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

Read:

Losing Sleep

Everyday I wake up with a fresh mindset about the world we live in right now. Then everyday by dinnertime I’m either angry, sad, or sangry. Yeah, that’s a thing. At least, it is now. So today, while I’m still in a relatively okay-ish mood I’m trying to decide what exactly is making me sangry. It seems hard to pinpoint when I’m sitting alone in my office pontificating on the state of things with my friends.

All these thoughts going through my mind, making me crazy. Patsy thinks I might have ADD, but that’s a whole other post. Today I’m telling my friends about what makes me lose sleep and it boils down to this: I am so upset about how our country reacts (as a collective) to basically every bad thing that happens to us. Seriously. I think that’s what is making me sangry right now. I know that is broad, and I know, yes I know, that there is nothing I can do about that, but that’s what keeps me up at night. The way that, unlike say how New Zealand does things in a wake of a tragedy, we as Americans (may I remind some of you that we are US Citizens, we are not the only “Americans” in the whole world, there are a lot of “Americans” in South America for example) react so negatively, so ridiculously when we are hit with tragedy that it makes my heart hurt.

I mention that whole “Americans” thing, because I think it shines a light on what drives us to be total batshit crazy at times of crisis: We are so self-indulgent. So egotistical. We care so much about ‘Merica and ‘Merica only, that we forget there is a whole wide world out there, a whole planet that we share with billions of people, and what we do, and how we act, has repercussions.

Now it is true that since Trump was elected the world has taken us less seriously. With Obama they looked to us to see what we are doing, so they could do the same thing. Now they look to see what we are doing so they can do the opposite, because they want to save their people and the planet. So a lot of what I am feeling has been creeping up in my throat for the last three-and-a-half years. And I am hopeful that we will put an end to this fuckery this year, but it has allowed people, people I know and love, to show their true colors, and y’all their colors aren’t pretty. And some of them aren’t even red, white, and blue. Some of them are just white. Ya dig?

So yes. I think that is it. I think that I am embarrassed to be a US Citizen right now. I think I’m embarrassed that the whole state of Oklahoma is trying to find The Tiger King employees at the local Walmarts, while they buy up all the tp, and plan family and church outings because they literally don’t believe that Covid-19 is real. (I’m picking on Oklahoma, but those ideas are rampant all over the south as well.)

I’m embarrassed that people are picking fights on social media, saying things like, “Y’all are so divisive!” as they share doctored photos of Barack Obama at an ISIS meeting (still, they are still sharing this made-up bullshit), or continue, continue to talk about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi. Literally four people died there. Four people. We are at 20,000 now. Guess what that makes us in the USA for Covid-19 deaths? Number one. Yeah, “We’re number one! We’re number one!” PS… I’m leaving a map here to show you where Benghazi is, because the other day (not exaggerating like two fucking days ago) a long lost cousin shared a meme to remind us all about Benghazi (not sure why, must be the same reason Trump is still talking about the impeachment hearings, sleight of hand shit) and people on their page were legit arguing over where Benghazi even was. Did y’all know it is in the country of Libya, on the continent of Africa? I’m sure you all did, but there are a lot of people who DO NOT KNOW THAT. Did y’all know that Africa is not a country? Again, I’m sure you did, but some people DO NOT KNOW THAT.

Someone said they knew it was where those “Sand (N-word)” lived, but that was it. (Long, audible sigh). Most of these people are related to me by marriage, if I may.

Lest I remind you all the money that went down the toilets to “investigate” Obama and Clinton over “Benghazi” and how all of a sudden, Republicans are worried about the money we spent on the impeachment, but they were cool with us spending money on 10 separate investigations on Hillary Clinton. And still, they still want to investigate her. All Trump has to do to get people pumped up at his rally is say “We should investigate Hillary” and people are on their feet screaming. Rallies that, by the way, he was actually still holding last month when some of the country was already under quarantine. Le sigh.

So yes, it’s the behavior of my fellow citizens, the current administration, and some very loud, very racist, very naive people on social media that keep me up at night. That mixed with the fear that I think we all have, about what our country, what the world, will look and feel like on the other side of this.

So how do we combat it? The simple answer is that we can’t. Well, I mean, we can vote for Biden in November (you have to vote and you have to vote Biden if you want this to be over). But aside from that, we can only keep doing what we are doing. Worrying, reading, loving, staying home. Writing, baking, dreaming of our next vacation. Creating art. Hugging those you are quarantined with. Sending cards and flowers to those you can’t see right now. Face-timing. Gardening. Going on walks. Binge-watching Netflix. Trying to stay occupied so we don’t ruminate too long on one thing, because that is what gets us into trouble.

