Four Days of Protests

I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple of weeks now, but every time I sit down to write it I get upset and I can’t find the words. The thing is, we are not new to protesting. We are not new to marching for what we think is right, for having counter-protesters scream horrible things at us, but for some reason this time it was harder than before and I couldn’t pinpoint what made it so difficult to stomach.

Last month Jerimiah, Jackson, and I took part in socially-distanced, peaceful protests in our suburban Atlanta town with our friends Kelley and Bella, and it was exactly what we needed to be doing. We met Kelley and Bella through school (Jackson and Bella were in the same class) and immediately felt connected to them. They are cool, too cool for us. They are kind. They are smart, and funny, and socially conscious. We feel so proud to call them friends, which is why the day we drove by (after getting ice cream) and saw them standing on the corner of Lavista and Main Streets with signs supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement, along with about 20 other people, we were like SIGN US UP! That sparked three days in a row of us standing on the same corner with our friends holding homemade signs (that we hastily made from material from The Dollar Tree), as well as taking part in a much larger protest on Saturday, June 6th with about 300 people. It was an amazing learning experience for the kids, for both good reasons and not so good ones.

Of course protests, especially ones in small towns like ours, are sure to bring out the counter-protesters, or simply the mean people who are mad at your very existence. They see protestors as “unsightly,” and of course they feel guilty when they see you out with your “Silence is violence” signs. But I honestly didn’t expect it on that first night we were out there with our signs, and if it weren’t for seeing it with my own eyes I would have not believed how horrible people could be. How filled with hate people are. How angry and afraid full-grown men are, that they feel called to lash out at people, even women and children. I’m not going to talk about them here, because it detracts from what we accomplished, but just know that grown men and women flipped us off, screamed things back at us, and even walked up and down along with us trying to push white supremacy agendas. It was sad and gross, and yes, we let the children watch them, because they need to know that there are people like this in the world.

Meanwhile our kids, our smart, strong, funny, rising 6th graders, smiled at everyone, held their fists up in solidarity, took a knee, not once but twice, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on hot, crowded streets to show their solidarity with George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and people who are like them, and not like them. We were so incredibly proud. They even made up their own chants, and taught them to the other kids. Then they separated themselves in front of what will one day be their high school and chanted IN THE RAIN. For real. Look.

But this was on the second night of protests, the first night was very hot, and a little more crowded, and somewhat chaotic.

The first night of protests (for us) we met with the Mayor who, although I am not a fan, was very polite. He thanked us for what we were doing, and gave the kids a token of appreciation to remember the occasion. It was a coin with out town’s logo on it, and Jackson thought it was pretty cool.

The second night we were rained on a bit, but didn’t mind, it felt nice after the heat. We had police escorts at all protests, thank you DeKalb County Police, and we had city council members, and supporters who honked, honked, honked all night at us in solidarity. Some screamed “Black Lives Matter” out the window, some threw their fists in the air, some just smiled and waved.

The Essentials: Masks, hand sani, signs, and water. Thank goodness for the other protesters who shared with us that first night. We were not prepared!

At one point Kelley and I saw an older man walking his dog in front of the high school. We were a little worried at first, he looked like a lot of the people who were flipping us off, but he walked up behind us smiling and meandered toward us sort of unsure. Kelley, being the outgoing and friendly person she is, said hi to him and told him that his dog was so cute. He smiled and walked a bit closer. He introduced himself as Joe and said that he loved that we were out there. Then he told us to look straight down Main Street. He asked if we knew that yellow building, the one that was a Halal restaurant. “Sure,” we said, “it is called Bombay.” It’s an old building that sits on the corner or Main and Lawrenceville Highway, about half a block from our kids new middle school.

“Well,” said Joe, “did you know that used to be the office of the Grand Wizard of the KKK?” Kelley and I were stunned. No, we didn’t know that. We didn’t realize how close we were to KKK territory. He said this sight, our children protesting on this corner, was just, well, perfect. He told us to keep on keeping on, then Joe and his old doggy walked back home.

The next day Kelley confirmed the story. She had researched it when she went home and found that along with our town once being an epicenter for the KKK, Stone Mountain, yes that Stone Mountain, was also. I mean it makes sense if you’ve ever visited Stone Mountain, but it was new to us since we are still fairly new to this area. If you’d like to read more, check out this article about Stone Mountain, our town is about ten minutes from the mountain.

We protested on this street corner for a few more nights, then we met up on a Saturday for the bigger protest. For a couple of city blocks, people were standing six-feet apart, masked up, with signs, chanting and raising fists. Ten minutes before we left we took a knee. Three hundred or so people taking a knee on the city streets as cars whizzed by honking and waving and yelling, “Thank you!” That was my favorite.

After the protest I asked Jackson what he learned. What new information he gathered from his days of protesting. “Not much,” he said. “I already knew that most people are good, and some people aren’t, and those people will probably never change.” Man, he’s right. I told him so. Then I added that those people aren’t worth your energy to try to change. I reminded him to start with the people who want to listen and work your way out. I told him to always vote. Always speak goodness into existence. Always, always do what is right and true. He shook his head and said, “That’s what we did.” We sure did. I told him more that day, but I think he learned more from my actions than my words.

Thanks, Kelley, and Bella, and Jackson, and Jerimiah. Thanks to those of you all over the world who are striving to do what is true and what is right. We have your back. Always.

M.

The Upcoming School Year

Man, I know as parents we are worried about what this upcoming school year will look like, but I gotta say, some of y’all need to take a step back, do some deep breathing exercises, and maybe take a nip of gin, ya dig? We are going to be okay. Your kids will be okay. This world will be okay. And listen, if it’s not okay, if this world of ours implodes, then let’s be real we will be dead and won’t know what happened anyway, so I mean… Bonus? Okay, this might not be helping. Let me start over.

I know that there are some parents that are totally upset with how the end of last year happened. Count me as one of them! I had a fifth grader in his most favorite class, in his most favorite school, with his most favorite teacher ever. It was a bummer to do a virtual graduation. But that is what needed to happen to keep our kids safe. I had, and still have, faith in the educators, in the administrators, and in the school district. If you live in a place where you don’t have that kind of faith, I’d recommend either finding a new place or getting more involved. Those two things can do wonders for how your child’s education goes, and how you feel about your school district.

I had so many friends with kids who were seniors last year. I was so sad for them, but let’s be real: It’s high school, y’all. Now I get it, if you peaked in high school you might have been extra sad. But most of these kids are going off to college, will get another graduation, more dances, more friends, etc. Cry, be sad for a moment, then realize this situation, this place we find ourselves in today is so much bigger than you, and whether or not your daughter got to go to prom, that you have to know how silly you look. If not, consider this your wake up call. It’s over, stop talking about it. Let’s instead turn our sights on how to help for the upcoming school year, and the first step is to calm the fuck down.

You calm now? No? You just hate me? Cool, stop reading, it won’t change things, but if it makes you feel better I understand. But what can change things is your ability to trust the professionals, understand and communicate with your child about their comfort levels, stay current on the CDC recommendations, talk to other parents in your community, and gin. Did I mention gin before? You should drink more gin.

