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.
01 July 2016
err, 156 seconds. because june needed more than 60 seconds. because, summer. so maybe I'll shove this little film in the freezer with the strawberry freezer jam I made this year, the jam we're trying so hard not to eat right now because we know how good it will taste in january. maybe I'lll grab it six months from now when we're squarely lodged in the middle of january. maybe that's what I'll do.
(more lovely summer films over at the sixty second photograph, a project I've been participating in since the beginning of the year)
(music is swim team by arms and sleepers and I love them, I love them a lot)