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. Writing always helps to clear my mind, and this blog post will go everywhere.
My personal journal entries for the past two weeks are filled with anguish, outrage, fear, and dismay. I found it difficult to harness enough hope that meaningful, life-altering changes would finally happen in this country in regard to systematic racism, police brutality, hate crimes, our government, our laws, mental health, and racial disparity. I’m proud of and support the protestors on our American streets. And the pandemic plays on. Businesses continue to shutter their doors. People are losing their jobs, their life savings, and loved ones keep succumbing to the novel coronavirus. People are being evicted from their homes, children are hungry. When unemployment checks stop in July, things will get worse. In despair, many have taken their lives.
I wept for George Perry Floyd, Jr, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery. I’ve wept over so many senseless murders in this country, and the memory of George calling for his mother before he died still breaks my mother heart. I watched George Floyd’s memorial services held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in Raeford, North Carolina, and finally, in Houston, Texas. Despite the powerful memorial messages of hope, courage, fortitude, righteous anger, and faith, I remained dubious of major changes taking place in this country. 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 a few states. 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, in her bed, 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 will 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 their jobs. 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, where I was born, 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. Known 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 listened to 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. In the first four months. Many more are still missing. I’m thinking of the crimes committed against Natives Americans throughout US history and the present, and during their protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, on the lands we stole. I continue to pray and support incarcerated immigrant children, who live in fear, are still being separated from their parents, and still suffer from abuse most of us will never hear about. I pray the killing of innocent women around the world, who are murdered in the thousands every single day, ends.
What’s the solution, what are the answers? Which issue do we tackle first? And then? And then what? I don’t know. 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 clean house. We must begin the dialogue of reparation.
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. And the novel coronavirus, well, the deadly virus continues to infect and kill with no vaccine in sight. Some days are easier than others to muster enough hope and faith to encourage, lift each other up. But we must.
My neighbor believes we are living the biblical End of Times. 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.
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. I’m hopeful. #ChangeForGood
I’m taking a break from writing posts on my blog The Writing Life to focus on my manuscript, THE LAMENTS, another novel about faith, injustice, the abuse of women and the marginalized. I’ve made the blog private for the time being. I’ll continue to work with my new writing critique group and with The Great Unlearn, an online course generously shared by Rachel Cargle. I highly recommend it. We must become and continue to be supportive, active allies for our brown and black brothers and sisters. Everywhere.
Until then, stay safe, be well, protect each other. VOTE BLUE all the way. We can’t live another four years like this.
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.