by K. Blaqk, ’14
This piece originally appeared on K. Blaqk’s personal blog, Blaqkliberation.
Mourning and demanding a new system do not need to be – nor should they be – separate.
At issue today (more publicly than most days) are multiple layers of violence in our world:
the violence of a political system that treats each new shooting as an isolated incident and tells us we are jumping the gun when we talk reform—
the violence of an economic system that produces guns and missiles knowing the destruction they bring to individual and collective lives—
the violence of a cultural system where the radio plays on blaring top 40s, stocks and scores, as though nothing is happening as our wars kill on.
There are also the violences of a world where so many feel so alienated as to commit the ultimate violence against others – and themselves—
and, most immediately, of being told during the moment of rawest pain that “this isn’t the day to demand change, this is a day to mourn.”
If today is the day of mourning and a mourner cannot make demands, what do we do tomorrow?
For mourning never ends—it endures eternal from the sufferings of those who came before us; it lives presently in the pain of those whose hearts now beat just a little bit heavier; it dwells in the future memories of our descendants, lamenting the misery our history bequeaths to them.
How many times must we hear the rhetoric of “now is not the time,” knowing how many people that has harmed in the past?
How can we look at Death and say, calm down first and then let’s reassess? How can we look at Trauma and say, violence protects?
Why do we put so much faith in a document that told us we were less than a person? By a fraction of two-fifths, to be exact.
How can we trust the moral constitution of a nation whose history has always been predicated on protecting the rights of the few over the wellbeing of the many?
“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this—regardless of the politics,” the executor-in-chief said today.
Mr. Executor, our hearts are indeed broken—these tragedies do not happen regardless of the politics, but because of them.
“Our hearts are broken,” he heard himself say, watching a replay from Oregon last week—or was it from Aurora?
“Our hearts are broken,” he heard us all say, mourning students and Sikh from Oikos College to Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
“Our hearts are broken,” he ignored us all saying, from Pakistan and Yemen, from the borders of Mexico to the borders of Gaza, from the black and brown ghettos of America.
“Each time I learn the news, I react not as a president, but as anybody else would, as a parent.”
Mr. Executor, we know you will not take action to help us at home, as long as you are harming us abroad.
We do not need your patronizing sympathy and we do not need you to pull triggers on any of us any longer.
Mr. Executor, if you can choose how you react and respond, then we can too.
We are reacting not as U.S. citizens but as US beings around the world who have been spared to live and breathe another day.
We will be the new precedent.
We will not let 20 children and 8 adults be rationalized by the irrational. This was no accident, no anomaly—this was the natural conclusion of power left unchecked.
Power concedes nothing without a demand.
But demanding accedes to everything except for real change.
So where do we go?
first hint: somewhere beyond reform
second hint: the violence of nations is not an isolated incident.
third hint: the answer has always been in our hearts.
To all those who have died today, your hearts beat on through ours.
Kristian Davis Bailey is a junior from New York studying Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. He’s interested in how to use media to discuss identity, privilege and power and is recently experimenting with the medium of poetry under the name ‘kblaqk.’ Check out more of his work here.