I know that many people, myself included, feel really weird about all of the celebrating right now. About all of the happy dancing, rainbows and LOVE WINS scrawled across the internet. There are rainbows utterly everywhere; unicorns, the White House, profile pictures, puppies dyed bright hues.
And this includes my own social media feed, and here’s why. I was so relieved to get some HAPPY in our crazy fucked up world that I literally wanted to vomit rainbows all over everywhere. Like an actual FUCK YOU of rainbows. See, living in Charleston, my beloved new hometown of 2 years, where we’ve created deep roots in what feels like no time, but also all the time ever… was deeply injured last week. A horrible, racist, vile person took 9 lives in the most sacred of places. Unless you live under a rock, you already know this. But every once in a while, in these last 10 days (how can it only have been 10 days? it feels like a lifetime) I have had to re-set myself, pinch myself almost into a “this actually happened.” Someone walked into a prayer meeting, no, was INVITED in to a prayer meeting, sat down, reflected on the word of God with a group of people he would, in 60 minutes time, shoot down in an act of heinous violence. Leaving one person to live, so she could tell the world why. That is some actually, truly, fucked up shit.
So, when the week after, I was able to tell my kids that LOVE WINS, that the Supreme Court of the United States SAID YES TO LOVE, it was like a time out. It was a moment where I could just celebrate that there is some sense in the world, that we are moving ever more toward the goal of just getting over ourselves, getting out of our own way in a world that seems like everyone needs to be right, judge others, pay SO MUCH attention to what we perceive everyone else is doing wrong– that we forget that we’re all just tiny, fragile humans, on a tiny fragile planet, trying to make it through each day mostly ok.
I have been grappling with all sorts of white privilege this week– and with “am I doing or saying the right thing?” “am I doing or saying ENOUGH of the right thing?” I marched in the March for Black Lives last Saturday and I shouted until I lost my voice. I cried with my hands clasped in prayer in front of Mother Emanuel AME. I listened to the voices of the mourners singing, crying, praying, shouting. I watched a man with so much anger his fists clenched and unclenched as he stood in front of the piles of flowers and candles lining the sidewalk in front of the church. I watched his body actually not able to process it. I felt my own body shift away from him, and then shift back. Wanting to at least be near enough to him that some love or stray vibe of healing might leap from my shaky body to his curled up one.
When I finally found the words to tell my kids this week about the shooting, about the death of 9 black lives, when I explained that it was because of their skin color, my 6 year old said: “was it a police officer who did the shooting mommy?” That was his fucking question. See, we just lost Walter Scott not too long ago and so his first question was that. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. My 3 year old said, “was it an ogre mommy?” Yes baby, it was an ogre. It was a mean monster– but the monster wasn’t entirely the man who did it.
The monster is the historical degradation of an entire population of human beings in our country. The monster is the continued systemic violence, under-education, school-to-prison-pipeline and general ambivalence of the people in power to change it all. THAT IS THE OGRE.
I have no answers today. I have hurt, I have a desire to change things and I have 2 children who need me to make all the wrongs in their world right. I am reminded of the infamous quote from the Protestant pastor Martin Niemoller during the holocaust:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
So, if you are also feeling strange, or even angry, about the vomit of rainbows, my opinion is that it’s ok (but open to yours. if you’re still too sad/angry, that’s good too, we’re all in). To me, it’s ok because I see it as a beacon of hope. It’s not the end of the struggle. I’d like to believe that this is the beginning of a tsunami of love, God’s love, washing over this great nation of revolutionaries– showing us that it’s time. It’s time to be done, to right the wrongs of the past, to live out loud in our TRUTH, that actually all humans beings are equal because THEY ARE. JUST CAUSE THEY ARE. Do you live, breathe, love, and hope? Then you’re in. That’s it, those are the only qualifications.
My prayer on this balmy Sunday morning in Charleston, SC, where we are in the middle of NINE funerals over 4 days is that we let this be the start. Let the deaths of our 9 martyrs not be in vain, let the momentous decision by SCOTUS be a signal to us that it’s time to move on. It’s time.