I‘ve been struggling to stay away from the news lately. Struggling because it’s important to stay informed, but I also know what the news does to me, and I know that the way people respond to news is even worse. It’s one thing to get an alert that says our president is threatening to cut funding to schools if we don’t go back full time in August, it’s another thing altogether to see family and friends share his sentiment in agreement. Like really?! Weren’t you just saying three months ago how awesome teachers are, and how important school is for your kids, and how everyone should have more money?! It’s disheartening to say the least.
The news alerts I get on my phone are usually the worst, and they have been coming fast and furious over the last few months. The ones that tell me another child was murdered. Or police killed another Black man, or that the cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed. Shit man. It’s like we can’t catch a break.
I know I’m not alone in this. There are a million memes about how fucked up 2020 has been, about how we wish we could just wish it all away. But the thing is, we can’t. And maybe that’s good. Maybe it’s time we face the news. So much has come to light over the last few months. How much we have realized about how disgusting, and backwards, and ridiculous our country really is. How gross we treat each other. How one minute we say things like, “Teachers are saints who should be paid more!” Then the next minute we say, “I don’t care if teachers get COVID, the economy needs to get back to work!” Wow. Just wow.
That’s where I find myself today. At the crossroads of wanting to be informed and wanting to crawl into a hole and never come out. How about you?
Here are some things that have been said to me, in front of me, I have overheard, or that I have witnessed in my lifetime that are acts of covert racism (and sometimes overt). This is not an exhaustive list, just top of mind stuff. These are all bad. They are wrong. They are part of the cog in the structural racism wheel. Recognize if you have heard or said any of these things, and change them straight away. This is not okay. It wasn’t okay in 1987, it is not okay now.
They are good athletes
Don’t date a Black boy
I would hate if my child had a mixed race baby
We look like Mexicans headed to El Paso (in reference to a loaded truck)
It’s a very “dark” place (meaning a lot of Black people frequent it)
All Lives Matter
That is reverse racism (that is not a thing that exists)
They are “thugs”
I have a Black friend
They are probably smuggling drugs
I can’t tell my husband I dated a Black guy
My family never owned a slave, so we aren’t racists
I don’t see color
They smell like rice and beans
She’s a Welfare Queen (said by a white woman who was on welfare, discussing her Black neighbor who was also on welfare)
All her kids probably don’t even have the same dad
The only way we will move forward is to stop talking about the past! (Then one moment later) We can’t take statues down, we can’t just erase our history!
I hear they eat their own dogs
It’s heritage, not hate
They should just go back to where they came from
They get a Black History month, we should get a white history month too!
Black women use abortion as birth control
What are you?
“Kung-Flu” (I think we all know who said that)
But I was discriminated against too, we all are
She’s really pretty for a Black girl
I just don’t understand why they are so angry? I grew up poor too.
Rap music is too explicit
(People whispering the word Black)
BET exists?! What about White Entertainment Television? Why can’t we have our own channel?!
I just think the way they dance is gross
I say just let them all kill each other
How can they see through those slanted eyes?
Black on Black crime
Yeah, that’s a thing.
Also, I Googled Susan Smith because I remembered how she killed her children then blamed a Black man. That sent me down a long rabbit hole on the internets and I came across this video from 2012. The creator is Calvin Michaels, and he shared things he’s heard white people say. It’s pretty spot on. It’s only six minutes and totally worth a watch.
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?
Dollar General and Jesus. Lakes and guns. Fishing and methadone clinics. Oh my! We just got back from the Ozarks yesterday and I wanted to share some pictures I took while I was there. I’ll let you form your own opinions about where exactly some of these were taken, but I’ll give you a hint: Very near Arkansas. It’s important to keep an open mind about what is beauty up there, but some things you just have to see to believe. Glad to be home. Hope you’re all well, let’s touch base about our mental health tomorrow, today take a gander of some of the wonders of the Ozarks.
I can’t sleep. It’s three am, and I’m awake watching the light from the window stream in. The light is different out here in the country. It’s softer. It’s the moonlight. Starlight. It’s the things you can see more clearly in the dark. I’m in bed, awake, thinking about kindness. About masks. About how different the world suddenly is for my child. But mainly I’m thinking about kindness.
