2020 #21

James Baldwin

I keep having dreams that James Baldwin is here. In my kitchen, writing. And smoking. We talk all night. They are very linear. Picking up where the other leaves off. As if he is aware.

Maybe it is…because I will be 31 and I still haven’t found how to deal with 30…

He says it’s because I see him.

I think it is this unsettling feeling I get when I see social media jump. Businesses jump. It’s as if everyone is patting black Americans on the back. Saying “there there.” But still, not seeing them or acknowledging that they exist.

I’ve been reading James Baldwin for years. I couldn’t find his books at my local library so I had to buy them.

I see everyone sharing quotes from him and others…but I doubt they’ve ever read. Really, read their bodies of work.

In my dream. He smiles and asks me how I felt during the early days of the pandemic. When everyone was praising frontline workers.

It didn’t feel authentic. It felt like a mob mentality…

He shrugs. Very well. There you have it.

I think, and I might be wrong.

We are here…dealing with something different.

But, when I step back. And I look at the whole experience of 2020

We have something else here

Racism, yes. Conspiracy theories? No. That’s a very privileged point of view…

As if to say “darling, you’re not having this experience, someone must be trying to destroy America.”

We have no sense of self. We have no boundaries. We are entitled. Selfish. Yes, but we have no real understanding of ourselves.

We’ve been spoon fed this ideal about reality. Profit. But no real understanding.

Yes, you can live a life unlike no other.

But we are still not happy.

We have no sense of self. No boundaries.

when our neighbors house catches on fire we set ours on fire. We don’t understand where we begin and end. Boundaries. Every single week there is something else we are running towards.

Where is the real goal? What will you do if you get what you want?

What do you want?

Black Americans

LGBTQ

The women’s movement

These things are real American lives

They exist

Their experiences are real

Daily

They are more than political movements

They are more than flags

They are not profit agendas

They are humans

American men and women

With families and dreams

The system might be broken

But until we face ourselves

And look in the mirror

And figure out how we got here

And what we are going to do with it

And a real sense of direction

It can’t be fixed.

We are removing the humanity from these movements so we can label them and better handle them.

That is what I fear.

——

I’m tired

I feel like I’ve been gutted

I don’t feel like we are really seeing

I feel like we are just doing just enough

To get by

——

But our actions say something else

——

I’m tired

I’ll be 31 this year

I may be quiet

But I’m not blind

I feel myself retreating into literature

We are better

We can do better

Be better.

I’m going to be 31

And I’m tired.

I feel myself running out of time.

I get up in the middle of the night

And James Baldwin is at my table.

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