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  :-)

 

 

 

Jun 23, 2020 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Straight out of the playbook . . .

I have to admit that I’m tired of writing about race relations, but I’ve promised myself that every single day that I encounter something new, I will consider it a teachable moment for anyone who might want to learn.  For those who are, indeed, interested in learning, my topic of the day is the implications of commonly used sayings and phrases that are straight out of the playbook.  Specifically, the racist playbook.

First, let me explain where I’m coming from.

Remember that old Bruce Willis film, The Sixth Sense, where the young Haley Joel Osment claims to see dead people?  He sees them everywhere, and they only see what they want to see without the realization that they’re actually dead.  At the end [spoiler alert], Malcolm Crow, the Bruce Willis character, discovers that he’s been dead all along, and it’s a very emotional scene.   We’ve all seen that, right?

So . . . I’ve observed striking similarities in some racists.  They’re the Malcolm Crow of racists, and they don’t think they’re racists, and in fact, they roam the earth with the full belief that they’re accepting of all variations of people . . . until something slips out and they play their hands.

No worries, though, because I’m here to help.  If you’ve ever said any item on the list below, you might be an unintentional covert racist.  For the record, I’ve heard or read each one of these in the past seven days.

  1. “I don’t see color.”  C’mon now . . . yes, you do.  And you absolutely should.  Seeing no color, as you claim, means that you also don’t see discrimination.  In order to be a true anti-racist — if that’s your goal — you need to see it all so that you can defend against it.  When people say that they don’t see color, I immediately take that to mean that they don’t care to be bothered with anything that comes along with being a person of color.  Which is . . .what?  That’s right.  Racist.
  2. “All Lives Matter.”  So . . . here’s the deal.  Black people think that white lives matter too.  But the problem is that the sentiment is often not returned, and ALL lives aren’t endangered. Saying All Lives Matter in the wake of so many blatant and unpunished infractions against Black people is like going to the funeral of a friend’s child, and announcing that All Children Matter.  Well, of course they do, but we’re mourning the loss of one specific child today.  Comparing your vibrant and healthy child to one that’s been tragically killed is horribly insensitive.  Don’t you agree?
  3. “If you don’t like it, you can always leave the country.”  And go where, idiot?  I’m American.  So, your suggestion is that I find another home, because I don’t enjoy receiving poor treatment in a country where I pay taxes?  How about you help figure out a way that every citizen of this country feels good about being a US passport holder?  If you merely enjoy basking in your own comfort without concerning yourself with the mistreatment of others, sorry, but that makes you a racist.  And an asshole.
  4. Referring to Black people as “Blacks” or “the Blacks.”  Trump didn’t create this speech pattern, although he is expert at it.   Saying things like “I never met Blacks before,” is a) kind of stupid, and b) removes the human element.  “I’ve never met a Black person” is not only more grammatically correct, but also FAR more respectful and humanizing.  Using an article in front of a group, e.g. “the Blacks,” “the gays,” etc., puts distance in between oneself and that group.  They are “other,” and typically anyone who refers to “the Blacks” isn’t doing so in a complimentary way.  Again, racist.
  5. “Why are we protesting the police when Black people are killing each other anyway?  Seems counterproductive.”  This was a direct quote from a woman who, after my response, now wishes that she had never positioned her fingers on the keyboard to type those words.  Suffice it to say that this one burns me, because what she’s really saying is “They’re just going to kill each other anyway, so the police might as well do it, too.”   Not only does that make zero sense, but it’s also incredibly rude and born of the erroneous belief that “we’re all the same.”  The Black-on-Black crime argument is a white supremacist distraction tactic that has a solid foundation of unintelligence and attempts to take the attention away from the real issues.  Let’s break it down in a way that might make sense.  While most crimes against Black people are committed by Black people, most crimes against white people are committed by . . . who?  That’s right! White people!  Criminals exist in every culture, and they’re going to prey on the closest victim.  But let’s not focus on the criminals, because I don’t care to consort with them either.  Let’s also not focus on Black-on-Black crime.  I vote to simply consider it just plain crime.  If we’re going to differentiate,  let’s focus on the subsets that are rarely brought to justice: White-on-Black crime and especially Blue-on-Black crime, perpetrated by the very people who have been hired to protect and to serve.  When police behavior is indiscernible from criminal behavior, we should ALL realize that there’s a faulty process in place.   #systemicracism
  6. “If they followed instructions, maybe they wouldn’t get killed.”  Where do I start?  Well . . . Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her own home.  Also, most of the people who have been shot and killed by police were either committing petty crimes that shouldn’t have warranted drawn guns, or doing absolutely nothing wrong.  George Floyd was suspected of passing a fake $20 bill, didn’t resist arrest, and was STILL killed when he should have merely been questioned.  Rayshard Brooks was drunk.  Have you ever known a drunk person who followed instructions? (That’s right . . . think back to last weekend)  Granted, he shouldn’t have been drunk driving, but according to MADD, each day 300,000 people drive drunk.  Imagine if they were all killed.  And why resist arrest?  So, have you SEEN what cops do to Black people who are under arrest?  WHO would sign up for that?  Especially a drunk person.  If you are the sober person in the situation, and a member of law enforcement, it is YOUR JOB to de-escalate the situation and make sure that EVERYONE is safe.  (I touched on this in the previous blog.  I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself, but apparently repetition is necessary in this case)
  7. “Blue Lives Matter.”  We don’t have anything to discuss.  At least nothing you want to hear.

