This Integrated Life

What should I write to you today, dear reader? I was going to write about my menu for tomorrow… maybe speak to the things that I give thanks for. I was going to write, dear reader, about The Husband and his request for Boston Cream Pie and how ridiculous it was… I was going to write about my love for the Thanksgiving Day parade…

And then I was going to write about my disappointment about Monday’s non-action in Missouri. I was going to write yet another eloquent post about my sons and yours, our families and your families, my justice system and your justice system…

But I’m not going to do that. Why would I do that? How many posts like that do I have to write? At what point do the words simply become blurry little nothings, pointless little things, preaching to the proverbial choir?  This blog reaches a very small audience. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t understand me to be a human being worthy of equal treatment and justice. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t care about my sons and didn’t see them as equal to your own, worthy of all of the good things that the word has to offer.

So what, then, do I write, dear reader? I am exhausted of this cycle. I am exhausted of the need to have to continue to defend my humanity. I am exhausted of having to be tense and fearful. I am exhausted of having my concerns ignored, my ideas deemed inconsequential, my anger unreasonable or inappropriate…

This integrated life is exhausting.

I woke up to a world that did not seem to care about the injustice that went down in Ferguson. My husband did his usual morning routine, saw a little bit of the pictures from the protests, gave me a kiss on the forehead and went to work. Ursa Major’s teachers, who I trust and love, seemed to give no acknowledgment that the world was just a little less fair for my little boy when I dropped him off at school. The people of MetroWest, liberal and well-meaning as they are, seemed to harbor none of the disappointment or anguish that I did… their faces were bright and happy. “Good morning! Isn’t it a great day today?”

How could it be? Did you watch the news? I shop here twice a week, you know me by name because I am probably the only Black woman you regularly see… seriously? You think I’m going to tell you it’s a great day?

I was honest only once yesterday. The lady at my Market Basket was the one who got my honesty because she was the first person I saw and I guess my coffee hadn’t kicked in yet. “Nope, I am having a hard time today. It’s hard for me to get excited after the news from last night.”

“What news?”

I can’t control my face.

She reddened. Didn’t say anything else until the “Happy Thanksgiving” as I left.

I scolded myself afterwards. Everybody else got what they were looking for: The warm smile. The “Happy Thanksgiving.” The chit-chat about the coming snow. I played the role of “that nice Black girl who comes in the store” instead of the “Angry Black Woman” I otherwise really needed to be. I can’t even tell you why, because that wasn’t the right thing to do either. Maybe it’s all part of the training of oppression: when faced with pain, don’t let it on. Put on your best smile and make everybody else comfortable. Nobody cares about your pain. It is a downer. Channel your energy more positively, please. That’s probably one of the biggest things I do in my integrated life: I spend a hell of a lot of time making everybody else comfortable with their privilege/ignorance/non-action.

I want to write something useful, beautiful, or upbeat for you today, dear reader. I want to tell you that I feel strong today, ready to write with power, to seek justice through action, to fight for change through thought and word and deed…

But the truth of the matter is, I feel none of that. I feel isolated. I feel useless. I feel like everybody else is comfortable, and I’m screaming and nobody can hear me. I feel like I do all the right things, that the right things are done by many people like me, and yet here we are with a system that is so broken that miscarriages of justice like this can happen. Still. And I think that they will just continue to happen. It just doesn’t seem to matter what I do or any one else does.

I vote, have voted, will vote. This seems to do nothing.

I pay attention to the news, I participate in local politics, I stay involved in my community. This proves to be trivial.

I write simple words to an audience of like-minded individuals. This teaches nothing, changes no minds.

I play my role of representative when I have to, giving voice to the voiceless when I’m in position to do so, providing truth when called upon to do so, holding on to my composure when presented with challenging and racist circumstances, reminding the powerful who I happen to know of my diminished status in the republic we love. This makes me nothing more than the “good” and “respectable” negro, to be accepted in the community that I’ve chosen to live in.

This integrated life is exhausting. And on days like this, it’s lonely. Surrounded by a sea of “allies,” silent and loud, it is a lonely existence anyway. To be told to trust that change is coming, or to be told to be grateful because “that could never happen here,” or to simply be reminded that “you’re a different kind of person, you know? That would never happen to you…” (“special negro” status is its own annoying thing that I’m not even trying to tackle today…). Or to even hear nothing at all from usually trusted voices, needed voices… It just deepens the heartbreak.

