I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started and re-started this entry but I’m obliged to say SOMETHING. The line my brain keeps repeating is: DON’T GO NUMB. DON’T GO NUMB. DON’T GO NUMB. DON’T GO NUMB. DON’T GO NUMB. DON’T GO NUMB. DON’T GO NUMB. DON’T GO NUMB. DON’T GO NUMB…
It started over the summer with Michael Brown being shot, and then Facebook went crazy and you couldn’t look sideways without another horrific “Black man minding his business getting shot” followed by “Media panels saying ignorant and offensive shit about why this is justified” and I just couldn’t. I couldn’t. My boyfriend shut down in the way that I imagine most Black men who don’t want to commit random acts of violence or homicide have to. Grumpy. Angry. Hurting. Searching for more and more videos and feeling even more grumpy/angry/hurting. We were in Miami where buying and carrying guns is legal, not to mention standing your ground. We had no choice. We numbed out.
Then the Fall came, we got busy. I don’t listen to NPR anymore and I don’t have a TV hooked up either. I’ve gotta focus, too much shit to do.
Then it started up again last week. My cousin who recently discovered my Whatsapp number started innocently sending me these “crazy” videos and articles of a voluptuous young woman being held at fault for “killing” her sugar daddy while having sex in the car. Her family has retreated in utter shame and disgrace, her life is ruined. Meanwhile, others are making jokes about the fact that the deceased man was in the crappiest car he owns, and “why wasn’t he in the Benz?” I sympathized with the young woman, “She must be traumatized,” I said. My cousin didn’t think “these young girls” even cared. Why wouldn’t she?
Then rumblings about #mydress.mychoice. I didn’t have time to really figure out what that was about. Probably something to do with crazy matatu drivers in Nairobi acting out towards women in skirts above their knees. Eyeroll. And then I saw the video. Or part of it, I couldn’t watch the whole thing without throwing up.
I grew up in Nairobi in the 80’s when it was commonplace to “necklace” thieves caught stealing. Police, when they were closeby, would always rescue them and it was considered funny that the same thief could flee to the police for protection, because getting arrested was better than getting burned alive. But the police would protect them. Because it is well known that a mob of people brutalizing someone is ILLEGAL.
I haven’t heard of any policemen coming to the rescue of these women who are being stripped naked and sexually assaulted in the middle of town in broad daylight. The President, the government…everyone is so casual about this. Like its just the neighborhood kids fighting over candy and they’ll eventually figure it out. Like letting people figure it out on their own will build character or something.
I finally know what it means to feel “sick to your stomach.” I don’t yet know what to do, but I know I must do something. SAY something. I refuse to go numb. That’s how they win. With Ferguson. With Kenya. They scare us to a point where our only refuge is to go numb and shut it out so our brains and hearts won’t explode. Get busy, you have too much shit to do to be paying attention to this right now. It will sort itself out. God will help. Jesus will help. Someone will help.
We’re beyond help. WTF will help do. We need action. We need everyone. Count me in, whoever is counting. Count me in. I refuse to go numb.