Nightmares in the Daylight

Sydney M. Jones | July 13, 2020

I love the feeling of floating as I day dream. I often forget about reality, time feels non-existent, and the pace of my breath has slowed to the speed of a tortoise’s steps. I sometimes sit with my eyes gazing at nothing in particular, usually catching the glimpse of dust particles in the sun rays that peek through the blinds. This dream state is a luxury of mine. It’s the short lived yet unmissable opportunity I get to escape the nightmares I face when my conscious flickers on, and my quite analytical brain and emotive personality process the world that hates who I am. The world that hates who we are.

In my city there is divide. Division based on race, ethnicity, income, and prestige, and whatever you are that is not white, wealthy, or America’s definition of ‘winning at life’ is placed in a box on the curb of negligence and discrimination. In my country there is divide. Division based on race, ethnicity, income, and prestige, and whatever is not white, wealthy, or America’s definition of ‘winning at life’ is placed in a box marked ‘other’.

I suppose my city is a reflection–rather the offspring, or the microcosm of my country as a whole. I know that there are many groups that are placed in these boxes: LGBTQIA+, Native American/Alaskan Indian, Disabled Persons, Immigrants, Latinx, Non-Christian Identifying Persons, Asians, the list may continue for ages, but I can only speak for my community, the Black Community.

There was never a place for us; We have been ‘other’ from the moment our feet touched this country’s soil without choice. It was work the soil , or become one with it, as your body lay lifeless, in memory of you as the object of labor, the commodity you had become. Hundreds of years later, it is still work the soil, and the factory, and the McDonald’s, and the bus, or become one with it as your body lay lifeless, face on the pavement, while Servant and Protector grin as your pulse vacates to a trip of no return. It is now in memory of you as a hashtag, or the last words you begged and pleaded to your life’s reaper. Here, if

you’re a Black body you’re a nobody. Here, I have nightmares in the daylight about Brothers and Sisters I share no Mother with, being murdered by police, being raped because ‘we ask for it’, being starved by food apartheid, being haunted because of trauma, being homeless by disasters and no financial means to recover. Here, I have nightmares of being Black, and attacked for being just that–being who we are, without choice.

But the choices we’ve made I am so proud of. We choose joy and are resilient, despite the harm that occurred and harms that may come. We choose life and create opportunity for ourSelves and our families so we can not only survive, but thrive here, where institutions and structures and forces compete to keep us drowning in doubt.

Retreat from doubt, as did Rosa Parks when she believed she belonged in spaces people told her she didn’t. Retreat from doubt as did Malcolm X when he believed his voice could make a difference. Retreat from doubt as did Shirley Sherrod as she believed in her right to challenge the racial discrimination of farm loans by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retreat from doubt as did I in writing to you, knowing that I can change the world with my empathy and my voice. Retreat from doubt to end the nightmares we face, wide awake– living in a world that hates who we are. Retreat from doubt and recognize that we are victors, not victims, and we have the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Inspired by and in loving memory of George Floyd.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sydney Jones is a 22 year old poet and recent graduate from the University at Buffalo where she attained a BS in Public Health and minored in Spanish. Currently, she is working as a summer intern at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, where she creates project initiatives and events, and encourages a campus culture that promotes inclusivity. Passionate about developing people to their fullest potential, her work focuses on holistic and mental health and diet to reverse chronic disease, creating equity in the food system, and advocating for race-based, social, economic, and political injustices.

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