What should I write to you today, dear reader? I was going to write about my menu for tomorrow… maybe speak to the things that I give thanks for. I was going to write, dear reader, about The Husband and his request for Boston Cream Pie and how ridiculous it was… I was going to write about my love for the Thanksgiving Day parade…
And then I was going to write about my disappointment about Monday’s non-action in Missouri. I was going to write yet another eloquent post about my sons and yours, our families and your families, my justice system and your justice system…
But I’m not going to do that. Why would I do that? How many posts like that do I have to write? At what point do the words simply become blurry little nothings, pointless little things, preaching to the proverbial choir? This blog reaches a very small audience. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t understand me to be a human being worthy of equal treatment and justice. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t care about my sons and didn’t see them as equal to your own, worthy of all of the good things that the word has to offer.
So what, then, do I write, dear reader? I am exhausted of this cycle. I am exhausted of the need to have to continue to defend my humanity. I am exhausted of having to be tense and fearful. I am exhausted of having my concerns ignored, my ideas deemed inconsequential, my anger unreasonable or inappropriate…
This integrated life is exhausting.
I woke up to a world that did not seem to care about the injustice that went down in Ferguson. My husband did his usual morning routine, saw a little bit of the pictures from the protests, gave me a kiss on the forehead and went to work. Ursa Major’s teachers, who I trust and love, seemed to give no acknowledgment that the world was just a little less fair for my little boy when I dropped him off at school. The people of MetroWest, liberal and well-meaning as they are, seemed to harbor none of the disappointment or anguish that I did… their faces were bright and happy. “Good morning! Isn’t it a great day today?”
How could it be? Did you watch the news? I shop here twice a week, you know me by name because I am probably the only Black woman you regularly see… seriously? You think I’m going to tell you it’s a great day?
I was honest only once yesterday. The lady at my Market Basket was the one who got my honesty because she was the first person I saw and I guess my coffee hadn’t kicked in yet. “Nope, I am having a hard time today. It’s hard for me to get excited after the news from last night.”
I can’t control my face.
She reddened. Didn’t say anything else until the “Happy Thanksgiving” as I left.
I scolded myself afterwards. Everybody else got what they were looking for: The warm smile. The “Happy Thanksgiving.” The chit-chat about the coming snow. I played the role of “that nice Black girl who comes in the store” instead of the “Angry Black Woman” I otherwise really needed to be. I can’t even tell you why, because that wasn’t the right thing to do either. Maybe it’s all part of the training of oppression: when faced with pain, don’t let it on. Put on your best smile and make everybody else comfortable. Nobody cares about your pain. It is a downer. Channel your energy more positively, please. That’s probably one of the biggest things I do in my integrated life: I spend a hell of a lot of time making everybody else comfortable with their privilege/ignorance/non-action.
I want to write something useful, beautiful, or upbeat for you today, dear reader. I want to tell you that I feel strong today, ready to write with power, to seek justice through action, to fight for change through thought and word and deed…
But the truth of the matter is, I feel none of that. I feel isolated. I feel useless. I feel like everybody else is comfortable, and I’m screaming and nobody can hear me. I feel like I do all the right things, that the right things are done by many people like me, and yet here we are with a system that is so broken that miscarriages of justice like this can happen. Still. And I think that they will just continue to happen. It just doesn’t seem to matter what I do or any one else does.
I vote, have voted, will vote. This seems to do nothing.
I pay attention to the news, I participate in local politics, I stay involved in my community. This proves to be trivial.
I write simple words to an audience of like-minded individuals. This teaches nothing, changes no minds.
I play my role of representative when I have to, giving voice to the voiceless when I’m in position to do so, providing truth when called upon to do so, holding on to my composure when presented with challenging and racist circumstances, reminding the powerful who I happen to know of my diminished status in the republic we love. This makes me nothing more than the “good” and “respectable” negro, to be accepted in the community that I’ve chosen to live in.
This integrated life is exhausting. And on days like this, it’s lonely. Surrounded by a sea of “allies,” silent and loud, it is a lonely existence anyway. To be told to trust that change is coming, or to be told to be grateful because “that could never happen here,” or to simply be reminded that “you’re a different kind of person, you know? That would never happen to you…” (“special negro” status is its own annoying thing that I’m not even trying to tackle today…). Or to even hear nothing at all from usually trusted voices, needed voices… It just deepens the heartbreak.
I wish I had something more for you, dear reader. I wish I could give you the usual words of a hopeful Millennial… but not today. I’ll have found a way to metabolize it by Friday, I’m sure. I’ll have found the naive optimism that I so love, and I’ll be able to say the words that people expect when they encounter me out in the world. I may even have some hope to weave into some Quiet Thoughts–conjuring a message of hope and love and warmth, much needed on a Friday, so wonderful to write and so well-received by ya’ll…
But I can’t do it today. I’m heartbroken today.