I already have parents emailing me about homeschooling, and while I appreciate their concern, I have to say, I don’t even know what DeKalb County has decided on yet so I won’t be investigating homeschool until I know that is my last option. In case you don’t know me, or somehow have be pegged wrong, I will NOT be sending my child back to school full-time in the fall. I won’t. So I am crossing my fingers for a virtual option, at least until there is a reputable vaccine. I am tentatively okay with an A/B schedule, but there has to be many precautions put in place, that I can see with my own eyes, before that is to happen.

Some parents are screaming, “Kids need to be back!” Some are parents who need to get back to work because their companies are not taking this seriously either. Some are stay-at-home parents who are just tired. I get it. I do. But is risking the teacher’s lives, livelihood, their families, and most importantly ALL THE KIDS, worth you getting a day of silence? No. That is the only answer. No. Hire a babysitter. Hire a tutor to help.

The thing I can’t get my mind around is that everyone is saying, “Kids are not affected.” Meanwhile, have you seen all the summer camps and daycares that have opened up and have kids that got Covid-19? I have. I’ve been keeping track. Plus, what the hell is Covid Toes?! It’s a thing, Google it. Kids are getting it. They probably just have it a lot less because we STOPPED SCHOOL VERY QUICKLY! Now, when the numbers are skyrocketing you suddenly want school to go back in session. I’m just gonna say it, that’s a bad idea. And I hope against all hope that I am so very wrong, and kids really don’t get it, and teachers won’t pass it around like the damn flu, and have to be out for weeks and infect each other, and students, and their own damn families. Not to mention that I hope teachers are given more sick days, because if they get Covid they have to isolate for at least 14 days, which is ALL the time off they have. Did you know this? Now you do.

I saw a meme the other day that said, “You want schools to control Covid-19? Sure, no problem. Look how well they control head lice outbreaks…”

Take some deep breathes. This will be over one day, but now is not the time to go back to school. It just isn’t. Sorry you don’t want to hear that, but I’ve been listening to you say things like, “Teachers are so lucky they get all summer off…” and other whacked-out shit for too long. Y’all need to get on better terms with some teachers so they can throw some truth at you. I have a few close friends I can send your way if you need a damn wake-up call.

M.

PS… ALWAYS VOTE FOR SCHOOLS AND TEACHER PAY INCREASES, YOU ASSHOLES

News Alert

I‘ve been struggling to stay away from the news lately. Struggling because it’s important to stay informed, but I also know what the news does to me, and I know that the way people respond to news is even worse. It’s one thing to get an alert that says our president is threatening to cut funding to schools if we don’t go back full time in August, it’s another thing altogether to see family and friends share his sentiment in agreement. Like really?! Weren’t you just saying three months ago how awesome teachers are, and how important school is for your kids, and how everyone should have more money?! It’s disheartening to say the least.

The news alerts I get on my phone are usually the worst, and they have been coming fast and furious over the last few months. The ones that tell me another child was murdered. Or police killed another Black man, or that the cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed. Shit man. It’s like we can’t catch a break.

I know I’m not alone in this. There are a million memes about how fucked up 2020 has been, about how we wish we could just wish it all away. But the thing is, we can’t. And maybe that’s good. Maybe it’s time we face the news. So much has come to light over the last few months. How much we have realized about how disgusting, and backwards, and ridiculous our country really is. How gross we treat each other. How one minute we say things like, “Teachers are saints who should be paid more!” Then the next minute we say, “I don’t care if teachers get COVID, the economy needs to get back to work!” Wow. Just wow.

That’s where I find myself today. At the crossroads of wanting to be informed and wanting to crawl into a hole and never come out. How about you?

Be safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Teaching Cursive

Jackson and I were going through his registration packet for middle school yesterday and we got to a page he needed to sign. It was about attendance, being on time for school and each class. He read over it, then grabbed the pen. He stopped short of signing and said, “Can I print?” My instinct was to say no, it asks for your signature. So that’s what I said. Then I offered to write his name in cursive so he could see, and he could copy what I did. I immediately thought those thoughts many people have. Why have they not taught our kids cursive?! Then he said, “Mommy, I just don’t understand why when it says to ‘sign’ your name, it has to be cursive. Why is it that way?” Then I answered the answer I hate, “That’s how it’s always been.” He shook his head and signed a very long, careful signature that, in all honesty, doesn’t have shit to do with literally anything. Literally. Whether or not my rising-sixth grader can sign his name in cursive matters not to a damn person. To a damn thing. And why is it even a thing? And why are people so bent out of shape that learning cursive is not a priority anymore. I would have much rather not learned cursive as a third grader, and instead been pushed to actually learn how fractions work. Or how to play a musical instrument, or how to speak Spanish. I could give two shits that I know how to write just one language in two different ways. Why wasn’t I instead taught how to write in two different languages?!

Okay, whew. I didn’t realize I was so mad about this, but the truth of the matter is, it’s ridiculous what we put on our teachers. It’s ridiculous how little they are paid, how much they do, and now how they will LITERALLY be putting their lives at risk to help you “get back to work” and yet people still have the audacity to say shit like, “Well my kid isn’t learning cursive!” Get your shit together, y’all. Our kids are learning how to hide in closets in case masked gunman storm their classrooms. They are listening to a man run our country into the ground while he says things like, “I like to grab ‘em by the pussy.” They are watching their angry adults say hurtful things like, “All lives matter,” deciding if they can deal with the stress of wearing masks at schools or virtual learning, meanwhile you’re mad that our teachers are pushing back. That our local and state officials want to get this all right the first time so it’s taking longer to get answers to you, and yeah, some of y’all are still mad your kid or grandkid isn’t learning cursive. Get the fuck outta here with that. If you want your kids to learn cursive, teach them. You have no problem teaching them how to hunt or fish, which is as useless today as writing in cursive. You have no problem teaching them how to shoot a gun, how to hate someone not like them, how to go sit in a church pew. Teach them cursive. And give the teachers a fucking break, you couldn’t do their job if your life depended on it, meanwhile our lives do depend on teachers. Because without them, who knows where your kid would be. Where you would be. So shut up, sit down, and vote for schools, for teachers, for education, every, single time.

M.

Shit or Get Off the Pot

Things are a hot mess in Atlanta right now. We had a deadly Fourth of July weekend, several children have been shot in the last week, and Covid-19 never really left. But yesterday morning our governor decided to be a real governor and say something about the violence. I mean, God forbid he take action to help save us from the global pandemic that is sweeping our state, or listen to what the people in Atlanta (the largest municipality and the capital of the state) are angry about, but “extra” violence in Atlanta, that warrants a stern talking to. Matter of fact he said, “While we stand ready to assist local leaders in restoring peace and maintaining order, we won’t hesitate to take action without them.” Well, hold up, let me rephrase, he Tweeted that. So he didn’t actually address the problem on a public stage, he didn’t actually do anything, he just sat at his desk and Tweeted his ideas. Sound like anyone else we know?

The problem isn’t so much the fact that he threatened the city, it’s that once again he didn’t do shit about a problem until a domestic spotlight was shone upon us, then he threatened. Remember how we have talked about leadership coming from the top down? Atlanta, like all other large municipalities, has a very particular set of problems, and because of it’s shear size, it makes it difficult to fix many of these problems, especially when you want to just fix them overnight. Listen, I’ve only been here a little over a year, but I can already see that the way things have been going, are not helping. This is an instance where, “But it’s always been done that way,” isn’t working and things need to be changed, and I know I sound like a broken record here, but it starts with voting. Then it moves out from there. Volunteering. Donating. Sharing knowledge you gain. Educating people.

