Too angry to scream. Too sad to cry. Instead I bought a hot chocolate with almond milk and whipped cream to comfort myself on the way home from work after opening up twitter and seeing that the judge declared a mistrial in the case of the South Carolina police officer, who in 2015, shot Walter Scott in the back, more than once, while Mr. Scott was running away from him. And. it. was. on. video.
A mistrial. And here I was drafting a post last night about grappling with how to talk with other white people who don’t know or don’t believe that supporting the President-elect, means you also support his racist, misogynist, Islamophobic, xenophobic agenda. When I talk with someone with a racist perspective, or an unawareness of, or denial of their white skin privilege, I wonder, do I go hard and butt heads and not get anywhere, shutting the conversation down? Or do I try to stay calm, patient, like Trevor Noah in his interview with alt-right, hate-spewing racist but doesn’t think she’s racist, social media pundit, Tomi Lahren? I lauded Noah for his efforts, but then later saw that many were not happy with him for giving her The Daily Show platform, and felt he should have denounced her vehemently instead of telling jokes about traffic lights when Tomi said she”doesn’t see color.”
But it’s not worth posting about talking. Instead I’ll pass on something I read today. This essay was posted on Facebook by Susan Glisson, a wonderful woman doing trust building and social justice work in Mississippi, and beyond. Written by Ursula K. LeGuin, I think it speaks somewhat to what I’m grappling with as I stumble through conversations, and learn how to take action.
Again, words aren’t coming to me, only feelings of deep sadness, wariness, anger, and thankfully, the will to rise and resist.
Most of you know I wrote daily poems made from my friends’ Status Updates on Facebook for the past five years, stopping in September on my birthday. As I thought about all these poems, and what they have documented, I realized they also captured the many unjust killings of Black men, women and boys, mostly at the hands of police officers. This haiku, written in 2015, popped into my head today after I read the verdict in Walter Scott’s case:
so I’ve been thinking
have compassion for the pain
this one was on film
I decided tonight, though I completed my Facebook poem project, that I will write a poem for every time a Black person is unjustifiably killed in this country, at least for the ones that make the news, since we don’t hear about all of these deaths. They’ve been hidden from us. For years, Black people tried to show us the writing on the wall. But we didn’t want to see it. Now, as this poem tells us, we can’t look away. It is, after all, on film.
Here is tonight’s poem:
you gotta be
“I fired until
trained to do,”
saying, “this is
yes, be the
change you seek
will be heard
history regards us
Enough words for tonight, here is how you can:
Locally, here are a few groups in Providence who do organizing work:
White Noise Collective RI
A collective of people working at the intersection of whiteness and gender oppression to disrupt racism and white supremacy. Through discussions, community organizing, and action, we mobilize white people to act as part of a movement for racial justice with passion and accountability.
Resist Hate RI
We are a coalition of organizations and individuals coming together to resist the hateful policies and the undoing of decades of human rights battles in this country, that will come with the inauguration of the next president.
DARE or Direct Action for Rights and Equality
DARE is a membership organization that organizes low-income families in communities of color for social, political and economic justice.
And, on the national level, have you checked out Shaun King’s Injustice Boycott?
Thank you. Please let me know how you are all doing, and what you are doing to take action, and take care of yourself.
The Election, Lao Tzu, A Cup Of Water by Ursula K. LeGuin, The Bookview Cafe Blog, 11/21/16
Photo credit: www.nbcnews.com