Ideas lying dormant

I have all kinds of good ideas for things I could do to progress my life, improve myself, and create what I desire. It should be noted that they come from the extensive amount of time I spend studying and exploring such topics, rather than some innate wellspring of inspiration, but that’s beside the point.

I act on maybe a handful from every pile. Because most of them require more courage than I care to exert. They would require me to step far enough outside of expectations that I’d feel very exposed. And often I just don’t feel like I have the energy to process that additional discomfort. Because, from experience, it takes a lot of bandwidth. So I watch myself, in real-time, making sub-par but safe decisions. And I have a conversation with myself about how I should choose the braver option, and yes I know I should, but I’m not going to, no, I’m not going to, and that’s going to mean I still don’t step more fully into who I should be, and I know that, but I’m still not going to do it, I’m afraid not, but one day I’m going to have to do it, yes, and I could just choose to do it today, I could, but I won’t, no, oh well, oh well.

Virtuous qualities cannot be installed overnight. And courage is probably the weightiest of all virtues. I get that this is a long term investment. But I do wonder how much use it is observing this disparity. I know growth often comes in fits and spurts – long periods battling immoveable objects that suddenly dematerialise – and I guess that’s what I’m hoping for, and in some sense putting my trust in. There’s usually a key to unlocking such a miracle, though. So am I hunting hard enough?

To give or to hold

Things usually aren’t working out as well as we were hoping.

Especially the big bad things. The things that we’ve been toiling over trying to make a dent in for what seems like millennia. The things that are worth changing, but fuck, if only we’d known what we were signing up for.

If we didn’t have hope, there’s a good chance we’d have given up long before now. But if we didn’t have hope, we’d be less heartbroken to realise that that light we see at the end of the tunnel, well it isn’t actually getting any closer.

In those moments when we realise we’re still far from home, we have two choices. We can relinquish any lingering hope of ever getting home, and live out here in the wasteland instead. Or we can steel ourselves, double down on the effort and march onwards, holding our vision of home in our hearts.

To those living out in the wasteland, a bright homely heart will look like insanity. I don’t know if there’s anything to be done about that.

Get it all out

The ripples of rebellion have reached our shores.

I had been disappointed that people in the UK hadn’t been having enough conversations about what was going on in the US. It was like we thought it was terrible, sure, but we couldn’t see how it applied to us. As things developed, there were black squares and shared tweets and circulating slogans, but little in the way of real conversation. We were still holding our cards close to our chest, because the ramifications of revealing them didn’t seem worth it for a problem an ocean away.

I wanted the conversations to happen, because I knew they would get ugly. I knew that the majority of us here, just like in the US, have been poisoned by the stories and ideas of systemic racism to the point we can’t even see it a lot of the time. I wondered if I was wrong, and I hoped I was wrong.

But I wasn’t wrong.

Now that it’s somewhat closer to home, we have started speaking, and it’s not pretty. I think the ugliest shit is the shit trying to be pretty.

And, look, I don’t judge anyone for it. I mean okay, some people are probably gonna stretch my capacity, but for the most part, I get it, and I’ve been there. You don’t know what you don’t know. And you don’t know how harmful your words are. You don’t know how harmful your ideas are. You don’t know how harmful your beliefs are. And you think I’m being a patronising git right now. But if it makes you feel any better, I don’t know what I don’t know, either. I can’t see my own harmful words and ideas and beliefs around this.

It’s okay.

Things are probably going to get nastier, but we need to keep talking. Bring the ugly shit into the light, where we can break it down together. It’s not our fault we were raised in a corrupt system. We’ve been breathing racist air this whole time, it’s not our fault that we’ve unwittingly played our part.

Having these uncomfortable conversations is the way forward. This process is going to make all of us better – I really believe that. This process is so very necessary.

I’m glad I can show up for these conversations. I hope I can be of use.

Your white body

There are a few things right now that get me to tear up immediately with grief, rage and a kind of desperate frustration. One of them is the idea of my ability to use the privilege of my white body to protect black people in protest.

And maybe the frustration comes from the fact that I actually can’t – I’m thousands of miles away, in lockdown(-ish) with a small child. I hate that I can’t be there to lend my physical presence. I know it’s a sentiment shared by many.

But quite aside from that, oh my god that reality is just so inutterably horrifying. It’s stated so matter of factly, as something an ally can do. And it is such a matter of fact, practical, concrete thing that a white person can do. But think about it. A white person can protect a black person from a police officer just by being white, in front of them. Not because there is something inherently protective about their body, but because the police officer just…prefers it. Police officers simply act differently when white people are around. They act differently when confronted with white protesters than they do with black protesters.

And white people are still getting abused and injured by police, as we all know by now – even pensioners. At least one white person I know of has died. Which makes it even more chilling, because what would be happening if they weren’t there?

Black people have lived with this reality their entire life. They have had no choice but to come to terms with it. They don’t have the luxury of crying about it or they’d never get shit done, and they’ve had a lot of shit to get done. But for those of us new to this struggle – I really hope this horrifies you. Don’t ever fucking come to terms with this. Don’t ever accept this reality. Don’t ever cease being fucking horrified by it.

Sacred rage

I have seen reference on multiple occasions to the idea that what was so igniting about the murder of George Floyd for many people was the moment he called out ‘Mama’. I can fucking tell you, I relate.

Becoming a mother connected me with a primal ferocity that, I believe, is dormant in all of us. It is activated at the very suggestion of harm to any mother’s child. Which is a specific way of framing the suggestion of harm to anyone. When George called out ‘Mama’, I think he shifted the frame for a whole lot of women, and probably men too. He may have been a 46-year-old man, but he was someone’s fucking child. And, I think we all know by now, he was not the only one.

So let me just channel the Primal Collective of Mothers for you for a second, because I feel like I need to get this out.

If you dare fucking harm our daughters and our sons, be damn fucking sure we will burn your fucking cities to the ground. We don’t give a shit if they were once our cities; they aren’t any more. They are vestiges of a world we will no longer tolerate, and we will dance on their ashes. We will seek you wherever you are and we will fucking cut you down. We will destroy you. We will make sure you can never, ever harm another of our sons or our daughters. We will not rest until we are done.

Something like that. Most of the time we keep this monster tamed in the interests of remaining civilised. Sometimes, however, a situation calls for the lid to come off. We have been bottling this up for a long fucking time. It probably wouldn’t be wise to try us.

Videos I have been watching today:

George Floyd, Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper Trevor Noah, May 29 2020 (18min13sec)
Why “I’m not racist” is only half the story Robin DiAngelo, Oct 1 2018 (6min33sec)

Podcast I have been listening to:

Brené Brown with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist | Unlocking Us (62min)
Spotify link
Apple link