dīvide et imperā

I tried watching the first episode of “Dear White People” on Netflix yesterday. I couldn’t finish it. I found it painful. I watched as this beautiful woman of African dissent spoke in generalizations about people of European dissent. She said “white” people were patting themselves on the back for letting “black” people even attend the same school as them. “White” people in this world were painted as out of touch and in denial about racial inequalities. And even though main character Samantha White’s radio show was broadcast by a campus radio station, I couldn’t help but feel as though she were talking to and about me and to and about anyone who looks like me. I suppose one could say it is good that I felt discomfort in the first 7 minutes of this episode. Perhaps the goal of this kind of conversation is to get people like me to more readily recognize social inequalities people of African dissent face in the United States. At the same time, when you address all of us, you assume not one of us is currently willing to recognize these inequalities. If all of the effort put forth in recent decades has not inspired a single “white” person to see these social inequalities, what makes you think your words on your radio show will sway them? Of course Samantha White is only a character. As I couldn’t get past the first 7 minutes of the first episode, I cannot claim to have a solid understanding the writers’, directors’, creators’ vision and message. I just don’t want to be painted as the villain as a result of the color of my skin. Then again, maybe the issue is I just don’t know what else I can do to break the cycle. There is so much division in our country. There are so many voices saying the color of our skin defines us. And we are so entrenched in this belief, we never even stop to realize these labels of “black” and “white” are not incredibly accurate.

During a lunch break at work last week, I witnessed a coworker of mine passing around a cartoon for everyone to see. Her tone became somewhat apologetic when she showed me:

After laughing about it with other coworkers, she told me she wan’t sure if it was funny. I’ve heard this co-worker speak generally about “white” people on other occasions. But to lump us all together is not only inaccurate, it is harmful. It creates greater division. And who benefits from division of the lower classes? “Divide and rule (or divide and conquer, from Latin dīvide et imperā) in politics and sociology is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divide_and_rule). After those 7 minutes of “Dear White People”, I put on youtube video – an interview with a comedian. I’ll admit, my first thought when I saw the interviewer was a young female of African dissent was “Oh no”. I anticipated, because of the color of her skin and the color of mine, that she would begin accusing me racism, entitlement, and thievery. I realized within a couple seconds how foolish such an assumption was. It is amazing how easily influenced we are by these superficial labels. This is a call to action: Please do not let these arbitrary demographic details define us. Division only works to keep us subservient.

This Ring

This ring has no owner
Poison – made of led
Given to me by my father
It stains my finger green
And I was challenged with the task of passing it on
I’m starting to think I may bury it instead
To make someone else my property
To shackle her to me
To package up our offspring and carry them in our pouches
Only to have them resent us as the gain their own autonomy
I may just bury this ring instead
And break the spell sent down by my father’s father’s father

Morning Cul De Sac – Street Lit Writing Prompt 07.22.18

I awake to the sound of Mom’s angry, slurred screaming. I pray she is not angry with me. Mom is never not drinking. She tends to get a good buzz going around 10:00am, when she first gets out of bed. It is 6:46am now. I guess it started early today. I feel a sense of relief when I hear the phone slam down. Unless she was talking to my school, I’m not the one in trouble. After a few moments of silence, I escape my bedroom, my backpack in hand, and hurry out the front door. Just as I step into the street outside my family home, Dad’s truck comes squealing around the corner at the end of the cul de sac. I’m sure he’s been drinking too. I step quickly out of the way as Dad’s truck speeds past, into the back yard. I am the first at the bus stop just a couple houses down from mine. I feel mortified as my parents’ loud fighting is audible even here. Other children slowly join me at the bus stop. I don’t know whether to apologize for or deny the disturbance down the street. Dad comes speeding by and stops with screeching tires a short distance past my friends and me. He reverses quickly, stops in front of me, and demands, “Get in!”. I tell him, “I’m good. I’m going to school.” He violently shifts his truck into park, climbs out, and grabs me by the arm. I guess I’m not going to school today.

spaces between beats of the drum

to let myself dwell in my pensive blue
owning the void
loving it as a part of me
and knowing it cannot own me
to dip my feet in the shallows of the cold
recognizing my warmth cannot be overtaken
to smile in my loss, in my sadness
to recognize to feel this void requires that I be truly full in so many other ways
and I will dance on
letting this absence work as spaces between beats of the drum