This is just a rant post. I know. But thanks for reading you guys. For still being around. I know this is a shitty time, and you’d much prefer I share funny stuff, or just shut the hell up and show pictures (which I promise to do this week), but meanwhile you always seem to “get me.” Even when I haven’t done my best at writing how I feel because there is too much going on in my head. And for that I am grateful. For you I am grateful. And remember, when you think you’re the only one sometimes that feels a certain way, you’re not. No way. We are all in this together.

Stay safe and sane.

M.

Hoppy Easter

Hoppy Easter, y’all! Not even gonna pretend to know what today is about for you, but for us it’s about the Easter Bunny visiting (yes, still) and that makes us very happy. He did come! He brought dog toys, and filled eggs, and even a candy bunny for me! Yay, Easter Bunny! More importantly it’s the last day of Jackson’s spring break so we go back to school tomorrow, virtual school of course, but school no less. Tomorrow is also the day I officially register for my fall classes at Mississippi University for Women. So a lot to look forward to, but for now I just wanted to say Hoppy Easter, or Christ Coming Back Day, or Happy Sunday, or whatever today is for you!

I’ve been fighting the urge to say, “Happy Day Covid-19 is Gone and Life is Back to Normal Day” because I distinctly remember our president saying today would be the day. (I guess I didn’t fight that too hard.) Oh well, it’s never a bad day to remind us all that our president is a steaming pile of dog shit!

Okay, whew! So much to tell you this week (like how Bernie is awesome but I’m voting for #Biden2020, and that we did a family campout last night) but that will all have to wait until later this week because well, our family did a campout in our backyard last night which means I’m exhausted, so I’m going back to sleep.

Stay safe and sane out there, y’all. Remember, you matter in this world.

M.

Conspiracy Theorists

I have some people on my Facebook newsfeed that believe we are constantly being lied to, about literally everything. Some call them “Conspiracy Theorists” I call them “uneducated rednecks,” because that’s the lot I see most frequently. Yesterday there were two people that made me consider deleting my Facebook account. One suggested that while they believe the Coronavirus is real, they don’t see it, know anyone who is sick, and therefore has deduced that we are being lied to. We are “Sheeple”. Then the post ended with a plea to not be judged by their beliefs, like they won’t judge others for theirs. There is so much wrong with that I don’t know where to start. You will be judged. I will judge you. So will so many others, because when you share stuff like this you put lives in danger.

Listen to me. As it sits, we have more cases of Covid-19 in a four county clump here in Georgia, than the entire state of Missouri. I love you Missouri, but y’all some absolute nutcases. Out fishing in lakes, boating, basking in the sun like it’s vacation time. You know why you don’t know anyone who is sick? Because you don’t leave a thirty-mile radius of your house. You are only friends with people who look and live like you. White people. Rednecks. Other conspiracy theorists. Middle-class. People who own a damn boat. You know what kind of people don’t own boats? The kind that are dying from Covid-19.

Look it, I don’t normally sit back and idly let people spew hatred and misinformation. Yet that’s just what I did yesterday. I stopped myself from commenting on any of the posts. Especially the one that I’m about to share, because what it boiled down to was a mean-spirited attempt to put a value on human lives depending on where they work, and how much they are paid, and whether or not the mass collective agrees with the poster, in order to what? Feel better about oneself? Put down a whole group of people (in this case nurses who are actually working the frontlines of this global pandemic right now). I’ll share what the post said now, but know that I’m paraphrasing:

“Is anyone else really mad that they are paying nurses like double their salary to go to work, and giving them hotel rooms, and discounts like on Starbucks and Crocs, but the military only makes like $2,000 a month while they are overseas being shot at? I mean, are there even really videos of inside hospitals? Do we even know how it really is?”

Ummm. Yes. Yes there are videos. And a cursory search would find you more videos, says my husband, than you can stomach. Also military men and woman are compensated when they go overseas. It’s called Hazard pay. And it’s on top of their salaries, and their housing benefits, free food, and their healthcare. On top of other things, like signing bonuses, discounts on gear, tax-free money, and tax-free duty shops, discounts at many places around the country (including fucking Starbucks), etc. And if that’s what you are really mad about (I too think soldiers deserve more money in war-time and much better mental healthcare upon returning) than vote for people who will make that happen. But, in this instance it’s comparing apples to oranges. It’s misdirected anger. And I suspect it’s a lot more.

