I just finished reading Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body and Spirit written by Mary-Frances Winters. It was an unnerving presentation of the intergenerational impact of systemic racism. The author explores how the continued experience of inequities and injustices towards Black people have created physical and emotional tiredness in all Black people. Many times I consider the neighbors around the Peace Center and realize they are not so much resilient as they are resigned.
The book was difficult to read, and I found myself feeling more and more tired myself. Not the kind of tired that comes from hearing the same stories over and over again, or repeating the historical experiences that led to the racial environment still surrounding us every day; but the kind of tired that comes with trying every day to make change and seeing no differences, with trying to strip away the privileges that white people still possess and still deny every day that they have. It cannot be described as getting tired of being forced to let “them” get away with making white people feel guilt, but as getting tired of arguing not just with the obvious bigots and white supremacists but even more with the white people who say they don’t want to hear about it any more because they can’t do any more than they have been doing; or having any more discussions with white people who say they cannot read another book about racism and stop asking them to do so. There was a headline recently that said “ Most Black people want reparations. They [Black people] don’t believe America will give them any.” How many white people laughed and said, “Darned straight! I never did anything to them. What am I doing to them today? They need to just get over it! I am not giving them a single cent” Maybe it’s best thought of as the kind of the tiredness of people who are frustrated like me with the broken systems and just do not see any ways to repair them. But the trying is ours to do!
As Dominicans we are ever vigilant in our search for truth. Sometimes the truths we find make people uncomfortable. There is nothing more annoying than a white person in discomfort. We cannot tire of getting to the truth and getting the truth out. We cannot tire of speaking truth to power, someone named Catherine from a small town in Italy did that once, and the Pope listened. We cannot tire.