Little Poems for Dark Days #1
What seem to be fresh horrors
are really just old wounds
that have never stopped bleeding.
for wanting to be relieved
more than I want to be awakened.
My friend Janel and I were talking last night about writing and poetry and how scattered we feel during this time of dramatic headlines. I haven't been writing much because I feel like I have nothing coherent to say. The little nuggets are not coming to me.
But there are millions of others who's been testifying no matter the headlines. And they have been doing it for centuries. It's going to take much more than Trump to shut them up.
So I've been reading Ta-Nehisi Coates. And Sherman Alexie. Roxanne Gay. Langston Hughes. Trying to immerse myself realities that aren't mine. Trying to get my white self seeing whiteness, otherness, and the construct of race the way Indians, immigrants, and slave-descendants have always seen them--as deliberate, engineered tools of oppression that concentrate money and power in the hands of the conquerors.
This education of mine has been going on for me since my early 20's when Yancey and I moved into a south Seattle neighborhood that's one of the most diverse zip codes in the country. We thought we'd become friends with everyone, maybe exchange some Spanish and Vietnamese phrases with neighbors, give our kids an education in diversity. It was all much, much harder than that, and my learning has never stopped. If you're white and wanting to start or further your education on race and privilege, you don't need to exploit people of color to do it! You don't need to find your few friends who are brown or black and ask them to educate you. You can do it yourself! This reading list prepared by Cristena Cleveland is a great start. My biggest piece of advice on this journey is to believe the witness of marginalized people in this country. They're not pulling your leg. They are not exaggerating. They're not looking for sympathy. They are voices crying out in the wilderness. And, as people with more privilege, it's our job as white folks to bring those voices into the mainstream. We can't afford to wait any longer.
So I'm going to be posting Little Poems for Dark Days. As many as I can for the foreseeable future. Hopefully every day (though you KNOW that won't happen) for as long as the Spirit moves me. I'm so inspired by Langston Hughes--his straightforward, social, political, playful, direct, revolutionary poems. This is an experiment for me in being less careful, less caught up in crafting a perfect little package, and more stream-of-consciousness, less adorned, quicker on the draw.
And thanks, Janel, for the cheerleading yesterday. Writers gotta write!