L!ve Café and Creative Space Vigil

I don’t know quite what to say about the vigil at L!VE Café and Creative Space tonight (in response to the racist attack two days ago). Or maybe I have too much to say, too many thoughts and emotions to be able to be coherent about them right now. A few scattered bits:

  • Reesheda Graham Washington is one of the brightest lights I’ve ever met in this life; it hurt to see her in so much pain tonight, and I am in awe that she still managed to speak brilliantly and incredibly compassionately despite that. I’ll come back and link to her speaking when it’s posted, and I encourage everyone, especially locals, to listen to what she had to say tonight. Bear witness. But also, sit with your discomfort, your confusion, your emotions.
  • I am very glad that the street was full from one end to the other in support of her and L!ve. And I’m seeing a lot more conversation in local groups now, people asking what was happening, getting filled in, and saying, oh, I would have gone and brought my family if I’d known. I believe they would have. There are a lot of good people in this town.
  • I wanted to bring Kavi, but when I asked her, she didn’t want to go. I almost pushed, but I’m glad I didn’t. It was a long, cold event; she’s been under the weather, but more than any of that, I think what happened hit her pretty hard already. It’s a lot for thirteen, confronting this kind of violence and hate. She doesn’t have to take it all in at once. She’ll have a lifetime to try to make sense of it.
  • I wasn’t involved in organizing this event; big kudos to those who did. It was very well done — it’s not easy, getting speakers and microphones and luminaries and all of that on short notice, in the midst of a pandemic. I had a box of IKEA candles on hand for my tiny contribution, mostly because I remembered how short we’d been on candles at the Black Lives Matter vigil I attended this summer. Part of me thinks I should order some more now, just in case. Part of me is exhausted and angry at the thought.
  • It was so windy, we lit match after match that went out; eventually, we managed to get them to catch, and stood there, cupping the flames, trying to keep them alight. Then clever Dima Ali went inside and got paper cups and constructed shields for the candles, making all of our jobs easier. There’s a metaphor there. Dima was responsible for the heart messages too. Some people just shine.
  • It was a cold, grieving moment. I mostly didn’t cry, until Gina HarKirat Harris said something, and honestly, I don’t even know what it was, but it tipped me over the edge, and I kind of lost it for a bit there. Only appropriate, really.
  • It was so good, seeing these people again. So many activists. In the midst of all the terribleness, just seeing their sweet faces — or at least, their eyes and foreheads, above the masks — was a real balm. So many generous members of the community, who pour out their time and energy to help people in a variety of ways.
  • This pandemic has robbed us of so much community, and while I still plan to shelter-in-place until the case numbers are really down, tonight reminded me of yet another cost. When some of us are battered and under attack, not being able to come together to support each other is just cruel.
  • I lingered afterwards, blowing out luminaries, carrying tables, wishing there was something else useful I could do. I donated to the campaign for L!ve Cafe, of course. They set a $20,000 goal, last I looked. I hope they blow through it. I’m going to go grab the link for the GoFundMe, and come back and paste it here.
  • I came home, ate some takeout from Grape Leaves, a restaurant a few doors down (they must be shaken too, after this), and then just collapsed on the couch for a few hours. I….don’t usually do that kind of thing. Kavi was watching TV, and I curled up with her, periodically trying to motivate to get up, and failing. Finally, finally I managed to get up, do a little cooking, and then went to take a LONG, hot bath, with bubbles. I feel a little more like myself again now, but I’ve climbed into bed. Huddling under the covers feels about right.
  • There’s a moment in West Wing, when there’d been an attack. Some white supremacists shot at the presidential party at an event — the president was shot, and one of his staff was critically injured, but thankfully pulled through. The shooters were actually aiming for the young man who was aide to the president, a young black man, who was dating the president’s white daughter. Afterwards, maybe a few episodes later, they’re talking about what happened:

“Toby Ziegler : Why does it feel like this? I’ve seen shootings before.

President Josiah Bartlet : It wasn’t a shooting, Toby. It was a lynching. They tried to lynch Charlie right in front of us, can you believe that?”

Like that.

At the Capitol yesterday too. That’s why we feel like this.

*****

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