At the birches

During this storm, caused by the broadcast on social networks of a video shot in the woods and which no one wanted, except the click machines, I asked myself if there was not a forest where I could go lose myself.

I went skiing for the last time in 2020, around Rivière-du-Loup and Rimouski. Once in the resort, but the rest of the time, it was off-piste skiing. A first for me. Put on seal skins, manage the sweating on the ascent, descend by slipping between the majestic, wild, dangerous trees.

I appreciated, in these off-piste escapades, a naturalness that resort skiing stifles. On the densely flat trail, smooth and white as blown snow, I note that trees have been cut down to accommodate human leisure.

That said, I had never seen a tree mutilated in such a singular way as this birch which went viral last weekend. I saw him camped there, marked with a word which sadly unites the tree and the Black man as amenities of civilization.

Should we remember that there was a time when black people were legally chattel? That the anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan supported a thesis establishing the hierarchy between the civilized, at the top, and the savages, at the bottom of the ladder?

“It is therefore with good reason that all peoples who have reached a high degree of civilization have carefully avoided mixing with foreigners. » That’s Lionel Groulx, taking up, in his work The call of the breedthe terms of the doctor and sociologist Gustave Le Bon.

Last Sunday, I was thinking about all this while I was on a bus on the way to Rimouski. For work. When stopping at Rivière-du-Loup, I noticed that the cashier at the convenience store was a black man. To my final destination, the food counter attendant, a black woman. A Jordan Peele film script? Without the fictional effects, a little, yes. The civilized world often appropriates our bodies in order to produce work in precarious conditions. In a way, on the trail, the colonized body never really left the plantations. Too many jobs, job stealers, lazy people without jobs, they are always exploited by the colonizer.

In the evening, I watched the film in my hotel room Origin by Ava DuVernay. Origin is based on the book Caste: the origin of what divides us by Isabel Wilkerson. A work which explains, beyond ethnic or racial differences, how the inferiorization of certain groups by political powers is produced. This film offers possible answers as to why Palestinians today eat grass in order to survive. Serious concerns for a Sunday, especially since the same day, I signed an open letter in connection with the alarming situation in Haiti.

Every scandal, every tragedy weighs. What are the islands of renewal, the spaces to mourn, in such circumstances?

Of all places possible, Instagram is where I found a piece of salvation. Late at night I scroll distractedly and my eyes fall on a clip of Justin Timberlake and his band, in concert at NPR’s Tiny Desk.

“Got time, but I don’t mind/Just wanna rock you girl.” »

From the first notes, I expel unpremeditated tears. These cries resonate with my simplest needs in the moment. Feel and breathe. To live, what.

What happened? I don’t really know. I’m not even a fan of Justin Timberlake, and I know he deserves his share of criticism, but in this moment, my direct somatic experience prevails. I suspect something in the melody and rhythm. As black music knows how to do so well. Gospel, rara, jazz, soul. Yes, music for the soul.

I use the word “black” here not on the level of identity, but above all in reference to phenomena which escape so-called civilized structures, which maintain the link with our vitality. I imagine, in a metaphorical sense, the off-piste trails, on the fringes of the flat, white slopes. The philosopher Bayo Akomolafe talks about the concept of blackness as a wandering away from conventional algorithms, a generosity and abundance preceding (and surpassing) white modernity.

On plantations, music was often used to express despair, joy, inspiration, hope. A moment of escape, however furtive it may be, can be lifesaving. What are the other possible outlets?

Last Saturday I attended the Out For Joy event hosted by When The Village Meditates. Meditation wrapped in a sound bath, yoga, singing, dancing. In community, I smiled brightly while playing the djembe. I devoured a vegan shawarma. I abandoned myself to a poetry exercise. What is joy? It’s like the Haitian vegetable. Stuffed with meat.

The day before, I attended the Black Black Symposium. Maurice Riley Case and Sarah Riley Case spoke in particular. I enthusiastically welcomed their invitation to honor our erotic power, as defined by activist and essayist Audre Lorde. Beyond the sexual conception of eroticism, she speaks of it as a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings.

“I speak of eroticism as the deepest life force, a force that impels us to live in a fundamental way. »

It’s hard to escape the stupidity on the track. But beyond surviving there, I like to think that there are also lost forests, where we can embrace the birches and simply live. I would call it, like the place symbolized by the innocent tree of my childhood, the Family Canal.

What do you think ? Participate in the dialogue


Leave a Comment