Sarah, my vicarious cast mate, solemnly stated. Her usually cheery voice icily hollow; her eyes wild with white hot rage, gut wrenching sadness… and silent resolution. She sat on the floor, furiously tugging on her jeans over her leggings, layering herself in the battlements of warmth, preparing to march in the cold Seattle night.
I stiffly adjusted her haphazardly slung scarf, securing it snugly so she wouldn’t catch cold. With a delicate, trembling finger, I moved the wild hair from her pupils and, with stoic approval, kissed her forehead. We stared at each other for what seemed to be eternity. Pain. Apologies. Betrayal. Empathy. Gratitude. Resolve.
The last wisp of her back vanished out the door of the dingy rehearsal space at the Armoury. I stood there, feeling as a mother watching her child go out to war, praying she would return unscathed in body and complete in mind.
White Sarah went out into the snowy Seattle night to protest the murder of Eric Garner. Black Me stayed rehearsing Hamlet. While the chants and footfalls echoed downtown, I played Gertrude; every last part of my soul sharpened to the point where I felt the vomit of my own grief creep up my throat. The cast and crew in the room stood in solemnly as I silently wept.
“What kind of country do we live in that you pay your taxes but can still be murdered for looking different?”
“An emotionally bankrupt one.” someone replied. As I write this, I don’t know if that statement rattled from my own thoughts or not; its voice wasn’t mine.
In the past two weeks, two police officers, who happen to be white, murdered two men and received the nod to go free…and possibly murder again. Before there is rebuttal, I know that both victims in question did questionable things. I am not ignoring that it takes two to create drama. Yet, in the world we live in, if your skin is a hue of supple pink, be in the West, you can gun down 12 movie goers, eat 16 people, rape and torture more than 30 women, shoot a congressional official and even bomb a marathon yet STILL GET A FAIR TRAIL.
Despite the general ‘fucked up-ness’ of the turn of events, those who march, no matter what their shade, know this is something bigger than what the media is painting, or trying to hide. This is what MLK was speaking about before he was blown away. This is about freedom in America, but it doesn’t start with the black or the brown. This is more than the thin veneer of racism and police brutality. This is the breaking of the poor, the have-nots, the forgotten, the untouchables, the dwindling middle class. The rest of US.