(photo credit: Esquire Magazine)
if you received a notification about a new post here, looking
for some poetry…I have to confess that I’m not in a space to
share that here. not yet.
it’s not that I’m not writing poems, or think that they should
not be given a focus in these times. that river still runs, rages.
but right now, I want to write about what these times can do
to your mental space in terms of trust. in terms of the internal
gymnastics that take place.
with the murders by police in the past couple of weeks of four
Black men, four Latino men, the anniversary of the murders of
Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Eric Garner as well as the shooting of
Charles Kinsey, an unarmed Black physical therapist helping
his autistic patient in the street, to say that I’ve been on edge
more than usual is an understatement. I do not cite these tragedies
lightly – I am fully aware that I could be on that list. and that
leaves me in a state sometimes that becomes a certain kind of
paranoia. a paranoia that I realize is one of the unspoken gifts
that American racism has left for me, like Santa only not as
surreptitious. this is the month where the mental health of people
of color is closely examined and discussed, and I don’t find it
coincidental given the tragedies we’ve borne witness to.
it becomes draining. in my brushes with it, you realize that what
Toni Morrison said about the business of racism stealing time
and keeping you off-balance is true. it’s more pronounced in this
era of expanded social media, and sharing. you aren’t closed off
from what others truly think, and if your circle is vast you may
find that those who you thought you were cool with, that it’s not
the case where these matters are concerned. take Black Lives Matter
or other social justice groups. I now fully understand the breadth
of what those before me dealt with in the 1960’s in terms of the
vicious lies and anger directed at those who stand up for themselves
and others when they side with BLM and other groups. I’ve seen
the army of trolls spewing venom. I’ve seen people try to play “Law
& Order” semantics and then want to come back to you about rap
lyrics as if you’re to forget who you are and who they revealed
themselves to be. I’ve seen friends hurt online. I’ve reached out to
friends in the wake of the Sterling and Castile murders and the
shootings in Dallas. I haven’t(thankfully)dealt with too many trolls,
but I do know that I have one or two folks in the social media fold
who think like that and/or have expressed bigotry through memes
or under the guise of “libertarian” and “progressive” politics.
the other unfortunate aspect of it is, there are a few who I’ve had
to concede that I’ll never build with or kick it with in the same way
because they side with this maladjusted crowd.doing so because
they feel that’s how to get along because “God told them to”(guess
they never heard of revolutionary liberation theology) or because
it could threaten their hint of promotion at work or other bullshit.
that is the part of the paranoia just now being broached in discussion
– look at the shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge. look at who
committed them. two Black men, former military veterans. both
who felt extremely alienated to the point where they felt right in
committing these acts. and in that way, tying a neat bow onto a gift
of more strife and anguish that clouds the real reasons behind the
madness in the first place. even when both claimed they weren’t
affiliated with any group, I’ve seen the need to tie them in anyway.
the fear and desperation from certain forces lead to manipulation.
I’ve had to hear one or two people basically deride the social justice
movements out of their own timidity- cowardice if we’re being frank –
yet these same people will ask “well, where are our leaders” and wind
up only sharing bitter cups because they want to be heard. or the
folks who are active in seeking justice but letting their ego and personal
BS get in the way and damage bonds for the sake of being prominent.
like there’s a “woke” Olympics or something.
it’s made me perfect my side-eye these days.
to protect my mental space, my spirit, I’ve found that armoring
oneself with the truth and the strength and love of loved ones
is what has kept me fairly composed. in the past weeks, I’ve gotten
a few timely reminders of that. a postcard from a dear friend. a text
or two. a phone call. another friend sending me a picture of my
godchildren just because. to them I say, “thank you” again. and so
it’s with that love and strength that I realize that one has to be fierce
and firm in their own way to protect themselves if they are of color
and content. it’s the one way we have to beat back the paranoia
that poisons on purpose. and I’m fully content with someone
de-friending me on social media if I don’t subscribe to “respectability
politics”. or don’t talk to them over racist memes they’ve shared.
or screaming “all lives matter” in response to me reiterating my
value as a human being WHEN I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO IN THE
FIRST PLACE. or if I’m not incessantly posting social justice info
or unwilling to be a Bagger Vance-styled caddy of civil rights information
to coddle someone out of doing their own internal work. nah, I’m
good. you can head over there. it will help me focus more on those
who have earned their place in my life, who value me. all of me. if
you’re reading this, I hope you’re doing the same thing to protect
yourself and your space.
thank you for reading, and walk good.