“Hope is invented every day.” — James Baldwin
After watching the murder of George Floyd I began to lose hope. His death was like the single blow that finally splits a boulder. An enormous amount of despair began to flow from my inner being.
This despair of seeing Black death wasn’t reserved to a single death of this one individual. It was on top of every memory of each unnecessary death I’ve seen, read about or heard about. It’s every funeral I’ve attended of an individual killed by another individual.
Black on Black death. Blue on Black death. White on Black death. Just a cloud of death and hopelessness. I tried to explain how this is affecting my mental state of being to non-Black people, but many are unable — or simply unwilling —to accept it.
In the midst of this emotional hurricane my cellphone rang and my oldest son is on the other end of the call. He tells me he was walking to work on University Drive in College Station and a car drives by with fellow college students. One of the students yells out the window “Fyou N!”
He’s shaken by the experience because he has never had to deal with this type of hatred. He memorized the license plate and wanted to know what should he do? I had to remain calm and give him direction because he needs me to be strong.
When my mother died on April 20, 1987, I realized life wasn’t fair. That life experience hardened me in a way that still affects me to this day. No matter how life knocks me down I must find the strength to get back up. I’ve held on to this belief for 33 years.
As the call ended with my son I knew no matter what I did I couldn’t protect him from this ignorance known as racism. No amount of being good or reading or loving or helping or believing or preparing him or myself could stop hate. Hate built on a willful ignorance that refuses to acknowledge the root problem of inner fear that manifest itself in violence through words and deeds that lead to Black death.
Will I be able to get up this time? Will I be able to let love conquer hate? Is love passive or is it aggressive? Will the light of love shine bright enough to extract me out of the darkness?
Light doesn’t wait for darkness to retreat. Light pushes forward against the darkness and exposes the unseen. I can’t remain silent in this moment. I must invent that hope today that Baldwin spoke about so many years ago.
Eddie Glaude Jr. just released a new book about James Baldwin titled “Begin Again.” I encourage you to buy and read the book as America starts the process of getting back up after being knocked down again.