Police murders are like cockroaches: for every one you see there are a hundred others.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
– James Baldwin
If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, there is no limit to what you can learn. Read Damon Young. Read Roxane Gay. Read Morgan Parker. Read Saeed Jones. Read Nayyirah Waheed. And then dig, and read others, and read more.
“There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.”
– Amiri Baraka
In the past I thought that I could best survive this world by claiming no allegiances and admitting no prejudices. I was deluded and blind. There is no true neutrality, nor is it possible to be without sympathies or judgments. Believing the converse is an exercise in willful denial.
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”
– Elie Wiesel
Even when it may benefit me to do otherwise, I do not respect authority, in this country or anywhere, just because it claims authority. Sometimes I may hide my contempt, but the contempt is there nonetheless. I have seen behind the curtain, and there are only more people there.
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
– Audre Lorde
People there: people in uniforms. People in suits. People claiming importance behind the easy triumvirate of precedence, tradition, and ritual. People believing themselves important because of a badge, a diploma, or a title. The hierarchy is an agreement. The hierarchy is a form of cooperation. What happens when you stop cooperating? When I?
“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.”
– Malcolm X
There is no future for this white hegemony, and besides, I have long found it boring.
“We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.”
– Slavoj Žižek
The given path: marry a good white man, be happy as a stay-at-home mom, believe in the unwavering respectability of the justice system, get nervous around black people, and pray every Sunday in church. If that were my life, would I feel satisfied with an unjust America?
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Some defenders of the status quo believe themselves rebels, but their contempt towards authority is unimaginative. They dislike the authority of others only because they want power for themselves. Nothing in their rebellion wonders if power is good or bad. Nothing in them asks what power should do.
“Experience hath shewn [sic], that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Our justice system relies on local law enforcement to be the point of entry for due process, but increasingly, they act as arbiters of trial and punishment. No man should have the power to be prosecutor, judge, and executioner.
“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”
– Benjamin Franklin
The problem is: #n
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
– Maya Angelou
There is a way out. Defend the persecuted. Risk your comfort. We can do better. We must.
Laura Jean Moore’s poetry, essays, and stories have been featured in VICE, [PANK], the EEEL, FLUX WEEKLY, ENTROPY, the Brooklyn Rail, Corium, the Cobalt Review, and Change Seven, where she is a monthly columnist. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Reed College. http://laurajeanmoore.com/
Read All Columns by Laura Jean Moore
- On Vice(s)
- What Gets Missed
- Low Country
- A Dark Graceful Wilderness
- Before and After
- On Greatness
- Whiteness, A Study
- New York
- American Dreams
- Body Talk
- Habits, Simple and Austere
- On Love