What that poster tried to do was belittle a whole group of women and men, but why? Well, science tells us fear, and a hint of jealousy. But I’ve been there before, so angry and misinformed that I accidentally show my lack of critical thinking also, so at first I thought to give the poster grace. But to berate people who are actually out there saving lives, makes zero fucking sense to me. And the more I though on it, the more troubled I became. This person isn’t alone in their backward, asinine way of thinking.

We are a country that cannot think outside ourselves. We cannot think past the very tippy, tip of our noses. We can’t think past what we can see, and we don’t see much. We don’t care to. It’s better to stay in our safe, little 30-mile radius and use essential oils to thwart all that ills us. Stalking behind computer screens, spinning up conspiracies to suit our agenda, and hocking actual lies and utter nonsense.

Also, some people just like drama and “likes.” Lest we not forget that. But when we look at the bigger picture we see how lop-sided this “argument” (if you want to call it that) is. Soldiers know what they are signing up for when they sign up. They know the perils of war, nurses on the other hand, don’t intend to get themselves into a war with death everyday, but it has happened this is where some find themselves today. They are walking into hospitals without the correct equipment to do their jobs. They, unlike the military, are not being funded by the government (and God forbid they come from a state our president doesn’t like). They are risking their own lives everyday just like the men and women on the battlefield do, and yes they should be compensated, like the military. Fortunately many of them work for private-sector so they can be compensated much better than government employees, but again, that’s a choice someone makes. The military even gets free college! And if you ask me, I’m all for nurses and other essential health care workers having their student loans wiped free after this is said and done. Or free college for people who want to go into the healthcare industry, I mean the people who want to be doctors, nurses, surgeons, etc, not the people who call themselves “Healthcare workers” but shuffle papers for the doctors and nurses all day. Those that are actually saving lives everyday. Those are the ones in our world that should be commended. Because not all heroes wear camo, nowadays our heroes are wearing lab coats.

This poster also said we were being lied to. That everything we read has to be fact-checked, meanwhile this poster shares sources that are obviously inaccurate and the poster shared a screenshot of the “nursing benefits” with no actual source. Hmm. Perhaps the poster is just bummed that they aren’t a nurse? Or that nurses are getting more attention now? Or they aren’t able to get free Starbucks? If I send them a Starbucks gift card will they feel better? Stop being cold-hearted? Think a little more?

Because there are actually people dying out there. And I’m sure their loved ones don’t want to read about how you think the people taking care of their dying father is “paid too much.” Meanwhile, what does it have to do with you? And why share something like that, unless you are jealous of the attention nurses are getting, sad that you aren’t someone who can actually save lives, or just a mean person who doesn’t think before you hit “share”? I mean, are there any other reasons to say things like that?

It seems to me to be a mixture of so many things. It’s basic human nature, sure. It’s fear. It’s that feeling of not being in control and needing to lash out at others. You know, bring them down to where you are. Then there is the mental health issue.

If you are told you can’t leave your house except for essential reasons and your mind immediately goes to the idea that our government is trying to control what we do, then you suffer from a mental illness. Probably a host of them. If you hear that nurses on the frontlines of this pandemic, who are using the same medical masks day in and day out, who lack the equipment to do their job properly, who are putting their lives on the line everyday to help, are making more money than you, or getting to sleep a straight six hours in a hotel room and take a shower without possibly infecting their families, and that pisses you off, there is some mental illness there. And a hateful heart. I hope that God can speak to your heart to soften it in some way. Because I’d hate for you, or someone you love, to need the attention of a nurse after you’ve made comments like that. You should absolutely be ashamed of yourself. But we aren’t, are we? We aren’t ashamed of what we say on social media. It’s our right. Our God-given right to share our hate-filled rhetoric with all those who will read it and hopefully agree with it, and hopefully “like” it so we can get the attention we so desperately seek.

Yes, people are this crazy, y’all. And I’m obviously very tired of it. I’m tired of reading half-cocked conspiracy theories that trickle down from our actual president. Then those same people say things like, “sheeple” and “lift the veil” meanwhile they are just touting what they’ve heard on Fox and Friends. What the what?!

