I had a bout of insomnia last night. And so it was in the middle of the night that I finished reading Yaa Gyasi’s heartbreakingly beautiful book, Homegoing. It must have been three in the morning, tears streaming down my face as my aching soul connected to the plight the ancestors, and to their benevolence.
The book is a must read. It is a masterful story of lineage, of the enslaved and the colonized, of generations, and time, and the space of an open sea.
Darren Wilson is the police officer who was acquitted after murdering Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. I’m still haunted by what he said in a New Yorker interview:
I am really simple in the way that I look at life… What happened to my great-grandfather is not happening to me. I can’t base my actions off what happened to him… We can’t fix in thirty minutes what happened thirty years ago… We have to fix what’s happening now. That’s my job as a police officer. I’m not going to delve into people’s life-long history and figure out why they’re feeling a certain way, in a certain moment… I’m not a psychologist.
But you are an armed man bestowed with the power of the state. And what happened thirty years ago is still here, with us, today. What happened sixty years ago and a hundred years ago and two-hundred years ago. It is all here. It is in our makeup, it is what shapes our bodies, and our polity.
Gyasi has done a better job than anyone else I have read in bringing us to touch with that reality, with the fact that we are born of generations. We did not just puff up into space out of nowhere.
“So impossibly large, that it was easy to forget that she, and he, and everyone else, existed in it - not apart from it, but inside of it.”
And it is here that we must remember that:
“Because somebody sees or hears or feels something other folks can’t, doesn’t mean they’re crazy. My grandma used to say ‘a blind man don’t call us crazy for seeing’”
Read the book. It will help you come home.