In the spirit of community & collective healing, I offer this as an act of love. Though I am challenged by our current circumstance, I believe compassion, self-care, and revolutionary Being keeps our hearts and minds clear enough to see our ways back to love…and sanity. Love isn’t always easy, nor comfortable; but, it is always brave. Love sees all…without exception. This is my Blog-March…
Chiron’s Secret: Our Healing
By CMo ❤
“You don’t even know!”
Frustrated, Chiron, practically, spat those words, as he dissociated from the stressful moment; comforting himself in a realm where voices of expectation became meaningless, muffled, unintelligible, sub-noise.
Most of us can relate to this sort of disconnect from what seems like senseless imposition on our psyches, typically by forces beyond control.
Recent days seem filled with little attacks to our sensibilities, where our only defense is to tune out, turn away, deny their existence, distort our realities, or outright pretend it doesn’t matter. Practically, at every turn, we feel socially impotent, politically powerless, and existentially irrelevant.
Moonlight (the 2017 Oscar Movie of the Year) expresses this experience with penetrative realism, placing in our faces an undeniable truth. Do we recognize the truth? Do we even know?
In Moonlight, Black boys look blue.
This is a beautiful image to some, but to others, it is a frightening proposition. Black boys are monstrosities to be reckoned with, broken down, dealt with; or we are Gods of power, physical prowess, and sexual appetite. Either way, we aren’t people; but, rather, fetishes & boogey-men. Moonlight reveals black boys to be people. Vulnerable human beings, subject to social pressures, trauma, and loss, as much as any other human being.
We are becoming conditioned to black male bodies being shot down in the streets by fearful police officers whose very condition of fear is justification for their violence against black bodies, to the point of barely noticing any more, and certainly at our wits end about what to do about it. Governmental support of police fear, to the point of excusing what would be considered excessive violence in white communities, is blatant and public now. Funds are raised, and legislation enacted, to make it a punishable act to “cause” police to use violence against black bodies. We are, essentially, criminalizing black bodies for causing police to experience “fear”. What they fear is an image they’ve created in their minds, before they even encounter the people they harm.
We are asked to accept daily scandal from a White House occupant whose divisive campaign antics have become the incompetent musings of a modern day Nero threatening to burn democratic rule to the ground. Witnessing the dismantlement of sound government rule as it devolves into amateurish recklessness, potentially treasonous acts, constitutional encroachment, and political spin that insults the intelligence of school yard children, is its own apocalyptic reality television show…in real time.
These pressures are difficult to manage. Faced with witnessing the deconstruction of our society, via television, social, and print media, few realize the dark depths of our confusion, denial, and depression, come as a consequence of being forced to endure the victimization of others. We imagine that it only happens to other folk, THOSE FOLK, until it happens to us. We pretend that it CANNOT happen to us, because we are DIFFERENT. Our lives are different. WE are GOOD people. THEY are not. THEY got what they deserved.
But, what if it did happen to us? What could we do? What would we do?
We don’t even know.
Meanwhile, the patriarchal institution of “Manhood” dictates that we be at the ready to defend ourselves against the potentially inevitable attack by “The Other”. Surely, THEY are hell-bent on ensuring social, economic, and political privilege, based on skin color, gender, and religion, rather than the American ideal of merit; or reckless chaos and anarchy, based on the lack of control of the savage minded thugs that populate urban landscapes.
Gun ownership is at an all-time high, as American fear metastasizes into a not-so-subtle rage, barely contained by seemingly civilized people. We harden our hearts against one another, justifying our posturing as necessary, in the hope that no one will recognize our fear. Our guns, verbal violence, rants against “political correctness”, make us “feel” like we are in control…until, one of our own is under attack and there is nothing we can do about it…because we didn’t DO anything when it was someone else’s family.
Moonlight is an amazing movie. Many disagree, but, knowing anything about film, one cannot disregard the innovative approach to storytelling Barry Jenkins employed. His techniques played on our consciousness, immersing us into living the experience of an otherwise unimportant black child who would be relegated to stereotype in any other movie experience.
Although Chiron, the central character, is having a very specific experience, we relate, beyond race and nationality, to that experience. We imagine it is because it is somehow universal, and, in many ways, it should be. Particularly, in light of its similarity to our collective American circumstance.
I argue that it isn’t the universality of Chiron’s experience that is relatable, but, rather, the fact that we are placed in the driver’s seat of Chiron’s experience, much as if we were playing a first shooter video game. Barry Jenkins calls this “Immersive Cinema”. Immersive Cinema/Theatre shares some things with “Game Theory”.
Similar to a first shooter video game character, we relate to Chiron, because we project our personal responses as reaction to what Chiron experiences. We don’t get much reaction from Chiron, his voice is absent in most scenes, as black boys voices often are. But, we do get to occupy his body, much like the white folk of Jordan Peeles “Get Out”, as these pressures are imposed on Chiron. This is why we are in the moment when the pressure is released in the chair scene. We “feel” the moment, even as we “feel” the unfairness of the consequence, and the frustration of a practical alternative to the effect.
We are living in Chiron’s predicament. What is happening to us? Why is it happening to us? What do we do?
Where is our voice? For that matter, who are we?
Moonlights truth is that we are all Chiron. No matter our primary identifications, tribes, political or religious beliefs, the specificity of our experience is easily relatable if one would take a moment to “see” through our eyes. If this were possible, we’d all experience the pressures of “the other”…the rejected, the shunned, the outcast, the misfit, the stereotyped…regardless of race, culture, or sexual identity.
When one of us is robbed of our humanity, and only seen as stereotype, we are all robbed. Our society is designed to prey upon the poor, so the powerful can prosper. When the divide between the two grows too expansive for the hopeful to bridge, somehow, society breaks down. A world without hope soon becomes a world without peace.
Pressure is mounting in America, in ways we have never seen. We are divided in ways we have never been. Racial, political, and economic inequity is a pervasive and chronic American pathology. Bullying forces, conditionings, and pressures conspire to make us feel weak, disempowered, and ineffective. We find ourselves inclined to do nothing, rather than risk the wrath of the status quo, the so-called powerful, and the rejection of those who claim to love us; but we are called to show up. Called to define ourselves, rather than allow ourselves to be defined by the external influences, impositions, and demands of society to conform to values that work against our own interests.
America is Chiron. Our healing is in our willingness to own the truth of our humanity, our vulnerability, and our need for one another; to speak it without hesitation. Without it, we are hardened by fear into petrified caricatures, somehow hoping we will find salvation without having to stand up for it. Loving ourselves means acting against the pressures that would have us cower, hide, and silence who we are.
It is our birthright to be who we are; to thrive as the people who love; to acknowledge the honesty and strength of our vulnerability; to be experienced as human beings, rather than numerical stats, the downtrodden, and/or faceless bodies to bury.
We know this.
We know our voices make a difference…even when those voices are but a whisper carried to places the so-called powerful cannot go. History will bear this truth.
We have a right to be…to define ourselves…to contribute… to be heard, honestly, without fear of bullies, hegemonies, or Governmental exclusion.
We may be Little…but, we are not alone. We are ALL Chiron.