What Can I Even Say?

27 Jul

wendys back writing-2I haven’t written here–not since my post on Prince’s passing.While I still lament the loss of our Purple genius, my mourning is not what has kept me from writing. Instead its been my decision over the past four or five months really, to instead of writing about it, just live my experiences with race–the thing I most think about in my day-to-day existence. (Yes, white folks, we have a race, too–well, we’re all one human race, but, shout out to Debby Irving,  to say race, that made up construct, is not just something other people have, and we don’t.) I’ve spent so much time going to this talk, that play, reading that book, having that conversation, all the while, feverishly taking notes so that I could write about my experience afterward.

Only thing is, when you are at a play called Every 28 Hours, a compilation of fifty one-minute plays on race, the title reflecting the controversial statistic that every 28 hours a black person is killed by the police–and you are feverishly taking notes–you are not fully experiencing the play.  When you are at a panel on community policing, and once again, you take notes throughout the entire talk and Q & A, you are not absorbing the conversation, not taking in the awkward pauses, the hesitant, guilt-ridden questioner, and the patient responder to micro-aggression-laced statements. So I put down my pen and my notebook and stopped writing.

Writing was replaced with action. I took, and continue to take time, in my never-ending quest for knowledge and understanding. to educate myself on the history of slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights, housing discrimination, and the overall systemic and structural racism, or white supremacy, that American was built on, and which continues to perpetuate a lack of justice and equality for black people in this country.  I still have a long way to go in terms of educating myself.

Of course all of this seems like a privileged thing my white skin privilege affords me the opportunity to do.  Oh, I don’t feel like writing about race, so I won’t. Yet, the self-examination that comes with awakening to what my white privilege has afforded me and my ancestors, and all white people in this country, continues to be my biggest lesson, and perhaps, the most important one.

After all, it is going to take white people to be willing to give up all the perks that come with white supremacy, all the resources that go with it, like access to economic opportunities to accumulate wealth, equal educational resources,  safe, aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods, and an equitable justice system.  It is going to take white people to break down the systems and structures that put black people at such a disadvantage for so many years.

And, what about the sociological and psychological damage that has been done to black people for centuries, and is again brought to a boiling point in front of the American public’s eyes thanks to the advent of social media and the ability to videotape the numerous unjustified killings of black men, women and boys, mostly at the hands of police officers? All of this disheartens me, and I know so many people across the country are also shaken to the core about the events of the last few weeks: deaths that follow on the heels of far too many similar deaths. And a new added feature, the killing of police officers.

Still, it’s hard to know what to say, what matters.  I know Black Lives Matter. Yet, when I hear people say otherwise, read posts on social media the day after Alton Sterling was killed by police, that say, “…if someone is going to threaten a police officer with a gun, they should be prepared for that officer to react…” I’m incredulous at how they all seem to be written from the same script.  I’m incredulous, but I’m not, because it happens over and over.  I’m not incredulous. I’m heart broken.

But, so what, right? I’m a white person who says she’s trying to educate herself, speak up, and who is devastated by the devaluing of Black lives, and the unwillingness of some white people to not see the truth, or understand the context of the conditions Black people live in and how they evolved. I don’t share this to say I’m one of the “good ones,” or that I’m saving anybody. Because I’m not either of those things.

And I don’t want to be preachy or soapboxy, but it is my job, and I believe the job of white people to stand up and do something about structural racism, and to speak to the personal aggressions that happen to Black people on a daily basis. To not be silent.  To not say or do anything when Black people are suffering so, is abhorrent.

I’m still learning how to be a part of the change, and I hope more and more white people will want to do the right thing and do the same.  As I write all of this, it makes me realize that I trudged through these sentences, one more clunky than the next, much like my feelings that I’ve still been unable to verbalize or express on the page.