When we moved to Atlanta a year ago we were nervous. We had heard horrible things about the city we have come to love. The horrible things were mainly racist bullshit that out-of-towners don’t feel comfortable talking about. That was our first lesson. Because when you really strip Atlanta down, down to its roots, it isn’t pretty, but it’s important. Vital, even. Like did you know Atlanta and the Black vote was the single biggest game-changer in getting John F. Kennedy elected back in 1960? I didn’t either, until I came here and had a history lesson.

Say what you will about Atlanta, but until you are here, living in it, taking the Marta to historical places, reading about the culture and society (which by the way some people who have lived here for 20 years don’t even do or know about) then I won’t listen to you anymore. I can’t. I won’t listen to our racist, hypocritical governor either. I can’t. Too many people are dying here. Too many people need help. And I’ve been waxing for a year now about how I can help. Saying I can’t, or I shouldn’t, it isn’t my place. But the fact is, this is my place. This is my home. I don’t know how long it will be, but it is now and that is all that matters. I’m a Georgian now. I live in a suburban town just steps outside the perimeter and I have two choices: I can tell people I live in Tucker, where the schools are sweet and the people are all wonderful, and the houses are big and there is opportunity for growth, or I can say I live in the Atlanta Metro and we need help. A lot of fucking help.

When I was little and I needed to make a decision about one thing or another, about what my actions needed to be, and I was stuck and so very afraid my mom would say, “Welp Missy, it’s shit or get off the pot time,” and I’m finally feeling that here in Atlanta. It’s time to either dig in and help, put in the time, and the effort, and the heart, or it’s time to leave. Stay my happy-ass in the comfortable parts of life. I’ll give you one guess what I’m about to do…

It’s time to shit or get off the pot, y’all. What are you gonna do?

M.

Political Masking

I can’t sleep. It’s three am, and I’m awake watching the light from the window stream in. The light is different out here in the country. It’s softer. It’s the moonlight. Starlight. It’s the things you can see more clearly in the dark. I’m in bed, awake, thinking about kindness. About masks. About how different the world suddenly is for my child. But mainly I’m thinking about kindness.

The fact that wearing a mask for public safety right now is a political stance, or an opinion, or a whatever the hell it is, is making me very upset, and I think what it boils down to is kindness. Not niceness, not a performative act (although shame might be the driving force for some people to wear one), but rather the ability to think about someone other than yourself. If your concern with wearing a mask is your freedom, or how you look in one, or how it will negatively impact you, you’re completely missing the point of the masks. This isn’t about you, it’s about us, the collective. It’s about saving as many fragile lives as we can. It isn’t about you, it’s about your friend’s great-grandma, or your sister’s mother-in-law, or your child’s friend with a compromised system. It’s about wanting everyone to survive this. It’s about doing the most good for the most amount of people, which is probably why you’ll find mask-wearing will fall along political lines. The most good for the most amount of people, yeah, we don’t all want that. And I’m just laying here tonight, watching the moonlight stream in, and I’m wondering how we came to a point when genuine kindness, generosity, and care for humankind become a political stance. Maybe it always has been, I was just too naive to notice?

Take care, be safe, wear a mask, stay home if you can.

M.

My Feelings Today

Sometimes when I don’t have the words, and I can’t figure out what is happening, or how I feel, or when I just can’t sort out my emotions I make little diagrams. It takes my mind off the stuff whirling inside, it makes me feel productive, it helps me figure out what I’m feeling. I drew this little ditty last night. Maybe you could try too? Maybe it will help you sort out your thoughts. This is just one tiny nugget of what I was trying to wade through last night, I could have ten more of these with different topics, but you know, the same topics. Most people I know and respect are somewhere in this web with me, and it isn’t fun. But if we don’t talk about it, openly, honestly, we won’t get very far.

I know this is a hard time for a lot of us. The ones paying attention, anyway. The ones trying to be better. The ones actively protesting against racism. And especially the ones living in the middle of it. I just want you all to know that you can feel lots of ways, about lots of things. And we will make mistakes. Geez, I’ve made a ton this last week. And I’ll make a ton more. And there have been people that I respected and admired fall, but man I’m trying to show grace. I really am.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Edit: I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, and didn’t share it because I was working on the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices Challenge. Then I thought it wasn’t really relevant anymore, but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if it still might be helpful for people who need an action to help them figure out their thoughts. So there you go. If it helps you great, if not, that’s okay too. Thanks for reading!

Facebook, at it Again

If we are friends on Facebook, then you probably know two things: 1. I only allow myself 15 minutes a day on that website for my mental health and 2. My husband recently took a “Facebook Break.” You know this because I told y’all about it, not because he did. I made a post the day he decided to deactivate his account. He didn’t delete it, because well, he was struggling with what felt right for him. He stays in contact with a lot of family members on Facebook and groups that he belongs to, like the Charlotte Atheist group that we used to do volunteer work for as a family, but he was really having a hard time with social media as of late. First there were the Covid-19 conspiracy thoerists. He actually had to “unfriend” a family member because she shared one of those bananas theories and she precluded it with, “I don’t know if this is real, but I’m sharing anyway…” See the problem with that is, it’s very easy to find out if it is real, and well, if you aren’t willing to put in the work, then he just can’t.

Anywho, I totally supported his decision to deactivate for however long he needs to, as I support anyone’s right to do that, particularly for a mental health break. So I alerted our mutual friends per my post, and we moved on. Then a couple of days later I had a family member share a little meme about all the “crazy stuff” happening in 2020, especially the “rioting” and “looting,” and she said something like, “I’m about to just delete my Facebook account and watch Netflix for a month!” Basically because she was tired of people saying things like, “Black Lives Matter.” Some of her friends commented that they agreed, yet there they still are on FB. It took all my strength not to comment, “Isn’t that nice. Isn’t that nice that you can just ‘check out’ of FB when things get too rough for you? That’s called White privilege.” But I didn’t, I merely scrolled on by. This is the kind of family member not worth my time because she will never “get it.”

So I was telling Jerimiah about this, and I was explaining that I was having a hard time deciding if that is what he did too. His problem with FB is that there is this “Scroll on by” mentality, and well, he feels like he can’t. He feels like he needs to hold people accountable. That holding people accountable takes a toll on a person, especially when both your families are full of covert racists. So we had a long discussion. We talked and talked about whether he was just getting out when the work got too hard, whether he was using his privilege in the best possible way, or whether we were just overthinking this all. We talked and talked and talked, and we came to a few conclusions. They may not be the conclusions you would come to, they may not make you happy to hear, but they are ours and we are sticking to them.

Conclusion #1: Jerimiah is getting back on Facebook. He misses his groups, his friends, and the community from Charlotte that he stays in contact with. He misses seeing pics of our friends’ babies and dogs. He wants his friends to be able to see what Jackson is doing.

