I am posting this because I think perhaps we all feel silenced, no matter how much real time we get to tell our stories. I raged because I felt silenced, and then realized how privileged I am in being able to tell so much.
Others are far more silenced than I am.
This is the story:
Anna walks in silence
Walks and walks and walks
It used to be the tiny dog followed, running after her.
But the dog died
And now she walks alone.
She doesn’t talk
except to nod, say my name,
and keep on walking.
One day she saw me standing in witness
Staring as a police officer put handcuffs
On a young black man with beautiful dreadlocks,
A pretty, sweet looking young man.
Bobby, who was working on a car right there at the curb
Right beside where the police car sat in the street
Right behind the young man’s car
where another officer searched the trunk,
Bobby said to me, “I ain’t saying nothing.”
He was frightened.
I was frightened, too,
even though I’m not black,
I hadn’t done anything…
(Maybe the young man hadn’t done anything either –
He wasn’t arrested…
But he was handcuffed, standing in the middle of the street,
Not offering any resistance.)
Anna saw me standing in witness
As she walked by
with quick glances at the police
The next day she spoke,
“You know that boy you watched yesterday?”
(She called him a boy.
I thought him a boy, too, young, vulnerable,
but by law he was a grown man)
“He was shot, killed. Yesterday, later.”*
I felt my eyes open wide.
(But that’s how I know he wasn’t arrested.
If he’d been arrested, he wouldn’t have been shot.)
She nodded and kept on walking.
One day I wanted to tell this story,
But I was silenced.
It was not really a good time to tell the story.
It was not an inappropriate silencing.
I knew that.
(And maybe I can tell this story so much better here, on paper,
than stumbling bumbling though the verbal)
But still, a rage welled up in me.
Silenced, I thought.
It feels like I’m always silenced.
I danced my rage,
my rage about myself
about my being silenced…
and something else happened.
Something much more important.
In the midst of my rage at being silenced
Another rage erupted
Coming from deep down
A volcano of rage.
I recognized how much more silenced
The people of my neighborhood are.
I saw how privileged I am.
I have the money to host a blog.
I have the time and the education to write books,
To post on Facebook, on Twitter.
I realized that Anna
That thin stark figure who walks and walks
Anna has been truly silenced,
Bound, shackled by our society
much like her ancestors were shackled.
As Anna walks in silence, she talks.
Her body tells the story.
* Just to be clear, this was not a police involved shooting.