Church

I woke up thinking about church today. Probably because it’s Sunday, certainly not because I’m a churchgoer. I’ve never been a churchgoers. I was never forced to go to church as a child, never had religion thrust upon me. My mom used to say she’d let her kids decide what to believe, though she herself was a Christian, it didn’t much matter back then what we believed in, as long as we were good, kind people. And we are. All of us. But we maybe didn’t go the path she expected.

I’m married to an atheist. The good kind. He doesn’t need a higher power to keep him in line. He likes to say that he does all the raping and pillaging he wants to, which is zero. He isn’t “acting” good in this life for fear of what the next will hold. He’s a good person because he’s a good person.

I’m in a “complicated” relationship with Jesus. God, well, I’m not a fan. But Jesus seemed cool, the man Jesus anyway. But even on my best days I can’t wrap my mind around church. Around organized religion. Too much hate, judgement, and evil takes places in many of those four walls, and I’ll pass. I’ll get my “church” the old-fashioned way, walking with Jesus alone, communing with nature, talking to y’all on this here blog.

My son has been raised with grandparents who don’t shy away from talking religion with him. My mom taught him to pray (she’s become very religious in her senior years and I’m sure regrets that whole “let my kids figure it out themselves” deal she did). So since Jackson was small she’s talked about her love for God to him, which is why I was pretty surprised the other day when he said, “Santa Claus is real, you know. He’s a real person, not like God who is just a belief.” Ouch. That’s some shit he made up in his own mind. Seems Santa, a jolly man who has magic and cares about all the children in the world, is easier to believe in than a God who makes people spew hate and judgment towards others. Of course my happy, kind, empathetic son believes in a man who has flying reindeer and brings smiles to children. And of course my smart, logical, realistic son can’t get behind a belief that spreads hate and has caused war and killing and disease. A belief people blindly stand behind. A belief that neglects some children based on how they came into this world, where they live, or how they practice their own faith. Of course.

So yeah, we aren’t headed to church today. But we are headed down to the lake for some fun, food, and fellowship. Is there anything else you can ask of a Sunday?

M.

Bitches, Bad and Boujee

I’m a White Claw drinker. That might take me down a peg or two with some of y’all, but I’m willing to risk that to assert my truth. I drink White Claws, and I like them. I’m a fan of seltzer water anyway, so you add alcohol to it and a little bit of watermelon flavoring and let’s be real, I’m fucking in. White Claws have a bad reputation, mainly because people are jealous, and don’t like to have fun, and are boujee with their alcohol choices, so they try to pass judgement on me but it won’t work. Fight me. I’m a bad bitch.

Anyway, White Claws keep me hydrated, and I never seem to get drunk on them, just a little tipsy, which is a good thing. It means I can drink all day at the lake for funsies and not feel bad the next day, which might be why there are no laws when you’re drinking Claws. (Disclaimer: There are in fact laws when you’re drinking Claws, as my 11-year-old likes to remind me.) But I mean, is there? Cause my White Claw koozie says otherwise.

Anyway, White Claw is owned by Mark Anthony brands, the same company who brought us Mike’s Hard Lemonade and totally changed the high school girl experience for the better back in the late 90s. The owner, Anthony (not Mark) started his company by selling wine out of the back of his car, which is both badass and boujee, so who’s a bitch now? Thanks Anthony, for all your hard work. I salute you.

Now go forth and have a safe, happy, law-free day, y’all.

M.

My Best…

It’s Thursday. I know, I know, it’s actually Friday, but I’m writing this yesterday, so it’s Thursday. I’m writing this yesterday? Yeah, that’s a thing I said. Let me start over, it’s Thursday morning. About nine o’clock. I’m sitting at one of my best spots, a pavilion that overlooks Table Rock Lake, and I’m drinking coffee. I just got off the phone with one of my best friends, Beth. We’ve been trying our best to stay connected. Writing cards, texting hello, catching up on little calls here or there. It’s working. I think. It’s helping. I know.

But it’s Thursday and I’m sitting in one of the best spots. Today is the day my best friends, Rachel and her daughter Madi, come join us at the lake. Today is the day I get to see one of my best little buddies, Nashville. He’s my best friend Melody’s son. Melody can’t make it down here, but her parents were able to and they brought Nash and we get him for the afternoon. Today is a best day, no doubt. But for now, for just this little moment in time, it’s quiet. It’s calm. I’m alone, and I’m having the best time.

