To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. – James A. Baldwin
In the midst of my rage, I’m still able to see some beautiful acts of solidarity and resistance in light of so much ugliness in America. After the refusal of the (in)justice system to indict a Ferguson and NYC cop after using excessive force that resulted in the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner and after so much bullcrap reasoning for those heinous actions and shameful blaming of the deceased, there has been a massive and unexpected response. What I see is a critical mass forming. A critical mass of those who understand what institutionalized and systemic racism is and the insidious ways it affects and socializes us all. A critical mass of those who are also enraged about these injustices and see it as an American problem and not just a “black issue.” A critical mass of those who realize the intersectionality of it all and that all oppression is injurious. Like Martin Niemöller said, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Oppression is oppression and we have to see it and act, even if we don’t think it impacts our day-to-day lives. And this is exactly what I’ve seen recently.
There have been mass protests and uprisings across the nation from Montana to Miami and everywhere along our borders and in between. There have been essays, letters and articles. There have been memes. There have been satirists railing. There have been fervent social media debates. More than debate, there has been a collective “calling out” on the racist commentary and worse, the silence or blatant ignorance about what’s going on in America right now. Audre Lorde tells us, “Your silence will not protect you.” To those acting immune to oppression, I’ve thankfully witnessed and overheard family members and FB friends saying things to their loved ones, colleagues and friends like, “Stand up.” “Speak out.” “Get your head out of the sand.” “Use your power.” “Where’s your rage?” “I need to delete some people now that I see where they stand.” “Your high and mighty education and that fancy suit won’t protect you.” And this all makes me smile. It fills my heart and gives me strength in this fight for humanity. These have been poor folks standing tall. Black folks standing tall. LGBTQ folks standing tall. Latinos standing tall. Women folk standing tall. Rural folks standing tall. Asian folks standing tall. Religious folks standing tall. Educated folks standing tall. White folks standing tall. The activists and revolutionaries standing tall. Organizations standing tall. Athletes standing tall. The meek standing tall. Native Americans standing tall. Sororities and fraternities standing tall. Politicians standing tall. Multiracial folks standing tall. Police standing tall. Artists standing tall. Parents standing tall. The almighty youth standing tall. TOGETHER. And that UNITY is POWER. Pure power. Like Malcolm X taught us, “those who stand for nothing will fall for anything.” So I applaud and thank those who talk to their racist or classist or prejudiced or xenophobic or insensitive or clueless friends, family members, lovers, and associates. We tend to listen to those who look like us, act like us, work with us, break bread with us, or those whom we love. We must continue to do the work in our own back yards, tending to the weeds there, so that they don’t choke out and kill the rest of the flowers that are struggling to thrive or survive the elements.
So to those doing the demanding work and making difficult and sometimes painful, risky and scary choices in the name of positive change and social justice, I’d like to take a moment to say THANK YOU. I see you. I see US. I see the love through the rage and fear. The resistance is part of our DNA and our legacy. The change is real.
In solidarity & love, Tina