Saturday, September 22, 2012

I've been thinking about the word "angry."

Synonyms "mad," "upset," "pissed the fuck off." I've been thinking about these words as parts of my personal political vocabulary. I've been thinking about them in relationship to how everything prominent members of the Republican party say makes me feel. I've been thinking about them in relationship to the tears that fell from my eyes on the Red Line Wednesday while I read the introduction to Professor Perry's Sister Citizen, reliving the disgust and bitterness at the total lack of regard for poor Black American lives in the days before and after Hurricane Katrina. I've been thinking about them in relationship to how I felt about myself when I got an email last night from commemorating the one-year anniversary of Troy Davis's death and I momentarily could not remember who Troy Davis was.

I don't think angry fits. I don't find mad to be an appropriate expression of what I feel about these things. Upset is too paltry a word to encompass what I mean. Pissed off does too much work separating the meaning from the message.

I'm not angry. I'm outraged.

Let us presume for a moment that the opposite of outrage must be in-rage. In-rage is seething, festering, the-world-doesn't-give-a-fuck-about-me-so-I-don't-give-a-fuck-about-the-world rage. In-rage is starting to believe the lies the world tells you about yourself. In-rage is internalized racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, fatphobia, ad infinitum. In-rage is fighting to fight instead of fighting the good fight. In-rage is the self-esteem issues of a whole people. In-rage is living in the now because you have no reason to believe in next year, or 25, or 40, as a reality which you will attain. In-rage can be bloody and violent. It can be quiet and cold. It can be fast, a million things all at once that don't make sense together or apart. It can tear a person, a people, asunder. 

I refuse to be overtaken by in-rage. I refuse to soak up all of the world's bullshit like a sponge and just carry it around, being heavy for the sake of being heavy. I deserve to be full of better things than these. So, I will exist in the world. And existing in this world means yeah, racism and sexism and classism and heteronormativity and you're-not-like-me-so-you're-wrong-ism will be flung at me from every imaginable angle, sopping wet and eager to soak me. I am porous, so not only will I be coated and covered by these things, but I will take them in. I have no choice. But when it becomes too much, when I am oversaturated by everything wrong with the world, I can make a beautiful choice. I can wring myself dry. Expel these things from the depths of me, wholly and irrevocably changed. I will expose them for what they are, spread their innards across these pages so that I can know my own. This wringing is outrage. It can be violent. It can be loud. It can come off as harsh or even militant. Those who don't know might even call it angry.     

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