How about it? Why don’t you confuse the shit out of everyone, like Gorsuch did this week in coming out (ha!) in favor of LGBTQ employment rights, and declare June 19th – Juneteenth – a federal holiday? Seriously, you don’t have anything of any real value to lose at this point and it would be an awesome mindf*ck on pretty much everyone. You could really gain some karma points and sow maximal chaos if you simultaneously decommissioned the Columbus Day national holiday or, better yet, kept the day a holiday but renamed it for a Native American leader (I won’t venture any suggestions here as this would require a very thoughtful process driven by Native American people). Why not show a little independence and let the people know you won’t be fenced in? Oh right, because you’re an evil twerp.
Yesterday I told you about the big tree with the way-too-tight bench around it and my idea for leaving a sign encouraging the people who currently live on the land where the tree is growing to remove the bench. Well, I made the sign and taped it inside their fence by the tree where they can’t help but see it. I’ll continue to walk by there frequently since that street is a go-to for me so I’ll see whether the house occupants remove the bench. I don’t honestly know whether I’ll leave another sign in a month or so if they haven’t done anything – they must already know it’s a problem and if they ignore this first sign, chances are they won’t exactly be persuaded by any subsequent ones. It’s hard, though, not to be able to take direct action.
And again, this is about an actual tree that is being impinged upon in a cruel way by something too small that is encircling it that could be removed if the people who live on the tree-land were to take some action. And again, to me, it’s a remarkably analogous situation to how a lot of us relate to injustice (and I am not at all exempted here) – we might, sort of, kind of see it but until the proverbial tree is about to fall over onto our own house, we aren’t all that likely to be inspired to do much of anything about it.
Laura and I went to the gathering at Magnuson Park last night to remember Charleena Lyles, the Seattle-area mother who was almost 4 months pregnant when she was murdered by police in her home in front of her children after she called 911 for help. This happened three years ago and the family is still waiting for an inquest to determine whether the officers will be charged. Families of other victims of police brutality were there to stand with Charleena’s family – they told the horrific stories of their loved one’s deaths and the system’s failure to bring the officers involved to justice. The tone of the evening was understandably serious – serious, sad, and angry – and the overall message from the families is that they are doing this – traveling to where they are needed, speaking out, bearing witness – because they want to help those who are still living to keep living.
The point was made over and over that we’ve got to change the legislation, we’ve got to vote, we’ve got stay with this fight both to honor those who were killed and to prevent more killings. We’ve got to change things so that Black and brown people aren’t living with too small, too mean, too indifferent, too cruel systems choking the life out of them.
This tree has fallen – far too many bodies have fallen, far too many have been crushed – but these families are turning their grief and pain for their fallen loved ones into a gigantic nurse log (look it up) that is helping nurture a new way forward that will leave behind the old constricting, suffocating paradigm.
May we all be safe to breathe deeply and fully to our peaceful ends.
May we be willing to be the change we want to see.
May we be strong and glorious and insistent.
May we welcome the hard conversations and the hard work ahead.