This past week has been a particularly heartbreaking one. There is much to be done, and I am committed to the struggle for justice. Right now I am deeply listening, feeling the pain and holding others in the light. In that spirit, here are some powerful words from a few of my beloved friends.

lucia“One of the most inappropriate things that white allies can do to black people during this time of fear, hurt and anger is try to silence them, or question the outcry. The truth is this: The fact that your reality doesn’t mirror our own is a privilege in and of itself, as fear of violence against us and our children due to our race exists within us very regularly, not just in recent years, and not just regarding interactions with law enforcement. Could you imagine facing this feeling? Would it not be all-consuming? Would it not be hard to focus and thrive as well as you could if you didn’t face such a reality? We have got to move away from the desensitization that exists, and toward viewing humans as humans again. Trivializing a young man bleeding to death is clear evidence of desensitization. I know people who would mourn the death of an animal, yet debate the significance of a human’s death. Something is so wrong with this picture. We can’t be willing to discuss dynamics like racial bias and inequity on one hand, but be afraid to discuss how those biases impact us all on a societal level, often leading to violence against non-dominate groups; just because the conversation makes us feel ‘icky.’ That would be a waste of time, resources, brain power and progress. We can affect change together, but it will require that you are honest with yourself and each other…as honest as possible. In fact, the more uncomfortable we feel in honest reflection and dialogue, the more it is likely that we are getting real work done.” – Lucia

tyrone“A couple of days ago I was messaging with a friend in another state, talking about the police shooting in Deaverview. His first words to me after expressing shock over the incident were ‘how are you holding up?’ I realized-sometime after the conversation ended-that he was the first person of European descent to ask me that question-and it made me think-about how I am and where I am. So tonight, I will be posting my words -not the words of others who I feel speak my feelings. How am I holding up ? I am afraid-all the time-for my life-in my car, in my church, on the streets-and afraid for all those who look like me. I am in constant horror over how a traffic stop can become a life or death situation-the kind of traffic stop I endured a few months ago. I am grieving-for my community, for this society, for the loss of life, for the families -across this nation and across town-who are engulfed in a sea of sorrow and pain at this very moment. I am worried-sick-about where this next presidential election will take us as a country. And I am without answers-without strategy-without platitudes-right now, I am grieving-and traumatized. It is fitting to ask how I’m holding up-and when I answer you probably won’t get this kind of in depth response-but just know-that I -we-as African Americans in America in July of 2016-need time-to grieve, mourn, lament, manage our anger, and do what we need to do to survive emotionally and psychologically day to day. That’s how I’m holding up-if you’re interested.” – Tyrone

marisol“I go to sleep last night with three small stones I gathered and prayed over hoping their small weight might do magic and give me courage and vision to be present with the state sanctioned violence that has come to Asheville. To everywhere. I pray and smudge and ask for guidance from my ancestors, for the protection of my friends, their children, their loved ones. This burning and warring planet. I mine my heart for hope. I wake up this morning and open Facebook. My timeline is flooded with videos of dying men, crying women, shell shocked children. Friends and friends of friends grieving, organizing, reminding each other to breathe, to love, to fight. I shake. I reach out to say ‘I love you. I’m here. I’m with you.’ It is painfully not enough. I sit in a meeting and we talk about nothing else but this continuing genocide. What now? I too harshly scold my son when he asks to play a zombie game featuring soldiers and guns. He cries. I hug him. I try to explain. But I don’t really know how. I offer confused words about justice and violence and desensitization and love. Images of schools and movie theaters and churches forming a lump in my throat. A flash of an image hits my mind’s eye of snipers looking down and scanning the crowd that included my son and my community at a recent rally in Asheville. I fight the urge to isolate and avoid crowds. I fight the urge to pick my son up from out of school because it suddenly feels like a premonition of danger. I connect with local organizers about doing something. Anything. They are exhausted and traumatized by personal and collective violent oppression. They are meeting tonight. I watch the videos because it feels like I must. I cry again. I gather myself and my son to get to the meeting, the vigil, the police station. I fight the shaking feeling that makes me want to run. I remember fragile dreams of holding healing space on some mythical piece of land where we can sing and pray and dance and learn. I wonder where that safe space is where trucks with giant confederate flags don’t pull up to find us isolated on a mountainside. I look at my phone and computer suspiciously as tools of monitoring and manipulating us. I come on Facebook and ramble. I listen to the rain and think it would feel good to feel it sting my skin and cleanse me. I pray and I pray and I pray. And, I recommit to staying in it, to fighting along side the beautiful and brilliant black and brown people who have been my family, and to loving you and loving you and loving you.” – Marisol

I am scared to be a black woman

I am scared to one day die

At the hands of my oppressor

Who will relentlessly take my life

I am scared to be a black woman

A mother of three kids

To die before their grown

At the hands of a pig

I am scared to be a black woman

With an outstretched closed raised hand

To be buried six feet under

Due to hatred by “the man”

I am scared to be a black woman

One with dignity and pride

Through illusion of suicide

A coroner reports my life

I am scared to be a black woman

Standing fearless and tall

To be mistaken for aggression

Nine millimeter causes fall

Fuck that…..

I am proud to be a black woman

One of power and of might

Continuously standing

Through tribulations and strife

I am proud to be a black woman

The word fear does not exist

I know my driven purpose

I’m not scared..right now I’m pissed

I am proud to be a black woman

Injustice fuels my drive

My people are still degraded

While screaming,who matters? Black lives

I am proud to be a black woman

Mother that birthed three and claim all youth

I will not cease in my tireless efforts

To provide them with knowledge and truth

I am proud to be a black woman

Who loves the Creator of all

Who blessed me with mind, body , and soul

God is the name I do call

I am proud to be a black woman

From orangeyellow sunrise to blueblack sunset

I’ve decided to cast away those fears

Head up with no regrets

I am proud to be a black woman

Who loves everything about the black man

I understand your struggle

Not in front or behind, walk with I holding hands

I am proud to be a black woman

In the mirror I do stare

I love the voluptuous curves

And the nappy texture of my hair

I am proud to be a black woman

Never will I want to change

I’ll die a proud black woman

Knowing this proud Black woman remained the same.

I am proud to be a black woman

When my time comes you better shout

Don’t worry bout formalities

Say it loud…I’m black and I’m proud

– Angel

angel and tyler