". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Solstice Day

The week leading up to the winter solstice is one of the most beautiful weeks of the year, particularly when the daylight hours are tenebrous, filtererd through lowered, occluded skies.

The effect is that of the silver backing on glass, throwing mirrored images from earth to heaven and back down again, punctuated by the brilliant colors of the holiday lights lighting windows, buildings and streets with as much cheer as at night.

Yesterday the temperature was firmly set just at 32, so, no happy birds dancing about in the Nativity stable. A slight flurry of snow sparkled around me as I bustled along. Apartment mates were shopping together for the Christmas tree to be the centerpiece of their Christmas party. A pedestrian sauntered along wearing a wool hat with reindeer antlers. Young women carried shopping bags blazoned with the logos of expensive stores, filled, no doubt with what they wear to this weekend's parties. Raffetto's (est. 1906!) was packed with people. I felt alive-O! I also knew the snow flurry was just that and wouldn't last long.

Feeling so Christmassy, then the arrival of unexpected news (which can't be spoken yet) that is like a huge gift out of the blue, planning the preparation of the pork shoulder for the Christmas Eve pulled pork, looking forward to today's Solstice party.

Then we wake to learn of this.

A lone, mentally ill, black man shot someone in Baltimore and then came here and shot two cops sitting in their car in Brooklyn, then went a subway station platform and shot himself. The NYPD union heads, already furious with the Mayor, are screaming that de Blasio is the one who murdered these police, and started a twitter feed with #bluelivesmattertoo.  That hashtag is a declaration of war on the rest of us.  They are COPS and we, we are merely civilians.  That

language is militarized, not the language of policing.  This shooting is NOT the same issue as "Hands Up Don't Shoot", which is about being killed by police for being a person of color.  Most of all, what does de Blasio's actions have to do with this murder?  The man who is responsible didn't even live here, at least not at this time -- he seems to have some connection with Brooklyn in his earlier years.

OK. Why it is when a white guy does something awful, it's always just a lone deranged white guy, not a conspiracy, i.e. as with John Wilkes Booth, which was a conspiracy. Why is it that those who want to go back to the conditions of, at least, Jim Crow, always need to steal music and slogans from black people and progressives?

OTOH, my own sense is that the Black Lives Matter -- I Can't Breathe -- Hands Up Don't Shoot -- protests have focused rather too much on the cops per se rather than on the broken and delegitimated justice system, which is about feeding poor black bodies into privatized prisons, supported with tax dollars, which further are a pool of basically unpaid labor providing even products to the luxury market such as fine bed linens.  But that's too complex for a march, right? Nobody knows all that history or cares about it, right?

I am conflicted about pushing these thoughts away for a few days, and concentrating on feeling as good as I get to feel ....


Foxessa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Foxessa said...

Perhaps I've never been so conscious, so aware, of my white privilege as I've been today.

I chose to push away the terrible sense of doom of what it must be to be a person of color, or even a white person without any privilege other than skin color.

I listened to WKCR's (radio station, from Columbia University, for those who don't know either radio nor academia) long-time Country Music show on Sundays, "The Tennessee Border" show. Today was all Country music stars of the Golden Ages of Country music, particularly during WWII and 50's -- cuts from their annual Country Christmas albums -- which do include many a song of how miserable Christmas is for people without any money, of any color.

When it was over, I dressed myself in my holiday party outfit, and took myself to brunch at the local. Where it was so civilized, and so holiday pretty, and the staff greeted me as an old friend, and complementary glasses of wine flowed.

And now I go to the friend's Solstice party.

I feel calm and happy.

How much more privileged than this can one be?

Love, C.