Sunday, June 7, 2020

grief intersects

over 100,000 people have died in the United States, and the president sits bunkered in the White House while rebellion takes the streets.  the intersections of grief from the loss of so many loved ones to Coronavirus, disproportionately impacting black and brown communities, with grief from the loss of more black people to police brutality, captured on film and replayed millions of times on the internet have the people out in the streets.  the rage is so guttural and so deep and i hate that white people are talking about the looting and property damage, when i feel like burning it all down.  white supremacy must finally die and black lives must finally matter in the US, for the first time.

at the crest of the grief right now for me is Erin.  my dear friend and helluva principal was biking around the Bronx getting laptops to her students, was visiting the homes of students who had lost someone to COVID, and lost her life while fighting for others.  she gave everything she had to our small Bronx neighborhood school, and it cost her breath.  we can't breathe.

i can't breathe.  George Floyd echoed these words, spoken by Eric Garner and heard by the world in 2014, and again in 2020.  his memorial was yesterday and my eyes were so raw from crying that i couldn't tune in for too long.  i'm so tired of people's lives being taken so needlessly, everyday.  i'm so tired of white people who keep saying "why is it always a race thing?" or "i can't see color", but i need to find the energy and the patience to do the work.  it is my job.  i cannot walk away from this.  BIPOC (black indigenous people of color) do not get to walk away from this and i must shoulder some of the burden to take some weight off of others.  we are bound in the same garment of destiny, and it is with you that i look up to the sky and see an anti-racist future.

please, sit with your rage.  sit with your grief.  move because your grief compels you to not sit still, but not to avoid facing yourself.  if there is one thing i've learned is that you have to cry, rage, scream, collapse, so that you can create, re-envision, dismantle and rise.  it is similar with unlearning privilege and fragility.  you have to sit in it, be uncomfortable -- but save those tears for later, esp white women -- empathize without centering yourself.  you will never understand or be able to live the experience of a black person, but you can listen, you can hear, you can prioritize their feelings and health and well-being.  it is not about you.

the protests in the past two weeks have warmed the fires in my heart.  i struggle to find my place on the front lines, because of the pandemic and immuno-suppressed people i love, because of my anxiety, because i don't want to put my children's health at risk, but i hope that my words and dissemination of information is helping other people connect.  i am an educator, and i hope that i have used my minuscule platform to share information, books, reading lists, lessons and other ways to bring social justice work home, to the front stoop or the kitchen table or wherever you're doing your learning these days.  i have stolen a corner of my kids' bedroom to write my manifestos and take Zoom calls.  i am still organizing, and participating, trying to show up as loudly as i can.

how can you show up?  how can you interrogate the racism you find in yourself, and in your life?  do some writing, thinking, talking and then, most importantly, take action.

with lots of love,

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