A prerequisite of living while Black in this country is learning to mourn and move on.
Another is concluding there is no amount of butchering, murder or elimination of Black life that will ever make America stop guzzling the syrupy poison of white supremacy.
Nor is there any amount of sickening slaughter visited on our Jewish communities that will make us examine for long who is allowed a life free from murderous ideologies.
There is no volume of torment inflicted upon our Asian American communities that will make us continuously question whose words are amplified and whose are ignored.
And no tally of pain revisited upon our Indigenous community can rattle this nation from its chronic stupor long enough to confront all it has been, all it is and all it may be.
What else can we conclude after that string was lengthened last weekend, following mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Orange County, California, collectively stealing 11 lives, the majority of which were Black?
What else was there to do Saturday but commiserate with extended family on a text thread and practice a familiar routine whenever terror razes Black life. Some of us prayed. All of us grieved. And everyone tried their best to move onward. But you wonder how long you can carry forward that accumulated trauma before it crushes you.
It’s a coping ritual developed from knowing that Saturday’s horror in Buffalo was inevitable.
The ritual was practiced by my great-grandmother Bessy Edwards after the lynching of Mary Turner and her unborn child by a white mob infuriated that she’d dare condemn her husband‘s murder. My 3-year-old great-niece Jada will likely copy the routine one day as an adult, after an envoy of hatred registers Black life as dispensable or threatening.
Fueling my prophecy is the fact that nearly a third of American adults believe that a ploy is currently afoot to replace “native-born Americans with immigrants,” according to a recent Associated Press poll.
As has been widely reported, it’s a belief derived from Great Replacement Theory, positing that an influx of immigrants and accelerated birthrates of people of color will erode white people’s “rightful” dominion over this country.
It’s telling that although the theory has inflamed the actions of mass murderers, it’s another, Critical Race Theory — designed to probe the depths of racism in our institutional structures — that gets painted as an existential threat to our country, banned in classrooms and met with outrage.
Of course the latter theory is what the former isn’t: a threat to white supremacy.
The mass murders of this last week revealed white supremacy in its most savage form. That form is responsible for 55% of all extremist-related murders in this country, and it does not muffle its howls of hatred with semantic jargon that allows its espousers to plead ignorance or misinterpretation.
But it is not the only form, and white supremacy is as much a part of our regional history and our present as it is anywhere else.
Less than 20 years ago, nearly 30% of Oregonians voted to keep explicitly racist language in their state constitution; the state formed as a “white man’s utopia” and banned Blacks from settling there long-term, punishing them with 39 lashes every six months if they failed to leave.
Over the last 10 years, Black Idahoans have experienced a third of all hate crimes in the state, yet they account for less than 1% of the population.
Our blue state of Washington had the fifth largest distribution of white supremacist propaganda in the nation last year, more than California with five times our population, according to the Anti-Defamation League. We are home to at least 19 hate groups including the Northwest Front, which wishes to expel all people of color in favor of an all-white republic.
Today, there is nothing beyond luck keeping me, my mother, my sister and her grandchildren from walking into a South Seattle grocery and being murdered because of the deranged whims of an extremist with the gall to plead not guilty after livestreaming our executions.
That is not alarmist. That is a clear and present possibility we sit with.
And there is nothing anyone reading this can do about it.
Instead we can become. We can become people who condemn hatred, and find no understanding in its activation. We can become people who absorb the pain of others as our own, rather than separate it from our humanity.
We can become people who teach love, teach critical thinking, teach the value of every single life, teach that humans are neither good nor evil but can intentionally and unintentionally choose to do great good or great evil.
Our society’s thriving is dependent on our becoming. Otherwise our future will revisit tragedy.
I’m tired of mourning and moving on. I’d rather live a life without fear.