Hartwick College's Student Newspaper

The View From Oyaron Hill

Editor's Letters

Taking Care

Posted on November 16, 2016 at 11:10 PM

Joanne Georges, Hilltops Editor-in-Chief

Sometimes slow and steady is YOUR best way to win.

A few weeks after Mike Brown, the 18-year-old African American boy who was shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson Missouri, I wrote a series of articles about the implications, patterns, and statues of police brutality against minorities, women, and communities at large. Each article was a minimum of four pages and at max six pages, despite our usual articles reaching two and a half pages. I interviewed individuals on campus from students to campus safety, I spoke with advisors, students, and a professor about the series and how I could best approach the topic, and I organized research, going as far as signing up for a desktop app that would organize and catalogue all the articles and pdfs I studied. I wanted to try and get a better idea and picture of the whole story. I wanted to understand the story, try to figure out why the trend of police brutality and deaths in the women, minority, and LGBT communities were so public and on the rise.

I never found an answer I could comprehend.

I gave so much energy into the project, because ultimately I was livid about the whole situation. I was scared (I still am) for my family, friends, and myself. I used that anger and that fear to fall into research and studies and opinions and facts, for hours at a time. So, engrossed in a session, I would walk away from my computer with a headache and a tightness in my throat. One night while looking through protest articles, I came across a video of a Ferguson protest. As I watched people run away from tear gas, or put milk in their eyes to ebb the burn, or show the camera their scars and bruises from rubber bullets, I started sobbing. Gross hiccupping snot filled sobbing. I tried to gather myself and move on.

It didn’t work.

Later in the week, I had a conversation with my roommate. I ended up diatribing to her about all the research and the feelings I had about the shooting and Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. I spoke at her, and I raved and waved my arms around, lecturing about the darkness that the situation was putting people through. It was probably the last time I vocally spoke about BLM, because half way through I started crying again.

It was exhausting.

Since, I have the habit of keeping quite a lot inside, and I’m still a MAJOR practitioner of “sucking it up”, I never gave myself the opportunity to decompress. I often would go through research and writing alone. I would shoulder it all and I ended up burning myself out. I couldn’t and sometimes still can’t think, read, or stomach anything to do with police arrests or the BLM movement.

It’s a shame, because I want to make things better and I want to be bring about and be a part of change, but as liberal and prissy as it sounds, I feel too much. I get overwhelmed and I end up doing more damage to myself than good to the cause.

The movement, in any community, can’t work with burned out activists. It doesn’t function on overactive minds, nauseated stomachs, or over emotional/violent outbreaks. It works on organization, timeliness, and support.

That last one isn’t meant as support for just others, but also support for yourself. You can go to someone for help, for simplicity, for joy. You don’t have to hold yourself and everyone else up too.

So, as you figure out what you want to change, support, or protest, take into consideration your own stamina. Because there’s nothing wrong with being the writer instead of the marcher, there’s nothing wrong with being the artist instead of the debater, being the observant instead of the fighter.

In some cases, that certainly comes off as privilege; you can’t be a part of the hunger strike while chomping down a sandwich. But by the time you’ve taken care of your body, conserved your strength, and planned your next move, you will help an absolute asset for when you do join the strike.

Be careful out there, take care of each other, and yourselves.

Categories: Joanne Georges '15-'17

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