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.
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…
My politically moderate husband and I were just arguing in the kitchen.
“Deborah, you need to tell people that you’re trying to figure shit out by writing about it.”
“I already did! I do it, like, every fifth post on Learning to Speak Politics. Are you saying I need to spell it out in every single post?! I mean, the entire premise is in the blog’s title. I’m learning by writing!”
“Yes! You need a note on every. Single. One. Copy and paste it: ‘I am not a Trump supporter! I did not vote for Trump! I am literally live-broadcasting my political journey, and this is my scratchboard! I’m making it public so you can aid that evolution! I’m not at an endpoint but walking a road. I’m trying to figure out what I believe and why I believe it!‘”
He’s probably right. I don’t know what that footnote will be, exactly, but I do know its first incarnation was the preface I wrote on my politics page a few months back:
This page reflects a selection of politics-related articles
curated by a (new) U.S. third party voter.
While both main-party presidential candidates threaten
prospects of retaining any semblance of U.S. democracy,
links below emphasize the Democratic threat,
which is all the more horrifying because
it’s hidden under the guise of
My journey of discovery began from a place of shock and horror. I thought my votes for Democrats (versus Republicans) were votes for peace. They weren’t.
So now, understanding this … it’s up to me to figure out how I can play a role in propagating actual peace–positive, not negative, justice.
No one else has paved this road for me. No one else can pave it for me.
My husband just told me not to argue with my team. But who is my team? Right now, I’m not sure.
The people I thought were my team spent the last six months yelling at me for ever disagreeing.
So maybe it’s up to me not to yell. Maybe it’s up to me to be even clearer
that I’m simply
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…