In “What We Believe” (https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/), the organizers of The Black Lives Matter Global Network explicitly commit themselves to work to “build and nurture a beloved community,” which is another name for what I call a sustainable domesticity—a way of making the world a home in which all of us and our families can flourish for generations to come. In this and the following posts, I am going to comment on each part of the statement because I have not found a clearer, more inspiring, articulation of what the work involved in nurturing a sustainable domesticity requires.
While abusive police practices disproportionately injure and destroy the bodies, families, homes, and communities of Blacks, Native Americans, other people of color, and immigrants, police have, in responding to recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, often used violent measures against and have incarcerated non-violent White, as well as Black, protestors and others, including journalists, while they have usually not used such measures against gun-wielding white nationalists protesting stay-at-home orders. These different responses expose an historical dynamic Thandeka and other researchers on “whiteness” have identified as lying at the heart of white racism in America. The owner class, which was and remains a small minority of the population, deliberately constructed and continues to promote white racism as a means of dividing and controlling the very large majority of people who are not members of the owner class. (Thandeka, Learning to be White, Bloomsbury, 2000).
I am writing today over a month after the white policemen, Derek Chauvin, murdered the African-American, George Floyd. Since then, Black Lives Matter protests across the country and around the world have been daily events.
As a number of people have observed, the murder, the demonstrations, and the violence expose the systemic white racism that has destroyed and continues to destroy millions upon millions of lives since European conquerors and colonists set foot on the land now described as the United States of America almost five hundred years ago.
I am beginning this series of posts on domesticity anew in the midst of five related global responses to five related global crises: the Black Lives Matters movement that responds to systemic racism, and especially police assaults and murders of people of color; the movement to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19; the MeToo movement that responds to systemic sexism, and especially the harassment, assault, and rape of women; the movements to respond to the current economic and political crises that expose the injustice and cruelty of dominant political and economic systems; and the movements that respond the climate and extinction crises that are already extinguishing vast numbers of species and threaten to make our earth uninhabitable for vast numbers more, as well as for most of our descendants.
bereft, one wanders
off the path, one arrives here
where the ocean breathes
Roy Herndon Smith https://www.ted.com/talks/stefon_harris_there_are_no_mistakes_on_the_bandstand?language=en I wept as I listened to this performance. Stefon Harris describes and demonstrates how jazz happens, how the performers in an ensemble are continually empathically (“empathy” is Harris's word, in an interview on NPR's Morning Edition on March 30, 2020, for what is happening) listening, attuning themselves, and responding to each…
The COVID-19 crisis exposes the truth that domesticity, defined as “home or family life” (Apple Dictionary 2.2.2 2005-2017), is as fundamental to human existence as body and mind.
The importance of Offill’s novel lies in its evocation of the domesticity of the climate and extinction crises. These crises result from how we have lived in the delusion that “I am here,” in an autonomous space categorically separated from “you” and the world, who and which “are there.” Offill’s work opens us to the realization that what we usually take to be unrealistic moral admonitions for how to live are realistic descriptions of how we and all else actually do exist, with each other and all beings as families, in reality as home. We only exist because we love each other as ourselves. What we do to others, not only other human beings, but also rocks, trees, bugs, dogs, oceans, stars, and all else, we do to ourselves.
A daily practice.
Writing as an act
of living compassionately
in and of the world
that is falling apart.
Effective social responses to crises require trust. Trust emerges, inheres in, and grows in domesticity, “home or family life” (Dictionary, Apple version 2.2.2 2005-2017).