 

Once again, I hope that helps.  Maybe one day I’ll get back to ranting about cooking utensils, crowded parties and people who insist on hugging without permission.  Until then, I’ll be getting on everyone’s nerves with these posts until we see true reform.  There’s an unsubscribe button here, somewhere . . .   #youvebeenwarned

Jun 19, 2020 - Rants, Uncategorized    2 Comments

Privilege and the pandemic

Twice in a month from me.  Don’t pass out.  There’s a lot to discuss.

As I posted on Facebook earlier this week, I’m not my typical snarky humorous self . . . because I’m not really in the mood.  I’ve been toiling over this blog for DAYS, which is unlike me, and I’m forcing myself to finish it today, on Juneteenth.

People are funny, in their suggestions and expectations.  Someone approached me recently, pointing out that my posts have been  heavy, and suggesting that I infuse  more “light-hearted energy.”  My knee-jerk reaction was to say something like “Bitch, I’m not Bozo.  Look at the world around you! You’re tired of hearing about racism?  Well, I don’t care, because I’m tired of experiencing it.”

I refrained, although I wish I hadn’t.

At a time when everyone should be bonding together against a common enemy (COVID-19), we’re dealing with a messy tangle of anger and unrest, which led me to think about privilege.

Privilege is a term that we throw around to the point where it’s lost its original meaning, or the meaning has become secondary to the term itself, if that makes sense.

To be clear, to have privilege – specifically white privilege, for purposes of this post – doesn’t mean that your life isn’t hard; it means that your skin color isn’t the source of your hardship.

Privilege means that you can spend a great deal of time focusing on your success, if you so choose, without having your productivity overshadowed by thoughts of how you’ll be perceived or that you will be underestimated before one word exits your mouth.  Or not even having to consider that the conversation would be different if you weren’t present among your otherwise homogeneous group of colleagues.

Privilege also means that the most uncouth, embarrassing ugly American (white) can travel freely to any country with the feeling that everyone there will be so happy to have him, as long as he’s spending the mighty US dollar.  In the meantime, a natural part of my vacation planning – before booking a flight — is research, and asking friends and Google whether or not my desired destination is safe for black people.

Privilege means that you don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about how simply going about the course of your day, and casually finding yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time could get you into a stupid racially-charged argument, at minimum, or potentially killed.

Privilege means going through life without the realization or recognition of the fact that racism is actually a white person’s problem.  White people created it, and it’s going to take white people to get rid of it — once they pay attention to it.

And, white privilege can be defined as the white person’s ability to look at the Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd murders, or even incidents with people like Amy Cooper — alias Central Park Karen, and the stupid woman who called the cops to report a man stenciling Black Lives Matter on his OWN HOUSE, without seeing him/herself in those situations.

Every single altercation and murder has been very personal to me.  I could have been Breonna Taylor,  shot dead in my home.  I could have been Sandra Bland. I could be any of the departed, murdered in the street by an egomaniacal cop (likely one whose previous documented use of excessive force has gone unpunished) who has decided that he should be judge, jury, and executioner for a crime that I didn’t commit — because he operates with the (societally-supported) assumption that my life does not matter.  I can imagine the desperation that each victim must have felt — that their lives were dependent on the whims of a psycho with a badge, and there’s not a damned thing that anyone can or will do about it.  Dying wasn’t on the agenda for the day, yet here they are.

Despite the “compliments” I’ve received from white people over the years (“you’re not black black, you’re white black” [WHAT?] or “you outclass yourself” [HUNH??]), at the end of the day (or at the beginning of the day), I’m just a random black person in the eyes of white strangers and most important, law enforcement, regardless of how much education I have, or what I happen to be doing.

But I believe in the Universe and cosmic connections and it’s no accident that this is 2020, the year of perfect vision and hindsight. It’s only fitting that we start to see this situation in a new light, create real change and perhaps begin the dismantling of an entire judicial system that’s been in place since we were regarded as 3/5 of a person.

And I’ll tell you what . . . I’m sick to DEATH of hearing the argument “if they follow instructions, they wouldn’t have been shot.”  So . . . WHY would anyone blindly follow the instructions of people they don’t trust and have NEVER been able to trust?  Also?  The majority of the people who have been shot and killed by police weren’t committing crimes.  So, their crime was maybe resisting arrest for resisting arrest?  You get that doesn’t make sense, right?

I’m also sick of the black-on-black crime argument because it’s used by racists as a distraction from the real issue.

Let’s not forget that the job of a police officer is to de-escalate a situation and apprehend a suspect.  The fifth amendment of the constitution tells us that no citizen shall be deprived of “life, liberty, or property without the due process of law.”  This means that Officer Asshole is not entitled to be judge, jury, and executioner for a person who’s crossing a street, selling loose cigarettes, going five miles over the speed limit, or any other petty crime that has been the catalyst for killing a black person in recent years.

