We are winning.
Those who believe that the attention of this country (and world) needs to be placed on the death, violence and oppression that result from white supremacy are winning. Black lives matter, we are asserting it with body, mind, heart, spirit, media, disruption, dance, art.
It’s a lot. Some of us are not doing well, treating ourselves like temporary participants, even though we know this is a long struggle.
There are those who want to ignore the ways their own internalized racism connects to this violence. We are raising that attention, making everyone reckon with racism, argue about it, take notice. And, if they are allies, grieve with us, and grow.
But it’s hard.
It means we have to reach our hearts into the bloody mess, lift it up to the light with our grief and attention. Some of us have known how bad it is, have been doing movement work around it for decades. Others of us are relatively new to this awareness, have been living ‘normal’ lives, are politicizing in the streets or on the internet. The growing documentation of black death and assaults on black bodies feels like an escalation. It’s exhausting.
From one awakening human to another, I offer you permission to be long term with your attention. Some movement moments are really quick, some moments feel like a lull, for years. Regardless of the pace, this is life long, generation long work.
Khalil Gibran taught us that the sorrow we experience carves out the space for the joy to come. I have been thinking that the devastation and grief we are experiencing now is carving out a space for the liberation and freedom and safety that future generations will live into.
But in the meantime?
You have permission to take care of your whole self on this journey.
You have permission not to educate strangers about racism on social media.
You have permission to turn off auto play on social media and decide when/if you can watch videos of black people being harmed. You have permission not to seek out visual and audio information of black pain and death.
You have permission to feel your grief.
You have permission to take breaks. The pace of violence is intense, take care of yourself.
You have permission to feel numb, overwhelmed, silenced, enraged, scared and hopeless.
You have permission to be small and need care from your community during this time.
You have permission to ask others to just hold your black body while you breathe, cry, laugh, vent, and feel fear.
You have permission to confront racism in public.
You have permission to feel pleasure. You have permission to dance, create, make love to yourself and others, celebrate and cultivate joy. You are encouraged to do so.
You have permission to rest inside of cultural release – get lost for a bit in a new movie, or analyzing what Drake’s ghost writing means, watching babies samba, or futball magic, or compulsively read horoscopes, or dance to Trap Queen in your living room.
You have permission to heal.
The pace isn’t going to slow down, right now we are in the phase of movement that is about making the truth undeniable. It is not the first, worst, or last of our battles.
It helps to create rituals that allow full emotional range for this time. I use candles and meditation to process the losses, water and moon to ask for emotional/physical healing for those who are harmed. Saying the names is also a powerful practice.
Don’t bottle it up inside, don’t try to move through this time alone.
You have permission to grieve. And you have permission to live.