With this being a blog about race, one may think that I’m late on responding to the perpetual violence that has been projected onto Black people most recently. I’ve been silent to the many lives that have been lost/ assaulted since Michael Brown. My silence isn’t due to lack of care, but the absolute opposite. While I can deal with anger or frustration through scathing phrases, sadness is a private emotion I can articulate only once I’ve processed it. Currently, it’s difficult to discuss whats been going on with loved ones, let alone a blog. We’re all hurting, but, again, words aren’t medicinal enough to carry our pain. My best mode for healing, so far, has been to read other people’s words. To read the words of people who experienced/ fought against/ survived more difficult, yet similar, situations.
“To be a Negro in this country is really– Ralph Ellison has said it very well– never to be looked at. What white people see when they look at you is not visible. What they do see when they do look at you is what they have invested you with. What they have invested you with is all the agony, and pain, and the danger, and the passion, and the torment– you know sin, death, and hell– of which everyone in this country is terrified.” — James Baldwin, from an interview by Stud Terkel in 1961
Baldwin’s words are heavy, but boldly relevant. His usage of “white people” simply equates to American society, for me. And the death that he says gets projected onto Black people… onto people of color… is sadly, too relevant 54 years later. We are only visible when we are seen as a threat. And then, there are deathly repercussions for our visibility.
I’ve attempted to provide words for the pain I’m feeling for young adults in Ferguson, for the suburban kids in Texas, for praying churchgoers in Charlotte, for the communities that are mourning… but sometimes we simply need silence…silence from the noise of recounting the violence, silence from nonsensical opinions of why things aren’t as bad as they seem, silence so that we can hear the voice within each of us that will tell us how to pick up the pieces.