Category Archives: Political reflection

Grief. Anger. Exhaustion. Faith.

I’m taking time out from my usual words.

Grief is our heartbreak when a five-year-old tearfully asks (after being called the n-word), “Why do they hate us?”

Grief is acknowledging a 14-year-old girl in 1962 trying to buy stockings and make up for the first time knowing all the while that “flesh-colored” did not include her smooth, chocolate brown skin.

Grief is a 19-year-old woman in her first job. Hired and fired on the same day because a white woman told a lie. She burned with humiliation and anger as the owner smirked, “It’s her [Caucasian] word against yours [Black woman].”

Grief is fuel for the anxiety that people of color live with every day in their minds and bodies, day after day absorbing the toxicity of microaggressions at their jobs, in school, or when buying a goddamned pair of sneakers, for God’s sake.

Grief is seeing, fearing, experiencing racially instigated murder.

Grief is standing as a witness to the destruction of Native American lands and sacred burial grounds for the sake of a pipeline. Grief is the recognition of the historical genocide of Native American tribes.

Grief is being a witness to Mexican children separated from their asylum-seeking parents at our southern borders and put in cages. Grief is not being able to help.

We grieve without forgiving.

We grieve for all the children who are born without hate or prejudice and grow to become bitter and hate-filled adults. We grieve when those adults commit crimes against humanity.

The one who grieves seeks healing.

We grieve and are tired of Grief.

Our anger is fed by grief. We are enraged.

We are outraged, our throats are raw from screaming.

Some of us choose to burn the world around us.

Anger moves us to action.

We are outraged at the silence that meets our grieving.

We are outraged at racist strategies developed to persecute Black, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Jews, Native Americans, and Brown people from India and the Middle East. We are outraged at voter suppression, the caging of children, refusal to support DACA, and the banning of Muslim immigrants.

Until now, our grief has been met with bone-chilling silence.

I never imagined a day when hundreds of thousands around the world would stand up and say, “Enough! Black lives matter!”

We are exhausted.

Exhausted with anger. Exhausted with grieving. Exhausted with body-mind trauma.

Exhausted with having to give our children “the talk.”

Exhausted with a focus on surviving rather than thriving.

Exhausted with facing silence.

Exhausted with the lists of the names of the dead.

And yet.

We have faith.

Faith in our resilience.

Faith in our action. Faith in our unity of vision.

Faith in our commitment to a world of respect between all people.

Faith in a bright and healthy future.

Faith that light will indeed overcome the darkness.

As I write this, the Dakota Pipeline has been ordered to shut down. The Supreme Court has determined that much of Eastern Oklahoma is Indian Land including much of Tulsa.

Faith.

Where We Are Gathered

My writing has been lagging, my blog posts few. I just could not get back to the page. I’ve been weepy. Enraged. Demanding answers about our political controversies and wondering, “How did we get here?” 

One afternoon, I was listening to Joan Baez sing “Brothers in Arms,” an antiwar song. I became distraught again as I remembered my days as a young political activist. How did we get here? The following is one of the recent experiences that has motivated me to write again─ with respect and an open heart.

The woman comes into the church social hall, dressed like she always does.  She wears a dark brown coat pulled tightly around her. Is it wool? I’m not sure. She’s been wearing it since the early fall, and it matches the dark brown, unkempt wig she wears. The wig’s ends are stiff and push out from under the brown hat pulled over her head for warmth. She walks timidly as if she’s ashamed to be with us ─ all of us, volunteers and pantry guests alike. Some of us are both.

For more than a year I’ve volunteered at this church food pantry where some sort of alchemy takes place in the social hall. I’ve put my frustration about increased partisan politics aside as I help arrange the tables with vegetables, fruit, baked goods, meat and eggs, and I find myself smiling. Thanks to the generosity of local grocery vendors in our area, this particular food pantry is transformed into a glorious market.  There are bouquets of flowers. Loaves of bread. Bread and Roses. When we are done arranging and sorting, the social hall looks amazing.

I watch the brown coat woman grab a cup of coffee. She almost never talks and sits with her eyes directed toward her coffee and snacks. She surprises me by asking, “Is there more sugar and cream?” Of course, there is. The minister makes sure there’s plenty of everything: coffee and tea, sometimes orange juice. A kitchen volunteer assembles platters of cake, cookies, and small fruit as a breakfast snack for the guests.

As I measure coffee and tea into food storage bags, I repeat a prayer for comfort to myself. Coffee, tea and the snacks help some of the guests start their day on a high note and, perhaps, will pull them out of the sadness of their situations.

It’s hard for me to stay angry about American politics in the presence of sacred work. I watch the minister who directs a steady gaze to the eyes of every person she speaks with. She comforts. I am moved by her dedication. To my knowledge, she has never closed the pantry for any reason. Twenty-four inches of snow? There will be food and the pantry will be open. She may be challenged but not daunted.  Her mission is to comfort and serve.

There is magic in this community of humanity. Service is a healing balm and a saving grace. For three hours each week, the heartless politicians in Washington who have sought to undermine and destroy the tenets of the United States Constitution become background noise, the least of my worries.

Still, I wonder, “How did we get here?”

As the summer wanes and October brings chillier weather, gold leaves, and rain, I take refuge in the cascade of apples brought to the church. There are enough apples for 100 people to each fill a small bag if he or she wanted. And I feel something. The motivation to write again.

I feel something else, too. Love.

Wherever two or more of us are gathered in the sacred name, serving each other and receiving, I know we’ll be okay. The woman in the brown coat smiles into her cup. We will be okay.