The Idea of an Essay, Volume 4

56 The Idea of an Essay: Volume 4 Moved to Mourning Miranda Dyson My hand reached for the remote to turn the channel. “Another shooting, how depressing,” I thought. Not long after I removed CNN from my sight, I removed mourning for a killed man from my agenda. My kneejerk response to the killings of African American citizens, such as the victims of the shooting in Charleston, has been to cover or ignore the wound of racial tension in our society. I was often able to justify pushing this uncomfortable topic out of sight. This desire to put aside mourning and ignore the struggles black communities endure is one that poet and Professor Claudia Rankine addresses in her article: “The Condition of Black Life is one of Mourning” in the New York Times Magazine. Overall, I didn’t feel like I could relate to most of what she depicted as a “black life”; however, I gained insight into how some African Americans view life, and I was saddened to read of the despair they feel, yet I now better understand and appreciate the Black Lives Matter movement. Rankine, a poet and professor at Pomona College, wrote her article shortly after the shooting in Charleston. Rankine writes about how African Americans have a constant feeling of being stuck—trapped—in their own country. She talks about the fear and mourning that black citizens constantly experience that white Americans cannot totally empathize with. Furthermore, Rankine states that America has become saturated in anti-black racism and views the death of black Americans as common. She states that Americans can be in the midst of death yet choose ignorance over recognition. She reviews the history of several black deaths in America, such as the death of Emmitt Till, and points out that including mourning in everyday life can leave a lasting positive impression on society as it sees truth. Rankine states that the Black Lives Matter movement agrees with this logic and is therefore devoted to keeping the mourning of African Americans on the forefront of our minds. In closing she states, “A sustained state of national mourning for black lives is called for…” In addition, she says