Friday, December 31, 2010

On the Pill: Natural Disasters of 2010

Saying good-bye is not easy.   I am a teary-eyed woman boarding a train who has just said "Au revoir" to her lover.  I've been in a relationship with 2010 for twelve months, and it's all coming to an abrupt end. We had some good times and some rocky patches, but we held it down.  Before I move on, I'd like to take a sentimental stroll down memory lane.  There are three things that I just gotta get off my chest... 

Nothing gives you a wake-up call like an earthquake.  The world experienced several of them, most of them overlooked by the traditional media.  What came into focus was a small country nestled in the Caribbean.  Unlike the Travel Channel's "World's Most Beautiful and Exotic Paradises", we were exposed to CNN's round the clock coverage of "The Most Despicable and Loathsome Place on Earth."  Instead of learning about the History Channel's "Discover the First Black-led Republic in the World", the world received narratives on the misfortunes of the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.  We often don't realize the power of words, how they shape, transform, and give meaning and identity.  In a TED speech, Nigerian author Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie speaks about the power of a single story and how a narrative, largely based on the storyteller's perspective can be dangerous.   In light of this earthquake, it was like a Christopher Columbus voyage; nothing was really discovered.   The leveling of buildings, burning bodies, and motherless children  were all ensconced in a faulty and unstable social and political structure.  The history books, news shows, and know-it-all's blame the victims, or in this case, the natives.  The chapters that have not been included tell the real narrative of how a small country with proud people and a strong culture became demonized, punished, and ignored by adversarial countries who feared a Black-lash.

Moving the voyage closer to home, we land on the grimy shores of the Gulf of Mexico.  Once a playground for those seeking some southern comfort, the Gulf's marsh lands have turned into wastelands.  We hollered and cried over the bazillion gallons of oil seeping into the ocean, the innocent wildlife thrust out of their environment, and the riggers who lost their lives in the initial explosion (and in that order, I might add).  Within the muck and mire, Yardiegal noticed a trend.  All of this horrible stuff was happening in the same region, affecting the same people as did during Hurricane Katrina.  The folks of Mississippi and Louisiana, (two the poorer states in the Union) couldn't catch an economic break.  Hurricanes are a part of life in these states, and this was not the first oil spill, just the largest.  So, why did both these disasters reek so much havoc?  My accusatory finger is pointing at the  federal government.  When your government doesn't take the time to build solid levees and close corporate loopholes, the most vulnerable of us suffers tragically.  I'm still scratching my scalp trying to understand how the majority of miners trapped underground in Chile survived (again, in a country we would label "poor" and second or third world) compared to the West Virginian miners, the majority of whom died.  To me, it was  like observing a parallel universe: same situation, same class of citizens, completely different outcome.

Final destination: Massachusetts. To map the next string of events is like recreating the Black Heritage Trail, except the path goes down a really slippery slope and the docent stationed at each stop is telling you things that you'd rather not learn.  It's a tale of a series of unfortunate political events and redemption.  It begins with former state senator Diane Wilkerson and ends with defrocked city councilor Chuck Taylor.  Both have been under federal investigation for taking bribes.  The former admitted to taking $23,500 in bribes.  The latter vehemently denies any wrongdoing.  Both are pillars in the Black community who have ardent supporters.  The loss of these voices widens the gaping hole of representative voice for communities of color in Boston.  As we watched these two polticians' lives spiral out of control we began to bite our nails as the gubernatorial race loomed.  With the demise of the careers of Wilkerson and Turner would incumbent Governor Deval Patrick also succumb?  Over the months, he slipped back in the polls in concert with the sluggish economy, and would-be voters who were chanting,  "Change!"  Yet, astonishingly, by the power invested in the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Patrick was pronounced governor once again.

Truth be told, I wasn't really that deeply in love with 2010.  It was just something that happened and I went along for the ride.  Nevertheless, Yardiegal has chosen to rant about the endless displays of ineptitude and inequality that attacks our frontal lobe on a daily basis. I like to think of myself as a glass half full kinda gal, but it's so hard to keep staring at the same glass not knowing if the water is purified. Every now and then, I ask myself, what am I really drinking?   Is what I'm choosing to ingest life-giving or toxic?  That's why intimate relationships call for protection.

That's why I'm on the pill.

You take it to avoid or alleviate something.  It's a little something that can grow into a big something for which you may not be prepared.  It's not a contraceptive nor is it an analgesic.  It's a pro-choice that must be made--to choose to see things not in their best light, but in their true light.   Not to wax cinematic or anything, but it is oddly similar to the choice Neo faced in The Matrix.  Confronted with an uncompromising truth, he had two options: take the blue pill, and he could continue his ordinary, imitation of life.  However, take the red pill, and he would get to see " deep the rabbit hole goes."

As I raise my glass of water (I don't do alcohol these days) and  give a ching-ching to 2010 (don't get me wrong, what we had was special) I'm excited to take on a new lover-- 2011.  I get to learn from past mistakes, wipe the slate clean, and start fresh.  So,  I make a toast: Here's to lovely words, beauty in useful deeds, liberation to All, truth, and the un-American way.

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year Judith,

    Love your blog! I must to admit to reading all of your posts in 1 sitting. :) It was like a good chat with a girlfriend. Real writing comes from the heart. Great work! Keep it Feisty, my friend!

    We write because we believe the Human Spirit cannot be tamed and should not be trained.~
    Nikki Giovanni