Indelible Hate

It’s finals week. You have two papers due and that one lab report the professor said you could rewrite. There are three tests that will require three all nighters of memorizing and untold pots of coffee. Everyone is fighting a cold and a little bit drunk on exhaustion and holiday break anticipation. Somehow, there are still parties happening, and you don’t want to miss those, either. You’re hardly out of your teens, but real life is happening soon and this week counts. Big time. Grad school admissions officers, future employers, and likely your parents (who are paying big money for all of this) are expecting results. You get up early to caffeinate, or go running, or email that professor for another extension… and there it is.

The word. That word. And it’s everywhere. It’s everywhere and they’ll wash it off and paint over it and say sorry and condemn it and make feeble excuses for the feeble mind that wrote it, but it won’t matter. Black Lives… don’t.

And it’s finals week. You didn’t need this right now. You don’t have time to fight this one (but you will). You don’t have time to field the “I’m sorry/omg/don’t know what to do or how to help/I love you” texts from your friends who care, but cannot really get it… not unless those ugly words were aimed at them, too.

I don’t know what it’s like. What I do know is that students of color at Boston College have already been marching and organizing and engaging with leaders (some for a few years) to say, “Hey, this is happening… can you help?” Is there the smallest bit of consolation that this latest transgression is so egregious, so specifically racist and hateful? I mean, they cannot ignore this, can they? I mean, they’ll DO something this time, right? They’ll have to.

But when you’re white. Like, super white like me, maybe your first thought is that the bigger issue is our failure to treat mental illness, or to blame the current administration for emboldening crazies, or to put this incident in a box of outlier-type events. That’s where my mind wants to go. But that’s… unhelpful. I’m not an insider to an entire community that could laundry list similar gut punches to their humanity. It doesn’t matter why this happened; it matters how. And when a leader in that community—a community that is angry and hurting and still needs to take finals— asks you to discuss it in yours, that’s one small thing you can do. And I can try to do that without “white guilt,” which is unnecessary and vain, or guidance from black friends, who are not obliged to provide a primer for appropriate status updating to prove I’m one of the “good guys.” Especially now, when the wound is fresh… and there are still finals.

When I listen to, honor, believe, and even attempt to imagine that lived experience, I’m saying Black Lives Matter. Was this the crime of a traitor in the midst of a majority of students who believe all of The Right Things… or is it more insidious? How could you not assume the latter when you see the word. That word. Everywhere.

I cannot apologize on behalf of all white people for insane, hateful, unimaginative racists who do horrible things. But I can listen more and pray harder. Catching one bogeyman with a Sharpie might not feel like any sort of justice on campus, but rather proof of so many more hiding in dark corners.

Thinking of you, Savannah. Your strong voice, leadership, and unflagging faith are powerful. Our ears, hearts, minds, and arms are open. We’ll try harder and more often to shine light into dark corners. We’ll try harder to take up the slack.

You have studying to do.

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5 responses

  1. Dear Britt,

    Thank you for this post!!!!

    Heartbreaking as it is, it is important to talk about it, to try and imagine the gut punch, to do just as you say: “When I listen to, honor, believe, and even attempt to imagine that lived experience, I’m saying Black Lives Matter. … But I can listen more and pray harder.” Wish I knew better how to “take up the slack”, but I so appreciate your powerful and eloquent voice.

    We missed you at dinner last night, but hope your prior engagement went well! We forgot to take pictures, but we did enjoy a warm, wonderful, & delicious evening.

    Hugs & love, Debby ❤️

    p.s. Did Savannah post something on FaceBook?

    • When I saw the story this morning, I reached out to her… and called Father Mike, who took her grocery shopping. It’s what she needed. I kinda love that. Savannah stressed the importance of talking about this odious event in general, but especially in circles that do not have many or any people of color. She is in a leadership position at BC, and so many will look to her for guidance and support. We’ll be there for her.

  2. It is hard for all of us who are normal. There is hatred everywhere on all sides with all peoples. Love is the answer. Only love can conquer hatred and that takes patients.

  3. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been doing a little research on this.
    And he in fact bought me breakfast simply because I found it for
    him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this subject here
    on your internet site.

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