21 December 2014

At the Mall

Racism. I rarely write that word.  Race-
ism.  Even tonight, while huddling and
writing in the back seat of a Toy-o-
ta, waiting as friends attend the Black Lives
Matter Die-In at the mall, I avoid
the word.  We stopped at the protest after
our Undoing-Racism meeting at
Chestnut Hill Quaker Meeting House.
I’m excited but too tired to move, and
my legs tell me to volunteer for back
ground work at phones and in print, no longer
on the front line.  We want this movement to
last until it works and last until it’s
no longer needed and last beyond that
until we enjoy standing up to see
each other, to be counted, to be kind.

Kindred, finally, have a chance at peace.
Kindred-justice stops racial profiling,
plans economic and political
equality and prevents racist de-
filing of zones meant for living and not
dumping.  Racism scars my planet though
I, reared in white privilege, know only
a portion of what white did to prevail.

Here in the back seat in the parking lot
I’m getting cold despite down coat and
clothes of many layers.  My bladder is
full.  I wish I had asked  How long do these
Die-Ins last?  How long do die-ins last?  How
long did Mike Brown’s body lie in the street?
How long does life last when you cannot breathe? 
How long before we learn not to give up?

Later, in the glare of headlights and the
neon Dick’s sign, I see first a mirage, 
then silhouettes and my friends fleshed-out selves
return from dying, resurrect from Death
in the Mall with stories and images
of young black leaders, three staging areas,
friends seen and strangers touched during this brief
engagement.  Excitement reigns on the drive home.

We're not buying racism anymore.
We're not ignoring white privilege, black
profiling, power pushed and internal
racism.  Instead we're buying new books
to read about how we got here and how
we might begin to undo negatives.
We're listening beyond our comfort zones,
and building stamina for the long haul.

Ella's song in the video is performed by Dominion 
a cappella ensemble,led by Valerie Brown. 
At the Oakland Center for Spiritual Living on 10-4-2009. 
Music and lyrics by Bernice Johnson Reagon.

Copyright © 2014 S.L.Chast 


Mary said...

A message we all need to read, Susan.

Marcoantonio Arellano (Nene) said...

yes susan, i have been a victim of racism, profiled, etc. we must open discussions of these manifestations no matter what color of face, what uniform one wears, what economic strata one resides. let us discuss the issue address the issue without without pointing generically at individuals, this only makes us no better than those that are guilty of this ugly display called 'racism'

gracias for your words

feliz dias de celebracion

Abin Chakraborty said...

a timely message, movingly dcoumented

ScottlB said...

I applauded your message here, well expressed.

brudberg said...

So true Susan.. it happens all the time.. we seems unable to see beyond the color of skin.. Humans are all so much the same... still we seem to insist on looking at the differences.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

What a beautiful song and video. I can feel the fatigue of this long journey, kiddo. How wonderful that, even in pain, you are attending such events, and working hard to raise awareness and reverse this long-lived inequity. Change is happening. Awareness is growing. But so much - SO MUCH - depends on who gets elected next time. I have my fears and worries that we could be zapped right back to 1950. I pray not.

Torie said...

Your words are very rich and heavy in meaning, Susan. Something we all need to read and remember.

totomai said...

racism is every where. i guess each one of us experienced it both ways. but you are right, awareness is the core key to have this issue solved.

happy holidays Susan

ZQ said...

I just can't figure how we regressed...what did I miss? I thought we were well beyond this and moving towards the America we envisioned in the 60's ...is White power's extinction fueling this aggression with money and politics? Equality has no extinction for Pete's sake in an American Society. What is their fear?

Not to get away with your well written piece...

kaykuala said...

we might begin to undo negatives.
We're listening beyond our comfort zones,
and building stamina for the long haul.

Perfect ending Susan! A most apt lesson to many instances of racism shootings in recent days. Awareness is very necessary for the long haul. Very thoughtful take!


Donna@LivingFromHappiness said...

I hope your words resonate loud and your work with all of us rids us of the negative speak and perceptions that have met their time to go....

rallentanda said...

You have a black President which is a remarkable achievement. The majority of voters must be non racist. Racism does not make sense in your country. I doubt if we in Oz would ever have a black Prime Minister yet multi culturalism seems to fit a little better.

WASPS may be the ruling class now but I predict they will not be in the future. There is religious persecution of Christians occuring which gets little coverage.Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. Most of these persecuted Christians are black Africans and from the middle East. Coloured Christians it seems rate less than white ones.

Old Egg said...

Humanity has always been obsessed with class and race to fit people in appropriate boxes. When I came to Australia nearly 50 years ago what a breath of fresh air to have so many nationalities all cohabiting happily, except the native people of course as they weren't counted. Then elsewhere more unrest brought Asians and Africans who fitted in and we finally gave a tick to the locals too! Religious bigotry as Rallentanda states is the major problem in the future.

Anjum Wasim Dar said...

Books are the best companions ---strong message...Happy Holidays

Gen Giggles said...

A powerful event and now they are trying to find a way to charge the organizers for the lost money and over time the cops put in.

humbird said...

The fear of being different and the goal 'to fit' made the society the way it is today. It seems all's starting in schools from bullying ..Great tribute to racism!

Magaly Guerrero said...

I've closed my eyes and embraced your poem. I'm sitting in the bridge of the Enterprise, dreaming of reading all those wonderful books about how we got here and how we can't make sense of why people used to be so horrid to each other.