People are crazy and don’t understand that hospitals that are empty right now are a GREAT sign. That’s what we were hoping for. We are hoping that you don’t know anyone who is sick, that social distancing worked. That we flattened the curve. That nurses with no work to do is awesome. Nurses with no work to do, and who are going to places where there is more work than can be handled should be paid more. They are going into actual battle zones, willing to risk their lives to help others. Meanwhile, you and I are sitting on Facebook bitching about each other. Way to go, us. How great are we? At least I’m supporting those helping. Trying to make sense of the senseless. Donating money. Asking how to help. Sharing the stories coming from healthcare professionals working the frontlines. What the actual hell are you doing?

M.

#UsingHashtagsDoesntMakeItFactual #HowManyHashtagsDoesOnePersonNeed #ThisWontMakeYouFamousOrABetterPerson #Unfriend

Guns and TP

When I first heard that people were hoarding ammo, along with toilet paper, I couldn’t believe it. Like, why tho? Why are you hoarding ammo and buying new guns? Then a family member on FB shared a meme that said something about “Happy Hunting” in terms of shooting people who were possibly, most likely, going to break into their house when “all hell breaks loose” to steal the goods they hoarded for themselves. That’s when I was like, wow. Wow to a couple of things. Wow to the fact that you think it’s okay to say, “Happy Hunting” about human lives, and wow to the fact that you went out and bought enormous amounts of toilet paper or hand sani or bread or whatever it is you are afraid people will try to steal from you. Maybe if you would have left some items on the shelf for your community you wouldn’t be fearful of robbery. And doesn’t this all stem from fear? Yes. Yes is the answer.

Jesus, I bet the psychologists are having a field day with human behavior right now. I mean, I’m no doctor but it all makes sense to me. The idea that your community members will steal from you, the fear, the constant, constant fear, all stems from one place: an angry heart. This is basic psychology 101, y’all. But I’d like to add a lack of education to the mix. Most of the people I know who are hoarding guns and ammo and tp, do not have a college education. Most of them are acting on impulse. Three days in a row they went to buy more toilet paper at Kroger. When it wasn’t there they deduced that it would never be there again (I think because they don’t understand supply and demand, basic economics) and they freaked out and bought ammo instead. Because if the tp isn’t there, what if the ammo won’t be?! Le sigh.

These people obviously don’t even trust their own communities. And should we be living in communities that we don’t trust? Should we know our neighbors’ names? Should we be the ones giving the excess that we hoarded to them, before it even gets to the point where someone might have to consider stealing it? I mean these are big, important questions, y’all. Things we should be considering, instead we are buying toilet paper and ammo.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I wish college was an option for more people. I wish people didn’t say things like, “I didn’t go to college and look at me, I turned out fine.” Is fine all you want to be? Cause if it is, then yeah, you’re “fine.” I mean, you panic bought 127 rolls of tp and bottled water and ammo, but sure, let’s call you “fine.” College should be affordable (or free!) it shouldn’t be looked down on like it is in some sub-groups, it should be the first step out of high school, at least a two-year degree, just to get an idea of how the real world works, because Jesus y’all, a lot of these people just don’t know how the real world works. They claim “street smarts,” but they haven’t ventured past their own street. It’s sad, pathetic, and at time like these, when the majority of us understand human kindness, compassion, and respect, they are out there saying things like, “Happy Hunting” about other human beings over a $12 package of toilet paper that will be back on the shelves in droves next week because that’s how the actual world works.

This is a rant, sure. But I hope I have enlightened some of you to how other people act and react in scary times. An angry heart is incapable of sharing their hoarded face masks, it doesn’t matter how many puppy videos they share. An angry heart is incapable of understanding anything past the tip of their own nose. They don’t see how their impulse to buy all the TP forced a chain reaction. That it forced people to go without. People who work in the restaurant business, or retail. The actual people stocking the shelves full of tp. People who live paycheck to paycheck, and by the time they got their paychecks last week all the tp was gone. And the craziest part is most of these people, the ones stocking up on tp and ammo, are living paycheck to paycheck. The ones I know anyway. They just thought it would be better to blow all their money on tp and ammo right now, because God forbid they be embarrassed to ask a neighbor for tp, or God forbid they don’t have 1,000 boxes of ammo like “a real man.” Like, for real, y’all. There are angry, angry hearts out there amongst us. And they need some therapy. But you know, they can’t afford it/don’t think it’s real science. I mean, you don’t see no therapists on FoxNews do’ya?

