I can not stop crying. I want you all to know and understand that it’s not a purposeful thing (cause y’all know I LIVE for a good cry), it’s completely involuntarily, it hits out of nowhere, and it’s not the healthy cry that I know and love. It’s guttural, my interior can not handle what is happening on the exterior and it is showing almost every hour no matter where I am, no matter who I am in front of, and I hate it. It feels like weakness, when it’s simply rooted in pain, anger, exhaustion, and hopelessness.
I know a lot of things. I also don’t know a good amount of things.
But I know that I don’t deserve to feel this way. I know that I as someone who has worked very hard, for a very long time, at building a good human being, does not deserve to feel like I should give up, just because so much of the world wants me to. You don’t deserve to feel that way either.
I know that every person that put so much time, love and heart into a little boy that they found promising, does not deserve to know that that little boy is now a grown man who feels like he’s grasping at straws and treading water solely due to an outside perspective on him that he can not control. You don’t deserve to feel that way either.
I know that every black person who is just so, so TIRED, does not deserve to feel that way. The day of George Floyd’s death I ended up cancelling like four consecutive days of me going outside and doing any of the walking, running, breathing that has kept me sane during this quarantine and pandemic. I did this because I didn’t want MY negativity to rub off on anyone. (That layered irony alone of emotionally policing myself is not lost on me, don’t you worry.) I didn’t want to shoot daggers at a stranger, I didn’t want to see a black child and randomly start weeping out of pure heartbreak as already happens to me from time to time. I didn’t want to lock eyes with that child’s parent and have that parent be able to read what my tears were feeling and thinking, to only then be broken themselves again at the plight of snatching innocence from black youth. My only trips were to the grocery store, and to the damn wine shop because the build up in my brain drove me to a bottle of rosé in an effort to break it down. Other than that, I stayed in my room, waiting for my worst thoughts to pass so that I could then attempt to turn my remaining ones into positive action. You don’t deserve to feel that way either.
Through quarantine I am lucky that I did not have to be at an in person job this past week. I have had to in the past and having to constantly numb yourself to pain and reaction, and put on a happy face, and not break down, is such a psychologically traumatic event that black people have to deal with over, and over, and over, and over again. The world saying “Go about your day and put a smile on your fucking face. Your pain doesn’t matter and neither does your life.” It shouldn’t be so easy to numb oneself. We deserve to feel. But we do it day in and day out. Resilience and survival is what black people do best. We’ve had to. But that is not a healthy or happy existence in the slightest. It’s pained in such a way, that it feels like emotional shackles, to the physical shackles that we were attached to since colonialism.
I say all this because I think the heaviest degree of hopelessness comes from seeing those close to you not react in a way that actively invites or incites change.
If you don’t think your black friends are clocking your silence, or your laziness to simply sharing a post and saying #blacklivesmatter, or a pointless chain that stops real news from getting to a source, or your complacency, I promise you they are. My brain has taken more mental notes than I’d like it to, and I honestly wish it did not. That is just yet another shackle, constantly subconsciously seeing who is actually there for you.
My largest fear is that a couple weeks from now our country will have brushed this all to the side again, until it happens, again. Until we see another person have their life violently taken from them, and shake our heads and wag our fingers, scream a hashtag online, and then rinse, spin cycle and repeat.
The only times colors should be separated, is doing laundry. The only times spin cycles should be used, is doing laundry.
I hope that the revolution that we are seeing happen continues, in a way that is so revolutionary and magnetic that we are proud to talk about it for years to come. But I worry it will not.
Silence is disturbing. Laziness when it comes to life and death is disturbing. Complacency is disturbing. People’s LIVES are at stake. As uber dramatic as this sounds and as hesitant as I am to say it, MY fucking life is at stake. As someone who loves my own company, and loves to walk, run, eat, travel, read, write, create by myself in spaces, but also has been taught by an incredible single black mother the self respect and compassion to stand up for myself and stand up for others, I can not continue to handle having to ALWAYS be on edge in public as I have been from a very, very, very young age. It’s just, not fair. I have so many friends who when I’m out with them will tell me that my body language is too tight, or that I always have it so together and to loosen up some.
I. CAN’T. I am not allowed to.
If you have said or done nothing, you are very literally just as bad as the racists, and I mean that from the very fiber of my being.
Posting is not enough. As my favorite author James Baldwin said, “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.”
Text, call, donate, read, open yourself up through educational texts, speak up in private and public conversations, put yourself through a therapy session, volunteer, record any and every potentially harmful interaction you see, speak up to your peers, your families, your co workers, your fans, probe the entire build up of who you are as a human, and what is right and wrong about you. Re access any and all privilege you may have. If your brain or your heart just flickered a tiny bit and said “I maybe can work on this”, it’s because you can. And if it didn’t, delve fucking deeper.
All of us, must, do better.
I think back on conversations I’ve had with family members, with my mother, with elders when I was younger where I tried so passionately to convince them that things are changing and that I will be fine.
But, was I wrong? ARE things changing? WILL I be fine?
Anyone that knows me knows I hate being wrong, and that I refuse to beg for things, ever.
Please don’t let me be wrong. I beg you.
Peter William Dunn is a born and raised New Yorkers, who is currently a freelance writer, producer, director and sometimes actor in the city.
His professional passions include: film, music, literature, helping other artists thrive and all around storytelling
His personal passions include: puppies, babies, black and white milkshakes, and attractive men with accents (he has an extra strong track record for attracting emotionally unavailable men, but don’t tell him we told you that, and don’t yell at him for speaking in third person right now).
His current loves are his dog, Domino, a whiskey neat, and in case you didn’t know, his mother is the greatest human being on earth ❤