Waking Up.

You guys, it's too much.

The last few days I've been trying to find a version of normal, but my normal routine has been hijacked. The pop-ups of intimidation and hate crimes throughout our country that have Trumps name tagged to it has me and my world turned upside down.

I always thought it would be so amazing to be a Freedom Rider; to wear such a historical badge of bravery while standing up to hate and discrimination. When I learned about the Black Panthers, I was so moved I'm pretty sure I wore head to toe black for a week. Sure, maybe it was a bit dramatic or over the top but to me, it felt like I could be apart of it because I agreed so heavily with the groups values and ideals. I was "woke enough" to know who Angela Davis was and why Malcom X was a brilliant leader, not some horrible radical extremist that racists in our history books wanted to make him out to be. I mean, when Freddie Gray was murdered I pulled out my box set of Spike Lee movies and I watched "Do the Right Thing" and argued out loud by myself how people protesting against the riots in Baltimore couldn't see the parallels and why the protesting was so important. Then I almost immediately logged onto Facebook.

I've taken pride in myself showing up to protests, speaking about them and racial injustices with uneducated friends and trying to talk what I would call "sense" into people that don't understand, hoping that I was making a difference. So of course, this election would be no exception, and if anything the aftermath of this election would motivate me to get out to the front lines of these protests. My body and soul rebukes this hate monger who does not see all of my friends/family/co workers and countrymen as equals. My instincts are telling me to join the fight, participate in the protests and engage in the Facebook conversations. The truth is I want to.  But I can't yet. 

Yes I'm angry. I feel a major disservice has been done to the American people. The day to day "safety" of living in a quietly racist society has been shaken.  This semi silent Pandora's box of racism that has always existed, now just got a face to it and everyone who sides with him is losing their damn minds. It's as if a green light has been turned on to these "undercover racists" and now they feel comfortable speaking out. I'm not so naive to believe that racism didn't exist nor am I giving permission to racists to be racist as long as it's done quietly. But while other people in this country could have predicted this outburst happening - I'm still in shock. Why? I grew up in Minnesota.

I think somewhere in the “Minnesota Nice Protocol Handbook it’s written...

 or I just believed that the only real racist threats were the last few dying old bastards somewhere in the south. Even if there were more people who thought and believed in racist ideologies, they were sprinkled through out the U.S and were never going to be a true threat to me and my safety because "this isn't the 60's anymore". People don't just lynch and kill people like they did in that horrifying time. Obviously as I got older and educated myself on the evolution of racism (especially in our justice system) I came to realize that the racist shit wasn't left back with Dr.King and his movement. Nor was it left with Rodney King and the LA riots. (sidebar: which, I'm sure everyone at the time felt exactly like I did the last three years " Now they can see we aren't making it up! Now that we have video evidence someone will be prosecuted...".)  But honestly, there's something about Minnesota that seems safe. It was my own ignorance that just didn't quiet add up that terrible things were still happening in other places. It was never that I didn't care that racial injustices were happening, I guess I just thought we were progressively moving past those days. And to Minnesota's credit, some people can be really nice here. 

So it makes sense to me why a lot of my (white) friends are telling me it's going to be okay or it will blow over in a couple months. A lot of us have been cushioned in this snowy little bubble and I see the hopeful, optimistic cheers of positivity coming at me from a loving, but unaffected place. I'm scared. I'm trying to be strong but I'm fucking scared. Because I remember after Mike Brown being murdered, the protests happening and thinking there's going to be a stop to this. "They have to stop killing us because look at how many people are outraged! The entire world is watching us, they have to stop! "

 

And they didn't. 

And it kept happening. 

And then it happened in my own back yard.

 

In the two days since Trump has been elected president, our nation has seen so many hateful intimidation tactics that seem to reflect a time a lot of us privileged people thought we had overcome. Again, I'm not so naive to believe that hate crimes, racism and sexism don't exist. But never in my lifetime did I think I would see it like this, so open, so unfiltered, so proud, all in the name of one man. I feel like I'm walking and breathing an old black and white documentary.

 

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. -
— James A Baldwin.

 

With all of this being said let me go back to a the statement I made before. I want to protest, but I can't yet. A lot of me is still in shock, trying to readjust what I thought I knew. The other part of me is tired. I told a good friend the other day, when she texted me to check in, "I want to protest but I want to know something is actually going to come from it.". That's the helplessness in me speaking. Seeing the protests for Mike and Eric and Tamir and Freddy and Sandra...all go unanswered, I want to know something is going to change. Knowing George Zimmerman is walking just as free as you and me somewhere, unaffected and perhaps even empowered. Hearing the crowd roar with excitement to Donald Trumps evil rhetoric, it's exhausting. Don't you feel tired yet? I look back at my idealization of the Freedom Riders and I know they probably had doubts, but something about it, at least to me, feels like they somehow knew they were making progress.

I also want to stay informed and stay educated but I feel the weight of it all on my shoulders. How can I stay conscious without being upset all the time? There are so many articles and think pieces and hate crimes and fear tactics that are brewing in this melting pot country I was so proud to call mine. Knowing what I know, I cannot be so privileged to turn my head as if it isn't my countrymen being hurt. As if it's not my friends and co-workers being afraid. As if it isn't my family being treated unjustly. Nothing makes my blood boil more than the privileged tone of someone who cannot empathize or be affected by an injustice to another minority group. How could I go back? We've been preaching what privilege is about this entire time, right?! It's this luxury of not having to let something affect you. And while I know, I can't carry the weight of the world on my shoulders - this feels like it's my problem. And it is. And it should be yours too. 

 So I guess what I am asking is, how do I stay "okay" in my day to day with everything going on? I'm tired of pretending everything is fine.

It's too much. 

LifeBrianna Graham5 Comments