comfortable white readers

I’m an early bird. My husband’s a night owl. Most of our dating occurred in phone calls and chats that took place when I’d just awakened from the new day and he was wrapping up the old one.

In our household, this is often a source of amusement. Recently, though, it’s wreaking some havoc.

My husband will climb into bed at midnight, or 1 o’clock, or 2 o’clock. I’ll half-awaken and mumble a few words to him before jolting awake with the realization, Wait! We are living the revolution! I must check the status of the revolution since I fell asleep a few hours ago!

Then, same as when we were dating, my husband’s soon snoring. Except I’m not fishing in Mulgore like in the good ol’ days (just google it, mm’kay?). I’m consuming often profoundly traumatizing words and images that leave me unable, after consumed, to return to sleep.

Over the last couple days, I’ve seen dozens of videos of U.S. police officers attacking peaceful protesters. Having seen these videos, my skin has crawled when I see Martin Luther King, Jr.’s disappointing “white moderates” mistaking cause and effect:

“Law enforcement officers were being violent because they were attacked! If you didn’t attack them, they wouldn’t be violent!” It’s beyond these so-called liberals’ conception that law enforcement officers could actually instigate violence where there was none before,

responding aggressively to even protesters’ most peaceful attempts to curtail their “rights” to violate citizens without accountability.

I’ve seen many one- and two-minute unwarranted-police-brutality videos. I’ve only seen one ten-minute compilation, so far.

I returned to that longer video tonight and, thanks to specific confluence of circumstances on Twitter, felt compelled to share. At length.

Looking for one specific video, I found a thread I hadn’t been looking for.

In this thread, the author recounts an impromptu 2015 comedy show by comedian Dave Chappelle.

He recounts how Chappelle responded to one white woman’s utter lack of understanding how racism functions in the U.S. with … compassion, when he could (understandably) have shown anything but.

Reading this thread, I literally got goosebumps. And so, with those goosebumps still on my arms as I found the police violence images I’d been seeking,

I dove into sharing not only the video, but, more personally, my own experiences with state-enabled violence. My profoundly violent father, himself a victim of profound childhood violence, was a law enforcement officer.

Thanks to my own childhood father, I knew (if only in the shallowest of senses) the devastation of state-enabled violence long before I began dating a Black man and, later still, had Black sons.

My beautiful family, when my youngest was a baby

I can’t quite explain why I wrote this as a series of tweets. For reasons still unable to be expressed, by me, in English words, some things just don’t feel right beginning in-blog.

This doesn’t mean I can’t share them on my blog. Just that the words can’t begin here.

As a child, I had one encounter with my dad that filled me with terror that can’t be conveyed by any words I could possibly choose.

It’s this encounter that I come back to, again and again and again, when contemplating state violence,
one that sounds so small when separated from its context.

In my thread of tweets this evening, I tried to marry my terror with its context,

to, maybe, possibly, help one comfortable white reader understand what it’s like to know you could be disappeared …

probably without consequence.

Today, surging with many times more adrenaline than sleep, informed by a lifetime acquainted with violence often enabled by the state in various degrees, I pray for a day of protests.

I send love to protesters–to folks who are, with their very bodies and lives,
showing screaming their own love of life, of Black and brown lives,

so that no one may ever again be state-disappeared without consequence.

I think about John Crawford III, whose death I touched on here even before I read about one specific 2015 Chappelle comedy show this morning.

If Chappelle hadn’t been Chappelle, he could, quite simply, have … disappeared.

I am grateful to each and every person who has read this far,
and especially to those who read what I tweeted.

Many of my white liberal friends mocked me for my hypersensitivity to police–and, later, other political–violence back in 2016 and 2017:

Wasn’t I taking things a bit too far?!

If you knew me than and are reading this now, it’s because you thought, maybe, just maybe,
I wasn’t implicitly bad, but hurting, and hoping that things could someday be better.

If you knew me then and are reading this now, it’s because you had faith in me.
Faith that I wasn’t “just” hysterical. Faith that my husband wasn’t “just” overblowing the various acts of racism he’d endured.

You had even some minute degree of faith in me, and, simultaneously, faith in you: Faith in your own judgment, to continue being willing to read even after other comfortable white readers went “man, bitch be trippin’.”

So, today, as I reflect on all the principally white readers who simply thought this “bitch be trippin'” a few years ago,

I hope that those folks (including, amusingly, one whose name is a variant of “ally”) are beginning to understand why I was, thinking of my own beautiful Black sons, heartbroken and enraged and hurting and grieving other mothers’ needless losses.

And I think, maybe you, who didn’t think this bitch was simply trippin’, and I,
by our grief- and rage-informed love, can be part of reaching with reality those hipster-hatted white ladies

who are, indeed, as Chappelle showed, capable of being reached.

3 thoughts on “comfortable white readers

  1. Upon awakening, my husband said, “What this post is missing is an explicit statement about the fact that so much of this is happening in Dem ‘blue’ regions thanks to the posturing of ‘blue’ authorities.” I said that he missed what the post was about for me, but that I do think it’s good to include, in comment, a highly relevant tweet on how “vote Blue!” is not the solution. Here’s the tweet.


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