I’ve been consuming a lot lately. Well, maybe not food, like I probably should be – I’m doing a surprising number of miles for living out of a Subaru, and I’ve likely spent the last week sore as a result of not eating enough. I’m not good with food. But I have a really hard time keeping myself from gorging on social media, mainly to keep up with people I care about, but also to indulge in that singular masochism that is reading the news.
And there has been so much news of late. Too much news to really recount.
I almost want to argue that the abundance of newsworthy stories is by design, but I think that might be giving this administration too much credit. This presidency has been about as much of a shitshow as was initially suspected, stymied only by more of a resistance on the part of the federal government than was initially expected. Though the courts’ resistance to the “travel ban” and the majority in Congress throwing on the brakes in an effort to get reelected and Messieur Le Comey handing Congress proof of obstruction of justice are all relatively heartening, it’s what’s happening on an interpersonal level that’s keeping me awake at night. Stabbing1 after stabbing, shooting after shooting, and the justification is enough to make your heart hurt.
Re-listening to More Perfect, I’ve become more convinced of how deeply flawed our justice system really is – from initial encounters with law enforcement to access to lawyers to jury selection in trial cases to sentencing. It’s hard to read, much less see a way out of it, but I can’t turn away – it would do those suffering a disservice to turn away.
So I witness read about it, and try to see a way out of it, but honestly, I don’t know how much a person like me can do. By “like me”, of course, I mean TBI – Tall, Black, and Intimidating. I’m imposing enough, but with an afro that’s reaching pretty excellent heights, I’ve actually had white men, on more than one occasion in the last two weeks, physically flinch away from me – even though all I’ve done is say hello in a friendly tone. I talk to and even come get my friends when it’s necessary, because we all have to hold each other accountable, but what would my opinion mean to those men? Probably less than their opinions mean to me2. This is a fight for the people closest to them, the people with which they already have relationships, the people with whom they have social status to gain and lose. Aside from staying informed, writing and calling my representatives, and educating others, I don’t know that I can do much, certainly not from the road.
On the morning that the president announced he was pulling the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, I got a frustrated message from a friend, wondering if my day job really mattered. I had no answer for her then – I sidestepped, wrapped up in my own feelings about the occasion – but I think I have an answer for her now. Of course it matters, and for a couple of reasons:
If I can get a single person to shift the way they’ve been enjoying the outdoors in ways that extend the longevity of the places we have, I’m doing something. I might not be able to stop the dumping of coal debris into water sources, or the defunding of the agency responsible for our clean air and water standards, or the currently-irrevocable changes that the change in climate is going to wreak on the planet, but at least our public spaces will be pleasant until they aren’t.
Plus, having been in a number of towns where the number of black and brown people can be counted on two/one/no hands,
If I can get a single person to shift the way they’ve been viewing black and brown folk by being a friendly-yet-assertive brown woman who’s outside being passionate about the environment and about getting outdoors for many of the same reasons they do, I’m also doing something. I might not be able to stop white supremacists from running for office in 2018 or police officers from treating counterprotestors like criminals or the president from frequently lauding a genocidal maniac 3, at least our public spaces will have one more brown girl in them, saying with her TBI presence and her words, that the outdoors is for everyone, and that no one should be made to feel unwelcome here.
It’s not much, but it’s something.
I’m trying to find other ways to get involved, be engaged, consume the media I need to consume to stay in the know without falling prey to that secondary, old-timey definition of consumption – a disease that kills. All the reading without writing has been killing me from the inside, so I’ll be chiming in occasionally about current events and intersectionality as they relate to my time living outdoors.
It won’t be much, but it’s something.
 For more happy happy fun time, I invite you to read all about Oregon and Portland’s history of white supremacy. For something actually heartening, I invite you to read about the statement released by the survivor of the Portland attack.
 Not that I care what they as individuals think, but rather the proof that there exists a subset of the population that believes that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I, as a TBI woman, mean them ill. Their presumption could put me in harm’s way, and has put others in harm’s way, so I don’t take it lightly.