Time for the individual


“Her going did not so much make me lonely as make me realise how lonely we were.”

‘Jimmy’, James Baldwin on the passing of Lorraine Hansberry


It’s been extra hard to distil my thoughts in chaos. I’ve joked that there are so many things I feel angry about – I’m not sure which to pick? Where to begin my focus.

My folks feel relegated. As do all vulnerable people. We’ve created a world were materialism is seen as the only possible economy. As people queue up once more to buy items they’ve not needed for months. The pollution levels in order to make these coveted status symbols have returned to normal too. Surely there is a better wheel for money to turn? Jobs created in environmental care.

You see small wins. A new awareness. A fashion change, almost. And then you see a viral video of a woman threatening to teach her grandchildren to hate your skin.

And you wonder if anyone has even touched the surface of the generational patterns on both sides of an increasingly separate chessboard? You feel a new sadness to grow in the old.

And still, I keep it together. Have pride because my own tribe care. I’ve realised in the recent months that I truly am surrounded by decent people. Of course, there are others who stand out strikingly. Both in their silence and their selected likes. It’s not possible to just like a part fo me. You’re either fully on board with every moment of sacrifice I’ve made for true change. To continue this thankless journey or you’re not.

And I know all too well what ‘Jimmy’ meant when he wrote of the loneliness losing his true friend and champion.

Maybe this is why change takes so long. We simply haven’t found each other? I wonder how many others sit in longing reading biographies of dead pioneers to feel as if they’ve died all over again? Leaving such loss in the world. But you know each one who has passed has inspired another.

This is why the time we find for the young, the next generation, is so vital. Naturally, this knowledge has given me yet another reason to admire Gwendolyn Brooks. And now I have a new work to search out – the poems she self-published with school students. To give them voice in despair.

No matter how big we become – I hear over and over we need to find the time for the individual. No matter how long the day. How big the success. The movement. Those snapshots of moments with the next are all that really matter. Where the change sprouts.

Naoisé 23rd June 2020