White supremacy is constantly raging. It never sleeps. It never rests. Why? Because its hunger is bottomless/insatiable. It knows no boundaries. It is armed with the necessary firearms, policies, laws, financial strongholds, and, most dangerously, a silent majority of Americans passively aware of, and actively participating in our nation’s racial caste system.
A snapshot of a week: Buffalo, Dallas, COVID, the Supreme Court leak, January 6 Committee hearings. It’s like playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded chamber. Every breath brings a new bullet to dodge.
If you’re lucky, you might avoid a lethal blow to the head and emerge wounded and forever scarred. Next week, pick a city. Pick an everyday activity: at work, at the grocery store, at Walmart, jogging, walking home from the local store, on a plane — hell, even at a public park because remember, birdwatching can be dangerous, too.
The omnipresent rage of White supremacy has left many of us in a perpetual state of trauma, or what I call simmering rage. I hadn’t noticed it before, but one week after the Buffalo shooting, I started to wonder where my righteous indignation had gone. I wondered why I hadn’t cried, written an essay, or called a meeting with friends to strategize on how we can help. As I stood staring into a pot of pinto beans simmering on the stove, I began to interrogate my actions — mostly my inactions — regarding the murderous acts driven by a belief so intrenched that it emboldens a zombie-like white man barely old enough to vote to murder grandmothers and veterans, secure in his identity as a “special breed of human.”
I stared off in the distance as the television in the next room whispered gory details about how this coward terrorized and executed mothers, fathers, deacons of the church, community leaders, people picking up that last ingredient for Sunday dinner — people who were deeply, unconditionally loved. I imagined a shopper picking up a five-pound bag of pinto beans and putting it in her cart, thinking about Sunday dinner. Pinto beans are my favorite.
Do you know what happens if you allow pinto beans to simmer too long? They burn. The life-giving liquid in the pot evaporates; the ingredients scorch. To be clear, no one likes to eat burnt beans
As the news anchor moved to the next story, I shook my head, refocused and continued to prepare dinner. The entire experience allowed me a few moments to connect with the simmering, numbing rage I was feeling at that moment. Simmering, numbing rage is the only way I can describe it. The collective trauma over the past few years has left me feeling just a little more anxious, at times powerless, even overwhelmed by the unrelenting waves of death and destruction in the world. At times it feels unbearable. At times it leaves me questioning whether I have the strength, mental capacity, and more importantly, the courage to fight on.
Then I started stirring the beans. I added a little more water and special spices. I placed the lid back on the pot. You see, a great pot of beans requires constant attention: stirring, maintaining the proper level of liquids and balance of spices. We know what it takes to make delicious beans that strengthen and sustain us.
Simmering rage also requires our attention and our action. It requires that we pay careful attention to our bodies, our minds and our spirits. If we don’t, we allow White Supremacy to numb us, to rob us of celebrating the depth of our richness and the very flavor that sustains us. So, just like when we cook our beans, we must plan. We must strategize and stir things up. We must fight White supremacy and White supremacists with the same level of rage they sustain and use to infect others. For if we don’t, sleep and rest will evade us all — and leave the entire earth scorched.