Nine Lives (Charleston)
We are not as fortunate as cats. We only get one life (as far as we know). And with that one life we will chose to either expand or contract-grow or shrink-swim or stay stuck. That’s it. In every moment we are choosing one or the other. When the car on the left swerves and almost hits us, when a friend cuts us with his words, when nine lives are hammered out by the hands of hate, will we rage in anger, fold in on ourselves and hide or will we lean into the work that is yet to be done?
Charleston reminds me that we cannot simply stop at calling an act of murder racism. We must dig deeper, get gritty, and excavate the original lie. We must uncover and expose why the concept of racism was created. During Super Soul Sunday, when Oprah inquired of author and activist, Michael Pollan on the subject of racism, he so eloquently answered that racism was created as a tool to aide the greedy in their need to justify slavery, divide and conquer, and control the masses (paraphrase). It is my opinion that we must go all the way back to important documents like the infamous William Lynch Letter http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Perspectives_1/Willie_Lynch_letter_The_Making_of_a_Slave.shtml to understand the psychology of creating a slave mentality. Individually and collectively, we must strive to understand the many functions of racism- what purpose they serve, who they serve, and why racism is top tier on the agenda. Sound like a conspiracy theory? Then test it with children…
Just stroll up to any park and quietly observe the interactions of toddlers with each other. You will see all manner of things-laughter, playing, an occasional tiff, but I am confident in saying that you will not see racism because it is a learned behavior and not a part of our natural make up. Children speak to our innocence and remind us of the many “isms” (racism, sexism, ageism;etc) that are not in line with the fundamental nature of the universe and serve no purpose. It’s too bad that some of us have forgotten that we were once those same toddlers in the sandbox making birthday cakes out of sand, chasing butterflies or playing with whoever showed up. How long will we cry out silently in the night for change, yet mow our manicured lawns with our mouths glued to our lattes? How long will we allow friends and family members to say things in our presence that we know perpetuates the hate we see played out in places like Ferguson (Michael Brown), Staten Island (Eric Garner), and every corner of the Globe? When will we grant our innocence license to grab hold of justice and walk in the truth that all men and women are created equal?
There are ONE HUNDRED BILLION GALAXIES in the observable universe. Do we really think the creator cares about melanin? It’s petty. The many racially motivated murders that have happened repeatedly over the last few months remind us that the healing of our nation has not happened, the scares have not healed, and the wounds will only deepen until we stop simply bandaging.
illustration by: Eric Blegvad