And lastly, a note about those who are keeping this world moving along: the retail workers, the truck drivers, the restaurant servers working the To Go door. The delivery drivers. The people stocking shelves at Kroger overnight. I want to say thank you. And I want you all to know THEY ARE NOT FINE. They are working right now to keep your supplies with tp and ammo. They wish they could be home with their kids, away from all these people who are sick and are bringing the virus to them because they won’t stay the fuck home. But there they are. Because if they don’t work they don’t get paid. Because if they don’t work, we don’t get supplies we need. So the next time you’re all, “Well if we pay a McDonalds employee $15/ hr then my Coffee will be more expensive…” sit down, pull out those critical thinking skills we talked about and vote to help out other human beings.

And to the doctors, nurses, and Emergency service workers, thank you. This should open your eyes to our healthcare industry and how completely jacked up it is.

Stay safe out there, y’all. And in some parts of the county, be careful when you knock on your neighbor’s door asking for help. You’re liable to get shot.

M.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Come again another day. I mean I know you will, because it’s Georgia for fuck’s sake and apparently Georgia needs rain in order to survive. Why else would it rain EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. in the wintertime? What’s that? Gulf Stream weather patterns? No, I don’t believe you. I’m claiming ignorance on that one. Sticking on a red hat and saying, “But I’m cold, so Global Warming is just a liberal hoax.” Side note: Did you see that it was 70 degrees in Antartica the other day and the penguin babies had to roll around in mud to keep themselves cool?” No? Look.

Okay, I don’t feel so bad about the rain now, this baby penguin has it much worse.

To dryer days, y’all and cooler temps.

M.

Jackson and the Tornado and the Mayor and the President

In honor of Presidents’ Day, I’m going to take you on a long, sordid stroll down memory lane. When Jackson was four months old President Obama was sworn into office. We felt a great sense of relief that a man like Obama would represent our country, and we just knew he would be the sort of example we wanted for our child. Years later he was still the president when Jackson wrote the White House for advice on how to become the President of the United States one day. But first it started with a tornado, and a trip to the Mayor’s office.

When Jackson was in preschool he asked his first political questions. They came from a mind geared toward safety, like most things that consumed him at that time (and still do). We lived in Branson, Missouri at the time and at the start of 2012 a tornado hit “The Strip” in Branson, causing destruction to several attractions and theaters. It even destroyed Jerimiah’s office. We lived about five miles off “The Strip” and ended up sleeping through the whole thing, but abruptly at 6:00 am Jerimiah’s boss called to tell him not to come to work that day since their building was on the verge of collapse. Of course he did go to work, to help with the clean-up, and we went with him. This one event had a lasting impact on pre-k Jackson, who just a year before, had watched on the television as his PawPaw’s house was destroyed in the Joplin, Missouri Tornado of 2011. In short, he had some concerns.

All of this stewed in his mind for about a year before one day he walked downstairs and told me that he needed to talk to the Mayor of Branson about tornado safety. Of course I did what any mom would do to appease my four-year-old, I tweeted the Mayor. I told her about my son’s worry over the city’s storm readiness and asked if she would meet with him to discuss our severe weather plan. It was a shot in the dark, but it worked. She tweeted back moments later to say let’s meet up. For real. And two weeks later we were special guests in the Mayor’s office on a casual Friday. Here are the pics from the day we met Branson’s mayor Raeanne Presley.

This visit planted a seed in him, and he decided right then and there he would one day run for public office. We figured he would run for local office, as did the Mayor, so when she asked if he would like to be a mayor one day we were all surprised when he said, “Nah,” in his very adorable preschool voice. “I think I’ll be the president.”

The president, he explained, had much bigger problems to solve than severe weather readiness, on a much larger platform. And he knew he was better prepared for that road ahead. That’s when Jackson really dug his feet in, and for the next four years or so when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up it was either a police officer or the president. Nothing in between.

Fast forward to first grade. We’re sitting at our table in North Carolina one balmy November day eating chili. Jackson asked me if I thought President Obama liked chili. Because Jackson liked chili and he really wanted to be like President Obama. (Side note: Remember when we had a president our kids could look up to? Those were the days…) Anywho, I said I didn’t know, but suggested Jackson write him a letter and ask. (I really just wanted him to work on his handwriting and this seemed like a great excuse. I never thought anything would come of it.)