Conclusion #2: Neither Jerimiah nor I will be “scrolling on by” when family and friends post crazy shit on Facebook. Here’s how we are looking at it. When I open up my FB feed and I see someone say, “Hope you all have a great day!” I am happy to see that. I envision that person walking by me on the street, or even walking out of my house having just come for a visit and saying that directly to me, because well, that is how it works. When you post on YOUR page it comes to MY newsfeed which is basically into MY house. It is your way of telling me, and all your other “friends,” how you feel about something. It opens up, whether you want it to or not, a dialogue about what you have just written. Now I’m not sure when this shift happened. When we went from “Listen to what I say and let’s nicely discuss it” to “Listen to what I say and do not share your opinion on it because THIS IS MY PAGE,” but I suspect it happened around the time that half the population became embolden by a racist president, so around 2016. But here’s the thing, if you were to walk into our house and say, “Have a great day!” We would smile and tell you to do the same. If you walk into our house and say, “All lives matter,” we would take that as an opportunity to explain to you how that is a racist statement. We would explain why it is counterintuitive to advocating for the Black community. We would politely explain that you, as a white person, SHOULD be advocating for the Black community right now. We would be, in fact, continuing the discussion that YOU started by walking into OUR house and saying, “All lives matter.” Now, if you are not prepared for that discussion, that is on you. The way I see it you have you have two options: 1. Don’t say it to us (that means don’t let it come into OUR house, that means don’t write it on YOUR page) or 2. Unfriend us.

Conclusion #3: We expect to be held accountable by our BIPOC friends when and if we say something that is not correct, we are learning. If you don’t know what the acronym BIPOC means, please get with the program. It means Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Please stop calling BIPOC people “Colored” and please stop referring to yourself as “Non-colored” it’s MFing 2020, y’all. You are white, with a lower case “w” and your Black friends are Black with a capital “B” (or whatever they desire to be called, asking them is the best way to find out). Get it? Got it? Good.

Conclusion #4: We will no longer be “unfollowing” or “snoozing” people. And this is a one strike and you’re out rule when it comes to blatant racism. But for the rest, we will strive to hold you accountable. For example, if you decide to partake in white centering (this is when you take the Black Lives Matter narrative and turn it into how that one time you were discriminated against and you are just so upset about it) we will be calling you out for it, holding you accountable. Or if you say something like, “I just don’t understand the rioting,” we will try to help you understand. But if at any time you become hostile toward the Black Lives Matter movement, or the Black community, or anyone in general, we will be unfriending you because you are mean, and we don’t like mean people. We have given so much grace over the last two weeks with friends and family, but we can’t anymore. You should know better by now.

Conclusion #5: If you still support Trump and you still plan to vote for him in November, in our book you are propagating a racial divide. That’s means you are a racist. Now it might be covert, most likely is, but that still means you a racist and you are doing nothing to remedy that. Matter fact, you haven’t even admitted that you are racist. WE have! We have been screaming it from rooftops. We understand that we are racist because we were raised white in a culture of white supremacy and that is how society made us because that is how our American culture was made to work, to oppress minorities. We are actively unlearning all this bullshit and if were too, you would no longer support the current administration. SO please don’t get offended if we have to unfriend you for your political stance. Remember, it’s personal. But if you are still a Trump supporter, here is what we want you to do. We want you to declare your love for Trump. We want you to push your chest out, say it with pride, I mean really amplify your voice when you say it. Say, “I am a racist!” Say it, say it loud and proud, so we know who to unfriend. And just so we are clear, saying you support Trump because you are a “fiscal conservative” or “love guns” or “only vote Republican” is not an excuse. Chest out. Pride in your voice, “I am a racist!” Say it! Stand up for what you believe in, y’all, that’s what we are doing. Lest I remind you our friendship is not nearly as important as all of us standing up for what we believe in.

Conclusion #6: The “unfriend” button goes both ways and trust us when we say this, WE WILL NOT BE OFFENDED IF YOU UNFRIEND US! Because the thing is, if we are real friends of family, the real kind, we will be able to respectively converse on social media, even if we do disagree. You will be open to our world views, and us to you (with the exception of Trump, per my last email). And we will see each other in real life again and we can talk then. You don’t even need to explain yourself. I won’t be explaining myself. Jerimiah won’t be explaining himself. There’s no need to explain why you do what you do. There just isn’t. We will assume you had to unfriend us because you are a racist who is not actively working to get better, or because you can’t handle truth, or because you are afraid to be held accountable for your actions, or because you think we are “mean.” Either way, we don’t care. We wish you all the best, mostly we wish you better mental health, and more love and compassion in your heart for others.

Whew. This has been a long, but necessary post. I will refer back to it many times from this point forward, I will even share it on your comments if I have to hold you accountable and you wanna fly off the handle all crazy and such. And for the people who we love, our close friends and family members, please know that we are not “coming for you,” but that you will not be receiving a pass either. We might, for example, choose to message you about your covert racism, rather than call you out publicly, but we are watching, in fact, the whole world is watching now. If I were you, I’d recognize how important words are, and fast. Choose them wisely. And if you don’t feel comfortable getting into the conversation, then just don’t. Simple as that.

Lastly, let’s all welcome Jerimiah back! The real work starts today.

With love,

M. and J.

Muted and Listening

“Ideal Bookshelf: Anti-racism”, illustration by Jane Mount (www.idealbookshelf.com)

I’ve decided to take part in the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices Challenge created by @blackandembodied and @jessicawilson.msrd. I won’t be blogging, posting on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook from now until June 7th in an attempt to #MuteTheWhiteNoise. Instead I’ll be listening to what Black people have to say. I’ll be watching and looking at art created by Black artists and activists. I’ll be reading Black authors. I’ll be looking inward and reflecting on what I’m learning, how my world views need changing, and how I can help elevate the Black Community. Please follow the hashtags and the original creators of this challenge on Instagram.

Below you will find links to articles about white fragility and anti-racism by Black authors, as well as Black activists to follow on Instagram. I hope you can find time to educate yourself on these topics and listen to the unheard voices in the Black Community. Please remember that Google is your friend. Don’t rely on the people below, or any of your Black friends, colleagues, or Black people in your community to educate you. They are too busy and it isn’t their job. White supremacy and racism work because white people do not take a stand against it. It is a problem that white people created, and it is one that we need to work to end. It is time to take a stand, even toward people you love and admire. Our silence is deafening to the Black Community.

If you don’t already, please follow: @berniceking, @thekingcenter, @theconsciouskid, @rachel.cargle, @ckyourprivilege, @Ibramxk, @taranajaneen, @thegreatunlearn, @mspackyetti, and @staceyabrams. Check to see who they are following, and follow more. Be present in the conversations this week, but do not speak up. Just read and listen. Just listen.

