“Write hard and clear about what hurts” -Ernest Hemingway.
I have been hurting a lot recently. Not because anything happened or changed. No external factor has caused my persona and moods to change. For those of you who don’t battle with depression on a regular basis, it may be hard to understand how just waking up can completely exhaust your mental capacity but for the past several days, I have fallen asleep with a weight on my chest and waken up with a sigh for no tangible reason. I want so desperately to be able to describe what goes on in my mind and throughout my entire body into a concrete definition. Something more than metaphors that barely begin to cover the wholesomeness cloud cover that depression puts on life. There is a part of me that believes if I were able to identify and describe the numbness and dull penetration of depression, I would be able to conquer it. I would be able to name it, describe it and find its weaknesses. I am not so lucky. For now, depression is a weight on my chest and a gray rain cloud hovering only over me (the stereotypical scenes that tend to play out on anti-depressant commercials that do nothing to make a difference).
Right? Ok. Depression and the hurt that is encompassed under that rain cloud-impossible to write clearly about. But some things are not abstract and only representable through metaphors. Some things are concrete and clear and they fucking hurt. Things like:
-watching the Patriots win another bloody football championship (hosting a f*** Tom Brady party on February 3rd)
-stepping on your dog’s tail and listening to the squeal that comes out of their mouth afterwards.
-seeing your mom cry
But the hurt I really want to talk about is:
-becoming educated about the blatant injustices people who were graced with a few extra dashes of melanin in their skin face every single day. PLEASE WATCH THE SANDRA BLAND DOCUMENTARY “SAY HER NAME” if you have not yet. There were several times during this documentary that I wanted to turn it off, that I began to cover my eyes, that I felt uncomfortable and THAT is the fucking problem. I didn’t want to see how unfair and how brutally her human rights were exploited so I wanted to close my eyes. And it is this choosing of ignorance that has allowed us to stay where we are as a country. It is that kind of denial that allows African American, black men, women, and children to suffer.
I watched the police cam many many times and it hurt every time. How the officer was so willing to tase Sandra B, how excited he was at the thought of pulling her out of her own vehicle for a failure to signal a lane change. I listened to the testimonies of the sheriff’s office and felt my blood pressure boil as every moment passed saying racism doesn’t exist. THE ONLY WAY YOU ARE ABLE TO SAY OUT LOUD THAT RACISM ISN’T REAL IS IF YOUR EYES ARE CLOSED. So I kept my eyes open. I watched with tears in my eyes and my stomach churning. I watched how our country fatally failed Sandra Bland and so many other black men and women. I have dedicated myself to reading as much literature and becoming as active as possible in my education about injustices that black Americans face everyday.
I live in Montgomery Alabama, home of so many historical landmarks and events that black and white Americans learn and celebrate every year. Rosa Parks, March at Selma, and home of the Legacy Museum (home of a past slave auction). I live in a neighborhood predominantly African American and I live with and love a man who has darker skin than I. And my stress level has multiplied. I worry about the kids walking down the street with a stick in their hand never knowing what could happen to them if someone mistakes that stick or high five for a gang sign or weapon. I worry about my SO every single time he gets in the car never knowing how badly a routine traffic stop might turn. I have been asked if I am safe after sitting at a table with his family by a woman with the same color skin as I. Being with, and living around/near African American individuals, I am able to see how real racism is. And it fucking hurts. I am beyond blessed that when I am speeding down the street, I know the worst thing that is going to happen when I get pulled over is that I have to go on a payment plan to pay down the ticket. But the second my SO starts to speed, I ensure my phone is charged so that if we get pulled over, I am able to record any injustices he may experience. My awareness has been heightened and with it, the realization how unbelievably different the experiences we share differ because his come with a melanin lens. And it fucking hurts.
It hurts to watch that people in this country still have to shout at the top of their lungs that their lives matter and it hurts even more to realize that me closing my eyes is part of the problem.
I am begging every reader of mine to push out of your comfort zone and open your fucking eyes. The only way we can make this hurt stop is to be active about it.