I have often been told that healing hurts as we grieve our pain and the processing the losses attached to letting go. I believed this to be true until I found myself struggling with a simple trip to the grocery store on September 28, 2020. The racial and racist experiences in those moments left me feeling angry, standing in the middle of the aisle to say a silent prayer and to find a joyful tune to hum as I regained my calm. On that day I experienced whiteness at its whitest most racist moment. Now that statement is not meant for every white person as I know some lovely white people and have fought alongside them, to save healthcare for Americans even white Americans. This was different, it felt different, smelled different and landed on my body differently as I watched this woman suck her stomach in, contorted her body being careful not to touch me as she squeezed by me as if I were a diseased person. What was so blatant was her dis-ease with me and the fact that she was willing to cut her back as she edged through the little space between her and I rather than say “excuse me or pardon me”. Instantly I was paused in my footsteps and arrested in my thinking. I was not sure why I was shocked by her lack of human courtesy to treat me with human dignity by simply saying excuse me. At least this would have allowed her to walk past me without injury. Other acts of toxic resentment consisted of a lady striking my fiancé’ with her cart and not apologizing for her purposeful act of intrusion upon his space. Another man, as we were leaving out of the parking lot, stopped walking to send a grim visual invitation of I dare you to hit me.
On the drive home I said “I hate this new America.” This place of racial hatred against people not because you know them but because you don’t know me and only see the hue of my skin rather than my humanity. This America that was built on black pain while still trying to excuse their necro-politics and calling it white fragility. This America stinks with hatred, injustice, vile attacks on the innocent, brutality, immorality, trauma, sickness and pain. I had to ask myself if America is healing, is white America grieving and this is why there is so much pain? Is it healing as it is forced to reckon with the untimely, unnecessary deaths of black men, women and their children. Is it healing now that it had to watch George Floyd say “I Can’t Breathe” as millions watched him die a merciless death by white police officers. Does the hurt we see and feel because White America is forced to grieve its sins as an unfit and dishonest President lives out and points out what white America has gotten away with while exacerbating the toxicity that White America birthed in the name of white supremacy, capitalism, control, patriarchy, xenophobia, racism, misogyny and white greed at the expense of black bodies, disenfranchised families and poor white people. This whiteness that I speak of, does not even see other white people as equal and yet it those who are not recognized as the “good ole’ white people” they only see through their semi-privileged lens hatred, lean into harmful policies and have no problem shooting, lynching, demonizing and terrorizing black and brown bodies, sadly enough in the name of religion.
As I reflect upon the juxtaposition of white America, I find myself wondering if the soul of White America is at a place of grieving, reckoning or increased toxic resentment? Does the dis-ease of White America continue to be the disease imposed upon my black body as I experience wells of pain sitting within my body at the crossroads of my black life, black fragility, black grief, black fugitivity and black reckoning as I try to find ways to heal at the intersections of my own black pain and the objectification of my black body as I live in White America, white resentment, and white imposed trauma as I live in White America.