As a Black woman this Civil Rights Movement, and all of its micro traumas, has become a tug of war on my soul.
People wonder why George Floyd? Why this time? Why this moment? When the truth is, it was simply the final straw. I don’t know of a Black person who is surprised by what some are so shocked by. I think people see the black and white images of our former Civil Rights Movement and convince themselves that it’s from a time long ago. It wasn’t. I’ll be 40 this August. Those are images of my uncles and aunts and cousins and as I watch the images in the news today it feels like tiny cuts each time a man is murdered who too closely resembles my own blood line.
I watch our White allies fight alongside, and for, my Black community and my heart soars! Hundreds of thousands of us marching in the pursuit of righteousness and I can almost see roads being paved for future generations who will never again have to walk this struggle.
And then John and I pull into Morris Illinois, and I watch 2 pick up trucks box us in. I watch 2 cop cars pull up and talk to them first. And I see a white woman, emboldened by her own ignorant righteousness, and with her teenage daughter in the truck, point to our bus. My home. With 3 cops at my door, and Mrs. Pick Up recording on her phone, I was told that our bus had been reported as looking aggressive. I was told that we were reported as looking menacing. And I was asked when we were planning on leaving. 45 minutes later, the cops pulled off with our promise to pull out of our public parking spot in the morning. And then the pick up trucks peeled off one after the other honking their horn, yelling words I chose not to listen to. And in that moment, I’m reminded that everybody aint happy that Blacks are being heard.
With my ancestors stirring and dancing in my bones, I sign petition after petition and I can almost turn cartwheels when Tamla Hosford’s case is re-opened and Rayshard Brook’s killer is charged. And then I talk to my family and we can’t help but think back to the decades of cases where charges are lessened or dropped entirely and while officers collect pensions our community is left to mourn a lie. And we all mumur something like, “We’ll see…” and go about our day.
After Morris, John and I pulled into Paw Paw Michigan. Just days afterwards. We parked, I walked the dog, and the 3 white people watching me from their front porch started taking pictures. Not 5 minutes later, 4 white teenagers pulled along side us taking pictures of our bus. And right behind them 2 cop cars flashing lights and sirens. This time, the deputy wanted my first and last name. When I told him that I didn’t find it necessary to give my full name to a police officer for sitting outside of a public park at 2:00 in the afternoon (in my nicest “please don’t kill me” white girl voice) he called me Miss and told me to calm down. He wanted to know why I was there and this time, he didn’t give us until morning. He told me that “racial tensions are high here” and he told us to go. And we did. And those 3 white people kept watching and those 4 white teenagers laughed and took pictures of us driving away.
A day later, I sobbed on a work call. I knew this country was racist. I’ve been dealing with some version of it as far back as my memory allows. But I had underestimated just how angry some become when we ask to live free. When we dare to demand equal treatment. I had underestimated how threatened they become by the sight of my skin. I sobbed and I told my team that I didn’t think I could do this anymore. Within 10 minutes, my boss and one of the founders of The Dinner Party, had texted me an address of a safe house. It was 20 minutes down the road from the rest stop we’d slept in. Within a half hour I was being hugged by 2 white women I’ve never met and told we were welcome to stay as long as we needed. We’ve shared meals and wine and gardening tips. We’ve shared stories and laughs and for the first time in weeks John and I slept without fear. We’ve been here for over a week and will be here until July. Mantra Magazine, having read my last post, and without being prompted sent cash via Venmo just in case we needed it and a promise to bail us out of jail in case my cop ass kissing ever fails.
The ACTION of my colleagues. The ACTION of a brand. The ACTION of these women here in these Michigan woods is what allows me to sit here and again feel my soul being tugged towards joy.
They understood, and understand, that this moment requires a sense of urgency. We didn’t need a text, or a phone call or a fist emoji. We needed help. And we needed it immediately. There is immense happiness to be felt when we see progress being made but don’t let it distract you from the fact that our happiness incites a level of hatred many of us can’t fathom.
This fight is exhausting. Each day is begging something new out of all of us. If you’re like me and feeling the tug? Let go… let it pull you… There is a place for our anger and our sadness and our fear. But there is also enormous room for gratitude and hope. And there is a brief moment in the middle where someone will spring into ACTION and remind you that there is such beauty in our collective humanity when we try. And you’ll be ready to pick up the rope and begin again…
Just keep going.
Please feel free to comment below. I welcome all good energy!
My heart aches hearing this. I am grateful you guys are safe and able to share this account with us. Thank you. Sending love and light to you guys.
I’ve been following you since I read your post Dear White People. You are very brave and as a white woman I can never know what it would be like to be in your shoes. I send you and your husband so much love. I am relieved to hear you found sanctuary in dangerous times, may you stay safe on your journey.
If you’re ever in Los Angeles and in need of sanctuary please reach out. My family would be honored to host yours, dogs included:-)
I’m reading this in AWE…..I’m not oblivious to racism, but this is horrifying!! I’m so sorry that this happened to you and your husband. I am considering all the benefits of living off grid and I’m taking this all in. I was going to drive and meet a friend in Denver (from Illinois, just outside of St Louis) and I had to consider the racial climate…I have NEVER previously thought of racism when I traveled…it’s disheartening and very sad. I will be praying for you all’s safety!! I admire your courage!
I don’t know if it’s appropriate or if you will ever be in Boise Idaho, but if you ever come through and need a place to park, my family would be happy to give you a safe place to do so. Our neighborhood is filled with extremely kind people (I admit we are kind of jerks about the guy with the Airbnb, but we are nice to his guests because it’s not their fault he’s kind of an ass). Our neighbors won’t call the cops and we’ll share our wine and my wife loves to feed people so she would be stoked to have more people to feed. We’d have to distance during COVID-19 but we’d be honored to give you a place to park your rig and breathe easy for a change. I don’t normally reach out like this, and frankly I am a bit of an introvert, but I have been PRIVILEGED (Using that word with all of its layers) to travel alone all over the west and never be harassed or questioned and it is just such horrifying bullshit that you can’t have the same experience.
I SO appreciate this and am actually collecting addresses of kind souls like you who have reached out. Thank you Rebekah 🙂