Nov 20, 2020 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

Pandemic Behavior

sublimated-pullover-hoodie-mockup-featuring-a-man-with-short-hair-31386So, it appears that Chicago is back on a lockdown due to a LOT of egregious spreading of the ‘Rona.  Apparently, people? Sharing is NOT caring.

I’ve been moving around quite a bit since the beginning of the pandemic because I’m a caretaker and I can’t avoid it.  Also, my natural germaphobic nature has shifted from being described as “kind of weird” to being appropriately self-protective.  And while I can control myself, I can’t direct anyone else’s behavior.  The least  I can do is share my guidelines based on what I’ve witnessed.

Strap on a mask. 

I know there’s someone who’s reading this and thinking that masks don’t work, or perhaps he/she has concocted a lot of crap in their heads about how masks are muzzles or other such nonsense.

So . . . real talk?  A mask is a form of basic hygiene during a pandemic.  I don’t really understand the resistance.  It’s as if people don’t realize how germs are spread and have no appreciation for the nastiness of human beings.  Aside from preventing you from breathing on others, they keep you from being breathed upon.  Realistically, masks are saving you from yourself.

If you don’t believe me (or anyone else with common sense), let me dazzle you with a few medical statistics (no, I’m not a doctor . . . but I read).  So, here goes:

The average person touches his/her face a minimum of 16 times per hour, with about half of those touches making contact with the nose and mouth, which are mucus membranes and the very points of entry for the disease.  While wearing a mask, your nose and mouth are covered (if you’re wearing it correctly, and not around your chin, Chad!).  Casual nose-picking and/or licking your fingers to open a thin plastic bag in the produce department are not possibilities while wearing a mask.  If you can manage to avoid rubbing your eyes, you might just avoid catching colds, the flu, hoof and mouth disease, and ‘the Rona.

This is NOT the time to be handsy

If you have the occasion and/or good fortune to meet new people, now is NOT the time to taint the experience by going in for an unnecessary handshake.  During COVID, all formalities of professionalism that require physical contact are not necessary.  I wasn’t a fan of shaking hands before the pandemic, and I’m definitely not making direct contact with any virus-infested grubby paws during a pandemic, nor am I spreading my germs to others.

Because I’m a fan of digression, I’m forced to wonder why we have that tradition in the first place?  There is nothing gratifying about a handshake.  It’s not an enjoyable experience.  The grip is either too firm, too light, or disturbingly clammy.  You spend lots of time afterward wondering where that person’s hand has been and setting a mental reminder to scrub your mitts before your next meal. (Just me?)  I would prefer to greet people with a smile and a nod, thereby saving myself the anxiety and potentially avoid contracting an illness.

And don’t even THINK about a hug.  While I’m not a classic hugger, I get that, as people, we are in a place where we crave human contact and haven’t seen many of our friends.  Don’t be so happy to see people that you risk killing them, or being killed by them.

Bag your own groceries

I always use self-service grocery lanes because scanning and bagging my own order reduces the number of people who handle my items.  The other day, I read the frightening statistic that one in four grocery workers have COVID, with many being asymptomatic.  Also?  I’m faster than any grocery store worker than I’ve ever encountered AND I know how to separate food from detergent.  #winning  :-)

Stay the hell away from your family

To refer to 2020 as a “dumpster fire” is a gross understatement.  Everything this year has been a colossal shit-show, and the holidays are NOT going to be amazing. Has anyone seen the 2020Rockefeller Christmas tree?  It’s rising to the occasion of the year and appears to be dry and lackluster.  It makes the Charlie Brown Christmas tree appear majestic!

If you were to have a family gathering for the holidays, you KNOW the food won’t be tasty (because, 2020), and most of us have already been eating too much this year.  Do we NEED another 3000 calorie meal?  A feast is clearly overkill.   You might as well stay home and avoid killing your grandparents.

I get it, though . . .  you might want to feel some semblance of normalcy this year since everything else has been turned upside down.  Family traditions are nostalgic and attending family gatherings evokes feelings of childhood and safety.

Although, what I find to be the MOST baffling is that, any other year, by now there would have multitudes of depressing FB posts lamenting upcoming family visits.  “My family is going to make me feel inadequate for being single.”  “My mother is going to make me feel like I’m not enough.”  “Everyone’s going to ask us why we don’t have children.” “My grandmother is going to talk about my weight.” “My siblings are mean to me.”  “I’m going to need years of therapy to recover.”

Well . . . you know what?  You get a pass this year!

Because realistically, how many of us are so enamored with our family?  Let’s face it . . . lots of your family members get on your nerves.  Maybe your sister-in-law can’t cook, yet insists on tackling the mac and cheese (and screwing it up) EVERY SINGLE GODDAMNED YEAR.  Your nieces and nephews might be insufferable brats who are only concerned about their own gifts.  Maybe grandpa is grumpy and senile.  If you REALLY think about it, you might realize that you probably wouldn’t even speak to most of your extended (or immediate) family, unless there was a bloodline.

Truth be told, you could be surprised at how refreshing it will be to stay home and eat whatever the hell you want on Thanksgiving (and probably Christmas, at the rate we’re going).  How many more opportunities will you get to have an entire year without green bean casserole??

Order yourself a big pizza – with turkey sausage, if you must — and sprawl on your couch, snuggling your pets or quarantine bae while consuming large quantities of wine (or edibles), and relax!  Who knows? You might even start a new tradition of eliminating holiday emotional abuse!

Still pining for your family?  Okay, we’re back to statistics . . .  whenever someone justifies a gathering by saying “it’s ONLY 10 people,” bear in mind that it’s not the quantity of your group.  It’s the quality!  If only two members of your family of 10 have been exposed to COVID, that’s 20% of your group, and more than you need to put the entire family on ventilators by New Year’s Eve.  And we all desperately want to escape 2020 alive, right?  (Unless you’re secretly trying to infect your family, in which case we didn’t have this conversation.)

That sums up the advice that you didn’t ask for!  I wish everyone a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.  :-)

Nov 8, 2020 - 2020    1 Comment

Hoist with his own petard

Screenshot_20201109-001659This entire election has been a shit-show — much like the last four years.  But, as usual, we can find a LOT of things to laugh about, as we examine the circumstances.  Or maybe I should speak for myself.