Hope you have the best day today. Here’s my view.

M.

Yeah, that’s a mule. Good eye! 😉

First Four Days

I’ve only been on Table Rock Lake for four days, but the adventures are constant. First, there’s my damn dogs and their “quirks.” The bribing them to be on their best behavior, the training collar (which arrived today), the constant picking up of dog poop, and the ever-present sad eyes when I’m eating a burger. Le sigh. Adventures, yes adventures. Look at these damn dogs.

Then there is the lake. It’s pretty high right now, and it’s recently turned over so there’s an occasional fish odor, but you know, that’s lake life. Still, Jackson and his buddy Tate have been kayaking up a storm!

Then there’s the food. My mother-in-law loves to cook and I love to eat, so it’s a pretty good deal. Not to mention the sunrise and sunset walks with my husband while we wax intellectual on how to save the world.

It’s an interesting dichotomy, this place. A little bit country, a little bit lake. Not at all how I remember it, but also exactly the same as it always is.

I hope you are having a splendid week, friends. Stay safe and sane.

M.

The Dark

My son is afraid of the dark. It’s a remarkably simple, common fear, but surprising to me in a way I can’t quite explain. My strong, brave, smart child is afraid of the dark. I’m part disappointed, but also in awe. I’m disappointed that he can’t look past the reality of the dark. Like when my husband asks him the question, “What is in the dark?” and he responds with, “The same things that are there in the light.” He gets it, he does, but also he doesn’t.

With the lights on he’s fine, he can plainly see the trees, or that building, or the closet doors. Then the light goes off and his creativity (and anxiety) starts to rise, and before he can stop it, the realities of the dark: the trees, that building, those closet doors, become dinosaurs, and scary people, and tigers ready to pounce. It’s really a fear of the unknown, in a place he knows. And aren’t we all a little afraid of the unknown?

I was in therapy last week and I told Patsy that I was afraid of what our world looked like when this was all over. “This” being the pandemic, the current administration, the hatred in our world. She nodded in agreement. “We all are,” she said, coolly. “We all are.”

I guess I’m still afraid of the dark too. We all are.

Be safe out there today, y’all.

M.

Zap ‘em

As you probably know we have two doggos: Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte and Lady Winifred Beesly of Atlanta, Duke and Winnie, respectively. Duke is a Standard Poodle and Winnie is a Doodle, part Great Pyrenees, part Standard Poodle. Duke is two years old and Winnie is five months old and Winnie is almost bigger than Duke, but don’t let him know that. And as of late, we’ve noticed she’s better behaved as well.

The night we got to the lake we opened the truck door and the dogs jumped out. Now, mind you, these are city dogs, as per their names. Duke grew up about five minutes from Uptown Charlotte, and Winnie is a mile from the Atlanta Perimeter. They are trained on a leash (as long as they are in a harness) and they have a doggy door that leads to a fenced backyard at home. They are used to sirens, and bustling traffic, and for the most part they stay away from it. Which is why it was so odd, that the first chance Duke got to run into the middle of H Highway and stand there, we were like “Da fuck, man?!” Damn it, Duke! We’ve been saying that a lot the last two days. Damn. It.

Winnie, on the other paw, has been allowed to roam freely, mainly because she sticks next to you like glue. She’s afraid of everything, butterflies, croaking frogs, and not getting fed on time. Duke, well his desire to stick it to the man outweighs his impulse control. Because of this we’ve decided to try a training collar with him. If you ask me, a training collar is a lazy parent’s friend. Don’t want to train your dog on commands? Just zap ‘em. Don’t want to be consistent with your expectations? Zap! It’s the equivalent of spanking a human child. Just so we are clear, no kid “deserves” to be spanked, it’s a reflection of you and how you are doing as a parent if you “have” to spank your child. And the reflection isn’t a pretty one, but that’s another post.

For now I’d say we’ve given up. Two years of positive reinforcements, stern “No, Sirs” and three to four hundred training treats hasn’t worked, so we will try this route for a few days. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, we will try something else. We’ve always said Duke will be a good dog one day, because one day he will. You can’t expect it to happen overnight though, training takes time, (unless you’re lazy and zap ‘em instead)! I suppose raising kids and raising dogs is pretty similar. Consistency, empathy, love, and positive reinforcement go a long way. Duke will figure it out, just like Jackson did (though Jackson has never been zapped, err, I mean spanked, a day in his life). If only I could figure out how to be as good a Poodle mom as I a human mom all would be good. Maybe someone needs to zap me…

M.

