These times; Coronavirus now called COVID-19. The whole world is on lockdown. People are fearful, confused, defiant and restless. Somebody must have cried out from the wilderness, “What next, God?” I asked myself privately, “Is this when Hell freezes over?” I am sleepless with such questions. I am concerned but not scared.
Worldwide protests ignited (again) by the brutal, livestreamed and televised murder of another Black man, George Floyd. These times. I live in north Minneapolis. I watched people engage their rage to mobilize and take to the streets. I had seen this before, August 1965, during the Watts riots. It happened again in 1992, called the Los Angeles riots. UNRESTS.
Fast forward, I am 69 years old. I wonder if I have ever known REST. When I was a girl, lying down or sleeping in the daytime was frowned upon. Idleness had something to do with the Devil. Laziness was a sin. Children were scolded with, “What you got to be tired for?” As if tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue were the sole domain of working grown-ups. Poverty, abuse and oppressions are exhausting. I didn’t know those words then, but I knew what they felt like. It was a hard habit to break. Resting when tired.
I recall an afternoon years ago. My daughters were 2 and 9 years old. I worked and attended college full-time. I don’t know how or why I just laid down on the sofa in broad daylight. Sleeping on anything other than a bed was problematic, too. The youngest one came over to me, leaned in and asked, “Are you dead?” A Black mother can rest only when she is dead?
Crazy. My body now mandates a daily nap somewhere between 3 and 6. Sometimes this nap extends to midnight. One. Two o’clock, and I am back up. Watching. Listening. Praying. Witnessing.
I am in love with my bed. It is my happy place. My twin size bed is like a pod. I am a crowder pea. I share my bed with my cat, magazines and stacks of books that I can’t read fast enough. I am distracted by more thoughts. Are all doors locked? Are my shoes and cane easily accessible? I can’t run or scream. What if my car is stolen, used by agitators to harass and terrorize my neighbors? Then set afire? My oldest daughter purchased a machete and megaphones for each of us. My grandbaby has to warrior-up, too. She is only 9.
I fantasize about weaponizing my rage. Deep hurt and sorrow lies beneath.
Measuring grits, 2 cups to a quart of hot bubbling water,
Spooning fish grease and bacon fat into birthday balloons,
Reaching for that Dollar Tree lighter that becomes a flame thrower,
“You gon’ get lit with Fire THIS time, OK Ofays!”
Black Cast Iron skillets in graduated sizes deployed like serial killers, and filling socks with coins, cans, potatoes, or broken glass.
Pound by pound
Strike and stab
Blow by blow
When blood flows
It ain’t gonna be mine.
Do I need a gun?
George Floyd’s death has ushered the world into transformative collective actions. Rest in Peace and Power, New Ancestor. WE, whose BLACK LIVES MATTER, ain’t sleeping on this. We are watching out for each other. We are protecting each other. We are taking turns, sleeping and RESTING, resisting, and rising up.