Conversation

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I’m not okay! I shouldn’t be. Neither should you.

Published July 29, 2015 by hrhdana

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.

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No. I’m not okay. And you shouldn’t be either.

This skin I’m in…

Published March 24, 2015 by hrhdana

Lately this skin I’m in is heavy.

I love it,

this skin,

caramel candied perfection

a little lighter now from winter’s lingering presence.

I love the history

attached to my genealogy.

Love my family.

Love being me.

But lately…

Lately this skin is a barrier.

Has me speaking to people who can’t understand my words

even though we speak the same tongue.

Lately my truth about this skin

is uncomfortable

for lifelong friendships.

They implore me to

just

stop

talking.

Stop sharing.

Stop making them

uncomfortable.

And it hurts.

Hurts to know that

my love

given freely

and honestly

is only palatable

if encased in silence,

lies,

hidden cries

late at night.

Unwelcome in the daylight.

That if I stand in public

wear my tears like my tiara,

unashamed

they look away.

Accuse me of playing card games

laugh privately

and amongst each other call me names.

These friends

wound me

deeply.

Lately this skin I’m in is heavy.

A wet blanket

dousing conversations

like fires.

And I’m so tired.

The silence

It chokes me.

I can’t breathe.

They can’t see.

And the optimist in me

is languishing

slowly extinguishing

a flame I thought would burn eternally.

If love isn’t all the gas we need

to push past racism and misogyny

then what will propel us towards healing?

Someone tell me.

Please.

I’m asking.

I’m dropping friends at an alarming rate

I want to say I’m okay

and I am

but I’m not.

Racism isn’t just wearing hoods anymore.

It’s more subtle

But it hurts just the same.

It’s people whom I considered family

“disgusted” with me

because I fear for my child

and I say so publicly.

They want me to take a seat.

Sit quietly.

Eat the scraps thrown to me

contentedly.

 But THIS skin I’m in ain’t paper thin.

And although goodbyes are hurtful

I have work to do.

They do too.

I can’t force you.

But if you run from the discomfort of a conversation

If my truth “nauseates” you

you are part of the problem too.

If you can forget the ties that bound our friendship for years

the shared tears

the love held dear

because it’s too hard to just hear

then you only reinforce that my fear

is real and clear.

See,  I am them.

I am not different.

That’s the problem.

This skin I’m in is beautiful.

I’ll gladly carry its weight

on its heaviest days.

I have no desire to be your tolkien

Black friend

divorced from a “them”

that you can’t comprehend

my family and friends.

And the thing is

You knew me.

You loved me.

You saw me.

Until I shared with you

the reality of this skin I’m in.

And that is your shame and your sin.

Goodbye “friend.”

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Dear White people please stop telling me…

Published January 8, 2014 by hrhdana

Dear White people,

Hello how are you today? I really want to speak about something that is on my mind and weighing heavily on my heart. I hope you won’t mind me addressing you as a group. I am aware that you are not all the same. Language can be restricting at times and I hope that stating my intention NOT to offend will be enough to soothe those of you miffed at the all encompassing address on this post. This letter is really for, “the White people who don’t want to be racist and therefore claim not to see race and that we are all the same, human.” But you see, that does get wordy, huh?

I realize that this race stuff is difficult. Trying to understand things that we don’t live is challenging. I can not intuitively imagine all of the challenges that someone in a wheelchair faces. I can sit and listen to them. I can spend time with them but even then I do not truly know what it is like to not be able to just get up and walk. I have to remember to listen when they speak. I have to remember to check my privilege and respect and acknowledge their experiences. Its not my place to tell them how to feel or how to interact with the segment of the world that does not need a wheelchair. It is not my place to speak FOR them even if I do so from a place of advocacy and support.

I use this example because I can imagine, and I’ve had white friends and family tell me how challenging it is to them to have the race conversations. I can empathize with how challenging it is to set aside privilege and accept a reality that I do not live because I have to do it too. (See above example) I know that you mean well when you say that you don’t see race. I know that your heart is bristling with empathy when you implore people to accept that we are all one race, the human race. I am respectfully asking you to stop.

Saying that we are all the same and that you do not see race invalidates MY experiences with race in this country. Saying that race doesn’t matter is a lie. I am a Black woman every single day of my life and I can tell you that racism is alive and well. I can tell you that I have experiences on a daily basis where I am not allowed to forget that I am a BLACK woman.  Do I want to move past these experiences? Absolutely! But I can not until they stop happening. I can heal from or ignore one interaction. I can not heal from ongoing and systemic interactions.

I’m not going to list all the numbers here but I will tell you that non-White people are more likely to be profiled, more likely to be arrested, more likely to be incarcerated, less likely to be hired, less likely to be accepted to universities…etc etc etc. This is REAL! This is our life! These experiences cause pain. These experiences require healing. It matters what color we are. We can’t claim unity with one race, the human race when we are constantly facing the fallacy of these premises. It’s belittling to my experiences to implore me to, “stop seeing race,” or to stop identifying my experiences with racism as such. Are you following me?

Life IS different when you are not White and if you aren’t willing to accept that truth then you aren’t doing the work of dismantling racism. You are contributing to it by refusing to HEAR and ACCEPT my experiences in the world we live in. Not the world we all wished that we lived in but the world that we ACTUALLY live in.

Thank you for listening.

Dana