The Allure of Hopelessness

I suppose, for many folks in movement work today, staying hopeful seems to be a greater challenge than embracing despair.

#TyreKing. #TerrenceCrutcher. #KeithLamontScott. This week proved a particular challenge. Every morning, before my feet leave my bed and meet the floor, I wake up in a nightmare. My mornings are spent in mourning.

My country has perfected its communication skills, instilling fear in me with immediacy. They send notifications directly to my phone in the form of twitter updates and text messages. The latter informs me of the event while the former inquiries about my safety.

But neither is safe.

Both messages are reminders that my Blackness is an inescapable target. No hoodie can cover. No book can distract the authors of destruction from demanding my life. My teeth have not stopped clicking long enough for me to brush them. I am losing my ability to see the difference between the melanin on my face and the shock.

On campus, I stop and stare as blank faces drag heels from one class to the next. Black students force smiles through weary cheeks — their voices fatigued by falling upon deaf ears. Our advisors, the few Black faculty on campus, try to show up for us. But their strength is an illusion. It takes nothing short of one hug to feel their hollow body — empty of hope and inviting despair. We must protect them, too.

Brother Martin spoke against despair. He assured us that the arc of the moral universe is long and it bends toward justice. But if this arc of morality is real and justice is our inevitable pot of gold, the legacy of movement work must, then, be an indefinite odyssey. But its times like today where one must feel as though no matter how great is our ark, troubled waves relentlessly capsize our frame — baptizing our bodies in salted water that blinds children and burns 400-year-old scars left unhealed. Under the sound of Black bodies gasping for air, I can no longer distinguish oxygen from white supremacy.

I am left at a certain cross roads of destiny, I no longer know what to do with my hope. Embrace or abandon it?

If not for the Ohio Flame program, Black students on my campus would abandon hope. I watched as Prentiss and Shonda entered the room for our first core team meeting and something — a breathable air or fresh life energy- entered the room with them. The meeting commenced and I heard broken voices come alive. It was the kind of encounter one watches with a smile simply because it is so rare. As we fight for a Black studies program at our university, we hope Black love and Black joy will continuously liberate us from despair.

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