Truth is slippery in certain folks’ hands. I say
I’m looking for truth and what I mean is that I’m expecting
an insight I can connect with,
a plausibility that makes strong common sense.
My ears are open for that deep, drumming undertone that I felt before I could actually hear it.
I long for one clear explanation
a sermon on the mount to relieve all my worries that I might be
out of my mind and yours, too.
Ed Yong writes that America Is Trapped In A Pandemic Spiral and he’s correct it seems to me.
I want to clap, say Amen and ‘Truer words were rarely spoken”
He produces a laundry list of reasons why America, home of the brave, is marching resolutely in unwitting pursuit of its own demise. Like ants in a circular death march. The comparison is apt and painful.
In a country that seems to prefer off/on switches rather than dimmers or dials for EVERYTHING including thought patterns, it makes sense that
“Showiness is often mistaken for effectiveness.”
“Fixing systemic problems is more difficult than spewing moralism, …”
“…we started working our way through a serial monogamy of solutions, and, like spiraling army ants, marched forward with no sense of the future beyond the next few footsteps.”
That feels truthful. full of truth.
From where I sit and where I stand
I can know what it means to live in a country where the virus is managed, where health care is part of the package, where a pandemic federal response exists and can take effect. It’s not perfect but at least we know what works. And those are the things that get done.
Meanwhile, I read.
This time about feminism. Not in the abstract, not in the upper echelons of corporate management, no, feminism that is much closer to home, the kind I grew up around, the kind my mother and grandmother and aunts raised me in: Hood Feminism. A survival and every-day feminism of poor folks, working folks, queer and trans folks, Black, brown and Indigenous folks. I was familiar with academic feminism, with ‘we need more women CEOs’ feminism which felt like yeah-I-get-it-but-that’s-not-me feminism.
Reading Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism feels like a homecoming. She takes on everything from gun violence to housing to health care to eating disorders and explains how white feminism has managed to sidestep or purposefully limit the scope of concern about topics that affect a much higher proportion of women in the US and the world.
Over and over again, Mikki Kendall illustrates all the reasons mainstream (read white and middle class) feminism has failed women who do not fit that demographic, particularly women of color and poor women.
“…you can’t “lean in” when you can’t earn a legal living wage and you still need to feed yourself and those who depend on you.” (p. 36)
“Why is it that we’re more inclined to create programs to combat obesity than ones that meaningfully address hunger?” (p. 37)
“We expect marginalized voices to ring out no matter what obstacles they face, and then we penalize them for not saying the right thing in the right way.” (p.134)
“…the reality is that white, mainstream feminism has to confront the idea that the power to do harm rests in women too.” (p. 165)
“The fact is that harm-reducing votes of marginalized people will never be enough to outweigh the stupidity of white people who vote for racism at their own expense.” (p. 183)
So much truth!
I call it a felt truth. An undercurrent truth, the kind that runs through arteries – makes a heart keep beating. Experience truth.
Black girl woman experience truth. American truth. Slippery truth. Threatened-to-be-ignored-dismissed-overlooked Black girl woman American truth.
When Ed Yong is describing the American hankering for normalcy, the insistence on either/or framing, a media and public resistance to embracing necessary complexity, I hear reality speaking. I recognize the commanding voice of grade school film strips and pledge-of-allegiance-first holiday ceremonies. I know that America he’s talking about. I am a product.
Like most folks I want to believe that I will know truth when I see it.
For now I’d rather be honest.
Quantities of truth have not saved us so far. There’s more truth than we know what to do with. We’re not acting on the truths of climate destruction (we can really dispense with “change” by now). We’re not acting on the truth that rampant inequality is a societal design feature not a bug. So many truths!
Qualitative truth? Is that a thing? Should it be?
Truth with a quality that causes us to bend, to stretch, to reach, to remember.
These truths, the ones I feel and have felt, that have kept and keep me alive. I’m holding onto those and finding mirrors where I can.
Truth doubled makes me braver.