As I drift along on my daily walk, the one I started during this sheltering, passing by a large expanse of water and sky, I am reminded of how slowly change comes, and when it does finally happen, it’s due to a ferocious wind driving everything out of its path. I thought of my father today, on my parents’ wedding anniversary coincidentally, as he would remind me when I was frustrated with the lack of protections afforded queer people like me, and he would state some statistic like, “just remember Oscar Wilde was found guilty of gross indecency in 1895, not that long ago, and look how far the world has come” he would add. As sweet as his history lessons were the demands of today call for vast sweeping changes effective immediately. It is not enough to recant one’s prejudices or apologize how we got here, instead, it is time to kick into the cracks and bring down the shoddy notions of the past. Racial or economic or gender or sexuality or religious or any differences can no longer dictate who gets what in this one world.
Say their names as you scramble your eggs, as you walk to grab your coffee, as you start your work day. Say their names when you hug your mom or your son or your neighbor or your uncle. Say their names as you end your day in bed with your partner. Say their name when you start your car or brush your teeth. When you say your prayers say their names. When you preach. When you teach. When you dance. Or cry. Or talk to your grandmother. Or the cop who pulls you over. Just keep saying their names until this ends and even then chant them out loud. Burn your incense, light your candles, and say their names.
As we let those names linger in our air, let us also remember that, “Since Jan. 1, 2015, 1,252 black people have been shot and killed by police, according to The Washington Post’s database tracking police shootings; that doesn’t even include those who died in police custody or were killed using other methods” (A Decade of Watching Black People Die).
I don’t spend my days listening to fringe news or scouring YouTube to follow the latest conspiracy down into the void, perhaps that is because I am busy encouraging young people to read slowly and carefully and respond in a way that shows their own well-developed reasoning, but even if I wasn’t, I’d like to think I would spend my energy in innovative adaptions to our new COVID 19 reality. There are days when I wonder who has the nerve to grab their military weapons and take to the street with dangerous demands, and on those days I remember the audacity of white privilege and the lengths it will take someone, and then I remember this is not the case for black men who are hunted without penalty, and then I remember still, oh yeah, I’ve got a job to do, so I go back to thinking of my students, who are still showing up by the way. By whatever determination they are conjuring, they are my heroes today, so I focus on them and ignore the crazy out there.
That isn’t what I want to write about though. Enough with a world of crazy and the sensational headlines, let’s talk mothers, aunts, and step-moms, and your girlfriends who are always there to support your mothering. Today, let’s remember those ladies, who bathed you when you were a mess, and held your hand when the world got dark, women who said do it, and pushed you onward when you were sliding back. The mothers who stripped your hurt and replaced it with hope. Those ladies who were the prettiest ones for ever and ever and even when their faces were roadmaps to loads of worry you could find a happy day. In fact, you were always their happiest day. Just you. I had such a mother. She was a larger than life forever waiting for another party to start hard working and smart cookie type. Her laugh legendary. Her smile big and easy. Her ability to give endless. And as flawed as they come, needing to apologize endlessly for all sorts of mix-ups and wrong comments and weird gifts. But she was perfectly imaginative and daring, everyone’s best date who looked smashing in orange and loved me best.