Holden Voices: Blog

Poems, stories, and reflections, written by faculty, staff, and volunteers currently serving in the Village.

RACHAEL MEADORS: "I can’t breathe… please stop.”

May 30, 2020 at 12:00 PM


Day 76

I’ve been thinking for two days about what to write in this column. I was originally going to write a funny article about the demise of my fashion sense when I joined ops. But then George Floyd died of asphyxiation with a knee on his throat saying “I can’t breathe”, crying out for his mother. And you know what? I didn’t really feel like writing anything light after that. I then thought about leaving a list of names here, a smattering of people who also deserve to be mourned. I wanted you all to carry the heaviness I’ve been feeling, because I’m tired of feeling it alone. I started making a list, but that didn’t feel right. I thought maybe I should reflect to you all about the fear and sadness in my heart. About how I worry for my Dad, and my brother, and my cousins, and all those “aunties” and “uncles” that get absorbed into black families. I worry all the time. But, then that wasn’t right either. I’m not trying to grovel in order for anyone to care.

So, today I did what anyone who is avoiding their responsibilities would do: I burned stuff in a trashcan. I spent all day in front of a trash fire and thought about Minneapolis. About teargas, burning buildings, rubber bullets, and all the messiness of grief. Between burns I went to get coffee and snacks and failed at staying away from social media. I read about small business owners whose establishments had suffered damage and they said, “Our buildings can be repaired, but lost life cannot. We support those protesting.” And I saw a friend from college offering to deliver supplies from those in need. I saw white friends showing up to protests. I saw resources, educational materials, and a list of phone numbers to call. I had a message from a classmate offering support and a Venmo drop from another classmate, because sometimes when things are terrible the most helpful thing to do is fund someone’s coffee or ice cream. I saw posts from people whose eyes are beginning to open, and who are willing to learn.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still sad, and numb, and angry. And I don’t think this suffering has meaning. Yet, this is what community is. Everything I saw today made me remember what community is. It’s mutual aid, and care, and checking in. And it is part of what I look forward to being part of (in person) when I leave Holden.

How I view community has been shaped by activism and organizing and that is what helped call me to Holden. Being here has equipped me with resilience, compassion, and practice. And now in the in-between, I feel myself being sent. I’m still becoming readied to head out there, and it’s a beautiful world I’m being sent to. Despite it all.

No justice, no peace.

Rachael Meadors is Education & Program Associate and Garbologist at Holden Village. This column was originally published on May 30, 2020 in a daily newsletter, "The Quarantine Quarter," which is compiled by various staff members and sent to all Villagers.