“I’m so very, very tired”
I first heard this spoken by a colleague of color this week trying to explain the toll that seeing yet one more blatant murder of a black man in America had taken on him. Then I saw it posted by others of color on Facebook. Then, once I’d seen it those times, I couldn’t help but keep noticing how many quotes from protesters said the same thing.
Everything about the murder of George Floyd is appalling. Everything about the fact that there have consistently been 1100 police killings each year of tracking since 2013 is appalling. Everything about the fact that police use-of-force is one of the leading causes of death for young black men is appalling.
It should be appalling to us white folks just on the facts of the matter. America as an institution is unjust. America as an institution is racist. America as an institution is violent and cruel because of it. And, while white folks should generally just listen this week when friends, colleagues and protesters speak of their experiences, if we don’t then speak up and overtly say “America as an institution is racist,” then we’re racist, too. Individuals who have various forms of privilege within an unjust system aren’t automatically unjust themselves – unless and until they turn a blind eye to the protection that privilege affords them and refuse to overtly state that the system is unjust. Then, they become just another unjust part of it.
It’s hard to know what to say to someone who has been traumatized. It’s even harder to know what to say to entire communities and groups that have been marginalized since the founding of America itself. It’s hard to know what to say to all of those people of color I hear saying “I’m so very, very tired” this week.
I know what I was feeling when I wrote “I’m so very, very tired of this Hell” here on this blog. And I know that it is not a feeling I’d wish on anyone.
And, yet I also know it is a feeling we are imposing day in and day out on communities of color in America.
All I can say to those communities is that my heart breaks that you are telling us this week in the most heartbreaking words I can think of what is happening to you, and we still aren’t hearing your crystal clear words.
We should all be willing to listen to the simple pain of fellow humans telling us they are so very, very tired of being traumatized. And we should all be heartbroken by it.
I’ve learned that supporting the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which amplifies the voices of young men of color and is paying the legal fees of protesters, is one way white folks can be an ally to communities re-traumatized yet again by systemic racism this week. I wanted to put that out there this week because I’m not really sure what else to say.
Because we should all be so very, very tired of racism in America. This week and every week.
Need a recap of anything I’m talking about in any post? Check out my Glossary of Terms