to vote and

Yesterday afternoon, my sister shared with me a video that gave me words. In doing so, it took a load off both mind and heart.

Before I tell you about the video, I must first tell you about the load …
about which it will, I’ll caution you, likely be unpleasant to read.

— the load —

I’d begun the morning reflecting how completely I abhor the private corporation that is the Democrats—not those who vote Democrat, no, but the Democratic machine itself. By this I mean those with the power to draft its platforms;
those who routinely take actions that benefit people with massive power while further depriving the economically powerless any prospect for structural dignity;
those who call themselves the good guys while epsteining as a way of life.

As I’ve been clear about here, I grew up in deep poverty. That poverty paved the way for predation; as members of the vast U.S. underclass, my siblings and I were preyed upon by numerous predators. As I wrote in one post on my old blog, “The poor mom who cannot afford to feed her children cannot possibly afford an attorney,” a fact on which predators gleefully act.

Coupling my childhood learning with ample book learning the last four years, I am crystal clear on the many ways that machine has long acted to increase the suffering of those already suffering most. Continue reading “to vote and”

to karen (2), or: “small fires”

A small fire is hard to see but it’s easy to put out; a large fire is easy to see but very difficult to put out.

– Dr. Mike Ryan, on COVID-19

When I began writing “to karen (1),” I was already personally clear that “Karen,”
while a problem, is not The Problem.

I’d begun to identify The Problem for myself, but did not yet have words
to begin describing it.

I don’t yet have great words, but you know what?

It’s by writing that I find those words, and also

build them into muscle memory.

Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb has guided how I assess the problem of “Karen.” For me, having read Taleb, karening involved what I described as “a transference of skin in the game.”

“To karen,” I decided, means to “take acts that decrease one’s anxiety—to increase one’s subjective sense of well being—by transferring (or attempting to transfer) objective risks and costs to someone else.”

Having read Taleb, the problem with this definition was almost immediately clear to me: The woman-on-the-street engaged in karening has a very limited reach. The individuals with whom she comes in touch may be imperiled by her urgent need to reduce her anxiety at someone else’s expense, but …

From a societal perspective, any individual “Karen” causes qualitatively large but quantitatively small harm.

The much greater danger to life and liberty wouldn’t be one Karen-in-the-park, but people enabled to sacrifice numerous lives and livelihoods all at once:

People who could put not only one or two people’s skin in the game,

but put in thousands, or millions, all at once.

While wrapping up “to karen (1),” I tried finding the Taleb passages I sought in his Skin in the Game. Continue reading “to karen (2), or: “small fires””

“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.

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”

I believe you.

Five years ago tomorrow, I posted portions of my own #MeToo experience.

I did so nearly a decade after activist Tarana Burke first used the words “me too” on social media, but a couple years before #MeToo become a movement.

I didn’t hear the phrase “me too” until late 2017, but I was absolutely guided by its sentiment when I wrote in January 2015. Infuriated then by something I’d read from an advocate of Bill Cosby, I began writing about my own experiences.

I wrote because I didn’t want anyone to suffer the aftermath of assault alone, whether after assault at an individual human perpetrator’s hands or subsequent assault by the United States injustice system, or both.

I’m currently reading She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.

As I read about the authors’ journey to breaking the Harvey Weinstein case this early morning, I was inspired to search my email for a particular phrase that showed up several times in posts on my old blog.

That phrase? “I believe you.”

These words, heard by a much younger version of myself in an Oregon courtroom decades ago, were–are–some of the most magical words I have ever heard.

Even before rereading my old blog posts this morning, I knew I was going to write a post weaving together my personal experiences with the many aspects of She Said  to which I personally connect.

As I read the posts, I saw that my as-yet-unwritten post will benefit mightily by my being able to reference the older ones I reread this morning. So I’m posting them here, now, knowing I will be drawing on them soon.

And, just so you know:

I believe you. Still. Continue reading “I believe you.”