It's Time For Us To Love A Little Harder
It’s been seventy-five days since 45 became president and somehow the country is still standing despite what many of us thought might happen. There’ve been some awful policies signed into effect, but I suppose that depends on your point of view. I have decided not to get into all of that on this particular post. Let’s just talk, okay? America is still the home that I love, no matter how frustrated I get with some of her directions. You are still my fellow citizens, whether you live down the street, in the next state over or across the country— you are still my neighbors. And I know this sounds crazy, but I still love all of you.
It’s been forty-three days since I wrote my last post. And let’s be clear: I don’t regret one word of that essay. Not one. Gone are the days when I wrote on the blog like some one dimensional, happy-go-lucky, dancing bear, here to titillate and stroke you for your reading pleasure. Fuck that. That girl was a menace, controlled by her own demons. If you fell in love with her because she gave you the warm and fuzzies, I’m sorry for your loss, but she’s dead.
That last post was an important transition for me as a blogger and writer. In this country, we live in a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy which impacts most black people in a negative way almost daily. That’s just a fact. It was high time I reacted to some of the ramifications of white supremacy in my writing here because ignoring it has not been good for any of us-- black, brown and white people-- especially for black people who, for decades, have felt social pressure to swallow their feelings in the face of ignorance and bigotry in our communities, in professional settings, in media and all other public arenas.
I imagine that phrase might sound like a harsh description to some whites because white supremacists are usually linked to skin heads and/or other white nationalist groups. But the fact is that white people dominate and control every major institution across the country and has since America’s beginnings. Non-whites and blacks have no controlling power in any of it: the banking industry, the schools, the government, the shipping industry, travel, grocers, media, entertainment, television, etc. You name it, we have no controlling interest in any of it.
So for me, the election of 45 felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back because the man inspired increased white terrorism against blacks and browns across the nation. But on the other hand, as crazy as this may also sound, 45’s election to the presidency was also a blessing in disguise because it woke so many of us up to some severe realities as Americans and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Some of you already know this, but I am an alcoholic who drank heavily for more than twenty-five years. Heavy consumption of alcohol over time, soaks the brain, warping and prohibiting normal brain function. Today, with almost seven years of sobriety under my belt, my brain’s functionality is still in the process of repairing and restoring, which basically means, the alcoholic fog is still lifting from my mind. I am still getting in touch with feelings I had resolutely tried to numb for more than twenty-five years. I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle, still waking up to a world where everything around me feels new and foreign.
Thank God for alcohol! Cause being black in America can too often feel like a shitty deal. So I have no regrets on that note. It was a good run and I had a blast. Oh yeah, sure, I made a mess of some choices in life but, thankfully, no one was severely hurt or killed— including me.
What I want to say today is, we can do this. We can heal together. We share a violent, dysfunctional and murderous past. Did you hear me? We share it. But we can move forward and get better together. How? you might ask. By doing our part in our separate corners of the world, that’s how. Don’t go back to sleep. If you’re here reading, it might be because like me, you haven’t given up hope for the future of our country.
For too long the majority of white people in our country have refused to participate in conversations about racial healing. I get it. Looking directly into the face of anything which might elicit shameful feelings can be hard. Who the hell wants to do that?! Pass the vodka or the wine please! Or pass the donuts or the chocolate or the bacon! I get it. But you and I both know that we can’t keep hiding from our demons and expect to live a good life. It just doesn’t work that way.
It’s time. The country is sizzling and popping with hurt, fear and frustration. It’s time. What’s your part? Your part is to love a little harder than you have been loving. I know you already love your family and friends. But you can push that love a little harder by starting conversations with your love-people about the racial tensions we’re all suffering under. Talking amongst each other can have a love-ripple effect, which might cause your loved ones to start honest dialogue with their own friends and extended love circle.
Finally, move a little out of your comfort zone and get informed. Read (more than the first paragraph of) the news stories that are impacting other families who may not look like you or live in your demographic. Blacks continue to be killed at a disproportionate rate by police. It’s time for us all to start speaking up with each other about this fact. We can’t fix a problem which we refuse to see (any drinkers or food addicts out there? Y’all know what I’m talkng about). Our country has a racial problem. If you’re courageous enough to say it, you’ll be courageous enough to help in fixing it.
There are numerous organizations working on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised among us. There are also quite a number of organized groups working specifically on black issues. Learn about them and see if you can contribute in any way. (Try Google or Twitter to find them) And it’s okay if you decide that a group is too emotional or too frustrating for your taste. Then find another group, one that suits you.
It’s time, friends. Finger pointing hasn’t helped to move us forward, neither has indignation and self-righteous pronouncements and neither has blithe obliviousness. Every one of us plays a role in the mess our country has found herself in. Yes, that’s hard to hear but it’s true. If you’re white, your predecessors built this country on the blood and free labor of millions of slaves. For the non-whites and blacks, while we have made great sacrifices and much progress with civil rights, clearly we are not where we want to be in 2017, so there’s still much work to be done.
We can’t keep living with our heads down, minding our own business, hoping (futilely) that none of the country’s dirty secrets spill over into our communities. I tried living that way myself and it didn’t work. Or maybe your community has already seen some of the darkness of human kind and you somehow manage to still feel at peace in the cocoon of your home. Whatever the case, God did not give us this life to live in isolation with our favorite or preferred people. It’s time for us to face the music, friends; it’s time for us to love harder. It’s time for us step with more purposeful intent into each other’s lives.