Monday, March 2, 2020

Black Bird 5

I wanted freedom and for my sins, Peace Corps gave it to me. 

I have so much time on my hands that I’ve started tearing metaphors out of mint teas that aren’t quite deep enough to dive into, yet I do. 
With every stroke, I get a sugar high that convinces me I am right and everyone else is wrong.
How dare they not know better?! 
I hold my breath even when I come up for air because I know that if I breathe in, I’ll remember I’m just like them - trying to do the best I can with the tools I’ve been given. 
But when you are on a self-righteous springboard, empathy is the crippling angst you don’t need. 
There is a difference between humanizing your foe and justifying their actions therefore, it is entirely possible to have empathy for people you wholeheartedly disagree with. 
On my better days, I can see why an African, who doesn’t believe he is an African, would be so offended by my existence that he would call me the n-word and try to assault me. 
I can see why someone can be an LGBTQ+ or POC ally but not an ally for Black People. 
On those days, my tea is hot enough to warm me without burning my tongue, minty enough to refresh me without leaving a bitter after taste and sweet enough to comfort me without the threat of diabetes. 
On those days, I’m swimming freestyle, breathing, sharing, caring, taking care of myself and those around me. 
Remembering that hatred needs no branding, it is cheap and gets in the way more often than it makes a path. 
Anger is necessary to do the work but so is the patience to educate, the empathy to realize that some people just don’t know and if I want change I will occasionally have to painstakingly give to the very people taking from me. 
It is unfair but if we don’t tell our stories, share our pain and tell others how to treat us, how are they supposed to know if they’ve never been taught better? 
If they don’t know to seek information from the same resources that we do? 
I know what I know because I experienced it, was taught, was told I don’t know everything and encouraged to seek information from all sources, especially those not in my purview. 
How then can I be mad at someone for not knowing this, without trying to share my experience coupled with what little I’ve learnt? 
Sometimes, we need to be the fire that burns down evil but most times, we need to be the flame that lights the way and warms hearts. 
These are painful lessons I’m continuing to learn and I still don’t get it right all the time, but I’m making peace with that too. 

So maybe, the freedom to ponder isn’t such a bad thing because as much as I love being in water, I don’t even know how to swim!