• Libbie

The Language of the Unheard

I have been thinking a lot lately about paradoxes and false dichotomies. I'm sure we all have, though maybe you don't use those same words in your thoughts. Maybe you're more feeling right now than thinking, and that's okay.


In truth, I think all the time about paradox. Over the past few years, paradox has come to hold a near-sacred place in my worldview, an almost mystical significance. The fact that paradoxes exist and are all around us is a realization I come to a dozen times a day at least, and always, it strikes me with wonder and awe.


I am an animist, which means... well... a lot of things I won't go into here. If you've read my novel One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow, you've caught a hint of my spirituality and my animist beliefs, the central role the concept of spirit and aliveness has in my life. Blackbird is, for me, about animism and therefore it's about paradox, the existence of two truths simultaneously in the same space. (For you, the book can be about whatever you want it to be about. I don't insist that readers find the same meaning in my work that I put into it. A book is really about whatever the reader finds inside of it. And that's another paradox, right there.)


I am thinking about the paradox of violence and non-violence. How both and either and neither can be appropriate responses to oppression. Violence and non-violence are tools that we must wield differently at different times. And sometimes they must exist together in the same space in order to make one another real.


No one knew that better than Dr. Martin Luther King. I am going to redirect you now to an article about King, violence, and nonviolence, written by a great American poet, Hanif Abdurraquib, a Black man who knows how to speak to this moment better than anyone like me ever can.


I found Mr. Abdurraquib's writing on King and his relationship to violence and non-violence thought-provoking and feeling-provoking. I hope you'll take the time to read it, too (and Abdurraquib's other works) and allow your mind and your heart to weigh and consider all these things right now, when we as a society are questioning together what place and utility violence and non-violence may have.


By the end of his life, Martin Luther King realized the validity of violence by Hanif Abdurraquib.




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