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The New Jim Crow & the Nightmare River

When I started reading The New Jim Crow a couple of years ago, I felt my world rippling. I don’t mean this allegorically. I felt the smoothness disturbed by something else clawing to be let in.

Before I picked up the book, I’d been floating along on the smooth, clear water of U.S. life. I assumed all was (mostly) good and well straight down to the river’s bottom.

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow‘s author, invited me to stop floating and actually dip a finger into the water. Beneath the thin veneer of calm, her recounting of recent American history informed me, I’d find turbulence and boiling water that was scalding people alive.

I dipped in one finger and discovered she was right. Horrified, I returned my hands to the surface. I set Alexander’s book aside and enjoyed my onward drift.

Over the summer, little burning bubbles began emerging from the water around me. They were uncommon and only a little painful, so I ignored them at first. Why would I go seek out more pain?

But then I saw bigger bubbles roiling below the surface and understood: the U.S. is a world in which only a few are allowed to float at the surface. Others are forced down, trapped in the murky, hot water beneath and struggling to reach the surface for even a moment’s gasping breath.

I understood: they suffer so that I might stay comfortably afloat. “Oh, shit!” I started shouting to those floating near enough to hear me. “People are drowning below us! We have to see the whole river beneath us, not just the sparkles up top, or they’re going to keep on drowning!”

Alone, I saw, I could pull very, very few people up to the surface. If I could enlist other surface-floaters to reach down, though, I knew we could together evacuate this nightmare river and seek out one with cleaner, genuinely smooth waters where all were equally able to experience the river in its fullness.

“Shhh, you’re disturbing our ride,” fellow floaters admonished in return.  Read more…

His body

Oh, friends.

I need to tell you about a nightmare I have, often.

I’ve told you about the facts of Black men killed by American state actors, hundreds of men-turned-hashtags daily and the numbers to which their lives are boiled down, but I need to tell you about this nightmare. This hurt.

I need you to know that I don’t care how you cast your votes. I don’t, though I obviously did until a few weeks ago. This isn’t about votes, though the post was inspired by yet another White Hillary voter telling me I must be so glad Trump is coming to office.

He spoke those words because he has no idea the weight I’ve carried the last few years. He has no idea that this Terrible Thing Just About to Happen in his eyes is already a moment from happening day after day after day after day in mine.

He has no idea that when I cast my vote for Bernie Sanders in the general election, it was because I already knew that Hillary Clinton was no savior for Black men.

“You didn’t find the right words,” people like this man have told me dismissively. “It can’t really be that bad, or I’d have noticed it.”

No, you really wouldn’t have, I’ve tried to say dozens of different ways. Your life is hard and scary and sad enough as is, even without looking beyond your own day to day.

You didn’t notice, and that’s understandable.

I did, because I had to.

I did, because every day I kiss my husband goodbye as I leave for work, I’m acutely aware of how I might never see him again.

So, please, follow my nightmare … and, please, for the love of God, do anything you can to see it doesn’t come true for anyone else, no matter who ascends to the White House next month.

I am sitting and playing with my two young boys in my living room when my cell phone rings. Read more…

Protest expanded executive power, not Trump

November 15, 2016 Comments off

I recently called President Obama a magician. He’s quite a skilled one, too; he consistently has you believing he’s doing one thing while doing quite another. I’ve listed several specific examples today.

President Obama has dramatically, scarily expanded executive power just in time to hand the U.S. presidency to Donald Trump.

Rather than protesting Trump individually, we ought instead protest this expansion, and unify to demand return to a truly representative government with appropriate checks and balances reinstated.

We must not cede to any individual president any power that might terrify us in another person’s hands.

Politics, stories, and lies

I wore this yay-Obama shirt for almost every 2009 pregnancy picture. BARF.

I wore this yay-Obama shirt for almost every 2009 pregnancy picture. BARF.

In November 2008, I leaped from my seat in my third-floor one-room bedroom apartment in Long Beach, California when Barack Obama was named the next president of the United States.

I whooped and hollered out my window, pausing only briefly to wonder why people of color–the majority, by far, in my neighborhood–were silent. Why was I, the lone white woman in my building, shouting exuberantly about the election of a person of color to the highest office in the United States when everyone else in my neighborhood was silent?

The United States was poised for change. I wasn’t sure exactly what change, but I knew it was gonna be great. I mean, just listen to the man talk!

And if not great? Obama couldn’t be worse than George W. Bush.

It’d take the opposite of a miracle to be worse than Dubya.

In November 2012, I was a rare Democrat amongst Republicans at my office.

While the Republicans around me assured each other it was a good day to be a Republican, I marveled how disconnected they appeared to be from polls not aired on Fox News.

I wasn’t thrilled to be voting for Obama, whose presidency hadn’t brought any change so notable I celebrated it on election day, but I knew Democrats were The Good Guys. Obama was a Democrat. I was voting for Obama. Therefore, I was a Good Guy. Maybe the good guys weren’t great that year, but hey. It was better than being a Republican Bad Guy. Read more…

Dinosaurs, bomb bracelets, and safety pins

Categories: Friends, Love, Safety Tags: , , ,

Is this who I want to be?

July 30, 2016 Comments off

My siblings and I endured insult, assault, and predation throughout our impoverished childhood. While many around us judged our mom vocally, barely any offered any support.

We each took enormous loans while working our way through college and grad school. The loans were heinous, to be sure, but not nearly as heinous as poverty that steals all pretense of power.

Now, between my younger sister, my brother, and the brother-in-law who’s endured so much with us that I sometimes forget he didn’t begin with us, we have four advanced degrees and a fifth on the way.

When you call Sanders supporters “ignorant,” “uninformed,” or “privileged,” that’s what you’re calling us.

You sound like our dad.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Read my sister’s aching post on the matter.

And then, the next time you’re poised to type such a slight as if it’s objective truth, please pause and ask yourself:

Is this who I want to be?

I will only hear “no” when I want to

“Rape is not about sex,”
instructors explained.
“It’s about power. It’s
about taking power.”

Taking power:
this violence
expresses
itself
many
ways.

(If you will not
give me it, I
will seize it
from you.)

Bob: I need (to have sex with you/you to vote like me).

Ann: No, thanks. I know what I want, and it’s not that.

Bob: I told you what you have to do. Now do it. I need it.

Ann: No. No.

Bob: You won’t give it up? Fine, bitch. I’ll take it from you … because I’m bigger. And I can.

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