Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I am angry

I read this post about the death of Loretta Saunders long ago, but it has stuck with me.  The blogger's main question is "Why aren't you angry?" about Loretta Saudners's death, and the death of so many Indigenous women. I can't stop thinking about it because I don't like my answer.

I am angry.

I'm angry about Loretta Saunders, and the thousands of Indigenous women who are missing or dead, and the fact that nobody seems to care.

I'm angry about Jordan Davis, and Trayvon Martin, and Jonathan Ferrell, and Renisha McBride, and the lack of justice in our justice system.

I'm angry about Syria, and Palestine. I'm angry about the Central African Republic and Nigeria. I'm angry about the Ukraine and southern Europe. I'm angry about Venezuela and Mexico.

I'm angry about poverty, racism, and sexism. I'm angry about little girls who are shot because they want to go to school, and little boys who are conscripted into armies, and children who go to sleep hungry in the world's richest nation.

I'm angry about history denied, and history reclaimed. I'm angry about school systems that funnel children into prisons instead of colleges, about police who prey instead of protect, about laws that protect the strong at the expense of the weak.

I'm angry because the world is full of pain I can't cure and sorrows I can't comfort. I'm angry because my anger does no good, fills no earthly purpose, serves only as a reminder that we have not yet reached God's kingdom.

I can offer only awareness, no action. Because my anger is stretched too thin. Because I have chosen to triage tragedy, to feel less about one and more about another. To focus my efforts, to admit - and here's the part I really don't like - that while I'm angry, I'm just not angry enough. Not enough to act.

My anger doesn't matter. It's a pale reflection of the anger that must be felt by those whose mothers, daughters, and sisters are murdered with impunity. And anger, like talk, is cheap. The real question isn't "Why aren't you angry?" but "Why haven't you chosen to act?"

We each choose our battles. As a middle-class, abled, White woman, I have the Privilege of choosing my causes without having a persona stake in the question. I can walk away from violence against Indigenous women, when so many of the young women I teach - beautiful, inspiring young women - cannot walk away from their own vulnerability. But none of us can act on all fronts at all time.

That makes me angry, too.

And I have no answers. I'm only too aware that bundling all social justice issues under one overarching umbrella only leaves some causes behind as less discussed, less visible.

But I've been thinking a lot about the limits of anger.


  1. I just read this and admit I feel helpless. Have you really chosen not to act? I don't think so. Is it possible you are doing all you can? If you were even angrier, what would you do? --M

  2. I think helplessness is the problem. How do we keep awareness without feeling that there's no hope?

    But, the issue of "doing all you can" is so difficult. I feel like I could always do more, if I had focused on activism instead of prepping a new class, or doing laundry, or playing Farmville. But of course, that argument can go on to absurd lengths. I mean, how much more productive would I be if I only had two kids, or one, or none? But that way lies madness!

    This post definitely falls under "rants". It's frustrating to know I can't change everything I want to change, and I'm not very good at accepting that! I think that's an occupational hazard.