who find me off putting because I use long sentences, am too “loud”, that I talk about my Blackness too much.
I can keep talking and writing what is in my heart. I can sign everything I write in my heart's blood and it is all a big fuck you to this culture that would see me dead.
I can keep writing things that nobody really wants to publish.
I can walk with my hairy legs and my fat ass and my head held up high.
I can spend time telling other Black folks how much they matter. That their lives and continued existence is meaningful and that I love them even though we all know skinfolk ain’t always kinfolk.
I realize finally that I am not really a march and boots on the street type of person. I’ve done it and generally speaking, I get so anxious and fall into such a deep panic spiral that my action is just tainted by my own mental health problems.
So I do what I’m good at.
I write from the heart.
And I stay alive.
Here is the real point.
If you don’t know what to do, how to help or what to do here’s a start.
Stay alive. Live your life. Work on loving yourself through it. Love other Black folks. Do what you can. Use hashtags if that’s what you can do. Go all the way in and talk to people. Or don’t.
Attend to your mental health. If you need to disengage entirely and spend your time looking at kittens or drawing flowers or masturbating or cooking or whatever do it. Not all of us can be on the front lines all the time and trying to be can cause many of us further trauma.
Be Black, be your beautiful self. Engage in the self-care that works for you. Know that your life is valuable and important.
If you don’t hear it today or enough, I love you. I want you to not only survive but thrive. Please, take care of yourselves.
Follow up answer to some critiques of what I’ve said here. Find it here.