So we sat at the kitchen table, eating our chili, and I helped him sound out the words he was writing. He asked about chili, about the president’s dogs, about his kids, and advice on becoming a president like him. Then we stamped it, stuck it in the mailbox, and forgot all about it. Until months later when this arrived.

Jackson was less excited than I thought he would be, but later I realized it was because he always assumed the president would write back. I, on the other hand, figured it got lost in White House mail and that was that. So he was very casual as he opened the envelope, while Jerimiah and I stood behind him in excitement and anticipation. This was inside:

Now the letter is standard boiler plate, a-kid-sent-a-letter-stuff, but wow was he happy to hold it in his hands. He felt very proud and very important, which he has always felt, but I mean come on, a letter from the sitting president and President Obama no the less, our favorite, most awesome president ever! This was amazing. We celebrated. He shared with his class. People said to frame it. It was a big deal in our house.

The letter lit a fire under him like we’d never seen and he was suddenly very interested in the election process and the campaigning, and how it all worked. That was until 2016, when his world, and all of ours really, came crashing down.

As the results came in that night, and as we navigated the painful and pitiful months that followed, Jackson could be found crying at night because his friend Angel from Mexico might get “sent back.” Back to where, we didn’t know, since Angel was born in North Carolina, but his parents were not. It was sad and it was disheartening. Particularly when Jackson declared he no longer wanted to be the president. Suddenly the president he idolized was gone and in came this monster of a man who scared him. Gave him nightmares. Gave us all nightmares.

Jackson saw President Obama as an example, he knew he had what it takes to lead our country if he held his head high and was a class act like President Obama. If he cared. If he was honest and nice. If he went to a good school, maybe got a law degree, worked his way up in small steps. But when he saw how President Trump was elected. How people talked about him. How he treated people from different cultures and countries. How he scared people. How he talked about women. (We always told him the truth about Trump, and didn’t shield him from the sort of man he is.) How Trump used words like “retard” a word that has the worst sort of connotation in our house considering Jackson’s baby sister never made it full-term because of a brain “retardation.” Well, Jackson was done dreaming of becoming the president.

Jackson told me one day in third grade, “maybe politics isn’t what I thought it was…” and I had to agree with him. Because at that moment, and in the years that have followed, American politics has collapsed before our very eyes. There is not truth, no integrity, no bi-partisanship. There’s just anger, and fear, and hate. And it doesn’t suit a kid like mine.

So there you have it. The story of Jackson and the tornado and the Mayor and the President. I still hold out hope (like when we visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library last year and Jackson commented on what a “nice guy” he was) that Jackson might change his mind one day. And I still have faith that his generation will turn this sinking ship around, if we fail to do so. Maybe that’s the optimist in me. Or maybe I just have all the faith in my sweet, honest, hard-working, critical-thinking kid. Either way, I know he will do great things for his family, his community, his country, and his world. Even if it isn’t in the Oval Office. Because like President Obama said in his letter, “If you remember to give back to your community and chase your dreams with passion, I have confidence you will do big things…”

Thanks President Obama, we tend to agree.

M.

Support Our Troops

I don’t know if Fox News did a story on someone disrespecting our troops yesterday or what, but my news feed on Facebook was lit up with people telling me that I was disrespecting the troops. It’s a slippery slope to assume that because people don’t want to go to war (again) that those people don’t respect our women and men in the military. It’s asinine and kind of, well, dumb. I have many friends and quite a few family members in the service, and to think that I don’t support them when they HAVE to do their job is ridiculous. I’m against any conflict because of the people I love in the military, not in spite of them.

I think we can all agree that no one should go to war, as it only begets more death, but if we must, if that is what our government decides we must do, then our military will suit up for us, and we will support them. Regardless of whether we think our current administration handled the situation well or not. Because it is not the troops fault. They are literally just obeying commands.

This divisive rhetoric of “You don’t support troops” is played out. Last month you were telling me if I don’t stand for the flag, I’m disrespecting them. Three months ago if I bought Nikes I was disrespecting the troops. The propaganda machine has been hard at work since 2016, gearing us up for this very moment, and it shows. Man, it shows.

No one is saying our troops suck, even when we say their Commander-in-Chief does. It isn’t their fault. He’s a voted politician, and they are enlisted to protect and serve our country, regardless of who their CIC is. And he’s their boss, even if he sucks at it. They have to do what he says (along with the proper support from the other branches of government). We get that. We aren’t dumb. We’re just empathetic. And honest. And well-versed in history, and how it repeats itself.

