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Posts Tagged ‘justice’

my playlist

I’ve been building and rebuilding a playlist in my mind the last couple of weeks. I’ll write about it someday, I’m sure, I thought. When I’ve finally gotten it right-enough.

Without pressure or hurry, it could have been months before I solidified the playlist. But then I read a post that got me fired up, and I found my playlist.

The post bemoaned how everything is a competition now: singing, playing instruments, sports, politics. Everyone’s in it to win it. Period. Read more…

perspective(s)

I’ve wanted to write a post about perspective, but I wasn’t sure how to begin it.

Then, yesterday, my husband turned my three-year-old’s carseat around. Instead of facing backward, looking through my car’s rear window, Littler faced forward and shared my view through the front window.

“Woooooooooo!” he yelled after we pulled out of our driveway and began down the road. “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” He might as well have been riding a roller coaster.

“You like the view, huh?” asked Littler’s older brother, Li’l D.

“Yeah!” cheered Littler, who’d had more than his car seat reoriented.

His whole perspective had changed.

Last week, a familiar horror crept over me while I read. None of this can be changed, I thought. It’s far too late to choose a different track.

The fact I’d thought such a thing was my signal: It was time to set aside the book I was reading. Though it was both illuminating and engagingly written, its content was grim.

I’ve learned over the last couple of months that I must read such things in small doses. Doing otherwise can catapult me into depression. (For example, I shouldn’t have read Matt Taibbi’s Griftopia and The Divide back to back. Spending a couple of days immersed in what exactly a handful of corrupt financiers have gotten away with while millions of others languish in prison for less … left me thinking, for some weeks, there is no way to overcome this scale of injustice.)

What can I read right now that will walk me back toward something like hope? I wondered. I landed on The Guardian’s George Monbiot, whose words reveal wisdom and perspective that reorient my heart.

One article’s title especially piqued my curiosity: “Finally, a breakthrough alternative to growth economics – the doughnut.” Read more…

Please keep smiling

For several years, I worked next to a mosque. Its parking lot often overflowed on Fridays and religious holidays; on such days, my company’s owners permitted its congregants to park in the company parking lot.

Once, I saw women step out of a car and cover themselves for service. I smiled on my way into the office. They smiled back.

Many times, I walked by women already covered. I’d smile at each, if she looked at me; much more often than not, I’d see eyes wrinkling from smiles returned.

(Seeing mouths isn’t the most important thing to seeing smiles.)

After exchanging such smiles one afternoon, I remembered a conversation with a male friend years before and hundreds of miles away.

“You’re not supposed to look at them when they’re dressed like that!” he’d told me. I replied that I’d never heard such a thing, and that I’d keep greeting human beings as human beings.

I posted about the new smile and the old conversation on Facebook. “Please keep smiling,” one Muslim friend soon replied. 

I committed to doing so.

A year ago, I saw a Muslim family on a plane and just about broke into a cold sweat.

I came to my senses soon enough. Warm smiles were exchanged that day, too. 

When I returned home, I told my husband, “Fearmongering works!”

(I vow now not to let it.)

“Yep.” he replied. “That’s why they use it.”

Protesting at LAX last weekend, I saw many women wearing hijabs. In all the hubbub, I only spoke with two. I was tired and ineloquent as I greeted them with my two-year-old on my hip, but they were lovely.

“Ugh, I’m saying all the wrong things,” I mumbled a couple minutes into conversation. Both women, Sara and Hannah, said no, no, no; Hannah’s face was especially aglow with compassion that filled me with a sense of okay-ness.

Maybe I didn’t say the right words. Maybe there are no right words.

What I do know is that I said I’d keep smiling.

I meant it,

and I will.


MLK, Jr: passionate and revolutionary

A couple months ago, I wrote about Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s pursuit of positive peace. King succinctly but powerfully differentiated this peace from what he described as “negative peace”:

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I began today writing a rejection of WashPost’s vision of the “conservative” MLK, Jr. You can read that if you’d like.

Whether or not you read that, please do read MLK, Jr’s letter from a Birmingham jail at the very least, and understand King’s love wasn’t mild and conservative but passionate and revolutionary.

Forget Phylicia. Remember my mom.

“That man is following us,” my mom whispered as we left the corner market.

My prepubescent self waved her off. I was irritated how paranoid she’d become as our court date loomed.

Whatever. He just wants to get something to eat,” I whispered back as we began walking toward the courthouse. “Just like us.”

When we reached the courthouse, the man walked in right behind us. I ate my words outside the market when he handed a thick envelope to the defense attorney.

He had been following us. But why? Why would anyone investigate the victims?

More than 20 women have brought allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby

I didn’t mean to write about that, not even when I read he’d hired a team of private investigators to discredit the women.

I didn’t mean to write about that even when I read how Phylicia Rashad, the actress who once played his TV wife said, “Forget those women,” expressing the opinion some unknown enemy is trying to smear Cosby’s legacy for reasons she can’t understand.*

I didn’t mean to write about it when I woke up this morning. But then I saw another choice quote from Phylicia, and my heart plummeted.

Whenever I thought about testifying against a pedophile as a child, Read more…

DESTROY DENIAL. #EricGarner #ICantBreathe

Eric Garner, father of six, was choked to death last summer. 

As I wrote here, he “was choked to death by police for potential sale of untaxed cigarettes.”

Today a grand jury failed to indict the police officer who killed him. This is so despite the fact Eric’s death was filmed, or that choke holds had been banned in the jurisdiction since 1993.

Eleven times he said he couldn’t breathe. Eleven times he was ignored by someone who had likely surmised–from precedent long preceding Mike Brown–consequences would be few to none.

My ex-boyfriend was better with computers than people, which made him a better teacher than boyfriend in some ways.  Read more…

Kill first, ask questions later: Ferguson protests explained 140 characters at a time

Many people seem to think in 140- (or fewer) character bites these days.

It’s hard to break complex news into 140-character bursts. Much is lost. But I’ll try. I want people to understand. Lives count on it.

Michael Brown and Ferguson are about more than Michael Brown or Ferguson. They are about every black man in every town in the United States.

Months of protesting have followed Michael Brown’s death. But why? He was a “thug.”

Beside, a grand jury found his killer innocent? Strange, since grand juries decide whether charges should be brought, not give verdicts.

Much was terribly wrong with this peculiar grand jury. Prosecutor McCulloch counted on the public not caring about the differences.

McCulloch seems to have counted correctly. Read more…

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