What Can I Even Say?

27 Jul

wendys back writing-2I haven’t written here–not since my post on Prince’s passing.While I still lament the loss of our Purple genius, my mourning is not what has kept me from writing. Instead its been my decision over the past four or five months really, to instead of writing about it, just live my experiences with race–the thing I most think about in my day-to-day existence. (Yes, white folks, we have a race, too–well, we’re all one human race, but, shout out to Debby Irving,  to say race, that made up construct, is not just something other people have, and we don’t.) I’ve spent so much time going to this talk, that play, reading that book, having that conversation, all the while, feverishly taking notes so that I could write about my experience afterward.

Only thing is, when you are at a play called Every 28 Hours, a compilation of fifty one-minute plays on race, the title reflecting the controversial statistic that every 28 hours a black person is killed by the police–and you are feverishly taking notes–you are not fully experiencing the play.  When you are at a panel on community policing, and once again, you take notes throughout the entire talk and Q & A, you are not absorbing the conversation, not taking in the awkward pauses, the hesitant, guilt-ridden questioner, and the patient responder to micro-aggression-laced statements. So I put down my pen and my notebook and stopped writing.

Writing was replaced with action. I took, and continue to take time, in my never-ending quest for knowledge and understanding. to educate myself on the history of slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights, housing discrimination, and the overall systemic and structural racism, or white supremacy, that American was built on, and which continues to perpetuate a lack of justice and equality for black people in this country.  I still have a long way to go in terms of educating myself.

Of course all of this seems like a privileged thing my white skin privilege affords me the opportunity to do.  Oh, I don’t feel like writing about race, so I won’t. Yet, the self-examination that comes with awakening to what my white privilege has afforded me and my ancestors, and all white people in this country, continues to be my biggest lesson, and perhaps, the most important one.

After all, it is going to take white people to be willing to give up all the perks that come with white supremacy, all the resources that go with it, like access to economic opportunities to accumulate wealth, equal educational resources,  safe, aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods, and an equitable justice system.  It is going to take white people to break down the systems and structures that put black people at such a disadvantage for so many years.

And, what about the sociological and psychological damage that has been done to black people for centuries, and is again brought to a boiling point in front of the American public’s eyes thanks to the advent of social media and the ability to videotape the numerous unjustified killings of black men, women and boys, mostly at the hands of police officers? All of this disheartens me, and I know so many people across the country are also shaken to the core about the events of the last few weeks: deaths that follow on the heels of far too many similar deaths. And a new added feature, the killing of police officers.

Still, it’s hard to know what to say, what matters.  I know Black Lives Matter. Yet, when I hear people say otherwise, read posts on social media the day after Alton Sterling was killed by police, that say, “…if someone is going to threaten a police officer with a gun, they should be prepared for that officer to react…” I’m incredulous at how they all seem to be written from the same script.  I’m incredulous, but I’m not, because it happens over and over.  I’m not incredulous. I’m heart broken.

But, so what, right? I’m a white person who says she’s trying to educate herself, speak up, and who is devastated by the devaluing of Black lives, and the unwillingness of some white people to not see the truth, or understand the context of the conditions Black people live in and how they evolved. I don’t share this to say I’m one of the “good ones,” or that I’m saving anybody. Because I’m not either of those things.

And I don’t want to be preachy or soapboxy, but it is my job, and I believe the job of white people to stand up and do something about structural racism, and to speak to the personal aggressions that happen to Black people on a daily basis. To not be silent.  To not say or do anything when Black people are suffering so, is abhorrent.

I’m still learning how to be a part of the change, and I hope more and more white people will want to do the right thing and do the same.  As I write all of this, it makes me realize that I trudged through these sentences, one more clunky than the next, much like my feelings that I’ve still been unable to verbalize or express on the page.

