I keep on dying again./Veins collapse, opening like the/Small fists of sleeping/Children. Memory of old tombs,/Rotting flesh and worms do/Not convince me against/The challenge. The years/And cold defeat live deep in/Lines along my face./They dull my eyes, yet/I keep on dying,/Because I love to live. -Maya Angelou
I don’t have enough fingers or toes to count how many friends I’ve lost because of my opinions on race, power and privilege. If I allow myself to feel it, sometimes I am ashamed.
I have always believed that there are systems in place to restrict, oppress and destroy. Sometimes they seem benign. They are schools. They are churches. Sometimes they are ordinary spaces that are just mismanaged or misled. Sometimes they work intentionally to destroy communities, families and neighborhoods. Sometimes they are successful.
I want to believe and I understand that the history of a place, the history of a person, the history of an institution are sometimes in need of transcendence. I also understand that well-intentioned people, motivated by self-preservation, can create irrevocable harm.
The resurfacing of Nate Turner’s 1999 rape allegations is curious. I think there are real and concerted efforts to reduce black consciousness to one characterized by dysfunction and violence. There are people who want us to fail. I grew up with some of them. They went to my high school.
There is even a historical precedent for dead black bodies caused by innocent white lies.
My belief in these truths doesn’t squelch my consternation or my outrage at violence against women.
My hope in the body of work he has created doesn’t absolve him.
Rape is a form of murder. It has a historical precedent for destroying families, communities and neighborhoods. We are equally capable of being oppressed and simultaneously committing oppression.
It is an inconvenient truth.