I guess I should explain the title for the majority of people who are reading this thing and aren’t Shakespeare buffs (for the record, I wouldn’t dare refer to myself as a legit “Shakespeare buff.”  I merely have a few favorite phrases across a number of plays — mostly Hamlet.).  In layman’s terms, the phrase means to be blown up by your own bomb.  It’s the ultimate form of ironic justice, IMO.

That said, let’s dig under the covers of the humor . . .

So . . . a reality TV star named Donald Trump – a thrice-married alleged mogul who has had six businesses file for bankruptcy in less than 20 years, surprised everyone when he entered the primary race for the Presidential election of 2016.

I’m non-partisan, but when I heard he was running, I thought “certainly the Republicans won’t let him be THE candidate.”  To the point where, when a former colleague whom I refer to as CRC (crazy racist co-worker) entered my office and said, “That Trump makes a lot of sense,” I threatened to hit her in the head with one of my boots if she didn’t evacuate my space while spewing that crazy shit.  I recall telling her that he would have us back in Nazi Germany which she poo-pooed before going back into her little lonely world of lunacy across the hall.

Realistically, he won that year because people didn’t fight all that hard against him.  I voted sans inspiration. Hilary Clinton was a polarizing candidate and didn’t inspire a lot of voters.  When Trump was elected, we were bewildered.  Like, how in the HELL did that happen??  If we knew then what we know now.

Anyhoo . . . while I’ve done well financially over the last 3.8 years, they’ve probably been the most morally bankrupt years that we’ve lived through in the last century.  Trump has managed to alienate every racial entity, he has openly mocked the disabled, displayed every misogynistic tendency, “delighted” us with his stupidity on social media, and given a voice to and emboldened racists and violent people who were previously underrepresented in leadership. At least out in the open.  He is directly linked to every deplorable degenerate, including Jeffrey Epstein (who didn’t kill himself). Somehow the overturning of Roe v Wade co-exists with children put in cages.  And, along those lines, let’s please not forget the thick, chalky irony of the FLOTUS.   If anyone brings up dear Melania and her widely-distributed nudes, the rebuttal is “her body, her choice.” I’m guessing that sentiment doesn’t apply to my uterus?   He has made us the laughingstock of the world.  Then we have COVID – or should we call it the “Chinese Flu” -  and how his ridiculous decision to politicize a pandemic, of all things, has effectively killed hundreds of thousands of people.

By the way, if you’ve read the above paragraph, and you’re violently shaking your head in rebuttal to my points (while internally – or maybe externally – calling me a racial slur [which, even in your head, is misspelled]), please do yourself a favor and stop reading right now.  You’re not going to like where this is going.  I censor the comments here.  I’m sorry, but I don’t really care how you feel, and thank you for playing. However, if you’re interested in a potentially different viewpoint or enlightened humor, read on.  It’s a free country. :-)  

Alrighty . . . moving on.  So . . . when at long last the 2020 election was like a bright light at the end of a dismal tunnel, we knew we had work to do.  For the record, by ‘we,’ I’m not talking strictly Dems.  I mean any person who has decency and wanted to see unification rather than destruction, going forward.  That said, WE had to get behind whichever candidate was running against Trump, and motivate every single person to get their asses to the polls.

And, to be clear, we weren’t working with a perfect candidate in Uncle Joe.  There were things to overlook, and there was a LOT of dissension within the Democratic party and among the Republicans who decided to defect.  But what Biden DOES do is speak of unity, which is what our divided, cracked, and brittle country so desperately needs.  If he can be the soothing lotion of the damaged and distressed dermis that is the United States, then let’s bring him on.  It wouldn’t happen with any of us alone, but all of us together. (Because real talk?  These motherfuckers?  Needed saving from themselves!!)  Let’s motivate millennials and Gen Z to vote and teach them that their vote DOES matter. (They stepped up, FYI!) Let’s rally the seniors.  Let’s get behind this candidate because this truly was THE most important election that I’ve ever witnessed or studied in history class.

But in the meantime, the devil was busy.  (I know . . .  I sound like an old aunt who never misses a sermon, but it’s the best analogy that I can give, here.)

Trump knew good and GOTdamned well that the majority of the country hated him.  He KNEW it.  So, he arranged to have 21,000 polling places closed.  He actively ordered the removal of mailboxes to deter mail-in voting and turned the postal service into even MORE of a goat rodeo than it was before.  This went on until the Postmaster General effectively said “Dude . . . Fuck you!”  Oh, and he did absolutely nothing to legitimately stop the spread of COVID, and actively tried to downplay it as the numbers of infections and senseless deaths soared.

There were reports of long lines for the primaries, and tales of some waiting for hours, only not to be able to cast their votes.  In specific neighborhoods, mind you.

In anticipation of election shenanigans, what did we do?  Well, we did whatever we could to make sure that our votes would be counted.  Mail-in ballots were used, egregiously, by seniors and those whose immune systems can’t tolerate exposure to serious diseases.  Our votes — ALL of them — were going to count.  To be clear . . . the process wasn’t smooth, far from perfect, and we’re still dealing with the aftermath, but the votes were GOING TO COUNT.

And count they did, President Biden.

So now we have the next few months to look forward to as Trump is dragged from the Oval by his one strand of hair that’s approximately 8,000 feet long and wrapped delicately around his hollow dome, as he tries to issue more ridiculous executive orders while clinging to the Presidency like shit in a toilet bowl.  While it will be interesting, his removal will be as easy as yanking a spoiled, determined (320 lb) toddler – with transition issues – from a candy store.

Oh, wait, I promised comedy, right?  Well . . . it’s a comedy in the Shakespearean way.  With lots of ironies and unfortunate demise.  Most immediately, it’s hilarious that, with all of his effort to be deceitful, he LOST.  He was hoist with his own petard!  Also, keep in mind that comedy is tragedy plus time.  Re-read this in a year, and I promise you’ll laugh.  My hope is that we’re at least done crying for a while.

Realistically, it hasn’t been all bad.  The good news about this is that I think everyone has shown their true colors, and I, personally, have emerged from this ridiculousness with a much better idea of how to proceed, and with whom.  I did get engaged this year, so I consider 2020 to be a true new beginning.  Cheers to it.

 

 

Oct 25, 2020 - The Blessed Event    1 Comment

Unfamiliar territory

I thought I’d take a departure from political posts to provide an update on my life — because, in the future, I know I’ll be happy that I documented this.

