Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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A letter of love and solidarity to Evan Smith

Evan Smith, I am sorry, I am truly, deeply sorry. I am sorry that you, your body, your heart and your spirit had to be confronted with the reality that white supremacy and anti-Black racism exists. That not only does it exist in the world, but that it indeed remains alive on this beautiful island we call home. I am sorry that you had to watch as your kin, folks with skin dark like yours, protected that violence embodied by the Kavanagh family. I am sorry that you had to feel such deep pain.

The harm, violence and trauma that accompanies white supremacy sometimes lodges itself so deep into our flesh, into our memories and into our souls, that it shows up unannounced in our dreams; at the most unexpected moments, when we’re sharing space with friends and loved ones.

The violent attack that you [allegedly] experienced was not your fault. I struggled to watch the video where you were clearly pained, clearly traumatized. Unfortunately, this will probably sit with you and in your body for quite some time.

This white family felt entitled. Entitled to you; entitled to our territories; entitled to decide what a “fair” response to the loss of their dog should look like.

In that moment, they made it clear that you, a beautiful Black human, that your life was less than the life of their dog. This was not your fault. It was theirs. They are the ones who have showed how inhumane they are. You Evan, are valued.

I ask myself; how can I be in service to you? If I was home, I would offer to bring you food. I would call you and remind you that you are deserving of all things good, all things loving, and all things joyous. I ask myself; how can I be in service to my community – all Black people, regardless of their class, their gender, their sexuality, their ability, their social status? I invite you to tell me, Evan. I invite you, your wife and family to tell me, and to tell all of us how we can be in service to you? For now, I will do what feels most familiar and immediate. I will write and I will speak. This humble gift I offer to you and your loved ones.

In speaking about being Black in America, James Baldwin said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” Unfortunately, this rage and reality is not contained within the colonial borders of the United States of America. It exists and roams the streets of where I now live, Canada; and it sits within in the soil and air that nourishes our home, Grenada. We must call in and hold to account all who ensure it remains a living, breathing, terrorizing beast. We must call in and hold to account all those who look like us, who explicitly and inadvertently uphold the tentacles of white supremacy.

So, I ask the Police Officers who were on the scene – do you feel like your actions were consistent with how you would have responded to any other case of alleged assault? Do you for one moment, question whether you protected white supremacy over the lives and wellbeing of your kin? How did it feel to watch pain and trauma seep from the pores of your kin, Evan, as the animalistic [alleged perpetrators] roamed freely?

I ask the Chief of Police – are you willing to boldly choose a path that is brave, courageous and honest, and call out what was clearly a racially and class motivated attack? I ask the Prime Minister and all elected leaders – how does it feel when you feed your people to the dogs by upholding the ongoing manifestation of colonial power and violence; by consistently choosing capitalism and white supremacy over that what is needed to protect the sustainable and alive futures that we and our territories deserve? PM Hon Keith Mitchell, how do you not make any reference to this blatant display of racist violence in your June 28 National Address? What will you do to show Evan Smith; to show the people living in Grenada that you choose equity and justice over white fragility and complacence? Over that which financially benefits you and keeps you nestled in the soft, cushy circles of elitism and social power?

Evan Smith, I am one person. But we are all connected to networks, to circles, to communities. We can collectively organize; we can individually and collectively resist. We can show up for one another. We can remind each other of our innate value – of our deeply, beautiful and powerful selves. I wish I could join you all on the streets and in the communities as we demand a more just, deserving life and future.

But as I am living in a different place, I will continue organizing from where I am based and I share with you the words of one of my favourite poets, nayyirah waheed:

Do not worry, you will bleed water.

The hard season will split you through.

Do not worry, this is grief.

Your face will fall out and down your skin

And there will be scorching.

But do not worry.

Keep speaking the years from their hiding places.

Keep coughing up smoke from all the deaths you have died.

Keep the rage tender, because the soft season will come.

It will come, loud, ready, gulping.

Both hands in your chest.

Up all night, up all of the nights to drink all damage into love.

Kimalee Phillip, black and Caribbean feminist organizer with the Caribbean Solidarity Network based in Toronto, Canada.

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