The seed of this piece of writing is fatigue.
The seed of this piece of writing is anger.
The seed of this piece of writing is curl-up-in-a-ball-and-remember-that-shitty-Christian-pregnancy-clinic-that-showed-you-oversized-photos-of-fetuses-and-cry-but-no!-there’s-so-much-work-to-do-plus-your-kids-need-you-and-so-do-other-people-too.
Right now I have three pieces of work to do, in front of me–
One is a book review about British concentration camps during famine, plague, and war in India and South Africa.
One is an article about the Holocaust for high school students.
One is the world we live in. Full stop. Incessant. Climate disaster and racism and patriarchy.
And it’s raining. Heavily. Late May, in California.
It’s hard to see the difference through the rain. And anger. And tears.
I can do this.
We can do this.
We have to.
Until today, I really tried to not believe that white Republican men hate women and girls. I did. I really tried empathy.
But in Alabama today, twenty-five white men plus a white woman governor decided that a teenage girl raped and made pregnant by her own father would have to stay pregnant. And birth that baby. A rapist’s baby. And that’s just one example.
“We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” —James Baldwin
I know now. They’re all in. We are just meat to them. We don’t matter. We are just matter. We are “host bodies.” They hate us. Women and girls.
“Women will die in those states as a result of these new laws, and women will go to jail. That’s the point, and that is increasingly apparent as the point.” —Dahlia Lithwick, in Slate
This is not a world that I understand.
This is not a world that I need to understand.
This is a world that I need to refuse. Full stop.
And there is another world I need to nurture. Relentlessly.
In Aidan Forth’s incredible book—his relentless, detailed, incredible book about imperial Britain’s “carceral archipelago”—there is a small part that shook me more than all the others. British administrators and wartime leaders in South Africa, he said, positioned civilian concentration camps as the humane alternative to just mowing the rebellious Boers down. The liberal alternative to extermination.
I read this and I heard Trump at a Florida rally last week: “Don’t forget,” he said, talking about Border Patrol. “We don’t let them and we can’t let them use weapons….Other countries do. We can’t. I would never do that. But how do you stop these people?” And someone yelled “Shoot them!” And he laughed. “Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement,” he said. And they laughed, the white people behind him. They laughed and laughed.
Camps as the humane alternative to shooting brown people down. Because they won’t stay in their place.
Prisons as the humane alternative to shooting black people down. Because they won’t stay in their place.
Won’t work for shit wages. Won’t bow down to the badge. Won’t put up with life as it as been handed to them. Want something more, a life with dignity, equity. Something better.
There is a world we need to refuse.
And there is another world we need to nurture.
And white men who think they know how to build this world need to stop, and look around and listen. Because women and people of color—and especially women of color—have been sustaining this world, nurturing this world, building this world, for ages now. So listen.
It starts with listening.
And breathing. Refusal and nurture like catch and release, like the upswing and downswing of breathing.
And fighting like hell.
Finding stillness but never silence.
Inside the rain. And disaster. And anger. And tears.
This new world will emerge.