Follow the hashtags #AhmaudArbery, #BlackLivesMatter, #BLM, #IRunWithAhmaud, #GeorgeFloyd, #RevolutionNow, #RadicalEmpathy, #BreonnaTaylor, #BlackoutTuesday, #MutedAndListening, #AntiRacism, #ICantBreathe, #WeCantBreathe, #SayTheirNames, #NoJusticeNoPeace to keep informed with the movement. **Please do not post with these hashtags, it was brought to my attention that some people are using them to follow the rioters and put them in harm’s way, and that coupled with the Blackout Tuesday movement, is blocking important #BLM info from getting out to the Black Community, just follow them for now.**

Read, read, read! Read the books listed in the illustration above for starters, and follow the authors on social media or on their paid Patreon accounts. Please keep in mind that some of these books have become very popular in the last few weeks (which is great), but I have heard of price gauging online. This in no way benefits the authors. Whenever possible, order the title from your local independent bookstore who supports Black writers. It may take a couple of weeks to get the book, because some are on backorder, but it is worth it. The titles from the illustration above are:

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? by Mumia Abu-Jamal
The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Good Talk by Mira Jacob
Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji & Anthony G. Greenwald
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? by Moustafa Bayoumi
The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele
An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz
Citizen by Claudia Rankine
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Mindful of Race by Ruth King
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson
Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Tatum
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell & Aurélia Durand

In the meantime, here are some articles to get you started reading and thinking now:

https://www.theconsciouskid.org/white-fragility

https://medium.com/@ralindaspeaks/black-parents-know-about-the-talk-white-parents-its-your-turn-a6a1209e5be2

I’ve had a lot of white friends tell me they had no idea about the Tulsa Massacre. History.com has great information on what happened to the thriving Black Community in Tulsa in the early 1900s: https://www.history.com/news/black-wall-street-tulsa-race-massacre

As always, be well and safe. And please remember what Maya Angelou said: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

M.

Facebook Friday

On Friday I woke up, looked at the news and knew exactly what most of my friends and family would be talking about on social media: Riots. Looting. How violence was sweeping our nation in the wake of the murder or George Floyd. My first thought was, great, here we go again. Then I thought, wait, Can I help in some way? Can I try to open a dialogue with my white family and friends about why this is happening? I’ve been trying for the last year to understand the structural racism that our country was founded on. The same structural racism that our country began with–kill the Native Americans, move them to reservations, and take their land–and kept up with like an unspoken mantra for decades. The same structural racism that made Black people a fraction of a person. That made a rich country on the backs of minorities. The same structural racism that allows us to be okay with children dying in cages at the border, today. The same that makes “Not all cops are bad” as the only proper response to the killing of George Floyd. What I know and what other white (and some Black) people don’t yet realize is that our country was founded on these idea. Keep the minorities down. And as long as we don’t talk about it, just do it, all will be well.

So I got the bright idea to let myself be on Facebook all day long. Now y’all know I have been limiting my access to Facebook to 15 minutes a day for about eight months now, and it has done wonders for my mental health. I mean I would spend all day on there. I would work with the Facebook tab open. I would compulsively check my phone all day to see if someone “liked” or commented on something. That’s how I got my news, my recipes, my pictures of cute dogs and babies. But alas, I learned you can get all those from other places, and that the less time I spend on social media the better I feel. Now I know this is not the case for some of you. We know what social media is at its worst, but at its best it can do amazing things. It’s just that I am programmed to focus on the bad stuff, so it doesn’t work for me like it might others, and that’s okay. But yesterday I asked Jerimiah (the keeper of my Facebook time) to give me access all day. He put in the password, handed me the phone, then asked if that was a good idea. Of course, I almost screamed, I’m doing good today!

What I ended up doing was getting sucked right back into the “bad.” I got sucked back into sharing my opinion on other people’s pages, who quite frankly, were not as “woke” as me? Yeah, let’s say that. White fragility is real, y’all. I’ve been reading about it, but I wasn’t sure until I read something that a Black activist wrote a few weeks ago and suddenly I was offended. All, Well how could she say that about me? How could she clump me in with those white people? She doesn’t know me, look I’m different, I have experience with this, I blah, blah, blah… Then I was like, Oh shit, I just highlighted her point exactly.

White people, especially women, get so upset when you share truth with them, so offended, that they lash out. Not all, but most. Count me as one of them. One of them who is working on not being that way. How dare we suggest white women are just more of the same? Well, how do you think it makes Black people feel when you use stereotypes on them? When our culture, our society, has taught these stereotypes. Jesus, more than half of my white friends and family aren’t even friends with a Black person. They don’t even know Black people. Or they haven’t lived in a predominantly Black community. So they only know these stereotypes and these ideas about Black culture from what they have been taught by society.

Then there were the Not All Cops Are Bad people. No one that I know, or have talked to recently has claimed all cops are bad. Matter fact, I know several people in Law Enforcement. And the people I know and am related to would probably, I’d like to think at least, stick up for people like George Floyd. But who can say. Atlanta’s Police Chief Erika Sheilds said it best, she said, “As law enforcement officers, we tend to put ourselves in the shoes of the police officer who is detaining. We have been there. We get that space. We need to stop seeing it that way. We need to step back and see the whole situation. Some people just should not police, and those people should be swiftly seen for who they are and removed.” Yeah, that’s part of the whole point. That’s why we need mental health checks, and psych evaluations on people before they become police officers. Better training, oversight committees formed by the people of the city, the very people the police are policing.

If you think about it, being a LEO is just a smaller version of a politician. They are there to serve the community, to keep people safe. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights era when police officers were tasked with spraying SILENT protestors with hoses and pelting them with rubber bullets, that suddenly police (some of them) began to see themselves as the keeper of “right” and “wrong.” We gave power to them that must be restored. Do they have a dangerous job? Absolutely. Do they get shot at in the line of service? Do they die for no reason? Yes. Yes. What does it stem from, do you think? Structural racism? Lack of mental health care for people who need it? Yes. And yes. I’ve met, had actual conversions with LEOs who truly believe they are God. Who put on the uniform and become someone else. I once knew a cop in Leavenworth, a young guy, new to the force, who was married with a baby at home. He liked to use his badge to fuck with young people, young men especially. Why? He liked to have sex with guys, but he couldn’t tell his family he was gay, so he’d use his badge to prey on young men. Should he have been policing? Uhh, no. But did people think this stand-up, married, dad was doing what he was doing? Uhh, no.

Just because someone has a badge doesn’t make them inherently good. You should hear the stories I have heard about male police officers and how they have random sex and affairs with women. Take advantage of women. Rape women in custody. Cheat on their spouses, and think it’s okay because they are “the law” and besides, don’t women always says shit like, “I love a man in uniform…” Le sigh. That sort of power can go to someone’s head. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes. And those people should not be policing. I also think many law enforcement officers have witnessed their colleagues say and do things to Black people that is offensive, violent, etc, and have stayed silent. No one wants to piss off a co-worker. No one wants to piss off people they have to see day in and day out. But when you do you are aiding the problem. I know this is hard for people with loved ones who are LEOs to hear. I know it is hard for the “Thin Blue Line” people to hear. But it doesn’t make it less true. Think on it.

Then there are the protesters. I had a couple of people reach out, which I always prefer, and ask why I condone rioting and looting. I don’t. They just assumed that I do because I called bullshit on structural racism. I reminded people that the anger and hatred that fueled the Boston Tea Party and the rioting and looting there is now taught in school as “Patriotism.” I reminded people that last month white men walked into their state capital with Ak-47s and demanded to be able to eat at TGIFridays without a mask, and our president called them “Good people who are just angry.” Then I reminded them that if a group of people protesting at a #BLM rally turn to looting (which by the way is not the intent of the #BlackLivesMatter movement), they are “thugs” and it is “violence” not “patriotism.” Why do you think that is? I have a hunch.

