Honestly. Writing, making art, posting on social media all seem like impotent and feckless responses to tragedy. I’m even coming to despise the word “tragedy” if only because it’s starting to lose it’s meaning with overuse.
Others are better at memorializing, analyzing and eulogizing. All I know how to do is make a few pieces of useless art, write a few mediocre poems. I’m not a cultural spokesperson. No one is entitled to my opinion. I am no one and I have nothing important to say. I am throwing handfuls of wind into a hurricane.
But here’s my piece anyway. It’s what I thought of to say after Ferguson and again after Orlando and then these latest episodes in Baton Rouge and Minnesota. For some reason after all those events I’ve felt the need to put my race in perspective, for me—something I rarely reflect on—and remind myself and my fellow white American males that we can’t underestimate how much dumb genetic luck factors into every good thing we take for granted in our lives. That seems like start. The very, very least I can do.
This is an edited poster. It exists on this site months back in its original form, but I felt the need to edit it a bit, make it more personal this time. I used my likeness in this reprised version. It was some guy from a vintage photo before. Not that I’m not somewhat vintage myself.
Like a lot of us, I’m upset to the point of being physically ill about the state of the country and the world right now. But, locally, everything is fine. My town, my community, my neighborhood are all humming along like nothing is different. So the pain is abstract, psychic and so it’s easy to just drink my coffee, pay my taxes, ride my Vespa to the gym and keep the chaos, stupidity, paranoia, even the politics at arms length. Maybe drop in to write a letter, sign a petition, “like” a Facebook post, but largely stay in the bubble that white suburbia affords. I’m not sure what else to do, but try out a few thought experiments, try to understand, listen a lot, give form to feelings when compelled. This, and some poems I’ve written are the products of that restless energy.