I have always loved Minneapolis, my past home of twenty five years. Suddenly, I found myself approaching a journey that would teach me home, for me, is defined by having connection with people who deeply care about a common cause. Having community to be actively involved in is not only important but transcends geography. As I watched a revolution sprouting in Minneapolis and spreading like wildfire around the world, I knew I was being called to committing to long term action. So it was inevitavble my current and past homes would intersect. Having gone on my tiny home journey I’ve learned the things that make a place home for me are having my dog with me, having outlets for creativity nearby, such as painting, writing, music, photography, and being able to have meaningful connection with people who care about me. With the pandemic I have learned to get creative via zoom, messenger, and facetime to accomplish this. It’s important to have a tiny space I can rerrange and call my own, like my patio garden at my river spot.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give a huge shout out to Unicorn Riot, an independent news media source that I had not heard of before, and have grown to highly respect for renewing my faith in quality news reporting. They were the only news media reporting on and showing the third precinct in my old neighborhood being lit up on fire and sparking hope in a new kind of world. Their bold raw coverage of history in the making at a time where major news outlets could not find entry was powerful. I knew it was no accident I stumbled upon this. I was being drawn to get involved in the beginnings of a movement. Having lived in Minneapolis for over twenty five years I knew first hand that this precinct lived up to its reputation as being a precinct where cops who are known for doing the unspeakable get transfered to. This was a precinct that I myself have so many stories, none being positive. The news on my screen was personal.
I have to be honest, when it comes to the idea of traveling across country to a location to be boots on the ground fighting the good fight, I had had a romantic notion that when I lived in a trailer and was free of job, it would be easy to travel to areas of the country, and help in organizing efforts or political campaigns. I imagined setting up my trailer and being able to really help, kind of like Mother Jones… my home would be where my boots were. Yah that’s part of the problem…. with everything, I tend to look at and embrace the romantic view of life. Maybe it’s the creative in me. You see, for Mother Jones, home really was where her boots were. There was no travel trailer involved. I realized my lifestyle did allow me the freedom to go get involved, but bringing the trailer with would be unrealistic. For one, it takes time and money to get across country, and with the violence breaking out it was just not safe to drive, none the less drive with a trailer. So instead I chose to downsize yet, one more time, hop a plane with a few items in a back pack, of course some art supplies ordered to meet me at my destination, and my snuggle pup Dudley in my arms.
When it comes to race and my trailer life, no different than life anywhere else for most of my black, brown and indigenous brothers and sisters, there are places I have traveled where I have felt quite unwelcome, invisible, and alone to say the least. People ask if I ever get lonesome traveling by myself. The answer is yes, both the fact that I am alone and I don’t see a lot of other solo Black women traveling takes a toll on my spirit. Thank goodness, my internet groups for Black folks living the RV life are one place I can see myself. The fact that I’m a Black female, viewed as everything from unwelcomed while Black to not Black enough, also creates issues where I travel and drains me of some life years. Because trailer life allows me the freedom to up and travel and be around whoever I want to be around makes up for that invisibleness I often experience, and possibly also fuled my desire to risk the COVID virus and go help out with a 400 year old virus called institutional racism. Plus I knew I’d have the added comfort of reconnecting with friendly folks who love me as I am.
When I arrived in Minneapolis I crash landed in the hospitality of a friends’ basement, which truly was a God Shot. Renee and Jim and their little boy Andrew have become family, supporting my efforts around the cities. There home with it’s beautiful wild prarie back yard was a great source of meditation, rest and rebuilding after each days protests and marches. It didn’t take long to figure out multiple ways I might get out on the frontlines and help.
I don’t even know how to explain what it felt like to deal with the fear of a real threat that racist hateful folks who lived near my parking location would trash my trailer and belongings if they witnessed where I had traveled to and what I was involving myself in. To be honest, I thought of my little silver home often and wished I could have brought her with me . But that was just not possible this time. Luckily, things have been uneventful back home. Wherever I travel Renee and her family have an open invite to come travel and explore with me. As some folks know, there is room in the trailer for guests. Because of them, I was able to dive fully into action around the Twin Cities in deep, meaningful, ways that were all a part of the long game, not just some fleeting instagram moment. For that I am forever grateful.
