I spent several hours last week going through the Fluid Pudding 2001-2008 archives and cutting and pasting entries into one big 650 page document. In other words, I’ve written a book. Like many books, it’s not very interesting. It’s entirely too heavy on the I Hate How I Look and entirely too light on the What Can I Do to Help You.
I’ve read more than 100 news stories and blog entries and tweets about last week’s attack on the members of the Emmanual AME Church in Charleston, and I feel sick. I’ve heard the victims’ family members offering forgiveness to the monster who killed their loved ones, and the funny thing that’s actually not so funny at all? I would not be able to forgive. I wouldn’t. I can sit here on my big blue corduroy couch and twist my WWJD bracelet around (I don’t really have a WWJD bracelet, but I DO have one of these, which is certainly close) and tell myself that I’m doing my best, but: No. I can’t forgive a killer and I can’t forgive my own silence. (What would Jesus do? I bet he wouldn’t make a fruit fly trap with vinegar and a mason jar. I bet he wouldn’t color his hair out of a box labeled Natural Black Natural. I bet he wouldn’t treat himself to an iced caramel macchiato. These are the things I’ve done in the past week. Business as usual for a middle-class white lady with edgy peaches, stubborn greys, and a lingering headache.)
Sadly, I’m like a child when it comes to sorting out my thoughts. I can see my big picture want list, but I can’t articulate my strategies on mountain climbing. (If you’ve been coming to this website for very long, you know that I’m speaking the truth.) I often have to look toward my heroes for help and guidance, and for the past several years, two of those heroes have been Kelly and Karen.
Kelly wrote Let’s Get To The Work of Anti Racism.
Karen wrote Say Something.
Please read these two articles and then read them again and then love thy neighbor. Radically. Actively. Even that neighbor down the street who you’re not so sure about. Feed them. Literally and figuratively. Express your fears and then ask if anyone needs help. And then help. And then twist your own bracelet and then do it all again. And again. Until it becomes your life. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Never be afraid to ask for help.
I hate feeling that things aren’t getting better. I hate it on a small scale, like when I have fruit flies hovering around my peaches. I hate it on a medium scale, like when I’m struggling to find freelance work. Most of all, I hate it on a hugely vital scale, like when I see people being treated inhumanely and killed for no reason other than the way they look. The color of their skin. And because I’ve walked only in my own shoes (clichés are rattlesnakes, yet I dance with them), even saying something like “I hate feeling that things aren’t getting better” feels so wide-eyed and unconscious.
10 thoughts on “Business as usual is no longer acceptable.”
Our priest spoke at length about that very topic yesterday — about how all the messages from the victims’ families in Charleston were of love, mercy, and forgiveness. And I sat there thinking, “Could I do that? If it had been MY brother, or mom, or even the nosy next-door neighbor, could I have spoken nothing but words of peace and forgiveness to the one who took them from me?” And like you my friend, I’m pretty sure my answer would have been no. All we can do is admit our shortcomings, our failures, and our sins (that’s the Catholic in me, sorry) and then we set ourselves to the task of working to be better.
I love you. I’ve been struggling with what to say, too. And that means that I often listen (especially to Kelly and Karen), but I’m quiet. I hear you, but I don’t know what I can do to change things.
You’re off to a better start than most folk. We’re all waking up and groggy and need help.
You and President O are on the same page.
I need help, too. There is a lot of racism in my family of origin and if I were to dare bring up racially motivated hate crimes, I would have SO MUCH POISON poured into my ears about it and I just can’t with that anymore. Those are minds that I am never going to change. But I see now that my silence has become more broad and less selective without my realizing it, in a way that might be harmful/hurtful and not a reflection of what’s in my heart. I do talk to my kids about race (and have since they were tiny, because: see above about my family of origin) but I don’t really speak out about it otherwise, and that bugs me, and I should change that. I want to be part of the solution.
Angie I will ponder this help you ask for a few days and see if I can impart some wisdom. No Guarantees.
Like so much this past year: Senseless, tragic, evil.
And to say that he almost backed out because they were so nice. That’s your pivot point. Hell, that’s THE point. For a moment, he saw past skin color & his bigotry. But he let that redemptive moment pass.
Hatred really is rooted in ignorance & fear. Like any difficult situation, when you want to be there the least is when you need to be there the most.
WWJD?. He’d model the behavior. He’d show up. He’d speak up. He’d love us all.
FYI: this is why I keep coming back and reading your blog. I agree.
I’ve often thought that we’ve perverted what it means to forgive – especially Christians. Frankly, there is a person in my life who molested me when I was a little girl. I don’t think I HAVE to forgive him. I have to let it go – and maybe that’s what forgiveness is really supposed to mean. But somehow we’ve gotten to the place where the word “forgiveness” is equated with pardoning someone.
I went to hear Cornel West a few nights ago and he talked about how quickly the families in Charleston forgave Dylann Roof. I so loved what he said:
“When we talk about forgiveness, you notice how quick the white press wants to accent black people forgiving? It’s not an utterance. It’s a process. We are a loving people. We’ve been hated so. But to forgive a day or so after, that’s a pathological empathy. You forgive because you work it through. You make sure you don’t hate. That’s the key. Don’t hate. Forgiveness comes later. The press wants to accent forgiveness. We are fighting people as well as forgiving people.”
I read this post when you posted it days ago and didn’t comment because I had nothing worthwhile to say. My own reaction was that I could not, would not, forgive this if it happened to me or anyone I love. I can’t even bring myself to forgive it when I didn’t know any of the victims. I decided it was a good time for me to just sit quietly if I couldn’t at least keep from making things worse.
But since that senseless tragedy, this has been a good week for our country, and those who died in Charleston did not, apparently, die in vain. It is because of them that many, many, people who at least tolerated the Confederate battle flag being flown in any place of honor have decided not to tolerate it any longer. That’s a good thing. Those who revere and love that symbol of treason and hatred have not changed, but at least a lot of folks who simply thought silence was okay have found it within themselves to stand up and say it is not. So I need to not keep quiet about such things.
I still cannot find forgiveness for evil, hateful, actions. I don’t even feel like trying. But I can rejoice that we have a president who so thoroughly moved so many to feel better about the legacy that eight good souls in Charleston leave us with. The joyful celebrations of very important decisions by the Supreme Court in the past couple of days, interspersed with brave and decent people everywhere condemning acts of violence born of hatred, have made me feel that things are getting better.
Maybe baby steps, but at least in the right direction.
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