About a month ago, my boyfriend (of nearly 11 years) proposed.  Yes, there are many opinions about the length of our “courtship,” and we grew weary of people asking “when? when? when?”, but we had very specific reasons for our timing, and because neither of us was in any particular hurry, it made perfect sense. To us.  (And, actually, I was perfectly fine being a girlfriend, because I’ve always had a theory that girlfriends are sexier than wives, but I digress . . .  )

It was a very fun and memorable evening and a complete surprise.  It was a grand gesture. He did a fantastic job and deserves all of the kudos.  And, I did say yes.

People have been asking me if I feel different, and I do, but not in the obvious way.  After being together for so long, our relationship didn’t take a different turn post engagement.  The only real differences are that I now have new beautiful jewelry, and we get to bicker about an entirely new topic — a wedding.

Now . . . let me back up a bit.  Did you ever have one of those friends who has had her wedding planned since high school?  You know her.  She is the one who has a fleshed-out Pinterest board full of a robust assortment of bridal gowns, shoes, and a wide assortment of (somewhat tacky) tchotchkes that can be personalized and given as gifts to her 300 guests.  She might have venues in mind already and numbers of wedding planners stored in her phone along with a list of wedding photographers, or a list of first dance songs. Real talk . . . she has the entire DJ set mapped out.  In fact, she might very well have the entire wedding planned — whether or not she’s yet met the groom.

In case you’re reading this, and you don’t really know me, I’m actually the antithesis of that person. Despite having been a bridesmaid about seven times, I did not walk into this with any real opinions about a wedding.  To take it a step further, I’ve also never seen marriage as an “accomplishment” as much as an embellishment of a good life.  In fact, over the years, I’ve always said that elopement would be my preference, and I can’t possibly understand why a couple would spend tens of thousands of dollars on one day.

Now that we’re all caught up on the past, here’s where we stand today:  I’ve learned over the last few weeks that, apparently, any wedding that I will have, will obviously have not one thing to do with me.   I now know that anyone who tells a woman that “it’s HER day” has been smoking a special strain of crack, because if we’re being completely honest?  Not one soul cares about what the bride REALLY wants.  If anyone was ever remotely confused about this fact, I’m here to pull back the curtains.  (Because, of course I am.)

Most weddings are planned according to expectations, nudgy family considerations and budget.  Did I mention expectations?

I’ve been doing a little experiment, and of my own little sample size (which is small . . . but big enough), when I’ve shared the news of my engagement, 90% of people will ask if I have a wedding date.

Ummm . .  . no.  We dated for 11 years and the engagement was a surprise.  If I were you, I would set my expectations appropriately.  Also?  There’s a little thing called a pandemic.  ‘Rona ruins all plans.

So . . .  after I’ve admitted my cluelessness about the wedding date, I’ve seldom (about 3% of the time) received the question that, in my mind, makes the most sense, which is “what kind of wedding do YOU want to have?”  Nopity nope. Instead, I’ve received a battery of opinions.  “You should have it in 2022.”  “You should have it before the end of the year.”  “You’d better invite me.”  “You should get your dress from . . . “  “You’d better not elope”  “Are you going to let _____ plan it?”  “You’d BETTER invite me.”  “You should have a shower at . . .”  “You should do it soon — your father isn’t getting any younger.”  “You’re inviting me, right?”

Yo . . . are these people crazy?

And my fiance . . . le sigh.  (First, I will admit that this is only about the fourth time that I’ve referred to him using the F word.  It’s still very surreal).  He owns an experiential marketing agency, and while he initially told me that I could do WHATEVER I want, he doesn’t mean it.  He has the best of intentions and loves to celebrate, but if we do have a wedding, and I don’t control him, there WILL be pyrotechnics.

I’m also somewhat fortunate in that both he and I have laid-back parents.  His mother is very sweet, and my father has not indicated ONE preference since he learned that we were engaged.  He has only offered to write a check, which I declined.

My mother, God rest her soul, would have been a different story.  She would have hated whatever dress I chose, and have forced me to invite all of her friends and people who remember when she was pregnant. Granted, she would have been happy to financially contribute, but it would have been like blood money, because it would have come with a hefty price.  Just the thought of my mother’s involvement evokes equal parts nostalgic laughter and significant anxiety.

So, all of this to say, if you’re one of the people who has been sitting back with popcorn, waiting for us to get engaged, thank you, but I hope you haven’t depleted your snack bowl.  If you don’t care, that’s also an appropriate response, but I would suggest storing this info for your next friend who gets engaged.

But, to answer some FAQs for those who STILL walk away from this with curiosity:

When are you guys getting married?  Not sure

Where are you getting married?  Not sure

Will you get married in a church?  [blank stare] Next question!

Have you picked out a dress?  If you’d ever witnessed me in the throes of choosing which of my 50 little black dresses to wear on a Saturday evening, you would understand that wedding dress selection is a process that could take MONTHS.  In short, no.

Are you going to have a wedding planner?  Yes.  Her name is Gina.  She’s an aggressive control freak.

Are you going to have a big wedding?  Well . . . at this point we can only have gatherings with 50 people in a room, so . . .  no?

Are you going to elope?  See . . . the definition of elopement is to run away and get married in SECRET.  If I mention elopement, it probably means we’ve already done it.

Are you going to invite me?  SECURITY!?!?!

Well, are you making any progress?  Again, PANDEMIC!  If there are any details worth sharing in the near future, I will spill the tea. Until then, I’m just enjoying my engagement and focusing on the relationship.

Sep 27, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Halley’s Comet

When I was much younger, my friends and I played a specific prank on each other.  In the middle of a sentence, or apropos of nothing, someone would point to the sky and scream “Halley’s Comet!”  The goal was to distract everyone and see who would fall for it.  At some point, everyone fell for it, even though we all consciously understood that we should have known better.

And that, good people, is what this election feels like.

I’m going to reiterate that I’m non-partisan, which, these days, boils down to the fact that I have just as many problems with Democrats as I do Republicans.  Because as far as I’m concerned, both parties could use an overhaul and redirection.

That said, as responsible citizens, we have to understand that there are a LOT of diversionary tactics being employed to sway factions of voters who, again, in my opinion, should have their feet firmly rooted in their voting choices based on 3.8 years of evidence.

