You’re losing it. You’re slipping. Your attention is waning. Things are getting political and we have to begin debates about what “defunding” really means. The Instagram feeds are no longer a black square. They’re a sea of colourful images again. Artwork and flowers and cheese and you’re getting lost in it. And I am too. Embarrassingly, I am too. Last week I bought Layla F. Saad’s book and Ibram X. Kendi’s and told myself I’d devour them with a fervour unmatched since I discovered the promised land of books. But, then it got hot. And I lost my good pen which I need for my best journal. And my dog was going through some things and then he even ate my antiracism homework journal and I just couldn’t, you see. I just couldn’t do all the things and do them well; it’s all much. Just so, so, so much.
And I’m hearing the same refrain from my friends. My kid needs me. I have to start getting ready to back to work (phase 2 COVID y’all). I’m embarrassed of what I’ll find out about myself. I have so many emails to return. The list goes on and, you know what, the lists are valid. And so I don’t know what to do about those lists? Kids need attention. My dog was not driving himself to the vet. Maybe in a couple of years but we’re not there yet. Emails need answering. Work is a real thing. But so is everything that has had us all up in arms. Naked injustice. Brutal, weaponized and unchecked power. And those are not huge waves that crash over all of us and then eventually return and peacefully rejoin the ocean from which they came. They may do so for a time, but, that wave comes back and each time it does it is more brutal and terrifying in its power and its ability to wipe us all out.
I noticed even with my posts. Last week, my friend, the activist Dianne Bondy was sharing these posts with (as she calls them) her more than forty thousand “socials” and my posts were garnering hundreds of likes and an average of six hundred views each. There was a momentum that could be felt and it was born out in the numbers because, despite what Fuhrer Trump says, numbers don’t lie.
This week, posts along the same vein, shared with the same wide audience are barely breaking a hundred. Now, just to keep things straight, I don’t care about my numbers. I am the tiniest fish in the ocean of online writing and blogging. My plan (if it can be called a plan) was to have my audience return to an n of 10. Basically, my Mom plus nine other family and friends who read my stuff. Who cares? My concern is not that but rather that the allies who were invading, who were all set to join up and to go to war in the name of their fellow man are dropping out of the fight. Slowly, steadily, quietly and surely.
There was pandemonium at the protests last week thanks to a pandemic. People had the time for the veil to be lifted. They had the time to look at things and to see that video of George Floyd and to say no more. They were unable to have their heads turned by distraction. Hell, there is nowhere to go and hardly anything to look at. But, life is unfolding again, the pandemic is fading into the background. Patios are opening. Instagram is Instagrammier. So, instead of saying, “no more” the refrain is becoming “no more, maybe tomorrow. Next day at the latest”.
And you know what precious white people: that’s bullshit. That is straight up bullshit and I hang my head in shame as I write this because I am calling myself out too. I am tired. I am overwhelmed. I am developing a feeling of learned helplessness and each day that passes I’m saying, “no more today, maybe tomorrow” and that is a luxury I can afford but the black community cannot. Every time we want to look away, get distracted away, walk away, we have to remember: I can do that because I have a privilege someone else does not. And until they have the same privilege, I won’t look away, I won’t get distracted, I will walk on because “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”.
But it will only bend if we put all of our collective weight on it in a sustained and measured way. Sustained being the key. Emails have to get responded to. Kids and dogs need tending to. Lives and responsibilities that belonged to us have not disappeared in the face of this moral crisis. But this moral crisis is our responsibility too. It is our responsibility to, in the pie of privilege that we have, set aside a slice for justice. We remember to exercise, to take supplements, to drink water and breathe air for the betterment of our health, well, this will better our health too. Because when one person can’t breathe, none of us can breathe.
Dr. Cornel West has said that this movement “doesn’t need summer soldiers but all season love warriors.”. He went on to make the point that, yesterday, at George Floyd’s service, love was present. As George Floyd’s name rang up to the heavens, the black community sent him home on the wings of love and that, as Dr. West points out, is the black community’s ongoing offering. The black community’s calls are violence, hatred, oppression, segregation and their response is, most often, love.
Love is a verb. Action. Ongoing. Can we offer love, in the form of allyship and action, back to this community? We own everything and need to ask what are we willing to sell off for the greater good? Can we keep this not a political issue but a human one always thinking what is best for the humans involved? Can we sustain our efforts if we make space, reprioritize and treat our privilege as something we cannot opt out of sharing because it is not? We no longer have a choice. The answer has to be a resounding yes. Every. Single. Time. It can’t be a 24/7 gig. That’s unrealistic but we have to work, consciously and as much as we can, until we recognize and share our privilege as seamlessly as we check our cell phones.
We have to be conscious right now. Awake, alert, eyes fixed on the prize of a society we can all feel truly comfortable living in and that is a society which is truly just. And we have to keep working until true justice becomes such the norm that we don’t have to think about it anymore. We won’t ever have to think about it again. There will be no more guilt, no more shame, no more embarrassment about imbalanced privilege. All of this feels like it could take forever and it just might. But forever is found in an instant and an instant is found right here and now. So, dearest precious white people, let’s be right here and right now. Let’s say no more, right now. Not tomorrow or when we can get to it; right now. There is, and will never again be, a time like the present and there is simply no more time to waste.