One of the things that has helped me to formulate my feelings about the recent weeks of tragic deaths, are the daily Facebook poems I create from my Friends’ Status Updates.  The poems reflect what is going on in the world in the moment, and with a timeline that was flooded with people’s anguished sentiments over the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the police officers in Dallas, and Baton Rouge, I was able to weave together the many suffering voices into poems that re-framed each day’s tragedy.  While friends have encouraged me to make a book out of the four years worth of daily poems I’ve created, sadly I could make an entire book of poems culled just from the unjustified deaths of black men, women and boys, beginning with Trayvon Martin and ending…where?

Here are several from the past few weeks:

#AltonSterling

nothing to
see here folks,
just another
black man
slaughtered by
the popo
in amerikkka,
police kill
black people.
they just
kill them
the only
thing new is
the video

murderer!
blood is
pon ya shoulders
-how does
it feel
to take
a life
of another?

I’m confused
shouldn’t the
police officer’s life
or the life of
another person
be at risk
before using
deadly force?
so many shades
of eric garner here
this shit
breaks my heart
‪#‎ihavethreesons‬
‪#‎ifearfortheirlives‬
I pray my
future child
never has to
sob on tv,
because his
father was killed
by the police

I’m a middle-class-born,
college-educated
white guy. If I
broke a law,
got approached
by police officers,
got knocked down,
struggled and
seemed to
resist arrest,
I would not
have been
shot dead
through the chest
a father,
a husband,
a human-being,
loving deeply tonight,
for those who mourn,
those who face
systematic injustice,
I hear you, I
see you, I
love you.
we will
stand with you

dear america
we. are. done.
rip Alton

Thanks to: Karen Oldham-Kidd, Marco A. McWilliams, Travis Hunter, Manny J. Wright (Buju song lyrics), Ken Harge, Stacey Patton, Michael Martin, Dionna Jeanette Blocker, Ryan Stevenson, Black Girls Rock, Shannon Rosa, Ari Brisbon

 

For Philando Castile

woke up to this.
crying again
before work
literally, before
the ink dried
on my
‪#‎altonsterling‬ post
this happened
have a
broken tail light – you die (‪#‎philandocastile‬)
these shootings.
I have
no words.
my soul aches.
and once again
I was overcome
by the reality
that no matter
how much we
contribute and
build america,
our lives
do not matter
land of the
free, but we
have to
shed tears
and live in
constant fear
because we
have black brothers,
black nephews,
black children
“we love
our children…
they’re brutalized.
it’s too much…
it’s too much.”
I want
to holler,
want to scream,
want to cry…
I am raising a
strong young male
his race
is ‪#‎human‬
when I get
pulled over…
will I die uncle?
only some
will understand
my pain.
I cry out
to God,
to keep
my son safe
oh, my very heart
is just so
very sad
to learn this
…as her
4 year
old daughter
who witnessed
it all screams
“I’m here
for you mommy.”

Thanks to: Ericka R. Gomes, Marco A. McWilliams, Tory Bullock, Shemika L. Moore, Allyson Brathwaite-Gardner, Desiree Mckinght, The Root, (D.L. Hughley quote), Charles M. Blow, Korlu Young, Ari Brisbon, Kym Williams, Sherry Gordon, Ken Harge

 

DALLAS

“it always feels
like in america,
it’s like, if you
take a stand
for something,
you automatically
are against
something else.
it’s such a
strange world
to be in.”
praying for dallas
killing police officers
was/is not
the goal of
the warranted frustrations
of so many
praying to the
true righteous
judge for justice

in times of trouble
I find solace
in music,
such is the
power of song
in my world
I hope
we are able
to rise above,
to return to
song and
dance and
community.
to return
to a world
where minds
are stretched
by creation
and not destruction

even if you
have to
prop yourself
up today,
get through it,
keep your
head high
and spirit up
let’s us
live in kindness,
faith and hope.
it’s so much
better than
hate and violence,
don’t you think?

Thanks to: HuffPost Black Voices (Trevor Noah quote), Shemika L. Moore, Manny J. Wright, Ezemu Whitney, Ian Lacombe, Asha Tarry, Miriam Gilbert

 

As I stumble to find my voice again, and to say something that matters, I invite all of you to please share your thoughts and feelings here.  At a time like this, we need hope and solidarity, positivity, and action, to move things forward, to make things just.  We need love.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Responses to “What Can I Even Say?”

