Posted in #My500Words

Darker Days Ahead

I had the pleasure this afternoon of having lunch with my Dear Brother. In fact, we make it a weekly plan to meet, share a meal, talk about current events, and, check in on each other.

Today, however, was different. Given the events of recent days with the murders of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, and the senseless murders of five Dallas police officers, I was especially looking forward to talking with my Dear Brother. I needed guidance, advice, support, a rational and objective point-of-view, to help me to sort out what I had been thinking and feeling all week. Not to mention, the lunch gave me a much-needed break from social media, on which I spend much too time for my emotional well-being.

I think for the first time, I am frightened in a way I have not been before.  And, I am afraid that the events of this week are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Yes, things can, and most likely will, get worse, much worse. My Dear Brother reminded me that the Republican Convention has yet to take place, and, will most likely unleash lots of ugliness, in a city – Cleveland – that isn’t exactly a model of racial harmony and model community policing.

I am the quintessential Civil Rights/Voting Rights/Affirmative Action/Black is Beautiful Baby.  I was born in 1965, during a very turbulent decade, but one which held immense hope and promise for Black Americans.  For the first time since Reconstruction, Black Americans had gained full access via integration to opportunities for a better life.  I grew up believing in that hope and promise. I am a direct beneficiary of the blood, sweat and tears of countess Civil Rights freedom fighters.  As a result, I have had a very good life.

However, given the murders of an ever-increasing number of African American men, women and children at the hands of police officers charged with protecting them,  I am no longer feeling so hopeful. I have lost faith in a country and in a system which I believed strongly in, and, which lets me down every time I hear about the murder of yet another African American person. Not only do their deaths cause me despair, but also the knowledge that their murderers will not be vindicated only adds to it.  What’s especially frightening to me is that these acts of murder don’t seem random, but rather are carefully orchestrated.

Following dinner with my Dear Brother, we brought food for my Dear Dad and Dear Mom, who are 83 and 80, respectively.  As we sat at the dinner table, talking about the latest murder in Houston, I asked them the following: “Do you remember a time in the United States that was as bad as these times are today?” They both said not since the 1960s.  As Depression-Era, Jim Crow-Era folks – Dear Mom and Dear Dad were born and raised in South Carolina  – the struggle and sacrifice they endured really didn’t resolve anything.

In the meantime, I am trying to hold on. I fear there are darker days ahead.

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Author:

I teach. I cook. I write. In that order. Along the way, I learn many things, especially about myself.

2 thoughts on “Darker Days Ahead

  1. I wish I could say that I don’t share your fear, but for any number of reasons, I can’t say that. Even here in Western Massachusetts, I’ve sensed a greater police presence these past few days, and something just feels off. That may or may not be based in any actual reality, but it is nonetheless what I’m feeling. If I felt certain we as a country were going through a rough patch that was leading to genuine growth at a national level, I’d be a lot less uneasy. But I don’t feel that certainty at all.

    The incredible growth and influence of #educolor, on the other hand, does give me some degree of hope – people like José Vilson, Melinda Anderson, Christina Torres, and more. I also see more and more White teachers getting it and doing their (our) part. I know this is happening specifically within the educational community, but, first, that means more and more students are being taught from a social justice and anti-racist perspective, and second, who’s to say similar things aren’t happening in other communities?

    Meanwhile, I’m digging in more than ever to boost the voices of people of colour, engage with the “all lives matter” people, write legislators until they’re sick of me, prepare for another year of social justice work in my classroom, and so on. I’m trying to stick to an intersectional perspective, too, and fight patriarchy, homo- and trans-antagonism, classism, ableism, etc. – and try to root their influences out of my own being. I’m never ever going to be as good at this work as I want to. But I am better at it than I was a year ago, and I can work to be better yet a year from now.

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  2. Bill, I am so very grateful and privileged to have you as a friend and a colleague. Your words mean more than I can say, and your steadfast commitment and dedication to “the work” sustains me. I appreciate the time you took out of your day to visit my blog, read my post, and write a comment.

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