“On May 25th, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street.” (Wikipedia, June 2020)
That was 10 days ago.
Let me be clear that this “diary” is currently meant to be a real-time account of COVID-19 from my point of view. My goal is and always has been to document the virus and its impact on humanity. I never expected or intended to be sitting here today writing about race, injustice, and inequalities. But I do believe the events of the last 10 days should be addressed alongside this Coronavirus pandemic, as we are living through both atrocities simultaneously, and these are confusing and heartbreaking times.
I’m a writer. I’m hardly at a loss for words. But lately, I have been. It took me this long to get here, and I still don’t have much. So I ask you to be kind in your judgment of me. And if you can help me, please reach out. I’d be happy to use this space to share useful information.
Yesterday, as I scrolled through Instagram, I couldn’t help but notice the black squares that everyone was posting with the hashtag #blackouttuesday. Somehow, I knew I should also post a black square, and yet, I couldn’t do it. Something felt wrong about it.
Throughout the day and into the night, I watched as my friends, my trusted acquaintances, celebrities, and corporate identities posted the black square. I’m glad they did that. I almost did it, too. But something still felt wrong.
I went to Twitter, a place I don’t frequent. I know there has been good information there about what is happening in our world right now. I followed the bread crumbs until I found a handful of people whose posts have helped me and whom I will continue to follow. I collected a reading list, and until I’ve successfully finished these books, I’m going to stay mostly quiet.
I know there are people who will shame me for not speaking up, but for now, I prefer to listen.
I didn’t post a black square on Instagram because it felt fraudulent. I have less than ten black friends, less than five particularly close black friends, and we rarely discuss race. On social media, I’ve never posted an opinion about race relations in America. I’m the person who stays neutral in political conversations, in fact, usually rushing to a corner where I can clean a dish or pour another glass of wine and avoid the fuck out of any type of conflict. I really don’t know how to talk about these things, without offending someone, or making someone sad.
So instead of writing about it, and instead of posting about it on social media, I’m reading. I’m following the strong voices, the people with knowledge and experience. I’m keeping my ears and my mind open to all the information I can. Until I’m able to grasp every viewpoint, I can’t say anything more than what I’m saying right now. I hope these days will bring the positive changes that so many of us want. I hope that black people in America, and around the globe, will get the results they need.
I am listening.