The Equinox is a moment of balance. Here in the Northern hemisphere the Earth seems poised to shift from warmer to cooler, from sunshine to dusk, from light to dark. I want to be writing about the natural world, the harvest, or maybe the Earth’s orbit, the solar and lunar apparent motions in our sky. But instead all I can think about is American politics, and the blood that has recently been so carelessly spilled.
The Witch watches over my shoulder as I sit dithering at the keyboard. I’m afraid she is laughing at my discomfort, so I don’t turn my head.
“Why are you so afraid to say what you’re feeling?” she asks, stroking my hair.
Her touch is so gentle it brings tears to my eyes at once.
“I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing,” I tell her. “Or maybe I’m afraid of saying some right things badly.”
I keep struggling to find a way to make Black lives matter as much to the white community, and to the police community and to the medical community, as they do in the Black community.
I keep trying to discover what I can do to help expand the safety I experience, as an old white lady, until that same safety protects all the young Black people who are presently so rightly afraid for their lives. Because so many have been so outrageously murdered, “accidentally” killed, and assaulted by those sworn to protect and serve – because, essentially, of white fear, and the habits of mind and action that a culture based on white fear carries.
I’ve thrown away a dozen paragraphs about that, but probably the best thing for me to say is that those of us who are white need to keep speaking out about this, and we need to keep amplifying and centering Black voices as we speak about it.
So here are some words from Crystal Blanton, columnist at The Wild Hunt (among many other things):
[Ms. Blanton then quotes Rebecca Lee, a teacher at the school attended by the daughter of Terrence Crutcher, after the teacher helped facilitate small group discussions with children in grades 5-8 at that school.]
“The way that black and brown children are being affected, traumatized and their worldview is shaped by what is happening to our people is something so many people seem to dismiss.
Not only do I see it in my own home…. I see it in my work. I have had a number of these groups with middle school and high school kids who are grappling with the trauma of a racist society.
People need to listen and take in the impact of the harm.
[Ms. Lee goes on to quote the 5th-grade kids, 10-year-olds]:
“I want to share what I experienced with the kids today, because I am convinced that if you can put yourself in the shoes of a child of color in Tulsa right now, you will have a clearer understanding of the crisis we’re facing and why we say black lives matter.”
[Ms. Lee, in her own words]:
“Why did they have to kill him? Why were they afraid of him? Why does [student] have to live life without a father? What will she do at father daughter dances? Who will walk her down the aisle? Why did no one help him after he was shot?”
One girl closes our group by sharing: “I wish white people could give us a chance. We can all come together and get along. We can all be united.”
… The sixth graders are quiet. The tragedy lives and breathes among them. It could have been their father. Boys are scattered across the cafeteria with their heads buried in their shirts. A girl who just moved to Tulsa from New Orleans because her father wanted to “escape the violence” is choked up as she speaks …
I ask that you put yourself in the shoes of black and brown children growing up in a world where they see videos of their classmate’s father shot and bleeding in the street.
I ask that you love and love hard.”
So mote it be.
As we come into the last weeks before the election, I find myself asking everyone:
Are you registered to Vote?
If not, what do you need so that you get registered in plenty of time?
What do you need to know about your state’s requirements for ID, and do you have the documents you might need?
… because I am not willing for our political picture to get any more out of balance than it has been this election season.
The Witch nods, and makes a few suggestions.
I remind her that this is not a space for political speech, and particularly not a space for partisan politics.
Which makes me feel nearly mute.
“Where is Balance for you, on this topic?” she asks. She hugs my shoulders. “What would you choose, if you could choose neutrally?”
Balance would be for our democracy to work smoothly, appropriately, well. So here is what I choose and what I ask:
- For each eligible citizen to become a fully registered voter, for each registered voter to vote, for each vote to be accurately counted;
- For our elected representatives to represent their actual individual human constituents even-handedly, rather than preferentially obeying lobbyist organizations and voting based on campaign contributions;
- For each voter to seek, find, and use accurate information about the candidates to make a clear-minded, well-informed choice in each contest;
- And for each contest to elect the candidate most likely to lead us toward fairness, balance, liberty and justice for all at whatever level that office allows.
For future elections I would add:
- For each district to be fairly drawn without disenfranchising any person or group;
- For each vote in the nation to have equal weight in national elections;
- For national rules of voter eligibility and voter identification that are the same in every district for national elections.
So mote it be.