My Apathetic Outrage

I think I’m supposed to be out there doing something. I think I’m supposed to be using my voice to raise critical consciousness and dogged resolve to reform the systemic racial injustice that persists. In education. On Reservations. On the streets where the blood of black bodies continually trickles into gutters, passing under would-be, could-be allies who did not even know they had a cause worth fighting for till just last week. I should be leading that line—my red #7 a vivid marker of my stance whether you ally with me or not. I should be out there—doing something.

Instead, I am here. Painfully aware that the sign I was trying to wave for years, the one that decried systemic injustice in papers, prose, poetry and resumes, got filed away with my unwillingness to toe the line and play into the very system that wants me to justify my outrage in APA. Citations of bell hooks and Derrick Bell and Richard Delgado needed to be the true masters of my pen and not my experience. Correlation is not causation. I learned that in statistics, hidden within the ivory tower where locks of golden hair grow longer every day.

It is my fault that I am apathetic. My joie de vivre has been stunted. I have not yet “woke” from my sleep, over forty years of previous agitation and unrest lost to the moment when I got tired. And had to rest. And had to rethink my tokenism in walls not meant for my inclusion even as I taught the very students who needed to learn that lesson. I got tired, friends, and I am sorry.

I will head to the Reservation. I will purchase materials for a walkway and build the path that leads to the front door for those who need safety. I will make a gate that keeps oppression out. I will fix the slats that have been broken by furious winds and the violent pull of the handle from those who did not know I barred its opening with a 10’ lead pipe, securing that entrance to keep would-be intruders from peering into the sanctuary of those who also need rest. Small bones need to nap on solid ground where the land doesn’t shift beneath them. But the land will inevitably shift. And they will drag tired souls to another spot; their apathetic outrage a result of the moment they realized no one was listening anyway.

Photo credit: Mike Frailey

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