  1. Ken Harge July 27, 2016 at 11:28 pm #

    Outstanding my friend. I still don’t quite get you…but still I appreciate you u immensely.

    • Wendy Jane July 28, 2016 at 12:12 am #

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks so much for reading, your kind words, too. What is it you don’t get? Feel free to ask questions?

      I appreciate you too, and am inspired by all that you are accomplishing with your work.

  2. Sherry Gordon July 28, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    Dear Wendy Jane,

    Hi, there, Wendy Jane, my so, so very For Always soul sisterfriend of mine and ours, and my and our so, so very right on white woman and friend who you’re For Always so, so very much!!!!! Wow, I’m FINALLY able to respond with my very heartfelt, detailed, and thorough comment joyfully to this very brilliant and beautiful blog post article of yours! I’ve been away from my computer more so than usual but I just couldn’t wait until I could write to you, sister, and to your awesome blog, Wendy Jane!!!!! Yay!!!!!! I so, so very much love and like all of your hard felt efforts in this lovingly heartfelt and sensitively caring blog post article of yours, and your deeply sincere love for us as black persons, sisterfriend! You were still doing very, very much diligent and conscientious work as an absolutely amazing white anti-racist ally, activist, and advocate in the very spirit and solidarity as such a so, so very right on white woman, friend, and sister even when you weren’t able to blog, Wendy Jane! YOU, my and our friend, Wendy Jane, still have been doing such awesome, brilliant work, sister! Sister, you’ve been doing the very hard, urgently vital and necessary work behind the scenes even though you weren’t able to blog, and YOU have our very backs as black persons, and we all can for sure count on you, sisterfriend!!!!!! I’m just so, so very thrilled, overjoyed, and happy with all of the great and sincerely diligent and conscientious work you For Always do in such a myriad of ways, Wendy Jane, as YOU are are very, very steadfast and undaunted right on white woman, friend, and sister who For Always tries so, so very hard!!!!! You have also been doing such powerful work each and every day with your empowering Facebook Status update poems, my sweet friend!!!!! Yay for YOU, Wendy Jane!!!!!! Yay!!!!!! Yay yay yay yay!!!!!!

    I just so LOVE this lovingly beautiful title of your astounding article straight from your very, very heart, and your very, very heart and spirit from the very, very bottom of your very, very heart from the deepest depths of your so, so very precious and special heart, Wendy Jane! Sister, your sweetly loving, kind, caring, sensitively validating words acknowledging and recognizing us as black persons act as such a healing balm for me, Wendy Jane, and for each and every one of us as black persons! Sister, I for sure For Always, get YOU, and YOU are just so, so very wondrously wonderful and fabulous, Wendy Jane, with your so, so very dearest and special love for us as black persons which is such a blessing not only for us as black people from your so very dear heart but you are blessed with this special love and outreach for us as a gift and a blessing from God, my dear, dear friend!!!!!! Just like how I think of myself and my so, so very dearest love for white persons and reaching out to white persons as the black woman who I am, very, very especially with my very, very intense love for you and other of my wondrously wonderful white women as the black woman and lesbian black woman who I am!!!!!!!! We have such a very special and blessed gift from our Good Mother and Father Creator God!!!!! I so, so very much understand, sister, and I DO get you for certain, Wendy Jane-your very special love and outreach to us as black persons make such very much sense and for me is very, very easy to understand, my sweet white sister!!!!! Yay!!!!!

