Bear Witness Writing Contest Winner

a picture of Victoria Fries
Victoria Fries
5
Thursday, Aug 4, 2016

The Read Local committee is very pleased to announce Victoria Fries has won our Bear Witness contest in the open category for her piece "Racism in America." The piece garnered passionate discussion; the universal message, which can be applied to any dehumanized and disenfranchised group, lends power to the topic and we appreciate the call for unity. Structurally, we like the repeated thread of standing tall.

We read it aloud several times, and when we found the right reader, with the right tone, voice, and passion, we knew we had found our winner. It's power is definitely as a performance piece; meant to be spoken and heard. We're excited to hear Victoria read it in her own voice on Saturday, December 10.

My name is Victoria Fries and I grew up in the Kansas City area. I currently live in Johnson County and do not work outside the home. I am married and have two awesomely beautiful little girls, Olivia and Carly. My dog, Rosie, is 7 pounds of fluff. I love all things kind and peaceful. Writing, for me, has been a therapeutic outlet throughout my life. In times of joy and sorrow, I turn to the pen and it gets me through. Words are all things. They are magical, yet dark, delightful, yet bleak. I hope to have my work available to the public in the near future.

Racism in America

Hearts are heavy with worry and the tension is suffocating. Emotions are raw and open, surrounding us like auras, enveloping our physical being. Loss of life and limb and dignity is overpowering and overshadowing. We can’t look away or escape or pretend or lie. The existing dark cloud is growing and lowering and coming near. We must stand tall and weather the storm.

Our foundation is a fortress of deceit. The bricks and mortar are sorrow and enslavement, degradation and grief. Yet, we layer and layer, convincing ourselves that the past is too deep to be seen or heard or realized. The hate and greed ooze through each crevice and grow a new bloom of separation and the gardeners’ drivel and holy water nourish the shrubbery so it can spread and cover and kill. We must stand tall and shadow the growth.

The history is there in words and hearts, choking the spirit of freedom. It’s repeated time and again in living rooms and churches, school yards and streets. We must see and hear, feel and react. The shrapnel pierces our souls, each wound infected with hate and divide. Powerful fists crash down, shaking our core and rattling our resolve. We must stand tall and never fall.

At a time of sheer unrest, we must live and love and teach and hear. Call upon the deepest parts of ourselves to speak and act and rise. Each second, each breath brings new life. We must embrace the souls of the weary and stand in unity, for, we will not be broken. We will not walk into the darkness and wade into the murk until we are buried and stuck. We are bigger and stronger, steel and stone. We will not waiver, we will support, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart. We are all, we are life, ashes and dust. Stand tall and proud, together. Start a new foundation of solidarity. We can do this. We must do this.

Written by Helen H.

Fun fact: I adore furry faces.