During the class this week, what started out as a pretty universal feeling of frustration and despair from treading the rest of Citizen, ended in a conversation of hope and uplift. It was a really incredible thing to be witness to, and I felt very privileged to be a part of that conversation. One of the ideas that struck me during our conversational shift to hope, was the confusing notion of whether or not hope could exist in a place where there is no end to the suffering, where the pain never ends, just takes different forms. How do you end what is endless, and how do you derive hope from such a stagnation. Listening to the arguments that the women made and drawing from my own experiences, it seemed to me that hope is both an end and a beginning in this paradox. Where because there is no end, indeed there cannot be an end to an oppressive structure because oppressive structures are not linear, they are built from oppressive notions and can only be grown or altered, but not ended, then hope is the necessity that forces oppressive structures to morph and adapt out of oppressiveness into understanding. Hope is at once the catalyst and the product.
One of the questions that Rankine and our class raised about hope is whether or not hope can exist as a form of resilience in the face of complacency, while you “coexist with dust in your eyes.” While you continue on in the haze of hatred and bigotry in spite of yourself. One of the women mentioned that there are many ways to be killed. One of which is the death of all hope. So while you go on, while you continue in the face of irrevocable, inalterable injustice, you keep alive the hope that sustains, despite of the endless endlessness and cyclic nature of oppression. As romanticized as this notion may seem, the killing comes from the death of hope, because the death of hope halts the progress and breeds complacency. Hope is one of the few intangible motivators even in the face of backwards progress and complacency, and so perhaps Rankine sums up in a few words that hundreds would never be able to do; “soon we learn to love this world, so soon we are willing to coexist with dust in our eyes.”