Black woman in meditation
My aversion to anger goes way back, to when I learned that being a good girl means being a nice and gentle person, and that anger often stems from misunderstanding and ends in regret. It also goes deep, to what it means to be an angry black woman, to embody an image that's part of both a negative stereotype and a painful truth.
So I also tend to avoid expressing anger. I don't like to speak out of anger, for fear that I'll say something I regret, something I can't take back, hurt someone who doesn't deserve it, make someone feel guilty for something they can do nothing about.
But sometimes there is anger that I couldn't avoid, even if I tried. And it's moments like these when I remember that getting mad can be good for something.
Last night, I attended New Poetry Mission, returning to the local literary scene after a few months' absence. There were a few things that drew me back - wanting to reconnect with folks like host Sam Sax, for instance, and wanting to hear some good poetry, which certainly happened when feature Sean Patrick Mulroy (among others) blew me away with his work.
But mostly, I wanted to go because I'd written a poem I wanted to read at the open mic. I wanted to read it, for Trayvon Martin. And I needed to read it. For the sake of expressing my own anger.
The poem was what I'd call "raw" - just finished, still rough around the edges, nothing I'd consider submitting for publication or sharing with a writing group for critique. It's not what I'd call evidence of my skill or the mastering of my craft. But it's full of my anger. Anger that's honest, without censorship or hesitation. In a way, that means it's the best I've got.
This is the truth I cannot hide: when I look at the facts of Trayvon's murder, I get really, really mad. It feels like the kind of anger I'd want to tuck deep inside of a place that would never see the light of day, but it's all over that poem I wrote, and rather than hiding it, I released it into the world. I can't quite say that it felt good, because it felt terrifying, like it was coming from a sad, nearly hopeless place inside of me, but it felt right.
My reading last night reminded me that anger has its place. For me, that place is in injustice. I am angry for Trayvon, and for everyone who could be in his place. I couldn't, and wouldn't, have it any other way.