Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Things We Carry

(Written April 20, 2021)

I'm sitting at home, watching the commentary after George Floyd's murderer, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of all charges. I only watched 3 clips (TOTAL) of the trial on social media. I feel that I have a responsibility to bear witness when I can, but this time felt like it would be too much trauma on top of all of the other trauma that I am experiencing.

In advance of the verdict, I asked friends to text me with "guilty" or "not guilty," as I would not be watching. My sister who lives in Minneapolis, called to (basically) tell me that she was waiting to see if the city will burn to the ground tonight or not. I told her that- if he wasn't found sufficiently guilty of actions we all saw with our own eyes- the entire country would be on fire in a way that would make last summer look like child's play. She told me that there is still unrest because yet another unarmed half-Black man, Daunte Wright, was murdered by the cops in her neighborhood. 

When I spoke to my mother in the Chicagoland area, she told me that there's protesting there due to a Latino child (he was 13) being murdered by the cops. 

It's all much too much. None of these individuals were "saints" by societal standards, but somehow white people are allowed to be imperfect and "troubled," while Black and brown people are dangerous and must be brought into submission immediately. The solution is not for the police to start killing white people, the solution is to reimagine policing. I'd be fine with my tax dollars going to serve and protect the community if that actually happened. Instead we are being murdered in the streets and paying for the "privilege."

When the verdict came in, I felt a brief moment of relief that THIS TIME the jury did the right thing. Then that "THIS TIME" pissed me off. Living in hopes of being validated by a system built to discriminate against you is no way to live. Knowing that if a cop (or random white citizen) decides to accuse you of something or take your life, they can, and possibly face little to no commensurate repercussion - is a heavy load to carry. And yet it is a fact of life in these United States.

Last night my father and I talked about the adage of Black people having to work twice as good to be half as far. We both know this to be true from the inside. And then when we have high blood pressure, stress disorders, substance abuse, and other illnesses, they get chalked up to EVERYTHING except the stress of living in a racist society.

But we carry all of this and more, day in and day out. Despite the toll, we do what we can to find joy. We do what we can to celebrate and validate ourselves and one another. We forgive because it's a way of holding on to our humanity and not becoming the hatred that stares us in the eyes whenever we dare take a deep breath and draw ourselves up to our full height.

We carry it.
And we do our best not to crumble under the weight.


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