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A promotional photo of Melissa Lozada-Oliva. She is sitting sideways on a chair, one arm up on the chair back, looking straight into the camera.

Daily Helping for September 21st, 2023 – Melissa Lozada-Oliva – Yosra Strings Off My Mustache

There are a lot of lines in this poem by Melissa Lozada-Oliva that made me catch my breath. But one in particular I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

“I think the tragedy was that they were all trying to be nice while the emergency bloomed around us.”

I have always been of the opinion that a lot of the world’s problems could be solved if we all were simply nicer to each other. I’m also very aware that that is one of the whitest of white women things I could say. But I can’t help it. I can’t help wishing for a world where people were nicer. Kinder. More compassionate.

But I’m also very aware that it’s not the responsibility of people who have been systematically marginalized to be nice. And that we shouldn’t confuse being nice with enabling and strengthening a system that is set up to make certain people fail. Far too few people understand that distinction. I don’t know if that’s the tragedy that Melissa Lozada-Oliva had in mind when she wrote that line. But it’s the one I think about every day.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!