the resistance of doing nothing

randomities, vol. 10: death, grief, &grind culture

Sorry for the delay. I don’t know if anyone actually looks for these specifically on Monday and Thursday, but I’m hard on myself about meeting those days. This week has been particularly busy though, including a piece I’m excited for people to see in time. 

Anyways. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how, at the start of this period, so many people were gung-ho about using this newfound free time to create some project or pursue some passion. And it’s fine if people have the time and privilege to do that, but there were people talking as if it was some mandate to create something. It’s a coalescence of hubris and capitalistic conditioning to frame a deadly pandemic as your creative and entrepreneurial oasis. 

In time, all the #quarantinelife hysteria faded away. The TV binging got old, and a lot of people had to sit with themselves and reflect on their personal and/or relationship shortcomings. There are no functions or outings, or even friends to turn to for many. On top of that, the police killed Breonna Taylor. And George Floyd. Andy Tony McDade. And the list distressingly continues from there. The people took to the streets and started demanding more from the system than we have in a long time, and resistors lost their life. Things are shifting in a way that few of us anticipated. 

In March, the sentiment from some corners of the world was that if you didn’t pursue some goal by the time things opened back up, you “wasted the time.” But now, if all you have to show for yourself upon reopening is that you’re intact and sane, that’s a hell of a lot. 

This period has illuminated for me how Western production culture is inherently dehumanizing. We’re expected to produce and consume and “rise and grind,” all the while the system we’re sustaining is killing us. It’s an untenable cycle. 

I’ve been able to pour a lot of myself into my work over this period, but the perpetual work just keeps me busy enough to not be consumed by external dysfunction. I’m not surprised that people feel don’t have the energy for creativity or planning or production, especially when their consciousness is consumed by constant grief, and there aren’t many, if any, social avenues to mend our qualms.

People are dying every day. Whether it’s policing, COVID-related, or whatever else, there’s a weight on all of us. We all deal with grief differently. And when it comes as an onslaught, it becomes difficult to fully process grief and consume ourselves in our craft. 

We’ve had to burn buildings to demand to be treated with humanity — and even then, people lost their lives while trying to affirm lives. This system doesn’t deserve us. This system doesn’t value our lives. So for anyone who’s doing nothing and feeling bad about it, please don’t. You’re actually resisting. We don’t need to be defining our personal fulfillment by the paradigms of a system intent on destroying us. 

Those who don’t have the energy to pursue their goals at the moment shouldn’t feel bad about themselves. The first goal is to look after yourself. 

quick takes

Forgoing the lengthy takes this week. Nothing urgent to say that’s not obvious. RIP Deon Kay. They protested in DC at the precinct right by where I used to live. NBA players should’ve been more organized, but we shouldn’t have assumed that their strike was for more than that day.

bars of the moment

“Azealia is developed into a spectacle only to be engaged with when controversy surrounds her. Her foul-mouthed comments are treated as entertainment, but then she is shamed for providing that very thing. Once she has offered us all laughs and amusement for the timeline, she is treated disposably. It points to a wider pattern of social media discourse where we continuously interact and engage with celebrities when disapproval or impropriety surrounds them.”

Melissa Kasule in We can hold Azealia Banks accountable and still acknowledge the dangerous repercussions of misogynoir piece

“Some of the US holidays I mentioned earlier are rooted in racism and slavery. Yet, Black history is shortened to a month even though it’s the foundation we stand on today.”

Caleb Caitlin in Celebrating Black Icons Past February piece 

“In the echo of isolation, I’m writing letters to my friends, confessing how I’m not sure I’ve ever been attracted to anyone — not anyone real, not when the idea of them is what I want to be close to, what I want to touch. When you make a person unreal, are they still alive?”

Akwaeke Emezi in Intimacy In Isolation piece

“this is not “2020”; what is happening isn’t reducible to a bad year. this is Black life in an antiBlack world. the more we surrender to that truth the clearer we get about what liberation will take, what rest will cost: everything”

@Jatella 

“as a lifelong Very Big Sports Fan, my relationship with sports -- especially as I've gotten older -- is that they simply function as entertainment. If they achieve something else from time to time within that function, that is good. But I had to stop seeing that as a requirement.”

@NifMuhammad 

artifact

Since so much of the recent discourse has been about athletes and social justice, here’s a clip of Bill Russell talking about his contribution to the movement, including standing with Muhammad Ali when he refused to go to Vietnam.

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