1) I’m in pain. Physically, I mean. For a little over a week now, I’ve been dealing with a health issue that has me confined to my bed when I’m not going back and forth to the doctor’s office. I’ve never felt so useless in my life. I can hardly do anything for myself, or for anybody else, for that matter. It goes very much against my nature – my care-taking nature and my busy nature. I hate it.
2) Physical pain isn’t far removed from emotional pain. I’ve been noticing similarities between my current state of being and depression – listlessness, hopelessness, difficulty accomplishing much of anything. The longer this goes on, the less clear I am about whether it’s my body or my mind that’s having trouble.
3) Personal pain isn’t far removed from communal pain. When I heard on Saturday that George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges after shooting unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, I first tried to shrug it off, almost, as in, “Well, I knew this was coming.” As in, “I can’t possibly process all of the feelings I have about this, so I just need it to go away.” As in, “I’m speechless. There’s so much to say. Too much. So it just feels like there’s nothing to say.” But then the tears came. Hot, angry, frustrated, sorrowful tears. I couldn’t stop them.
4) There’s nothing I can do about it. There’s nothing I can do about it. No, really – there’s nothing I can do about it. The criminal justice system has declared that it’s legal for a man to follow a boy he deems suspicious, and to shoot and kill that boy. I am in my bed, face down. I can’t even get myself a drink of water. I certainly can’t bring Trayvon back. And I can’t protect others like him. There’s nothing I can do.
5) I’m not ending this blog post with a message of resilience or hope or happiness. In this moment, I’m sitting with my helplessness. This is culturally, legally sanctioned helplessness. We can’t rely on our justice system to take away the pain. So now’s the time to really figure it out for ourselves: what can we do? This is not despair. Roxane Gay wrote, “If we despair, we are surrendering to injustice.” So this is not despair. This is a question.
What will we do?