Let’s discuss Trump’s Platinum Plan for Black people, shall we?

But, before I go on, can we all agree that Trump has done absolutely nothing to help Black people during his Presidency?  If anything, he’s actively hurt Black people (and before you rebut this, ask yourself the following question: am I Black?  If the answer is yes, keep reading.  If the answer is no,  shut up and keep reading).  He’s actively disparaged the BLM movement as a hate group, has openly fought AGAINST inclusion and openly PRAISED the Apartheid system of government that oppressed Blacks in South Africa.  He is quoted to have said “nobody loves Black people more than me.”  Sir, with the evidence I’VE seen?  I’m pretty sure that EVERYBODY loves Black people more than you.

Now . . . back to the Platinum Plan, which is outlined below:

platinum plan BS

I’m not going to go point-by-point here, because, irrelevant, but . . . while some might think this is an interesting plan, does anyone find it uncanny that he would propose such a plan RIGHT before the election?  Further, is anyone even slightly curious as to why he didn’t lead with this at the beginning of his Presidency?  I mean, one would THINK that a person who looooooves Black people as much as he claims to would have used such a plan as more than a last ditch effort to gain the Black vote.

It’s his very own Halley’s Comet, as he throws an imaginary diversion into the sky with the knowledge that at least a certain percentage of people will turn to look, with the hope of being dazzled by what will probably amount to a forgotten program, if it’s not complete bullshit at its inception, and cast a vote for him in November while distracted.

If there is nothing else to take away from this piece, plesae know that Halley’s Comet won’t make another appearance until 2061.  Don’t fall for it.  He’s President of a few . . .  which doesn’t include YOU.

 

 

 

Gratitude – 2nd chapter

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was bittersweet — with, really the only sweetness being that I’ve lived to see another year.

Between the pandemic, Hitlerian political rallies, senseless shootings, extreme disrespect, the staggering amount of garbage people in this country, and now the death of Chadwick Boseman, I can’t say that I’m in the mood to swing from the rafters.  Not that anyone is gathering in the first place.

I’m having a hard time with the death of Chadwick Boseman, and I take it as a sign that he expired on my birthday.  It has crystallized, in my mind, that we require escapism for inspiration.

Looking back at the last four years, I saw him twice.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Howard University graduation of 2018 in Washington, DC, and witness his keynote speech.  Boseman, himself, had graduated from Howard in 2000, and he was clearly a proud Bison.  He looked great. Healthy.  He was engaging, down-to-earth, inspirational, hilarious, and sent that beautiful class of brilliant Black graduates – and their adoring families – on an energized path to success.

The second time was in February of this year, at the closing party for the NBA All-Star game.   It was a relatively intimate setting in the VIP area. D-Nice and Clark Kent were spinning, and the party was a who’s who of Black celebrities and NBA stars.  Boseman walked in alone.  He was low-profile, wearing a backpack and his signature smile.  He greeted D-Nice and Clark Kent at the turntables and gave polite smiles to everyone in his midst.  Everyone was happy to see him. He walked past me, and I turned to get a better look.  I’d seen the pictures of him from recent months, where he was very thin, and I was pleased to see that he wasn’t nearly as gaunt as he’d looked in photographs. He hung out and joked with friends, and left within an hour or so.

People are awestruck that Boseman was able to accomplish so much while quietly battling a deadly illness, while I believe that his projects and ability to dig deep to make an impact and inspire others probably propelled him to live longer than the disease prescribed.

According to the press, Boseman had a four-year battle with colon cancer, so if we do the math, Black Panther was released in 2018 and took some years to make.  Boseman first appeared as Black Panther back in a 2016 Captain America film.  Four years ago.  And while it must have taken all of his energy to play that character — the first Black superhero — with his secret cancer, I can’t imagine the energy it gave him to know that he was going to motivate millions of people.  It was a true, selfless gift.  I can only imagine that he didn’t talk about his health because he didn’t want to distract from the message, and likely because it gave him the ability to be “normal” (although, what exactly does that mean, now?) for at least a few hours a day.

And, Cancer.  It’s probably the only thing that we can ALL agree on.  It’s not racist, sexist, elitist, or homophobic.  It’s an equal opportunity killer.

Looking back on all of it — Black Panther, my experiences, the photographs — I come away from it feeling as though I — and the rest of us — are going to need to escape into something to make it out of this.  Even if it’s only a few hours a day.  Life really is too much right now, and it’s easy to spend hours gaping at the television and watch everything happen to us.  I find myself having to be very intentional about taking the time to be creative, contribute to the world, lighten someone’s load, connect with friends on whatever level possible, and above all, be grateful.

Granted, 2020 is a dumpster fire of epic proportions.  Lots of people have lost their jobs.  Many friends have caught COVID, and some have passed away.  Several people have lost their parents.  2020 is the most productive serial killer that we’ve ever known.

BUT, I have to catch myself, because it’s easy to go down the slippery slope of sadness, and realistically, I have a lot to be grateful for. I have beautiful friends who thought enough of me to wish me a happy birthday.  I’m starting my new year with a busy job, a thriving small business, a fun new business, a home in which I don’t mind being quarantined, a father who is across the street and easy to stalk, I mean visit, and a great quarantine partner who is my favorite person, makes me laugh and gives me hope.  Also, as a bonus, we’re all in good health (today).  My germaphobic tendencies, which were previously regarded as kind of strange,  have made me especially equipped to remain healthy and so far COVID-free.   In fact, I’ve come to appreciate masks and might insist on wearing them going forward.  :-)

Now, I do realize that any of the aforementioned could change…on a dime, so I’m determined to make the best of this situation and be happy for what I have — at this moment — and live with the realization that I never know what others are going through.

 

Aug 27, 2020 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

America and the trend of disappointment – 1st chapter

I’ve been meaning to blog for several days, now, and each day my reason for blogging changes . . .  and escalates.  I’ll need to do this in chapters, and start with what’s bugging me the most.  I don’t know how many chapters there will be.  I’m going to surprise myself.

Let’s start with the shooting of Jacob Blake.  It was deplorable, right?  And before anyone chimes in to call him an “alleged” shooter, please don’t.  We all saw it, which means that there are no allegations in this situation.  Only facts.  Jacob Blake was BRUTALLY SHOT BY RUSTEN SHESKEY SEVEN TIMES, and the shooter should be charged with attempted murder.  Get comfortable with the label, just as Black people have grown accustomed to police shootings. Just because.

