It was early morning and I was shocked not to be greeted by Gummy clamouring about the house expressing her hunger pangs to everyone within a 40km radius. Instead, I found her sitting in a dignified upright position on the coffee table yelling, “Catnip! Catnip!” I definitely have a drug-positive philosophy with the cats, but it was a little early for the proverbial “wake-and-bake”.
I approached her asking whether she’d prefer kibble and she said, “No! I’m breaking my morning ritual in solidarity with catnip.” I was utterly confused until Virtute passed by and slyly explained, “She’s talking about Colin Catnip, the football player.” Ohhhh, a light flipped in my mind, “You mean Kaepernick, Colin Kaepernick.” “Yes,” explained Gumption maintaining her pose. “We all have to stop our usual routines. We need to disrupt and stop pretending like everything is ok. Catnip is taking a knee because he wants to open a discussion about how to stop the careless and senseless and targeted murder of Black people.” I told Gumption I was aware of his action and we talked about how many people, young children, other athletes, fans, cheerleaders were following suit.
I asked Gumption why she decided to start her intervention into our morning routine. Virtute is normally the “activisty” cat and Gummy is usually a bit more anxious and skittish to wade into serious conversations. She finally broke her stance, puttered about, and approached me. In a quieter voice than I’m accustomed to hearing she explained, “It’s time for everyone to have these conversations and for those conversations to move towards action. This history and current context of anti-Black racism that arrives in the form of prisons, police murders, appropriation, dismissal, and even backlash against Catnip is all of our responsibility. We need to talk as families, as non-Black families about our responsibility to these struggles. About taking leadership from Black folks and in particular the queer/trans*/femme-led movements arising around Black Lives Matter. We need to spread interventions like the one that Colin Catnip popularized.”
Virtute, normally the know-it-all in the household, moved closer and listened. We all sat listening for a long time. And finally, Virtute piped up, “She’s right. I can wait for breakfast too. Let’s talk about it. Let’s make a plan for what we can do.” We sat in the kitchen thinking and decided a first step would be to make a financial contribution to Black Lives Matter-Toronto and to continue this conversation inside the house and with others.
Gumption, began to eat her kibble, finally letting out a sigh and saying, “Thank you Catnip.”