14 July 2016

on silence and rotten teeth

we spent last week in southern florida. floated on our backs in the ocean, dug our feet deep in the sand, scoured the beach for shells, lined them all up on the floor of the porch each night. we stayed up late, watched a hundred movies, slept in most mornings, ate food that was not good for us. hamburgers, ice cream, slurpees from 7-eleven. we unplugged from the world, mostly, plunged ourselves deep into vacation mode. vacation mode: that magical, guiltless place. the one where you're actually allowed to sleep in, eat food that is probably not good for you, float on your back in the ocean for inordinate amounts of time, collect too many seashells.

that's where we were when alton sterling was killed. when philando castile's life was taken from him. when five dallas police officers were shot. we didn't know it when it happened, we were in another world. when I finally heard the news, I tried hard to put it out my mind lest the remains of my vacation bubble burst into a million tiny pieces. I didn't want to think about it, didn't want to believe what I already knew to be true. that these unthinkable, unspeakable deaths continue to happen in our country over and over and over again. in this, the year 2016. as I stood in the gulf waters one last time I thought, alton sterling will never stand in the ocean like this. philando castile will never float on his back in blue waters and stare up into a wide open sky.

on the second day of vacation, my tooth began to hurt. which wasn't a surprise, really, given a small piece of it had broken off a month earlier. I've been putting off going to the dentist for years. as the pain continued throughout the week, I tried to mask it with maximum doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen but deep down, I knew. it wasn't going to get better. I could mask the pain a dozen different ways, take enough to get me through vacation but what was left of the tooth would continue to rot. and if I continued to pretend it wasn't there, it would surely become a bigger problem. unless, of course, I did something about it.

and this is where we are in this country, folks. this is where we've been for years. decades, centuries. the systemic racism that plagues this country is a stinking, rotting tooth. it's more than a tooth, it's a mouthful. and it will not change until everyone, and when I say everyone, I mean every white person, acknowledges this. even then, it's not enough just to say the tooth is rotten, actions need to be taken or things will never, ever change. there is no room for silence, friends. no room for apathy.

voices need to be used. hands, talents, faith, money, whatever we have to give. white folks, we need to use our privilege. talk to our families, our friends, our kids. for the love of God, we need to talk to our kids. we need to talk about it when it's uncomfortable, when it's awkward, when it's inconvenient. and we need to keep talking. more importantly, we need to back the talking with doing.

there is not one struggle in this country right now more important than this. not one. if, like me, you don't know where to start, aren't exactly sure how to move beyond words into genuine action, start by reading this.

black lives matter.
black lives matter.
black lives matter.

11 comments:

  1. This is perfect and so important.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautifully written, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is so very important. This is everything

    ReplyDelete
  4. So true. Thank you for posting this and articulating something so sensitive and crucial, so well. xo

    ReplyDelete
  5. Shruti here - already love your words and so happy to see your politics are so on point. I work at the ACLU so if you need I can send you links to more resources that can help to keep having these difficult conversations with people who don't get it.

    Also -- a note my friend shared during the BLM march at Union Square at the height of the incidents:

    "Yesterday I started marching at Union Square with a rainbow colored Black Lives Matter sign I put together for Pride.
    I kept marching because at 26th Street I saw a black woman crying as she watched us walk by.
    I kept marching because at 42nd Street a man told me to change my sign to all lives matter.
    I kept marching because at 71st Street the cops started threatening us with arrest and set up the third of seven blockades to try and block our path.
    I kept marching because at 127th Street we continued to get cars honking and people started moving out of the house and into the streets.
    I kept marching from Union Square to Harlem yesterday.
    I will keep marching, chanting, educating, sharing, listening, supporting, lifting and loving because Black Lives Matter."

    <3

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm so far behind on my favorite reading this summer... but yes, yes, yes. Our horrible no-good year in Louisiana was truly a gift in so many ways because all five of us experienced things that make it impossible to ignore the rot.

    ReplyDelete
  7. wonderful, stumbled onto this and really appreciate your words

    ReplyDelete
  8. i'm so glad you wrote this, so glad. There is no room for silence at all. x

    ReplyDelete
  9. thanks for posting this. its time to talk about these things and time to stop fearing our blog posts won't be pretty or that they may scare people away.

    ReplyDelete