I wish I had something more for you, dear reader. I wish I could give you the usual  words of a hopeful Millennial… but not today. I’ll have found a way to metabolize it by Friday, I’m sure. I’ll have found the naive optimism that I so love, and I’ll be able to say the words that people expect when they encounter me out in the world. I may even have some hope to weave into some Quiet Thoughts–conjuring a message of hope and love and warmth, much needed on a Friday, so wonderful to write and so well-received by ya’ll…

But I can’t do it today. I’m heartbroken today.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing your pain, even if it is hard, and even if it only falls upon the ears (or eyes in this case) of allies. I wish I could tell you that change is coming, to not despair, to know that there are are thousands fighting for justice. I could tell you these things, but as you’ve so eloquently shared here, it doesn’t change the broken feelings in your heart. For that I’m sorry. All I can say is that your words of pain, that your honest sharing meant something to me – a lonely white ally, so far from home that I can’t do anything to help the change. All I can say is that I hear you. And while I can never truly understand because the world isn’t set up against me, I feel with you. My heart aches. I can’t help but believe that the aching together matters.

    It doesn’t change anything, I know. But I am heartbroken with you.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Wow…thank you so much for your warmth and sincerity and solidarity. It means so much to me and it is really appreciated. Every little act helps, and this is certainly a wonderful gift for my day. I am grateful that you are an ally, that my words resonated, and that someone, at least, is hopeful. I am sure that I will get there again. Messages like this one certainly help.

      And thank you for stopping by my blog today. I am looking forward to reading yours!

  2. Eily Nash says:

    Dear K.C I follow your blog from my little town in England. From one heart to another I just want to reach out and say your deeply moving words have touched me. I wish you did not have to feel such pain. We watched the news unfold here and our hearts were heavy. Sending you a hug as words can’t convey enough. Love Eily x

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Thank you so much, Eily. I saw the video out of London of some of the protests happening there and I felt really grateful for it. There is part of me that is embarrassed that the rest of the world looks at us and sees this nonsense, but then again, I’m glad that the struggle resonates beyond our shores. Thank you for sending your support and your hug. I feel it! I really do!

  3. Marneymae says:

    It IS heartbreaking
    That morning I just kept saying to myself
    “May justice be served”
    I walked around town after hearing the news with a pit of disappointment in my gut
    The only brightening was seeing signs that went up in the night – plastered to the back of street signs which read: we will not call the police

    May the hearts & minds of the ones who decided turn towards justice

    Blessings on your life
    On your boys lives
    May the collective wake up

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      You’re wonderful, Marneymae! Thank you! It’s a hard slog, but I know there are a lot of people invested in this. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. How was the snow up north?? You didn’t lose power, did you?

      1. Marneymae says:

        Didnt lose power here
        Beautiful snow
        Wishing you and your family a lovely December

  4. Brosephus says:

    You’re not alone. Not at all.

    I’ve been trying to distill my thoughts, and I just can’t find the words. I know what I want to say, but I don’t know what I want to say.

    I want to say that I’m disappointed, but I knew what the outcome was going to be when this whole charade began. I want to say that I’m angry, but I no longer find anger in these situations.

    I want to say that I’m confused as to how there was no indictment, but my professional experience led me to deduce that there would be no indictment.

    When the decision was handed down, I was holding my one month old son. My wife and I didn’t find out he was a boy until he was born, so I was telling colleagues back in August that I wasn’t sure if I wanted a son after all I’ve seen.

    I think God heard me say that one time too many and blessed me with a son to raise. If I could make it for 41 years without ever getting arrested, using drugs, joining a gang, or any of the other stereotypical stuff that I’m supposed to do, then I guess he has the confidence that I can raise another Black man to do the same.

    Be strong. Hug your boys. When they get old enough, never shy away from letting them know how strong they are for surviving in a world that isn’t always receptive towards them.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      I love these words, Brosephus. They mean so much. I really feel them because it’s so true: There are so many of us who do this life who never get in trouble… and we’re competent enough that we can guide others to do the same. But isn’t that the pressure and the burden? I feel like I’ve made it these 30 years without a blip and it’s a damn miracle. By the grace of God and the yadda yadda, right? How many times have I been on the bleeding edge of being a statistic of some kind? A stereotype, even? I wonder if that’s how it is… that those of us who make it do so purely because God told us to turn one corner and not another…

      Congratulations on your little boy. What a wonderful little gift! Part of me is very jealous: infants are the BEST (in comparison to toddlers). But then again, I’m getting full nights of sleep, sooo….

      I’m sure he’s going to do very well with a thoughtful and insightful father like you!

      1. Brosephus says:

        Don’t I know about that being a statistic thing.

        I work with people who are not familiar with life on the other side of the tracks. I had to explain what it felt like being stopped by the police for basically driving while Black. I have friends and even family members who have done prison time for drugs and stuff.

        Some people will never seek to understand what it’s like to be prejudged by others before you even have a chance to introduce yourself.

        Don’t be jealous of the newborn. He has two sisters, one 6 and the other almost 2. It’s fun here, but one monumental challenge at the same time.

        Be blessed!!

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