Thursday, January 19, 2006

Words Contain Power Redux

Chris's post has been resonating in my mind all week and I have some shit to say. I should preface by saying that I'm extremely tired, both physically and emotionally, so what follows should be read with that in mind. Don't get your hopes up!

I've been in Savannah these last 10 days where racial tension is palpable due to the murder of a wealthy blonde debutante just before Christmas. The paper is portraying the situation in the most simplistic white versus black terms. In this morning's paper, a letter to the editor becried the black "crack heads" who were ruining the city.

When I arrived here, my white colleague who happens to have grown up in Savannah picked me up at the airport and I asked him about the situation. His response was, "I think being here is really gonna open your eyes, Kris." You all can guess that this comment infuriated me. I mean, has he ever met me?? But to a degree he was right. Obviously he's NEVER right, but we can take his comment in a spirit he didn't intend at all and say that it's right. Being here and observing and being forced to participate in what's going on every time I left my safe hotel was eye opening. The color of my skin absolutely determined who did and who did not make eye contact on the street, in restaurants, and even in cabs. I have been called ma'am by elders because I'm white. The tension and anger is defined by everyone here based on color.

I go on about all of this because I wonder if you mean, Chris, that Silko is urging us along to a place where we believe that words do have the power to change us. Is there a way out of this kind of situation? I have to keep going back to Clinton's assertion that "Nothing could be black only or brown only or white only anymore. The ancient prophecies had foretold a time when the destruction by man had left the earth desolate, and the human race was itself endangered. This was the last chance the people had against the Destroyers, and they would never prevail if they did not work together as a common force"(747). I think that she is saying that we have to get our shit together, like now, before we freaking kill each other over shit that isn't even real. I'm not saying that racism isn't real, far from it, but that our understanding of each other is completely skewed because we don't fucking listen.

I'd like to keep this conversation about power going. I think we might really be onto something.

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