Sir Duke Barkington
Lady Winifred
My babies

Coming Home Again

We got to Table Rock Lake Saturday night, just before dinner time. Well, our family’s dinner time, nearly 8:30 pm. We were welcomed by my mother-in-law, her husband Tom, her brother (Uncle Jim), and some big, juicy homemade cheeseburgers. We didn’t mean to get here so late, but the eleven-hour drive turned out to be a 13-hour drive, with two stops for a vomiting puppy, a long walk to stretch our legs at Elvis’ Birthplace, and three or four potty breaks. It was worth it though, as soon as we hit the familiar roll of the Ozark Mountains, we smiled our relief.

It’s been so long since we have been away from our house, I thought I’d be a little sad. Homesick, even. But no, turns out I was just homesick for this place, as the flicker of the lightening bugs on the freshly cut field and the starry sky soon reminded me. I’ve been away for so long, that I’ve forgotten how the stars look way out here, away from the bustle, away from the lights, and the sirens, and the stress of the city. You never know about going home. It can be nice, it can be tough, I’m usually ambivalent at best, but not this time. Not in the state we find ourselves. Things smell and feel different.

I hope you are all well today, and you are taking care of yourself and each other. But most importantly, I hope you get to go home again sometime soon.

❤️

M.

Happy Father’s Day

Hey, psst it’s Father’s Day, don’t worry if you forgot, you have time to go grab a card, or make a hasty phone call because your dad probably forgot too. If you’re lucky enough to have your dad still around, and he was pretty okay, he’d probably like to hear from you. But remember, only if it won’t negatively impact your mental health, because you are the most important. If you dad was awesome and he isn’t on this Earth anymore, than I am so very sorry, but look at you! You’re doing okay, you’re doing this world and getting through, he is so proud of you!

Today is about fathers, the good ones that deserve to be celebrated, like my husband. Oh, did you have a feeling this was gonna go to one of my “My Husband is the Most Awesome” posts? You were right!

About 4,280 days ago, my awesome husband became an awesome daddy and well, the way I viewed and celebrated this day changed dramatically.

My husband Jerimiah, or “My Poor Husband” as he’s known around here, is quite literally the best man I have ever met in my whole life. And as far as Daddy-ing goes, well I’m gonna let Jackson speak on that one.

“My Daddy always has room for me. Even if he’s super busy he will stop and talk to me, and help me. He’s also not average at all, he always goes for the best, he doesn’t settle for average for himself or for me, for any of us. He is the daddy that always gets stuff done, he is persistent, but he always has time for fun. He’s taught me a lot about cars, like how to change a tire and how to change oil, which is good for when I’m older I’ll be able to do all these things Daddy teaches me. Daddy and I like a lot of the same things like video games, cars, electronics, stuff like that. That’s why he’s a great dad!”

There you have it. He’s smart, and funny, and persistent, he always makes us a priority, and he’s always there when we need him.

So Happy Father’s Day to all the daddies out there, but especially to Jackson, Duke, and Winnie’s daddy. He’s sorta the best.

On the Road Again

If you’re reading this, I’m loading up the truck with Jerimiah, while Jackson walks around in circles complaining that he is tired, and the dogs bark from inside the house because they think we are leaving them, and going on a super, cool vacation in the tropics. Probably. Most likely. It’s Saturday morning and we are headed on an 11-hour road trip this morning and I’m already stressed about all the things. Things like: Where will we use the bathroom, how bad are the places we are headed into, is it safer to use gloves at the gas pump or not, will Winnie vomit all over everyone like she usually does, why do we have to go anywhere near Little Rock, and should we have just packed food and not relied on drive-thrus? But the motion has already started, and like most things in life we will just have to wait and see.

That doesn’t stop the mind from wandering though. That’s what medication is for, so damn it I hope I remembered to pack the Klonopin, and where did I put those “Relieve Stress” Gummies?

