At a dock we are surrounded by encrusting organisms that are constantly siphoning, nibbling, lapping, and even spitting the captive waters around us. At night you can hear the crackling life below the water line. Its creepy but also beautiful, and I am happy to be reminded that there are some humble creatures whose activities aggregate in a soft hum of cleansing and mitigation. The offal of the beautiful city of Charleston, the runoff, waste and byproducts of this glitzy and complicated town, find their way through the gills and cells of my slimy friends here. Bon appetite, y’all.
So, we left, broke a sail, went back, dropped my phone in the water, our chart plotter tablet failed, and a squall blew away a sleeping cushion (*shakes fist at Neptune). Now, as we limp north, dodging the warm thunderstorms of the season, our drive to New England and beyond looks more like a pick and roll up the coast.
We are back to a life beyond our control – the deciding factors for each day’s movements are wind, weather, and tide. It feels a bit awkward but I find it is better to relax and try less hard to let go, if you can imagine that.
Today’s wind, weather, and tide allowed for a few hour of walking in Charleston, SC. We walked across town to our favorite library on a course that brought us to the steps of Emanuel AME Church, where – exactly one year ago – nine black churchgoers (Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Rev. Sharonda Singleton, and Myra Thompson) were murdered during bible study by a young white supremacist who’s name I shall not speak. Suddenly we were in the midst of ceremonies, prayers, remembering, security perimeter, parishioners purposefully setting up chairs, and the Red Cross passing out water.
I was in coastal GA when this happened. I felt isolated with my own feelings of outrage and fear. Outrage because the capacity for hate in the human heart is an absolute monster. Fear because, as I came to realize, the fear of losing access to what privilege I have in a segregated society, could hamstring how vocal I was in my writing and day-to-day interactions. I prayed for opportunities to be placed in my path to promote unity and kindness (and they were) but I did not charge off the path one bit. As one who considers herself a lover of all flora and fauna, and a believer that we are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness, I knew I could do better.
The vantage from our boat reveals much in terms of the historic orientation of land uses such as ports, quarantines and naval defenses, and often presents a modern day of stark contrasts. For example, Sullivan’s Island flanks the spacious harbor of Charleston to the north. Today you see its beachfront lined with opulent homes and kids out parasailing as you enter. Historically, it was was the point of entry for about 40% of the enslaved Africans who survived the Middle Passage and arrived in North America. In 2008, when the Toni Morrison Society finally established a bench as a monument, the only monument, to this fact, Ms. Morrison sat on the bench and said, “It’s never too late to honor the dead. It’s never too late to applaud the living who do them honor.” The honor I can do is to use every tool I have to promote unity and kindness, at home and in the street. I say this here to hold myself accountable.
I have been reading Octavia Butler’s Patternist series, wherein characters can draw down on the collective power of a “pattern” of brethren and use it to perform various tasks of protection, war, and healing. Doing so without great skill can cause damage to those in the pattern, but some are able to find a balance, and thereby do great work. Is this all coming together, dear reader?
In conclusion, and perhaps TL;DR, white folks need to talk about racism with other white folks. We all either have it, or have access to it, and so we can choose to help dismantle it. Choosing to let hate grow where we see it expressed is cosigning it. I believe that with love, there is enough pie for everyone.
One standard scoop of GA coastal waters: