love can win

Many with privilege can recognize, in the abstract at least, that poverty and the suffering it creates are a scourge and that we should work to end them. But without ever having lived in poverty, they may not appreciate its wiles, how it penetrates every aspect of a life. Many more do live in poverty, but because the nature of poverty is to disempower and distract, the burdens of their daily lives limit their capacity to act. Few have both an intimate understanding of the day-to-day reality of poverty—the suffering it causes—and the privilege to address it. The profound responsibility of those in this last category abides.

— Abdul Al-Sayed, Healing Politics

After I gave birth to my younger son in early 2014,
I suffered profound postpartum depression.

I remember:
With grim determination, tears streaming down my face,
telling my husband that I only kept going because
my children needed my income to survive …
and I remembered, oh how I remembered,
how the kids across the street suffered
when they lost their dad to suicide.

“Your kids need more than your income from you, Deb,”
my husband told me.

At that point,
no part of me believed it.

I’d grown up the poor oldest daughter
of four poor children of a
poor single mom; Continue reading “love can win”

to karen (1)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about concerns with Karens,

as well as concerns with my own use of the word “Karens” (noun) instead of karen-ing (verb).

I’ve been thinking about karen-ing a lot the last week or two:

What does it mean to karen?

Who is most likely, based on societal structures today,

to feel empowered to karen in public?

Do I karen? If so,

How do I adjust my life in ways that help me

karen less?

While the process of discovery as I’ve experienced it isn’t as linear as the nature of English and blogging may make it sound, the process really did begin with one question above all:

“What does it mean to karen?” What’s the definition as I’d write it?

To come to that definition, I had to first answer a different question:

Apart from the fact they’d been perpetrated by white women, what did all the acts of karening I’d witnessed on social media have in common?

In each case, a white woman felt subjectively threatened by the skin color and/or non-aggressive acts of a Black person, and then acted out that sense of threat in ways that increased possibility of harm to the Black person.

Thanks to author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, I had words for what was happening in these moments of karening: Continue reading “to karen (1)”

laughing, right here

Rache & I, these days

Many years ago,
before either of us become moms,

I dreamed my sister Rache and I
were leaders in a
human uprising
against brutal
space aliens

(both of us are
horror lovers, so:
this was not as out of left field
as it might sound).

Eventually,
in this dream,
there came a time
where Rache got really
sad and tired about the
kind of life that could be lived
in such a prolonged fight.

An ASNAC nerd scholar,
her my-dream self told me, “Deb,
if I can’t study Beowulf,
why am I even here?
I need you to
let me go.” Continue reading “laughing, right here”

(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”

“You’re in my threat radius, sweetheart.”

Once upon a (not-so-recent) time, I used to spend hours arguing with my husband, Anthony, about the dishes.

Specifically, I thought he should be doing the dishes a whole lot more often, and I made it my mission to bring this utopia to life.

More recently, perhaps a month ago, I asked Anthony not to do the dishes. Since being stuck at home due to COVID-19, I’m finding doing the dishes keeps me grounded in the here and now. Continue reading ““You’re in my threat radius, sweetheart.””

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”

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”

safer

On Monday morning, I spent three hours writing about cultivating empathy in the face of COVID-19.

By Monday evening, I was ranting to my husband about a particular group of people,

a divergence that didn’t amuse me until Tuesday morning.

For months now, I’ve half-heartedly worked on making a habit of morning “RPMs”: Read, Pray, Meditate. The days I begin thusly are often the most manageable of all, a fact that isn’t always persuasive to my 4 a.m. self: “Do I really want to RPM, or do I want to just stay here in bed and half-doze until the kids wake up? I mean, both of these things are good for me, right?”

Until this week, half-dozing has tended to win this morning battle within myself. Fortunately, I chose wisely this Tuesday morning, grumbling as I climbed out of bed and went to find my healing books. Continue reading “safer”

on face masks & my sons’ future

In my neighborhood, more people roam without face masks than with them.

I don’t usually give this too much thought, but one encounter last weekend has lingered in my mind.

My kids and I were finishing a walk around the block. We were, for reasons described in my early April post “A bandana the right direction,” all wearing our face masks.

While my ten-year-old (Li’l D) and I were walking, my six-year-old (Littler J) was pedaling slowly on his hand-me-down Ninja Turtles bike. I saw a couple without facemasks approaching on the sidewalk. Remembering Littler rolling right into a neighbor who’d been standing still just a few days prior, I thought it unlikely he’d be able to skirt around moving targets. I nudged him into the street to enable the couple to pass. Continue reading “on face masks & my sons’ future”

each other

From my very first post here, I’ve written about how trauma has shaped my life.

Since before my first breath, I suffered the effects of violence from within my mother’s womb. This wired my nervous system in very particular ways even before I endured my first direct bodily blow.

I don’t write much about many of the specific blows I experienced. Most the specifics are lost to my thinking memory, stored instead in muscle, bone, and implicit memory.

Because most the specifics are lost to my thinking memory, I can be triggered–catapulted back in time, so that I’m confused about whether I’m in relatively choice-filled 2020 or choiceless 1988–without knowing why. Without knowing what sent me back.

A couple of days ago, my sister Rachael wrote “Meringue Pie & PTSD.” Continue reading “each other”