The Chaos After the Storm

I’m getting real fucking tired of saying this, but here we go, “The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm somewhere over Alabama and it got us. It got us good.” I didn’t sleep a wink. Right before bed I got the alert that said it was headed our way. Now mind you, I knew it made landfall in New Orleans, but New Orleans is a good eight hours from us so I wasn’t too worried. Then I started to get weather alerts from DeKalb County all, “Y’all, some shit fittin’ to go down tonight. Pull ya umbrellas out ya tables, pick the pinecones up out ya yard, and remember to vote. The election is six days away!” They also “closed” school, but not really because we are still going virtually on account of the Covid, but essentially they said don’t worry if you can’t log on in case you lose power “cause you will probably lose power.” Seems to be some infrastructure problems they could be working on, rather than sending me salty texts at midnight, but whateves.

So early yesterday morning, right around the time I was falling into a good sleep, Lady Winifred Beesly of Atlanta started up on her barking at random noises she heard, only it wasn’t so random. It was pinecones hitting the roof and the windows at speeds no pinecone should travel. Then the creaking of the pines started. I don’t know if you have ever watched a pine tree sway in downgraded hurricane winds, but Imma tell you it’s spooky.

Pine trees are so tall, and their roots are so far into the ground, that they are flexible trees by nature. But that doesn’t stop you from looking out your window, watching the swaying trees, wondering if you would be safer if you woke up the whole family at three am and herded them into the guest room in the basement.

The good news is we made it through the night unscathed. Relatively. The street looks like it vomited pine needles, the plants are all a little wonky, and our old windows took a beating, but the worst part was when the doorbell rang at 8:45 am and our neighbor Dale was standing at the carport with Sir Duke Motherfucking Barkington of Charlotte on a leash. What?! How did that happen?

Turns out the wind was so strong, it knocked open our wooden gate. It didn’t unlatch, just opened it up wide enough for a petite standard poodle, who hates me, to slip out undetected and romp through the neighborhood until Dale and Cookie came outside and found him running around the empty lot by their house. “Looking like he was chasing butterflies.” Yeah, that fucking checks out.

Listen, it’s been a week. And I need these storms to be over and I need this damn election to be over and I need to incorporate more gin into my life.

Hope you are all unscathed these days.

M.

Angry Today

I’m trying to stave off anger today. I’m so tired of seeing these Covid-19 outbreaks all over the country. I want to scream, “Did you learn nothing from us?!” Like, hello?! Did y’all learn nothing from Georgia, from Atlanta back in March and April when we exploded and our trash governor opened up too soon and it spread like wildfire? Do you even watch the news? We, the people, had to make changes. My county had to make a mask mandate, because our state leaders wouldn’t. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had to hold Atlantians accountable to stop the spread, and it worked but it was hard. Meanwhile my family and friends in the midwest and the west were like, “Well it won’t happen here.” And now it’s happened there and still, still like yesterday, I saw pics of family and friends celebrating in bars and restaurants. What gives you guys?

STOP IT!

PLEASE.

And yes, I know that was an aggressive please.

And yes I know that you are over “this Covid stuff,” but this “Covid stuff” isn’t done with us. It doesn’t how much you wish it away, it’s here. So start acting responsibly.

PLEASE.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

VOTE!

Vote

Have you voted yet? I have. Jerimiah and I mailed our ballots in at the end of September. Then we used Georgia’s “My Voter Page” to ensure they were received and approved. We used the USPS and guess what?! Nothing catastrophic happened! All is well over here. Very well, in fact. I just read 538’s new report that turns Georgia into a “True Toss Up,” which I don’t have to tell you, is amazing.

Meanwhile, I’ve reminded all my close friends and family to have a voting plan. I’ve shared the shit out of voting “Cheat Sheets” like this one:

And if you’ll remember I sent my junior senator a nasty little email detailing how I’ll be doing my best to vote her ass out of office. Crossing my fingers for a run-off.

So yeah, things are busy, busy here in Georgia. People are amped up to vote from Marietta, down to Peachtree City over the Perimeter to Stone Mountain, the ATL is turning out, y’all! We are striving for a government, local, state, and federal that looks, thinks, and loves more like us. So I guess watch yourselves, Georgia and the rest of you. Would hate to see y’all left behind.

Vote.

M.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Today is a day to celebrate America’s Indigenous People, and while I support today as that day, I implore y’all to not forget about Indigenous people tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after. In fact, too little is said about Indigenous people, the way our country has treated them, the reparations they are owed, and how the colonization of their lands has negatively impacted them, and if this isn’t on the forefront of your mind most days, you will miss an opportunity to help.

For starts you can follow accounts on social media like: @IndigenousPeoplesMovement, @IndigenousRising, and @DecolonizeMyself, as well as @ChiefLadyBird for starters. You can also follow hashtags like: #IndigenousPeople or #IndigenousArt or #DakotaPipeline which can be a good way to start getting more recommendations for pages and accounts to follow so you can learn more about the struggle Indigenous People live through in “The land of the free.”

Please educate yourself on Indigenous People. Please vote with them in mind. Please respect and honor those before us, and those still struggling.

M.

