Yesterday I woke to news about Mr. Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man who stopped to break up a domestic situation, and ended up being shot in the back eight times. In front of his children. I’m going to type that again. IN FRONT OF HIS CHILDREN IN THE CAR. And then I came across the video. It was embedded in a news article.
I hesitated to watch it. Did I need to see it? Will I just add it to the gut wrenching, horrific images I still have and will never forget of Mr. Floyd being murdered by police? What will viewing this video do to me?
That felt like a selfish or self-serving question. And in no way was I thinking this was all about me and yet, it is also about me. I’m Mixed Blood. Indigenous and Black. I’m the Black and Brown folks are talking about. I live in Minneapolis. I have family and friends, a tribe, a community and they are strong, loving people. Black Lives Matter. And they are wounded by the pain of racial strife (wow, that’s such a timid word…I apologize. I’m continuously struggling with words to describe my feelings about my life, our country, and our world).
So I watched it. Just once.
People were screaming. Shocked by what they were seeing unfolding before their eyes. And then Mr. Blake tried to get in his car. The cop grabbed the back of shirt with one hand and fired on Mr. Blake with the other.
Then the car horn. From Mr. Blake falling against his steering wheel. In front of his children.
A woman in the street shrieked with hysteria.
This is more trauma. More. More. More.
I had a full day scheduled with work deadlines. I’m a Sensitivity Reader and Diversity Editor. I’m a Beta Reader and a writer. I have a novel manuscript to revise about a Mixed Race cop who takes on a white supremacist who starts a race war in Minneapolis. She’s assisted by her ancestors.
I have a TV project about a half-Native, half -Vietnamese adoptee of a wealthy white Minnesota family who returns home when her father is dying and is met with the secrets and trauma that made her run away in the first place. I had a development meeting with my co-creator and co-producer, Elizabeth Frances, on the calendar.
I was scheduled to show up yesterday. But I couldn’t get there. I felt the hard lump stuck in my chest slowly making it’s way up to lodge itself in my throat. My daughter, Lanee Bird and I texted about the world, and I cried because I can’t get on a plane to go see her in NYC. I reached out to my super smart Twin Cities girlfriends and they, like me, were feeling the rage. I went to Facebook to check in my friends, to share this overwhelming flood of emotional pain and angst of everything that is happening in our lives. Covid. RNC. Race relations. Hurricanes and astroids.
Then my meeting began and I asked Liz to hold space for me because I needed to cry. Which I did a bit but I think rage was still the power emotion in charge. We ranted. We laughed. We made plans to rule the world. Or at least the airwaves with a podcast called “Calm the Fuck Down” and I felt better. Not clear. Not healed but better.
I kept busy after that with busy work, cleaning the bathroom, and taking moments to breathe. And then I sat down to watch Sunday’s latest episode of HBO’s Lovecraft Country. Oh…damn. The brilliance. The poignant brilliance.
There are a few shows that require me to get ready to view. Ones where I have to gather my blanket, hot tea and Kleenex, put down my phone and close my computer. And plan to not do much afterwards because I need the head and heart space to process. Handmaid’s Tale is like that. And more recently, I May Destroy You. And now, Lovecraft Country.
I won’t spoil anything about this show because I want you to see it.
Just know that at then end of Episode 2…in my “O, Damn!” exclamation was the directive for my dam to break. I wept. The tears weren’t just about the show. They came from someplace deeper in me. They came from me holding my brown face in my brown hands and feeling the righteous rage of my ancestors, Black and Brown, captured, denigrated. And killed.
Sometimes, too many times, it’s so difficult being Black and Brown in this country.
We matter. We always have. And we will make the world know this.