There you have it, 11 hours through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, a teeny bit of Tennessee (not the good part), and Arkansas. I mean, under normal circumstance this isn’t a worrisome trip. Whenever you’re going to pass Elvis’s birthplace AND Johnny Cash’s in the same trip, well, Lord help us all.

See you on the other side.

Be safe!

M.

Whatha Devil?!

We had an 18 pack of eggs sitting in our refrigerator. Brand new. Not expired. Farm fresh, free range, college educated. We leave for vacation in three days. We looked at each other. At our smart eggs. Then back at each other. Quiche? I wondered aloud. Maybe, Jerimiah said. How else would we eat 18 eggs in three days? Boiled? Take them with us? He pondered, while he moved expired cottage cheese out of the way. Huh, I remarked, slinging rotten green peppers into the trash can. Give them to a neighbor, I questioned. He shook his head. Would that be weird? Maybe, plus we are the ones who raised them. They’re ours. Oh, I’ll make deviled eggs! I half screamed, half cried. Dear Recipe Goddess, you have reigned supreme again.

Two days later, as I stood over the sink and peeled the boiled eggs that I had let boil for too long the night before because I was also cooking dinner at the same time and it was a Hello Fresh meal and you have to follow the damn directions with those and the puppy ran in and peed on the floor and Jackson tried to tell me about this TikTok guy who does presidential impersonations and Jerimiah tried to help by standing next to me asking what he can do, I sorta, maybe, lost it a little bit and slammed the plates on the table and said, I CAN’T WITH THIS SHIT! And then went upstairs to sit on the fluffy ottoman at the end of my bed and contemplate how my damn life had come to this. About 20 minutes later, I remembered the boiling eggs.

Here’s the thing about deviled eggs, it’s a process, y’all. A long, arduous process, and it starts with the perfect boiled egg. Now sure, you can Google “How to Boil an Egg for Deviled Eggs” and you will get a million different opinions, but every Mommy, Grandma, Great Grandma, and even a couple Grandpa’s have their own way of doing it. My way is to heavily boil the eggs in salted water for three to five minutes, then turn the stove off and let them sit in the hot water for about 20 minutes, until I sink them into a cold bath, let them sit in fridge overnight, then crack them all over before peeling the next day as I listen to Adele sing about how life is not the way she imagined it when she was a child. I can relate. And usually what happens is that the eggs just slide right out. Unless one thing is not right. Then, you’re fucked.

That’s how I came to be screaming into a bowl of yellow yesterday morning.

That’s how I came to be teaching Jackson how to make deviled eggs, literally because I CAN’T WITH THIS SHIT!

That’s how we thought it would be a good idea to eat 18 eggs the days leading up to a 10-hour road trip.

Hope you CAN with this shit today, y’all.

M.

Road Trip To-do List

  • Shave the dog
    • But do I really want to shave the dog?
      • Yeah, I need to shave the dog
  • Bathe both dogs
  • Order dog food
  • Why is my whole damn life about dogs?
    • I mean, like, why do we even have two dogs?
      • What happened to me as a child that I need to overcompensate with animals?
  • Laundry
  • Order the dogs waterproof collars
    • I swear to Baby Jesus, I am so tired of getting the dogs new collars for different occasions
  • Pick up that giant llama float I saw in that ad one time from one of the stores that sells large llama floats
    • Wait, I don’t want to go inside one of the stores
      • Did I even look to see if they had a poodle float instead?
        • STOP IT WITH THE POODLE SHIT!
  • Tires for truck
    • Already did that
  • Floating cooler?
  • Print out map of trip and circle all bathrooms I suspect might be the “cleanest”
    • Print out directions? What is this 2005? I’m not MapQuesting that shit
      • The dogs would eat the map
  • Wait, we are going through Memphis and Little Rock?!
    • We will need to pee on the side of the road at all times
  • Gloves
  • Maybe we should drive at night so no one will see me pee in the bushes? What if I have to poop?
    • Quik Trip?
  • Fill up the dog’s poop bag satchel
    • Could I poop in a poop bag if I needed to?
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Where will I get coffee?!
    • I can’t get coffee or I will have to poop!
  • Can you ship wine?
  • Books
  • Burn a Road Trip CD
    • What the what?! Burn a CD?!
      • Make a Road Trip Playlist, make sure it has enough Suzy Bogguss
        • “I don’t wanna be standing here, and I don’t want to be talking here, and I don’t really care who’s to blame…”
  • You blame the dogs, even if it was you
    • Oh shit, is that why I have dogs?
  • Swim trunks for Jackson

