Nina Robinson: Tell me just how you’re feeling about the unrest here, now, and the unrest globally. And how are you internally dealing with that?
Irna Landrum: I didn’t expect to get emotional when you asked that (question) because I’ve been saying these words a lot lately. Honestly, when you say that word “unrest,” I’m thinking about rest. Because from May 25. Yep, from May 25 up until maybe two nights ago, I haven’t been resting, just because our nervous systems are so activated. My partner and I have been sleeping on couches in the living room so we could always see what was going on outside.
Our block got together and decided ways that we would watch out for each other and have each other’s backs and some of that was just keeping watch.
This unrest has catalyzed a lot of movement and conversations that have been happening for well over a decade, for decades, about the need to disband the police, about the need to nourish people together in community. These are all things that organizers and activists and community elders have been talking about for a long time. So this feels like a ripe moment. But I think we’d really be missing a huge opportunity if we only acted in a moment.
In this moment, I feel really motivated to think about — long term. Right now, there’s a ton of activism energy. There’s a ton of people using abolition language, who to this point (have) not been able to imagine a world without police. There’s a ton of people putting their dollars where their mouth is and being willing to donate to Black folks on the ground, to mutual aid efforts, to getting food out to people. It just feels all like there’s this burst of energy.
But when I look down on Lake Street, I see an entire transit dependent community that no longer has functioning grocery stores, and that’s going to be that way for a while and so I think about how we’re going to sustain this. How this is a long race. This isn’t a sprint, we’re in a marathon right now. And so I’m excited because what we have is an opportunity to really rebuild how we think about community safety.
We’re often on the forefront of these huge change moments. I feel really proud of everybody, but I also feel really deeply sad that these moments are always on our backs and in our blood and based on our pain — and that I’m committed to being in this through all of the healing that’s coming, all the healing work that needs to be tended to after this.
Sometimes people are always talking about the resilience of Black people in ways that actually sometimes feel abusive to me, you know, we hurt — we hurt, we cry, we mourn and all of those things. And so I just, I’m really proud of this moment and I also hope my people, after the unrest, take some rest.”
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