For three or four days, I was heavily engaged in conversations about the ridiculous Donald Sterling debacle. I engaged in verbal conversations and argued, advocated, and admonished via Facebook about various aspects of racism, racial discrimination, being recorded unwittingly, “chick on the side” status, lawsuits, bans, and fines. I was pretty tuckered out after a few days, so I had to bow out of any further discussions to assure my head wouldn’t explode prematurely (yes, it will probably happen one day anyway).
While the exchange of ideas about Sterling was going on, I was tapped on the shoulder by other tweets and Facebook status updates and reminded that I should stop talking about the racist NBA franchise owner and instead turn my attention to the over 250 girls who were the victims of a mass kidnapping in Nigeria. So, I took a break from racism in America and took time to talk about these babies, the danger they are facing, the cruelty of selling them for about $12 apiece to a bunch of creepy grown men, the lack of respect for girls and women, and the seeming inaction of various entities in facilitating the search and rescue necessary to bring them home. I was at the height of my tirade when I was reminded that I’m still supposed to be indignant over the disappearance of a whole plane full of whole people, irate over the lack of equal pay for women for equal work, furious with the Supreme Court for the way it seems to be chipping away at Affirmative Action, sad over the loss of life from the South Korean ferry that sunk, vigilant about conserving water for the drought here in Northern California though a lot of that would be solved if we weren’t still routing so much of our water to Southern California, worried about the plight of black youth in America while daily crying over Trayvon Martin, and a whole bunch of other tomfoolery that plagues my life and the lives of those around me. All I am really trying to do is figure out when I’m supposed to sleep, eat, or work if I’m expected to spend my every waking moment fighting causes, signing petitions, weeping openly, and going into verbal tirades based in righteous indignation. The truth is – I’m tired.
Most of the time, I feel like I’m being pursued, arrested, charged, tried, and imprisoned by the Care Police; those folks in social media, in one’s family, and sometimes, right in one’s home, who are constantly telling everyone where there concerns should lie. If too much focus is in one area, members of the Care Police force will swoop right in to tell others they shouldn’t be talking about reality show stars’ adult film forays but should instead be worried about global warming and all the hungry children in some third world county. They will remind folks they aren’t really as black or as conscious or as down as they could or should be because they are wondering if the missing white girl of the day has been found instead of worrying and wringing their hands over the missing girls in Nigeria. It doesn’t matter that one is capable of being concerned about ALL the girls, the new social networking requirement indicates one must comply and show verbally and/or written forms of their concern for the cause du jour, according to the Care Police official agenda. With all these spoken and unspoken expectations, it’s is amazing if one can complete any task from start to finish when her care rations are so thinly spread.
To maintain my sanity and to feel like my level of concern is relevant and my resulting actions effective, I’ve learned to break away from the self-righteous grasp of the Care Police and develop my own ideas about how to deal with the craziness of the day. Social activism starts in the home. One doesn’t need petitions, picket signs, and scathing emails to get that started. Take up the cause of being aware before obsessing over everything else. Ask the question, “Am I meaningfully connected to those close to me? Do I help my friends and family?” Starting there and THEN working one’s way outward to the more far reaching issues of the world is the most reasonable plan of action. It makes no sense to first worry about what happened abroad or in the next state over if one’s best friend is suffering. Though ALL these issues matter, starting where one can do the most to help is the best way to influence people and circumstances.
My toddler niece was scheduled for a surgical procedure today and another young relative of mine is in a hospital now getting a picc line that will hopefully be the cure for what ails him. My friends and family are concerned, anxious, and worried. How can I overlook that and spend the majority of my time with my mind on Nigeria, South Korea, racist rhetoric, and everything else crazy happening right now when the people I love the most are close enough for me to help RIGHT NOW?
Make no mistakes about it; I absolutely care about kidnapped girls, disappearing planes, ferries sinking, and wealthy racists with influence over the well-being and progress of black and brown people. I will always rage against the tomfoolery of the day, be it local or international. However, I realize what I do to counteract those things means absolutely nothing if I step over my sister laying in the street to get to my flight to go fight trouble outside my home. Who am I if not the keeper of those I proclaim to love?
It is no easy feat to get past the pressure of those ever-diligent Care Police officers, but once one is aware of her purpose and the place where her care can be placed most effectively, it is simpler to drown out the self-righteous rantings and get in where one fits in. My best fit is right in my own home first. ©