You cannot stand for the flag while ignoring the constitution.

Now, before I completely digress, let’s get back to the pandemic, which has been pushed to the side since the George Floyd murder.  While everyone’s protesting unprotected, and returning to their lives of carefree gathering, hugging and handshaking, the Coronavirus infections and fatalities continue, and I’m sure we’ll be quarantined again within the next month.

So, throughout all of this, I guess I’m curious about how everyone is dealing with this.

If you take everything that’s going on, and layer on all of the other lifey-life shit (money, family, career, relationships), while removing the ability for joy, it’s truly a recipe for a mental breakdown. Without friends, gathering, movie theater nights, or social experiences to alleviate the general sadness, our spirits can become really dark.

I would like for us to remember that there’s only so much we can take, and encourage us all to take breaks when and wherever we’re able.  It’s going to get harder before it gets better.

 

 

 

 

 

May 26, 2020 - Rants    2 Comments

I’m back . . . now let’s talk life, video and why I hate apologies

Sheesh, it’s been a minute (and by “minute,” I mean “years”).

One of the beautiful things about this pandemic and quarantine is that I feel my creativity slowly coming back, and I actually feel like blogging again, and I created a t-shirt company as an outlet for my snark.  All good signs.

What drove me to commentary is a situation in the news today where Amy Cooper, an investment professional, falsely called the police to say that her life was being threatened by Christian Cooper a bird-watching Black man (no relation), simply because he asked her to leash her dog in The Ramble, an area of Central Park which attracts over 200 species of birds and dogs are to be leashed at all times.

The story is outrageous because we all know that calling the police on a Black person — especially one that claims a threat to life — is tantamount to a death sentence.  If she hadn’t meant him harm, she would have simply said “man” rather than placing the emphasis “African American man.”  The situation has escalated to the point where her employer – Franklin Templeton – has announced via Twitter that they have fired her, and stated that they don’t tolerate racism of any kind.  Good for them.

The truly sad part is that so many people were concerned about the life of the dog over that of the man. In fact, had Cooper not been damn near strangling that poor little dog on camera, I doubt that there would have been so much outrage for the incident.

The unfortunate reality is that black people are used to this treatment.  We shouldn’t be, but it’s common.  Being underestimated because of the color of our skin, with the assumption being that we’re committing crimes while we’re just going about the normal courses of life, doing typically mundane things that are within our rights as human beings.

I would argue that unbiased, racially sensitive white women should actually be the most outraged by Cooper’s stunt.  Readers who haven’t seen the video should really invest a few minutes of time, if for no other reason than to witness her multi-tasking animal cruelty with an Oscar-worthy (manufactured) performance on her 911 call, rivaled only by the acting talents of Reese Witherspoon or Meryl Streep.

By embodying the essence of “the boy who cried wolf,” Amy Cooper has contributed to the reduction of the credibility of white women everywhere — adding herself to the long list of Barbecue Beckys and Karens of the world, who relish in calling the police in retaliation to people of color who don’t stay within their boundaries.  At some point, future claims of “life-threatening” infractions will cause a delay in punitive action, with the 911 agent immediately wondering if s/he is being “Amy Coopered.”

From Amy Cooper herself, we’ve heard a watery apology and a claim that the video is “ruining her life.”  According to Cooper, she was scared, which I don’t buy for a second.  Scared people retreat, rather than threaten.  Her actions were those of an empowered, perhaps narcissistic person who believes that she’s the exception to the rule.  Cooper wanted the world to know that, while her actions appeared to be racist, that’s not really who she is.  I mean, she DID refer to him as an African American man on the 911 call, right?  It could have been so much worse!

Bless her heart.  Her parents must be so proud.

I’m not really a fan of apologies in general, because they always go a little something like this:

  • I’m really sorry (that I was caught)
  • That’s not really who I am (in public, and I certainly didn’t mean to expose my bullshit to the entire world)
  • I apologize if you were offended (because that would be your problem . . . not mine)
  • I hope you can forgive me (and I REALLY hope that my employer can be equally forgiving because the economic impact is truly the only reason why I’m eating crow.  I still have the same viewpoints, but going forward I’ll know to keep my mouth shut in mixed company)

I would have had more respect for her if she’d actually refrained from apologizing, and taken a different approach:

“I’ve given a lot of thought to my actions, and I’ve reached the conclusion that I did operate with bias, and my retaliation exposed my belief that an African-American man had no business reprimanding me about how I handled my dog in ANY setting — regardless of my having broken the rules of a park that is shared by millions of New Yorkers.  Upon reflection, I realize that I have a lot of work to do, much of which will be recalibrating my thinking, perhaps working against my upbringing and eliminating any actions that reflect my deep-seated feelings that I am better than others. If I find myself in a similar situation in the future, I will strive to react differently.” 

Or something like that.  Fantasy?  Perhaps, but maybe one day . . .

 

 

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