Well Hello…

I have some new followers! I love new followers, but I hate that word “follower.” I prefer friends! I have some new friends! We shall all welcome them with open arms. Hello, friends! Welcome! Grab a White Claw, or a bottle of wine, or maybe some iced tea (we are in The South after all) and sit a spell while I tell you a bit about myself. My name is Missy. (Really it’s Melissa but when I was a born in the 80s my stone-washed jeans wearing sisters thought Missy sounded radical, so there you have it.) I go by Melissa when I am feeling “formal” or when I don’t know people very well, but I do prefer Missy. I’m not the type of person to offer that up when we first meet, nicknames sometimes scare people, so you’ll usually know me a little while when someone will call me Missy and you’ll be all, Wait, who is Missy? You mean Melissa? And they will be all, Who is Melissa? And that’s pretty much all you need to know about me. Just kidding.

I’m married to a lovely middle-aged, white man whom I often make fun of for being a middle-aged, white man but check this, he is faaaaar from the kinda guy you are thinking of. Sure, on the outside he looks the part, and a lot of old ladies grab his hand to tell them all about his church (like his atheist-ass cares), but he politely listens, nods along, and says, That sounds really nice! Occasionally other middle-aged, white men who do not know him very well will suggest having a beer, and they will end up saying some whacked-out racist shit, or something about how our current president is “fiscally responsible” or maybe throw in a homophobic joke, and my husband will be all, Oh, so you’re an asshole. Then he will pay his tab (but not theirs) and leave. He’s cool like that.

We have an 11-year-old son who is starting sixth grade in the fall. Middle school. I’m not going any further than that because I remember middle school, vividly, and I am terrified for him and for me. He’s supersonic smart though. He’s in the STEM program, robotics team, band, etc, etc. You’ll like him a lot and often remark how mature he is for his age, but that’s just because he doesn’t feel comfortable enough around you to make fart noises under his arm. Just yet. Otherwise he is honest, kind, considerate, and his three favorite television shows are: The Office, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

The dogs, Jesus I forgot about the dogs. Okay listen, we had this amazing dog for nearly 14 years. Her name was Bentley and she was my actual ride-or-die (yeah, I say ride or die and I don’t know if it is hyphenated or not). She was a chocolate lab mix and also the best dog in the whole world. But in 2018 her health problems caught up with her and we had to put her down a couple months shy of her 14th birthday. Then I did what I always do, I had a breakdown and over-compensated by getting not one, but two dogs. Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte came first. He is a standard poodle and he’s hella fancy and honestly I can’t with him sometimes. He wears bow ties, and prefers to be professionally groomed with a blow out. We just celebrated his second birthday with a surprise celebration on April 30th, because quarantine.

Then there is Lady Winifred Beesly of Atlanta. Winnie came to us at the beginning of quarantine because who didn’t think it was the perfect time to go on Craigslist and adopt a dog that someone had bought and realized they were allergic to and didn’t know what to do with?! She’s part standard poodle and part great pyranees and I know what you are thinking, what does that dog look like? Answer: A hot fucking mess. But we love her.

Okay, so I think that’s the gist of life around here. We live in Metro Atlanta. We are pro-choice (I’ll tell you about my daughter sometime), LGBTQIA+ allies, active members in the Black Lives Matter Movement, and we are Bernie supporters who will be voting for Biden in November because shiiiiiiit. My husband has his MBA and works in finance, I write and piddle around the house yelling about politics and who the hell shit on the floor?! It’s usually a dog.

This blog houses everything from my distorted, meandering thoughts to stories of my childhood, to actual lists of whatever I am thinking at any given moment. I talk a lot about mental health, family, and writing. I made a promise to myself to blog everyday this year, and with the exception of two weeks ago when I took a break to help #MuteTheWhiteNoise and #AmplifyBlackVoices I have written everyday this year. So, there’s a lot to read and digest here. I also have a page with my published writings if you are so inclined. Thanks for reading today and thanks for being on this crazy ride!

