There are moments when certain words or phrases strike me as urgent. Today as I was reading through, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon, I was suspended in time by his words, “Hiding won’t protect us.” What does it mean to hide? Am I hiding in order to cower away from a threat or evil? Or, am I hiding to ambush a threat or evil? Nonetheless, hiding is only temporary solution; it is a liminal space.
One can never explore the freedom in vision while hiding. Creativity is stifled in hiding. Comparatively, hiding is a different space in than being alone. Baldwin surmises that the “primary distinction of the artist is that [they]must actively cultivate that state which most [people], necessarily, avoid: the state of being alone.” Creativity needs room which hiding doesn’t easily avail or lend itself towards. The creatives, artist, and those who understand freedom uses the banality of being alone as a space to exhume what humanity is afraid of being— simply an authentic, descent human. It the artist, as Baldwin declares, that affords us the opportunity to know “that there is nothing stable under heaven.”
Hiding forces one to compartmentalize to much of their beauty. It endorses the instability of chaos due to the lack of presence.
Hiding is a relentless appeal to avert dealing with reality.
“Hiding won’t protect us.” Were the words Laymon wrote to his mother.
As some friends and I read through, Sister Outsider, we embarked upon the small essay, Sexism: An American Disease in Blackface. Throughout this essay Audre Lorde dismantles patriarchy in her poetic fashion yet never muddying Blackness—holding it accountable but never muddying it. It is a delicate walk that she masters unlike many. She makes vivid comparative observations where survival is the leitmotif where Black women forgo care for themselves in order to care for “whites because we had to for pay or survival.” This sensibility and protective practice from Lorde’s writing unsettles patriarchy and Blackness unlike most things. Her proclamation that Black liberation is futile unless it first begins with the unfettered love, fair and ethical treatment of Black women.
But, I must admit the thing that had me aghast is her use of the sexism as a disease; and, not only diseased but in blackface. This characterization of sexism as a disease rocked me to my core. But, my understanding was not through sexism because I can’t say that I have dealt with sexism in the same way that she or any sister has. Therefore, I thought about it through the lens of racism. Seeing racism as a disease was something that never really materialized in my imagination. Though it makes clear sense, I never really wanted to make racism even more concrete than it already was. By making it a disease makes it even more tangible. Nevertheless, as we were bouncing thoughts and images about racism being this disease, this cancer, and plague, Walter brings us back to soberness. He solemnly says, “And, that’s how women view sexism. “
Freedom is a fight. What we saw yesterday was not an anomaly but the culmination of a myriad of attempts to normalize white supremacy within the contemporary. Black folks have seen this play before; we have seen the handwriting on the walls. We saw how police escorted folks down the stairs politely and took selfies with no sense of fear. We saw how unprepared the security details were though they had the information of the preemptive protest that were burgeoning.
So, don’t try to snow us with the bullshit that this was not treated any different than a #BlackLivesMatter march and protest. The anger, vitriol and arrest suggest a different outcome. The storming and unlawful entering of the Capital Building should be engaged with weapons or an arrest at a minimum. But for this mob, no questions were asked!
But, in these yet to be united states of (a)merikkka:
whiteness is the undeniable flag for accessibility.
Black folks didn’t lose hope yesterday, you just continued to confirmed what we already knew.
During my junior year at Benedict College, me and my man Joe Black went down to 5 Points with the Dance teacher. I think his name was Mr. David( not sure if that is his name). He was a new instructor, because Mr. David Odom (the legend) had retired, and he was new in town. Joe and I, were a part of the new dance production as extras and went to chill with him in 5 Points.
Now, this was not our scene, but he was the new cat in town and we were just hanging. As we pulled up to the bar, we are rushed by two police officers. Joe and I, knowing the procedure and protocol throw our hands up and started to play the wall. But, the good brother Mr. David told us to put our hands down a told the cops to step. Saying, ” what have we done and who have we bothered.” The cops continued to harass us and Mr. David stood his ground. They finally left when he said,” We have been standing here just like those white people over there, and you have not said a word to them. So, step off and leave us alone.”
When we got in the bar I was bugged out, but not surprised. Because this was normal and we had been through this too many times to count. But, I had never seen a brother stand up to the cops without popping the cop in the mouth. I remember Mr. David saying to Joe Black and I, ” Yo, if they are going to hurt, beat or kill you, then you speaking truth to power will not change that. Stand up for your rights, young brothers.”
That episode changed me, and Blackness, Black Power became a reality. I was 22, and I started speaking up for myself with a fierceness. It was because of the Dance teacher from Benedict College. I think his name was Mr. David.
One thing that I am finding out during this pandemic is that love is necessary. Though it is necessary, at times it functions as a messy instructive. As we are parsed off in our spaces, we are forced to deal with all the incompatible realities that have plagued us for years. Racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty and islamaphobia and a host of other contrived fears manufactured by white supremacy in order to maintain its grip. The pandemic allowed white supremacy a platform, an excuse, to terrorize through political urgings pushed from the ultimate bully pulpit.
But love when pushed into a corner never concedes death but refocuses; and, waits, builds and reemerges as solidarity in transition.
A love orchestrated in the obscure but willing to die for the common.