I haven’t written a blog post in eighteen days, which is maybe no big deal, but when I started this project I intended to write a post a week.
I am not alone in my sea of wordlessness. So many other writers I am friends with or admire are floating alongside me. And other non-writers are bobbing along, too.
The world is suckfest right now and I am terrified and I have been hoping for some little ray of light to illuminate a wave of change and give me some sort of something to say that won’t be filled with lead.
It’s not happening.
Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have been added to the disgustingly long list of black lives lost at the hands of police. A sniper shoots at police in Dallas during what should have been a peaceful protest and five officers die. A terrorist drives through families celebrating Bastille Day in Nice and eighty-four people are dead, ten of them children. Turkey’s military forms a coup and over two hundred people die.
I don’t even know why the flag is at half-mast. Which tragedy are they honoring? Do we even bother to raise it anymore?
On Saturday, we went to the beach and on our way out of the waves we saw a horseshoe crab belly-up on the sand. It happens a lot, especially during their mating season. They get flipped and if they can’t get enough traction with their tails to turn right side up, they die.
We looked at it closely, sad. And then my husband noticed it move. Just a little leg flicker. He picked it up so so so gently and we three walked back into the water and let her go. Before she scurried out to sea she walked over each of our feet. I wanted to think it was some sort of animal-human connection. A thank you, maybe.
She was probably just confused from being upside down. I was certainly touched by the event, but too jaded for much hopeful introspection.
S spends Saturday nights with his dad, which makes me sad but also gives me time alone with my husband. We walked downtown and there was a man with an acoustic guitar playing in the courtyard of the little café on the corner. He was great. He sang everything from James Taylor to Soundgarden to the Indigo Girls.
I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
The best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously, it’s only life after all
Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it, I’m crawling on your shore.
We had wine and laughed and enjoyed the weather and our beautiful town and each other.
On the way home we saw Walt, a homeless man who always greets us with a fistbump and has the clearest blue eyes. Over the winter, my huge-hearted husband picked up Walt and his best friend Thomas and put them up in a motel to get them through a particularly brutal cold snap.
We asked about Thomas and Walt told us that he had died. He died in the street after getting yelled at by the landlord of the large harbor condominiums with the secluded parking lot where these two often slept. He died with a skin infection that went untreated because homeless people don’t get medical insurance. He died without his family.
Our walk home was silent as we let our tears fall.
And then there is a shooting in Baton Rouge. Small anguishes and big ones have gutted me.
I wonder about PTSD and wonder if anyone has thought about how both of the police shooters were former military. I wonder if our increasingly militarized police force will ever become a peaceful force. There are dots to connect here, but I don’t have enough facts to connect them.
I wonder if marginalized people will ever feel unafraid. I wonder if we will ever stop calling people who aren’t straight, white Christians “marginalized.”
I am watching people divide about whether #blacklivesmatter is undermining other lives and I wonder why people don’t get it. There are essays and memes and comic strips delineating what the difference is, explaining how important this is, not because other lives matter less, but because Black lives don’t matter right now.
People only don’t see the difference. And the divide is getting wider.
(This article so beautifully explains the difference between #blacklivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter.)
“Because it (dehumanization) is a distortion of being more fully human, sooner or later being less human leads the oppressed to struggle against those who made them so. In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both”
The first sentence succinctly describes what is happening now. The second statement is what #blacklivesmatters is, a seeking, though not to regain, but to gain humanity, not by violence, not by oppressing the oppressors, but with peace and education. This excerpt, though, is from Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, written in Portugal in 1968.
When will it stop?
What world is this?
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
—Warsan Shire, “What They Did Yesterday Afternoon”