The following excerpts are from a dream I had in the early hours of March 6, 2020. At the time, nothing was happening in waking life that provided context for the dream or matched its intensity. But that changed exactly one week later.
On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black EMT in Louisville, KY, is murdered in her home by police in plain-clothes serving a no-knock warrant in the middle of the night. Her boyfriend opens fire on the unannounced intruders who ram through the front door. Breonna is shot 8 times. The person they are looking for is already in jail; they find no drugs in her apartment, but still arrest the boyfriend and charge him with attempted murder of a police officer for opening fire, charges which are later dropped. None of the officers has been charged in Breonna’s murder.
On February 23, 2020, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man in Brunswick, GA, is jogging in a neighborhood where a White father and son lie in wait with guns because they suspect him of a string of robberies (robberies of which there is no record or evidence). He is murdered while a third man captures it on video. Nobody is arrested. His family is notified by the police that Ahmaud has been killed while committing a robbery. It isn’t until the video of the ambush and murder surface more than two months later and protesters take to the streets demanding justice that the police arrest both men and later the third man who was recording.
Memorial Day, May 25, 2020, Christian Cooper, a Black man, is birdwatching in Central Park. A White woman is walking her dog off leash. There are signs a’plenty that dogs must be leashed. The man asks the woman to leash her dog. She threatens to call the police and tell them, “There’s an African-American man threatening my life.” Christian is capturing it on video. The woman calls 9-1-1 and claims that she’s being threatened by a Black man. Then in a shrill, fear-laden voice tells them to hurry; her life is in danger. The country is stunned, except for African-Americans who know that for centuries innocent Black men have hanged or been otherwise murdered on the accusations of White women. Emmett Till.
Also on May 25, 2020, something else happens. George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man in Minneapolis, MN, is suspected of passing a fake $20 bill at a market. The proprietor calls the police who arrive and handcuff George and place him face down on the pavement. George at no time resists. Once he’s cuffed, White officer Derek Chauvin places his knee on George’s neck, while two other officers hold his legs, and another officer stands guard against the crowd. George pleads that he cannot breathe. The officer does not remove his knee. Bystanders beg the officer to remove his knee. He does not. George calls for his mama, who’s been dead for 18 months, and the officer still does not remove his knee. George falls still and silent; the officer does not remove his knee. The paramedics arrive to render aid; still the officer does not remove his knee. For nearly 9 minutes, Chauvin, with his hand in his pocket, casually kneels on George’s neck. America and the world watch in horror as a man is executed right before their eyes.
Amidst the growing waves of protest following each of these events, which represent a final straw in the countless straws of racism and police brutality in this country, I turned to my dream journals to see if any of my dreams had been activated – In other words, to see if any dream and its symbolism matched the energetic frequency of what was unfolding in the world. I set January 1 as my launch point. A prolific dreamer, I’ve had 71 dreams between January 1 and May 25, the day George Floyd was murdered. After combing through the first 34 dreams, I reached the following dream of March 6.
I am on an island with a few others. I don’t know or see the others, but I can sense their presence. We are in the Caribbean, standing in waist-deep water while a woman is telling us a story about Jamaica. As she talks, she points to the island. We are not in Jamaica, but close enough that we can see it across the water. The others are angry because the woman is talking about an island to which she’s never been. They do not want her acting as a guide to a place she only knows from the outside. The others leave, but I stay.
I follow the woman into a wooden, thatched hut. It is dark and primitive and elevated about 2 feet off the ground. It has a long, covered porch where the woman continues to talk. She is not talking to me even though I am the only one here. In the distance, I can hear the water raging. Just moments before, we were standing in the tranquil, aqua waters of the Caribbean, but now I can hear that the waters have become turbulent. I can see that the skies have darkened. The woman continues her soliloquy. I warn her that the sea is on the move and coming close. She doesn’t respond or acknowledge me. Soon the waters have risen into the hut. We are standing on the porch, and I watch as the water rushes in and sweeps across the floor of the hut before quickly receding. This continues in waves that increase in both volume and intensity each time. At one point, the water rushes in as high as my waist. I fear the house will be swept away and I with it.
I won’t spend time elaborating on the metaphor itself other than to say, we are living in a period of turbulence that is reaching its apex. The United States has seen this turbulence before, but this time is different. Now the turbulence has not only a sustained momentum but also an increase in numbers and a variety of faces. It will not be beaten, tear-gassed, preached, or coerced into submission. This unyielding turbulence will allow this country to do what it has been unable to do in 155 years: turn the page and start a new chapter. What will this new chapter look like? That is completely up to us, but I am confident of one thing. However we choose to proceed, we will do so with enhanced mobility.
After the sea regains its calm, I venture out where everything is washed and clean. Droplets of water sparkling in the sunlight cling to every surface. I make my way to a bicycle that is leaning against a tree. For the first time, the woman acknowledges me. She tells me I cannot leave on the bike; I must walk. But I am already on the bike with my foot on the pedal and with every intention of riding away. She warns that I’ll never make it to my destination; the tires will sink into the sand left soaked and muddy by the flood. I look around. I’m not sure what she’s talking about. The sand is not muddy. To the contrary, the water has left the sand quite compact and solid. I ride away with agility, my tires gliding across it like a marble on glass.
In parting: Now more than ever, the world’s seers, its mystics, must turn inward; its cognizant dreamers must monitor and explore our dreams so that whenever possible, we can provide succor to a world in the throes of monumental change.