Saturday, January 16, 2021

A Reckoning

"In Brooklyn, New York, 1948, a girl posed for photos on a street corner on a rainy day." Thus read the caption on this trio of portraits by photographer Rae Russel of that beautiful child. I'm posting her pictures because I want to save them, and because I'm aching to post something innocent and hopeful here, even as I bear witness to people and events that are decidedly not.

I won't go on at length, it's all too depressing, but I will say how dare right wing assholes ridicule Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez for the visceral fear she felt during the siege on the Capitol. Given the vile and vulgar death threats AOC and the rest of her Squad receive daily, she had every reason to believe her life was in danger from certain Republican colleagues who may have given material aid to the insurrectionists, and who were now locked in the safe room with her. There was the Colorado QAnon House Rep who gave a "reconnaissance tour" of the Capitol the day before, for example, and documented it with an Instagram post in which her guests in full Trump regalia flashed the white power sign. She also tweeted "This is 1776!" as the mob stormed into the Captiol, and reported Nancy Pelosi's whereabouts to the rioters in real time. And that's just what we know. How is she not yet arrested? Also, who ripped out all the panic buttons from Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley's office the day before the siege? 

Hilton Als, Pulitzer Prize winning staff writer and theater critic for the New Yorker, posted this on social media, and it pierced me right through. It is hard to describe the constant vigilance of being Black in America; it's the low shrieking hum you live with, and eventually stop noticing as, for the practicality of survival, you accommodate your being to it. But it takes its toll, until one day you wake up and find yourself not just breaking, but utterly broken, and there's nothing to do but gather up the pieces and begin fitting yourself together again, because those you love are bent over beside you, doing the same. Hilton Als captures the feeling exactly. 

On news reports this week, military men and women have analyzed crowd videos and identified operatives moving through the buffoonish rioters with apparent deadly intent, using maneuvers they recognize from their own training in military ops. Then there were the videos of rioters impaling cops with the poles of their blue lives matter flags, and violently crushing them against doors. As AOC said, she never wants to hear MAGAs declare blue lives matter ever again. 

Across the country, arrests are happening by the hundreds, and one meme joked that now the white supremacists are grasping why their forebears wore hoods. The cosplay insurrectionist in coyote skins and buffalo horns has already asked Trump for a pardon, saying he was only "answering the president's call." Here's another picture, because one shouldn't always have to rise above, and because that little girl on a Brooklyn street corner would be pushing eighty now, and even though we elected a Black man of surpassing decency and intellect as president twice since she was photographed in the rain, it turns out that in large swathes of America, very little has changed. 


  1. I so wish I could look into that little girl's beautiful eyes and say, "Honey, it's all going to get so much better. You have so much to look forward to."
    And sometimes it seems like it has gotten better and then...
    It's all so heart-crushing. It's all so unbelievable.

  2. As I was looking at the photos of the little girl in 1948 and reading what you wrote and looking at the graffiti image, I remembered the photo you posted last July. Those two boys were close in age to that of the little girl in 1948.

    The little girl would be just about Joe Biden's age now, "not just breaking, but utterly broken, and there's nothing to do but gather up the pieces and begin fitting yourself together again, because those you love are bent over beside you, doing the same."

    The beloved community.

  3. I just hope so much that this will all get better for you.

  4. I find it all unbearable and heartbreaking. What has been unleashed in our country has been around for a very long time. Now it shows its ugly face and sneers at our fear. The child photos are so beautiful. That innocence is what we are born with, this world breaks it and takes it away. Beautiful graffiti.

  5. What a beautiful child. This country.... I had hope after Mr. Obama was elected, but at present I do not. It's unlikely that Mr. Biden will hold the house and the senate in 2022, and then what will happen?

  6. I do not understand how anyone could look at that beautiful child and feel nothing but hate for her. but people do. it's heartbreaking. it's heartbreaking what black people must endure to live in this country and despite all that, they step up when America needs them. Trump is such an evil man. I know he didn't turn people into what they are but he gave them permission to spew their hatred and to escalate it.

  7. What beautiful photos of that little girl.
    I wish things were different for all people of colour. I hope there's improvement once the Biden/Harris team are in charge, but I fear what the half of America that voted for Trump will do and I fear what they believe.
    I am holding you in my heart, my dear friend.

  8. I wonder what sort of a life that beautiful little girl has had.She would be about my age now. I hope it has been a good one.

  9. At least you had the eight years of a decent, intelligent man as President. I have to keep telling myself that it did happen and will happen again.

  10. I am sorry and ashamed that there is still such racist hate in our country. I am hoping for a better future. I want to help make it better.

  11. I love those photos of the little girl. Hilton Als really nails it, doesn't he?

    Videos of protesters IMPALING cops? What?! I have not seen this. (Not sure I want to, although I suppose denial is never an appropriate response.)

    Ginny Thomas has a lot to answer for. I find her and the Colorado lawmaker (and certainly Trump) more responsible, in a way, than the protesters. Powerful people like them engineered this whole thing. The protesters were just deluded enough to be easily manipulated.

  12. Hi Honey,
    I wrote a longer comment but I re-read it and tried to edit my comment and I just messed it all up and decided to start over so it all made better sense however I am only going to say a few things starting with the photos of the little girl in Brooklyn in 1948.
    She is such a beautiful child and the pics are great but the one with her smiling just got to me in such a beautiful way.
    If I could have only one wish it would be that we all never lose our innocence and love.
    I am still reeling over the January 6th attack and all of the people in that building could not help but scared for their lives. They had reason to be. There is so much that I have not heard about and now I have to go and search out AOC and find out what all happened with her.
    In the mean time I wish you peace. Physically and Mentally. Big Hugs and Love.