A Reflection on Murder (7/9/16)
Updated: Sep 22, 2018
It's been a complex, heavy, activating, frustrating, and sad past few days with what's going on in my city, my nation, and my heart. And Facebook does not make it any easier.
I was processing my reactions to the murder of Black folks (I haven't even had the space in my psyche to get to the murders of police officers), and have noticed that I feel a special pressure with social media to make my reactions and feelings public so that people know where I stand. There's an issue of loyalty and integrity that has been infused with increased pressure as these incidents become more public (make no mistake, these issues are not NEW) and frequent. I'm seeing White friends who were once silent become more vocal. I'm seeing many posts that talk about how the silence is deafening, especially coming from people who are so vocal about issues not nearly as important as human life.
On Facebook, it's easy to share a news article, a meme, an personal reaction, a video. And we can do it all really fast. For myself, I need more time to digest all the complex layers of the situation, all of the parts of myself that it affects, in addition to the impact on people I care about and how it affects our communities. All this on top of the simple and deep horror of the specific situations, and the compassion for those who are directly impacted, not just watching and reacting, like me, like us.
Right now, what I can say is this: I'm so embarrassed to be an American, to be a Minnesotan, if this is what we are. I've lived here my whole life, I've been enculturated into Minnesota Nice, I 'm fluent in passive aggressive. Being Minnesotan used to be pride and alignment with Prince, now it's this insidious place with outrageous disparities and a pattern of murder and deep injustice.
As a Mixed person, when issues of systematic racism, oppression, and a White supremacist society spit out its evidence in the form of these disgusting murders, life gets real gross and uncomfortable. Over the past few years as things have gotten REAL real, I've done a decent job of unfriending or hiding people whose purely subjective/simple/safe-distance-away/oppressive/ignorant/abusive commentaries are hurtful and enraging to me. But not seeing it and knowing it's still there are different things.
These murders bring true colors to the surface and it's terrifying as a person of color to see exactly who you've allowed to be close to you at times. I don't often experience direct outright racist attacks, that's part of my privilege as a lighter-skinned, symmetrical faced, socialized White, Minnesotan raised woman. But as said Minnesotan raised woman, microaggressions are second nature to me. And on top of that, from the time I was a baby, there were racist people in my family. People who couldn't stand Black people but tolerated and then loved me. But still racist as hell. I'm well aware of being people's exception as a Mixed person raised in a White family.
And another significant part of my Mixedness embeded in Whiteness is that I've had to do my own work on prejudice and racism. I'm not immune. I'm still doing the work every day of chipping away at racist programming about people that look like me. So in cases like this, I feel like a White girl still having to explore my own privileged point of view, and checking myself regularly. It is ugly, and it is liberating.
On top of my personal reactions, I have my role as a therapist and supervisor. I have responsibilities to other people, both staff and clients, in being available to help them process what is happening. I am incredibly lucky with timing to have had two forums within the last two days to process my personal experience in a room full of helpers. Most people do not have anywhere near that kind of support. It helped immensely. And. I still feel lost.
So these are my initial reactions. All of this is overwhelming in a multi-layered way. For some, this is preaching to the choir, but for others you may hear it because it is me: Be kind, be compassionate. Leave reactions that fall outside the sphere of kindness and compassion at the door during times like this. Do not pass judgment on what you do not understand, what is not visceral to you. Being Black is a beautiful, joyful, powerful, resilient experience. And. It is also a series of traumatic events. Don't be part of that with spewing hate, suspicion, "logic/reason," justifications, challenging realities, "being objective," exploring the second and third side to every story. Don't rationalize that people of color are doing this to each other so it can't be racist - explore White supremacy and its effects on all people rather than simply saying "it's not racist when you do it to each other." Basically, don't be a dick. If it's not compassion and kindness to Black people, to people of color, just be quiet. Go do something else.