What can I even say?
I didn’t know anything about Troy Davis’ plight or his case until last Wednesday night, when his life was taken by the state.
I am angry, sad, confused, lost… it’s crap like this that leaves me feeling hopeless, unable to escape from a culture that would murder a man who had so much reasonable doubt tied to his conviction that he probably shouldn’t even be in jail, let alone dead right now.
I feel complicit in all of this hate. No matter how much I read, no matter how many worthy causes I advocate for there are always going to be things that I miss. Like Troy Davis. I want so badly to do my part in advocating against racism, but I don’t even know where to begin in my community. I want to advocate against the death penalty. I want to do something that would help to stop this from happening ever again. Yet I can’t seem to get past this feeling that my one voice doesn’t mean a single. damn. thing. I mean, if the voices of the thousands who did protest meant nothing to America’s government, why would mine?
How do you pick up and keep going when the country you’ve been raised to love violates its own principles so blatantly?
How do you accept the fact the the cries of so many Americans, calling out for justice for Troy, were so soundly ignored?
Tonight, I watched a room full of Republicans boo a f*cking soldier, risking his life in Iraq for a country that doesn’t even recognize him as an equal citizen. So much for “support our troops.” Earlier this week I saw headlines telling the story of Jamey Rodemeyer, a fourteen-year-old boy who was pushed to suicide at the hands of bullying.
Where do you go when you dread opening your computer, turning on the TV, even opening your eyes in the morning… for fear of witnessing something else you can’t bear to comprehend?
What could I ever say, or hear, that could make this better? There’s the old standard: life goes on. And that’s true, life will go on and before long Troy Davis and Jamey Rodemeyer will be forgotten by most of us, overshadowed by a million other injustices, annoyances… and good things, too.
If anything, that makes me feel worse. For me, and for so many other life goes on. For Troy and Jamey it ends abruptly, senselessly, without justice.
It’s human nature to look for connections, even when there are none. This time, there is a connection: it’s hate.
We’re trained, from an early age, to fear one another, to hate one another. White kids taught to hate kids with skin darker than their own by parents who weave elaborate lies about entitlement (welfare, affirmative action) and danger (muggings, crime). I should know, even my own progressive family feeds right into this BS from time to time. Children who aren’t white taught to hate themselves by a society that tells them you are not good enough, not deserving even of the things you have earned, a society where history has no meaning and everyone’s circumstance is something that they have earned rather than something determined by centuries of history, stretching back long before their birth. Is it any wonder Troy Davis is dead despite the overwhelming doubt surrounding his conviction?
When straight kids are taught to fear queer kids, as preachers teach that love can be a sin, teachers turn a blind eye to bullying and parents try to steer their kids in the “right direction.” When those queer kids are taught to hate themselves, to want to change because as they are love is something dangerous, not something that every human being deserves. A country where just being openly gay is enough to get a soldier booed. Is it any wonder that Jamey Rodemeyer killed himself just this week?
We’re taught to fear everyone who is not just like us fear that can turn to hate in the blink of an eye.
A system that executes people for their crimes teaches us that killing, violence, and hate are the answer.
A government that refuses to grant basic rights (like marriage, or job protection) to vulnerable members of its population is one that teaches discrimination is okay.
… and we’re all complicit. Every single one of us has had a moment where we stayed silent, watched hate unfold before our eyes but sat paralyzed and unable to act. Maybe it was a friend calling a stupid movie gay or a grandmother making a ridiculous comment about Mexican students going to school for free. I’ll just let this one slide, we think. We’re having a nice time and I don’t want to be the downer.
I almost stopped blogging just a few weeks after starting, because the passage of Prop 8 in California left me feeling so gutted, so hopeless, that I just didn’t see the point. Just as I did then, I find myself returning to the idea of love as the only thing that matters, the only thing powerful enough to change our world into one that doesn’t hurt so much to inhabit. I don’t meant this in a wishy-washy metaphorical sense, though. I mean we have to love each other enough to be honest. Love ourselves and the people around us enough to confront the hate, head on, to call it out even when it is masquerading as humor. We need to love our country enough to demand better. To write letters, and protest, and vote, and campaign until America lives up to the values it was founded upon. We need to love even the most hate-filled people, love them enough to push the hate from their hearts and help them to transform. We have to love even when all we want to do is close out the world because the hate simply hurts too much to bear.
It won’t ever be easy, but it will be worth it. That’s what I’ve learned, at least, in twenty-one years of muddling through this all, and personally I will never stop trying to prove that love is stronger, for Troy Davis and Jamey Rodemeyer and the million other voices silenced all too soon by the simple power of hate.