Today I posted a plea on my Facebook page. I would quote it here but I had to log off for my own sanity. I begged people not to share the video that was released of Samuel Dubose’s murder with me. I implored them to please put trigger warnings and place spaces so that those of us trying desperately to practice self care would not be forced to watch it. We knew for over 24 hours that it was coming. When people started emailing me that the press conference was starting I literally felt my heart racing, my palms sweating and the tears forming in my eyes. I can not handle this today.
See, I am a writer and a reader. When I read someone’s words my mind makes pictures. I already knew all of the details of Samuel’s murder from the written reports. I already knew. I already saw it. But imagination and reality are opposites. I did not want to SEE this man murdered. I have no space in my spirit for another murder. I have no room in my spirit. I have to maintain my sanity.
I wrote the post. People shared it. People expressed their similar feelings. Then, it happened. I was scrolling down my timeline and before I realized what I was seeing there it was. Murder. In front of my eyes. Straight through my gut. My heart shattered. I fumbled with my mouse trying desperately to scroll past it. My mouse seemed to be made of some slippery substance. I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t see through my tears. A visceral reaction.
I logged out, heart racing, tears flowing. I ran to the bathroom and sobbed. A coworker knocked on the door. “Are you okay Dana?”
“NO! I’m not okay. I shouldn’t be. Neither should you”
How can this be life? How can this be okay? Why aren’t we ALL raging in the streets?
He was the father of 10. He had 4 grandchildren. He was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. He was loved.
He was murdered.
No. I’m not okay. And you shouldn’t be either.
I’m grieving. I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m angry.
All of these emotions are NORMAL to Blackness these days. *heavy sigh*
I’m also raising a beautiful, fearless, carefree, happy little Black girl.
Being her Mommy forces me to live in the moment with her. It forces me to teach her the best of Blackness. It makes me fill her with as much self pride as her little body can contain. It forces me to command space for her to be free and innocent and safe.
It feels dishonest in many ways. Part of me feels like I should be preparing her for reality. Part of me hopes desperately that things will change enough that I can magically bypass that obligation. *heavy sigh* All of me knows that they won’t. I know that one day something will happen and I will have to explain to her that we live in a world where some people will hate her for the color of her skin. I know that one day I will have to teach her about the systemic ways racism is upheld in this country. I know that one day I will have to explain that her body, the body I have spent her whole life teaching her she has dominion over, is not respected by some people in positions of authority.
And it hurts. But childhood is so short. Innocence is so fleeting. And I want so badly to build her strong and confident before I share the crap that brings grown ups to tears. This weekend we went to Central Park. I watched her play and be so happy. I sat with a good friend and we shared our heavy load of Black womanhood. We talked and vented and raged and laughed and hugged. We helped each other to connect. We tapped in to the well that replenishes. We shared our emotions and frequently replied to each other, “that’s normal. I feel that too.” It was important. It was healing. It was refueling. We sat on a picnic blanket and built each other up. We affirmed that neither of us was alone in our hurt or our rage. It was important.
The backdrop of this conversation was my daughter playing. She’d interrupt us, at will, and we would smile and laugh and remember why we fight and what really matters. At one point I sent her to throw away her garbage. The garbage can was a few feet away and completely within eyesight and hearing range. I tried to hide my panic at letting her wander away “by herself” and when I looked over at my sisterfriend she was on her feet, her body was tense. She was watching too. She was just as nervous about letting my little bit move out of arm’s reach. We made eye contact and the lump in my throat precluded conversation. We were silent until she returned. Little bit was so proud of her little adventure. “Did you see me Mama?” I nodded and hugged her tight.
This fear has a taste. It tastes like metal. It is sour. It rises from your stomach and sits in your throat. No amount of swallowing or drinking sweet juices will make it go away. It is ever present. I fight it. I pray about it. I release it to God. And yet…I still taste metal. I’m so scared for her.
I am an American. This is my home. This is where I was born. I am an American. But the outright assault on my community from some law enforcement officers doesn’t resonate in the same way that a movie theater shooting or a marathon bombing resonates with many of my fellow citizens. And it hurts. Is there a way to raise her so that she won’t hurt? Please point me to it. Please give me step by step directions. Please.
I’m struggling. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and practice self care. I’m trying to unplug but I cannot escape the news that another Black woman was unjustly arrested and found dead in her jail cell this weekend. I don’t know how to BE anymore. I’m at a crossroads and I have to figure it all out quickly.
I have a little girl to lead. I want her to be free. I want her to be whole. I want her to be love.
I want her to live.
Literally paralyzed by grief
On my way to work
What do I do?
He sat in church and prayed
Watched little kids play
Heard the Word
Then opened fire.
I can imagine the confusion
Little girl plays dead
Five years old.
How did she know?
I can’t stop crying
Don’t ask me to
Bus comes 30 minutes later.
Board a bus
Full of us
The only place I’ll hear our grief today.
If you are not actively doing something to help you are part of the problem. Your involvement can run the spectrum from sharing truth with the misinformed to marching to letter writing to activism. Spread truth. Refuse to be steamrolled by propaganda. This is OUR country. Wake up.
Justice for Freddie