Scrolling through my social media feeds earlier this afternoon, I saw a story about Brian Urlacher, the meathead hairplug-having football player (who has a Black son), who is standing up for the little murderous psychopath whose deranged mother drove him to the protest with an illegal weapon so that he could openly kill and shoot protesters in Kenosha.  Again, no allegations here.  ABSOLUTE FACTS.

There were comments, and an idiot chimed in with a “Blue Lives Matter” sentiment.  Okay . . . you know what?  Let’s get something straight.  Blue Lives Matter is NOT a thing. Okay?  It doesn’t exist.

I’m sorry . .  . what’s that, Karen?  You don’t get it?  Well . . . let me drill it into your head.

My birth certificate states that I was born a Black female child.  Even before I knew the difference between people or understood the depths of the gutter of inequality that existed between myself and others.  I had several talks by my parents starting when I was a tiny child and was made to understand that there were things I couldn’t do, and places I couldn’t go – especially nestled in the racist neighborhoods of Beverly and Mt. Greenwood on the south side of Chicago, where I attended private school with white students who paid the same tuition, but with more freedom and the privilege of peace.  I had to be twice as good to get half as much.

At the end of the day, I and my Blackness go to sleep together, wake up together, and take the good and the bad of life . . . together.  I couldn’t escape it if I wanted to. And for the record, I don’t want to, because I believe that being Black is an amazing way of life.  We’re colorful with creativity and complicated and storied histories.  Our ancestors have strength and fortitude and have passed along the concepts of humor, great food, and spices.  (Ah, blessed spices!)  We have beautiful skin that remains majestic against time and weather conditions.  Most clever things originate with us, and we have natural elements of beauty that other races pay dearly to replicate.  We are amazing.  If only we could get people to stop condemning us, murdering us, and loving everything about us . . . except us.

People like to combat Black Lives Matter by saying that Blue Lives Matter, which is nothing short of an insult.  See . . . people choose to be police officers.  Cops are made, not born.  They attend the police academy and earn their blue suits. They can also take those suits off at the end of the day or retire their uniforms should they so choose.  Sure, people should have pride in what they do for a living, but when off-duty police officers go to the grocery store, or out with friends, or anywhere,  they’re just people.  There’s no real culture around the blue, unless you count keeping mum while your corrupt co-workers steal, kill and serve themselves rather than society.

Police officers can matriculate stealthily in crowds without being detected.  And, guess what?  There are several bad police officers, just as there are bad doctors, lawyers, and nurses.  It’s a profession,  Karen and Chad.   And if you’ve taken it that seriously and turned it into a way of life, I would suggest re-examining your choices. Because, were I you, I wouldn’t align with the deep culture of corruption that resides in the police force.  And sure . . . there are a lot of good cops.  But, dirty cops?  They’re like malignant cancer cells that metastasize until they cripple the entire entity.   (And if you choose to continue in your profession as a police officer who actually protects and serves as outlined by the job description, do yourself and the rest of us a favor and stand up against your criminalistic cohorts.  They’re giving you a bad name.  But I digress . . . )

The bottom line here is that you cannot compare Black life to your profession, or your father’s profession, or your husband’s.  When you stand firm and say things like “blue lives matter” or “we back the blue,” what you’re really saying is that you stand behind even the very worst police officer  — the one who is an embarrassment to the police organization.  You’re saying that you condone the murders of the innocent and the mentally incapacitated.  You’re saying that you are perfectly fine with the actions of the cops who have raped young women in their custody.  You stand firm with people who are SO power-hungry and depraved that they operate on a platform of taking advantage of citizens, rather than upholding the law.

It’s fine, though, because I like to know who I’m dealing with.

Again, the unfollow button is somewhere . . .

 

Jul 29, 2020 - Racebook    No Comments

Literals

Sometimes I really believe that most people are divided by simple semantic misunderstandings.

When certain terms were created and popularized, the originators didn’t take into account the reduced mental capacities among the lowest common denominator, who take everything – including all of what they glean from Fox News -  very literally.

For example, when “white privilege” is discussed, there are a lot of white people (many of whom are financially compromised) who somehow think that we (non-white people) believe that each and every white person has been endowed with a windfall of cash and resources that creates their privilege and makes their lives simple and easy.

Wrong answer.

Obviously there are a lot of white people who are financially disadvantaged.  However, overcoming bias due to their skin color is not one of the things that makes their lives hard.   It’s the privilege of receiving the benefit of the doubt, and the lack of preconceived notions and equal treatment.  It’s being 10 steps ahead of an equally educated and qualified, yet darker person.  My joke is that if you’re white and you’re not having fun, the problem is you.  I’m not really joking, though, if you’re searching for your white privilege, look within, because it was yours to lose.

Next, let’s tackle the most politically charged misconstrued term — “Black lives matter.”  So, let’s take a step back to reintroduce that reduced mental capacity that I discussed a few paragraphs ago.  To people who aren’t critical thinkers, it might seem that we’re saying that, because Black lives matter, nobody else’s life matters.  This is also the viewpoint of a person who believes that if s/he wins, others must lose — which goes against the very point of the BLM movement.

To be clear, the spirit of Black Lives Matter is inclusive, rather than exclusive.  When the constitution was written, it stated that all men are created equal, which clearly didn’t apply to Black men, who were only considered to be 3/5 of a person at the time.  So, it’s not a case of only Black Lives Matter.  We just want a seat at the table with those who have always mattered.  And until Black Lives Matter, there will never be true equality.

The people who vigorously (and often violently) espouse “All Lives Matters” are, in reality, trying to solidify their own (groundless) superior positions, and haven’t studied society (or anything else) long enough to realize that a) there’s enough room for everyone, and b) if OUR rights are being so egregiously violated, it’s only a matter of time before they’re coming for yours.

Let’s keep going, and introduce another concept that seems to create endless discussions and, again, a LOT of misunderstanding.  When we talk about “defunding the police,” the literals (not to be confused with liberals) think that the goal is to remove every single dollar used to pay the police force.  As if THAT makes any sense.

No, Karen, and bless your heart.

