They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. They do not warn you just how exhausting that whole exercise can be. It has taken me days to try to put together some words about what I’m feeling right now. I’ve started and stopped several different pieces, started conversations and abandoned them citing a lack of energy.
Is this the week that America snapped? The timeline of events has been flashing through my head over and over again in mixed up disarray. Did that video just come out? Was it an old video or was that the other one? Wait and they killed her just last week? And didn’t we just do this?
It feels like a trap. Because the murder of George Floyd was nothing new. Having it on video was nothing new. We had the verbatim script from Eric Garner—the t-shirts were already printed. Yet now? During a global pandemic which was only receding because we were staying inside we have been dragged out of our homes to try to tell the world yet again Black lives—our lives—matter?
Do not read this as me saying that people should not be protesting. I stand behind the movement although I am not with them physically. I am saying it feels like some greater force orchestrated this whole sinister thing: make a pandemic, make it disproportionately affect Black people, then do something so heinous on camera and spread it faster than the virus to make Black people so mad they leave the safety of their homes, then spray them with chemicals that can make them more susceptible to the virus. Yes I know, the master composers here are Racism™ and probably Murphy’s law but I also want to imagine a Joker-esque madman behind the curtain.
When I first read about the Trojan horse I felt like, “That’s crazy. Why would the Trojans just welcome this random giant horse into their city?” The video of Floyd’s murder hit my timeline and for a brief moment I felt like “That’s crazy. Why would Black people just welcome this random giant horse into their city?” I am praying that we do not see this pandemic completely explode following these protests. I know people are taking precautions. But when we’ve seen so many of these unjust murders happen when we weren’t in a pandemic, there’s that cautious part of me that begs why now—yes why did they have to kill George now? Of course—why did they have to kill him at all? But why is he the tipping point this time? Why is this the video that made so many people in my timeline, so many CEOs, so many PR agents say, “You know what? I think Black Lives might Matter!”
Something had to give. Racism, theoretically, is not eternally sustainable given the rate of intermixing. And something tells me that all the Februaries in the world were not going to change enough hearts to rid the world of the plague that is racism. We’ve hit another boiling point, and I do hope somehow it’s the last one and at some point we all come out of this singing Kumbaya.
The point of a revolution is for the ideas to go mainstream, right? We want to totally replace the “old way” with a new way. So I am celebrating the huge mass of social media posts I’ve seen from just about everyone in my networks. People I thought would never utter the words “Black Lives Matter” had tributes to Ahmaud Arbery in their stories. These were not racists in my head, just not people who had ever spoken out against racism to my knowledge. And there is the part of me that dismisses these posts. They’re disingenuous. They’re performative. They’re for the benefit of the poster, not the cause. But I do appreciate the turnout of awareness regardless of my skepticism. Everybody has to start somewhere.
But like my social media followers, the brands got on board very quickly too. Suddenly places I’d shopped were sending me emails about what they’re doing for social justice. Again, I’m baffled at the speed at which this moment caught on. I mean—the speed and the slowness, right? Because it has taken centuries for Black Lives Matter to go mainstream but it also only took a week?
I’m old enough to remember 6 years ago when the rest of the country watched Ferguson on the news as if it was somewhere we were bombing in the Middle East. This time everyone watched Minneapolis and said “I want in!” It’s incredible to see this movement go mainstream. And I am praying that we see positive change come because of it. But I am also fuming.
The adults—and particularly the white adults—in the room of America should be so ashamed of themselves. We don’t have a single excuse to be uneducated to the issues affecting us. Racism affects everyone. How has it taken so many people this long to figure that out? Did they think Obama fixed everything? Did you think we were kidding every time we pointed out symptoms of the problem?
Yes we’re marching for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and every other Black person killed or harmed by state violence, but we’re also still marching because #OscarsSoWhite. We’re also still marching for equal pay. We’re also still marching to make you stop wearing blackface. We’re also still marching for reparations. We’re marching for all those things you said “weren’t a big deal” while also marching for this the thing that has made you realize it’s a big deal.
I’m trying to channel all of my anger where it belongs: at the structures that are upholding white supremacy, not the people who are at least pretending to fight it. There are a lot of moving parts to a revolution and it is far from my job to be taking attendance and temperature checks at the door.