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A Good Cry

A good cry gathers deep in the soul, vibrating up and spilling out a river of hot tears that stream down the face, dribble from the chin, and create crusty pools of salt on the pillow.

A good cry does not look away. Instead of bypassing the grief, it brutally examines loss, bearing witness to an overload of accumulated grief that has piled up in every available corner. With attentive eyes, it notices the layers of loneliness and invisibility that come from a lifetime on the margins.

A good cry erupts in a public display of grief. It is a prophet that tears its clothes, puts on sackcloth, and laments in the streets. It names the disappointment and injustice, builds monuments, and creates a space at 38th and Chicago for Black grief, and then bears the cost of displaying what others would rather not see.

A good cry will not go down like that. Throwing punches and kicks, it rejects the impulse to reflexively store up sorrow. It sets free the grumbling spirit of discontent that threatens to hold the present and future hostage, and forces the body to process the hurt and release it back into the wilderness.

A good cry testifies to the need to retreat to a cool, dark room and sleep the sleep of the truly exhausted. Instead of powering through, it points with a gentle hand to the very human need for rest and recovery.

A good cry delights in connection. It is a balm amongst a coterie sharing dreams and the joys of belonging, recognition, and mutual care. It is a genuine relief that can heal and transform.

A good cry brings liberation. An alchemical process that burns away impurities and leaves the soul free. Unwilling to be content with power structures that dehumanize people of color, it draws support from all the ancestors to change those conditions and participate in a collective liberation.

A good cry arrives like a birthing pain, a sudden shared space of struggle and expectation one centimeter at a time, ushering in a universe of potential, spilling out of an abundance of possibility.

Inspired by the work of Sun Yung Shin and the essay A Good Hike by Camille T. Dungy.

This essay is part of a series of first-person reflections our colleagues are sharing about George Floyd and the racial justice movement.

Topic: Diversity Equity & Inclusion

September 2021