One of the things that has helped me to formulate my feelings about the recent weeks of tragic deaths, are the daily Facebook poems I create from my Friends’ Status Updates.  The poems reflect what is going on in the world in the moment, and with a timeline that was flooded with people’s anguished sentiments over the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the police officers in Dallas, and Baton Rouge, I was able to weave together the many suffering voices into poems that re-framed each day’s tragedy.  While friends have encouraged me to make a book out of the four years worth of daily poems I’ve created, sadly I could make an entire book of poems culled just from the unjustified deaths of black men, women and boys, beginning with Trayvon Martin and ending…where?

Here are several from the past few weeks:


nothing to
see here folks,
just another
black man
slaughtered by
the popo
in amerikkka,
police kill
black people.
they just
kill them
the only
thing new is
the video

blood is
pon ya shoulders
-how does
it feel
to take
a life
of another?

I’m confused
shouldn’t the
police officer’s life
or the life of
another person
be at risk
before using
deadly force?
so many shades
of eric garner here
this shit
breaks my heart
I pray my
future child
never has to
sob on tv,
because his
father was killed
by the police

I’m a middle-class-born,
white guy. If I
broke a law,
got approached
by police officers,
got knocked down,
struggled and
seemed to
resist arrest,
I would not
have been
shot dead
through the chest
a father,
a husband,
a human-being,
loving deeply tonight,
for those who mourn,
those who face
systematic injustice,
I hear you, I
see you, I
love you.
we will
stand with you

dear america
we. are. done.
rip Alton

Thanks to: Karen Oldham-Kidd, Marco A. McWilliams, Travis Hunter, Manny J. Wright (Buju song lyrics), Ken Harge, Stacey Patton, Michael Martin, Dionna Jeanette Blocker, Ryan Stevenson, Black Girls Rock, Shannon Rosa, Ari Brisbon


For Philando Castile

woke up to this.
crying again
before work
literally, before
the ink dried
on my
‪#‎altonsterling‬ post
this happened
have a
broken tail light – you die (‪#‎philandocastile‬)
these shootings.
I have
no words.
my soul aches.
and once again
I was overcome
by the reality
that no matter
how much we
contribute and
build america,
our lives
do not matter
land of the
free, but we
have to
shed tears
and live in
constant fear
because we
have black brothers,
black nephews,
black children
“we love
our children…
they’re brutalized.
it’s too much…
it’s too much.”
I want
to holler,
want to scream,
want to cry…
I am raising a
strong young male
his race
is ‪#‎human‬
when I get
pulled over…
will I die uncle?
only some
will understand
my pain.
I cry out
to God,
to keep
my son safe
oh, my very heart
is just so
very sad
to learn this
…as her
4 year
old daughter
who witnessed
it all screams
“I’m here
for you mommy.”

Thanks to: Ericka R. Gomes, Marco A. McWilliams, Tory Bullock, Shemika L. Moore, Allyson Brathwaite-Gardner, Desiree Mckinght, The Root, (D.L. Hughley quote), Charles M. Blow, Korlu Young, Ari Brisbon, Kym Williams, Sherry Gordon, Ken Harge



“it always feels
like in america,
it’s like, if you
take a stand
for something,
you automatically
are against
something else.
it’s such a
strange world
to be in.”
praying for dallas
killing police officers
was/is not
the goal of
the warranted frustrations
of so many
praying to the
true righteous
judge for justice

in times of trouble
I find solace
in music,
such is the
power of song
in my world
I hope
we are able
to rise above,
to return to
song and
dance and
to return
to a world
where minds
are stretched
by creation
and not destruction

even if you
have to
prop yourself
up today,
get through it,
keep your
head high
and spirit up
let’s us
live in kindness,
faith and hope.
it’s so much
better than
hate and violence,
don’t you think?

Thanks to: HuffPost Black Voices (Trevor Noah quote), Shemika L. Moore, Manny J. Wright, Ezemu Whitney, Ian Lacombe, Asha Tarry, Miriam Gilbert


As I stumble to find my voice again, and to say something that matters, I invite all of you to please share your thoughts and feelings here.  At a time like this, we need hope and solidarity, positivity, and action, to move things forward, to make things just.  We need love.

Thank you.











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