My trip to Minneapolis after George's death showed me love through the wreckage.
Posted June 19, 2020
I was having a rough time trying to figure out what my next blog was going to be about. I naturally wanted to jump into activism mode but subconsciously I was reminded that Grounded Truth needs to be a safe space for everyone. I definitely did not want to turn a blindside to our “now reality” while remembering re-traumatizing does exist. I was speaking to a friend about this dilemma and just like before the verdict was to be honest and authentic about the space I’m existing in.
For me activism and mental health go hand in hand. We are hearing about policy discussions surrounding defunding police and law proposals prosecuting those who make racial police calls. These are steps towards a long sought out justice, but it does not replace the feelings of hurt and disgust that remain for many. I do not know what to even think about 2020 anymore but maybe 2020 have given some people 20/20 vision on issues that existed for years. Regardless, I do not want to occupy this blog to reiterate what truths we already know. There is still a lot of fueled hate circulating but I want to focus on the comfort that is surfacing.
One common Facebook post that I see traveling through my news feeds is the need to block and unfriend those who choose to be silent or spewing their biases. This reminds me of October 4, 2013 when I found out that my childhood friend Blair had died. He was only 21 years old. Blair was a person who was comfortable with who he was regardless of what others thought. He stood by his beliefs and encourage those around him to do the same. His personality was unforgettable because he saw the good in situations so when the words “They found his body” was spoken I instantly broke down. After being missing for almost 12 hours the conversation was not that they found “him” but his “body”. This was the first close death I experienced, and I was miles away from home where I could relate to others that knew him. I was in my senior year of college at the time. For anyone who lived on campus you know by senior year the friends you started with are slim to none. This could not have been any truer for me. The closest friend that I had in Virginia (where I attended school) was in Germany studying abroad at the time. So, I turned to my “other friends” who were just really cool associates that I kicked it with time to time but really was never down for the cause. Yeah, those friends. I was only greeted with “I’m sorry for your loss” text with nothing more to come. I moved on to my ex-best friend from freshman year thinking that Blair’s death might encourage her to have a change of heart when I asked for her presence, but I was met with the same seldom condolences as before. I always told myself that Blair was not the only friend I loss that day. The people I thought were good friends did not show up. To be honest, I have not heard from them since. Genuine friends empathize with grief.
I was desperate at this point, so I decided to call on another friend that I was cool with. We had friendly exchanges and occasional meet ups, but he was not a person I ever had intimate conversations with. I texted London and told him about Blair and in a few hours, London showed up at the townhouse I was renting from.
A perfect photo that captures Blair all in one.
London’s familiarity with grief allowed him to show up and spend time with me during a time of hurt. I was really surprised that out of all the people I reached out to that he would be the one to show up for me. Later, that day a different friend of mine, Shavon also showed up. Shavon had a million and one hustles back then but she too prioritized me that day. To this day I am more than grateful for both of their presence because the last thing I wanted was to be alone.
COVID has caused us to be alone physically and/or mentally from others. When they coined the phrase “social distance” I am sure they did not plan for it to take on multiple meanings. Metaphorically many relationships we have with individuals are experiencing distance that has no end in sight. Growing into adulthood there is a saying that I am starting to rationalize with loss. Every loss is not a loss. Sometimes we need lose situations or people for better things to take their place. Today, London and Shavon are still close friends of mines and I strongly believe that in Blair’s death grew a life of stronger friendships.
As motivating as that story may or may not be, you might be wondering what this has to do with what is going on. Well, the same thing is happening now for us in different ways. We may be seeing that our employer is not as culturally competent as they profess, or you are now aware that you are “the black friend” that is the life saver for any racist screening. Whether individually or systemically we are convenient to others who we do not always benefit from. Luckily, for us that is only a percentage of people who occupy our life.
Currently I decided to follow that tiny voice in the back of my mind. Doing that led me to take a flight to Minneapolis to be with my sister for a week. I weighed all safety measures and risks but ultimately felt pulled to be physically present where this new revolution begun. I felt obligated to uphold my own values and show up just like how others eventually started showing up for me. I came to extend my support, but I will be leaving with more than what I expected.
Photo of my sister, my boyfriend, and I at Costco buying donation items for families
Standing in the place where George Floyd was murdered truly is an indescribable experience. I will try to do my best to describe it knowing that this blog can never do it justice then actually being there. Imagine being present at Emmett Till’s funeral or standing in the Staples Arena after Kobe’s death. Surrounded by many people affected by this loss who probably did not know him personally. Three weeks ago, this blog would not even exist had George had a real twenty bill, decided to go to a different store, or got stopped by cops who valued humanity over patriarchy. Instead, I stood in a garden of symbolism, outrage, and love all at once. That intersection that was a death sentence birthed life of hope from community members far and near. Normally, we want to forget such tragic events, but they glorified his death in a way that even some churches do not resemble such sanctuary. Everyone’s first words to me was “be safe” and “be careful” when I revealed my intent, but little did any of us know (including myself) that I was in the safest place I could be. There was a sense of community that only us millennials have witnessed through history books. “Daddy changed the world” is channeled through ancestral pasts that is guiding our way to the change we are seeing. I wish everyone could experience the level of love and protection that radiated from the corner of Chicago Avenue and E 38th Street because it carried power that could cure any racism.
Photographs taken during my trip to Minneapolis
Where there is hate there is love. Where there is dark there is light. One entity cannot exist without the other. For that reason, there is beauty in pain. Connectivity with others is necessary during this time because that is where hope lies. 2020 has made it clear multiple times to expect the unexpected. That is no different than life itself. Let your unapologetic agenda rain courage, soul, and faith in the seeds of love we are trying to plant.
I want to leave you guys with two songs (corny right!). Music harmonizes with the feelings we carry, especially when we can't find the words to describe it. I feel like one of my favorite Jay-Z songs and Ace Hood songs does that:
My nephew died in the car I bought
So I’m under the belief it’s partly my fault
Close my eyes and squeeze, try to block that thought
Place any burden on me, but please, not that Lord
Time don’t go back, it go forward
Can’t run from the pain, go towards it
- Lost One by Jay-Z
We living in Hell and it's easy to tell some people are shocked
Who are you people to judge me 'cause of the way that I live?
The way that I grind, the things that I did, the person I am
Everyone got opinions but n****s as broke as a joke
I went to them schools and spoke to the children that need it the most
I gave away toys, I gave 'em a speech, delivered 'em hope
It's a blessing to become a blessing, my mama would set it in stone
- Fuck Da World by Ace Hood