Spent some time in the cemetery last weekend, but most of it was consumed with following along with the protests, being with them in spirit, and doing a fuck-ton of crying.
I don’t even really know what to say, but I came here because I just wanted to feel that methodical tapping of the keys because it’s therapeutic and I think we all, on some levels, could use some tender lovin’ THERAPY. I’m never really good at expressing myself when it comes to civil/social/racial issues because all my gut reaction is always to cry and/or get angry. George Floyd’s murder and the civil unrest that has unraveled in the aftermath feels different, like this time it could be the impetus to actually really move things forward.
I know there’s a conversation going on about whether people are born racist or not. I know that I was. I come from a family of “low-key” racists. You know the types. The “I’m not racist, but” kinds of white people. And my school had only a handful of Black students. I think in my grade, there were maybe 4? And two of them, my friend Jameelah and her brother, were Muslim who were told that they couldn’t have a room to pray in during Ramadan, yet our school allowed Bible studies to be held there, and I definitely remember pray things happening outside around the fucking flag pole.
I mean, I lived next to a town called Pleasant Hills. Pleasant fucking Hills, you guys. You don’t get much whiter than that.
But, thank god, my family wasn’t super tight-knit in the sense that we’d all sit down around the meatloaf and lima beans while Ma and Pa would shove their conservative morals and beliefs down our throats. Like, I was pretty sure I knew where they stood on certain social issues, but I was able to find my own path, have diverse interests, and form my own (Henry says ‘too’) liberal opinions. But I definitely remember that although having Black friends wasn’t verboten in my household, I was 100% told that if I ever dated a Black guy, I’d be written out of the Will.
But even though I was able to grow up not hating or fearing people with different skin colors than my own, doesn’t mean that I was perfectly non-racist.
For example, even in high school, when I had a bunch of Black friends (“Yeah, but I have Black friends!” – I know, I know, I’m sorry, I did that) and was immersed in Black media, I had NO IDEA what cultural appropriation was. Like, if one of my white friends had worn a Native American headdress for Halloween, I am sure I wouldn’t have batted an eye.
Even in my early 20s (god, 20 years ago!), I probably chuckled at off-color jokes.
But then I started to learn some more, especially with the rise of social media. The information and facts were in my face then. I would read things about white privilege and think, “Oh shit, I do that.” It wasn’t until probably 15 years ago when I started reading what Black people were saying about their hair, and that’s how I learned about cultural appropriation. And I got it. I understood. This makes sense to me now, I thought, and I wish that the white people who roll their eyes and say “They’re just being sensitive” or “it’s just fucking hair” would also take the time out to UNDERSTAND. We treat them like shit, yet turn around and try to take away what’s theirs, just for a fashion statement.
I probably STILL am not perfectly non-racist, but I am learning. I’m reading. I’m taking the time to educate myself and my kid, to read more books written by Black authors, to LISTEN to what my Black Americans are saying. I need to be better at calling people out. I have to put in the work. And WE ALL have to vote. We need a new, and better, normal.
I read this line The Diviners yesterday and it’s so on point: “When the world moves forward too fast for some people, they try to pull us all back with their fear.” These bitches can stay scared while the rest of us keep pushing ahead.
Today, Henry and I walked past two city cops and I glared at them.
“People should start looking at cops the way racists look at Black people,” I said. “Like, we should all just glare at them and make them feel uncomfortable like they don’t belong here.”
“You already do that,” Henry sighed.
It’s true. I haven’t liked cops since 1995 when my mom had them break into my bedroom and zip-tie my wrists and then drag me outside to an ambulance because she thought I was doing drugs/killing myself when all I was doing was listening to Bone Thugs n- Harmony but OK.