Finding stillness in the midst of rage

My neighborhood is burning. Someone pounded on my door tonight, and I froze in fear, thinking of Atatiana Jefferson, who like me, was a Black woman playing video games in the privacy of her own home when she was murdered by police. For generations, Black people have suffered at the hands of white supremacists and people are somehow shocked by the uprising. People have forgotten that slave rebellions helped pave the way for the ending of chattel slavery. The system does not care about Black survival because it thrives on our oppression. The powers that be are not hearing us so some people are setting fires that can be felt and seen. We can’t keep talking about “someday we shall overcome” because “someday” isn’t real. Today is the only day we have, and we have to do everything we can to end racism today.

I feel vibrant disgust when white people have the nerve to become the “moral” police and tell Black people the “right” way to fight for their lives. As I write this, the echoes of sirens fill my neighborhood. I juggle fear, rage and love in my heart, and I feel it squeezing like a stress ball as I experience what is going on in the collective consciousness of my FB feed and in the real world. Until you have lived this experience, you have no idea what you are talking about. This cycle of racism, resistance, and rage is exhausting, but it’s the only cycle we know. What do we need to do to make #NotOneMore mean something? How do we end the cycles of oppression? The only way for things to be different is if we choose differently and embody the change that we want to see in the world.

The micro-choices we make and the macro actions we take will shape the new system, but a radical, quantum leap in consciousness is necessary to stop the cycles of brutality and “back and forth” incremental change. We can’t stop choosing love. We can’t stop practicing justice. We need deep, transformative healing to eradicate the virus of racism and we need to burn out all vestiges of its impact. COVID has provided us with an opportunity to give ourselves a hard reset. Everyone can find a way to impact the future. If you can’t get out and protest, call people to have a house meeting or start a phone tree. If you can’t go to a city council meeting, go meet your alderman in their office. If you can’t see yourself talking to strangers, then talk to your racist family members. We have to change the way we think about the world around us and have new thoughts about how we engage with economics, politics, and communities. We have to release ourselves from the lies of capitalism, because wealth has never trickled down and will never trickle down as long as greed and white supremacy have a choke hold on the economy. It is time to go all in for reparations and finding alternatives to policing because with all the money they get, they still don’t keep us safe. Any other policy is like putting band-aids on broken bones.

Incremental change and believing that “change takes time” is getting people killed. Change happens every day, and we are responsible for that change. Each person has to do what they can do, and continue to do all that they can do, until equitable futures become the present reality. There is no magical chant that can be enchanted during a protest. There is no miracle formation that we can march in. We should continue to vote, but use our vote strategically and vote for the future that we want and vote out those who are too pacified by master’s scraps to do anything differently. And if we don’t want to choose between the lesser of two evils, we have to create other viable options.

The rioting will end, but multiple strategies will be necessary to move forward. I don’t know what will end racism, but I have some theories that I’m going to test. I’m going to bet on Black. I’m going to listen to directly impacted people, because I trust them to know what they need. I am going to make sure that I protect my wholeness and wellness, and I’m going to help my community do the same. I’m going to imagine Afro-futures where Black people are whole and thriving. I’m going to believe that the path towards freedom will open up as we walk it. I am going to encourage those who have privilege to cast it aside or use it to relentlessly uplift the voices of the oppressed. I’m going to resist and dismantle racism by rejecting fear and seeking out love. Racism ends with you (and me). It ends when everyone recognizes our interdependence and moves towards a vision that is big enough to hold us all.

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