‘Love In The Time Of Racism.’
This is a play on words. Many of you know the title, ‘Love In The Time of Cholera’. Gabriel Garcia Marquez was writing about love as a sickness, a passion, a disease and, perhaps, figuring out how to love when a disease plagues the culture.
I’ve been thinking a lot about love, lately. Always questioning my ability to do it. Thinking about how I have done it and how I can do it better. In the midst of extreme trauma, I wonder, how do people love one another?
After the Grand Jury decision in the Eric Garner case, I was shaken. I spent days thinking about it, talking about it, reading about it. Keeping friends steady. I was encouraged because people were on top of it and engaged.
So, I turned my pen to a little boy. Tamir Rice. I don’t want him to get lost in the mix. He was 12 years old, in Cleveland, Ohio, playing with a toy gun, when he was killed within two seconds of officers stepping out of their vehicle. If you have not seen this video of his Mother, you must watch it.
I began to write and my brain, literally, lost all ability to cope. My ability to tolerate pain hit its limit. That morning, a friend sent a text, she had an eye infection. I have a great Ophthalmologist and was happy to make the recommendation. I could read, in her text, the she was in a great deal of pain. She had sunglasses on, in her home, to shield her eyes from any light. She was taking medication but it didn’t seem to be working. We were texting back and forth. I called. I’m hearing her struggle, our struggle, how doing a very basic thing, in that moment, felt like moving a mountain. I text her the number for my Ophthalmologist.
Now, at this point, I am aware that my friend is riddled with the pain of current events as much as I am. And, she, within it, has lost her ability to see, clearly. Oh, the symbolism. I thought, why on earth am I texting her a number, she can barely see. I call my Ophthalmologist and try to pin down an appointment for her. Because I love her, it was the least I could do.
Years ago, while doing a radio show, I interviewed a guest. The program was named ‘Incest, Rape and Battery: Making The Connections.’ One of my guests stated that in the 1970’s, in project houses in NYC, if a woman was assaulted by her mate, other women in the building would take her in and care for her. Around this time, Social Workers began to enter the projects. And, so, women were treated in isolation. This engagement with social agencies shattered the connection, the bonds that women had formed.
Now, as a former counselor myself, I am an advocate for Black folks and therapy. But, there is something very instructive in that story. In times like these, when we are under extreme duress, where and how do we enact love? It’s paramount that we do.
We are seeing traumatic images of Black people being murdered ON REPEAT. Trust me, there is a cost to this. Fortunately, we are seeing people rise against it. But, know, it is sitting in our minds and our hearts and we need to tend to it.
As a single woman, being without romantic love, in this time, feels strange. But, it really made me think about what real partnership would look like, right now. What would my dude and I being doing during this time? How would we take care of one another? Dating suddenly became interesting to me. My friends and I talk about love and what good love looks like and feels like. Clearly, we can see, in the violence replayed in those videos, what hate looks like. We keep seeing models of hate of Black bodies. This has an impact on the most intimate aspects of who we are. So, the murder-suicide of Stephanie Moseley did not surprise me. It is safe to say, in these times, many people are feeling angry, hurt and powerless. In our homes, women and children will suffer the brunt of this.
As bell hooks reminds us, we live in an “imperialist White supremacist capitalist patriarchy”. As a result, many men will act our their feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness on the women and children in their lives. And, as we know, Black men in their lives, too. Most will never protest but they will feel the impact of the murders. In this time, we who do protest, can only muster enough strength to rally, to field calls, to engage. So, the very simple act of loving gets lost. I want to move us to find those acts of love, too.
We resist, push against. At the same time, we have to find the strength to be open and to love the people in our life that matter. The idea that I have to protest now and don’t have time to engage in love does not benefit you. The people in your life will be there when the protests are over. Or, even at the end of the day to refuel you.
The other day, I had to talk family members, carefully, through Mike Brown’s murder. Darren Wilson and his supporters have presented their case through the media. As a media analyst, I see, very clearly, what they did. I want everyone to know it. But, I know that isn’t the case. I have to enact patience when I just want to kick and scream. I had to respect that they bought what they were seeing. So, I dismantled it. These conversations can be taxing. But, I also know, I have a community of people who “get it”, so, I turn to them to bounce back.
There is a complexity in protest that gets overlooked. We are all deeply hurt by what we are witnessing. We have to be mindful not to turn that hurt against the people in our lives. Use that frustration and anger to resist, to fight back against a system that erodes the fabric of our lives.
As Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote, “There is always something left to love.” Find that. One of the greatest acts of resistance in America is Black loving Black. We rarely see it in media. Although, I did see it in ‘Beyond The Lights’. (aside: I’ve been reading comment sections because I can’t understand why the film didn’t smash the box office. Many women are writing that a Black woman should have been cast as opposed to a bi-racial woman. We consider our president Black, doesn’t it follow that Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a Black woman? But, I do appreciate that Black women are screaming that they want to see themselves, people who look like them, being loved. I get it and I am on board with that. But, it struck me that the women that are railing against the film would probably benefit from it the most. Gina Prince-Bythewood delivers love so deeply, in that film, that you feel it on your skin when you leave the theater.)
It is paramount that we keep the movement of Black love growing. And, yes, all folks are invited to this rebellion. I don’t care what color you are. Arthur Chu has been slinging Black love on Twitter unbound. For me, the fact that the country is rallying against the murder of Black people means that we are advocating for love of Black life.
Do it. Enact it. Show it. Demonstrate your love for Black life. And, I mean, in real ways. Amongst your peers, your colleagues, in your classrooms, in your offices, in your homes. Champion your love for Black life without pause. America needs an onslaught of this until we crash the system.
We have been sold the idea that the only form of resistance is what happened in the 1960’s. There are any number of ways to resist! Imagine, a Black Love-In. What would that look like? At this point, you probably think I’m unraveling. I’m not. We have to be more creative in our resistance. It has to stop being so reactionary and futile. The protest march has been done to death (literally). We have that as a fail safe model. The thing to raise awareness. But, know, we haven’t even tapped the well of resistance. Mike Brown’s stepfather, in his moment of hurt, was screaming love for his stepson. But, because we have been taught that the idea of resistance is quiet and non-violent and all about marching, we disregard our emotions. We have learned to suppress our emotions for the “greater good”. Well, I want to see new strategies that honor and display our rage and love and creativity.
Finally, peace to all of the protesters. Peace to all of the hurting hearts who may never protest a day in their life but are suffering under the weight of brutalized Black bodies. Find the love. When in darkness, when in doubt, when hurting and enraged – always, find the love.
In loving memory of TAMIR RICE.