“bad apples”

Today, I remembered a post I wrote in late 2016: “On Building Racial Stamina.”

By that point, I had two young Black sons. I’d had years to grapple with the differences between racism and Racism, and yet continued–it’s seemed to me–to barely grok them.

Revisiting this post now, it seems I grokked more than I’ve understood, for: What we’re seeing now is exactly what I then saw coming (which mirrored everything come before),

which is exactly what the Black folks who’d taught me prepared me to expect.

Image from a Eugene, OR lawn, circa 2016

#BlackLivesMatter taught me about power:

Who has it, who doesn’t, and, most importantly,
“how power favors a certain kind of order over actual justice.”

It taught me that the system that blames everything on “bad apples” is sure as hell going to keep coming up with
bad apple after
bad apple after
bad apple, so that,
someday, every person
capable of empathy will come
to question whether it’s
really just
individual
apples that
are rotten.

(un)becoming white

Yesterday, I heard my ten-year-old son, Li’l D, attempting “negotiations” with my six-year old son, Littler J.

I paused my laundry-folding to say, “How very big brother of you!” Hearing these words spoken, I added, “That’s lower-case ‘b,’ lower-case ‘b,’ to be clear.”

Despite Li’l D’s utter lack of interest in any clarification, I took the opportunity to clarify. “In 1984, author George Orwell described an overtly repressive, oppressive government represented by kindly sounding Big Brother—capital ‘B,’ capital ‘B.’”

Since Li’l D is already well acquainted with my love of author Neil Postman, I added a note about Postman’s take on Orwell. “There’s another author, Aldous Huxley, who wrote about a different version of a repressive government: one that represses–constrains the ranges of possibility–through pleasure and amusement that don’t require or permit critical thought. Postman thought Huxley’s Brave New World was closer to the world for which the foundation had been laid—that its repression was what we’d end up experiencing.”

My husband, Anthony, had first introduced me to Postman. He thus joined in the conversation—wait, no. More accurately, he helped me convert monologue to dialogue.

As we chatted, I thought about protests against police brutality currently sweeping the United States. At these protests, police have brutally attacked thousands of protestors (and even, repeatedly, reporters, medics, and legal observers), sometimes responding with shocking force to heckling and other times themselves wholly instigating any violence. This brutality has not gone unnoticed by USians: Members of communities from all fifty states are now taking to the streets daily. Continue reading “(un)becoming white”

TO LIFE

Yesterday afternoon, I stood near my dining room table and proclaimed, “I can’t find my Tumblr!”

“You have a Tumblr?!” my husband replied. “I didn’t know that.”

“Not really. I posted, like, one original post there a few years back. I’m trying to find that post.”

Soon afterward, I found that Tumblr, and I found that January 2018 post. “That post” was the last one I shared on Tumblr.

I read it and let its core sink, again, into my bones. And I wondered:

How had I forgotten what had once
lived so deeply in my bones?

Looking at my Twitter profile yesterday, I saw too. many. images of police brutality not hidden under sensitive-content warnings.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad these images are being captured. I’m glad this history is being documented and made accessible. I’m especially glad attorney T. Greg Doucette is aggregating these incidents into one Twitter thread; in one single week of protests against racism and police brutality, his documented incident ticker is up to 334. Continue reading “TO LIFE”

comfortable white readers

I’m an early bird. My husband’s a night owl. Most of our dating occurred in phone calls and chats that took place when I’d just awakened from the new day and he was wrapping up the old one.

In our household, this is often a source of amusement. Recently, though, it’s wreaking some havoc.

My husband will climb into bed at midnight, or 1 o’clock, or 2 o’clock. I’ll half-awaken and mumble a few words to him before jolting awake with the realization, Wait! We are living the revolution! I must check the status of the revolution since I fell asleep a few hours ago! Continue reading “comfortable white readers”

to hero

While reviewing my old Black Lives Matter posts over the weekend
to write “died with his hands in the air” part 2,
I also found a couple of (apparently) unrelated posts
I’d once written after being inspired by
wry and wonderful Neil Postman;

I emailed them to myself without then reading them,
so that I was astonished, today, to read one and
find a #BlackLivesMatter-related answer
(for me) within it.

Today, my husband–a Black man who’s walked with me
as I’ve worked to better understand American racism and Racism–
and I are acknowledging #BlackOutTuesday by buying nothing.

Today, many people we love are posting black squares
on social media and otherwise … listening.

While the black square is not for me,
I appreciate how hard it is to
find words right now, and
see a great deal of beauty in
anyone actively acknowledging, however
they can today–with words,
with actions, with listening-plus-black squares–
that too many people have suffered
for too damn long.

Continue reading “to hero”

the right to breathe

I’ve been stalked for almost two and a half years.

I wrote about being stalked in “Far from alone” last August.

If I understood I was far from alone before reading attorney Carrie Goldberg’s magnificent Nobody’s Victim last year, I was even clearer afterward. I was both comforted and disheartened to know how very, very many people endure stalking

that few who have not experienced it can begin to fathom.

In Nobody’s Victim, many of the perpetrators are men. They’re part of what Goldberg describes as “the manosphere”: Continue reading “the right to breathe”

died with his hands in the air

Before writing “safer” a few days ago, I spent time reflecting on:

my many experiences witnessing numerous words and acts of racism since dating a Black man, and having Black sons, and watching—too relentlessly, given my own history of profound trauma—in the early months of #BlackLivesMatter.

I hadn’t then heard about the police killing of George Floyd,

whose fatal encounter with police began over a …

$20 bill suspected to be counterfeit.

Since posting “safer,” my husband and I have had many pained conversations around U.S. racism and state violence. The collective trauma level in our household has been very, very high.

In the quiet moments between those conversations, I’ve thought back to my pre-Anthony life,
and to my shocked disbelief when, in 2009, he told me:
“Our child is going to experience racism someday.”

Today, I spent an hour or two trawling through archive.org for some of the posts I wrote
as I learned about how modern U.S. racism is about much, much more
than lone individuals occasionally saying a cruel word.

In March 2012, the killing of Trayvon Martin prompted me to write about the 2009 conversation in which Anthony told me, “Our baby is going to experience racism someday.” Continue reading “died with his hands in the air”

Believe

In 2009, my Black now-husband told me the baby I was carrying–our baby–would experience racism someday.

I laughed him off. Racism? In Los Angeles in 2009? Was he confusing here and now with 1960s Arkansas? I figured it more likely he was hyper-sensitive than that racism was a broad present-day concern hurting brown-skinned people every single day in the U.S. of A.

Since then, I’ve seen and learned more about racism than I could ever hope to fit in a series of books, let alone a single post. I won’t even try, though I will tell you my oldest son was only three when I first saw him subjected to overt racism, and that he was only three when he started making statements reflecting that he was internalizing messages from classmates on darkness equaling badness. Continue reading “Believe”