I have muted my content the last few weeks because I’ve been busy following, listening to and learning from the rising social movements protesting for racial justice and equity. This is not the first time the US blows up in full force to protest police brutality, to ask for reparations, to make changes to deep-seated structures of racism. I had just moved to Baltimore in 2015, and I was crushed when Freddie Gray’s murderers were found not guilty by the Maryland justice system. This disappointment stuck with me for a long time, so much so, that I thought to myself, “what’s the point. Nothing will change.”
I am learning a really important lesson with this new round of protests happening right now, and that is, just because results won’t happen overnight does not mean that continuous uproar and activism is pointless.
Whenever a voice of despair creeps into my head (justice will never be served for George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery and all the other victims of police brutality…) I remind myself that part of what makes these protests so powerful is its capacity for erosion. Like the ocean that comes crashing down on a rock formation, every one of these massive waves of protests erodes the logics of anti-blackness that found this country’s economy, history, and social fabric. Waves lead to erosion and micro-fissures. Eventually pieces of rock will come falling down. Eventually, the rocky mountain that overlooked the water has huge chunks of rock missing from it, and now the landscape has completely changed. And eventually, the landscape becomes unrecognizable.
But what rocks needs eroding? This is where, I think, politics begin to vary. Some voices within the movement advocate for different degrees of erosion—equality, equity, reparations, demilitarizing police and abolishing prisons. While each position has emotional and political value to add to the table, we must ensure that we are organizing from the same place. And that place should be naming, recognizing, and locating how anti-blackness has lodged itself into every aspect of social relations, economy and governance.
Ultimately, the rock that is at the heart of this mastodon that we call the US-racial-imperialist-heteropatriarchy is anti-blackness, or the idea that black bodies are less than human, and therefore do not deserve or warrant the status of a full political subject deserving of rights, access, empowerment. Equality, equity, demilitarizing, etc. —these will only feel like stopgap measures until we deeply address and dismantle the anti-blackness that oozes from all parts.
When a voice creeps inside my head that laments, “the police will never be defunded!” I try to remind myself that this restricted imagination is the result of decades of socialization within racial capitalism. This voice is not the voice of “reason.” It is the voice of fear mixed with a stunted, beaten down imagination that has been told over and over that the world I wanted to see is impossible, impractical, unreasonable. Part of my internal work is to make that indoctrinated despair take a backseat and to foster, rather, a climate where motivation, passion, and vision can be channeled into concrete actions. Even if you can’t achieve the final result right away, when you have drive and vision, you can strive for smaller victories. These decisions at every level, from the board room to the class room, have erosive power. (Thank you MJP for adding to this point).
Protests like these are nourishing to our souls because they tell us that our dreams aren’t crazy and that we aren’t the only ones dreaming them. Protest like these tell Black folks that they are not alone in the struggle and that we are willing to roll our sleeves up and do the work in our respective communities, jobs, families, etc. to create more fissures —to erode on the long term.
For the wellness industry, that work of addressing anti-blackness and the appropriation of non-Western healing techniques has only just begun. I will be writing more on that subject soon. Stay tuned and thanks for reading. xx