Within the past week, there have been multiple mass shootings in the U.S. I’m sure that there have also been other atrocities inflicted on People of Colour the world over. While I listen to the outrage and fear of those who are most closely impacted by these white supremacy-driven hate crimes, I am considering the words of nayyirah waheed: “if you need more time to understand how you feel about a thing. give yourself more time to understand how you feel about a thing.”
Of course I feel outrage. And grief. And hopelessness. I am afraid for my friends and family members who could be next. And I am angry at the white folx who care more about reinforcing their narrative as “good” white people than about taking a closer look at their/our blind spots. I also feel dizzy. Everywhere conversations are spinning out with the same demands for change and the same nonsensical excuses from those capable of creating that change.
After giving myself more time to understand how I feel about these things, I have arrived at sadness. I am sad that this is where we are as a society. At a time when it has never been easier to share the universality of the human experience, a critical mass of people are choosing to give into fear. To hate. And while the recent mass shootings that happened were driven by racism, we know that hate never confines itself to hurting just one minority group.
The events of the past week are not normal and we must not normalize them. We must not normalize—even through apathy—causing harm to People of Colour for simply existing. This is beyond political groups with differing opinions butting heads. It’s beyond the necessary social tension that animates a democracy. We are destroying our shared humanity and heading towards revolution if not war.
This is distressing to say the least. And still, as creatives, we must persist. We must continue to show up and make our art. Which has the power to give hope and to (re)connect and to heal. We must make art in whatever ways we are able to. And we must take care of ourselves, our physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial wellbeing, so that we can continue to show up and remind our communities of what the future can be.
More and more, I look to the writing of Toni Morrison to remind myself to persist even when I am certain our world is doomed. She writes, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear.” This is a message for you as well. However dark things get, however painful, however bleak, please persist. Please persist. Please persist.
Tell me, please, what do you need so you can continue to persist as a creative?