Since the storming of the capitol, I admit that I’ve been nervous, apprehensive, and restless. I’ve been acutely aware of things I’d normally try to neutralize, and have started re-seeing America for what it has always been. Up until this January, I can say that my hope, faith, and imagination have all kept me from fully facing the inhumanity and intolerance we’ve all witnessed these past four years. I’ve fought that inhumanity with my humanity, my poetry, my plays, and my blogs. I literally started blogging in 2017, which was Trump’s inaugural year in office. Six days into this year, we were all faced with that convoluted red, white, and blue reality…
I mentioned my writing: As liberating as it is to be a writer, writing can also feel futile and pointless. My voice often feels unheard and not-as-important. Sometimes I feel misunderstood and powerless, but I’ll never miss my opportunity to speak in the written or verbal form. I speak and write out of love, honor, commitment, and my solidarity for humanity… I exist to be heard…
Each day, we wake up to a table of options. Today, on January 17, 2021, I am choosing to not let the emotional state I was in weeks ago or even yesterday interfere with how I need to move right now.
I am also remembering and rededicating myself to the calling on my life. I am Clinnesha and I am here to tell it how I live it; to harness the power of the written word; and to empower/transform the lives in the spaces I’ve been assigned to.
Who are you right now? Furthermore, who are we as a country?
The inauguration of the 46th president is right on the heels of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the National Day of Racial Healing. I am pinning it as symbolism and believing that we can become the people Dr. King insisted we become— the world we ought to be.
If he were alive today, he would be 92 years old. His work here was great; and had he not been taken from us, I am sure we would be a nation that bends more toward justice. Maybe there would be fewer racial disparities in healthcare, education, economic, and housing systems.
Though, I’ve always felt that Dr. King’s mission was to not drive our problems away. He was a prophet of hope who equipped us for these times and demonstrated how to work across racial lines. I look back at his “I Have a Dream Speech” every year around this time. This year, I am moved by these specific words:
“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism….It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.I Have A Dream, 1963
In the beyond of January 6, 2021, we need dialogue outside of the comment section of our Facebook posts. We need to have courageous and intentional conversations in our homes, classrooms, lecture halls, book clubs, sanctuaries and small groups. It’s time to call the town hall, board, faculty, and staff meeting that runs long or may even occur over a span of days. It’s time for schools, organizations, and companies to seek intervention and get to those beautifully awkward hard earned moments of truth. It’s time to open the empathy portal and let the tears flow like a mighty stream. It’s time for what Brene Brown calls, a “vulnerability hangover”.
The foundational/root work that’s needed right now across our nation will require fierce commitment. I agree with my hero, we must prioritize what’s uncomfortable and move with urgency— especially in the American South. If after that Insurrection, leaders in every form haven’t started asking themselves major questions… How must our entity’s role and responsibility change/shift? What are we doing to dismantle any systems of oppression embedded in the fabric of our organization? (In ourselves.) What new values should we adopt and carry forward? …you’ve been tranquilized, I’m afraid.
Now is the time to deal fundamentally with us as a people. Now could save us tomorrow, and tomorrow could be too late. Now is the time to speak out where it counts.
Clinnesha is a wife, mom, daughter/sister/auntie, literary artist, humanities scholar, and social entrepreneur. Her advocacy work is at the intersection of black/feminist thought, arts, culture, and community.