Has it really been a year?
I have no sense of time. Made a salad last night, went for the dressing I bought a little while ago, and found, to my dry-rucola’d dismay, that the dang thing had expired. Last April. The bottle looked embarrassed, kinda deflated, the kid in the Jedi robe caught hiding in the back of the theater to watch it again.
And I guess I’m not under the threat of an arrest warrant anymore. Because, again to my surprise, a year has gone by since I was arrested at a #BlackLivesMatter protest. A year since I felt a sliver, a splinter of a sliver, of what it’s like to not trust the police, to see their uniformed bodies as menaces.
“If you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to fear from the police.” (Always white) people soberly informed me. Was I doing something wrong? By peacefully exercising my fundamental American right in support of my community? By trying to get to my bicycle so I could go home? And the guy next to me, hands going blue in his plastic zip-ties? He’d been walking home from BART. He hadn’t even known there was a protest going on.
And in black neighborhoods, where standard police procedure is to pull up next to a man walking down the street, detain him, handcuff him, sit him down on the ground like a naughty child, in full view of his community, maybe his kids, treat him like a dangerous criminal, and only then actually talk to him? To ask what’s going on today. How does that feel? What does that do? And how does it feel to see, again and again, officers not even going to trial after they kill somebody like you? No matter how many eye-witnesses say it was an execution, no matter if the bullets go in their back. Or maybe they merely beat you into the hospital.
I kept going to those protests. And when I’d pass the ranks of police, faces hidden behind riot gear, hands gripping weapons, my body would release adrenalin. My body getting ready to react. Overreact? Survival mechanisms pulling me away from deliberation, the indefatigable animal asserting control over the precarious grip of higher human functions, the amygdala overruling the prefrontal cortex.
But what’s happened in the last year? If there’s been progress, it’s been shy. Perhaps under-reported? The Terrible seems to slide right into the news, while the Wonderful has to fight its way on. Plenty of terrible to see, from Right-wing racism and determination to avoid thinking, to terrorists attacking Planned Parenthood and BlackLivesMatter demonstrations yet receiving only innocuous labels. But I have to believe in progress. I have to hope. I have to. I have to believe that Bernie can win, and can drag our self-sabotaging country forward. I have to believe that humanity’s progress will eventually be reflected in its structures. Because that is one thing I still believe, humanity, in its prefontal cortex, when given peace, wants peace. So with everything in me, may peace be upon you.