I hear screaming coming from outside of my office. At first, I think it’s coming from the bar across the street. Something about this yelling is oddly familiar, though–the cadence or perhaps the tone, can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s acting like a siren’s call. Part of me knows it’s safer to stay inside and another part of me is being drawn outside towards the parking garage. This black woman is hollering so furiously.
“Fuck you, you stuuuupid fucker,” and, “You are a fuck face of an asshole mother fucker.”
Her voice grows louder as she escalates and despite my intention to watch from afar, her rage pulls me towards her.
“Don’t you ever put your goddamn hands on my shopping cart ever again,” and, “Damn if I’m not going to kill you when I find your fuckered two-face bitch-ass.” Spittle flies as she curses.
Not far off, I see a white man cowering behind a large pillar holding his small dog in his arms. He appears to be waiting the scene out.
I am of two minds, worried now that she used the phrase ‘kill you’ that the police will get involved and also feeling my own fury toward this cowering white man.
What are you so angry about? I think of asking this woman but instead, I turn the question onto myself. What are you so angry about?
Bags of cotton carried on black haunches and hips, bent backs forced to toil in the southern sun, the site of auction blocks covered by water fountains, shackles, and whippings, shitting on one another in the bowels of the ship, the door of no return.
Tumbling through a portal of transhistorical rage.
Treat us like cargo, brand our bodies, disembowel us of organs and fetuses and then have the nerve to cower like a small boy who wet his pants when we show our rage.
Without those iron chains, we could have eaten you alive. One fleshy morsel at a time. You, who have committed the most heinous crimes against humanity the world over, have the nerve to act surprised when we show our rage. You should wonder how it is that we don’t allow our rage to consume us. It doesn’t just naturally dissipate because it was over 150 years ago when your ancestor raped my ancestor. I’m fucking pissed that I am the descendant of a slave master raping his enslaved. I’m fucking pissed that I have to worry that this woman who is expressing a justifiable rage might have the police called on her. I am pissed that I may never have the opportunity to express my personal rage so fully.
Stealing an unhoused person’s shopping cart can be the thread that unravels it all. Even if you are not technically stealing—just relocating it for your personal ease and convenience.
She and I connect our eyes and before I have a chance to figure out what to do next, through the sound/taste of her rage, I am transported back in time.
Collapsed, with hands and knees on the ground, she screams through clenched teeth into the space around her, at the earth, at no one in particular and at everything simultaneously. Vocal cords quivering with the force of the air coming from her lungs. First there’s a guttural sound then a higher wailing, – He toooook my baby, he tooooook my baby, he tooooook my baby – over and over and over again. Spit and venom slip through her teeth and mix with the tears of despair which I can now taste in my own mouth. A bolt of lightning like the lash of the whip stings my back. I stiffen and stand rigidly to stop myself from heaving forwards.
I take in a slow deep breath.
How did we withstand hearing one another spit out pieces of our crushed hearts?
“Sister, sister are you hungry? I have some food,” I say over top of her persistent loud cursing. She quiets, looks straight through me and we recognize each other.
“No, I’m alright,” she says in a perfectly normal voice, turns and walks away “but thank you,” she says over her shoulder. She pushes her shopping cart down the mostly empty sidewalk. Quiet now, the only sound are the wheels skipping over small cracks in the sidewalk.