Reflection on the Trayvon moment: Because I Do Not Want To Be Silent

Over the coming days and weeks we will be posting reflections on the Trayvon Martin murder, Zimmerman acquittal, and all that it is opening up. They are from members, staff, former staff, RG advocates and allies…a series of posts as they arise; not all representing a sole vision or perspective but many processes that are part of our whole. All the posts will begin with the title “Reflection on the Trayvon moment:…” Be in touch with [email protected] if  you’d like to contribute.

Below is a piece of writing I did on Monday night, waiting to board a plane home from RG’s Transformative Leadership Institute. I intentionally did minimal revisions, and wrote with a commitment to focus on my feelings. This is what poured out. ~ Jessie
Monday, July 15th, 2013
I am full of hope and love and rage and despair.
I write from the airport, exhausted and awe-inspired after 5 incredible days of meeting with 30 member leaders of Resource Generation. I write because in this very moment I don’t know what else to do and I’m worried I’ll stop processing I’ll stop feeling.
I’m committed to not stop feeling.
I keep looking at my arm. My white arm. My white woman’s arm. My rich white woman’s arm. An arm that has never held a child I considered as my own. This arm, connected to this body, that has no idea what it feels like to have been Trayvon, or his mother, or his sibling. Or even honestly in many ways, his friend. An arm that has been kept world’s away from his, by racism and classism and capitalism and UGH I continue to rage and despair and reach for love and hope.
And I grieve. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and probably many tomorrows to come – I start with grieving.
I call myself to grieve. To not look away, to not disconnect or disengage. I call myself to cry, to rage, to notice, to care, to feel and feel and feel and feel and feel feelings that humans feel at the loss and degradation of a human life. Of any human life. Of so many human lives.
I grieve the fact that grief is hard to feel, at all, ever, in this body that has lived in the harshness and numbing of capitalism for almost 27 years. I grieve the harshness and numbing that I see as an epidemic in my family and privileged white community; this numbing that keeps us silent and looking away and not noticing, not connecting, not acting.
I call myself to act. To speak, to stand, to post, to not stay still or silent or unplugged.
I call myself to be and be and be present. To be humble. To listen, to really listen.
To say again and again and again to myself and my community – my white community, my wealthy community – that this is our issue. That the killing of black and brown boys, of black and brown bodies, with bullets and poverty and prisons and police, is our issue to see and to feel and to grieve and to act on. To listen to. To notice. To see. To feel. To learn from. To organize ourselves around. To fight like hell to change.
*       *       *       *
Barbara Walters on airport news is telling me George Zimmerman’s parents fear for his life, as death threats proliferate on the Internet. I want to put on headphones but force myself to listen. To listen to Zimmerman’s mother, speaking English with a Peruvian accent, and feel afraid for her son’s life. Wondering what she thinks and feels about Trayvon’s mother. Wondering what Trayvon’s mother thinks and feels about her.
*       *       *       *
I am full of hope and love and rage and despair. On Saturday evening when the verdict was announced, our crew of 30 RG leaders gathered and mourned together. We reflected. We spoke. We sat in silence. Those who pray, pray. We noticed, and felt, together.
We sang. We sang, and we danced.
We kept on our work, dismantling racism and classism and building up our leadership of wealthy communities towards justice.
I hold on to hope and love, as I rage and despair. I hold on because its what keeps me going.
I hold on because I have to believe in myself and my people to transform and orient towards justice.
I hold on because I do believe that I and my people are transforming and orienting towards justice.
*       *       *       *
I am about to board the plane. I cannot get out of my mind, or stop singing under my breath, a round we sang again and again yesterday at the RG leadership institute:
“When the world is sick
can’t no one be well.
But I dreamt we were all
beautiful and strong.”