I should be feeling today, but I can’t really. I just started a new migraine medication, and aside from sleepy, I can’t feel much of anything at all. With 20 minutes warning (because I hadn’t been checking my email), I switched radio show guests to someone whose name I didn’t recognize when I saw it. It took some calculation and rushing, but I wasn’t nervous. So yay for side effects, I guess.
But to the extent I can feel, it hurts me to be numb today. It hurts me to look at the George Zimmerman verdict and feel nothing but tired.
We can’t afford tired. There are things that need to be done. There is a world that needs to be fixed, people to be protected. There are corrosive ideas that need to be dismantled.
We need to stop thinking that dark skin, poverty, conventions in speech, conventions in music, or conventions in clothing make someone a danger to us. We need to recognize that those are merely what mark someone as an outsider to what we have decided is the core of our culture, and that we are always much more of a danger to outsiders than they are to us. We have more to defend. We’re almost never told we don’t have the right. There are more of us.
We need to stop pretending that guns make us safer, that handguns for “protection” are anything but a solution looking for a problem. We need to stop pretending gun culture isn’t more interested in protecting gun culture than anything else. We need to stop pretending that guns aren’t used in this country to protect the unequal status quo at least as much as anyone’s physical well-being.
We need to stop acting as though “white” isn’t an interest group but any other ethnicity is. We need to explicitly account for that when we’re electing sheriffs, judges, and state and county attorneys. We need to explicitly account for that when we select juries and decide which press sources to trust.
We need to stop pretending that modern U.S. politics have not been swept by a reactionary element that makes historical divisions of left and right, Democrats and Republicans moot. We need to learn to recognize ALEC-drafted legislation wherever it pops up and quash it, then we need to take political power away from anyone who considers ALEC anything but the threat to participatory democracy that it is.
We need to stop making it profitable for anyone to drag people into our criminal justice system. We have to recognize the incentives that have been put in place and that the burdens of such a hungry system will always fall on the people we already think are fair game to be chewed up and spit out. We have to understand that any of us could be labeled “criminal” but that only some of us will be because they don’t have the same tools for resisting the label.
We need to stop pretending that these ongoing tragedies are unavoidable. We need to take responsibility for the memes and the systems we perpetuate that make them much more likely. We need to act to fix the problems even when our individual actions don’t make much difference, because keeping things the way they are now is not a tolerable solution.
I can’t feel these things today, but I know them. And it hurts me to be tired with these facts staring me in the face. Even without being able to feel much, I know that these are urgent.