When I started Truly Tafakari two years ago, I did so because I had something to say. Okay, I had a LOT of things to say. Often. I came up with the tag line “Life + Race + Culture” because it succinctly stated my most common topics. But these days, I haven’t written much about race at all. Is it writer’s block? Beat fatigue? I almost think I’m avoiding it.
I keep thinking that I don’t have much juice in me to write about race lately. I think about it. I share other folks’ essays. I hit the “Like” and Retweet buttons. But week after week goes by and i say nothing.
This morning, I finally hit upon why I haven’t been writing about race.I have erroneously equated writing about race, about being Black to mean writing outrage, sadness, and grief. A few months ago, an emotional numbness began to creep in. More tragedies have occurred. More racists have said racist things. I’m still “woke” to them. But I haven’t felt the energy it takes to continually express all those negative emotions. I can’t dissect the same feeling in the pit of my stomach once every month. I can’t argue to a phantom racist about why Black lives matter doesn’t mean that other lives are insignificant. Shoot, I’ve even given up arguing with White people about race, in general. Even those I consider(ed) friends.
One of my writer heroes on Twitter, Mensah Demary, was tweeting about how the constant scroll of “outrage” and “callout/take down culture” on our social media feeds taxes the spirit. He said, “daily outrage, to me, seems tiresome.” And I totally agree. His point raised the question: Do we *have* to call out every racist thing that crosses our timeline? Is neglecting to join the hue and cry a form of sticking one’s head in the sand? Maybe. I do believe that calling out racism is important; I just don’t think that all of us can afford to do it 24/7. And so I have not.
I have to remind myself that Blackness is not struggle. It is NOT struggle. Writing about race does not have to be fraught with pain. “Race,” itself, is a social construct we make real with our thoughts and actions. My relationship with that concept is what I make it. First and foremost, we are humans; I have been known to emphatically state that Blackness is simply another way of being human. There is so much more to limn in Black life than bloodshed and tear stains. So why does “race” automatically invoke pain?
While writing about the painful things can be ultimately valuable, such emotional labor is unsustainable. There must be more to fill these white spaces than the constant search to be accepted in White spaces, or calling out oppression. I need writing about race & Blackness (which is essentially about myself, my Black, woman, 4’10” self,) to embody some sense of joy and wonder. I cannot fly with a weighted spirit. The Black body does not always have to be a site of trauma.
I do plan to resume writing about “race.” But differently. More poignantly, less painfully. And maybe I will discover something new (to me) about being Black in this world. Or not. There is nothing “new” under the sun, after all. Only new ways of noticing how the light falls on places you once considered dark.
How are you dealing with traumatic news these days?