    Sister, I’m just so, so very happy that you were able to see the play Every 28 Hours again, Wendy Jane! You were just trying to take in as much information as you could in taking down very, very many notes because you so wanted to learn, and you were just trying so hard, my so, so very dearest friend! Sister, I’ll never ever give up on you and on other white persons despite racism and despite EVEN bad, racist thoughts, feelings, and actions, and despite white privilege, and I will For Always love you, my so, so very dearest and darling sister and friend, Wendy Jane, and other white persons, very, very especially you, sisterfriend, and other white women who are my very, very heart, and my very, very heartsblood and lifesblood, and I’ll never, ever give up on any of you For Always having complete confidence in, complete trust in, and complete love for all of you, very, very especially you, my friend, and other white women, sisterfriend!!!!!! Sisterfriend as you continue to take your great steps toward learning and growing as a wondrously wonderful white anti-racist woman looking at how white privilege affects your life, and looking inward to learn, heal, and grow from racism, please my sweet white sister know that it is perfectly normal, okay, natural, and alright to be imperfect in this very process along your very, very understandably imperfect lifetime’s path and journey, and it is perfectly okay to go at a gradual pace! Please only go at the gradual pace which feels comfortable, Wendy Jane! I know that you’re doing your very, very absolutely very, very best just like other white people, very, very especially you, sister, and other white women in how you all are doing your very, very absolutely very best!!!!!! I know that as a black person and black woman, and lesbian black woman, and for other black persons that we have experienced and endured sociological and psychological damage over centuries but for me I have such a sweet love and understanding in my heart, and my heart and spirit for white persons, very, very especially you and other so, so very precious and special white women, and I am here for each and every one of you as white people, very, very especially you, Wendy Jane and other superbly super white women, very, very delightfully and eagerly cheering each and every one of you on and rooting for all of you in your anti-racist journey!!!!! You all can count on me for sure and I have your back, Wendy Jane, and I have all of your backs!!!!! Sister, I so, so very much appreciate YOU, Wendy Jane, as you look at white privilege and racism, as you try to break down the systems and structures that put black people at such a disadvantage, and as you speak out and up for us and you are not silent, sister!!!!!! You’re so, so very heartbroken over the murders and other assaults against very, very many black women and girls, and black men and boys, and you with your sweet heart and spirit are absolutely devastated by the devaluing of black lives, sister!!!!! YOU, sisterfriend have just gone straight to this black woman’s very, very heart, and very, very heart and spirit in this, Wendy Jane!!!!! You are such a greatly huge part of the change, sister, and you are making such great change and inroads toward racial justice, equity, and fairness, Wendy Jane!!!!! Yay!!!!!! I just so, so very much love and like how you also included some of your remarkable poems with this stupendous blog post article of yours!!!!! The picture which you have featured with this magnificent blog post article is just perfect here, absolutely perfect, and perfectly adds to and complements this great blog post article of yours by showing you working so hard here, sister, so hard at work for us as black persons, and I just so, so very much love this picture, and I APPRECIATE YOU, Wendy Jane, so, so very much!!!!! Thank-you so, so much For Always, Wendy Jane!!!!! You are just the absolutely very, very best and the greatest, and such the very, very epitome of such overall awesomeness, Wendy Jane!!!!! Yay!!!!!

    Sister, as soon as I am able to be at the computer again(I’ll be away from the computer here and there)I’ll do my other responses for sure, sisterfriend!!!!! Wendy Jane, please have such a totally thrilling and very terrific Thursday, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!! Wow, you are my very, very joy and blessing, just as YOU, sister, and your amazing blog post articles are for your very, very many other grateful and appreciative readers, my friend!!!!! Yay!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my sweet white siter, Wendy Jane, with Such Very Love and Peace To You For Always, my sisterfiend, and with Such Very Blessings and Such Very Even More Blessings To You For Always, my friend,

    Your black sister and friend For Always and For Always in the very spirit and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa

    • Wendy Jane July 28, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

      Hi Sherry,

      What I do without you? You always lift my spirits, and keep me keeping on.:) Thank you for your close attention to my writings, and for all of your feedback–I always, always appreciate it. You are a huge, huge part of the change, too, my friend, always supporting the allyship between white people and people of color. We’re all in this together, or else we’ll never get together.

      Thank you again, Sherry!

      Wendy Jane

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