We Keep Dyin: How I Maintain Hope in a Shit Storm

My heart hurts and my spirit is bruised for the disregard of my people’s lives. Their very existence proves to be of no consequence not only to the powers that be, but from everyday people who are our neighbors, teachers, and so called friends.

The stories of murder are disturbing in themselves, but the comments posted on the articles are even more disturbing. They are a clear indication of the ignorance and hatred that still exists. Even more painful–and I am using the word PAINFUL here to stress to white peeps that this is not about my anger, justifiable aggression and hostility….nope, this is about the pain caused by these acts. It HURTS. The hurt festers and turns to rage, but racism’s first strike is painful. A systematic dismantling of our dignity, our potential, our humanity; I am no longer human, I am a manifestation of the oppressor’s hoarding of power and control. Ok, back to my original point. What is so painful, is that these crimes remind me that nothing I do, accomplish, contribute or intend is of any importance. My black body, face, and presence is always a negative. I am never welcome, and I am never wanted. Ever. Even if I thrive, I must be reminded of my inferiority, or that my accomplishments are the result of the oppressor allowing or permitting it. Not that I earned it, deserved it or am worthy of success. My shit’s just by chance or by generous gift. And worst, a pathology of fear torments and taunts, driving us to equip our babies with battle plans and exit strategies instead of tools of possibility and real promise.

My son is 10. He has already been told to step lightly and be undetectable by police. He has already been victimized racially at school (when he was 6 no less), and his parents’ advice will always be imbued with the nuances of keeping his ass alive, out of jail, and unscathed by systemic racism. And this is the journey of black parents. Yes, all parents wish to protect and nurture their children. But to be a true ally, you must acknowledge and respect that raising a black child demands a particular brand of precaution, warnings, and ultimately, relentless resilience and liberation.

It is this commitment to liberation that has helped me remain hopeful despite the reminders that we have only come so far. It is a real and enduring yoke that we are collateral damage in America (and abroad), and that reality scrapes and agitates my sensibilities, even in the face of a good day. I won’t go so far as to say, and still I rise, but I will say I choose to remain IN this world and not OF it.

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.
–Robert Louis Stevenson

I do not accept the world telling me to just be thankful.
I choose not to be so busy buying up shit that I forget I still don’t have what I really want.
I do not embrace the oppressor’s perspective of my own people. I won’t fear, isolate from or demonstrate hatred of myself in pursuit of peace over justice.
I do not accept the media’s assertion of who we are; only God is the author of my people’s possibility.

My soul is alive, motherfuckers. And ain’t no one killing it.

-Tacoma mural by Kenji Stoll and Chris Jordan


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