When Fannie Lou Hamer uttered the powerful and still misunderstood phrase, her exhaustion was warranted. During this moment in time, she was a leader within the Freedom Democratic Party, addressing the attacks on black women’s bodies, which was referred to as a “Mississippi appendectomy”, and fighting for relief against Jim Crow laws on the front lines and addressing voting suppression in Mississippi (as well as other states). I highly recommend reading more here. The phrasing of the exhaustion that plagued her can best be summarized by watching and enduring the torture from the physical and mental spaces used to protect oneself seems non-existent. All while the attempts to build those spaces were simultaneously attacked.
The additional exhaustion can be found in the reality that the nation was built on the backs of the people of color. From chattel slavery to the modern exploitation of people’s bodies, we are still witnessing the devaluation of people. My late grandfather Dr. Willenham Castilla shared a similar desire to give his people more opportunities to thrive during his time on earth. He wasn’t only active in his church and community, but as a Postmaster General, he worked to register black folks to vote that would have otherwise not been afforded the opportunity. And while the efforts of people such as the two mentioned above went a long way towards the advancement of black folks, there is a twilight zone level conversation up for debate surrounding white supremacy’s hold on legislative Gun Control.
There is a fact that there is a glaring difference in gun control in the United States in comparison with other “advanced” nations. And yes, no one is ignorant that there is a legal market and a not-so-legal market. But you don’t fix things by ignoring your current situation. We as a nation have witnessed, within a short period, a large-scale hate crime in a black communities grocery store. People were going to the store to buy food within their own community and were gunned down for no reason other than the color of their skin by a white supremacist, to the hate-based attack targeting Taiwanese Americans in a Presbyterian church, because of their ethnicity. To now, children in a Hispanic community are falling victim to a school shooting, the place where we’d hope that our children can be the safest. And it seems, that the more we find out about each of these situations, including the one currently still developing, the more upset we find ourselves.
If you’re religious or not, there is a relevant scripture passage to this joint pain and suffering.
Romans 12:5 says, Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.
And now is a time of collective mourning. It’s not okay that this is happening, but it is okay to take time away from your daily scheduled program to hug, kiss, talk to, and cry with those closest to you. Take it so far as to even say the L-word. Love. Release pettiness and embrace what’s needed to heal. But we have to remember that to heal, we must attempt to address the items that open up the wounds. One of the things we learn when dealing with items such as anxiety is that we know what our body fear is attempting to address that has us in survival mode (not a therapist, but I highly encourage going to see one if needed).
Right now, we are in a collective state of survival. We must intentionally seek an outcome of holding the very politicians accountable that are in office that benefits from the various gun lobbying efforts of groups such as the NRA and the PACs it supports (Even as they prepare for their convention in Texas now). The bill in office that Steve Kerr spoke of currently sits in Senate getting dusty.
That means that we must not lose ground in local elections. If they continue to operate this way when the majority of Americans by a hefty margin want more significant control to prevent tragedies like this from occurring, then we must do this by handing the pink slip (looking at you, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, fill in the blank) to people in office local and up that won’t commit to changing the status quo. We are in danger of becoming numb to compensate for the pain, but there is an opportunity to use this moment of difficulty to highlight a method to impact change.
- Continue to vote. I get it. It gets tiring. But, it’s something that must continue to happen. The attack on Women’s bodies results from a president (Trump) placing people on the bench put it in Jeopardy. It’s what led to voting laws attacking people of color. And these laws elect the people who answer to the NRA instead while refusing to keep our children safe.
- Call your representatives and align yourself with people/organizations fighting for real, sustainable change.
- Put your dollars behind your heart’s desire to see that change. We invest in food because we know it sustains our immediate survival needs. We invest in retirement because we know there will be a day in a long life where working a day job is far less doable (or desired). We must take the same approach here and continue to put dollars behind the effort to impact change with items like gun control and the need to pass the George Floyd Policing Act (we haven’t forgotten).
- Be honest that these mass shootings are not all the same. White supremacy is ingrained in our fabric and directly contributes to what happened in California and in New York. The country has a long and detailed history of the bloody experience that black people, in particular, have faced. The policy has to reflect that a desire to change that narrative. We have to call a spade a spade when we see it.
There are more things to do, obviously, but at this moment, I want to ask ourselves to look inward and ask how we can alter what we do outwardly. This may read like a political post, but it’s not really that. It’s honing in on ideals we preach that make us great. These are afforded to all, and this means the right to go to school, worship, shop, and not have to continually worry if your life or loved ones are in danger due to someone with a high-powered rifle.
If you don’t recall anything else I mentioned, I’ll repeat it. Show love to someone today. Listen to that meditation. Pray. Workout. Whatever you need to do that puts you in a healthier place than before; please do it.
Just as love can be soft, it can be fiery. With love, there comes empathy. With empathy, there comes understanding. With understanding, there comes opportunity. With opportunity, there can be change.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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