One afternoon after an uneventful dentist appointment instead of rushing to my car, I made a detour to the brookside park across the street. Being that school had let out, there were families with young children running around and playing on the jungle gym. Typical springtime activities. Like the kids, I was delighted to be outside and soaking up the sunshine.
A gentle breeze. Ducks swimming, geese honking and birds tweeting. Perfection.
While I was watching the ducks attempt to swim against the current, I noticed some movement out the corner of my eye. A couple of children were perched at the water’s edge carefully removing their shoes and socks and then rolling up their pants. Unlike the adults supervising them satisfied with watching the water go by, these kids needed to experience the brook feet first. What a great idea? As the water connected with their tiny feet, they shrieked in delight.
And, that’s when I decided to follow their lead. Quickly removing my shoes and rolling up my pants, I scooted down into the brook. It felt good to be outside, again.
I’m trying to make sense of the recent shootings in Orlando, Baton Rouge, Dallas and St.Paul. At first I was in disbelief. Then I started to wonder if could afford to buy some land in an undisclosed place and go live off the grid away from all the madness. And, then I began to wonder if that would make me a coward. Many thoughts have been racing through my mind. Why? Wait, no way. More people killed and more families left to grieve and mourn the lost of their loved ones. Honestly, there’s not way to rationalize any of of this violence. If you’re hoping to find an explanation of it, there will not be one in this post. This is not a rant about the the protection of the 2nd Amendment or the gun carrying culture (though, I might right about that later in the year). Instead, this is my space to express my disappointment, frustration and anger as a black American woman living in the United States of America (and yeah, I’m salty that I have to specify that I’m a black American because I only get recognition as American when I leave the county).
I remember exactly where I was each time I learned of the horrific news. For the Miami shooting, I was on the way back from an Environmental Leadership Fellowship retreat. In regards to Baton Rouge and St. Paul, I was returning from a 4th of July weekend in New Hampshire with friends. And, I heard about the Dallas shooting en route to work on Friday morning. It was not a good week. I trudged through Thursday and Friday in a weird mix of post vacation haze and emotional fog. I was upset and disillusioned. Another shooting. Another black man killed by the bullets of police officer’s gun. And, again it was caught on camera. It wasn’t the figment of someone’s imagination. This time, it was not a clip from from a Boondocks re-run. This happened in real life!
So, I’ve been logging in and out of all my social media outlets hoping to find some explanation for all the violence happening here and abroad. But, none can be found save for the usual rhetoric. I tried to log off, but kept scrolling and reading all the posts. Some were insightful, a few were complete nonsense and some offered self-care resources. It’s Sunday evening and I’ve returned from a full weekend of self-care exercises. I ate and drank with friends, spent time in nature with my sister, checked in own my friends and I hugged my parents. But, why do I still feel just meh?
If I sit still long enough, lots of feelings come to surface. I can even recall the former case of Amadou Diallo or memories of the police presence outside my middle school. Sadly, this violence isn’t a new occurrence. It’s tiring and exhausting. I’m tired and weary. I’m tired of avoiding the news in fear of being triggered by the imaged a slain person plastered across my screen. See, I have not gone numb so the sight of a dead person still gives me nightmares and makes me nauseous. I think about the friends and family left behind to make funeral arrangements. I wonder what the person had for breakfast or what was the last text message he or she sent. I hope the families of those who have lost someone will ever feel safe and get justice. But, then I remember how our justice system hasn’t been working too well as of late and then I weep.
Nonprofit with Balls is my favorite workplace humor blog because, Vu, is able to capture the tone, spirit and love/hate relationship of working in the nonprofit sector. So when I saw his latest post about poetry, I knew it wouldn’t disappoint. Heck, I’m still trying to figure out how I missed the call for submissions. In total, he featured 15 poems, but only one really, really resonated with me.
“What is it like?”
What is it like to be working with a team of white people?
You asked me
Not just any white people
But white people with Ph.Ds and research interests in non-white people
Research interests in people like me
The thing is, you never asked me this
No one ever asked me
What is it like
To drown in a sea of whiteness?
No one ever asked me
What is it like
To hear white people
Talk about how they know
Because they were on food stamps
When they were doing AmeriCorps
Or what is it like
To hear white people
Working with at-risk youth
So now they know
What it’s like
To be disadvantaged and poor
And even if you asked me
I might not answer
Not because I don’t want to
But because I might say
It’s just in my head
These things I feel
Are not real
These things I wonder
Does not mean much
Because that’s what it’s like
To drown in a sea of whiteness
The things I feel
Are not real
Trickle-Down Community Engagement is a serious problem, and communities are getting exasperated. If we are to solve problems, we must stop thinking of communities as helpless children, and start trusting that people are the experts of their own lives and invest accordingly. “We need to stop finding solutions and instead fund them,” says one of my colleagues, Jondou Chen… There is way too little trust that communities have the solutions, that they are the solutions.
Oh my! It’s a been about four months since I last posted up here. I wish I could attribute the absence to a deliberate hiatus. But, I can’t. Rather, my focus has been elsewhere. Between working on my personal photography challenge, starting a monthly Brews & Brushes event series and transitioning into a new job, I have been offline a lot more and it feels great! Nothing beats connecting with people in real life.
“…but at base the school hopes to initiate what it calls “authentic” conversations about race, which researchers suggest may actually have been inhibited by liberal values for decades. Under the spell of color-blindness, previous generations have tended to avoid race as a subject, hushing their children when they refer to playground playmates as “brown,” believing that by not acknowledging race in public they were enacting a desire for equality for all. In fact, in the academic literature, “color-blindness” now refers to the reluctance to address race, not the ideal of casual intermingling.
For advocates of a new approach, that reluctance can be devastating — a refusal to acknowledge the full humanity of others.”
Hasan Minhaj’s segment for The Daily Show about Salt Lake City’s mind-blowing initiative to eradicate chronic homelessness is spot on! Check out City’s unique solution to helping homeless individuals and families stay off the street.
I am at a lost for words to describe how it feels to hear the decision of juries for the Mike Brown and Eric Garner cases. Hurt, anger, fear, shame, sadness, indifference and grief all at the same time. This is some traumatic kind of living.
“For his part, director Spike Lee took the video of the incident, which went viral, and intercut scenes of Radio Raheem’s death sequence in his seminal 1989 film, “Do The Right Thing,” essentially holding up a mirror to reality, emphasizing how much his art seemingly imitates (or maybe I should say, reflects) real life – still, some 25 years later, since that film’s releaseway.”