On July 6th, Philando Castile was murdered in front of his partner and her daughter by a police officer. I did not find out about it till the next morning, fresh off grief from another barrage of hashtags about Alton Sterling killed July 5th, also by police officers. Most Black people on the morning of July 7th opened up social media on our various devices and were forcefully reminded that we were not allowed humanity as the autoplay function on multiple sites showed us a man dying in front of his family. The video containing his dying breaths and went viral. One more name was added to the #BlackLivesMatter always active hashtag.
I wish so desperately that I could say that it was unbelievable. I wish so desperately that I could have managed surprise. I wish I could even be shocked. But that is the way of things now, that state sanctioned Black death in the United States goes unchecked and is very literally, an everyday occurrence – and the rest of the world is so inured that the consumption of the visual spectacle of our dying is greedily consumed by eyes that pass us over while we still live.
What was unbelievable to me, what was shocking and surprising was the many requests among healers in my social media network asking each other to stay positive, to believe in light, to send love to the state sanctioned killers and pray over their spirits. That those of us with healing practices should stay focused on the good and avoid the negativity of politicizing our practice.
What the actual fuck?
I could ask you to show me where in space and time it is written that there is love, light, and goodness in the murder of a man in front of his family, but I won’t. I could ask you to show me where in the stars is the hope when Black trans women are killed for daring to live. I could ask you to show me where on the dirt we walk on is the reason for Black femmes and mothers heartbreak and dying. I’ll say this instead.
Your silence is complicit in my murder.
That you remain silent while claiming the identity of healer in any form only makes it worse. That I am asked as a healer to remain silent about my pain is unacceptable and is killing me.
When you ask someone to look away from the darkness they feel without acknowledging it you are responsible for taking their power. When healers with marginalized identities are asked to focus on light when their hearts are breaking you are sucking up the air around them and ensuring that it is always hard to breathe.
My love and light is precious and powerful. Today and everyday I choose to reserve my magic for those who want me to live. I am also angry.
My spiritual elders have always taught me that to be a master healer is to have the capacity for both the light and the shadow. A crone’s wisdom comes not from her living a life of ease and positivity, but the hard knowledge and intimate experience of the dark and the understanding of how to wield it. The smirk in the medicine woman’s smile is the knowledge that the division of medicine and poison is arbitrary and often entirely up to her. As a healer with marginalized identities I claim that I am due more than just sadness; I tire of it. I am due the full breadth of my anger and rage.
So where does a healer’s anger go in these moments?
Kept for yourself. If all you can do is rage. If you are beyond love and light and reaching out. If as an empath you walk past Black mothers today and silently hold some of their pain as they check out in front of you. If all you have the capacity to do is be angry and take labored breaths thick with rage. That is valid.
Shared with others. If all you could do today was speak your rage, the words from your lips caustic with hurt and fear. I only pray that you are safe as can be and that you receive care and witness today. Call and response is of the oldest magic.
On the streets. I am thankful for the healer with burning cleansing herbs at the riot. I am grateful for you who walks in the outskirts with your rolling cooler of milk for pepper-sprayed eyes. I lift you up for sitting on the side-walk offering water and rest during the march. I am holding my breath for you healer, who walks at the front of the crowd shouting out your protest chant filled with words of power.
To the universe. I remember being so overwhelmed about the Orlando shootings that all I could do was ritual through the brokenness. Today I am too angry for a love ritual and that is valid. I honor ancestors who worked the root against their slavers. I honor witches who cast hexes against rapists. I honor las mujeres burning chiles in front of state buildings demanding their voices be heard and their land be given back. I honor medicine women who today found solace in black candles and thorn magic. I honor you and pray that you are safe.
Our love and light is necessary and enough, and so is our anger.