There is a pain between my shoulder blades that is nagging. It has been a week. I lower myself to the ground so my upper back can find something firm to rest upon. My kaapi is by the side. I snack on cheese curls as I scroll through my feed. Hasan Minhaj’s video has been making its rounds. I have it bookmarked in random places. I finally click on the Instagram feed shared by @browngirlsmag and start watching. I swallow hard when the video starts with Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd.
I have no idea when Ammu sits behind me. When the video ends, I am blinking back tears. I also hear the sound of Ammu swallowing hard. Without a word, she climbs into my lap. We rock back and forth.
“Who will be our Dr. King Jr mommy?”
The question hangs in the air. I do not have the answers. We rehash the conversation about race, police brutality, biases, and privilege another time. Pattu is now part of the circle. Pattu seems to take it in stride. Ammu has tears in her eyes, her voice trembles as she speaks. The injustice of it all hits her in spurts. I cradle my sweet sensitive child and hold her close.
I try to lighten the conversation. We talk about school and bullying. The conversation meanders to food and clothes and how people have opinions on everything. Suddenly everything feels like an opportunity to discuss privilege or the lack thereof.
We head out in the evening sun. A breeze is blowing, taking the harsh edge off the setting sun. We are still talking about Mr. Floyd, his death, and the movement it has spawned. I talk about how there are local protests. I tell them about people we know who are marching, masks, and water bottles in hand.
“How will this end mommy?”
“What can we do?”
The questions seem impossible to answer. I start with the things I know. I talk to them about the fundamental right to vote, the hard-fought fight for women to vote. I talk to them about how our government is in steps. We elect local people who work for us. I tell them about how each person working as a collective can change the direction of the country. Change is possible I conclude but it takes a whole lot of us to effect change.
“Can we start a YouTube channel and talk about these things?”
I am amazed that they are thinking solutions even if I shoot down this particular one. Someday, you will have a voice and you can use it. For now, I tell them, listen, read, absorb, and understand.
They need hope. I need hope. We need hope.
Earlier in the morning, I listened to this young woman speak to the educators in this country. I listened in awe as she spoke calmly, clearly, and peppered her open letter with personal anecdotes.
I have no idea what our personal contribution to this moment in our lives will look like. Unlike the morning though, I feel hopeful.