In reality, “defunding the police” is the process of reallocating a portion of the police budget to entities who are educationally equipped to de-escalate situations that would better benefit from mental health, youth services or community support professionals, rather than a weapon-crazy police force who would sooner kill an unarmed mentally ill citizen who’s just different, or simply having a moment, rather than apply a sense of humanity and actually try to create a good outcome.

It’s not that anyone believes that ALL police officers are bad and/or corrupt because there are quite a few good ones, and they are appreciated.  It’s just that, by-and-large, the average officer behaves out of fear rather than concern.

Also?  If we eliminate the millions of dollars spent settling police brutality cases, there would be plenty of available money to engage other assistance without disturbing existing police salaries.  Just a thought.

I’m also finding that the literals  — especially the ones who don’t have any people of color in their lives — seem to have a foundational belief that racism doesn’t exist (irrespective of all evidence) which means they feign confusion about why BLM is necessary, to begin with.  Never mind that they’re always the very ones being caught on video, hatefully spewing the N-word as if their very existences rely on it.   I was actually having a heated debate on my very own Facebook wall a few months ago with someone who purported to be oblivious to the depths of racism, and five minutes later talked about their experience with “the blacks.”  When I stopped laughing long enough to resume typing, I suggested that perhaps this person should defer to someone who looks like me, since I’m the one with the first-hand experiences (translation: “Bitch, please.”)

And while I’m choking on irony, let’s finally discuss how the people who believe in All Lives Matters, and probably giving MORE money to the police, and who think that there is neither racism nor white privilege SOMEHOW feel that wearing a mask is a violation of their human rights.

Ummmm . . . . WHAT?

A year ago, nobody could have convinced me that a large percentage of US citizens would actually be rebelling against rudimentary hygiene habits which could reduce a deadly pandemic.  Under a normal administration, a germ shield and basic handwashing principles wouldn’t be politicized, yet here we are.  What’s next?  Rebellion against scrubbing asses and feet?

Has anyone noticed, though, how karma has been stepping in?  Lots of incidents of people who have been vocal about how the virus is a hoax have been afflicted.  I’m sitting back with a socially distanced bowl of popcorn to see how this plays out.

Jul 26, 2020 - Mi familia    No Comments

Be Good to Seniors

It’s Sunday, and I try to keep myself busy on Sunday mornings because they were usually reserved for conversations with my aunts.

Growing up, I can’t remember a Sunday when my mother didn’t insist that we make our rounds of calls.  We were the only Chicagoans in a family of east coast dwellers, and while I would visit them every summer, during the other seasons she wanted to make sure that my relationships with her 10 older siblings were reinforced. So, Sunday mornings were always reserved for phone calls to, at least, my Aunts.  She taught me that it was my responsibility to check on them, and felt that the onus was hers to instill.

Fast forward to adulthood, the tradition continued, but I sadly have fewer people to call. My Aunt Emily passed away in 2014 at the age of 86.  She was the sister closest in age to my mother, and the happy recipient of my mother’s jewelry when she passed away.  The best part about Aunt Emily was her lack of filter, which grew more threadbare as she aged.  It was wonderful to hear unvarnished versions of the stories that I’d heard throughout childhood, without the truth being altered to protect the reputations of the guilty.  I so looked forward to our conversations, which would sometimes last for several hours, because she was also a fantastic person to talk to, having seen it all, done it all, with great advice to share.  And because she knew me so well, the advice was personalized and valuable.

Some people would say that it was “good of me” to call her regularly.  But she didn’t need me; I needed her.  My cousin, her son, was an amazing caretaker.  I felt it was my honor and privilege to have her in my life.  I selfishly wish she were still here because I have SO many more unanswered questions.

The shittiest part of becoming an adult has been watching my older relatives succumb to aging, and eventually leaving us.

Which brings me to the point of this blog, buried all the way down in the 6th paragraph.  (BTW, the beauty of blogging is that I can take great liberties with the rules of writing, and if I feel like burying a lead, I bury a lead without fear of scolding from an editor.  And I can completely digress if I want to.  :-) )  So, I’m really concerned about our treatment of seniors.

During my frequent trips to the grocery store, I notice a lot of seniors, moving slowly, fending for themselves in a sea of the frantic able-bodied desperate shoppers who view the elderly as mere impediments to their pace.  Some of them don’t have proper PPE, and I wonder how they arrived at the store, and if they’ll get home safely.

My dad is in his 90s, and I am more grateful for him than I can express.  He lives across the street (at my insistence), and he’s my favorite neighbor.  I’m fortunate in that he’s more alert and physically capable than people several decades his junior.  While I applaud his mobility and encourage him to be independent and social, his daily errands (pre-pandemic) were also terrifying, because we live in a society of disrespect.

Just as I was taught to check on my older relatives, I was also instructed to look out for the elderly on my block — make sure they don’t need anything, pick things up for them, offer to help, never call them by their first name, and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, those traditions haven’t been maintained by most people and I rarely see kids who have the proper amount of respect for elders.  I take great care to make sure that my father doesn’t fall victim to scammers or bad-ass younger folks who would kill him for $20.  And those are just the people in my own family!  I kid, I kid, but it does happen in some families.  It’s heartbreaking to learn when seniors are taken advantage of or mistreated.  I wouldn’t go to jail for many things, but let me hear that a person is trying to abuse my father or any of my elderly relatives, and I would act first and don the orange jumpsuit later.

That said, I hope everyone who reads this truly understands the value of seniors. Maybe they’re not regarded as fun to talk to, or they might move slower than you, or not grasp technology as well.  They might not go out drinking or partying with you, but they’re still the same amazing people they’ve always been, except they’re now living within aging bodies that betray them daily, and most of them aren’t happy about it.  They have stories to tell and things to teach, and as one of my good friends often says, when a senior citizen dies, it’s like an entire library burns down.  We shouldn’t move so fast that we forget them.

Being child-free,  I often wonder where I’ll be when I move past my age of “usefulness,” if I’m lucky enough to live so long.  I do like the idea of co-locating nursing homes with childcare centers, and while little kids drive me insane, the interaction is good for both seniors and children.  Older people could benefit from the youthful energy of little kids, and children need to benefit from the wisdom, and be taught patience and respect.

