On Black Lives Mattering: We all have a duty to do something

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‘Stop The Violence’ Illustration by Dennis de Groot

I’ve been thinking and thinking. And thinking.

My first visceral experience with police brutality was when I was in the 5th grade (you do the math) with the Rodney King beating. I was a young Black girl, still formulating what it means to be Black in America. Reading the brilliant works of Nikki Giovanni and Gwendolyn Brooks and Sterling Brown and Langston Hughes etc. on my spare time and in school when I had the chance. Writing my own poems as they flowed through me. Making sense of the hurt.

To be Black meant pain. It meant beauty that only we saw. It meant feeling invisible and finding some sort of freedom in that. It meant fighting. Always fighting. It meant grandma’s hands and private joys and not having good explanations for why we were snuffed out. Why white people seem to just hate us. Why they always have.

From the start of this site, I said I did not want this to become a place that talks about current events in the way that other sites do because, well, I don’t want to be a news site. There are other sites with actual staffs that do that and do it well. The most I do is in my newsletter, but I’m compelled today.

I’ve been compelled a lot lately. Murders happen daily. I’m tired of feeling like we are slipping further and further away from being human. In college I went on a trip to Atlanta and visited the MLK Center and there was an exhibition detailing the record of lynchings in the U.S.  I looked at every photo, studied it with intensity and moved from image to image while Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit” played on loop, each crackling of the record restarting making me more anxious and desperate to get out of the room but knowing I had a duty to stand and acknowledge what was in front of me.

This isn’t something that’s been diagnosed, but ever since 5th grade I’ve become heightened in my anxiety of what can happen to people I love. I am a very emotional person in private and blue steel in public. I have a brother and while he doesn’t know it (or anyone really), I have always had quiet panic attacks about him going out. I become stiff with fear. I would stay up and listen for him to come home. I would essentially become something like a second mother, but the more paranoid one. My actual mother is nothing like me in that regard, to her benefit.

The news doesn’t help my situation. I’ve always been an active voice in academic situations in regards to race. I see racism for what it is and call it out every time. I have been slow to warm to Europeans because of how I’m labeled and how they are conditioned to think/have been taught about America. I say so often that I feel free to live here in Europe because I don’t have to worry about the immediate physical threat of harm on our person on a daily basis. But am I free? No. I still cling to my friends and family and even the strangers because we share a commonality to that poisoned land. I am beyond sadness. I am beyond anger.

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It feels vain to post the work of someone in this space right now. It feels dismissive. I can’t just go on with business as usual. I need to think about myself. I need to think about you. I want to do something but I don’t know what just yet. I need my brain to be more coherent to actually come up with something that can be beneficial to us as a collective. I am a political person by nature, but I always tend to want to shy away from it because there’s so much that comes with it and you need to be responsible in a public forum. Whatever I think of, I want your support.

I know that I have allies here that both read and even write for Raising Mothers. This isn’t the time for silence. Yes, we cannot tell you how to act, but we also shouldn’t have to tell you that it is absolutely your duty to act. Right now. It is time to be beyond comfort. Beyond enjoying the spoils of whiteness. Beyond ignoring and sad face emjois. Put your money and your energy and your voice and your body out there and DO THE WORK. Support people of color doing the work. Talk. Talk. Talk.

After Katrina, I had to step away from watching TV for self perseverance. I was in a bad mental place for a while around that time because of unrelated issues and after watching one floating body after another, I was triggered back to the images of swinging bodies hanging from poplar trees. I stopped watching TV for over 2 years. In that time, I became an internet junkie. Now the internet has turned against me and with the advancement of technology, 10,000 people can post videos of Black people being murdered for no reason at all other than they were. We see these families suffer. We’re told repeatedly that the Black community needs to basically stay in line and swallow their rage. Time and again. We watch these murderers get no trials or get acquitted. Time and again.

I want to take a break from the computer but I can’t. I want to be mindful about self care. I’ve been trying to figure out how to bullet journal and I’ll be starting that today. I need to do something physical to release this stress. I want to organize a way for us as mothers to do something collective that puts value into the world. If you have ideas, you can always email me.

This is not an exhaustive list by any measure, but I’m going to post links to all the stuff I’ve read and posted on my private Facebook. Leave comments with links to anything in the comments so that I can add them to this post later. Anything that can uplift us right now, that promotes self care, that explains what happens from an institutional level, whatever. Just share below.

17 Poems to Read When The World is Too Much – BUZZFEED

White People Who Love Black Culture – BET

Alton Sterling, Eric Garner and the double standard of the side hustle – WaPo

Self Care for People of Color after Physiological Trauma – Just Jasmine

The Murder of Alton Sterling (And Others Like Him) Slowly, Subtly, And Steadily Kills Us Too – Very Smart Brothas

Waking Up White: A Resource for White Folks – Just Jasmine

The Truth of ‘Black Lives Matter’ – NYT

We are Here to Raise One Another Up: Raising Mothers talks to mater mea – Mutha Magazine

Miss Sick of this vs. Mama Cool – Mutha Magazine

No, We Won’t Calm Down – Tone Policing Is Just Another Way to Protect Privilege – Every day Feminism

In love and solidarity,

Sherisa