The more we—our lives, our choices, the defaults we are granted—reflect the status quo, the less time we are called upon to spend explaining and defending.
The more powerful our position, the greater our social status and capital, the less likely it is we will even notice the general absence of conversational hyphens and parentheses from our day to day.
What fascinates me about this dynamic is the reflex of people in these positions to seek affirmation—but never critique, judgement, or even the merest contradiction or correction—from folks with less. Please recognize me as an ally. Please tell me I am not like those other people. Please praise my efforts.
So much of this is rooted in our desire to have what we see as personal growth explicitly hailed as such. So much of this conflates the individual with the system. So much of this ignores the power differentials that persist.
Of the many things that 2020 has wrought, I hope that one of its lessons is that intent matters so much less than effects.
When the smoke rises and sinks its teeth into the meat of another dark sky, people always wanna act like “Mississippi Goddam” was the only song Nina Simone blessed the earth with. Probably ‘cuz if you sit on the floor with a record player in a room quiet as a dirt-lined casket, you can hear the black bones cracking right there underneath the piano keys. You can taste another man’s blood climbing slow up the back of your throat. Feel the water cannons start to press through the walls and soak your feet. Might even be able to see the one hundred snapped necks hanging from the edge of the needle when Nina sings “Lord have mercy on this land of mine…”
— from “I. The Ghost Of The Author’s Mother Performs An Autopsy On The Freshly Hollow City” by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib