One of the reasons I so happily agreed to be part of the Rebel Storytellers team is I believe stories have incredible power, and I want to be part of efforts to use that power for good. Since the events in Baltimore have escalated I’ve read lots of people posting on social media about listening to each other instead of fighting and seeking first to understand our neighbor. Well, that’s what we’re all about—the goal of our ragtag bunch of writers and artists is “telling alternative stories to spark hope, empathy, and action in the world.” So perhaps this site can be a small part of a bigger conversation? I’ll go first.
I have had moments … days … even weeks where I have felt so angry, so trapped by unfair circumstances out of my control that I almost want to punch the air because it feels like punching the world, so defiant at the disconnect between what is and what should be that I can hardly breathe beyond shallow gulps. I had one of these moments just this month. I can’t imagine having a whole life of them. I can’t imagine the rage that would build up.
In 2001, my then-boyfriend turned his car the wrong way on Central Parkway after a concert in downtown Cincinnati and from the front seat we faced two angry African American men staring at us through the windshield. They narrowed their eyes and began slinging glass bottles at the car.
We should have just stayed home—this was days into the Cincinnati riots, then the largest in any urban area since the Los Angeles ones in 1992—and the next night the decision was made for us when the city clamped down an 8pm curfew. When I drove home after work that night, a half-dozen black teenagers from the neighborhood were sitting in my driveway. I idled the car for a moment, preparing to turn in and drive up to the house I rented and praying they would let me. Slowly, reluctantly, the leader of the group got to his feet and the sea of angry faces parted. I gunned up the drive, grabbed my grocery bags, and scurried inside. Three hours later they were still in the driveway.
So this is what I have to add to the discussion. No moralizing, no tidy solutions, just my story. Your turn.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Alex