I have yet to meet a person in real-life who would meaningfully disrespect the people who fight for our freedom to rally with our “Make Love, Not War” signs. And if you really, honestly, believe that if I say, “President Trump sucks, and is doing a horrible job,” and that equates to me showing disrespect to our troops, then honestly I’m not sure I can help you anymore. No one can. You’ve already closed up your mind and your heart. Which is appalling, sad, and adding to the “divisiveness” you so desperately pretend to care about when spitting this oft-recycled rhetoric.

Please stop.

M.

Rant About Big Pharma

Has this ever happened to you? Let’s say your health insurance forces you to use one type of pharmacy, a mail-order pharmacy. But they will allow for medication at, say, CVS, as long as you get a 90-day supply. The medication you are on is $60 a month retail, and $25 with commercial insurance and a manufacturer coupon. So you go get your 90-day-supply of medicine and are willing to pay the $75, but CVS says that the manufacturer won’t allow a coupon on a 90-day supply. So you call the mail-order pharmacy to get it filled, and the mail-order pharmacy says they won’t take the coupon. Like, they just say no. No reason is given, just no. “We don’t accept coupons of any kind.” So you can’t get the 30-day refill at CVS, because your insurance says no. And you can’t use the manufacturer coupon because the pharmacy your insurance is making you go through won’t take it. No, this has never happened to you? Just wait, I’m sure it will.

Healthcare in our country is so jacked up, that this is the sort of thing that happens on the reg. Now mind you, this happened to my husband and it’s for medication he could probably come off of for a few months, or switch brands, it’s not like brand-specific or saving his life everyday when he takes it. But, he’s been on this medication for several years now and has been paying $45 a month, then one day they just upped their price of the medication. Presumably they had their reasons. I mean, nothing changed in the way they manufacture or sell it. There were no changes to the “fillers” and what not. But I’m trying to be optimistic here and assume that it wasn’t just the pharmaceutical company being greedy bitches (because I have friends who work for big pharma) but…

I keep thinking about people who are not covered by health insurance. We are. And our doctor is cool, and she can probably just call in a new, generic script on Monday, and sure maybe he will have to make an appointment with her, and pay another $30 co-pay, and take an afternoon off work to get it all situated, and that’s fine because he can do that. But what about the people who can’t? What about the people who have no idea there are other options? What about the people who can’t take an afternoon off work, or that extra $30 co-pay will set them back for the week? What about those people? Who is thinking of those people? Not big pharma. Not United Healthcare. Not Optum Rx. Not anyone like that.

My husband was frustrated, sure. But he will get the problem resolved. But there are people who can’t get their situation resolved. There are people who need much more important medication everyday. Life-saving medication. And it is taking months to get things like this resolved. And months can mean death for some of these people.

I’m probably not saying anything you don’t already know, that is if you’re even a little bit “woke” as the kids say. But just in case you didn’t know, this is the kind of thing that is happening. And it’s happening to people like us. It’s happening to the working middle-class. The upper-middle-class. It’s happening to the lower-middle-class. And it’s certainly happening to the people below that. And no one is benefitting from it, but Big Pharma.

I’m sorry if you’re any of those people. I’m sorry if you’re walking through this right now. Ask your doctor for help. Ask your friendly, neighborhood pharmacist. They want to help. They get it. And please, for the love of all that is holy, find out the politicians in your area, and nationally, who are working to make things easier on the health insurance companies and big pharma, and vote them the hell out, y’all. We have to fight for people that can’t go at it alone.

End rant.

M.

I’m a Georgia Voter

That’s something I never thought I would say. I have often admired the cute, little Georgia peach stickers when friends who live in Georgia voted and shared their picture online. But yesterday I actually got to cast my vote in the state of Georgia for the first time, and it felt kind of good. It felt like I was finally part of my community, like I had the power to make a difference here. There were only two question on my ballot, but I did have to do some research before I went to the polls, which is always important, and I got to take Jackson with me because his school is a polling place, so he was out for the day. It went something like this…

We arrived at the Methodist Church that was assigned to me when I registered to vote in the state back in April. It’s only about a mile from our house but we drove because it’s sorta cold down here, in fact yesterday morning it was a balmy 58 degrees. Whew! When we walked in, Jackson was a big hit with the women working the polls. And it was all women, by the way. Not just all women, but all retired, Black, women which made me very happy. It was 100% the first time I had ever encountered this at a polling place.

