There is no hiding for me. I see, eat, hear, taste, smell injustice every waking minute. I live the struggle to keep people with disabilities from unnecessary institutionalization, to keep us from being killed, either by neglect or legislation, to ensure that we are thought of in the building of public spaces, in the Governor's budget, or in times of disaster.
I have no refuge from fear, exclusion, discrimination, othering. I cannot shut down. I cannot get away. I'm forever open to it, even in my sleep. With my waking eyes, I see the shadows of Mike, Eric, John, Ethan, Tamir, Renisha, Trayvon, Tajieme, London, and so many other men, women and children murdered by cops, vigilantes or parents who disposed of them simply because of their disabilities.
Every 28 hours, a Black man is killed by police or vigilantes and that doesn't even begin to address the Black women and children who die at the hand of amped up, racist cops and vigilantes. Each time I leave my house, I wonder will I join their ranks.
Sometimes, I get jealous, envious, angry, rage-filled that there is no refuge for me. It's not a matter of choice - I did not choose this Black, disabled lesbian body that I live in, so I cannot choose not to see or be subject to or survive the injustice, hatred and racism around me. I cannot escape it if I tried.
My White, straight, nondisabled friends can take a break for self-care - they can back away, not deal, refuse to see, hide until they feel safe enough to come back out. I'm not shaming them because they didn't choose to be who they are, either. At least, they have that to keep themselves sane. I just wish that my friends, who mean well, understand that I and others like me don't have that option.
When I hear people say, take a break, take care of yourself, do something fun, get out, I wish I could make them understand that for me, there is no break, no respite, no refuge except death, and that is permanent, and not an option - at least, not an option that I'll choose to take.
I wish that I can tell you what it feels like in my body to live this way, to always be in fear, on guard, ever vigilant, angry. There is a soul pain, a psychic pain, a spirit pain that never leaves me. There is a tense expectancy, heightened fear, awareness, waiting. There is sadness, hopelessness, a tiny kernel of bitterness and yes, a hatred for this unjust system that I can't get away from even in my sleep, even in my dreams.
I can't escape the words of hate, shame, recrimination, the taunts hurled at the memories of dead Black bodies, the hate unfurled against those who fight back against injustice with both rage and love, who have brought this to your neighborhood, your door, your face, and who inconvenienced you by blocking a street, a highway, a store, an agency, with their bodies so that you'll see in some small way, what we go through. I say we, because I am often one of the ones that you yell at, scream at, curse at, spit on, shove, hit in your rage and indignation - how DARE we put this on you!
So I try to take a second here and there to post a funny pic or vid on social media. I try to lose myself in my music, my books, my fantasies, my wife's arms, my cat's eyes, my friends' laughter, my hopes, my visions, my desire to try and pluck something good out of something problematic, even, sometimes, my writing. I try to hang on to something, even as I know the troubles linger in the background, indeed, all around me.
So, see - there is no refuge for me, no way of escaping, nowhere to hide from injustice, so I'm left to do the only thing I know to do - fight. Fight with anger. Fight with hope. Fight with love.