shrapnel

yesterday i spent the whole day working hard on being a human and trying to be upbeat.

i am so tired of this shit. there – i said it.

i am so tired of the layers and layers of injustice, of the de ja vu of my own reactions and the reactions folks are having to this tragedy, to my writing on it and others. yesterday i heard/saw voices/faces from my past coming up over and over again.

i remember years of seeing inequality up-close in my own family – what money was, what power was, what it wasn’t.

i remember standing in a room in epps, alabama with harry belafonte walking around holding a blown up photo of a girl being handcuffed in her school, crying. he was appalled – we all were. he rightly pointed out that a society must be judged by what it does, or doesn’t do, to protect the childhood of its children.

i remember when amadou diallo, sean bell and so recently young oscar grant were shot, and that sense each time that this was more than sloppy, racist policing, more than our lives being worth nothing. this felt like an offense in play, like a chase was on, a new live action video game and someone somewhere was racking up points with outlandish violence.

not the cops necessarily – i don’t get the sense in aiyana’s case that the cop meant to shoot a 7-year-old. i pray that s/he didn’t. but if we are in a system where that is within the realm of possibility, then it’s a failing system.

in my recent memory i see local activist gwen gaines talking about her experience at the funeral of three children, killed in a fire after the detroit energy company [DTE] turned their heat off. she talked about their little coffins, “i never thought i’d see a coffin that small”. i kept thinking of that last night at the vigil, that there shouldn’t be coffins that size.

i am not pointing my finger at the cops right now, and definitely not at the family for ‘housing a criminal’, which came up a lot in some of the commentary to my first writing. regular readers of my blog know that i blame the system, each and every time – and i seek systemic change.

cops, like soldiers, are members of our community. they are folks who needed a job, or wanted to serve their community. i know too many people whose options are a) to police their own community, b) police someone else’s community or c) have no work. that’s not a choice for me to make or judge.

what i absolutely judge is a system made possible by investments and complicit approval, by our daily financial choices, by our votes, by our actions, by our continuing to obey authority who abuse us and kill us and make it impossible for our children to have good lives.

i struggle with being an overly articulate introvert empath – i feel everything, and i need a cave to go and truly feel it in silence, to come to some peace with it. and need to sing it, say it, write it, try to eke some adequate response out of the world for this atrocity.

words keep coming to my mouth but i can’t get them out, too bitter, too angry. i spend most of my days pivoting myself and others towards hope and solutions, and i wish i could do so now. this is why i generally avoid the news cycle – stories like this make me want speed and size in my movement building when i know rushing growth is not the answer.

last night at dinner a poet-friend spoke of the shrapnel of honesty. that after a visceral truth telling, everyone involved is walking around with the shrapnel, and it can rear itself as a source of pain, or a numb reminder of the event, at any time.

i have very little faith that the right thing is going to happen right now…i was in NY when amadou was killed. i was in oakland when oscar grant was killed. i’ve watched how cops and government extract themselves from taking responsibility or changing practices related to their mistakes. i’ve watched how we get incensed when it happens, and drift away from the long-term work of creating real community alternatives and holding the “justice” bodies accountable.

it is so complicated and so not just about this one little girl. but what happened to aiyana is the truth – that is the kind of world we live in right now, that is particularly what the u.s. is about – detroit is what the rest of the country has to look forward to. that is the state of things, it is dire in that way, we need to stop that from being possible.

until we do, we will walk around with the shrapnel from each of these murders in each of us. i want to write something hopeful, and i am sure there are ways to reframe this situation.

and i will get there.

but i am not there yet. right now what i can do is grieve.

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