Art. Culture. Life. A World.

Musings on the journeys we take...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Day 1 of watching the rest of the story... Nov. 9, 2016

Day 1:
I woke and opened my eyes to a quiet morning, trying to feel if it was the end of an era. I didn't want to turn on my phone, or check any feeds. If I didn't know, then I couldn't react. But of course, taking my husband to work we turned on the radio, and it was real. And my face slide off, and for the rest of the day, I couldn't find it. Returning home, I couldn't dress for work, or figure out where my makeup was... I felt drugged, in the proverbial fog, full of, not disappointment but horror. But not simply horror, but something like seeing a man hanging from a tree acceptance. Shock, stunned, but even more embarrassed by my comfort and by my overconfidence in my place and identity in America, but really embarrassed by my belief in a country who has for the most part "overcome" an enslavement past, who didn't give women the right to vote until August 18, 1920, who has worked hard but not hard enough to solve our poverty issues... I had a belief in things unseen. So what has changed though really? What will or will not change are the keys rattling on destiny's chain... As Nina Simone says, "It is the Artist's role to reflect the issues of the times." Living up to her legacy will be hard, but we artists have to try. And as my day went on, I talked to my family members, and stories poured across my FB feeds, and I went to get an oil change and in the Jiffy Lube waiting room, I sat reading today's paper, and when the white woman walked in, she quickly averted her gaze and stood near the front of the room. She didn't acknowledge me. Even though we were the only two people in the room, she got coffee, got a magazine and stood at the front desk waiting for the cashier, who was also white, to come in. Maybe this was nothing. You're paranoid, Shonda. I didn't know who she voted for, but if I'm awake and aware now, I would think that today of all days, she would say, "wow, what an election," and then I would say, "yeah, can you believe it?" And then we could fold our wings and sit on opposites sides of the branch in the same tree. That's what people do on a day like this. Maybe she just wasn't a talkative person. Or maybe something else... And this thought moved slowly across the room, into the corners, and through the halls of our lives as two women in one country with a burdened past. "Your car's ready," the man smiled kindly and I thanked him, and walked out, never looking at the woman, but the space between us...followed me. That space is the space of our silence, our fear of knowing something we didn't grow up with, our fear of inviting someone who is different from us to lunch, dinner, to our house for tea... So I have decided to be awake now. In my writing, teaching and interactions with my beautiful country and beautiful strangers and my even more beautiful family and friends. Nina's legacy is alive in me, all of us. I have the words now to say it.

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