“We are so lucky to be a alive at this moment in history!” my friend D exclaimed today. I was surprised by his statement. As a gay, multi-ethnic son of first generation immigrants, D certainly has reason to feel threatened by the hate spewing out of Charlottesville and across the country. Yet he is heartened. He’s relieved to see the reality of racism, a reality he knows well, being dramatically brought to the surface. He sees that exposure as a step towards it’s defeat. He is heartened by the magic he sees black people manifesting daily. He is nourished by the artists and activists and kind souls he knows. He sees possibility.
Sheneika Smith expressed similar sentiments in her remarks at her recent Asheville City Council Campaign party. This is our moment, she proclaimed.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. wrote years ago, “Mis estimados: Do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now… Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement…”
“Do not spend your spirit dry bewailing…” Instead, fortify your spirit, sharpen your tools, soften your heart. Resist. Mourn. Heal. Create. Build.
It’s not easy, of course.
This struggle is happening on many levels. We face overt hateful, violent racists. We also face the insidious damage done daily through the systemic oppression we are complicit in. Which to me is also a form of violence. While active, vocal white terrorism must be stopped, so must passive, quiet participation in oppression.
This chart has been floating around the internet, and it captures some of what I want to convey today. It is the type of understanding I strive to illuminate with this blog.
As Lauren Ellen (@elle_mccann) tweeted earlier this week, “Thinkin about the liberal employers on Monday who will talk big about Charlottesville while continuing to steamroll & underpay POC staff.”
We cannot simply place racism in the hands of those angry men with their torches. It is in our hands too.
The second in Erin Daniell’s two-part series in the Mountain Xpress, Legacy of loss: Food access challenges in Asheville’s Southside community just came out. Click the title to read. While reading, think about how our “progressive” mountain town has let so many of it’s citizens be disenfranchised. Excerpt: “The pretty flowers don’t start till you turn that corner [to the RAD],” Shuvonda Harper says. “Crazy kudzu all on the hill [by the Livingston Apartments] and everything, but pretty flowers right there around that corner.”
She adds, “I’m not knocking [the RAD]. I just really wish there were more of us in the space…” A mural recently featured across from the Pink Dog was a piece that said “CHANGE” in black and white paint. When it was up there, Harper says, it had her community wondering, “Change for whom?”
On Sunday, T-Challa Ra (@BmoreDoc) tweeted, “White supremacy is a political ideology. Politics are about resource allocation. Adherents want unending power, resources, and privileges.” Are you unconsciously an adherent, too?
Jason Chestnut (@crazypastor) quoted a speaker at a Balitmore protest, “We have to dismantle Baltimore apartheid – and go after systems, not just symbols.”
Not to downplay the importance of addressing the symbols. Here’s a CALL TO ACTION I pulled from FB: Durham Co Sheriff’s office is conducting raids of the homes of those who allegedly took down the Confederate monument on Monday night. Please donate to bail fund and call the Durham CO DA to drop charges, 919-808-3010.
This photo is from “Looking for Sister,” a deeply moving piece by Angela Davis Johnson & nyx zierhut about missing and invisibilized black women. It was one of several powerful performances I experienced at ROOTS Week. The caption Angela gave this photo was,
Remembering the silenced, the ignored, the taken, the discarded
We see you because we see ourselves.
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