“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”

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”