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Little Noises

Click, click. Tap, tap. Sploot. Click, click, click… These are the noises I hear at night when I am trying to fall asleep. I’ll be so close to sleep. My eyes closed, rolling back toward my brain from under my lightly pulled lids, then I will hear it. The click or the tap or the sploot. I open my eyes wide, cock my head to the side, grab hold of my husband’s sleeping arm. Do you hear that, I’ll whisper. He will respond in a snore. I’ll move my eyes toward the ceiling, imagine a squirrel scampering quickly over the layers of pine needles I haven’t willed myself to clean. It must be squirrels, I think. Then I lay my head back on my pillow, close my eyes, and try again.

I hear the noises, but the truth is, they aren’t there. They are part of a dreamlike state I get to before I fall over the cliff into dreams, into tossing and turning, sweating myself awake. The noises aren’t real, that’s why my husband doesn’t hear them, why my dogs are never jumping around barking. There is not really a click, or a tap, or a sploot. It’s all in my head.

This happens to me in times of stress. I hear things that aren’t real. Bacon sizzling in a pan. A wayward footstep. For years my doctors have blamed it on my medication. Auditory hallucinations they call it. Here, try this new pill instead. Only it isn’t the medication. The medication is doing it’s job. It is making me function all day. Allowing me to smile, even when I don’t want to. Allowing me to stay focused and motivated. But at night, when my brain is refusing to collapse into sleep, when the stress of the day catches up to me, then I’m on my own.

And all I can think right now, today as I wait to fall asleep in a cocoon of safety, my home alarm set, my husband sleeping quietly next to me, my son tucked safely in his bed, my two overly-anxious dogs at my feet, all I can think is, if I’m hearing clicks, taps, and sploots, what are other people hearing?

Hope you get some sleep today, friends.

M.

Grad School

Yous guys, this MFA program I’m headed into in the fall got me buggin’. Like, I’m NERVOUS. One, I don’t like most people. Two, I am definitely afraid of new people. Three, I’m just learning how to take myself seriously as a writer. Four, Imposter Syndrome. This isn’t my first rodeo. Five, I gotta stop making lists. That’s why I’m in the mess I’m in today, I made a list. I made a mental list of all the ways I could fuck up grad school and the list is exhaustive. I won’t share it now, cause most of it is bogus and you’d be like, really, Missy? And then I’d have to defend how crazy and dumb I am, and I’m not good at defending myself, which meeeeeans (making full circle motions with my hands) when I have to defend a BOOK LENGTH work at the end of this program I will die. Literally. Then the ghost of Missy will have to finish the program, and honestly, I don’t trust that bitch. She shady.

So why did I even do this? Why did I even apply for an MFA program? That’s a great question you guys, and one I don’t have an answer for. I’m hoping to write my way to answer, meanwhile I’ll just sit here and wonder about all the ways I am meant to watch my life ignite, sizzle, and burst into flames.

Stand back.

M.

An Open Letter to White Women

Dear White Women,

I have been watching you for the past couple of weeks and every time I am uplifted by you, or you motivate me, or you energize me, the next day two of you will make me angry. For every one of you that is out there on the front lines doing the work, two of you are snickering at the rest of us from behind your computer screen. It infuriates me. So this letter is for you, those of you snickering behind your phone screens. The rest of you, keep doing you, ladies. You are changing this damn world.

First and foremost, why it is so hard for you to just be quiet? It doesn’t sound hard. I mean, we tell our kids to do it all the time. Stop talking. Stop making so much noise. Stop saying the same thing over and over again, yet here you are doing just that. White women, this is not your struggle. It is not about you. I’m gonna say it again for the people in the back , THIS MOMENT IS NOT ABOUT YOU! No one cares how you are feeling right now. No one cares how you were discriminated against one time. We get it, you have felt discriminated against and you think no one stood up for you. Yeah, that’s called real life. Welcome to it. But we don’t want to hear about it now. It just isn’t the time, read a damn room. This isn’t about you, yet repeatedly I have seen white women taking the Black Lives Matter movement and somehow trying to make it about their life or experiences. Do you know what that is called? It’s called white centering.

White Centering is when you take a story, maybe the story of a friend or someone you love who is a BIPOC, you take a story from someone, it could be a complete stranger like George Floyd, and you somehow turn it into a story about yourself. About discrimination you have been through. About how hard your life is/was. But this is not the time for you to cry over something that happened to you 20 years ago (on social media) while pretending to support the movement. No one wants to hear it or see it. If that is what you are inclined to talk about when Black Lives Matter comes up, then just SHUT UP and LISTEN!

