It's really hard to stay curious in situations that are scary, overwhelmingly upsetting, tragic, and deeply (deeply) unfair.
Last week's newsletter was a weary white flag: I'm so upset and full of rage and I'm not sleeping and I don't know how to talk about this and I'm not sure I even have anything to add to the conversation because, right now, I'm just feeling it all.
Feeling the awfulness on a level that isn't productive or proactive...that isn't a salve for anyone who's living the injustice.
Swimming in hopelessness.
Completely unnerved by how unsafe so many American citizens are...in the very situations which my country, my culture, has told me that I'm most safe: in the presence of police, the people in our society whose express job is to protect and to serve.
And then, completely unnerved by acts of retaliation against the police.
Violence begets violence begets violence begets violence.
So, I talked about clothes. I opted for levity. I gave myself more time to process without any expectation.
I'm still feeling it, still wondering how and where to join the conversation, stuck between not wanting to be a white person who's preoccupied with "doing something" and not wanting to remain ignorant to all the ways I benefit from my white privilege. And I feel a bit like an outlier because I'm trying to maintain my curiosity in a world that's constantly poking and encouraging me to react, in a society that would gladly egg me on in following the wishes of my ego.
But maybe this is a fruitful state to be in, and to acknowledge publicly. Maybe you're someplace similar right now.
The truth is, I don't want to talk about current events here. There are plenty of news outlets (and op-eds) devoted to just that, and I'm sure you know where to find them and/or how impossible it is to avoid them on your various feeds. However, if you're anything like me (and I suspect you are, since you read this thing every week), you might be wondering how curiosity figures in when everything seems to be going to hell.
I'd like to share two thoughts I've had this past week about curiosity, as it pertains to current events:
We must not let our fear override our curiosity.
Pain and sadness might cloud our curiosity for a time (and that's okay), but we have to be willing to investigate the sky the moment the clouds clear—to see what else is there, what's left, what we have to work with and work on.
We cannot be too afraid to ask questions.
What's it like to be a person of color in America?
What invisible systems do I benefit from, perhaps without condoning or even realizing it?
How does your experience of the police differ from mine?
Whom do you feel you can turn to when you need help, when you need protection?
In what ways can I lessen my unearned race advantage and conferred dominance?
In what ways can I contribute to the improvement of your quality of life?
Am I willing to sit with the discomfort that comes with having an honest conversation about this?
Our job as curious people BEGINS with the asking of these questions, and questions like them.
But we cannot want to ask the questions more than we want to hear and learn and internalize the answers. And I mean really listen to the answers.
The asking is a gesture, sure—but it's the care-full listening and the subsequent action taken that actually hold the possibility of change.
We must not let our curiosity override our self-care.
Take the time to process what devastates you. Feel hopeless if you feel hopeless. You do not owe anyone a public reaction or a pithy essay that details your response to the horror. You are not uncaring if there are viral videos you cannot watch, because if you do, sadness will overtake you.
Curiosity is no good if it dead-ends with you mindlessly consuming information that makes you feel guilty.
Know your limits. Learn when enough is enough and you need to stay away from the news, from social media, from that coworker who won't stop saying "All lives matter" (because, yes, of course they do, but holy shit if that isn't missing the point entirely).
Curiosity is a tool—and a good one, if you ask me—that should fuel action, not reaction. Instead of focusing on current events, take a trip through history and learn a bit more about what we've done wrong in the past, what we're still trying to correct, and how much has actually improved (despite everyone's occasional feelings of hopelessness).
Remind your spirit that everything is changing, all the time.
Hit 'reply' and share with me how you're feeling today. A little check-in to ease us into a new week.
Notes from the week of July 10
+ "Please do not change the conversation by talking about how your life matters, too. It does, but we need less watered down unity and a more active solidarities with us, Black people, unwaveringly, in defense of our humanity. Our collective futures depend on it"