Wear A Mask

Happy Saturday! I’m sitting here remembering what Saturdays used to be like. It’s the perfect fall day to ride the MARTA into downtown and maybe go on a history tour, or visit a museum, or hit up a cool restaurant we haven’t tried. Maybe walk Oakland or the Beltway? Instead, I’m sitting on my back porch enjoying the nice weather. Because Covid-19 is fucking real, and I’m not a moron.

Wear. A. Mask.

Stop eating at restaurants.

Don’t go into large crowds.

I know this sucks. But guess what sucks worse? Yeah, Covid-19.

Dr. Fauci says to buck up for a big wave this fall and winter. Donald Trump, while in quarantine for testing positive, said “The Chinese Virus is all but gone.”

I don’t know about y’all, but Imma go with Fauci on this one.

Be safe.

M.

Ps… Wear a mask! And remember, Karma is only a little bitch if you are. Just ask our president.

Voter Suppression: A Stacey Abrams Fantasy

I live with Stacey Abrams. Well, I don’t technically “live” with Stacey Abrams. Man, that would be sweet. To be Stacey Abrams’ roommate. Or BFF. Or wife. Whatever, I’d take any of the above. Anyway, I live in DeKalb County, Georgia and I’m always on the lookout for her. Down at the Corner Cup, or over yonder at the Target. I keep waiting to bump into her so I can scream, “OH MY GOODNESS, YOU’RE STACEY ABRAMS!” Then in my mind, we’d sort of run toward each other and embrace. Except, Covid, so we’d probably just awkwardly stand there and she’d be all, “Hi, nice to meet you,” then I’d run here and tell you all about it.

I’m off topic.

Voter suppression is real and rampant. Yes here in Georgia, but in other places too. Like: Mississippi, Missouri, and Oklahoma which are the three states that require you to notarize your absentee ballot.

You may not know, but a couple of months ago I became a Notary Public. I did it for one reason: My husband consistently needs a Notary for his work and we have one friend who does it and we were probably running her nuts (even though we were keeping her in a steady supply of wine) and so he suggested I just become one so I can sign his work “shit.” Don’t worry, it’s totes legal. It would be illegal for me to notarize like, his will, or something else personal, but if he is signing on behalf of a company, I can notarize it for him.

That’s all to tell you that I took the oath at the DeKalb County Courthouse to do all the things and then was automatically signed up to receive these weird newsletters from the “Notary of America” or some shit like that. I promise we are getting to the point. It’s about to come full circle. Wait for it… wait for it…

Yesterday I got once such newsletter that was to help us notaries when it comes to notarizing ballots. Of which is required in those three states and I was like, well sonofabitch, that seems like voter suppression, ya dig?

I think Stacey would agree. She’d tell me I was correct over a glass of wine on our back porch, as our mini poodles ran around chasing a squirrel and I would laugh and say, “I know, honey. You’re so smart. Why don’t we go into the bedroom and…” Hold up, my husband just came into my office and he has something important to tell me.

Okay, I’m back and it wasn’t important enough to take me from a Stacey Abrams fantasy, and honestly he should be ashamed of himself.

Anyway, notarizing a ballot is serious business, according to the notary newsletter. First, you can’t charge anyone to do it. It is just part of your public service. We took an oath, remember? To protect and serve. Oh, no wait, just to serve. Anyway, it also talked logistics, all about checking ID’s, how to tell the real ones from the fake ones, where to find your state’s laws, etc, etc. Boring shit. But! Important shit.

No one, and I mean NO ONE, should need to get their damn absentee ballot notarized. That simply puts a barrier in place for people. Plus, what if you don’t even know? And do you even know a Notary? Right now pick two notaries you know, in your state, one to do it and then one to be a back up if the other can’t. Got them? No, I didn’t think so.

Hmpf.

I’d love to talk more about this but I think Imma head over to the courthouse to turn in my absentee ballot today. I’ve heard, if you linger around the absentee ballot boxes long enough Stacey Abrams just sort of appears, kind of like the Tooth Fairy. I gotta go put some make up on.

Vote. However you can, Honey.

M.

Civic Engagement Platforms

Listen, I’m not an idiot, but my junior state senator Kelly Loeffler assumes I am, which really sorta pisses me off. Hmm, let me back up. I use what are known as “Civic Engagement Platforms” to reach out to my public officials here in the great state of Georgia, because walking out on my front porch and screaming, “Brian MotherFucking Kemp is a piece of shit!” toward I-285 seems to not get me very far. So instead, when I get a text from a Civic Engagement Group like, “Black Lives Matter” or “Move On” in relation to something I feel passionate about, I use those platforms to send emails because it is much easier for me to do than to find each public figure and send a separate email. Like when I sent Rep. Lucy McBath an email from a “Civic Engagement Platform” last month to ask her to support the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and she wrote a lovely letter back about how she plans to do all she can for #BLM. Thanks, Rep. McBath. Then Kelly Loeffler’s racist-ass office sent me a note back this week.

In her letter she thanked me for letting her work for me. No need to thank me, Kelly. I didn’t give you that job. Governor Kemp did. I didn’t vote for you. Matter of fact, no one did. You were governor-appointed.