They were all very friendly and polite, and I told them all it was my first time voting in the state, so they walked me through the procedure as best they could, without helping me fill out anything (which is not allowed). First I had to fill out a form. This has never really happened to me before. I’m used to just casually strolling up to a table and telling them my name, then the old, cranky, white man finds my name on the registry list, puts a check by it, gives me a sticker, and a ballot and sends me on my way. This is how I have voted previously in Kansas, Missouri, and North Carolina. But things are, umm, different here in Georgia, and now I finally get Stacey Abrams anger.

There were three tables. At the first table I had to fill out a paper that was basically just giving all my information that they already had, so I really wasn’t sure why, but me being me, and having Jackson there, and knowing these ladies were just doing their job, I didn’t question it. I just wrote my birthday, checked that I was a Democrat, wrote my address, and signed my name. Then I gave her the paper, thinking I was done. I was wrong. She then asked for my ID. I was a little surprised, but gave it to her. Then she checked my ID against what I had just written on the paper. I am not sure what would have happened if my ID had been old, or I had written something different on the form. Then she sent me to the second table.

At the second table they again asked for my ID, where one of the women proceeded to scan it into a computer. It apparently came back okay, because there I was given back my ID, along with a little yellow card that read: State of Georgia Voter Access card. Example below:

The card had a chip in it, and I was told to put the card in the machine. There was only one other woman voting at the time we were there, so if I needed further help, it would not have been a problem. But I kept thinking what the next election would look like. What it’s like when there is a line out the door and every machine is full, and people are having troubles with those machines, and cards, and writing the wrong address down, or maybe having trouble seeing the small writing on the half-sheet that I was given. I kept thinking about my mom, and how she would have a wicked-hard time with all of this, and how it would be confusing and hard to read.

So Jackson and I got to the machine and I stuck my yellow card in the slot, which activated my ballot, but first there were a series of windows that I had to click through telling me how the machine worked, and explaining these awkward, not at all intuitive, ways to fix my ballot, if I accidentally hit the wrong box or something like that. Seriously, y’all. I didn’t know how easy I had it in North Carolina, or Missouri, or Kansas. Jackson and I read the instructions and he was all, “this looks complicated” and let’s be real here, if my 11-year-old who lives and dies by technology, who has known how to work on an iPad since he was three, says “this looks complicated” then that is sort of a red flag, ya dig?

Okay so I hit NEXT, then NEXT again, then my ballot popped up. Only two decisions to make. One was a vote for a City Council Member and because I am fairly new here, and because it was a woman’s name and she was the incumbent, I voted for her. Also, she was the only one running, which always pisses me off a little bit. Jackson pointed to the “Write-in” and looked confused. I explained that you could write in anyone’s name if you didn’t want to vote for the person on the ballot. Then I told him if it had been a man’s name, I would have written in my own name instead. I don’t vote for men, as a rule, unless I have to. (Full Disclosure I did once vote for a man, when there was a Democratic woman on the ticket. It was the 2016 Democratic Primary, in which the names on my ballot were Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and I voted for Bernie.)

Anywho, the next question was the one I had done some research on. Lots of trickery here in Georgia. Lots of trickery in the South, I have learned. Looking at you, North Carolina, and your “Snake.” So I knew whenever an “Ethics Board” question was on the ballot, and I had seen a lot of ads to “Vote YES on Ethics” that I probably wanted to vote “No.” And I was right. Trickery, y’all. Trickery.

So I voted no. Then I hit “Submit” and very quickly my screen changed and my yellow card spat out at me. I assumed that meant I was done. So we collected the card, and walked to the third and final table where they were taking our cards and passing out our coveted peach stickers. Of course Jackson got one too, and they were all very proud of him for accompanying me. One woman walking in said, “Well the voters are getting younger and younger,” and everyone laughed. But I mean, yeah, they are. #OurKidsAreGonnaChangeTheWorld

So that was that. My first experience voting in the state of Georgia. That’s what you asked about, right? I hope I made a difference. I hope I voted with intention. I hope I was educated and, made, to the best of my ability, the right decision. But above all else, I hope that my son saw what I was doing, how I made it a priority, and that he will do that his entire life as well.

So here’s to the next election, y’all! See you at the primary, where, well, you know me, I’ll be casting my vote once again, for Bernie! 🙂

M.