It seems like lately every day there is more and more examples of racism and murder perpetrated by police officers against African Americans and other POC. It is gut wrenching what this system is built upon, and the lies that are freely told when it comes to this issue. How the victims of these crimes are portrayed as perpetrators. How the police are protected even in situations where there should be justice. How there is silence surrounding bringing any sort of accountability and change to training and the system itself. And people are DYING. Every day. Fathers and mothers and friends. People who have done nothing wrong other than being born with a certain skin color. The videos that I have seen over the last couple of years are horrific. There is literally no “right” way to behave without getting shot. People killed for holding their hands up, for following “orders” and for being calm. It is sickening.
4 years ago I was pulled over for a DUI. I was drunk. Very Drunk. I had been suicidal for over a year and was pretty much out that night to get into a crash or kill myself somehow. I was not in my right mind in any sense and when I was pulled over and it was clear I was going to be arrested, I decided to provoke the police officers. I was very verbally abusive to them. I was physically abusive to them. I wiggled out of my handcuffs and wanted things to end badly. The cops were so calm and relaxed and cool about my behavior. No guns drawn. No indication that I was in any sort of danger.
When I think about this experience, that I was actually committing a crime and should have been physically subdued in some way, I know that I benefit from a privilege others do not have. I was a real danger to others. I was not coming from work just trying to go home, or on my way back from school just like any other day, but there are people in this country that experience the fear that any time they leave the house for any reason, regardless of how well they “behave” regardless as to whether or not they are doing the “right” thing, they can be killed. Murdered by civil servants who are paid with taxes. For no reason other than they are black. I want to believe that we as a country are in a place where we can change this system, but for that to happen, we as a country have to acknowledge that this country was built on murder. That it was built upon slavery and oppression. That there is so much we haven’t healed from. We are a traumatized nation, and like any trauma, the more you suppress it, the more it manifests in other areas. I want to believe that this country has the potential to be better but that thought gets less and less possible the more lack of reaction I see from our governments and those in power to change this NOW. There are citizens of this country who can’t afford to wait. Children who are taught from the age of 5 that they can be shot by a police officer the moment they step outside. This is not the kind of place I want to live.
We have a long way to go. A lot of work to do, but we are seeing for the first time where the starting point is. It is ugly and horrific and true.
Becca was the first to get a boyfriend. This meant the race had started. No one wanted to be last to the finish line. She and I found laps that would hold us rigid, but she always had the wisdom to leave them guessing. We wavered discovering our new bodies like butterflies with wet wings fresh from emerging. Hormones propelled us with stories of sex we would have someday, until then, we were too afraid to fuck our hearts. For two years I didn’t speak to her. When we both claimed a pimple-faced seventh grader. I figured it was all fun and games as long as no one stayed attached, but she took his hand and left. In those days, best friends were the ones you wanted to destroy. The pull and push of finding your power through tearing it from the hands of another. Stumbling to a throne dragging corpses of the bitches you fought to get there. No one taught us how to hold our sisters like they were precious. How their shine did not dim our own. How to share the conversation and the eyes and the mouths of the boys. How to show ourselves we never even needed the boys to see our own beauty. How the mirror was not the enemy of our bodies, or how the race was never about winning. It was about staying alive long enough to realize we were only ever running around in circles.
You can stand with your palms open
Waiting for the Universe
To slice your pulse
And you will say
You knew the cut was coming
A mile away
But this heart
Is still showing you
It is stronger
Than your own destruction.
Chaos is not what you were made for
It is the mess that provides
You the tools to forge a machete
To cut your own path
Through the midnight that calls to you
Every star in the sky
Is just a puncture to let the light in
And if you look hard enough
You can see your stories in the shapes
That surround you.
If you are silent enough
You can hear your post signs
They may be in a language you
But you are sifting the significance
Of the sounds
As they vibrate inside you
And learning to translate
I am standing on
A compass that is always recalibrating.
Most days, the direction is at the mercy
Of a spinning disk
With only so much control
To take one step at a time
To turn toward a horizon
That might be rising or setting
And I am never sure exactly which.
The only thing I know
Is how to move my feet
And hope for the best
And when the best doesn’t come
Hope there is something better
They say god closes a door and opens a window
But when you live in a house made of glass
Telling the difference between the two
Is the difference between giving up
And starting over.
I am ready
Sick of sitting
For my chance
To step into the lightening
And I want the storm to come
And show me how
To bend the clouds
To my will.
You can stand with your palms open
And feel with every breath
The river inside you.
The fire that moves
In your flesh.
And you can tell yourself
That you know where
The veins are leading
But as long as you’re living
You’re building the map
So much has happened in the last couple of weeks that I am feeling beyond fragmented and desperately trying to get re-centered and grounded, but I now realize it is a process that might take longer time than I had anticipated.
-We bought a house: It’s a great house and has land and is more than we had dreamed, but it is strange sliding into “homeowner” as one of my new roles. The place doesn’t feel like home yet, but it will with time.
-I need to get into a regular practice again: Stay tuned because I WILL be doing a poem a day for the month of November. These bi-anual writing intensives are so essential to my growth as writer and my grateful for them.
-I am teaching workshops with teen girls: My non-profit is moving steadily ahead and I am so excited I get to work with such talented women. Seriously one day I will write a post that just talks about this because it is so inspiring to be around this kind of creativity.
-My birthday is on Monday. I’m going to be 32. I don’t know how I feel about that yet.
-The fall is such a hard time for me. Lots of sad memories in the next 2 months, so I am trying to recognize that my biology will be on high alert and to be extra kind with myself the next few weeks.
-I want to feel grounded again because I have TONS of ideas and projects and things I want to focus on, but I realize that the healthiest thing for me to do is just be slow, not take on too much, and take care of myself. There is always enough time to everything that needs to be done.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”— Charles Darwin –
Rape Joke by Patricia Lockwood