When Love Looks Like Rage

I’ve been writing about facing my own bullshit for years now. Looking at the muck in myself I was reluctant to look at. Owning my journey and all my mistakes. Learning that if I really wanted to heal, honesty with myself was the first door I had to walk through. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the “other” side of Love — not the peace and harmony side — the painful, raw, realness of living life as a human side.

Love can look like a lot of things. Of course, we prefer peace and harmony and everybody getting along. And that is the ultimate goal, yes. But as any Mama Bear will tell you, Love can also become enraged at injustice.

You know (some of) the history. We learned it (from a white perspective) in school. But pause. Can we sit with it for a time and really feel the gravity of it all? Are we so afraid of rage that we allow ourselves to gloss over an entire series of events that did happen and are still happening today? It’s (way beyond) time, as a country, to do what many of us have been doing on a personal level. It’s (way beyond) time to take a good, up close look at our own bullshit.

FYI, I am going to use the terms “we” and “they” frequently in this post. “We” applies to upholders of society (those in positions of power, the majority vote, and, frankly, often white people). “They” applies to those oppressed by the very society some of us uphold.

Is it not enraging that we kidnapped, bought, sold, and bred humans to do our labor for free and then beat, raped, tortured, and murdered them without consequence for 250 years?

At the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln promised each newly freed slave 40 acres and a mule to begin to build their lives and wealth. Is it not enraging that after he was assassinated, an alcoholic, openly racist, nasty man named Andrew Johnson became the new POTUS and said, “This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men,” and promptly denied the promised acreage and mules.

Is it not enraging that all through the 20th century, white people mercilessly bullied black people, especially those who were beginning to find success (against all odds, mind you) by cheating them out of money they earned, vandalizing their businesses, and assassinating them?

Is it not enraging that we sent black people off to war, to fight for white freedom, then welcomed them home with more segregation bullshit, unfair legal proceedings, underfunded facilities, and continued backlash against any black people who appeared to be getting “too” successful for white men’s comfort.

Is it not enraging that we continue to push black people around the country, first by kicking them out of the cities, then “redlining” the suburbs to prevent them from settling in any neighborhoods other than the ones we wanted them to, then when they tried to go back to the cities, we used “gentrification” — a term I learned in social studies class as a good thing that “lifted neighborhoods out of poverty and made them… nicer” — except that it was just a propagandish way of saying we divided, conquered, and kicked black people out of their homes and neighborhoods yet. again.

We forced them to start out with nothing. And we continue to beat them down with subpar education, healthcare, real estate, political and social representation, and legal justice. All of this is proven statistically. There are numbers to back all of it up, and it is still happening. So it enrages me when I hear, “iF tHeY rEaLLy WaNtEd To, ThEy CoULd Be SuCcEsSfUl,” or “We ALL bLeEd ReD!!!” or  “WhY iS eVeRyOnE sO aNgRy???” Learn the history and it will become incredibly clear why everyone is so angry. You might not see it where you live. I didn’t for a long time. But that was because my privilege was blocking my view. Racism didn’t end when slavery ended. And it still hasn’t ended. It isn’t enough to teach our children that we’re all the same on the inside. We need to teach them to look for the injustices — past, present, and future — and speak up against them.

I am disgusted with our political system. Both sides. And I am disgusted with the fact that, once again, an issue of virtue has become a left/right issue. In my adult life, I have registered to vote as both a Republican and a Democrat. I’ve also chosen not to vote (which I don’t recommend and I won’t be choosing that option again.) It infuriates me that it is assumed I will “pick a side” because I’m not thrilled with either one at this point. From here on out, I am on the side of humans and I will not let red or blue tell me how to feel about that.

It is complete bullshit that political parties and their respective news outlets have hijacked this cause for political and financial gain, often with no intention of following through on their empty promises once they have the votes they are seeking. It is complete bullshit that extremist organizations hijacked the protests and turned the focus away from those who have needed and deserved our attention for centuries now. It is complete bullshit that people see this as a war against all police instead of a war against a system that allows corrupt police to do what they do. 

