Bare Naked

The 20s are all about the truth. What is the truth? Does it even exist? Who gets to determine what it is, when it is given, and who gets to give and receive it? So many questions about this ambiguous thing, but one with the utmost importance. The truth has an uncanny way of always coming out, whether people are ready or not for it's ramifications. The truth has so much power. Not only can it set people free but it keep them chained just as easily. Is the whole truth ever able to be known or disseminated? Is truth just relative or are there irrefutable absolute truths? The truth is fraught with ambivalence. This is my truth - bare naked.
Lies and truths are presented as if they are opposing declarations, but I have to understand them as nothing more than subtle tweaks that separate two sides of the same damn coin. As a kid I was socialized, like I assume most of you were, that telling the truth was always the right thing to do. Then I became a teenager and understood that sometimes it was okay to lie. You lie to protect people from getting hurt, or because not everything is for everyone to know. Then I started college and I ended up lying because it was easier to tell the truth. The truth was too real. What stands out to me about lying constantly in college about how I felt, what I was thinking, how much I was impacted, and if I was happy was that I knew the truth. That led me to the question, does the truth entail more than one person knowing it for it to become real? Does truth have to be conveyed, shared, or experienced for it to have power? My conclusion was that personal truths are the most powerful of all. The truth and lies are interchangeable. There is not a significant difference. They serve the same purpose, they give people information - whether they like it or not is up to them. And that's bare naked.

There are two truths that I have not given up on - that change is inevitable, and that love is the most powerful force in existence. Things always change, that is the nature of this universe, this world, this life. Nothing stays the same. Whether it's for better or worse depends on who's asking. And then there is love - a thoroughly visceral feeling where you care deeply about a person to the point where them ceasing to exist would mean the exact same about you. I used to think love meant passion, warmth, and joy but I have to understand it to mean more. It can also mean obsession, abhorrence, and destruction. Either way you to take it, or some combination of both, it means a whole hell of a lot to say I love you. You expose your bare naked soul whenever you say it.
Rainbow of naked juices♡
In my life this week there have been so many questions of truth, lies, and everything in between. I made my way back to campus early Tuesday morning for a marathon day of travelling from Ohio to Vermont, going straight to a meeting, and classes. I was thoroughly exhausted but mustered enough energy to hit Panera with my good friend Sam. We just sat and talked. It's always easy with her, just talking, ya know? We got real and shared our thoughts on all this injustice, protests, and continued denial of race and racism in our society. It was so damn refreshing to actually voice my frustrations. Hours went by and we parted ways but not before a truth bomb of bare naked proportions had me careening with shock, understanding, then anger. I still don't know why I was so infuriated afterwards, but I have a good idea. I know the truth as to what made me feel that way but I'm not ready to speak it out bare naked.

Spending a whole day anticipating whether or not you'll be getting naked to run around with your peers at the stroke of midnight may quite possibly the weirdest thing about my college experience. I spent Wednesday in my final day of classes, making finals care packages for others, and hanging out with my buddy Kyle. I passed through a review session and a RallyTHON meeting (click on the link to donate money to support me in my 12-hour dance marathon efforts benefiting the University of Vermont Children's Hospital). Night fell (way back at 4:30PM but let me personify time in peace) and as always the air felt electric. It was like the moments before lightning strikes and you can just feel it coming. All of a sudden I'm dressed in nothing more than black boxer-briefs, white suspenders, a plaid bowtie, and mock white hipster glasses running in the freezing cold with Sam. The infamous Naked Bike Ride was well underway. Two laps was all I could muster. I was cold as hell (oxymoron) and winded like none other. I should probably go to the gym (for the first time ever). A sea of bare asses, floppy private parts, and scraggly patches of body hair spread out around me. It was crazy as always. Most people were heavily intoxicated, reeked of alcohol, and lost inhibitions. Others stood around the edges taking selfies (super creepy), cheering people on, and holding piles of shed clothing. Flashing lights, security detail, and emergency vehicles made their presence known. There were a few tough tumbles, some muddy asses, and many a sloppy co-ed. 30 minutes elapsed and soon crowds of bare bodies dispersed. Bare naked was taken to a whole new level.
My bare naked truth is almost too much write, to share, to make public. On Wednesday night the #CrimingWhileWhite hashtag exploded on twitter. It was white people confessing how they had benefitted from discrimination, white privilege, and shedding light on the two very different America's people live in. I was moved to tears because this allyship, whether intentional and sincere by all, was a necessary first step. Next day was a reading day and a tumultuous one because I was struggling to study. School seems to trivial when I keep seeing what society thinks of me okay out in the killings (yes killings is the right word here) of young black men (aka me). I have bigger things on my mind then some petty exam. My humanity is on trial. My value in this country is up for debate. My right to live is being challenged. I'm scared. I'm terrified. I'm fearful.

 
You know what scares me most? My "friends" (their whiteness is implied because they just get to be the norm) remaining deathly silent (emphasis on the deathly). I remember posting about this "racial barrier" that often (not always) exists between white people and people color where both keep the other at an arm's length away, physically and emotionally.  If you can't acknowledge my racial identity, as in part of me, I  cannot be friends with you. I refuse to keep making excuses for my white friends. Oh they're busy, have other things to think about, or can't get what is going on. That's grade-A prime bullshit. I'm you "friend" but where are you in this chaotic time of need? I need you to see me - all of me. I don't care anymore if talking about race and racism makes you uncomfortable, it makes uncomfortable to have to deal with it. I'm beyond done pardoning your inactivity, your silence is a condoning of the oppression whether you intend it to be or not. I'm over the weak cop out of not knowing "what to say" or "if it's my place to speak." The entire world listens to you and it's never stopped you before, so go ahead and do what you do best - speak. Say something. Say anything. You don't have to post a status or a tweet, in fact all you need to do is talk to me. Send me a text message, inbox me, write me a note - whatever you want. This conversation (whatever this is) just needs to happen. We have to sit in it, and process it together. That's me and you.
At least if you expose yourself as an ally I can work with that but even if you reveal your allegiance to useless rhetoric that feignly conceals racist ideals and attitudes then I can let you go. I need to know because the silence is killing me (that is me and everyone who looks like me, literally and figuratively). What are you afraid of? Me? If so, then say it. Are you scared of alienating other white people? Is that a bad thing; shouldn't I be worth it? People who exclude you because you've chosen to rise above unearned power and privilege are not worth your time anyway. You know nothing? A simple Google search (police brutality, dehumanization of black youth, institutionalized racism etc.) will solve that. People constantly share their thoughts on things they know little to nothing about. What is this about? Whether you think people of color but specifically black people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (*hint there's a rhetorical answer of yes). So tell me that. Tell me you like me. Tell me you love me. Tell me that I'm your friend. Tell me that I matter to you. Bare your naked truth. Set awkwardness aside, forget the barriers, and hug me like you damn well mean it - ear to ear, cheek to cheek, body to body. That's my bare naked truth - take it or leave it. 
My blog post question for the day is ... what are the demographics of your close friends? I've got a broad spectrum, and that I am always thankful for. 

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