Time to listen.Posted: June 10, 2020
I tend to talk a lot. Sometimes I talk so much, and about such banal things (seitan sounds like SATAN! Bwaahahahaha) that I forget what a privilege it is to be able to talk – to be taken seriously, even when what is being said is lighthearted.
Black lives matter. Let’s get that right out of the way: it has to be said because it hasn’t been a guaranteed case in my country for…possibly ever. The murder of Philando Castile was my wakeup call – and yet, I allowed myself to get distracted. Why? Because that’s privilege. I don’t have to think about it all the time.
Except that I do. I should. I must. We must. Regardless of what crummy allies most of us, myself included, have been in the past, we need to decide what kind of a country we want to live in right now. I don’t want to live in a country engaged in a slow genocide of Black people. Because what else do you call it when liberal white ladies know they can get their way by calling the cops on a peaceful Black birdwatcher and putting him in fear of his life? What else do you call it when police whose department already had their man busts down a random Black medic’s door and shoot her straight the fuck to death? What do you call it when many police departments across this nation cannot be sued for wrongful death?
What do you call it when they know they’re being filmed and they kill anyway? Impunity? Implicit permission?
I call it blindness. Mine, particularly. I was content to believe that history was arching toward justice, slowly yet unstoppably, driven by good people and my own individual occasional participation in protests and support of racial justice library programming. I didn’t listen to the people who were saying that justice wasn’t happening. I was complacent.
So the first thing that changes is that I abandon this tacit idea, this racist idea, that I can ignore Black people when they say that there is something wrong because “something” is surely being done. Second, I stop ignoring the past. Greenwood and Fred Hampton don’t count as water under a bridge to utopia. A nation that forgets its sins recommits, and what we have forgotten is an ocean, deep and cold and justly furious. In a nation this obsessed with criminality, you’d think that fear of breaking the golden rule would keep us nicely in line. Too bad the people we primarily punish aren’t the ones whose demographics hold any power.
Finally, I listen, for once in my goddamn life. I throw a little money at bail funds and blare my horn at protests, but mostly I read and I listen and I read and I listen. And in November I will vote, but until then, I cannot be complacent anymore. There is no more time to lose.