Hey, everyone!! It’s been a while since we last spoke, literally and figuratively. Since the last couple of posts, a lot has been going on that has affected all of us. Some of it good, some of it bad, but all of it needed (to some degree). My last post was on June 3rd–even though I can assume that people expected me to write about the Black Lives Matter movement, I just did not have the words, the emotional stability, or the energy. Quite frankly, I still don’t. Writing my last post was not an intentional decision to detract from conversations going on, but I did want to give spotlight to that virtual event in real time. A lot more time has passed and I feel I can at least write something more…coherent.
Back when our nation somewhat cared about the effects of COVID-19 and we were transitioning into quarantine and work-from-home (WFH), I wrote a post about taking a break from the blog and especially YouTube, something I’d kept up with on a regular posting schedule for the first three months of the year. It was a tough decision seeing as these two platforms had become very important creative and emotional outlets for me. I thought there would have been a smooth transition into creating content again, but–as I am sure everyone can agree–it felt like there was something new to emotionally digest every week. After my birthday, I began preparing for my most recent move which only feels like it calmed down as of this week. The couple of weeks I was deep into moving prep, the Black Lives Matter movement was resurging with the most fervor. The stress of dealing with the uncertainty of the future since quarantine, the stress of moving, and the stress and somewhat release of detailing to more people than ever in my life about my experience as a black person in the U.S. was beyond exhausting. I was depleted and still kind of am. For the first time in my life, I could not give to others the emotional support and casual conversation I felt I have always provided. However, I am here today to share my thoughts.
At the beginning of June, I was able to have a conversation about BLM with my lifelong friend, Ana, on her podcast (which is also available on the sidebar of this blog). We are about a month and some change out since those very heavy couple of weeks, but rest assured that the fight continues. Just because the media doesn’t cover it anymore and your social media feeds seem like they are “going back to normal,” whatever that means, does not mean that these problems have been solved. This is a movement, not a moment. We all expected 2020 to be big and it definitely delivered, but not in ways that any of us could have imagined. That physical feeling of being drained from life is an everyday experience for a lot of people in the world even before COVID-19, especially for people of color. I knew whatever I shared with Ana wasn’t going to be ‘perfect’ by any measure, but I am proud of myself for speaking up as it was an internal turning point for me. I encourage everyone, especially white and non-black people of color, to keep having these conversations, speaking up when they witness or experience injustice, and start participating in this fight beyond signing pre-written petitions. We don’t all have the money to donate, we don’t all feel safe (and rightfully so) to go out and protest amidst a health crisis, and we all certainly don’t have “the right words.” But what we do have is momentum, access to a wealth of information, and other people who are in the same boat with us experiencing these things in real time and not knowing where to start.
To any of my black readers, do not feel like you need to be the spokesperson for your community or the source of information for your non-black friends, colleagues, etc. Every day, I am learning new information as well as new ways to engage in these conversations. Continue to share your experiences and learn from others. Continue to keep yourself open to hearing others’ experiences as well. We all have that gut instinct that lets us know when people are genuinely interested in conversing v. just wanting to argue–knowing when to walk away does not mean you are throwing in the towel.
The most common thread I have heard in the last month or so is people choosing that they no longer want to wade through the waters of the world trying to make everybody else comfortable at the expense of their own comfort. They are ‘listening, learning, and doing better,’ but actions speak louder than words. If discussing human rights with others makes you uncomfortable, whether it is about BLM or healthcare (given just two of the ongoing crises we are experiencing), ask yourself why. Without discomfort and change, we do not grow. It is perfectly normal and okay to examine how things and people no longer serve you, and also perfectly normal and okay to accept that the level of change you want to see or contribute to cannot happen overnight. We don’t all have the funds to stop supporting the Amazons and Walmarts of the world, or the position in our companies to speak up about issues in the workplace without the threat of losing our jobs amidst an economic depression. The instantaneous nature of our new world makes us feel in various aspects of our lives that we should have everything figured out with the snap of a finger. We forget that having access to every piece of information at our fingertips can also lead to saturation and rapid spread of false information. We don’t all have the answers, but we won’t get them without listening to each other and working together.
As sad as it is to say, it is unrealistic to expect everyone to get behind these social movements we have been living through because there is a lot of history across the globe to unpack, unlearn, and learn for the first time. The silver lining in everything that has transpired since January is that we are collectively learning that so many systems are predominantly harmful rather than helpful to the new majority. Though I think we would all feel extremely relieved to be told, “Today is your last day of living through major historical events,” we are better for this and we are pushing history in the right direction. The next time you feel like your voice doesn’t matter, your questions are potentially problematic, your vote won’t make a difference, I urge you to ask yourself what side of history you want to be on. Every time you give in to these types of thoughts, hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of other people could be thinking the same thing. And when you put those numbers together, that is how we keep outdated systems in place. Keep speaking out, keep voting, keep challenging yourself–and others–to step out of your comfort zone, and, most importantly, show yourself some grace for not being able to save the world on your own. Keep going.
Photography by Fernando G Trueba
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