i wrote the following last year as a blog post. i then edited it a bit and performed it at the oneness project. this april, i read part of it at the AWP conference in LA. 

this morning i thought of it as the woman next to me played candy crush and i impatiently waited to refresh my twitter feed. so i thought i'd share it again. 

i wish i didn't feel the need to keep sharing it.


That night, I stayed awake refreshing twitter and reading articles about the shooting in Charleston.

No new information was really coming in at 2am, but I kept refreshing anyway.

I do that when things like the shooting in Charleston happen.

I refresh and refresh my newsfeeds, my email.

I could say that I refresh anytime a major event happens, and I would be telling the truth, but I’ve noticed as of late that I refresh more when it is an event that has to do with race.

When it has to do with race, I refresh and I search hashtags.

Sometimes this feels good; I feel as though I am not alone in my anger, my despair, my frustration. I retweet and favorite and refresh. Again and again.

Sometimes I make the mistake of reading others’ responses. I read the tweets by those that downplay the event, call us names, mention wanting to kill us once and for long.

When I refresh those, I don’t feel as good.

But I refresh anyway.

Again and again.

Maybe I refresh because that morning I talked with both of my parents and we didn’t talk about it, the shooting. They have seen violence happen in other churches in their lifetimes. Maybe they didn’t open up because it felt reminiscent of the past or maybe they were tired or maybe they internalized it as I do. Maybe it was on their minds all day, but they couldn’t find the words. Maybe they sat up at 2am and watched the news like I did. Maybe they went to bed shaking their heads.

I was thinking about it, the shooting, as I went to therapy, but realized I didn’t want to talk about it with my therapist. I realized that maybe having a black therapist would have changed that feeling. Maybe it wouldn’t have. I don’t know.

The day before, I refreshed and watched videos of black kids at pools being manhandled by police. I remembered the picture of acid being thrown into the pool back in the 1960s. I thought about how my dad doesn’t know how to swim, but had a pool at his house when I was growing up. I think about how privileged I was to be able to go to my dad’s house over the summer and swim in a pool where I would not be hauled out by police.

So I refreshed. retweeted. Read.

I thought of how at age 14, I walked around my boarding school town and was called a nigger. and I thought about how I was called it again when I came to my reunion 14 years later.

I refreshed.

I thought about those who have said, “you are not really black,” because of my personality, my appearance, my way of speaking…I thought about one kid who had to apologize to me after he told black kids in the class that all the black people were going to fall off the earth…I thought about the first time I realized in an audition that I wouldn’t be considered for all the roles because of my skin color…I thought about the times in Germany when I was asked for my passport and no one else was…I thought and I think

and I refreshed and I refresh

I think about how grateful I am to still be here.

I refresh and I refresh

I think of my grandparents who have seen much more of this than I have

I refresh and I refresh

I think of the children I want to have and I wonder about the world they will live in

I refresh and I refresh

I think of how I went to the doctor and she said I was stressed. that I wasn’t sleeping right or eating right or exercising enough. She told me not to drink as much. She told me not to read in bed. She told me to go to bed, to sleep.

I think of how hard it is to do that when you are refreshing and refreshing, when you are reading and rereading, when you are taking it all in, when you are feeling it hit you in your gut, your heart, when you want to stay online to stay connected to those who may understand what you are feeling, who may get the thoughts you are having, who may be living this in a much more personal, emotional, detrimental way.

I refresh and I refresh

I continue to read.

I refresh and I refresh

I continue to think

I refresh and I refresh

I continue to write

I refresh and I refresh

I write and I write