Presence with the Struggle, Our Legacy and with Me
I currently exist in a painful struggle. Racial trauma and fatigue have been here, but combined with a pandemic, this is something else. Things are similar, yet different — familiar yet strange. A disorienting combination of panic, confusion and pain.
I’ve been holding the intention of honestly connecting to myself. Listening to my body and noticing the tensions that regularly build up. Acknowledging the extent to which I’m constantly holding my breath. I’m listening to my emotions and moving away from pain. I’m holding the intention to observe without judgement, and hold with compassion.
To truly be connected is to open the gate for all those challenging feelings that are usually muted or pushed under the rug. All the things we might cut ourselves off from for the sake of survival or for the comfort and convenience of those around us. The waves of sadness and the depths of grief, all of the things that are regularly overwhelming.
I started naming these painful emotions with some people — none of whom were Black — and they urgently wanted to skip past the hard stuff. They struggled to sit with, be present for and just hold this complication and this pain.They wanted to wish for a world where I could opt out of violence, or move on to another feeling, or find some quick solution. None of which served me as I live in an unavoidable violence or helped me process my emotions. They wanted to dream of a world where I do not have to carry any racial responsibility, but that is not the world that I live in. I can’t just turn things off and it all just disappears.
No, I am not single-handedly responsible for holding the humanity of Breonna Taylor and demanding/ensuring justice for her and all of our degraded and violently dehumanized and murdered people. I am not the one who perpetuated this violence, I am not the one whose job it is to hold the perpetrators accountable. Except that in a system that works against us unless WE push it to do otherwise, I do have to bear witness and I do have a role to play. This is not about some abstract “other” — my love, survival, community and humanity are all wrapped up in the dehumanization and murder of my fellow Black folk. Every day, I’m fighting for me, and for we, and yet, I can’t fight forever. And this is the crux of the struggle — walking the line between my capacity, my humanity, this trauma and responsibility.
Managing The Responsibility
I feel sick when all I see is trauma.
I feel sick when I see no possibility.
It makes the world close in on me.
When is it OKto look away from the violence I live in every day?
When is it OKto choose possibility and love?
When is it not shirking my responsibility?
When is it not betraying my legacy?
When is it OK to not tamp down my hopes and dreams?
When is it OK to believe?
I get tired of being vigilant.
Sometimes I want to believe.
That we can have more than cruelty and inhumanity….
The holes will still be there, they never hide for long.
Please tell me,
When can I breathe?
Let me sleep. Whisper it to the world.
Let me peace. Quiet it to the world.
Let me grieve. Cry it to the world.
Let me be. Breathe it to the world.