brandon kyle goodman
photo: Drew Blackwell

Essay: Brandon Kyle Goodman on Black Lives Matter

Drew Blackwell

Surrounded by almost 100,000 LA residents chanting “Black Lives Matter” before dropping to one knee on Hollywood Boulevard, I was filled with enormous hope and debilitating sadness. They say about movements like this, “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” I don’t even think it’s a “marathon.” Marathons usually last for a day. What we’re embarking on is the overturning of society. One that requires breaking down a system— a system that currently governs our understanding of existence—and building a new one that truly liberates, nurtures, and supports all people. And then continually improving upon that rebuild.

As I sit here writing this, I have to be extremely honest – I’m tired. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I feel as though an entire lifetime was crammed into these past few weeks. Between a pandemic, headlines of innocent Black people murdered, protest rallies, marches, a full-time job, and a new social media following desperate for any possible guidance in this turbulent global awakening– I am exhausted. My heart is heavy. I woke up this morning feeling as though I were submerged in an ocean. Heavy. Vast. Trapped.

brandon kyle goodman

The global conversation about Black lives is both important and centuries overdue. But to have that conversation and engage with it so that it affects long-lasting change requires unpacking trauma. It requires examining pain. It requires vulnerability.

The nature of my presence in this movement has been rooted in what I call an “Emotional Lane of Activism.” An audience has gravitated to the revealing and processing of my trauma. An audience has latched on to my translating and articulating Whiteness. But today, as another hour passes and I find myself still frozen on the couch in a cloud of anguish, it dawned on me – even with the many conversations I’ve had and viral views I’ve amassed, it’s only been two weeks. But this work—this toppling of a system and fight for equality – will be for the rest of my life.

Am I ready to strap in for that?

A very different question than, “Am I ready for change?”

Of course, I’m ready for change. I’m ready for Black folx to not be murdered in the street. I’m ready for Black folx to have equity in our country. I’m ready for Black folx to be revered for the blood sacrificed, the free labor, and the artistry created that secures America’s throne as the “most powerful nation.”

But do I want to have the necessary conversations and inevitable arguments? Do I want to continually charge City Hall? Do I want to confront the White people gripping onto their last shred of power using homicide as their tactical strategy? Hell no.

I will do it. Obviously. But no. I want to be free NOW. I want to live fully NOW. I want the freedom to live fully NOW. I want to be on the other side of this fight so badly that I’m momentarily incapacitated. I’ve become overwhelmed by the road ahead.

brandon kyle goodman

Am I the only one? I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

I was surrounded by almost one hundred thousand LA residents chanting “Black Lives Matter” before dropping to one knee on Hollywood Blvd. I was filled with enormous hope and debilitating sadness. But I wasn’t alone. I’m not alone.

And I think that’s what refuels me. Knowing that I’m not the only one having these thoughts. These frustrations. These fits of quiet rage. Knowing that all of us who are Black are navigating this, and some days we will be better at it than others. Our ancestors were resilient. They persevered. If they could, we can.

But part of this lifetime of work that we are committing to also requires us to accept grace. I’m working on giving myself grace and permission to sometimes retreat from it all. To immerse myself in reruns of Living Single and glasses of rosé (from Black-owned wineries of course). Knowing that my community is still fighting and that my temporary escape allows me to fight stronger. Fiercer. Better. That my escape allows me to return and rise again with my community against the injustices we have faced far too long. Rest. Not stopping. Not quitting. But rest. Rest is important inside all of this. There’s a reason we are a community. There’s a reason we’re not fighting this alone. When one of us rests, the others still fight.

So, Black folx. When you need to. Rest. Your place will be held.