John Wood (1922-2012)Blackbird, Some Have Hunger, 1986Collage, cyanotype and graphite
The terrible things that have happened in recent days, the culmination of decades if not centuries of bad behavior and deliberate cynical acts of oppression, are not necessarily our fault– but they are our problem. We all need to be prepared for an extended period of re-introducing truth. It’s not enough to be not a racist, not a homophobe, or not violent, we have to be actively anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and non-violent. Taking care of the planet, taking care of one another, connecting the dots. It will involve much more than “liking” a post or “signing” an online petition– uncomfortable actual conversations will need to occur.
Never in my lifetime has it seemed more important to remember and acknowledge the life work of Martin Luther King, Jr. As a 14 year-old I attended the I Have a Dream speech on the Washington Mall, having joined the members of the Ithaca Friends Meeting on a bus to DC.
I also had the opportunity to see Anna Deveare Smith perform this live at the Broad Playhouse in Santa Monica a few years ago:
I hope you can find the 21 minutes to watch the video.
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
As folks who’ve been doing qigong with me these past four years have heard countless times, Chou-En Lai, when asked his opinion of the French Revolution, replied, “too soon to tell.”
Stacey Abrams has demonstrated the way forward, and it’s not flashy or social media-driven: it’s actual human connection and engagement, sustained over time with a long view, pulling back from the temptations and distractions of the moment.
Sleeves rolled up? Let’s do this!