On the news it all looks like the events in Minneapolis all happened in one location. When you get here and drive about, you see the entire length of Lake Street, or Broadway Avenue, or one of the St. Paul Streets competely boarded up. The scenes, looking like a war zone, were from all over both cities, some as close as the end of the block by my old house. It was clear that our issues are inescapable. Nobody will be able to go unscathed by the events. We are all called to step up and be a part of the change in our institutions. There is no way folks can stay silent, play Minnesota nice or any other type of nice, and not be a part of the solution. We are all called to be a part of the solution, take long term action, and choose the right side of history.
Like a fire in the desert, incredible beauty springs up from ashes which gives me hope that some true beauty is being born in 2020, some real change might just happen. I look forward to being a part of building that something new together. I commit to the long haul of honoring the voices of my sisters and brothers who lost loved ones to the hands of police violence. Together we will make sure the embers of what has been started will not die until real change happens. Of course my familiar world in the fields of education, union work and community organizing burn inside of me calling me to action. However, like every instituton Arts Organizations and Artists are not exempt from taking a look at themselves and checking their institutionalized racism. I see myself continuing the work there to help more Black artists, including myself go from invisible to visible and thriving.
Although I am “back home” I also I look forward to when I can get back to my trailer and establish my next home on the road where I will continue the work. For now, I feel hope in the conversations I hear around me. The fact that folks are talking about everyone’s role in the dismantling of racism is a hopeful start.. Marching in protest with mothers who were Black, Indigineous, and People of Color and having the White women and men stand aside and cheer us from the sidelines letting us lead in finding our answers and creating something new was an empowering experience. Watching friends who didn’t get it, go educate themselves felt affirming. Seeing my old students as young adults in the movement gave me joy. Being at the actual site where it all started and witnessing a community of grief was unexplainable, something no tv news will ever capture.
It has also been an honor to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Helping out the McKinley Center, on the North side, as they became a location for supplies and resources for many community members who have lost jobs and struggle with the effects COVID has had on them financially, and seeing all of the good they do first hand really touched my heart. I have met more beautiful people and had the honor of helping out as well as helping others help out through donations as this center grows into being bigger and better each day.
Markella Smith, who on top of being a community activist also happens to be a sister artist https://www.etsy.com/shop/AdornByKella and Shemeka Bogan a friend from way back who works on the local poitical scene and does a lot of community organizer, have worked hard connecting to the local and larger community making this location a successful resource for so many in the community. If you’d like to help support the efforts here in Minneapolis McKinley’s Northside Strong is one worthy organization that will be fighting the good fight long after the cameras are gone. To donate go to: https://www.northsidestrong.com/?fbclid=IwAR2Z_z3ZUtZHMNTAiULTXP1bwmSqj-vGH0Zq69VkX_q4_Al6pqdF8CLAuK8
I may just stay for a month. I may stay longer. I don’t know. But I do know I am honored to have support of all of you to be here and get active in the long game of making change.
As for home and downsizing… well… it has taught me I have gotten as small as I ever want to. I can do just fine on next to nothing. To feel like I’m home, I do need creativity and beauty and purpose around me. I can’t imagine being without my dog. And I absolutely need to have those who love me and I love nearby. As for romantic love and Airstream life in a pandemic and a revolution, well…. I’m not sure if that will weather the storms. But I have no regrets. Every experience in life is our story, makes us better if we let it and gives us the gift of life intersections with others who have amazing stories too. Its these life intersections that forever change us and add beauty and love to our own stories. I thank all of you have been in my life somewhere along the journey for that. After all, what is the point, if not to love life in community! And what is the point of having a revolution to make the world a better place if one isn’t going to enjoy the results with the ones you love.
Thanks again for following, commenting, sharing my blog! And supporting me as a writer an activist and artist. Love you guys!