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?
The women’s movement
These things are real American lives
Their experiences are real
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.
I dreamed I was smoking with James Baldwin and Barack Obama…
I was reading the presidents summer reading list…
I was talking about how this year had been
I grew up, I came home to myself during those years…I changed my mind on things.
I understand, that empathy is important. Peoples stories are important…
That no amount of passion and empathy will replace their experience…
Check in on your friends who are POC. We just read the headlines but they are living them…
And then something else happened…
James lit a cigarette
Cocked his head back
“You have to find the tools within yourself, to live these times. To manage these times. No one else is going to do it for you. Your mental health. Your duty as a writer as a man. Forget color, position, politics and religion. Your duty as a man. As a human. Is to find the tools inside yourself, to manage whatever you’re living through.