This week I hit a wall. Or perhaps the wall hit me.
I can’t quite pinpoint the moment when I felt the bricks come crashing down. Maybe it was when I was trying to order sympathy flowers to commemorate yet another person killed by coronavirus in one browser tab and reply to the “concerned citizen” attempting to bully several of my team by email in another. Maybe it was when I got the WhatsApp message about the family member’s cancer diagnosis and then had to go immediately into a meeting. Maybe it was when the conference organizer asked me to both moderate the panel and “focus on diversity” while the two male co-panelists were each asked to talk about their work. Maybe it was the casualness of the conversations about who is allowed to be a person in media. Maybe it was all of this? Maybe it was everything else?
Why does it matter if someone said the n-word in front of teenagers he apologized get over it becomes how dare these uppity black reporters try to hold someone accountable for their actions becomes this industry was better when we all agreed that a little civilized racism among friends was nothing to have to apologize for becomes “we’re becoming an industry of vigilante bullies”.
I am very good at solving specific kinds of problems and very bad at remembering that these problems exist because the industries I choose to work in are, in a word, broken.
I forget every time that the ability to repair is not the same as the power to prevent. I forget every time that people say they want to be better but what they want is to be perceived as good.
What you do when you hit a wall is
get up. Again.
I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.
And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.
— from What Kind of Times are These by Adrienne Rich