Jerimiah and I sat in awe last night as we watched instigators tear down Atlanta. It was shameful to see. Damn it, Jerimiah sighed. Because he knows, like I do and a lot of us, that now people will only see this protest, this peaceful, non-violent, planned protest, as a “riot.” And I get the anger from people who say, “I don’t condone this.” Most people don’t. Most of the protesters were long gone, and their were more than enough people telling CNN reporters, as they stood outside CNN and watched the agitators break the glass windows to their office, that they do not condone this. That isn’t what it was supposed to be about.

The thing that got me was the amount of white people they were interviewing, who were A. Not from Atlanta and B. Just there to start some shit. White people busting out windows, white people screaming at the cops, white people burning the flag, which by the way, doesn’t bother me. You can hate me all you want, but I don’t give two shits about the burning of a piece of cloth. Would I do it? Probably not. Not unless I thought I had a good enough reason, like my son was killed by cops then my president didn’t give a shit, or you know, something like that. But the newscaster was all, “This is hard to watch” as two white people burned an American flag, and Jerimiah and I looked at each other and were like, This? This is hard to watch? This is the part that is hard to watch? Now we see how infuriating it must be to silently protest and be told you’re doing it wrong. You can’t kneel. You can’t burn a piece of cloth. You can’t stand with your hands up. You can’t form a chain and peacefully walk from one part of the city and then back again. You can’t call out white supremacy.

I know too many people who have watched the KKK burn down a Black church and sigh and go, “Well, what can you do?” then to sit and listen to them bitch about a Target on fire. (Eye roll). But it doesn’t matter how people protest, it’s wrong in the eyes of the US government. Unless, as mentioned before, you are a white male protesting with automatic weapons on the steps of your state capital, then you cool. Otherwise, no. No kneeling in silent protest. No walking across bridges. No burning the flag in protest. No standing in the street with your hands raised. No chanting, “I can’t breathe.” You get what I’m slinging.

I was actually really happy with the way Atlanta handled it all on Friday. And I was really happy with the protest itself. We did not go because we don’t feel comfortable going to fucking Wingstop to pick up chicken wings right now, so you won’t find me at any political rallies, but I was happy that people let their feelings out. That pastors spoke. That healing happened. But it was negated by the chaos that followed. So now we have two choices: We can either focus on the rioting, or the problem and solution. Too many of y’all wanna focus on the rioting and I get why. It’s easier. It is a cut and dry situation. They burned a cop car. That is wrong. And easy to fix. And a pretty agreeable stance. Burning cop cars is bad. Killing and imprisoning Black men, hmm, that’s harder for some of you to work out.

The last thing I saw before I turned off the television was Dr. Bernice King. She came to the press conference Mayor Bottoms held in Atlanta. Mayor Bottoms was a mother up there. “Go home,” she said. “If you love this city, go home.” Of course as I said, many of the instigators were not from Atlanta, so no, they do not love this city. Most of Atlanta was already at home, worrying about how the city would look in the morning. Then T.I. spoke, then Killer Mike, then Dr. Bernice King. She reminded people that what you miss when you use her father’s words, “A riot is the language of the unheard…” is the part about the “unheard” and as long as there is rioting, you will continue to be “unheard.” And she’s right. But, we are taught, in this white supremacy world that we live in, to accept that the murder of an unarmed Black man in daylight by a police officer as “non-violence” but looting a Target as “violence.” And until we can all get on the same page about what the “problem” is, no one will be heard. On thing is for sure about watching angry people light cop cars on fire in the middle of downtown Atlanta, we have a problem in this country, and you can’t ignore it any longer.

Listen, I shared the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote the other day on Insta and FB. The one that said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” And a lot of people “Loved” and “Liked” it. Then when the protestors took to the street, y’all lost your voice. Got upset if someone put you in your place. Let your white fragility show. So which is it? Are you ready to speak up for all people. Black people being killed by cops. Brown people held in cages. Learn how to deal with it, learn how to combat it, learn how to better yourselves, or not? I know it is hard. I know it is hard to look at your overtly racist family member and say, “Stop. That is is not okay.” But if you don’t do it, who will?

I don’t know if I helped on Friday. I know I made my day a mess. My nerves were shot, and I just slipped into the hot tub with a glass of wine to forget it all. Isn’t that nice that I can do that? And I know I made mistakes. I know I reacted strongly to people, or didn’t truly understand what they were trying to say, all because I didn’t let it sink in. And I always welcome anyone to message me. To tell me how my words made them feel, even if it is anger. But I won’t tolerate passive-aggressive remarks, or blanket statements aimed at me. Like when the teacher yells at the whole class because they are mad at one student. Call me out on it, I don’t mind. You’ll feel better, and maybe I will have learned to see things from a different point of view. Or maybe I’ll realize you are a crazy person and unfriend you, who knows! And remember, that street goes both ways, y’all. You’ll never offend me if you need to unfriend me for your mental health. I will only respect you more.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Now if you have read to the bottom, thanks! And if you really want to educate yourself, and you really want to try to do better then do what I have been doing for months. Read books about how to be anti-racist. Follow accounts that teach you how to help the Black Community. I’m leaving some suggestions below.

Follow:

The Conscious Kid on Instagram

Rep. John Lewis

Stacey Abrams

Rachel Elizabeth Cargle

Dr. Bernice King/The King Center

Brittany Packnett Cunningham

The hashtags: #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #IRunWithAhmaud #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor

Read:

Racism in The South

I was born and raised in Kansas. But not the kind of Kansas you’re thinking of. I wasn’t Dorothy, living on a pig farm with my aunt and uncle. I didn’t know any farm hands, I didn’t run to the cellar when the twisters came (we ran to an interior closet, because we could never afford a house with a basement), and I didn’t have any ruby red shoes. Rather I grew up in Leavenworth, a small albeit diverse* town, in the statistical Kansas City-metro area. I was born in one of the two hospitals in town. I attended Leavenworth public schools (mostly Title One schools), and I graduated from Leavenworth High School with a class of about 1200 kids. My best friends in first grade were two little white girls, two little Black girls, and a boy from Pakistan whose dad was an officer in the Indian Army, and was stationed at Fort Leavenworth that year for Combined Army and Services Staff School or CAS-Cubed. So no, it wasn’t Oz or anything like that.

When I was 21, Jerimiah and I moved to Southern Missouri to live at the resort his parents bought on Table Rock Lake. Like really, really Southern Missouri. We lived about four miles from the Arkansas line, and had many run-ins with what I’ve come to know as “Hill People.” We spent five years on Table Rock Lake, where I couldn’t tell you that I ever saw a person of any skin tone other than white (other than our friends we worked with in Branson). We moved into Branson for the first five years of Jackson’s life, where at least it was a little more diverse. Still, we knew it wasn’t the place we wanted to raise our son. Southern Missouri is not reflective of real life, and we never wanted our son to stay there, so we figured we best move somewhere with a little more diversity.

