Friday, June 17, 2016

Tears Falling

This was a hard week.

By every stretch of the imagination.

It was supposed to be a great week, I was going to write about being excited that my youngest son is home for his last summer of crashing with the family. He is a senior in college and essentially finished with his major, he is adding on a certificate and will graduate in December.  We should be rejoicing.

Last week, this exact time, I was putting the final pieces into the luggage to make the ten hour drive to Montgomery, Alabama. My daughters and I were anxiously waiting for my husband's emergency meeting to end. He normally does not work on Fridays in the summer. I was a bit annoyed with the wrinkle in my schedule so the girls and I finished our packing and went out to get lunch before the drive.

Inconsequential things that make our day have a hiccup.

We had a great drive down, laughs and sights. We enjoyed time with my son in his apartment and then prepared for the drive back up north.

Somewhere in Birmingham, we started to receive the news.

He did not have cable in his apartment and since we decided to hit the road early on Sunday, we had spent those hours packing and making sure his place was tidy for the six weeks he would be away.

A gay nightclub.

Mass murder.

Young people.

Orlando.

The news started to come in through posts when we had reception and then friends texting. My fourteen year old daughter got the news first.

We could not believe it.

We did not know anything else except that a gunman entered a gay club and slaughtered several people.

As the news became clear that this was horrible and contrary to what many said, not the worse mass shooting or mass murder in the history of the country, the feelings of insecurity, shock, and terror started to ripple through parts of the country.

It was a bit disconcerting.

This was Latinx night at Pulse, the gay safety space in Orlando.

These were not the poster child for gay rights, they were Puerto Rican, Mexican, Muslim, and African-American LGBTQI young people.

The conversation changed. It was different, clearly different than Stonewall.

The complexities of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and nationality all converged in this space and in the conversations that ensued in the week.

My family and I made it back home and the week started as usual for my husband and son. Both of them left for work, each in their own thoughts about what happened. There was a candlelight vigil on Sunday night in the Grove. It was led by the Pride/LGBTQI community, noticeable not POC. My husband attended a vigil on the campus of his HBCU on Tuesday. Some peopleI know held an ALL Black Lives Matter sign at their usual Tuesday night vigil at the chapel by farmers' market. My son and I attended a vigil outside the city hall of our suburb on Wednesday. There will be a POC focused vigil on Art Hill on Saturday.

The consistencies were the tears, the shock, the fear, the call for rights, the naming of names.

Present in two was the decided focus on the race and ethnicity of the victims.

It was a clash of privilege for another vigil. For even in being LGBTQI, being white had privileges and some protections that were not present for the 49 souls slaughtered on that trans talent night featuring Latinx performers.

I stood in the space on Wednesday evening and wondered when all this would end.

Would we continue to be afraid of someone who was a little bit different? What determines difference? Is the mainstream the best? Why is white patriarchy the norm? How many more have to die?

It is not lost on me also that I am musing on the one year anniversary that a young white male walked into a Wednesday night prayer service at Mother Emanuel AME Church. He was welcomed as any seeker is welcomed into black worship services. He sat among them, prayed.

Then he slaughtered them.

Those souls were all black.

Outrage, vigils, calls for prayers, calls for protest, calls for peace before justice.

It was only a year ago.

A year since that has been filled with rhetoric of fear and hate from presidential candidates until the field on one side is down to one who intends to make it worse than the holocaust for everyone who was not white and male.

In that year, more have been killed, POC of heterosexual and LGBTQI relationships, rights of life have been questioned, kids have been suspended for the color of their skin, the questioning of black parenting, the raping privilege of white millenials, and the constant, unending assault on the other.

It is not lost on me that there are massive floods in Ghana, displacing people, endangering lives, threatening infrastructure, and the western media is silent/ Where is the hashtag?

Why is there so much fear in someone who looks in the mirror and sees a history not like my own?

Can we just explore and love people for being people?

Or is this about so much more?

Power?

Control?

To what end?

The tears are falling, making a lake in this sweltering sun, soaking through to the ground, and only some are given space to grieve.

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