I’ve seen this day in and day out from my family members, my friends, strangers on Instagram. Y’all want everyone to validate your discrimination (you especially want Black women to validate you), but no. It isn’t time for that right now, and Black people are not your audience. I will listen to you, I will talk about mental health with you and how important is. Hear me: If you need to discuss a situation that you felt discriminated against based on (insert reasons for white people to be discriminated against), a situations or time that has stayed with you for years and years and you are still trying to work through it, I WILL listen and try to help. But just so we are clear I will NEVER listen, or take a situation seriously, if you try to sneak it on the backs of the BIPOC community, or the Black Lives Matter Movement. Stop. It’s gross, and yes, your BIPOC friends are judging you for it. They are just trying to be polite and let you have your “Karen” moment because they love and respect you, and they know you are a little racist, but it’s not okay.

Now I get it. Right now, if you’re still with me, you think I am attacking you. Matter fact, you might actually be formulating a text to me, or a message, or a vague FB status about how “someone” has “attacked” you today. That is good. In fact, this’s part of the process. Feeling “attacked” by truth is how you know it’s working. It’s like when you put Neosporin on a cut and it burns. The burning means it’s working! You’re hearing what I am saying, you’re realizing that you said something at the wrong time, that was not important and did nothing to better your community, the Black community, or the social space in which you said it. You are feeling shame and guilt. Good! But it might take actual days, weeks, months, years for you to believe what I am saying is the truth. To understand. To, as the kids say, be WOKE AF. I just hope you keep thinking on it, and for the love of all that is holy, keep reading.

White women, on top of not being able to sit and listen to Black people, ESPECIALLY Black Women, and generally white centering the narrative, you are incapable of admitting that you are covertly racist. Whew. This is tough, I know. I know. You know how I know? I had to admit it to myself. And it was hard, and I fought with myself for weeks on this one. Jesus, I did switch my bag from one shoulder to the other when I was walking next to that Black man. Shiiiiiit! I did that. Shit, I did allow my white friend to use the abbreviated “N-word” in my presence and not say something to her. Shiiiiit. I did not speak up when that co-worker told a racist joke that one time. I mean, I didn’t laugh at it. I didn’t retell it, but I didn’t speak up either. Shiiiit! I’m racist, y’all. WE ALL ARE. Look at this image I found from the Minister’s blog at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church in Charlottesville:

This is something white women just can’t understand. For the life of me, I want to shake some of y’all and scream, “You are awesome, I love you, but you are a little racist.” We all are racist because we were raised in a racist society. We were raised in a country that was LITERALLY FOUNDED ON RACISM! And no, it doesn’t matter if you have a Black husband. You don’t get a pass as a white woman, you still need to check your privileges and your racism. Ask any Black woman and she will fill you in, but wait, don’t actually ask them because they are a little too busy dealing with an influx of other dumb white women right now who suddenly want to unlearn what they were taught and expect Black women to be the ones to teach them. FOR FREE! OMIGOD, y’all. It wasn’t Black women who taught you how to be racist, and it isn’t up to them to fix your problem. It’s up to you. And while we are at it, it isn’t as easy as sticking a black square on your Instagram page one day. You need to be doing work. You need to be educating yourself. Reflecting, going inward. Walking through all the ways in which you have benefited from the structural racism that our country was founded on. If I may, it works best with a partner.

Because covert racism has just been accepted in our society. It is okay in a lot of places to be covertly racist. I don’t know any friend or family member who would actively take a role as a KKK Member, but I know several who have said things like, “I don’t like that bar because it’s too dark.” Meaning there are too many Black people there. I have friends and family members who, upon finding out that we were moving to Atlanta, said things like, “Ohh, you aren’t going to like it there, it’s pretty ghetto.” Meaning there are too many Black people there. They were wrong, on many levels. They are also covert racists. This is the kind of thing you need to be considering. Looking back at your life, seeing what you have done that is racist, admitting it, and working on ways to stop it from this point forward.