The best thing I’ve seen lately was the outpour of responses for seniors in nursing homes who were looking for penpals.  I hope it continues, and for the people who don’t have seniors to care for, I encourage everyone to informally adopt one — especially during this pandemic — and make sure they’re okay.   Have good conversations, because tomorrow isn’t promised.  You never know what you’ll learn.

 

Jul 11, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Clarity

Here we are again.  Hello!  Sick of me yet?  :-)

Today’s moment of clarity stems from a few comments that I’ve read on various social media posts.  Perhaps this will help.

“Why should I be punished for this?  I’ve never owned slaves!”

That’s awesome, because I’ve never been one.

Yes, people actually say this.

White people aren’t being punished for the sins of their fathers, but they have been taking advantage of the resulting privilege (see my earlier blog about white privilege).

Realistically, nobody’s asking white people to pay a debt, in the literal sense of the word.  The problem is that true equality has never existed, and black people don’t need you to write a check.  We just need the same chance at success, equal wages for the same jobs, the same treatment by people of authority, fair treatment by the justice system, the same investment in our neighborhoods, to not be told that we’re ugly, to not be held to your stereotypes, to have the same value on our lives as all other human beings, irrespective of our skin tones.  None of these things take anything away from white people.  There’s room for everyone, but the only white people who are upset about it are the ones who are interested in oppression.

“You don’t think it’s racist that black people have their own groups and Universities?  Why can’t there be groups just for white people??”

This is a favorite of mine.  Let’s go point by point.

So, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were created after the end of slavery, when black people were prohibited from attending mainstream (i.e. white) universities, and fortunately, black people were dedicated to education.   There are approximately 100 HBCUs in the US, and here’s a fun fact . . . educators who fled Nazi Germany in the 1920s and 1930s and sought asylum in the US were welcomed professors at HBCUs.  Fast forward to today, it might be surprising to learn that about 20% of HBCU enrollment is from non-black students, and some have white student enrollments of up to 12%.

That said, while HBCUs aren’t marketed to white people, black people don’t really care if they attend.  If you want to be there, we’re happy to have you.  Just ask Rachel Dolezal, Howard University graduate.  For the record, we invite you to reclaim her.  Please!?

Similar to HBCUs, exclusively black groups (civil rights organizations, frats, sororities, social groups, etc.) were formed because black people were prohibited from joining mainstream (i.e. white) groups.  Black people also have unique issues because, slavery. The NAACP was formed in the early 1900s as a civil rights organization that worked toward the advancement of “colored people.”  Again, we’re not discriminating against others, but if we didn’t form our own, we would have nothing.  We like to be places where we’re actually welcomed versus tolerated, so they’re comfortable for us.  Our groups are all about advancement and replacing the self-esteem that we lose while matriculating in mainstream society.

The reason that the aforementioned can’t be considered racist is that they were formed by minority groups, and we are not the oppressors.  They’re also very inclusive groups.  (Rachel Dolezal once again comes to mind.  Still waiting for white people to reclaim her)

Conversely, all of the exclusive, “rah-rah I’m white” groups that I know of have a nasty little habit of either plotting the demise of or trying to KILL black people. So, they have that going for them.

“I believe ALL lives matter, and everyone else should, too!  BLM is racist!” 

What’s wrong, boo boo?  Do you feel threatened?  Wouldn’t it be just terrible if your life were devalued?  Wouldn’t it be devastating if people could just feel free to discriminate against you, solely because you’re white, without consequences?  Do you believe that the admission of BLM is a symbol of “white fragility,” and to say that black lives matter not only reveals your true belief that black people do NOT deserve justice, but it also challenges everything you’ve been taught?

Whenever I hear people violently refusing to understand the BLM movement, I realize that they’re unclear on the concept and likely have trouble applying critical thinking.

In reality, all lives DO matter, but we’ve been shown that in your eyes, black lives are less important.  All of our lives, we’ve been taught that white lives reign supreme, and it’s tiring.  It’s coming to a head now because of our political climate, and the fact that we’re crumbling beneath a “leader” whose platform is built on a foundation of hate and fear.

Which is the perfect segue to “It’s a violation of my rights to wear a mask.”

This is the one that I really don’t understand.  So . . . to what do these people attribute the thousands of deaths?  As far as I’m concerned, there are a few underlying issues at play:

  1. If leadership isn’t wearing masks, why should I?  Let’s not underestimate the importance of consistent messages from the top. The reality is that we have poor leadership who can’t set the right tone and fosters stupidity by saying things like “the more tests we administer, the more positive results we’ll have.”  As if that makes any sense.  I’m not even going to discuss the bleach-drinking comment.
  2. You’re not the boss of me!  Essentially, they won’t wear masks because they are being told to do so.  Entitled people HATE being told what to do, evidenced by the volume of unhinged Karens, caught on video losing their shit about being asked to mask up.
  3. Coronavirus is a conspiracy theory.  Exactly who is executing the conspiracy?  The government?  I’m not sure they thought this through.  From what I understand, they see themselves as bonding together against authority.
  4. Coronavirus doesn’t really exist.  These people don’t think they know anyone who has really died of Covid-19.  The unfortunate part is that the non-believers usually don’t know anyone who has died of the coronavirus until they, themselves have it and it wipes out their entire family.  Some would call this Darwinism.  Others might call it thinning the herd.  I call it sad.

 

If anyone else has a good reason not to wear a mask, please leave it in the comments down below.  I am truly interested.

 

 

Jul 4, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Not monolithic, and why I don’t celebrate the 4th of July

Not sure where to begin on this one.

It’s July 4th, and I don’t normally celebrate the true meaning of this day, although I’m happy to have the days off.  As far as I’m concerned, this day — the day that the US declared independence from England — also marks the day that they needed a little help building the new country.  Guess where they got that help?  So, while the day is commemorated with fireworks, gatherings and good food, for black people, it’s tantamount to whooping it up to celebrate the inception of slavery.   And as I said, I’m happy for the days off, but I won’t be getting a cake with a flag on it anytime soon.

This is not a lesson taught in schools.

As a matter of fact, when we’re young and in elementary school (or grammar school, depending on your region), we learn about other countries.  Inevitably, the teacher will ask whose parents come from Italy, and we hear all about being Italian.  Whose family is from Greece?  Students might’ve raised their hands, and took a moment to tell us about their culture.  Lather, rinse, repeat for any number of countries.  In my class, I didn’t have the benefit of other black kids who could tell direct stories about Africa or the Caribbean, so the black American kids didn’t really have interesting stories to tell and since the assumption was that we were all descendants of slaves, the white kids – with their pride in their various ethnicities — were left to assume that we were all the same, which is the very wrong assumption.

