Archive from July, 2020
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  :-)