Today was going to be an interesting day. I wanted to write a piece about potential trade/future destinations for Hurricane Westbrook. I wanted to finally finish editing my first political piece on the U.S. election that I’ve been working on for a week. I wanted to do a lot of things. I still have to do a lot at my actual job and I will. As far as writing goes, I am at a full stop for the day.
It took one tragedy (two too many) and one tweet to shake me loose of the artificial reality we choose to suspend ourselves in when things happen.
I lied. Two.
Human beings are transfixed by tragedy. We have this tendency to look on as something happens, half fascinated and half terrified, but never able to look away. For a time. We then turn around and carry on with our lives. Back to the minutia of the inconsequential day to day bullshit that we’ve convinced ourselves matters. Well, this matters, this matters more than anything else.
We can’t consume the product be it sport, entertainment or news and then systematically separate ourselves from the very real and very tangible social experiences that are ultimately connected to those things. Why do the people who are such avid fans of a cultural phenomenon work so hard to separate it from the very fabric of social reality it is grounded in? From the social experience that gives rise to this. You can’t pigeonhole race relations to a TV screen or a basketball court as if it’s some sort of socioeconomic vacuum that exists for your personal enjoyment.
What happened last night was a tragedy. What happens every day in the United States, in Canada and across the world is a tragedy. It’s our failure as people, as humans, that this kind of thing continues to happen and we simply look on, shrug and then go on to consuming every other product of a culture that is so frequently marginalized, exploited and oppressed. You shouldn’t be able to pick and choose. You’re either in or you’re out. Full stop. And if you’re out, you’re a bigot and a close-mind piece of shit. There is no grey area here. There’s right and there’s wrong.
And I know, I am the last person qualified to speak on the issue with any authority. I am a white male. I am Canadian. I am, some would argue, as far removed from this as I could be, short of being from another planet. But this is a human tragedy. All loss of life is. Especially in such an irresponsible and dehumanizing manner.
I want to say I write this as a bystander, some of you will tell me that I do write this as one because of who I am, but I am tired of being one. I am tired of seeing tragedy without the appropriate reaction to said tragedy. The world is a complex and chaotic place, but one thing I am sure of: we need to stop treating racial and social issues in tiers. We need to look at them as a whole, and if you’re invested in one side of it, you’re invested in all of it. Ignoring it won’t make it stop. Twitter prayers won’t make it stop. I don’t know what will make it stop. We’re done being selective with these issues. We’re either in or we’re out. Full stop.