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Posts Tagged ‘community’

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…

Love you well deserve

 

“You both
have so much energy,”
a mom told my husband
as she watched him and me
play with our boys
at the playground
a few weeks ago.

“Yeah, well,
we have fun,”
he replied.

I was saddened
by the exchange,
but not sure why.

I kept stepping.

“It really looks
like you’re having fun
with your kids!” a cashier
told me and my husband
a few days later.
“It’s sweet.”

(“It just comes naturally
to my husband,” I should’ve said,
but didn’t.)

“My mom really
had fun with me
and my siblings,”
I said, smiling.

I was saddened
by the exchange,
but not sure why.

I kept stepping.

Last week,
someone told
my husband that
our seven-year-old
is just the sweetest.

“He said, ‘You can tell which
kids are so, so very loved,’
my husband relayed. Read more…

Everything falls away

Today I got a blood-chilling text message. For privacy reasons, I can’t get into its details. 

What I can say is that, in the moment of seeing such a message, everything superfluous falls away inside. Even if the outside world demands interaction, that’s all done on auto-pilot. 

Heart, mind, soul, all turn toward what’s most important: each other.
All’s well, happily, but I have a favor to ask of you. Please call or text someone you love right now just to let them know how much you love them. I’d be so grateful.

Categories: Love Tags: ,

#IBelieveYou

Many times, I’ve explained how the Democrats lost me.

No times, until this week, did I explain how Bernie Sanders won me.

I committed here to writing about the love, ultimately pouring my heart into 1,500 words of “Bernie, Because I Was Poor.”

Writing about my love instead of my earlier rage felt joyous. Right.

Something unexpected and beautiful happened even after I posted. Someone tweeted three magic words that made me cry: I believe you.

For years, my slogan has been, “your belief is irrelevant.”

All the same, seeing those three words opened the floodgates for me. Those words of support weren’t only about me, but my mom, who spent her whole life yearning for people to believe and lift (instead of castigating) her.

I’ll include some more tweets behind a cut below. One was retweeted more than 80 times, which meant I saw the hashtag #IBelieveYou every few minutes throughout Saturday. Each time, I said quiet thanks.

In ways I’ll have to explain later, the piece only happened because I got out to vote for California delegates last weekend. Actually stepping out into my community and interacting with people here changed everything for me.

If you’re yearning to do something but don’t know what to do, you might consider attending an Our First Stand: Save Health Care rally tomorrow. People will gather across the U.S. to demonstrate our commitment to health care as a human right.

IBELIEVE-300x169.png

By showing up, you have the power to help save lives … all while setting aside worrying in favor of acting, from love.

It may not be everything, but it’s a fine start.

More #IBelieveYou tweets below the cut

Read more…

She is my people

elsha-slide

Elsha and Li’l D, a couple years later

I met Elsha, then-girlfriend of my husband’s best friend, on September 27, 2009.

I was lying on a couch when she walked into my apartment with a blanket she’d made for my soon-to-be-born baby.

I said something to her. I couldn’t tell you what, though I think it included the words “thank you.” I was nine months pregnant and had an enormous freakin’ headache that wouldn’t go away.

A couple hours later, my then-partner, Anthony, drove me to the hospital to be induced. My blood pressure was high enough to put me and my baby at risk.

Over several coffee dates a few years later, Elsha would tell me about her best friend, Broceny. Broceny sounded pretty damn rad. Still, I somehow managed never to meet her.

(Life with two little kids is like that.)

In early 2016, my siblings made me question whether Hillary Clinton was really the more practical choice of the Democratic primary candidates.

Since then, I’ve walked the locally-lonely road of being 100% Bernie … and more for Bernie with every single article I read about U.S. politics.

My husband emailed lonely me a Facebook post last Wednesday. He prefaced the pasted text with the message:

So, I think that you and Elsha’s friend Broceny should get together soon and chat..

…you need local friends with similar agendas 🙂

I read his forwarded message and barely kept from squealing.

Broceny was my people!

As I stood in line to vote for my district’s Democratic delegates on Saturday, Broceny and I exchanged many texts. She, having been part of the local progressive scene long before I even knew “progressives” were a thing, had lots of insights to share.

And heart. Lots and lots of heart.

I felt the way I did when I connected with like souls while blogging more than twenty years ago: overjoyed! The world was so much bigger and more full of possibility than what I saw in the mess immediately around me!

I cried. A few times.

Earlier today, Anthony shared another Facebook post from Broceny. After I read it with tear-filled eyes, I texted her, “Aaaaaaah. Anthony forwarded your post from FB. I love you! I haven’t even met you in person & I love you!!”

This might sound unbelievable to … anyone else. But I grew up surrounded by poverty and predators, and I know the difference between trusting because it feels good (temporarily) and trusting because it’s actually deserved.

Can I boil this trust down to some easily reproducible formula? No.

Can I tell you I’m grateful as hell for someone I’ve never met in person, but who’s no less vibrant in my heart for that?

Sure can! And will, because, man. I am already so damn glad to know Broceny.

She is my people, and I love her.

broceny-mah

Broceny ♥ ♥ ♥

Destressing with Li’l D

This morning, I woke up with a sense of enthusiasm I haven’t felt upon awakening in months.

(I’m a morning person, to be clear. Historically, I’m up and singing at 4 a.m.)

I told my husband, Anthony, that it felt weird but welcome.

Two hours after wondering aloud about the “why,” it hit me: I didn’t spend all day peeking at news on Twitter!

Instead of compulsively tracking news worth following, I took my seven-year-old, Li’l D, to a DSA-LA meeting. We could only stay for an hour, but I felt more hopeful after that meeting than I’ve felt in months.

(We need each other, y’all. There’s joy in each other!)

Afterward, D and I had lunch before catching The King and I at Hollywood’s The Pantages. We then snuggled throughout the show, except when D was rapt (and thus less wiggly) during its retelling of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

tkai

Shirley Temples are serious business

Afterward, he got a donut–bringing his sugar intake for the day to approximately a cubic buttload–and we talked the whole slow drive home.

Why did I awaken feeling refreshed this morning, then? I spent yesterday connecting with people in the physical world, destressing instead of distressing myself.

I can only imagine I’ll awaken tomorrow feeling similarly refreshed if I do the same today.

It’s worth a shot, anyway!

The Iceberg

I’ve learned a lot recently, and learned much of it very quickly.

Unfortunately, this means my ability to understand the U.S. political landscape has far exceeded my ability to explain it. Fortunately, I started practicing a lot, so I’m better now than I was even a month ago.

My passion still exceeds my skill, but the gap between the two gets a little less cavernous every time I practice.

Never (yet) has the gap been clearer than when I expressed horror over what’s happening in Yemen.

Once I recognized my passion-skill gap there, I sat with it a while.

I spent a long time thinking about how to explain–sans antagonism–why I care so much about strangers in Yemen.

Finally, I found a way to explain with a better balance between passion and skill.

Please click the image below to read my second Progressive Army piece. For more context, you might also want to read this illuminating Bill Moyers piece.

I hope you’ll read, reflect, and share your thoughts with me.

Thank you.

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