A few years ago, I was playing competitive tennis in my age range. I was in my forties and although I didn’t win every match, I ALWAYS went hard! I didn’t mind slamming a ball with all my might towards my opponent, and there wasn’t a ball I wasn’t willing to try and run down even if I sort of knew there was very little likelihood that I would make it to said ball in time. I NEVER stopped fighting for that point. Never.
I played my last tennis match in January of 2017 due to health issues, but I would like to believe I still have that fighting spirit even now in my writing. Especially now. Too much is happening for me and my pen to stand on the sidelines. I might not be able to get out there and march; I might not be able to run for political office; I might not be able do a lot of things that others can, but I can write a poem in protest. I can write a letter to the mayor or the police chief. I can make slogans to go on the signs of those who can march. I can donate my time and talent to helping write a letter for someone who has been treated unfairly at a march or rally and they need to “document the moment” in writing. I can write an essay like this encouraging my friends who write to dedicate one blog post to saying “Black Lives Matter” or “Police Brutality is Wrong” or “Let’s Get Out and Vote.” I can write a daily post on social media that shows the world that I stand for justice and I don’t care who knows it. I can find a way to use my words to give back because giving back is the whole point of this dance around this planet. If your entire existence is based on receiving and not giving, why are you here? If your existence is based on never speaking the truth except in low whispers or in someone’s Messenger box, then why are you here? IF you have nothing “writerly” to offer to this moment and you call yourself a writer, I wonder about you. I wonder why you are wasting your talent. I wonder why you even bother to write if you truly have nothing to say about right now.
I loved playing tennis from the time I first started playing in high school, but I was never going to be Serena Williams. But words? Man, words have always been my thing. Not because I was some child prodigy or a savant of the written word, but because like Serena, I have tried to dedicate my life to getting the word on the page just right. Serena says she will spend hours hitting the same shot over and over. I have sat and labored over the right word or the right sentence for hours, even when others would have walked away and said the sentence was fine.
So why in the world would I NOT use my words to rebel? Why wouldn’t I use my words to say, in the words of Al Sharpton, “America, get your knee off our necks”? Why wouldn’t I wax poetic about injustice, racism, intolerance, hatred, white supremacy? Why wouldn’t I take time out of my busy writing schedule to shed a verbal light on the marching going on just miles from my home?
I can’t march with them, but I can tell the story. I can be an Oracle. I can be a Griot. I can commemorate this moment and say on behalf of myself and my brothers and sisters in the fight, Enough. We’ve had enough, and we will not take any more. The season of hatred on our watch, is over. I can say that. I can write that.