Monday, April 12, 2021

I Don't Know, But I Follow

This from University of Pennsylvania professor Ebony Elizabeth Thomas had me in tears just now. She was responding to a statement from another Black woman, who said, "I just...don't know how Black educators keep going." Ebony (Dr. Thomas) replied in her own thread,

We have to realize that existence and meaning are outside this spacetime. It is the only way.

The present is unbearable.

But whenever I think beyond my grandparents' generation, when I reach back imaginatively... I hit a wall that my ancestors put up.

From Rosewood to Ocala, from Ocoee to Okahumpka, from the Mississippi River Flood to my great-grandfather death's at the hands of a Selma mob (where are the records of this? he just disappeared and I am searching and searching).

And that is just my great-grandparents' generation.

Their parents were all born enslaved. So were their parents. And their parents. And so on.

Digitized records help. The archives help. The blessed work of colleagues who do this psychologically devastating work certainly helps.

We are their futures.

And we will be the ancestors of others.

Some of this lifetime isn't for us. It is for others who will never know what we have experienced. Who will not know what we are feeling today.

We work. We endure. We stand for their sake.

Cast your hope deep into the future. That's how you go on.

(Someone did that for you, long ago. You are their living dream.)

An air freshener hanging from the mirror... or an expired plate when those are allowed because of COVID... confusing your taser for your gun when there wasn't even a reason to use the taser in the first place...

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