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Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Every once in a while members of black communities rise up. They have always been pushed there. It is never unprovoked. It has been after many failings of society as a whole to acknowledge what harm we allow to be inflicted based on race and excuse it or ignore it altogether. The talk that comes out about the rioting uses the pronoun 'they,' which always pisses me off. There is an almost accepted idea in society that every individual involved in the rioting is a representative of every American with dark skin. It also occurs to me that every time I have heard mention of the killer in the massacre of nine innocent souls in their house of worship last week, he has been offered to me as a lone wolf.

The people who rise up in anger and the white monsters who aspire to terrorism are both coming from the same place.  No one in our society can disassociate themselves from either of them. We have created these situations and we allow their maintenance. The communities of color rise up when society has failed them too many times and their rage gets the best of them. The white monsters commit atrocities because we tell ourselves they are acting solely of their own accord from a place no one can understand. Its a lot easier that way, isn't it? I understand it, though. I understand that he heard a lot of racist rhetoric in his life, from one place or another. He heard people tell him that he is superior to people of color. He listened to groups on the internet that supported those ideas and gave him bullshit 'scientific' support of his hatred. And I am sure that we will learn sooner or later (if anyone decides to report it to us, that is) that he spent much of his time listening to the extreme right wing radio bastards and watching the Fox cable channel with the word 'news' in its title.

We allow hate. We say that the people who spread the lies are exercising their freedom of speech. We say that, even if they are supposed to be exercising their freedom of the press, they are still entitled to say whatever they want. We do that so we can look the other way and wave our hands in the air and deem it someone else's problem. Of course, that is why we are still dealing with states condoning Confederate flags on their statehouses 150 years after the traitorous flag had become only a relevant historical artifact. I don't know how communities of color haven't been in perpetual riots. It is a grace I will never understand. And I hope the rest of us can take a moment to acknowledge that and rise to that level of decorum to begin a move forward. Together.

Last week was so hard for the country. We are repeatedly handed opportunities to see our failings and sincerely make a change. Collectively we opt out. Every time. This time seems to be different, though. We were offered a very personal look at the families who lost their loved ones in the massacre when they were in court and each of them, with shaking voices full of sorrow and tears, offered forgiveness to the killer. That is grace. That is a beauty we don't see in our society. That is in exact contradiction to what the hateful racists of the world were telling us their community was going to do. Those very least among us were hoping for another riot. They wanted to see the community outraged and attempt to revolt so America could remind itself that 'they' are angry. Instead we were offered grace. And love. And genuine beauty.

I read "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," by Maya Angelou when I was 20. The book changed me. I ended up reading everything she had ever written and determined that she was speaking for me. I had finally found someone to identify with. It is curious, to be sure. I am a white woman from another generation who grew up in Ohio and had exactly zero of the same life experiences that Maya did. The best I can explain it is to say that she received and interpreted the world the way that I did. She had a personal connection to life and lives and felt her own attachment to them. She found a way to relay her understandings through her writing and was not apologetic for it. My emotional attachments were something I had never been able to accept about myself because no one else had. Maya gave a companion to my feelings and understandings and because they came from her so beautifully, I was able to love and respect myself in a way I could never have done before. I still remind myself of her grace when I think of the woman I want to work toward becoming.

When I read Maya Angelou's poem "And Still I Rise" as a young woman, I misinterpreted it. I thought that because of her many life experiences she was telling all of the people who had ever looked down on her that their opinions were irrelevant. But I kept hearing lines from the poem in my head last week whenever the news would play a clip of the families in the courtroom. That was who she was speaking about. That was about the unified black experience. The unified black soul continues to rise. And it juxtaposed with things that white America chooses to see. And what white America refuses to see. 

I see it. I hope everyone can take time and give a loving, thoughtful reflection on Maya Angelou's words here. I hope we can all aspire to rise. Together. 

(I hope I am not disrespecting anyone by posting it. I have no idea how to get approval or if it is necessary).

And Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 


  1. YES! "I don't know how communities of color haven't been in perpetual riots. It is a grace I will never understand. And I hope the rest of us can take a moment to acknowledge that and rise to that level of decorum to begin a move forward. Together."

  2. Powerful truth!!! Well written! I wish your writings could be read by the world.

    1. Thank you Jamie! I don't know why I never got notification of this message. Thank you so much! I wish my writings would be read by the world, too. :) Kiss Kiss.