But please know that it takes time. I have been doing this internal work on my own unchecked racism for about six months now, and I make mistakes all the damn time. One of the biggest mistakes I made was thinking that Black people care about my progress. I actually thought I would get a damn pat on the back for working on myself, for admitting my covert racism, for standing up for the Black community. Uh, no. Black people don’t care if I am working on myself. And they don’t care if you are doing it either. And they don’t trust what I am actually doing will stick. They hope I am trying to educate other white people, but again, they don’t trust I will continue to. See a pattern here, white women? Black people, especially Black women, DO NOT TRUST US. Why should they? Have we given them a reason to? And again I’ll remind you I’m talking in general terms, and mainly about strangers you meet on social media, not people who you consider your friends and who know and trust your intentions.

The Black community does not want to hear about how hard we are working, because they have been working ten times harder their whole lives. They want to SEE how hard we are working. They want to see us banding together to stop other dumbass white people so they don’t have to. They want us to take some of the load off of them, and they want us to know that we should not expect a thank you for it. Because we should not expect a thank you for it. And the white women who are trying, please know that Black women may seem ambivalent to your work, and that is okay. Do not ask them to praise you. Do not ask them to educate you. Do not take, take, take from them. And for the love of all things holy, if you are relying on that one token Black friend to get you through this, get some more fucking friends! And please know that most of the Black women I have encountered through this process do not hate me, or what I am doing. But they don’t necessarily like me either. That hurt, at first. Then I recognized my own white fragility and moved one. There will be Black people, just like white people, who do not like you. You gotta get over it and keep moving forward.

Lastly, and this is the toughest lesson I have learned this week, white women you are not openly talking to your family, your friends, and most crucially your children, about racism. And your silence is deafening to your friends in the Black community. Instead you are making excuses like, “My dad is too old, different generation you know, I don’t want to upset him” or “I teach my children to be colorblind” or “My son is too sensitive it would upset him.” Let me tell you a little story about my very sensitive son and the first time I discussed racism with him.

We were at the Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Kelly Ingram Park is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led several peaceful protests. It is also where protestors were shot with water hoses and rubber bullets. It is also right across the street from where the 16th Street Baptist Church sits. The one that was bombed on September 15, 1963. The one where Addie Mae Collins (14), Cynthia Wesley (14), Carole Robertson (14), and Carol Denise McNair (11) we murdered. You might only know them as “The four little Black girls,” but it is important that you read and say their names.

We were strolling through the park with Jackson. He was BARELY four years old. He was looking at the statues and taking in all the words, words he didn’t understand. We sat him down on a blanket, we talked to him about the Civil Rights Movement. About how people hate other people based on the color of their skin. And he sat and listened. I was so proud of how he did. It was like he knew the moment was heavy and he really wanted to hear what we were saying. Then just as I finished up I took a deep breath and I asked him if he had any questions. He said he did. Jerimiah assured him questions were good, and he could ask any he wanted. Then Jackson, in his little preschool voice asked, “Can we get Subway for lunch?”

Yeah. My four-year-old son heard what I said that day, but he needed time to process it all. Because it isn’t a one-time talk. He didn’t have nightmares from the statue depicting the police dogs attacking children. He didn’t have nightmares about a burning church or even appear to register all we had said. But a couple months later we were driving somewhere in the car and we passed a Black man mowing his yard and my son said, “Mommy, Dr. King was Black like that man huh?” And while I was a little taken aback at the rawness of the question I simply said, “Yes he was. Do you want to talk about Dr. King?” and to my surprise he did. And he has wanted to talk since that day, from time to time, about Civil Rights, about the Black community, about how he will try to help his generation make a change. And we have always discussed his concerns and questions. We have made space for him to explore it on his own. Because honestly, there are four-year-old Black kids who have a very different talk given to them about racism, and it is the least I can do with for my child.

Make no mistake, if you are talking about racism, your kids are listening. If you are not talking about racism with your kids, they are also listening. And learning. Because kids are smart and perceptive and they know that something is happening in our country right now, and they are relying on your cues to help them through it. The question is what are you saying with your words, and more importantly, what are you saying with your actions?

Thank you for reading, my friends. I’m sorry if these truths are hard to digest right now, but I ask you, I implore you, to sit with them in solitude for a little bit. Reflect on how they make you feel. Reflect on why you agree or disagree with them, then move forward to fight off the shame and guilt you have been carrying around. Move forward to talk to your family and friends. Move forward to talk to your children. Own your privilege, and own your beliefs, even if they are racist, because the rest of us need to know which side of this battle you stand on.

Be safe and well, friends.

M.