As part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, our Curriculum & Creativity Coordinator created and performed a piece sharing her thoughts. Well received by many, Lori has been invited to perform this piece at various venues across DC and the country.
* Some language in the piece below may be offensive to young readers.
By: Lori Pitts
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Have you ever killed a bug? Take a moment to visualize one time that you did. Why did you do it? Because it was about to eat your food? It could bite or sting you. It might come in your house. It just looks gross. I once killed a roly-poly simply because it was big and it scared me.
We’re a very fear-based society. We do a lot of things “just in case” to arm ourselves against potential harm. For example, I prepared two monologues for tonight just in case you don’t like this one. Because if you don’t like it, then you might not like me. And if you don’t like me, then I might not have any more friends. So we prepare.
Just in case.
I once overheard this conversation between a little boy and his mom. They were headed to the car in front of their house. The boy said, “Coooooool, Mom! Look at all these ants!” You could see the excitement on his face…and the fear and disgust on his mom’s. “Squish them before they make it to the house,” she said. The boy protested, “Nooo! They’re just outside.” To which the mom’s response was, “You never know. Just in case.” And there it is again.
Just. In. Case.
This is something we do in our society. It permeates every inch, every decision, every belief we follow. Just in case. We prepare for things that may never happen. We arm ourselves against the unknown.
Let’s say that ants stands for All Negro Teens. So squishing ants, killing black teens, must have some “just in case” reason. Why else would it happen? Kill the A.N.T.s in case they invade our homes—kill them just in case they came from robbing a convenience store. Kill the A.N.T.s in case they bite—kill them because they might be carrying guns. Kill the A.N.T.s because they have too many legs—kill them because they look different from us. Kill the A.N.T.s because they are scary—kill them because they scare me…
Just in case.
But ants are known for their strength. Their teamwork. If you kick an ant pile, ants don’t give up. They start rebuilding immediately. Together.
If there were more movies like A Bugs Life that introduced ants as lovable creatures, I wonder, would there be less fear? If the only two animated Disney films about black people portrayed the characters as people rather than animals, I wonder, would we be less other and less scary?
People try to silence us because of our size and strength. They pile on the shit thinking we’ll be buried. But ants can carry 50 times their own weight. We will throw off their chokeholds and bullets. We will carry the weight of racism and unjust punishments until we have enough ants to throw it off our backs. Far away from here. Far away from our rolling hills and purple mountain majesties.
A.N.T.s are strong. A.N.T.s do matter. Black lives matter.