How and what does my positioning allow me to see? Continually awakening to reality causes me to question the ways that reality has affected my life, ways that I didn’t understand until now. And there are so many other things that I still don’t understand. And will never understand. And yet the grief, not for my role in things, although I do feel that, but the grief that what my ancestors have gone through and done, in some ways isn’t enough. Will it ever be enough? How can I use my skills, what can I do to further the dreams of my ancestors, my descendants? What can I do to make the world better for my son? And what do I do with the grief? How can I connect to the forces that my ancestors connected to? How can I deal with the fear? How did they deal with the fear? How did they find so much courage? What do I do with thoughts and emotions when I think about the ways in which my life is both incredibly safe and at the same time threatened?
I have found strength in connecting with the earth, with the trees, with their power to go towards the up. With their power to go towards the down, the out, to each other. While my work often refers to nature, specifically trees and water, I also see a complicated relationship with the woods and water, at least historically, for Black people. Woods and water- sustenance, safety, cleanser, conveyers to bondage, death, and torture.
I heard about some astronauts that went to space. Before they left they always longed to be in space and to feel what it felt like to be in space. And when they got into space their first thought when they looked back at the earth was how homesick they were for the earth. Their second thought was that the earth is in space. They had always been in space. Space as blackness, mystery that holds us. That gives me solace.
I am a student of the unimaginable pain and suffering and bravery of my ancestors, and the conditions in which me and my people still endure, the systems that cause the need for that endurance. Now that I have a son there is the crushing weight of the fact that I could lose him (that he could lose me), that people have lost their children, loved ones, that people are losing their children and loved ones. I also know that my own fear of losing him pales in comparison with the realities that others face. The unbearable results of our systems are so blatant, and it seems at least half the population (more) doesn’t see them or understand them. It is enraging. And intensely takes away hope. If people want to live in denial it will never be different. Can it ever be different? What kind of future do we want? Do we want to live in a future where we don’t acknowledge and understand how our past has led to this moment? Are we capable of living?
I’m not sure. I hope so.
I have found hope and joy in the small things, in living close with a young person, in daily acts of love. I have found solace in the unknowable, in the smoke of a candle that’s been snuffed out, solace in the dark. Solace in seeing that I am connected forward and backward, up and down, that I am so very small. We are all so very small, and this isn’t really about me. Solace in connecting to the sacred. Small acts, a stitch or making a long line of thread, sharing excitement with loved ones over red roots that reach toward nutrients in the water. I’ve found solace in making small acts together, small acts that add up, and echo our smallness in the universe.
How can we communicate like trees? How can we see each other as stars? Stardust?
My work is a struggle between my deepest fears and my most hopeful hope in humanity.