Then she said, “While she treats all correspondence equally and with the utmost urgency,” she just wanted me to know that my communication had been sent through a “Civic Engagement Platform” and those tend to “reach out to officials on your behalf, with your information, but not your consent.”

Bitch. I know how this works.

I also know fear mongering when I see it. Turn off Fox News, Kelly! You’ve been brainwashed.

Now this happened to be on Friday, at the same moment that I got an alert to tell me that Trump was in town. Again. STOP COMING TO ATLANTA! You’re literally wasting your money and your time, and you’re wearing us out, man. I went to Kelly’s Twitter page to see what was up and I saw this tweet:

Ugh. She’s the worst y’all.

In her email she suggested that I contact her office directly if I had concerns. So I sent ANOTHER email, to explain that I didn’t need her to explain “Civic Engagement Platforms” to me, instead I needed her to talk about the real issue with me, which was that the Senate should wait to confirm a new justice to replace #TheLateGreatRBG until after the election. But, I don’t think she wants to discuss that cause she already discussed it on Twitter, so like, why would she need to talk to her constituents about it?

The. Worst.

She isn’t a politician, obvi. She’s a business owner. But you know how that goes, money begets money. That’s how she landed her job. Money. Speaking of:

Oh, what about this?

This?

This is real life in Georgia, y’all. And this isn’t even the “CRAZY FEMALE GEORGIA POLITICIAN!” The “Crazy Female Georgia Politician” is Marjorie Taylor Greene, the qanon quack. No shit. Google, “Crazy Female Georgia Politician.”

I can’t y’all.

Please vote in November.

M.

Post Office

A weird thing happened at the post office the other day. I stopped in to mail a package to a friend, when I noticed a guy in front of me with a stack of flyers to be mailed. He had what looked to be small (just bigger than a postcard) stacks of the flyer separated into bundles most likely by zip code. I don’t know what the flyers were for, but they looked very organized, as did he, and they were nice looking. They appeared to be, from what I could see from six feet away, printed on thick, glossy paper. Some money had went into them. Maybe it was a lawn service, I wondered.

When he was called to the next plexiglass station, he said he needed to get these out, and pushed the stack across the desk to her. It seemed to be a normal transaction. It never occurred to me before, but I suspect when businesses send out mass mail this is how they do it.

The postal clerk smiled and said no problem. She kept them all bundled together and weighed them. After she weighed them she started asking him a series of questions. The questions were asked in that standard post office kind of way. Like when you’re shipping a box and they rattle off a list of questions they have memorized while they click through screens. I don’t remember them because they seemed inconsequential and repetitive, then she asked, “Are these political in nature?”

She stopped. He looked confused, and said they weren’t. They were for his business. She never took her eyes off her screen and said, “That’s weird. Has anyone ever asked you that before?” The man shook his head no. “I’ve never seen that before,” she mumbled, then she frowned and clicked away.

The man paid, they exchanged pleasantries and he walked out. She took the stacks and set them in a bin next to her and yelled, “I can help the next person,” and I walked up.

“That was so weird,” she said, as I approached. I sent her a quizzical look. Then she smiled as I slid my package over and she asked, “Any explosives, liquids, fragile materials…”

M.

Never Forget

I’ve been unofficially off of Facebook for a week now. I didn’t do anything drastic or dramatic like suspend my account, or deactivate or anything like that. I just stopped logging in and the world didn’t blow up. Of course, this has been a long time coming. Y’all remember back in January when I started limiting myself to fifteen minutes a day? That’s paid off. Really set me up for success for this part. But I did log in yesterday. It was my birthday and I knew my page would be flooded with well wishes, so I logged in last night to comment and thank everyone, and that was about the time the Chiefs’ game started. About the time the “Never Forget” people came out in full force. Then I remembered why I hadn’t logged in for a week. Then I wrote a status and went to bed, sorta full up on birthday wishes, sorta let down by humans again. Life’s a crapshoot these days. Anyway, I’ll share below what I signed off with, but if you do one thing today, please make it be checking your voter registration status. Do it for me. Won’t you?

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

My FB status for 9/11:

I’m heading to bed tonight already being asked to remember that horrific day 19 years ago when thousands of Americans lost their lives on 9/11. Begging me to never forget.

I’m seeing this in between white people complaining that the NFL supports “racial equality” and they “just can’t” support the NFL. I’m seeing true colors shine tonight, and those colors aren’t pretty.

I’m seeing that while I read nearly 200,000 Americans have lost their lives on American soil to COVID-19 in six months.

I’m seeing that the week Homeland Security named white, American, right-wing men the number one terrorist threat to our country.

I’m seeing that as I read 1,100 Black men are murdered by the police in our country every year.

That American police murder 3 people a day, on average.

That thousands of soldiers have lost their lives in the last 19 years. That many thousands more will become wounded and develop such horrific PTSD that they will end their own lives, or the lives of those they love.

I’m seeing all that. Are you?

You’re asking me to never forget. I’m asking you, as I head to bed tonight, to remember too. Every day. Always. All of this. I’m asking you to be a better citizen, a better American, a better human being.

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

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.

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 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

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