Toni Morrison once wrote, “there were no marigolds in the spring of 1941” (The Bluest Eye, 1). Her object in that book was the failure of community; its specific iteration was in blackness, but her call was for us to take stock. Her purpose perhaps, was to map for us all the ways in which our heads incline toward looking away rather than looking at.
In the wake of November’s 2016 election, we paid dearly for our looking away, for our surrender to appeasing nomenclatures for quotidian problems. Winter barely touched us, her repudiation complete and frostless. Spring came to us, but briefly and with it apocalyptic flooding – rising waters all around. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Maybe history will remember this April as indeed one of the cruelest months in our nation’s democracy.
On January 20th, we inaugurated a president with clear ties to white supremacy and whose campaign, much like that of other international candidates in this fiscal year’s cycle of presidential elections, trafficked in anti-Muslim, -immigrant, and –Black, feeling, thought and action – while utilizing all of the tools of rape culture to pull public sentiment in his direction. This new now is our woke moment.
Whatever the arc of history might unfold, we are learning old lessons again. Our youth are on fire. Sometimes I am not sure we will survive this. Something old is alive again, and it cuts in both directions, producing a holding pattern. Not the one of friendly skies and amber waves, but the one that marks the bee’s or hummingbird’s path along the arc of sweetness. In these hard times, made harder still, we are finding one another in the sweet spot and willing ourselves to stay there.
The essays in this long overdue issue move in both directions – taking stock of previous pathways, learning new lessons, opening up avenues for envisioning and visualizing new communities. While it seems that what’s left of our threadbare and tattered democracy has been thrown in the air like multi-colored confetti at a celebration, we take solace in small acts of intellectual courage.
On a personal note, I too found sweetness in the midst of winter’s retreat, as I lost my mother, Carolyn M. Crowder, nee Carolyn Patricia Martin. North Carolina born and Tar Heel made – she was a tireless advocate for my education; she will be missed and mourned by us in that sweet spot of holding pattern – in the now of what we choose to call home.
Sharon P. Holland