Hope Is Our Only Hope
Honestly speaking, it's pretty evident that there is not a lot to hope for these days.
While I consider myself to be a generally positive individual, attempting to opt for idealism in the face of stark negativity and apathy, it gets really hard to keep holding that banner up.
Especially when it seems like nothing is changing.
Especially when it feels so easy to react violently.
Especially when ignoring the bigger picture ensures a quieter evening.
When the verdict regarding Amadou Diallou’s murder in the 1990s was released, I was too young to really grasp the entirety of the situation. I was in middle school, but I could tell that my city of Newark, NJ was collectively confused, frustrated, angry, and sad, all at once. I remember my immigrant parents struggling to explain it to me, then finding a home on processing the nature of sin and urging me to rely wholly on God’s justice. That answer ultimately has been my personal bedrock when considering social injustices, to this day.
When the verdict of Travon Martin’s murder was released, I remember feeling confused, frustrated, angry, sad, all at once. Every time I saw his picture on social media, I thought of my younger brother. I thought of my younger cousins. I saw his face, and immediately was reminded of the many little brown and black boys that I have coached, mentored, taught and counseled over the years. And I thought of the little boy that my wife and I might have one day, and the conversation that will join the Birds and the Bees discussion.
When the verdict of Mike Brown was released months ago, I remember that my main emotion was an utter lack of surprise. That, and fury. I wrote a blog post about not wanting to talk about it, and much of that is still true. What I did not write was that I wanted to riot. I didn’t mention how much red I saw in those days, how I wanted to feel something break under the force of my fists. I didn’t say that every time I saw someone on my timeline write, “I don’t get it” or “All lives matter” or “If they’d only listen to the police”, I empathized with the rioters.
If everything around you kept telling you that your frustration and anger should just go away without LISTENING to you, you’d be pissed too.
So when the media report of the riots in Baltimore, I asked a friend of mine if he ever gets tired of these kinds of news reports. I asked him if it gets tiring, to have to be reminded of these kinds of events, then come up with some kind of response that didn’t challenge his reputation.
He said no.
Never before have I been so angry at so much, to the point of willed apathy. What’s sadder is, that while we are STILL dealing with questionable policing and nationwide ignorance and “the language of the unheard”, there are thousands of people around the world who have nothing.
There is no political response. No riots. In Nepal, in Haiti, in Zimbabwe, in Nigeria, there is and has been death and pain and hunger and homelessness and the painful echo of nothing.
This is just my opinion, but there has to be something in the median; something between having no choice but to break something and having nothing at all. Because once we lose hope for change, hope to rebuild, hope to become something better, we lose. Once we stop trying, we lose. Once we lose sight of what could be, we lose. The moment we stop taking advantage of opportunities to create harmony and understanding, we lose.
After Diallo's murder, I began writing poetry. One of my strongest pieces was called "The Black Enigma", a query into black culture. I hoped that someone would read it, and maybe we could talk about it. Not the poem, but the questions within.
After Trayvon's murder, I began pursuing jazz music a lot harder. Not for any real deep reason, but hoping that the creative and melodic disharmonies of Cannonball Adderly and Miles Davis would lend solace to the questions I had.
After Freddie Gray's murder...I'm struggling to actively engage and hope. I don't want to risk optimism. I wish I could write something dope, sing something inspirational, dancing something raw, instead of the dark rage inside. Because there doesn't seem to be any reason to hope, any reason to believe that anyone is listening, that anyone cares, that anyone else will join the effort to change things.
I may not want to, but hope may be my last hope; our last hope.
If we no longer believe that change is possible, what are we fighting for?
Deep, very deep inside of me, I believe that change is possible. I believe that many people are listening now. I have to believe that. I have to hope.
And with that hope, we can change the world together.