From a VT Heart: Myra Flynn, 'This really hurts.'
Words and photo by Myra Flynn.
Lately: it's been hard being black. Full disclosure — my father is a white man. But also in full disclosure: I am not living a Caucasian experience. In the past, my own experiences — good or bad — provided me strength and culture and backbone and community. I can't bring myself to make music or crowd fund today Because I can't stop crying. That's what true racism does, it angers you at first but is quickly followed with a sadness deeper than I can explain. Because you learn in that moment that you are inferior beyond your control. Because it's 2016. And this shit is supposed to be over by now.
Black lives were stripped of most necessities needed to operate in the world as a human and now, hundreds (only hundreds) of years later, people are dying because of it.
But then there is the next level to it all which is where I believe we are at now and that new level is called fear. Many of you on social media are writing about how you now fear for yours or your children's lives, which I get. Though I believe you always should have — it’s just being documented now. What I think we should all fear is not that bad things are happening (they will continue to happen in this world) it's that nothing seems to be happening to the bad guys doing the bad things. This is simply not ok. It is unjust. I know we all know this. Despite your skin color, I believe you know this. And I also believe that we collectively may be struggling with what to do about it. After all —I wrote and erased this post about five times. That's fair. I don't pretend to have the answers for you or your personal pain and I don't have any expectations of your activism but I think there are a few things That are crucial to our way of thinking right now. So if you don't know what to do, Let's talk about what not to do. 1.) Don’t ignore this because you think that overall as a country we are past the shackles of racism and headed towards (as someone told me today) a general upward swing. Or if you are someone who believes that black people should stop harping on their troubles — let atrocities like slavery live in the past and move forward with unity and optimism. Nobody is mentioning slavery here except that it built the sociological and societal construct that allows these murders to happen in the first place. In other words: it set the standard. It matters only in that abolition has not yet fully been realized. The goal of freedom has not been obtained. Black lives were stripped of most necessities needed to operate in the world as a human and now, hundreds (only hundreds) of years later, people are dying because of it. So yeah... Maybe I mentioned slavery. It's a thing.
These posts are happening, no matter how inarticulate or fueled or pissed or sad because we have a nasty pattern of certain cops illegally killing black people and not being held accountable for the actions regardless of video taped evidence.
2.) Don't get defensive. It just causes more problems and while everyone has a right to be heard, it doesn't mean that what you're saying is helpful. Try to help, always in life. Try to be of use. Try to look beyond your knee jerk reactions because, hopefully we can all agree that helping is the goal right now. Perhaps you are a police officer and feel that these posts are anti-cop or you are a white person and feel that they are anti-white. Rest assured they are not. At least — this one isn't. These posts are happening, no matter how inarticulate or fueled or pissed or sad because we have a nasty pattern of certain cops illegally killing black people and not being held accountable for the actions regardless of video taped evidence. This is a people problem. This is a human failure. Also: just because Black Lives Matter does not mean that all lives don't matter. That is a defensive conclusion to draw from a movement that is so obviously trying to point out a very specific problem in what I would argue has been dealt with far more peacefully than I could have ever imagined possible. Also: just because I love the sun doesn't mean I hate the rain and just because I have a puppy doesn't mean I'll never want a cat and up isn't down and etc etc. Black Lives Matter. The end.
Don't write off anger because it's ugly. Don't cower from it because it's big. Now is a time to join the conversation in the best way you know how.
3.) Don't forget that anger is necessary. In order for anything to change, ever, people need to first be angry. Show me one great change in this country that was made without anger and I'll show you someone who was pissed on the sidelines. Anger should never be the goal but it is often the fuel. Behind any riots or movements of power or "angry black people" (and hopefully people of all color at this point) taking to the streets to protest and unite and rise up and stand up and scream and shout is a genuine fear for safety and injustice and a desire to protect and survive and self preservation and that is not meant to inconvenience you it is meant to rattle you because those basic human instincts are REAL. Don't write off anger because it's ugly. Don't cower from it because it's big. Now is a time to join the conversation in the best way you know how. And you know what? You might not know how. And that's real too. So what can we do? Good question as I'll admit I'm writing from a pretty hopeless standpoint right now. I see many people on social media accusing those who are silent of being oppressors. Though I agree that silence doesn't often help, neither does mindless, defensive, oppositional rhetoric on silly platforms like Facebook. I don't know how to tell you how to help. But if you don't know what to say or do: please don't anti-help in public. Maybe you take a minute to talk to your children about the realities of what's going on in the world and maybe you do that in private. That's helpful. Maybe you write an anonymous letter to the editor or local state senator about it: that's helpful too. Maybe you write a song about it. There are many ways to exercise your activism. Because here is what I know in this vast sea of maybes: I took this photo at a Halloween party with two 60-something's dressed in blackface. Since I took the photo, Police have killed at least 136 black people in America alone according to a project by the Guardian that tracks police killings. Philando Castile became the latest addition to the list Wednesday night after an officer shot him dead. This photo is not even one year old yet. And lastly, if you have no clue what to say or do during times like these, just listen. Compassion and empathy do go a long way. Just sit there and Listen to us and love on us and rub our backs and tell us it will be ok — I could prove a million intellectual points and throw a dozen stats your way but the bottom line is — this hurts. This really hurts. #blacklivesmatter #itstrue
Myra Flynn is a Vermont-based indie/soul singer-songwriter who's shared the stage with Ivan Neville (Dumpstaphunk), Mike Gordon (Phish) , Gabrielle Gordon (Natalie Merchant), Sonya Kitchell, Rayvon, Res, Alexa Ray Joel, Slick Rick, Anais Mitchell and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Myra was named "Best Up-and-Coming Performer" by Seven Days Newspaper (2010 and 2011) and "New England Artist of the Month" by The Deli Magazine New England. She signed a six-month licensing deal with CBS Records and her original song "Feels Like the Sunshine" was used on the CW television show "The Beautiful Life" (produced by Ashton Kutcher). Find more about Myra at http://www.myraflynn.com Myra's message, above, was originally posted to Facebook and is republished here with permission.