Collage by Alexis Hicks
Often when September rolls around, I find myself thinking of Earth, Wind and Fire’s ode to the 21st day of the month. Truth be told, I don’t know most of the words to the song, so I can’t tell you what it’s about besides something special about September 21. I know it sounds celebratory, though, and that’s nice.
September 2021 has barely begun and there’s not a lot of reason to hoot and holler. Sometimes, we have to look at sobering realities and not turn away: Things are dire. And even more regretful than the most recent turn of events—the very real and apparent effects of climate change, the rolling back of women’s and pregnant people’s rights in Texas, debates about masks and vaccinations turned unnecessarily political—is the way so many people are responding to these events.
For example, when the Supreme Court decided it was fine to expect pregnant people to make parenting decisions—to terminate a pregnancy or not—in six weeks (when it’s completely plausible for someone not to know they’re pregnant until weeks beyond that), chatter online very quickly about rescuing the women and children from Texas began. When Mississippi residents were threatened with a 16-week abortion ban, however, I didn’t see much about rescuing Mississippians. They scoffed at us and all but said if we stayed, we deserved the treatment we received.
Similar things seem to be transpiring with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. The folks in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have been chastised for staying. There’s been little conversation in mainstream media about the fact that New Orleans, in particular, is expected to be without power for up to three weeks. There’s mention of the monopoly Entergy Louisiana has, and how that has impacted the city, but as for the people—the ones who refused or couldn’t leave—they got what they got. In New York City and parts of New Jersey, however, there’s been a lot more fanfare and reporting about the flash flooding. The fact that some people get the country’s empathy and others its ire and ridicule says more about race, class, and power of propaganda than a lot of people want to admit.
This month you’ll find pieces on the blog that take us back to school: reflections on lessons learned and lessons we’re ready to teach. After this past month, one lesson is clear: It’s all bad. All of it. This country is what it is and always has been: a house of horrors unless you’ve been given a pass from the tormentors of the rest of us. And we, the resilient ones who can still conjure earth, wind and fire to stand, keep creating ways and reasons to enjoy life, since we’re here. I’m glad you’re still here.