We ended up in Denver, North Carolina because my brother-in-law said it was nice. And it was, but it was more of the same. White. Middle-class. Lake. Boats. Second homes. Sub-divisions. We lived there for nearly four years before we moved to Charlotte and actually lived the sort of life we wanted for our son. He finally had a diverse set of friends, he was in a Charter School during that time, but it was racially, economically, and academically diverse. We liked our little Charlotte neighborhood, and we were happy. Then we got the news we needed to move again. This time to Atlanta.

We’ve been in the Atlanta-metro area for a year now. We are in a small, diverse town on the edge of the Perimeter, which is the highway that runs around the city. We are twenty minutes from downtown. We can catch a bus, ride the MARTA, or Uber to one of the busiest airports in the world with great ease. We have everything we need here, and we are happy. But there is one little thing: Racists. And I’m not talking about the men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery. That is a different kind of racism, and it is my opinion that the man who pulled the trigger should die. The others should serve life. But I am not the judge, nor am I the jury. (Don’t worry I’m not gonna pull some “Jesus is Lord” shit here, I’m saying I am not actually in charge and my opinion doesn’t matter, but I hope the GBI does right by Ahmaud.) The kind of racism I’m talking about here is the kind of racism you find up the road in a town like Cumming, Georgia. It’s covert, not overt.

Cumming has a population of less than 10,000 and no, they are not all racists. I’m sure there are some fine people in Cumming, Ga I don’t know them. I don’t know anyone there because I have never been there, because I refuse to go there because the things I know about the city are not good. I’ve heard about “Sunshine Laws” in Cumming. You might have heard of Cumming from a story that Oprah did on the town in 1987. It’s known for it’s racism around these parts, and even if it is on Lake Lanier I’m just not interested in knowing “that part of Georgia.” The problem is Cumming isn’t a stand-alone, small Georgian town full of racism and unchecked bias. Cumming seems to me, in the year I have spent traveling through the state, to be normal. And it isn’t just Georgia.

We spent six weeks last year in Louisiana. We drove down there on three separate occasions and stayed for two weeks at a time. We drove through places like Birmingham and Biloxi, sure. But we also drove through towns like Newnan, and Opelika, and Chickasaw, and D’Iberville, and Thibodaux and I promise they are all more of the same. Covert, overt, unchecked aggressions and bias, and everything in between. Here read this blog post I wrote about Baton Rouge, or this one, or this one. I tried to share what I was seeing and hearing. The rampant racism that sits just under the surface and is ALWAYS present there is present all over the South. It is present in every, single state in The South, and I’m not saying it isn’t in every state in our country, it’s just so much more pronounced here, that it is hard to look away from.

It is present in my county, DeKalb county, where statistically speaking we are minorities. The Black people in DeKalb County make a lot of money. A lot of it. We are the second richest county in the country with a predominantly Black population. But guess what is here, covert and overt racism, unchecked aggression, and bias. Cause it doesn’t matter if you have money or not. It doesn’t matter if you are educated. It doesn’t matter if you are the kindest person ever. It doesn’t matter if you are small business owner, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta, there are people who will hate you if you are Black and there is nothing you can do about it. And some people truly don’t know this. Some privileged white people really think racism is under control here, and they are walking around trying to save face with the rest of the country, but friends there is no face to save.

As I said, I’ve lived in some different places. Some backwards sorta places, where people chase their lost donkeys in the middle of the night, then smoke meth all day, and still the racism here, in Georgia, in The South, is the worst I have seen in any place I have ever lived. And it is sad. And scary. And unfortunately what happened to Ahmaud is not unique down here, and we all know that. And I think everyone needs to know that. We need to know it, discuss it, and deal with it.

Stay safe, y’all.

M.

*I’m not doing that thing white people do when they say “diverse” and just mean “more Black people” I mean truly diverse when I use the word. Ethnically, culturally, spiritually, educationally, and economically, and yes, varying races represented in the community. That’s the ideal place for us, and one similar to where I grew up.

Saving the USPS

We’ve been talking a lot about the USPS around our house these days, mainly because we have been using the USPS a lot around our house these days, sending and receiving cards and packages. It’s been really nice to hear from others, as we have a collection of friends and family spanning the whole US of A. From California to Massachusetts, we know people who live in small towns in the Ozark Mountains and people who fight the traffic on the California 101 everyday. It’s been a wonderful experience to stay connected to these people, in a good, solid, dependable way. Enter the United States Postal Service.

I know, I know our president doesn’t like the USPS. I know he doesn’t like it because it “doesn’t make money,” but if given the opportunity to stand across from Trump I’d try to explain to him what I explained to my 11-year-old, the USPS isn’t supposed to make money. It’s a service. It’s goal is to keep our country connected. It’s steadfast. It’s simple. It’s necessary, now more than ever. I wouldn’t expect our president to understand, but my son caught on pretty quickly and started thinking up ways to “Save the USPS.”

His first idea, do away with stamps. Instead, go electronic. He knows the value of a handwritten card, he doesn’t want us to stop writing letters and cards, but he does think there are better, more advanced ways to send, track, and receive envelopes and packages. Like most kids in his generation, he’s geared toward saving the environment, towards make things easier, saving time, because even as a fifth grade he recognizes that your time has a value, and the value is high.

This morning we talked at length about barcodes, and mailboxes that connect to your home’s wifi. We talked about saving jobs, because there are so many jobs that need saving in the USPS. We discussed his ideas, which ones seemed feasible, and which needed some research. We made the USPS his research project for next week.

While we were talking, it occurred to me how his generation would change this world. How they will make the world better. Smarter. Safer. I have so much faith in them, and we all should.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. Those are the words the Marine Corps. And also the motto of my son’s fifth grade class. And it’s working to shape a whole generation.

M.

Privilege

In a lot of the conversations I’m having with others these days, the word privilege seems to surface. Whether we’re discussing the plight of people all over the world, or in our own backyards. Whether we are discussing the global pandemic, or gun violence, or mental health, someone will mention privilege and the conversation will inevitably blur into a new one about how we can help, how the privileged classes can impact the lives of others, whether or not we should ever feel bad for ourselves.

My friends usually say something like, “I feel guilty because…” then insert the reason they feel guilty right now. Maybe they have great health insurance. Or maybe they are still working full-time, with full-time pay, just from the safety of their home. Or maybe they have healthy children, or partners they love to spend time with. The point is this here world is made up of a lot of different people, and some of us, just by being born who we are, or where we are, live a life of privilege.

Now would I consider the life I lived as a child a life of privilege. Let’s recap: I grew up in poverty, the last child of a single mom of four, we were welfare recipients, Section 8 people, I was a free lunch kid. I watched my mom struggle to make ends meet every month, play the whole Which-Bill-Is-Skipped-This-Month Game. We didn’t have the best healthcare, etc. etc. So did I live a privileged life? Yep, I did. Because while we didn’t have money, and I missed out on some things growing up, I learned a million life lessons. I’m also, as it happens, a white person, born in America. So even though my childhood was rough, even though I had family members in prison, and several addicted to alcohol, or drugs, or gambling, or all three, I still led and continue to lead a life of privilege.

