While thru-hiking the PCT I learned a lot about pain. There is often pain during a thru-hike- blisters, pain in the bones and tendons of the feet, things stuck in your shoes, your shoes rubbing you, chafe on your hips/shoulders/thighs wherever fabric rubs, cold aching hands, creaky knees, sore ankles, stiff hips, twingey neck, sore shins, various sensations that may or may not be the beginnings of tendonitis. The pain of sunburn, the pain of thirst/hunger/fatigue, the ache of loneliness, random shooting pains in various internal organs that come and go mysteriously. In my life I’d always been afraid of pain, of physical discomfort in general. Pain is something to be avoided, right? A signal that tells you that something is wrong? The pain was unsettling, and set off all sorts of alarms in my brain. Was I dying?
On the PCT I discovered that there are two types of pain- pain that will hurt you, and pain that will not. Pain that is a harbinger of injury, and pain that is not. And almost all of the time, it turned out, the pain I was feeling was just pain- there was no point in stopping to fix the cause of it. I could just keep walking, let myself feel it, and it wouldn’t kill me.
I became a much better hiker when I no longer tried to avoid feeling pain.
I’m telling you all this because we live in a country where black folks suspected of misdemeanors are executed in the street.
Here that is again:
We live in a country where black folks suspected of misdemeanors are executed in the street.
I’d be willing to wager that almost all of my readers are white. So, white readers, does that statement make you feel uncomfortable? Are you squirming in your seat? Does this discomfort feel wrong to you? Would you like to avoid this discomfort? Well, guess what. This discomfort is not going to kill you. Chances are, you’ll live. But guess who didn’t live?
Watch the video above. Watch the whole thing. It will probably make you uncomfortable. You might cry for a few minutes. As you go about your day afterward, you might be plagued with doubt, grief, despair. You might have a little bit of a meltdown. The fabric of reality might seem a little shaky. Unwelcome thoughts will enter your mind. Are you a good person, or a bad person? What is white privilege? Is any of this really happening? All of this is very uncomfortable, almost intolerable. It feels sort of like that time you had menstrual cramps so bad you threw up. But you know what? You’ll probably live. You’ll wake up to see another sunrise. Unlike
Michael Brown’s killer, Darren Wilson, was never indicted. He’ll never face repercussions. A bunch of money was raised for the killer online. Everyone went about their business Christmas shopping.
Some folks in Ferguson reacted to their complete and utter powerlessness in the face of this lawless execution by setting shit on fire. That was fucking awesome. I would’ve done the same damn thing. Wouldn’t you? On the internet, a bunch of people and media outlets called this burning of buildings and inanimate objects “violence”. These same outlets had never called the execution of Michael Brown “violence”. So burning property = violence. Executing someone in the street = not violence. Murder = not a big deal. Destroying storefronts = a terrible, terrible thing to do.
Yay Christmas shopping!
Also MLK, who was also shot by white folks:
Now you feel really uncomfortable and you want to stop reading. It’s the holiday season! Can’t I post something cheerful?
You know what? Deal. You’ll fucking live.
You get the point yet? YOU’RE NOT GOING TO DIE. Your comfort right now is not more important than the lives of black folks.
A woman in Texas was arrested at her home for an unpaid parking ticket- actually, she’d been paying it down for months, but she still owed $100. Here’s what happened to her while she was being booked. Watch the fucking video. WATCH IT. The officers involved were never charged.
You know what white privilege is? WHITE PRIVILEGE IS THE ABILITY TO CHOOSE WHAT YOU DO AND DO NOT SEE. (examples of white privilege) (a good explanation) White privilege is the power to break the law AND resist arrest without being executed in the street.
I hope I made you uncomfortable with all of this. I hope I made you so fucking uncomfortable.
I hope you watched the videos and cried for ten minutes in your car, on the way to black Friday shopping.
I hope you have to take an extra yoga class just to decompress.
I hope you walk to your corner coffee shop to order coffee but then, while standing in line, you forget what it was that you wanted to order.
I hope you’re so out of sorts that you have to call your therapist about it, or maybe do a tarot reading.
That you fire off an angry rant on facebook, and lose a few “friends”.
I hope you’re too squirmy to focus on your homework.
I hope that you get a migraine and can’t go to work.
That you fail an exam.
I hope you go see that movie you wanted to go see but sitting in the movie theater all you can think about is how white everyone on the screen is, and suddenly nothing seems the same.
I hope you get pissed. I hope you get so fucking pissed.
I hope you cry every fucking day.
Because you know what?
You’ll live. You’ll still fucking live.
IF YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR UNFOCUSED ANGER
Listen to the news- DEMOCRACY NOW has daily podcasts that are unfailingly thorough and awesome
Do you have a largish platform w/followers? Make your followers uncomfortable. They might make you uncomfortable back but guess what IT WON’T FUCKING KILL YOU.
You might decide to ignore all of this, just because you can. It’s not happening to you. It’s not happening to your white friends or the white people who you love. And that’s true, it’s not. Yet. But this current rash of killings is a harbinger of things to come- another wave in the slow and steady militarization of the American police force.
You live in a country where black folks suspected of misdemeanors are executed in the street.
Fucking think about it, motherfucker.
*note- I have white privilege, this entire post also applies to me.