a reflection on the essence of protest and the value of listening to the lived experiences of those on the frontlines of justice.
it has become abundantly clear that there is a misunderstanding about the meaning of justice that continues to keep people in perpetual states of defensiveness.
on a basic level, people understand that justice is about righting wrongs and ensuring equality for the disenfranchised.
yet, there is a phenomenon of numbed deafness that, i think, has little to do with physical ability and more to do with emotional comprehension.
people are hard of hearing the truth about justice because they do not understand what it feels like to be oppressed.
what is more, there is a way in which people intentionally drown out the noises of people speaking truth to power - sounding the trumpets in preparation to battle for our lives.
the same way a mother would plug her ears while her toddler child banged on the bottoms of pots and pans in pure jubilation is the same way that people are resorting to muting the sounds of our protests.
“...people are hard of hearing the truth about justice because they do not understand what it feels like to be oppressed.”
there is an old story, told by many historians including Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wherein an enslaved, black man is found walking along side a dirt road. an abolitionist, a white man, comes upon the enslaved standing next to a few ricks of firewood. the white man knows full well that it would be a crime for this enslaved man to own wood, or any property, asks him ‘have you taken this wood for yourself?’
the enslaved man answered, ‘no sir, i ain’t got no self.’
understanding what it feels like to be oppressed means knowing that there are systems in place that have historically ensured, and reinforced, the law that people did not have a self.
a self to love. to care for. to make decisions. to be free.
this not having a self is the driving force behind why justice making is necessary.
not having the necessary freedoms to be the best version of ourselves is why we continue to make noise, bang on the drums, raise our voices - getting louder at every turn.
and, to some, it will sound like a pesky fly to be swatted away.
to others, it will sound like an opulent symphony to be savored and joined.
either way, the cacophony of justice - with its dissonant sounds and complex chords - will continue.
inviting people to feel the vibrations of folks begging to have a self.
to hear the frequencies of voices demanding to be free.