Posts Tagged ‘race’

Did I write that?

I could write a beautiful, poignant 1,000-word version of this post that’d keep me from my kids for a couple hours. Alternatively, I could write a more succinct, less illuminating version that takes me only ten minutes. I’m opting for the latter.

My sister Rache and I are very similar in some ways. She’s an ASNAC nerd who took me to the Jorvik Viking Center on my one trip to England, so we definitely diverge in some ways, but … in many ones where it counts, we’re clearly cut from the same cloth. Read more…

The Hate U Give

I laughed and wept, both alternately and simultaneously, as I read Angie Thomas’s


For a couple years now, I’ve witnessed as names become hashtags. I’ve seen people killed twice over:

when breath was stolen
from their bodies;
when their lives were stolen,
too, swept away by words like
“no angel” or “drug dealer” or “thug,”
as if an entire life
is worth no more
than its worst

I’ve understood how a person, once painted an “offender,” is seldom understood as worth one more thought. I’ve struggled to explain how

each life taken
is a loss insufferable,
outrageous, egregious;
a. loss. of. a. whole. life.

(that could have been anything)

When I read the fictional-but-not-really-fictional, staggering, powerful The Hate U Give, my whole body sighed. I saw that this is how people understand the life behind the death; the years of needless hate behind a moment’s sanctioned bullets.

While this exact Khalil never lived in this flesh-and-blood world, he lived in a heart that bled onto pages. Those pages are now being read by thousands upon thousands of people. And this Khalil, though he lives in heart and page, represents many who lived


Once upon a time, each of these people lived and laughed and cried and yearned. Their ability to do these things ever again was stolen from them, but you and I? By remembering them, we can change the world.

By remembering them, we can



Many thanks to Alison Doherty for the recommendation



Get Out

Categories: Movies, Reflections Tags: , , , ,

On building racial stamina

Power protecting power

daddy littler j

I am a white woman.

My gentle, articulate, Yale-alum husband is black. His blackness didn’t matter to me when we started dating, or when I discovered I was pregnant. I couldn’t really believe it mattered to anyone.

I’d seen otherwise long before July 19, 2013, when I tried to make people laugh while recognizing the limitations of misunderstanding their own experiences and insights as universal.

A police officer repeatedly shot and killed Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. I didn’t pay Mike’s death much mind until two months later, when I saw how many people were still protesting and “suspected it likelier I was uninformed than that they were delusional.”

One month later, I was no longer uninformed. I’d spent countless hours poring over news and watching devastating social media clips reflecting very different fact-sets than those set forth by policemen and their mainstream media spokespeople.

I discussed Ferguson with my then five-year-old son that day. “But they won’t shoot me?” Li’l D asked of policemen, punching me straight through the heart with his words.  Read more…

lily-white eugene, oregon

my family and i
paid for our hotel room
in usually lily-white eugene, oregon
before we were actually able
to enter said room


we all
went for a walk
while waiting
for our room
to open

almost immediately,
we crossed paths
with a white
with horror
upon my black husband Read more…

Died with his hands in the air

daddy littler jMy husband is a Black man.

We had our #IfIDieInPoliceCustody discussion before Sandra Bland’s death in custody inspired the hashtag.

Officer Darren Wilson killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, one year ago today. I wouldn’t have believed the #IfIDieInPoliceCustody talk necessary then. So an unarmed kid was killed by a police officer in a Southern town thousands of miles away? What does that have to do with me?

In late October, I saw how many people were still protesting. I suspected it likelier I was uninformed than that they were delusional.

My suspicion inspired my education. I spent November and December learning what Ferguson had to do with me. I first wrote about Ferguson in “Ferguson: the color of justice” on November 17, 2014, more than three months after Michael Brown died.

Two weeks later, I wrote about Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Tamir Rice and Darrien Hunt, a small sampling of Black men–and in Tamir’s case, child–killed by police officers as brutally as needlessly. I broke their murder stories into tweet-sized bursts in hopes of distilling something complex into digestible pieces, which I hoped would plant seeds of question in readers’ hearts.

I wrote in early December: “I will not deny, nor take part in perpetuating violence by my denial.” I stopped writing about Ferguson afterward, but I kept reading and watching relentlessly until late December, when I realized I was no longer educating myself. I knew. I was merely crushing hope each time I read about another unarmed person of color turned hashtag courtesy the police. I decided it was time to step away from constant coverage and protect the hope that fuels me to work for change.

I have seen many new name-hashtags since. I’ve learned about the victims behind them and mourned. I’ve come to take for granted truths that existed long before I recognized them or found them plausible.

Though I didn’t realize it for three more months, my education began with Ferguson one year ago today.

Of all the videos I’ve watched in the year since, one outwardly innocuous video stands out in my memory.

Were Michael Brown’s hands up, or weren’t they? (Did his actions pose imminent threat when he died, or did they not?) Based on reading articles alone, it seemed impossible to determine the answer. I ultimately bypassed news articles in frustration and instead watched every single firsthand account following Mike’s killing.

One stood out among them for me. One made my stomach sink as I thought, the world is so much harder than I realized.

It’s the one that comes to mind nine months later as my moment of revelation.

In this video, two White contractors stand side by side in the moments after Mike Brown’s death, facing something the viewer can’t see. They’re not performing; they’re utterly unaware they’re being filmed. “He had his fuckin’ hands in the air!” one of them shouts, incredulous, raising his arms to demonstrate. (The contractors affirmed this later.)

He had his fuckin’ hands in the air!

In the year since Mike Brown died, those words have stuck with me. They have been the ones that can’t be spun, or turned into something else, or undone. And they’re words I’d never have found, if I hadn’t been between jobs and foregoing sleep in search of the truth.

A year later, I find the mystery isn’t in whether or not Mike Brown posed a threat when Darren Wilson fired his killing shots; after all, Mike “had his fuckin’ hands in the air!

The mystery is in how little has changed with so many people dying needlessly since.

And so, if my husband ever dies in police custody, I want you to know:

Like Mike Brown, he will have died with his hands in the air.

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