When my own words will not suffice

I’ve been fairly quiet on twitter these last few days. I’ve posted my share of retweets to the mix and have added next to nothing of my own commentary.

The bulk of the tweets in my feed are tagged #BlackLivesMatter, #Notthistime, #EricGarner, #ICantbreathe, #NotjustFerguson or #Ferguson. There is outrage, disbelief, comparative analysis, related storytelling, protest coverage. Images and video offer snapshots of the movement in progress. Real life episodes of micro and macro aggressions are shared through the hashtag #alivewhileblack. The educhatter is still going on and it feels muted, like it’s just not quite important enough to merit the same kind of attention.

So I invest in reading. I read op-eds from top journalists Charles Blow and Ta-Nehisi Coates, I study the retweet offerings of @funnymonkey, @tressiemc, @mdawriter and Jason @jybuell. I find information on everything from how Grand Juries work (or don’t work) to advice on how to address these burning topics with students to reasons why America finds itself in this pitiful state, still so deeply divided along racial lines.

At the end of the day, there is little tangible relief. The barbed comments that appear in response to a well argued opinion piece remind me that online media are not safe for everyone. The video clips of protesters clashing with police remind me that police use of force is widely understood as a means of keeping the peace. How I feel about all this is not the point. The devastation that lingers and touches every aspect of American society is.

The devastation that lingers is not of our property. The devastation that lingers is in our heads and hearts and it is painful. When we need to claim that indeed #BlackLivesMatter, the devastation is already visible and how deeply it runs becomes increasingly apparent. We keep saying it over and over, #BlackLivesMatter because the devastation that lingers is evidence to the contrary.

My spirit is so much more inclined towards optimism and thinking positively.

Yet in order to even contemplate where I will start to act and begin to counteract even a sliver of the devastation, I must see it first for what it is: pervasive, pernicious and enduring.

Boston Black and Making Sense of Ferguson

I read this article after I read this post and my devastation is growing.
Race in America is not my preferred topic of discourse and then it becomes inevitable. In order to process what is happening, what continues to happen and what appears to have no end in sight, I brood and I write.
On the other hand, while visiting the Boston Children’s Museum yesterday I experienced a wonderful thing: a positive validation of my identity as an African American. In an exhibit entitled Boston Black, I found examples of the black culture I grew up in presented in a way that was inviting, informative and engaging. What amazed me more than anything else was my response. I genuinely felt moved at finding my lived experience reflected in a mainstream museum space.

And yet, the events in Ferguson overshadow any warm fuzzy feelings I was having about my museum encounter. Reading sentences like: “America is not for Black people.” (Greg Howard). Or

The police mantra is “to serve and to protect.” But with black folks, we know that’s not the mantra. The mantra for many, many officers when dealing with black people is apparently “kill or be killed.”

(Brittney Cooper). These sentiments unfortunately resonate with me. Following the #Iftheygunnedmedown hashtag on Twitter deepens the impact with visual reminders of how mainstream media’s involvement is everything but impartial. It saddens and disturbs me that I cannot feel more optimistic about what the future holds for this country I grew up in.
As I continue to read the many views on understanding the ongoing assault against black men in America, I cannot help wondering whose voices are missing in this conversation? Where will we find the antidote to the increasing militarization of police forces across the country? Who is responsible for the protection of basic human rights of citizens in this country?
And why does that appear less and less clear in our black communities?
P