In the beginning I didn't look.
I became numb and unfeeling from everything happening in the world. It was too loud and I was becoming soft. The days at home were long, the weeks at home were short. I watched bewildered as winter turned into spring and summer, thinking 'how could it have happened so fast?'
At first I wanted to stay informed. I listened to news about coronavirus, about the stock market, about politics. Slowly I turned down the volume, then I turned everything off. There was too much happening, and I was grateful in a way for my golden cage, a recluse, a sanctuary, a place I could tune out the world. Even as I exercised more, grew a stronger body, I felt weakness. Exhaustion.
I had learned that this was just reality. I remembered the flame of outrage but I'd forgotten about hope. I turned my sights away from here, I focused on joy--the joy of the African renaissance, of blossoming intellectual communities, of artists, musicians, dancers, of people in their own nations. Of course I knew about geopolitics and the truth that even whole nations cannot escape the global structures of white supremacy. But day-to-day life in those places is, at least, different.
Except, I still live here, the United States, a slave to those same systems. A slave to the superiority of currency and career. I didn't have the courage to leave just yet--when in fact, that might be the safer choice.
So in the beginning, when I heard about Amaud, George, Breonna, in the beginning, I didn’t look at first.
I turned away.
I had no tears left to mourn. What could I do, stuck at home. And more than that, I knew there was a cliff waiting for me on the other side of despair. An enormous cavern beyond the cliff; a place where, if I fell in, I knew it would be incredibly hard to escape. I had muted some of my emotions now--if I went there, they would disappear; I would disappear; my days would blur further into a sleepy haze. Color would leech from the world; I would see only in gray.
I was afraid whatever I saw would send me tumbling down to that sunken place.
So I didn't look at first.
But I am not alone.
While I had determined that this was a battle I could not fight just yet, others fought for me.
I know them and I do not know them.
They are the girls I smile at on trains, the girls who compliment my hair and I their braids,
They are the older men in the neighborhood, men who greet me with 'daughter’,
They are the teenagers who smile at me and run, and I laugh at seeing their vitality, their joy.
They are the children alone on bicycles, who I watch quietly and wait, until they are out of sight.
This is solidarity: I keep a quiet vigil for others; they keep a quiet vigil for me.
Sometimes I am strong, sometimes I can't be strong