I could prattle on ALL day about all of the different factions of black people, and how regions within the US impact our upbringing and viewpoints.  I’m of the personal opinion that much of the separation among black people can be taken back to slavery when Africans were captured from several countries — many of which spoke different languages and couldn’t communicate with one another — and lumped together, while slave masters prohibited communication in their native tongues, despite their refusal to teach them the English language.  The dissension began there and was furthered when slaves were separated by skin color, with favor given to the light-skinned slaves, (an issue that continues to divide us), who were typical products of rape by the slave master. Black women are portrayed as oversexualized to this day, due to the narrative that we were wanton seductresses who tempted slave owners. (blech!)

You see, it made sense for slave owners and white people, in general, to dissuade camaraderie and encourage ignorance among slaves, because it lessened the chance of slaves bonding together and rising up against them.  Perhaps the inception of white fragility.

Fast forward 400 years, and there are still clear separations.  While we share the presence of melanin, our viewpoints vary.  Just as Italians, Greeks, Lithuanians, etc., aren’t culturally aligned with one another, there’s not always alignment among us either.  I, personally, don’t align with Caribbean culture, nor will I fit in with traditional African cultures.  I have an east coast family, so I’m not really at home with black people from the deep south.  Within Chicago, I’m a south sider, and there’s a legendary rift between the south and west sides of the city.  Nothing wrong with those other factions, but it is what it is.

When we factor in the socio-economic differences, white people vary dramatically . . . and so do black people.  Early in my career, in my most hated job, I worked with a woman – Noreen (her real name, because I don’t care), who was racist (and an aging ho, but I digress).  We were walking down the street together one day, and there was a homeless black man who was probably drunk, and trying to talk to us.  Noreen asked me to “translate” because she didn’t “speak black.”   I was visibly and audibly unhappy about this, and she looked at me as though she would have no idea why I would be annoyed.  Some time later, I referred to “her people” who were from the trailer park, and when she looked equally annoyed with me, I winked at her — a gesture that was lost on her, but made me happy.

Also, just like white people, there is a distinct division between honest people and criminals.  I laugh when white people introduce black-on-black crime as a supposition that we don’t care about our own lives, which begs the question of why they should jump on board with Black Lives Matters.  It’s funny because it doesn’t make sense on multiple levels.  I think of it as, simply, crime, because I don’t align with criminals (irrespective of skin color), and I can’t explain why they do what they do, nor do I take responsibility for them.  People love to ask:  “WHAT is going on in the black community?  Why are there so many shootings?”  Hell, I don’t know.  It could be a gang war, or maybe it has to do with drugs, OR perhaps it has to do with the reduced income levels, which always results in an increase in crime.  I wish I had an answer.

Circling back, the bottom line here is that we were taught differences between white people, and they weren’t taught ours because nobody knows what to teach them, and they don’t want to be taught by us.  Because of my upbringing, I know a lot about various cultures – Italian, Jewish, etc.  But most of my childhood friends can’t reciprocate their knowledge of mine.  So many white people, when they think of us, believe we’re all the same.

At my second most hated job, which was only a few years ago,  I worked with a woman known as my Crazy Racist Coworker.  I would use her real name (because again, don’t care), but if you follow me on FB, you’ve read the stories, so in the interest of consistency I’ll refer to her here as CRC.  That said, CRC once told me, after I received accolades from a black partner in the firm, that “you black people all stick together.”  So, I said “Bitch, do you watch the news?”  CRC, with her po-dunk hicktown beginnings and eventual venture into the “big city” where she nestled comfortably into the most homogeneous neighborhood that she could find, made a LOT of groundless suppositions.  CRC, who has never taken the time to honestly get to know one person of color, assumed, again, that we’re all the same.

Not sure if a lot of white people realize this, so I’m going to spell it out really clearly.  We are all very different, and can’t be expected to provide one viewpoint on anything.  That’s why, when I’m asked to be the ambassador of black people for some of my melanin-challenged associates, I always qualify the answer with “well, I can’t speak for all black people,” because I cannot. You’re just going to have to truly get to know a wide range of us and round out your opinions.

But back to the point . . . black people have had a long history of not being able to trust members of alleged “authority,” and victimized by white people who wanted to hold us back, with the belief that we are “savages” as originally defined by white people during the times of slavery, which extends to modern day, as intimated in the media.  It’s all psychological warfare, really.

The tables have turned, because it’s now time for white people to have a seat and learn something from and about black people.  We live in a world that they don’t know, and we have experiences that are unrelatable and in many cases unfathomable to them, but necessary to understand.

All of that said, the ONE thing that all black people DO agree on is that there need to be laws in this country to protect us from the very people who are supposed to be in charge.  Y’know, the descendants of the delightful people who wrote the constitution — where it’s stated that we’re all created equal — and conveniently retreated to their plantations to whip slaves who weren’t considered to be people at all?  Again, I digress.

And here we are in 2020, marching for the right to simply stay alive.  But this time we’re educated, and we’re amazed that FINALLY, a meaningful number of white people understand that murders by police and generally brutal treatment of black people by a range of white people – from shit-kicking morons to self-righteous Karens to corporate assholes who implement institutional racism to the President of the United States – is complete bullshit and needs to cease.

Honestly?  I hate Trump, and I’m super embarrassed that we have a failed businessman and reality TV star as the leader of our nation.  (If you voted for him, congratulations!  Now we’re on Survivor.) BUT,  I can only be grateful that he’s so polarizing and awful, because it took someone like him — a man who role models violence, makes fun of the physically disadvantaged, grabs women by the pussy, should I really go on? -  to cast a bright light on our problems. If he exists only to move this movement forward, I guess I can forgive his parents for having him.  Also, the absolute best part about this whole thing is that a very disconnected group of people (by design) with similar physical traits can get on the same page about wanting to see reform.

Hoping for something different to celebrate in the coming years, and I wish everyone a happy day, however you choose to enjoy the great weather.  Oh, and put on a goddamned mask  :-)

 

 

 

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