Bolide: A Brief Study of Black Privilege

“There are cities on fire as I write this because it appears that, once again America would rather gnaw its own foot off before it allows itself to walk peacefully toward an equitable future.”

I wrote those words awhile ago, but they were true twenty years ago, and twenty years before that. In all likelihood, they will also be true twenty years from now.

Hear me out.

I’m not a fatalist, and I don’t plan on becoming one. But I do think that the freedom we seek is one that comes like a bolt of lighning that can strike a stone and split it in two.

Instead, what we’ve won for ourselves thus far is freedom that moves like water. It’s precious even as it is muddied. and it’s powerful enough to corrode stone as long as it coninues to flow.

So it will.

I also like to think of our true freedom (the version that includes the level of equity we’ve been rallying toward) as a bolide. It looks bright as a swollen moon, burning it’s way across the sky. It’s beautiful and terrifying, because freedom is those things too: emancipation for an oppressed people is beautiful.

But to the oppressor? Terrifying:

A bolide /ˈboʊlaɪd/ (Italian via Latin from the Greek βολίς bolís, “missile”) is an extremely bright meteor, especially one that explodes in the atmosphere. In astronomy, it refers to a fireball about as bright as the full moon, and it is generally considered a synonym for a fireball.

Thinking of the cultural shift occuring before my eyes as a bolide is soothing to me, and the ability to consider its definition in an optimistic way–especially in the political turmoult of this moment–is actually the bastion of Black privilege. Meaning, no matter how powerful the one who observes a bolide percieves themselves to be, that power is limited.

They can only track it. Create a narrative around it to make people fear it. Try as they might to destroy, while knowing that the latter is an impossibility. Still, being able to do any of the latter is a privilge.

I accept that.

But…Black people possess a different kind of privilege. I can only describe it as an innate knowledge that our movement toward freedom is not a benign, far-off bolide burning across the sky as it is studied and characterized until it’s archived. Made myth.

No.

It’s a bolide that will explode and light up the atmosphere, because it’s fuel source is Black joy and resilience, in equal parts. Those two things are like patience and fire, perpetually tempering each other and thus, our resolve. Those two things can move mountains. Those two things are the gifts we hold dear while the shift occurs, and balance is restored.

Happy Juneteenth.

Corona: On Quarantines, Finishing Things, and Rings of Light

I remember staring in disbelief at the email about my office being shutdown. I read it again and again, with my eyes zeroing in on words like “indefinitely” and “as this unfolds.” Aside from rejoicing inwardly at not having to make the nearly forty minute commute each morning, I also felt a wave of uncertainty about my mom, who is a visiting nurse who assists vulnerable people for a living. Then I thought about my son and other relatives, and how they would fare in all of this. I let all of those panicky thoughts whip themselves to frothy liquid inside my brain on the drive home from work that day until I remembered three things. One, I’d been complaining about my commute for ages. Two, I knew damn well that I had a book to finish, and working remotely could help me power through the last of it. And the last thing? That was easiest to remember: it’s best to choose patience over panic any day.

Quasar: On Cheating, Acceptance, and Pity.

Destruction. This concept is where this story began and where it ends. Where I was flighty and fiery to him and for him, she was mundane and accessible, like microwaved food. Readily available. Easy bake. Her only garnish, her age and flexible schedule. As food that is cured, well seasoned, and highly reviewed, I exist at the other end of spectrum from this woman whose name I still don’t know because she has harassed me under too many names to count. So, let’s start with the parts of the story I do know.

Here are the facts.

I became infatuated with someone far younger. A week or two in, he cut ties with a woman closer to his age that he said he’d been dealing with for a few months. He had little else to say about it or her, so from the beginning I just assumed that she was unremarkable.

I was mostly right, too.

Orbit: Rules, Reciprocity, and the Gospel of Rico Nasty

Desensitizing yourself to someone else’s drama doesn’t make you callous, it protects your peace. Doing so doesn’t mean that you’re unable to be empathetic anymore, but it does mean that you’ve become wise enough to discern if someone has too many issues to empathize with, i.e., perpetual drama.

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Aurora: Distractions, Death, and Pacts with God

Summer was euphoric. It burned brightly and waned as summer always does. Now, I’m in my season of harvest and there’s death all around me in a beautiful way. For each leaf that hits the ground I’m reminded that even though I have to push forward, I don’t have to allow myself to veer off into an aurora. The lights will always be there, flashing and flickering. Fun will always be there, swirling in limes and rose colored spirals around me. And if I choose to, I can spin and bask in those spirals until I lose my sense of direction and time again.  But like I said before, it’s harvest season. I have a pact with self, a pact with God, and work that I’m more than ready to do.

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