Photo Credit: Clay Banks
But I try and choose not to be seduced by its simple pleasure
I am not always successful in this endeavour
I choose to turn away
To run an hide
Because there's so much more sadness then I can hold inside
The beast can eat you alive.
With its endless mass and deafening roar
It can cause you to exist even less than before
Less than when your body was bathed in ignorance
When its waves drew you in, wore down your resistance
When you agreed to float through life
Eyes closed to the constant strife
Until the river runs dry
And you wake once more
Because it's hard to be blind with your face on the floor
Or their words in your ear
Screaming 'you don't belong here'.
When the crowds are there and stare
But stay silent
Because they are floating down the same stream
It's easy to be compliant
when there's no risk of you drowning
It's much harder when it's your head held under
And it's you who can't breathe
Drowning in their ignorance
I am forced to see.
The Writer Behind the Writing
I feel like this poem highlights aspects of resistance that are spoken about less especially in our generation, the idea that resistance is honourable is undeniable, however, more often than not it is easier to be compliant, to allow ourselves and others to be trampled on in order to live in the bliss that is ignorance. This poem is inspired by both resistance and honesty; over the past few months with the rise of the black lives matter movement I have had many friends come to me and ask my opinion about the use of social media, asking for advice on how to use it as allies, how to show both solidarity and resistance to the corruption and racism in our world today. I tried to give the best advice I could, I told them to educate themselves thoroughly on the institutionalised systematic racism which is alive today, to read and only to post if they think it is saying something that they honestly want to communicate and which they truly understand.
Soon after giving this advice, I experienced a direct and malicious act of racism while going to my local shops in my middle-class white suburban area, it occurred in broad daylight, on my local high street. No one came to help me, not one of my neighbours tried to defend me from an older man shouting racial slurs at me. It was at this moment I realised that true resistance is something that is so hard to grasp, my middle-class white neighbours would probably call themselves allies to the BLM movement, but not a single person intervened. After feeling intense anger at my local community I realised that resistance takes so much, especially for an ally, because the first challenge is pulling yourself out of the bliss that is ignorance, choosing to suffer so that others can eventually suffer less. Even though the act of educating yourself on another person's suffering you are choosing to suffer for them.
I have learnt and attempted to express through this poem that in order to truly resist as an ally you must choose to suffer for strangers, this action takes courage and a level of selflessness that is not natural to most people. It is so much more than posting on social media it is a daily choice and a hard one. Through my art I wanted to show my honest experience with resistance, I wanted to own up to being tempted by ignorance and display my realisation that ignorance is a privilege; when you look a certain way in this world you will be targeted, judged and ignored. For some resistance is a choice for others it is a daily act of survival.