“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.

Race & the willingness to see, or: “Don’t be Bob” 

In 2009, I was shocked to discover racism was still a “thing” in the United States. Yes, even in Los Angeles.

By 2013, I was no longer confused about the existence of racism here and now. Even so, it would be another couple years before I began really grasping how absolutely lethal is this racism in its many systemic forms.

Which is to say: In 2013, I hadn’t yet lost my sense of humor. I hadn’t yet begun to despair at my utter inability to help restructure systems to be less lethal. I could write a post like this one.

As you can see below, I hadn’t yet learned to capitalize the “b” in Black, or that even Bob (noun) doesn’t Bob (verb) all the time. But, hey! I did learn, eventually.

And the point here is: We all can learn, when we choose to listen. 🙂


Race & the willingness to see, or: “Don’t be Bob” 
Originally posted on TMiYC
July 19, 2013


“Racism is dead, folks. Move on!”

“Why are we still talking about race? I’ve never once seen an act of racism. It’s only people in backwater Arkansas who still think like that.”

“I don’t see color, and neither does anyone else these days. I don’t see why some people still want to live in the 1950s when racism was actually a problem.”

“My cat doesn’t see it, either. She’s above that.”

I’ve seen dozens of variations on these words in the past few days. I’d look for direct quotes, but honestly, I’d get so grumpy scanning through comments for the verbatim gems I’d end up devouring a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s instead of writing this blog. (And I don’t even eat dairy! Or added sugar!)

Aren’t I pasty white person? Yes, indeedy! But as the pasty white mama of a lovely mocha-colored cub, I’ve been inspired to research race and racism in a way I wasn’t before, back when I thought it didn’t exist save in backwater Arkansas.

Oh, yeah, I did. Continue reading “Race & the willingness to see, or: “Don’t be Bob” “

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”

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”