TO LIFE

Yesterday afternoon, I stood near my dining room table and proclaimed, “I can’t find my Tumblr!”

“You have a Tumblr?!” my husband replied. “I didn’t know that.”

“Not really. I posted, like, one original post there a few years back. I’m trying to find that post.”

Soon afterward, I found that Tumblr, and I found that January 2018 post. “That post” was the last one I shared on Tumblr.

I read it and let its core sink, again, into my bones. And I wondered:

How had I forgotten what had once
lived so deeply in my bones?

Looking at my Twitter profile yesterday, I saw too. many. images of police brutality not hidden under sensitive-content warnings.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad these images are being captured. I’m glad this history is being documented and made accessible. I’m especially glad attorney T. Greg Doucette is aggregating these incidents into one Twitter thread; in one single week of protests against racism and police brutality, his documented incident ticker is up to 334.

What I’m not glad about is that, by not hiding the various images I shared behind content warnings, I inflicted them upon people without their consent. I made those images inescapable.

This is consequential.

As I wrote on Tumblr in January 2018, endlessly consuming and posting violent images comes at a enormous psychic and social cost. I wrote that “I’VE WITNESSED SO MANY DEATHS THAT I’VE FORGOTTEN ABOUT LIFE.”

Constantly pouring fuel on my own PTSD’s flames with these images, I reduced my ability
to feel hope;
to have energy to act;
to see good;
to stand for what is good:

TO WATCH NOW IS TO SCAR MYSELF WITH NEITHER PURPOSE NOR BENEFIT. IT’S TO BLIND MYSELF TO LIFE AND TO STEAL MY ENERGY FOR BEING PART OF HEALING. IT’S TO DESENSITIZE MYSELF TO THAT WHICH, FOR JUSTICE, I MUST NEVER ALLOW MYSELF TO BE DESENSITIZED.

The movement here is not about Black death. It’s about Black life.

I do not show respect for Black lives, whether those within

or outside of my home, by constantly focusing on

the specific moments in which

Black lives are, in the U.S.,

extinguished.

Those beautiful Black men within my home

The notion of uplifting life over death wasn’t new to me.

One evening in 2017, my husband and I sat on our couch and talked about Kitty Genovese, a woman whose name is often invoked because of how, very specifically, her life ended.

In this particular conversation, I felt stricken when I realized I knew nothing about how she lived. Not one. damn. thing. For years, I’d heard her name invoked exclusively in reference to her death,

but not once in reference to her life.

I began reading about her life.

She didn’t only die; she lived.

She lived.

She lived.

That evening, I spent an hour or so reading about Kitty’s life. And then I wrote a post filled with simple questions I wished I could ask her about her life:

What’s your favorite ice cream?

What’s the worst thing you ever did to a sibling?

What was your first kiss like?

I called that post, quite simply,

“She lived.”

I tried to find the post “She lived” on archives of my old blog.

Unfortunately, that post was never archived. I can see its link nestled in among other posts I wrote at the time, but the link is broken.

While I didn’t find that post, I found an answer to the question that began this one:

How had I forgotten what had once
lived so deeply in my bones?

In February 2017, I wrote “The New Jim Crow & the Nightmare River,” archived here.

I wrote about coming to understand the U.S. as a nightmare river. In the U.S., I explained, “only a few are allowed to float at the surface. Others are forced down, trapped in the murky, hot water beneath and struggling to reach the surface for even a moment’s gasping breath.”

The post is powerful, and I’m proud I wrote it. But the currents under the post are
anger;
horror;
sorrow at my utter inability
to find just the right words to help those not directly impacted
to see how their our silence, their our “neutrality,” is one essential component
in ensuring that people no less deserving
continue to be drowned.

In that post, I mentioned being stricken “to the point of self destruction, as my husband’s told me for months.”

Consuming so much death, so much suffering, I forgot then (and, again, now) that the point of fighting
is to remember life;
celebrate life;
love life

that more people may live,
and live in a world
structured so all (not just a handful,
floating calmly on a nightmare river)
can live well.

From deep within trauma, I focus so much on endings that I forget:

The point is to create opportunity for life-affirming beginnings.

Today, I affirm my 2018 commitment to see and celebrate life.

That is, after all, what I want proliferating in the world: life lived to its fullest, in all ways.

George Floyd lived. He should still be alive today. If there were already justice, he would.

Breonna Taylor lived. She should still be alive today. If there were already justice, she would.

Tony McDade lived. He should still be alive today. If there were already justice, he would.

There are, and have always been, too many Black lives ended prematurely by U.S. state violence. One would be too high a count, but the number is far beyond that; bigger than I can conceive, looking back on centuries of such violence.

I will not ignore their deaths by murder. But neither will I ignore their lives.

I commit, again, that I will

know their names;
say their names;
see their lives.

They lived. And if the United States were just

(as it may come to be, depending on citizens’ willingness

to rise and keep rising up for life),

they would

still

live.

They lived.

They lived.

They lived.

TO LIFE

One thought on “TO LIFE

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