On Justice, Cleaning Our Own Houses, and Unlearning

June 10, 2020

Content warning: You might find some of the issues I raise troubling or disturbing.

I believe this is the first time in over twenty years of writing I’ve used a content warning.

My brain is saturated. I felt tired today and a few minutes ago, I realized I forgot to take my autoimmune meds this morning. Writing always helps to clear my mind, so here goes. This will go everywhere.

The journal entries I penned over the past two weeks are filled with anguish, outrage, fear, and dismay. I found it very difficult to harness hope that meaningful, life-altering changes would finally happen in this country in regard to racism, police brutality, hate crimes, our government, our laws, and racial disparity. And the pandemic plays on. Businesses continue to shutter their doors. People lost their jobs, their life savings, and loved ones keep succumbing to the novel coronavirus. People are being evicted from their homes, children are hungry. In despair, many have taken their lives.

woman wearing eyeglasses in grayscale photography
Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com

I wept for George Perry Floyd, Jr. and his family members during the memorial services held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in Raeford, North Carolina, and finally, in Houston, Texas. The memory of George calling for his mother before he died broke my mother heart all over again despite the powerful memorial messages of hope, courage, fortitude, righteous anger, and faith. By the end of the third memorial service, I found hope again.

Changes are taking place. I feel a shift taking form. Chokeholds are now banned in one state. Arrests were made and charges filed against the former police officers, who murdered George Floyd. The men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery were arrested and charged. Now, we await charges in the murders of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot in her home by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, and Tony McDade, who was shot and killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida. Their families demand justice, we demand justice. I realize it could be a long road to conviction. #BlackLivesMatter

Holding police accountable for violence and using excessive force against protestors took form with the suspension of the officer who viciously assaulted Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old man from Buffalo, New York. The New York City police officer who brutally shoved Dounya Zayer to the pavement, turned himself in and faces criminal charges. They should lose all their jobs. And shame on the Florida police union for stating they are willing to employ all cops who are fired or resign from their jobs over charges of police misconduct.

During the past 18 months in Puerto Rico, ten LGBTQ people were murdered. This year, 19-year-old Alexa Negron Luciano, 31-year-old Penélope Díaz Ramírez, 21-year-old, Layla Peláez, and 32-year-old Serena Angelique Velázquez were among the trans women who were murdered. The cases are ongoing. As far as I know, only two arrests have been made. The cases of domestic violence on the island and in the US are through the roof. The violence continued in the US with the brutal beating by a group of black men of a trans woman named Iyonna Dior. I watched Billy Porter’s powerful, impassioned message on Instagram, where he spoke about the incident. Here’s an excerpt from that video,

“The tragic reality here is that black trans, as well as gender non-conforming, women and men are being killed in the United States by cis black men to such a degree that it is nearly the worst emergency for trans women on the planet.”

In Mexico, according to government data, nine hundred eighty seven women and girls were murdered in the first four months of 2020. The first four months. Many more are missing.

What’s the solution, what’s the answer? Which issue do we tackle first? And then? And then what? I don’t know, but I like what Billy Porter said in that same Instagram video, “…get your f*cking houses in order.” He’s right, each of us must get our own houses in order and change must happen. The violence, systematic racism, misogyny, and hate crimes must stop. America needs to get its house in order and so must we as individuals.

Rest in peace, George, Breonna, Ahmaud, Tony, and Iyonna, and all those who’ve lost their lives in the US, in Puerto Rico, and around the world to hate crimes, systematic racism, and abuse. I’m thinking of the crimes committed against Natives Americans throughout US history and during their protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, on land that we stole. I continue to pray for incarcerated immigrant children, who live in fear, are still being separated from their parents, and still suffer from abuse. I pray the killing of innocent women around the world, who are murdered in the thousands every single day, ends. And the novel coronavirus, well, the deadly virus continues to infect and kill with no vaccine in sight.

My neighbor believes we are living the biblical End of Times. I must admit news of the returning “plague” of cicadas this year had me wondering. No, I believe we are birthing a new nation, and birthing is messy, wondrous, delicate, and hard, hard work that results in new life and hope for the future. We must think of reparations.

Despite it all and because of it all, we must keep showing up. Keep protesting, donating, learning, informing others, and unlearning, where necessary. Repeat and don’t give up. We must become and continue to be supportive, active allies for our brown and black brothers and sisters. Everywhere. I’m hopeful. I’m learning. #ChangeForGood

On that note, I’m taking a break from blogging to finish my manuscript, THE LAMENTS, and to work with my new writing critique group. In addition, I’ll continue working with The Great Unlearn, an online course generously shared by Rachel Cargle. I highly recommend it. The link is below.

https://www.patreon.com/thegreatunlearn/posts

Until then, be safe, stay well, protect each other. VOTE BLUE all the way. We can’t live another four years like this.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. The author currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1925 Puerto Rico. Eleanor’s adult children are in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride.