Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Too beautiful

Tuesdays at TWT!
What do I write? The sun is pouring across our yard, birds are twittering and chirping their greetings as they flit around our deck, and my heart is full of sweet moments with the girls. It's beautiful here. I could write a hundred beautiful, sweet slices. 

But that's just it. This life is too beautiful to not be bothered that once again, someone who should be in this world is now not. Someone who should've woken up today to hear the birds and see the sunshine (or whatever the weather is doing in Minnesota) did not. Someone whose two-year-old should've covered him in cuddles today, just like my Rainbow did for me. Daunte Wright. How do you tell a two-year-old that their daddy isn't ever coming home again?!

It's too beautiful here to not remember that mere days before that, Lt. Caron Nazario almost wasn't here either. In what kind of country should an active duty Army lieutenant be afraid to get pulled over? (Obviously, in the kind of country where an officer tells him he should be afraid.)

It's too beautiful here to not feel my stomach twisting with the recognition that they, like so many others, were just doing an activity so commonplace that it became one of our favorite, lighthearted ways to get out of the house during the long months of pandemic winter. That we are excited to hop in the car for joyful drives where we take the long way home. We're not scared, even if we happen to see a police car on the way. We just keep singing and driving. 

Which is why the beauty of today just makes my head and heart hurt more. I don't want to live in a world where I can leave my house without fear (I mean, other than the deadly pandemic and the general experience of being female...) while others can't. I don't want to live in a world where when my girls get older, my lists of worries for them will be much smaller than the lists of other mothers whose children simply have more melanin than we do.

Those of us who are privileged enough to not be directly, disproportionately affected by injustice can't just keep living like nothing happened, over and over again. Nor can we pause briefly to read some books and articles, feel better about ourselves because we're "learning", and then keep living, teaching, and parenting the same ways we always have. Learning is good and important, and we should all keep it up. (I'm certainly a different person and teacher than back when I was shocked when one of the first ELs I ever worked closely with told me there are lots of racists in my hometown.) But we can't stop there. 

Because what can I write today that I haven't written before? And then again? And all the times, too many to name, that I didn't write anything? And all the countless times before, for hundreds of years?

It's too beautiful here to ignore another trial, filled with the usual spin, underway about another Black life cut too short, unable to enjoy this beauty. George Floyd. Why is his daughter, just a year older than my Sweetie, spending these beautiful days missing her daddy instead of playing with him?

It's too beautiful here to forget that, for all the attempts at victim blaming, white mass murderers are lead calmly out of their crime scenes and white insurrectionists get to go home after documenting themselves attacking the United States Capitol.

It's too beautiful to also not recognize all the recent brutal attacks and harassment against Asians, who now have to wonder if they'll be assaulted or blamed for the virus if they step outside to enjoy a day like today.

It's much too beautiful here to not recall that these are not isolated incidents, small blemishes that we can just brush past in a return to some idyllic "normal". No, they are merely the latest drips in a long, deep storm of terror and injustice sprung from the very formation of our country.

"America, the beautiful," we sing. And it is. But also, it is not. 

And until we confront the truth that in many ways, America is deeply, menacingly ugly, it cannot be as beautiful as we want it to be. 

NPR, A Decade of Watching Black People Die, May 2020


  1. The first words that came out of my fingertips were "I understand." But I don't. I don't understand how this keeps happening over and over and over again FOR NO GOOD REASON. It is, as you say, simply a matter of skin pigmentation that has led to years and years of horrible treatment of human beings, and it doesn't seem like it will ever get any better. In the past year, I have learned a lot of what I didn't see, simply because I am pale, and I am still learning. But I don't think I will ever understand.

  2. That list is too long and it sadly keeps on growing. The dichotomy in this post between the beauty of the day and the ugliness of our current system is heartbreaking. Today I published a piece I had written over the weekend... a simple, sweet post about the morning. But your post? That's where my heart is today. It grieves for this young man and it is anxious for the many young men who are students of mine. But as a white mother of white boys, I cannot fully comprehend how Daunte's mother must grieve and how other parents must worry. I want to evoke change. I just see so many people who don't. Thank you for raising your voice.

  3. Oh, Jennifer, every white person should be confronted with this post. Your post is a call to action, and we cannot ever turn back. Last summer I had hoped George Floyd was the turnaround, and perhaps we will look back someday and his death and Chavin's trial will be a new civil rights era. He will not be forgotten. However, Daunte and Lt. Nazaro also show that white supremacy reigns to the foundation of our country's history. It is too beautiful here to not do something. Powerful post. Thank you!


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