I wish we could take politics out of it, but we can’t. Politics is a major underlying cause here. I wrote a while ago about weird health symptoms I was having. One would pop up, then disappear, then another would pop up. They would come and go and it was like playing whack-a-mole to solve each symptom. It wasn’t until I had an underlying cause diagnosed that I was able to start truly getting rid of the symptoms. Racism is the same. The corrupt racist police officer who murdered George Floyd is a symptom. Looking through a microscope and picking apart the individual incidents like some are doing is missing the point. Stepping back and looking at the overarching patterns, admitting they exist, and going from there is the only thing that will bring healing and all that light, peace, and harmony some are (ignorantly) calling for right now. 

Politics is supposed to be a vehicle of Love to serve all humans. Does that sound weird to you? It sounds weird because the politics we know has become so deformed, diluted, and corrupt that it is nearly impossible to find any semblance of justice there. But it is our job to learn, speak up, and vote.

If you are confused about what to think right now, I understand. But there is too much at stake for us to claim confusion and check out.

It’s time to do the research and surf the nuances. To quit waiting for news outlets, political parties, and out-of-context quotes on social media to tell us what to think. We’re better than that. We’re better than turning away from people in need because we won’t dig in and learn the facts ourselves.

Here are a few examples:

It’s too easy to see a statistic that says “Cops kill more white men than black men every year” and say you jUsT dOn’T kNoW wHaT tO ThInK nOw. Dig deeper. Do the research. Yes, that statistic is technically true but it is deceptive. Because there are more white men than black men in this country. Now, if you take the percentages of white men and black men killed by police each year, you will see a different story. Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by a police officer. That is something I can work with when figuring out “how I feel.”

What about “black on black violence” statistics? Again, keep digging. For starters, that could work with any race. It’s a matter of proximity. Yes, black people are statistically more violent toward other black people. White people are statistically more violent toward other white people. And Native Americans are statistically more violent toward other Native Americans. It’s a matter of who they live, work, and exist next to. Ok, now take it a little further. What causes crime and violence? Poverty. A massive gap between the richest Americans (all white men, btw) and the poorest which is still getting bigger. Poor education. Lack of social workers. Inadequate healthcare. A for-profit prison system designed to keep people in it. Now we’re getting somewhere. There is an underlying root cause that needs to be addressed and only focusing on the symptoms helps no one (except white people who are comfortable with the status quo).

Another copout is, “What about Oprah!? What about Obama? They are PROOF that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough!!!” BULLSHIT. Again, look at facts. How many white presidents have we had? 44. How many black presidents? 1. For you non-math experts, 1/44 is a tiny fraction. Oprah and Obama are anomalies. They are a deviation from the norm and holding them up as examples is the epitome of tokenism. Look it up.

We can quote Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, but we need to know that before he was assassinated, he recanted it, calling it naïve and saying his dream had “turned into a nightmare.” We can quote Jesus’ messages of love and harmony, but let’s not forget his rage when he saw what was happening in the temple.

Love can look like rage. And we should be enraged. Our white ancestors committed grave injustices. Some of our white neighbors continue to do the same. Black people never got their 40 acres. Never got an apology or amends. Never got a history book that told the whole truth. And the system was never changed enough to stop the abuse from happening. Many of us continue to turn a blind eye because all of that doesn’t affect us personally. 

Enough. Let’s quit being triggered by the word, “racism.” Too many of us define racism as wearing pillowcases and lynching. Not enough of us define racism as saying, “All lives matter,” and then moving on with our lives because we can. Racism is a spectrum and we’re on it.

It’s time to be a “good ancestor” (term coined by Layla Saad.) Call me angry. Call me a bleeding heart. I’m good with it. I cannot look at this history and not feel sick about it. And I cannot do nothing. I am enraged and Love is willing to work with that.