Monthly Archives: August 2014
And the sooner we both acknowledge this, the sooner we can begin to address the problem. So let’s talk.
“Wait just a minute here, Rachel. You’re like, the least racist person I know. You’re always sharing stuff about race and racism. You couldn’t possibly be racist.”
Here’s the deal. Racism isn’t just guys in white robes and Paula Deen shouting racial slurs. Racism is subtle, racism is insidious, and our culture is so deeply steeped in it that it’s impossible to grow up in the US and not be racist. It’s a kind of brainwashing: a set of default configuration files that come with the culture. It’s a filter, built up from birth, that alters our perception of the world. (Literally–racial bias makes people see weapons that aren’t there.) Racism isn’t just conscious actions; it’s judgements that happen so fast that we may not even be aware of…
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It has been a long 10 days since I responded to @KennySWiley’s tweet asking if there were people in Denver interested in organizing a National Moment of Silence. At the time, I was on my break at work, reading about the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Like many people, I felt helpless. Like many people, I felt tired. The killing of Black people in the United States by police, security and vigilante justice, as well as the incarceration of so many inside the Prison Industrial Complex is genocide. This is not new. This has been going on for centuries.
So I responded. When someone asked if I’d done this before, I said no, but there was a first time for everything. Thanks to my years of working as a secretary, as a customer service rep, and as a nurse, I have learned you can get a lot done quickly if you have the determination, the support, and the time to make things happen. Thanks to the advice of and work of complete strangers on Twitter, I was able to help navigate the process of finding a space for the NMOS. It was the work of many. We called to the community, the clergy, and Denver responded.
Last Thursday, and tonight, at the Denver March for Justice, I heard many people talk about how tired we are. And some people don’t like that language. We are full of energy. I agree, I am full of energy. Being out of college and having free time made it possible for me to take a part in co-organizing these events. For that opportunity, I am grateful. But I admit, I am also tired.
I am tired of ideology that Black people are disposable. I am tired of the killing of my Black neighbors. I am tired of the loss of these fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers. I am emotionally, spiritually, mentally exhausted. Every 28 hours, another Black person is killed by police, security or vigilante justice. I am no where near as tired as the members of the Black community. I cannot fathom the level of exhaustion felt by people for whom waking up and going about their day is a revolutionary act.
I spend a lot of my time tired. I’m a nurse. I work nights. I frequently have to move my sleep schedule around. But I have found the more tired I am, the more I can accomplish. I call this “being a special kind of tired.”
I am tired. I am the kind of tired that forces you into action. The kind of tired that demands you find caffeine and push forward. I am the kind of tired that tells me I will not really rest until I work to make change happen. I am the kind of tired that fuels effort and change. I am that special kind of tired you become when you have been pushed to your limits.
The world has pushed me to my limits. As Kenny said, I have moved past the point where blog posts and twitter posts and arguing with my relatives on Facebook is sufficient. I must act.
Tonight I had the opportunity to take a member of the march home to Longmont, Colorado. This man, who marched in Selma, Alabama in the 1960’s, talked to me about his years of activism. The injuries he has received, the injuries he has cared for. Being in the Civil Rights Movement, he learned the skills of a field medic, and if he was not marching, he was caring for the injured. He shared his poetry. He told me about people I will never see in a history book.
He is tired. He has been tired for years. But he keeps going. He keeps pushing. He is that special kind of tired.
Never assume complacency from a tired person. Yes, we are tired. But it is this deep emotional, spiritual exhaustion that has pushed us to action. Many people have reached this state of exhaustion and are moving. We cannot stop moving. We must push forward. One day, there will be real rest. There will be time for enjoying the sun and the grass and the sky. A good book. But for today, our exhaustion is fuel.
We are tired, but we are not out of energy. We are exhausted, but we will not rest. We are going to change the world, and that requires a special level of tired to get the work done.
I am so proud of my community tonight. So amazed at how many people came out to protest in solidarity with Ferguson. So incredibly lucky to be a part of it all. Thank you, Denver.
The National Moment of Silence in Denver on Thursday was a success. We held a peaceful vigil and members of the Denver Ministry came and spoke. We sang. We linked arms. In silence, we remembered Mike Brown and then we spoke the names of the dead. We collected signatures. At the end, the crowd dispersed quietly.
I personally was very nervous about the event. I’ve never organized anything before, and neither had any of my co-organizers. I feel that for something that started in the middle of the night on Sunday, we did really well.
But that was a moment. We need a movement.
We are working on planning a march in Denver on Tuesday. More information is forthcoming.
In solidarity with the protestors in Ferguson, Missouri and in recognition that we cannot stop fighting police brutality, we have created Coloradoans For Justice.
Please like the page and follow the Twitter account for updates on a march we are planning for Tuesday.
More information to come.