The last person with whom I spoke was a friend in Street Lit. He was asking for clarification on this writing prompt. The last person who really spoke to me was Jimi Hendrix: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” “But how do we go about empowering love?”, I ask through a wormhole. I’ve yet to receive a response. But I’m looking. I have to keep looking. I’ve always tried to be the change I want to see in the world, trying to spread love, making the world better in my own small way. But damn it, I want to make the world better in a big way. I think we need it.
I know I don’t speak human very well. I’m kind of goofy, whether I try to be or not. I learned from a young age to steer into the skid. People find me peculiar, so why not pretend like I’m intentionally peculiar? Why not be peculiar intentionally? I make jokes because I want people to be happy and because people tend to not take me seriously anyway. It is easier to pretend I’m joking than to try to defend a thoughtless comment. I tend to live with my head in the clouds. This has led to some alienation throughout my life. I felt like an outcast throughout most of my childhood. As much as I’ve grown, as much as I’ve learned to love myself, those memories are always just below the surface. On occasion, a new friend will take my presented confidence combined with my joking as an attempt to cause offense, to get a rise out of them. I don’t aim to cause offense. I aim to inspire happiness and spread love. I’ve gotten better at speaking human, but still tend to insight undesired responses. If you happen to encounter me throughout the day, please understand that I love you and want you to be happy.
A friend recently told me I should refrain from calling “black” people “brother”. I tend to call males with whom I encounter “brother”. I think some people hear the word as “black man” (“Hey, black man. How are you, black man?”). This would certainly seem to hold the potential to create division, but I use it as means of expressing kinship. It says, “We are in this together”. I suppose, to some males of African dissent, I am not viewed as “Brother” because I do not face the same discrimination they do. It is offensive because my claim that we are in this together does not seem justified. To others, the use of the word, may seem belittling. It classifies the individual as a brother rather than my brother. Of course this is all speculation. I have never been a “black” person and don’t know that I have the experience to truly understand the offense this word would seem to cause some. I try to do as little harm as possible in any case I find myself. So, is it the greater good to avoid calling only people of African ancestry “Brother”? What would it mean to treat these people differently solely as a result of the color of their skin? It would mean I would have to start treating them as “Black” first. I try to see people as people. That is not to say that I am color-blind. But rather, I believe we have more similarities than we have differences. It is not my skin color or my ancestry that defines me. I’d like to think my fellow humans see things in a similar way. Any rules for interacting with certain people as a result of something as superficial as skin color would seem to work to create illogical division. This is kind of the opposite of my intent. Perhaps the greater good would be to stop using the word as means of showing unity all-together. I can’t give one name to my family of African dissent and another to every other member of my family. Perhaps my real meaning behind the word is namaste, I recognize you as a beautiful part of God – en theos. But I don’t want to force my spiritual perspectives on anyone. It there a word, a title, a name that just means “I love you and appreciate you and would not want any harm to come to”? I would use that word every day.
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 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
Sitting in awe
Every event inspiring a new and pleasant sensation
Open eyes, open heart, open mind
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.
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
It will be means to everything else. If I just gain the courage to reach out and grab her hand. Everything is in this one feat of courage. And if she pulls, away, I will not have lost anything other than everything we could’ve been. And if she holds my hand back, I will feel it all, love, life, sex, children, pain, and insurmountable joy. Not all held hands are sexy – there is the hand of my best friend, which sometimes holds mine as means of connection. Not all sex starts with heald hands – even though, sometimes, in hind-sight, I wish it did. Sometimes these sensations of life-altering love are illutions, chemicals in the brain initiated by a sweaty palm’s recognition of another. But, and I know this only as rumor, but sometimes, these sensations, these visions of a life to be, are symptomatic of everything to come. And yeah, it’s absolutely worth the risk. So I take a breath, say a prayer, and reach blindly out toward you…