The boat motored on with haste. After a full day of swimming, caving, and island hopping along Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, my sister, her partner, five of our friends and I sped along to the walls of Dubrovnik for our last night in that glorious city.
We all sat silently on the boat, meditative and reflective as the sun dipped toward the horizon and the clouds burst into purples, reds, and pinks. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. A parting gift from an enchanted land.
After a long silence, my friend Jade turned to me with eyes swollen by barely restrained tears. She said, “I feel like I’m watching summer slip away.”
I had to agree. But what a send off!
Little did we know at the time what strife the coming year would hold and that, in fact, that last kiss of summer sun and privileged vacation freedom would have to last us a very long time.
Now we approach the technical start of a new summer, but this one has a different kind of heat… It burns for action. It burns for change. There will be no big group vacations this year. No carefree days with friends and family along the coast or in the mountains. We are separate because of a new and frightful disease, but in that physical separation we are also called to act together to end and old and heinous one.
Will this be the summer we end racism? No. Of course not. It is too interwoven into the fabric of our neurons, too lithified into the strata of our foundational stories.
But this can be the summer that we strip racism from our most powerful institutions. We can devise new structures for community care, reducing the power of the police and removing weapons of war from their callous grasp. We can insist on political leadership that acts to care for all people. We can take back the money that’s been stolen from us by the ultra-wealthy and use it to fund education and social services that benefit all communities, but especially those where people of color have long been ignored and abused.
I find myself thinking of that Croatian sunset often these days. I think of it like a requiem for a somewhat more carefree time but also as an aspiration. We have a lot of work to do this summer and in the coming years. We have institutions to tear down and new and different structures to devise and build. And if we do it right, then another summer will come. It will be a summer of peace and joy for all of us, not just a few privileged folks.