You should also know that we are all now at the very point of fully processing the magnitude of this horrific event. I’m only beginning to understand the depth of sorrow I felt when I wept nonstop for 10 minutes a week after they fell at memorial sponsored by my job. I didn’t lose anyone in the collapse and the inferno, but I knew I lost something. I wept for the families and victims. I wept for my generation and the ones behind me. There was no denying that the deaths of 3,000 people would multiply. I wept because I couldn’t see an end. I wept because our history was being rewritten and I wasn’t sure what kind of people we were about to become. I wept for whatever innocence meant and my certainty that it was lost. I wept for what inevitably would be war. An endless war.
Instead, we reconstruct the lives of these dead black kids in defense of their killers. We look for some photograph, some musical choice, something that allows us to slot them into these preconceived notions of inherent criminality, all to say that they weren’t good enough people, and that their killers were justified in believing that they were up to no good and deserved to die. And then we wait for the next one.
I am not sure what will become of the date, if anything, but I am more certain that racism is such a real, palpable, strong, and terrifying actor in our lives that some of us foreclose the possibility of love for self, those who look like us, and those who don’t, because we have become so comfortable with racism’s heavy hand directing cupid’s arrow. But, really, that’s no way to live, and to love.
He used music to give voice to our shared frustrations, local and global. He also gave us hope. He entertained us. His videos challenged convention and elevated story. He merged forms revolutionized dance as means of communication. He reminded us that there is ecstasy and joy in dance.
He held his crotch because when you have Kundalini energy moving through you, you gotta try to harness it.
Shiva is known also as the cosmic dancer. It is said that Shiva’s dance manifested in two forms, gentle and violent. Shiva dances to destroy, create and build again. Watching Michael, I can’t help but wonder if that was the energy he was trying to manifest in his fluid motions, pirouettes, pops and locks, gravity defying leans and moonwalks. Michael broke down old forms and barriers in everything and birthed something new.
He was a deeper creative spirit than I had originally imagined. It seems clearer to me now as I look back on all those years with adult eyes. Michael was a student of history and culture. It didn’t seem obvious to me growing up, but now, I’m a better student. I’ve studied other cultures and their dances, and I understand now what Michael was trying to show us.
Poems in the Draft Folder, or Thinking About Juneteenth…
I rarely post any of my original work because it always feels unfinished. But here’s a poem I’ve been working on for a bit that I dusted off to review after reading Coates’ “The Case For Reparations” and today, after looking at images of enslaved blacks, told that they were free today, 149 years ago today in Galveston, Texas before word would reach Jackson, Tennessee on August 8, 1865. My people are from Jackson.
Blood on the leaves (working title)