Still I'll rise

Friday, November 11, 2016

I don't really have much to say about the election that hasn't been said by people more eloquent than I.

In our home, we have had to comfort our child. An openly gay black young woman who sobbed in my arms at 1 a.m. on November 9th. "Half of the country hates me", she whispered.

Later when Terrance and I talked about this, he gently soothes my outrage. He reminds me that I have the outrage of a liberal white lady who has been raised to believe that things will fall on the side of the good and just and kind.  He, as a black man in America, knows this to be not true. Bad shit happens. All the time. Racism abounds.

America has always been aspirational. From our founding documents forward, we've talked a good game. Hell, a GREAT game. Rarely, however, have our words matched our deeds. We talk about equal rights, while denying them to many citizens. We talk about freedom and safety and deny that to many of our citizens. We demand the BEST but we slide the cheap stuff across the counter.

As the adults in our dual racial family, we have done our best to hide the ugly from our child. We have taught her that kindness is better than cruelty. We have taught her that she is beloved and worthwhile. We have taught her the aspirational parts of what makes America unique; that she can be free to marry whom she loves, that she can be free from being sexually or racially discriminated against, that she is free to be who she wants to be.

Terrance says to me,  "It hurts her so much because she now knows we lied to her." My tears return anew.

The election has forced me to admit that I have lied to my child about America.


On Wednesday, I tell my students what my crying daughter said to me: "Half of America hates me."

I tell them this because I know some of them voted Republican. I tell them because they need to see that their decisions impact people they know, that it isn't some random "other" living in the far away - that it is THEIR teacher's child. It is my family who is affected when something like "Go Home Ni**ers" is scrawled on the door of 4 students of color.

It is my child who thinks about her civil rights being removed, including her right to marry. It is my child who will endure unwelcome sexual comments or actions, spurred on by a President elect who openly suggest that we grab women by the pussy.

It is my child who will endure racial hatred emboldened by a President elect who is openly endorsed by the KKK.

I suspect I will get some negative comments on my evaluations, but I don't care.


Last night, as I was holding my child again, soothing her I quoted Maya Angelou:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 

Why are you beset with gloom? 
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 

Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 

Don't you take it awful hard'
Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? 

Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history's shame

I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 
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