Weevils and worms

Dear President Biden,

This morning I started a cup of dried chickpeas soaking in water so I could make falafel for dinner tonight. It was to be a Sunday treat – “was” being the operative word here. After several hours I looked into the bowl to check on the plumping progress and noticed some weird black specks. Although neither possibility seemed all that logical, I figured I’d accidentally gotten some ground pepper in there or that the bowl wasn’t entirely clean when I started. Until I looked closer. It turns out that our chickpeas were infested with weevils. Totally gross…. as in beyond disgusting.

I just learned that weevils are partial to chickpeas. They’ll go after other dried legumes if they have to, but they really like chickpeas. In case you’re ever hankering to make homemade falafel from dried chickpeas, the telltale signs of weevil issues are the presence of little tiny boreholes in some (all?) of the chickpeas and chickpea dust at the bottom of the container. Now you know. And now I know. With my newfound knowledge I was able to discern that one of the two remaining jars of dried chickpeas in the cupboard also had to be relegated to the yard waste bin. We do have one jar that looks ok, but I’m betting that my appetite for rehydrated chickpeas is not going to return any time soon.

I know it’s beyond strange to tell you about our chickpea/weevil issues and I know the tie-in I’m about to make is a huge stretch, but my absolute obliviousness to the signs of weevil infestation in my chickpeas until they were floating in the water feels akin to my lack of awareness of systemic racism because of my White privilege. Langston Hughes helped me see this parallel with his poem Tired, which goes as follows:

I am so tired of waiting,
Aren’t you,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
And cut the world in two –
And see what worms are eating
At the rind.

Nicole Cardoza shared it in this morning’s edition of the Racism Daily. Gives one the shivers, doesn’t it? Clearly the worms had to come from somewhere; maybe there are little boreholes in the surface of the world that we can see if we know what to look for. Hughes is strongly suggesting, however, that it isn’t until the thing is split open that we can clearly see the worms, that if we stay above deck on the surface we may well convince ourselves that things are ok even if they are not “good and beautiful and kind.” Or, some of us can convince ourselves that things are ok since things are “good and beautiful and kind” for us, so surely they are that way for everyone who is deserving of goodness, beauty, and kindness. But some people know there are worms eating at the rind and they know this because they, and people who look like them, keep being sucked (or pushed) into the boreholes.

There’s a clip from a 1971 conversation between James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni circulating on Twitter today. In that brief snippet Baldwin talks about how he has to approach all encounters with police as though his life is in grave danger and then he brings up a rah-rah-police billboard showing a tall policeman talking with a small blonde little girl that is captioned with the words “And Some People Call Him Pig”. Giovanni then says she wants to buy a billboard with a picture of a policeman standing over the body of a 14 year-old Black boy with 30 bullet holes in his torso and caption it with “And Some People Call Him Peacemaker.”

May we all be safe.
May we have the collective will to split the world open and expose the worms and the weevils.
May we have the collective strength to eradicate the ills that still, still, still plague us.
May we accept that Ella Baker is right ~ until we’re all free, we cannot rest.

Tracy Simpson

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