One of my professors once told me that she hasn’t figured out a way to write about guilt. It’s a tricky subject, a tough emotion. And I suspect as a member of a privileged class she doesn’t want to upset anyone. And honestly, since she told me that I’ve been trying and trying to figure it out too. But have come up short every time. Maybe it’s a dead end. Probably it is, but just talking about it in a space like this might be good enough. Because here’s the thing: Some of us do recognize that we live a life of privilege, and we do all we can to try to help others. To be compassionate, to lend a hand, or an ear. To make donations. To reach back and lift others up.

But it may, at times, seem like we are ungrateful. For example, I’ve stopped myself a thousand times in the last two months from complaining about one thing or another because honestly, it just isn’t right for me to be complaining right now, when there’s so much uncertainly in this world. But the truth is, I have had hard times. I still continue to, even with my privileges, and like all people it feels nice to discuss them sometimes, lest I invalidate my feelings. If I wouldn’t want to invalidate the feelings and emotions of a compete stranger who lives 3,000 miles from me (I’m just wired that way, it makes me sad to think I have unknowingly hurt someone), so why am I okay with invalidating my own struggles and feelings?

Yep. I can see now how this is a messy subject. Can you? I hope you can. And I hope maybe you’ll think more on it. If you come up with anything let me know. I’m drowning a bit here.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Meet Ya at The Waffle House

Soooo, how’s everyone doing? Me? Oh well, thanks for asking. I’m sitting here at my desk, staring out my window at the beautiful sunny skies, listening to the birds chirping and the cars whizzing by wondering why in the hell you would actually go eat INSIDE a Waffle House today?! Yep. Uh huh. Welcome to Georgia. Where everything is made up and the points don’t matter. But, to be fair, it’s more than just the Waffle House opening up, it’s also bowling alleys and theaters. And if you do have the emotional or mental capacity to leave your house for dinner and a movie (who are these people, and what kind of anti-depressants are they on?!) then you know you are safe because you they can only sit four deep at the Waffle House counter. Whew, glad someone is taking this all seriously.

Also, just so we are clear, the servers are wearing gloves and masks at the Waffle House, but can I be real for a minute? Shouldn’t the servers at the Waffle House ALWAYS be wearing masks and gloves? I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I like more than drinking so much gin that my inhibitions are way, way down, then getting turnt on some OJ and fried eggs at the Waffle House. In fact, 20-something Missy lived and died by WH. But, umm, I still always knew I ran the risk of picking up Hep-b in the bathroom while I was there, and I still used caution. Now you throw in a global pandemic and whaazzzzy, whaazzzzy, wha?!

I’m picking on the WH here but it’s because this is Georgia and people literally cried when the WH closed up shop last month, but truly this is the nuttiest thing I have seen in a while. People actually leaving their house, amid 23,500 cases in our state, with nearly 1,000 deaths, and hitting up the movies and going bowling. Like, I just don’t get it. And the beaches, please don’t get me started with the beaches. Y’all know we love to travel. In fact, I’m simultaneously planning three vacations in my mind right now (a trip “home,” a trip to Southern Cali, and a long weekend in Savannah) but you can bet your ass I haven’t actually booked any airfare, or started looking at hotels. Because shit, y’all. It’s gonna be awhile.

I know there are people who are just trying to get back to work. I know that. Small business owners, or you know, Shake Shack, are really trying to cash in on that money, but it isn’t coming. But to be fair, aren’t their employees making more money on unemployment right now, then if they were working? And don’t they have a “rainy day” fund? Like, certainly they don’t want the government to keep bailing them out, that’s, that’s, SOCIALISM!

I think I’m gonna stop. Take some deep breathes. Pour myself a glass of wine at three o’clock in the afternoon, and sit on the deck and listen to the birds. And the squeal of the tires in and out of the local Waffle House. Be safe, y’all. And STAY THE FUCK AT HOME.

M.

Not A Real Breed

Listen, there are some things that I do because I am straight-up trash. Like when I subscribed to the Facebook standard poodle sites, I knew I was being an uppity bitch, but I have this adorable standard poodle and I wanted to share him with people who would love him like I do. People who would appreciate him and swoon over him and say things like, “Sir Duke is ADORABLE! The perfect poodle!” And I have. And they did. Then I was wasting a couple of my minutes of Facebook time the other day on one of them there sites and I saw someone post a picture of a doodle. I gave it a heart, and then immediately I was like, “Oh no!” I felt bad for the poster, a common poodle mommy who was just trying to share a cute pic of her babies. Now she has a poodle, but she just got a doodle and she decided to share a picture of both of the dogs together and I knew they were going to jump all over this poor girl. And they did.

Here’s the thing about “breedists” as I have come to call them: They cray. Like Lucious Malfoy cray. Like “There shan’t be any MUDBLOODS in here!” Cray. They started out nice. Someone was all, “Ohh, is the golden one a standard?” She knew the answer, but she wanted the poster to admit to it. The poster was all, “Oh no, that’s our new doodle pup! Isn’t she sweet?” Yes. Yes, she was sweet. Then someone else chimed in, “There are a lot of doodle sites all over.” Like, wow. Really, bitch? Then someone finally said, “I can’t believe these ‘designer’ breeds that just keep popping up. And they will keep popping up as long as there is demand for them…”

Now, did I do the right thing and come to her rescue? No. No I did not. You can’t “fight” with these breedists. They are like Trump supporters. Matter fact, I think most of them are Trump supporters. It’s just not what I do on there. I heart pics of puppies, and ask things like: When did y’all get your boy neutered? Who’s microchipped? Is stomach tacking worth it? I don’t get involved in the “Poodle Politics.” I know this sounds not like me, but the truth is, I always kinda knew I’d own a “designer breed” one day, and IDGAF what these people think about that.

And now here we are. Me feeling guilty that I am still a member of these sites, and an owner of a PyreDoodle, which by the way is not a recognized breed by the ACK or the CKC but I mean, have you seen her? Have you seen her?! Look it:

Guarantee if I were to post this pic to one of those poodle sites the first thing someone would ask me is, “Oh, is this a standard?” And they would already know the damn answer. They could tell by looking at the pads of her feet. See that little bit of white there? Uh huh. Dead giveaway. She actually has a white chest and some of them would actually die upon seeing her white chest, then come back to life to remind me that this is a “poodle site” and that there are several other places where I might feel more comfortable sharing this picture. Le sigh.

Why am I actually telling you this today? I dunno, I guess to make you feel better about your own life? Like, at least you don’t cruise dog sites looking for a fight. At least you aren’t the semi-proud owner of a dog that is “not a real breed.” Or maybe you are. Maybe you “adopt don’t shop” (I support this so very much, and often feel like a piece of shit because we didn’t find a dog that fit well with us when we went to seven damn shelters. But I also support buying puppies from local, reputable breeders who don’t over breed and have like family farms and shit. That’s supporting local business.) But dear dog lord do not cometh to that group with that mantra. They can tell you 187 reasons why your pit-bull mix you adopted from the local shelter is a big pile of anti-Christ dog shit. And they truly believe it. #TrumpShitGoingOnThereYall

So why then Missy do you belong to these sites? I told y’all. I’m trash. Oh, and the puppies are cute.

Have a safe and happy day!

M.

Ps… Here is a pic I’ve been itching to share on one of the poodle sites, but can’t for fear that I’ll wake up with dog shit in a brown paper bag on my doorstep placed there by an 83-year-old retired librarian with three pure white standards.