I haven’t posted on social media in a while, trying to get my head around what is happening in the world at the moment, and how to express how I feel about it all and how I do that in a way which is authentic and respectful of others, and not about being performative.
This image by Lorie Shaull (www.lorieshaull.com) speaks to me in lots of ways; of how art is so impactful in expressing those things that need more than words; the combination of George Floyd’s image, the names of other black people murdered by police, the words ‘say our names’ and the flowers and tributes left by others. It speaks to me of how ritual and acknowledgement are so important in coming to terms with death, and how different sorts of ritual and acknowledgement feel called for in this situation. The mural in the picture is by Xena Goldman, Cadex Herrera, Greta McLain, Niko Alexander, Maria Javier and Pablo Hernandez and has been created on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South where George Floyd was arrested and murdered by police – the very people sworn to protect and serve, entrusted with power they abused. And whilst there are lots pieces of art and murals being created around the world in response to George’s death, this permanent reminder of what happened feels so significant in this location – the place where he died. And there is something really important for me in knowing George’s name, and saying it. And in knowing and saying the names of all the people who have been murdered for the colour of their skin. This is not an isolated killing – it may have more media coverage than other murders, and part of what stands out to me in this mural is that it acknowledges the other people that I hadn’t heard of.
In thinking about all of this since it happened, my thoughts have turned towards the grief work that I do and how difficult this is in working with loss that isn’t deliberate, and how much more complicated this becomes when the person who has died is murdered by another human being, and when this is because of the colour of their skin, and has its roots in a culture that is racist. And how the white privilege of my skin means I do not know how it feels to wake up each day having fear that I might be treated in this way, and that when I surround myself with other white people, I do not fear that my loved ones will be lost in this way.
I feel a heaviness in my heart that as human beings we can do this and for how I have contributed to this by my own passivity. I feel I have much work to do in the position of privilege that I have, and I’m seeing lots of lists of ways in which I might be more proactive and do something that is more lasting in the long term. One of the articles I’ve found perhaps a little different to what’s already out there is this one https://www.vox.com/…/george-floyd-protests-social-media-bl… and I really encourage you to read this. One quote I’d like to highlight is “Reading books without living out the relational and the heart stuff just makes you a well-read racist” and part of the work for me has been starting to learn from Lace on Race and taking my first steps here – I don’t want to be a well-read racist, I want to live out the relational and the heart stuff, and this community is about reducing and mitigating the harm to Brown and Black people perpetuated by white people. I don’t want to be silent about this.
I usually tag my posts with art in them as #cathARTic and this does not feel like it is about the catharsis I usually mean – I am not looking for comfort here – as Cesar Cruz says “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” – too long have I been comfortable.