Tuesday, October 23

What It Feels Like

I rarely get angry in writing. Or in a dialogue with anyone, these days. I think to myself, "My heart can't take it." I am scared of repeating my "mistakes" of last year: holding onto so much anger that I end up half-conscious in a hospital bed, with an IV drip and a tube down my throat. I forgot the doctor's explanations. I know that thick black shit I threw up was a sign, anger manifested. The night before I'd gone out with my friends so they could make sure I wouldn't be alone, tempted to climb out onto my fire escape again, contemplate jumping. I remember last year and I think, "Fuck that."

I haven't been walking with a blind eye or deaf ears since then. My eyes and ears have been wide open, I don't want to be naive. Ignorant. Unknowing. But my heart I finally, finally, let that armor build up around it. Not for the people I was close to, or the people I wanted to know, but for the people I didn't want to know, and for the people I was afraid to know or know of. I was afraid that empathy would lead to another struggle with anxiety and depression, that I still haven't truly confronted.

I stopped reading a number of Black Feminist/Womanist, anti-poverty, anti-misogyny, anti-racism, etc. blogs because the news was almost always horrific. As a reader, I wasn't stunned when one or two writers abandoned ship, overwhelmed not only by the stores, the tragedies, but by the unbelievable vicious responses their blogs received. I stopped reading these blogs the day I read about the [I really have no words to describe these] events that took place at Dunbar Village in South Florida on June 18th.

After I read what happened, I turned off the computer screen. I cried. When I couldn't cry anymore, I let the armor go up a little higher. Eventually did what the culture of power expects me to do: I forgot about that woman. Forgot about her son. I Forgot about the indifference and apathy of her neighbors that followed that night. What was I doing on June 18th? Mourning an unborn child, the result of my own (failed? failing?) struggle to understand what being Black and a woman entails.

I wonder how connected we were that night, if her tears and my tears fed the same river.

I wonder if her neighbors, the women, even if they didn't respond or get her help, I wonder if they cried into the same stream as well.

I've become a bit of a soapboxer at the school. Spitting statistics about the state of black girls and boys in American, denouncing major parts of my students' culture (figures of speech and lyrics being the major targets), quote bell hooks' words on Black love. I try to engage them in arguments about how they perceive and interact with women in general, and Black women, in particular. The contradictions in their attitudes are bewildering, enlightening and encouraging. There is (of course) some humanity in their beliefs. There is something to build upon, a way of thinking that can be challenged and manipulated.

And we can fuck with our own minds too. Talk some sense into ourselves. On Saturday night, I got on the Franklin Ave shuttle around 1 am. A man I know, and have felt love and hatred for, was sitting at one end of the car. When I saw him, I panicked. I held my purse up to my face and sat with my back towards him. I remembered every single emotion I felt for him and decided that I had just as much right to be alive (not hiding!) in that moment. He got off at the same stop as I did, and I ended up walking just five or six paces behind him until I turned the corner. I had made peace with him turning around and seeing me. I made peace with him maybe turning the corner because in a few minutes things became crystal clear. I just needed to not feel afraid, intimidated, devalued, pathetic in his presence. The my human rights were restored. The world became home again, if just for that walk to my apartment.

How much more needs to happen before we're livid?

The worldwide rape of women as an act of war, the business of child prostitution, the in-your-face poisonous words of popular music, the danger of using female celebrities' lives as sheer entertainment or as standard criteria for how to live our lives, the history of master-slave sexual relationships, the phrase and role of "baby mama," Saartjie Baartman's existence, the unawareness/miseducation of how our physical bodies function, the tradition of degradation of women in organized and unorganized religion, the Myth of the Superwoman...

No more.

We need to stop being afraid. Stop making excuses for their actions, for ours. I don't know what to do except use a gift the universe has blessed so many of us with: intuition. Use it to right wrongs, or just name them, if that's all we can find the strength to do. Tonight, I began reading some of those blogs I was too scared and hurt to read a few months ago. I have so much gratitude for the women who keep writing (and talking and protesting and crying and fighting and testifying and breathing and living) no matter how much this shit hurts and destroys and kills our souls and each other.


havestrength said...

so i want you to invite you to be apart of my new blog. you're BB. see if you're interested...i'm emailing you now.

it would be a post once a month--so that between the four of us we'd post one a week.

if you don't want to/can't, i understand.


poetic.rhetoric said...

who are you? you intrigue me... I manage to stumble across your blog... when I should be working.... and I feel like reading it sometimes, makes me look myself in the face......

hope you don't mind