I write this early in the morning, drinking coffee, dressed In black. I am in a cold basement apartment in Chinatown, what used to be Chinatown, in the heart of the stony darkness of camo shirts, tuxedos, and bitter, grasping cruelty, in a crumbling city full of black women and men and governed by vast, marble pillars built by slaves.
I listen to sirens every three minutes, chortling their whining alarms.
I am from the west, a land of vast deserts and swathes of stretching, reaching plains and mountains, wide pathways of human vacancy and imprint but for spiny fences, juniper bushes where there ought to be sage, and broken, molding trailers from the seventies with neon cougars leaping gallantly across their dust streaked shambling sides.
To be present in Washington D.C. for the first time is a shock in itself – to physically witness the unbreakable and daunting columns of rock built into the earth that tell me what my subjectivity can be. To witness this physical manifestation of state power for the first time is alarming. But to be here now, at this moment, to see it, shakes my foundations in hope, radical possibility, tenderness, desire.
To be here now is to walk down the sidewalk and see a sea of monstrous faces and question marks, to witness small moments of solidarity, but then, once again, to see audacious glee of cruelty gleam from cackling men.
I see men joyous in their newfound ability to inflict pain. I do not see hate, for hate is broad and baseless. I see vindictive glee. They want black men to be their slaves, and this is not an exaggeration. They want to rape women, to crush our ribcages and destroy our cervixes. They have raped us, annihilated us. They have violated our entire conception of being, and then they have blamed us for not getting over it.
I assume every woman I see has been raped or assaulted, because it is rare that they have not, and perhaps they have, but do not have the words to describe it or do not dare to let go of their shield for fear of their pain.
I have been assaulted in front of other men who laughed at me and my terror and rage. They will not laugh again.
Every man I see wearing the gleeful armor of cruelty on their foreheads with their foolhardy hats has a face that laughs at my life in every way, a face that mocks my desire to not be raped, who believes that rape is impossible, because they are allotted the joyful right of aggressive control. They believe that my body is not mine, that they have the duty to stamp out my spirited autonomy with their boots and their grasping palms.
I cannot fight their knowledge of my absence of being by shouting back or fighting with my untrained fists or my nuanced words. I cannot fight their conception of my vacancy with baleful cries and scrappy slogans, but only with my presence, in any way I can.
And so I throw my body onto the streets, onto the violent men and the police in their suits of war. I relinquish my self unto the power they believe, and heave my body onto their desire to believe in my absence, and I will remind them, again and again, of my weight.