“Did You Know That All Of You Are Related To the World?”
Li’l genealogist has done the research
It’s funny how Kina has independently landed on the truth we tend to forget about each other—the kind of revelation that used to be reserved for astronauts, in a moment called the “overview effect”. Taking the big view of our little Earth, from space, has the effect of collapsing our existence into a tiny, fragile space, in which national and social boundaries no longer make sense. Extreme childhood must feel similar, without the instant of radical realization; countries mean nothing, skin color means nothing, language means nothing. We’re all just here.
I wish it were that easy, and that we didn’t live in a society stratified by fear and insecurity. It shouldn’t be the case that we’re living through a news cycle centered around four Black and brown people—one of them just a child—either assaulted or killed by white police officers. George Floyd, Caron Nazario, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo. The list of Black men killed and assaulted by police across the country has grown long enough for us to find strange connections among them. George Floyd’s girlfriend was Daunte Wright’s teacher. Eric Garner was Caron Nazario’s uncle. They are and were related to each other, as family and community.
At some distance of countless generations, all these people are actually related, not just to each other, but to me, and to the officers who brutalized them. That distance tells us a story, though, in race and privilege and the circumstances of our ancestral arrival in this country. We think these branches make us different, and Whiteness stacks that difference up against us, stranding us. None of us is from here. Nobody’s really at home.
But Kina reminds me that we are all related to the world, perched under a thin veil of atmosphere on a wet ball spinning through space, each a tiny dot, apart together. We come from the same place, all from the same lineage. At that distance, it seems absurd that we have fallen into the kind of delusion that tells us there’s a difference among us that matters, such that we accept that one kind of us may punch, or choke, or kneel upon, or shoot another kind of us, and that the only way we can respond is to teach our children to tread lightly and keep their heads down.
If you step back, way back, and look at all of this, there’s nothing to see. It’s just a lineage, just a planet. A miracle. But as you get closer, you see the wrinkles, and how those wrinkles have been exploited. We have betrayed the miracle, and it’s troubling to watch, not just for loss of the miracle, but for the enormous loss of life. We do not have to accept what we have become, is what I want to read into what Kina told me this morning. We just have to decide to do otherwise.