Yesterday, I was shopping at at a grocery store. In the checkout line, I was struggling to find my six feet wondering when it was appropriate to place my three items on the conveyer belt. Suddenly a male voice behind me asked, “Hey man, do you mind if I cut in front of you? I only have two things and I’m trying to get up to the protest.”
I looked down at my three items again and thought, “Yeah, why not?”
“Sure, man. Go ahead.”
So he jumped in front of me with his two boxes of Capri-Suns.
“Where is the protest starting,” I asked him.
“Up at the Riv,” he responded.
“Okay, cool. Do you happen to know which way it’s going and how far?” I asked.
“Um,” he paused and checked his phone. “It’s going from the Riv to the Sheridan Redline stop and back up to the Riv area.”
“Okay, cool,” I said.”And thanks for doing what you’re doing. It’s important work.”
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I’m one of many.”
“One of many doing an amazing service and necessary act for this country,” I said. “Stay safe and have a great day.”
Later in the day, I talked to my best friend in NC. He asked about the protests and riots. I told him that it felt more tame on Wednesday and Thursday, but it was still happening. “I’ve heard the flash bangs every night.”
“Get your ass back down here asap, brother,” he said.
“Nah, man. I kinda like it here.”
“Oooo-kay,” he eeked out.
I’m not sure I got a chance to really explain. But I somehow feel safer here than in NC at times. My parents don’t believe in masks. North Carolina has been back to “normal” for a few weeks. People are likely out spreading the disease more than they think.
Not to mention that here in Chicago, we have much more diversity and intrigue.
It’s summer-time temps. People are out in abundance and it makes me so happy. I love being in a place where expression is vast and frequent. I love living in a city where protests are massive. Where people are creatively writing signs and holding them high over their heads.
A city where I get texts saying, “Be careful out there. Traffic is a nightmare and exits on the highways are closed.”
I love life in North Carolina, but it just can’t compare to the adoration I have for Chicago … especially in warmer temperatures when the variety of our neighbors is in full view.
The riots and violence are part of our fabric. I’m not sure why I’m able to accept it. I don’t stare at it in complete horror.
Destructive protesting has a much louder voice than we imagine.
I have a temper. And that fucking temper gets the best of me. But you know what? My temper has forged longtime relationships of iron strength. It’s also removed relationships that, for fuck’s sake, I didn’t want in the first place.
People reminded me with broken record advice, “Do not cry in public. Do not lose your temper in public. Do not show a temper tantrum emotion. That’s bad. Expressing anger is negative. It’ll get you no friends. It’ll produce no good.”
But the truth is the opposite.
Anger is an expression of vulnerability. And when seen in a certain light, it breaks down barriers. It exposes raw, animal-like behavior. It humanizes us. And ultimately, it binds together groups.
I don’t believe that the cops who are committing atrocities toward black people and people of color are angry. I think they think they are intelligent and superior. Their group think is to control others anger. Their approach stems from ignorance and lack of self-awareness and self-control.
The result of their behavior is anger by onlookers. And anger must be expressed. It is natural. It is honest. It is requisite to a sound mind.
Sure, peaceful protests are preferred. But if destruction creates awareness. If it sparks conversation. If damage provokes an iota of thought. If it seeps into every conversation and overshadows all other discussion, then yes. Riots and looting is somehow a version of acceptable.
Our black neighbors need to be heard. Give them voice and lend your ears. And if they start shouting, banging drums or smashing windows, or drumming doors down … they are playing the music that you desperately need to hear, dear reader.
As cacophonic as explosive tempers seem … it is a song that seriously needs amplification.