Right before the not guilty verdict was released in the Trayvon Martin case, I was staring at a laundry basket filled with dirty clothes.
Instinctively, I wanted to separate the coloreds from the whites. Somebody, a long time ago, told me I shouldn’t mix them together. Is that such a bad thing; or, am I over-analyzing?
Should I mix the coloreds with the whites and challenge age-old conditioning which makes me believe it’s not proper, in my best interest or, for that matter, an effective way to wash clothes?
Sometimes I find myself in a battle
Experiences always seem dependent on memory
Time on breathing and color on bleeding…
1.) I’m almost positive clothes don’t have feelings, although this can never be proven since the proof is based on one dimension of feeling, and simply speaking, we are not clothes.
2.) I wondered if black on black crime was worse that white on black crime.
3.) How would the water feel if I added detergent?
Well, I realized a few things. One, if I washed the coloreds with the whites, I could get all of my clothes washed and dried faster than if I washed them separately. Two, I would save water, detergent and dryer sheets. Three, I am privileged to have a washing machine.
My glance traveled upward. I read the label on a box of detergent that said, “New and Improved: protects colors from fading.” I wanted to challenge the notion. I decided to test the revolution, maybe even add to the machine an innocent boy walking home and being murdered because of racial profiling.
Two hours later, I got a drawer full of pink socks. I’m pretty sure my clothes got clean, so I guess it wasn’t all in vain. It’s happened before, I believe his name was Emmet Till. So perhaps immunity is a biologically manipulated reality? There’s something both liberating and disturbing in finding out that my white socks turned pink and that a jury of all women could possibly place themselves in a dead black boy’s sneakers.
For a few moments, I pushed blame from the washing machine to the detergent to the clothes. The washing machine was the institutionalized racism, the detergent was justice, and the clothes were our prejudices.
So whose fault was it that I couldn’t wash all the clothes together at the same time—or was that notion actually a lie? Was it a law of nature, or, could we create a washing machine that adjusted so it could wash everything together at once? Or, maybe it was all in our minds and pink socks were actually a good thing?
What if all our race problems would disappear if everybody would just be content with wearing pink socks?
Are you confused? Well, don’t worry; I am too.
Sometimes I think confusion is a good thing.
Out of my confusion, I dreamed up some more options, which might help address both the problem and the question.
What do we do?
Do we break the washing machine (and hope it’s still under warranty)?
Not use detergent (in order to spare the water’s feelings)?
Not wash the clothes (to keep the dirt happy)?
Or, wash each article of clothing separately (so each piece knows it is special and deserves personal attention and care)?
Staring into the fabric of eternity…the material the dye is placed on—which after the colors fade—is all that remains. That’s what I wanted to look at, even if only for a second. If I could just have that perspective, then maybe everything would become clear.
The fabric of time minus sound
The fabric of time minus color
The fabric of the ocean minus the waves…
That’s right, it’s possible, the fabric is both black and white.
And the white people derived from those with black skin, and the black people derived from those with white skin. And before all of that maybe we all started off in a shade of pink!
In which case, if we all wore pink socks then racism would no longer exist—something for the detergent to ponder and the washing machine to dream.
Photo: Anna Carol
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Ed: B. Bemel
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