The details of the beating of Tyre Nichols are now available for public view. They are beyond my imagination for violence and disregard for human life. Words escape me – replaced by feelings of pain, anguish, anger, horror, and fear – none of those words are adequate.
I have been turning to voices that can speak when I’m incapable. I hope you will read the attached email (click here) sent by the Othering and Belonging Institute, as well as the linked resources when you have the energy to do so.
I know I am not alone in having each act of violence against black and brown bodies become part of my DNA. Tyre Nichols, George Floyd, the deaths before them and since – I see my family, and I grieve at a cellular level because I know that the next day I will wake up, and go outside my door with one more coat of armor to help me glide through the day. I have to believe that every human is moved to tears when another life is taken in a senseless, unimaginable, and avoidable manner. But I know that not everyone can experience the fear that I and other people of color carry – that the next time it could be me, it could be my child or another family member, and that there is no way to prevent it.
We are asked to grieve and then move on. That way, the next day we can be functional at work, listen to funny animal stories, make dinner, and have hope for the future. The only other option is to crawl into a corner, because it is too heavy of a burden to carry. But then I need only think of those who came before me – who kept going so I could be in this place today. Their struggles become the ground I stand upon, to lift myself up and move forward.
I will never feel what tribal members feel about the history of boarding schools and the discovery of buried children at those school sites, the centuries of near genocide, and broken treaties. I will never feel what immigrant parents experience when they are separated from their children at the border, never knowing if they will see their children again, except for the media’s pictures of toddlers in cages in warehouses. Yet I grieve with them, alongside them.
The people who wear uniforms, who are meant to protect us when we are at our most vulnerable, must also step up and show that they can remove people in their ranks who have no desire to protect us all, who don’t see us all as humans deserving of full lives.
Humans are strange creatures, capable of such creative imagination and cruelty simultaneously.
I appreciate being surrounded by people who see us all as belonging with a right to thrive in this place we call home.
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