The fact that wearing a mask for public safety right now is a political stance, or an opinion, or a whatever the hell it is, is making me very upset, and I think what it boils down to is kindness. Not niceness, not a performative act (although shame might be the driving force for some people to wear one), but rather the ability to think about someone other than yourself. If your concern with wearing a mask is your freedom, or how you look in one, or how it will negatively impact you, you’re completely missing the point of the masks. This isn’t about you, it’s about us, the collective. It’s about saving as many fragile lives as we can. It isn’t about you, it’s about your friend’s great-grandma, or your sister’s mother-in-law, or your child’s friend with a compromised system. It’s about wanting everyone to survive this. It’s about doing the most good for the most amount of people, which is probably why you’ll find mask-wearing will fall along political lines. The most good for the most amount of people, yeah, we don’t all want that. And I’m just laying here tonight, watching the moonlight stream in, and I’m wondering how we came to a point when genuine kindness, generosity, and care for humankind become a political stance. Maybe it always has been, I was just too naive to notice?
Take care, be safe, wear a mask, stay home if you can.
Woke up this morning thinking that I’m too stressed to feel blessed. You read that right: I’m too stressed to feel blessed. My stress level is off the charts. I’m not home during a global pandemic. I’ve got my kid traveling all over, seeing people who have not been taking this pandemic seriously. The lack of masks, social distancing, and isolation here is crazy. People are totally pretending like the numbers aren’t spiking. They think wearing a mask is sufficient. What the what? I want to be back at my house, alone, ordering my groceries again. I’m scared. I’m stressed. And if you aren’t, you are not paying attention.
Don’t get me wrong I’m having a good time, occasionally. Occasionally I forget that the world is a shitbag, upside place. Occasionally I drink so much wine with my husband and best friend that I forget. Or I’m on the lake, enjoying a boat ride. Like yesterday when we rolled up at the marina to get gas and snacks. It’s called “What’s Up Dock” and it’s cute, and lively, and had all the gas, Sprite, and potato chips we needed. They also has a ton of people. People walking around aimlessly, asking about jet ski rentals, and trying on “Table Rock” t-shirts, buy one, get one free. For a split second I forgot about Covid-19. It all seemed so normal. So free. So every, other summer of my life. Then I remembered.
I saw a bumper sticker on a car coming up here: “Too Blessed to be Stressed.” I smiled and thought, wouldn’t that be nice.
I woke up thinking about church today. Probably because it’s Sunday, certainly not because I’m a churchgoer. I’ve never been a churchgoers. I was never forced to go to church as a child, never had religion thrust upon me. My mom used to say she’d let her kids decide what to believe, though she herself was a Christian, it didn’t much matter back then what we believed in, as long as we were good, kind people. And we are. All of us. But we maybe didn’t go the path she expected.
I’m married to an atheist. The good kind. He doesn’t need a higher power to keep him in line. He likes to say that he does all the raping and pillaging he wants to, which is zero. He isn’t “acting” good in this life for fear of what the next will hold. He’s a good person because he’s a good person.
I’m in a “complicated” relationship with Jesus. God, well, I’m not a fan. But Jesus seemed cool, the man Jesus anyway. But even on my best days I can’t wrap my mind around church. Around organized religion. Too much hate, judgement, and evil takes places in many of those four walls, and I’ll pass. I’ll get my “church” the old-fashioned way, walking with Jesus alone, communing with nature, talking to y’all on this here blog.
My son has been raised with grandparents who don’t shy away from talking religion with him. My mom taught him to pray (she’s become very religious in her senior years and I’m sure regrets that whole “let my kids figure it out themselves” deal she did). So since Jackson was small she’s talked about her love for God to him, which is why I was pretty surprised the other day when he said, “Santa Claus is real, you know. He’s a real person, not like God who is just a belief.” Ouch. That’s some shit he made up in his own mind. Seems Santa, a jolly man who has magic and cares about all the children in the world, is easier to believe in than a God who makes people spew hate and judgment towards others. Of course my happy, kind, empathetic son believes in a man who has flying reindeer and brings smiles to children. And of course my smart, logical, realistic son can’t get behind a belief that spreads hate and has caused war and killing and disease. A belief people blindly stand behind. A belief that neglects some children based on how they came into this world, where they live, or how they practice their own faith. Of course.
So yeah, we aren’t headed to church today. But we are headed down to the lake for some fun, food, and fellowship. Is there anything else you can ask of a Sunday?
I’m a White Claw drinker. That might take me down a peg or two with some of y’all, but I’m willing to risk that to assert my truth. I drink White Claws, and I like them. I’m a fan of seltzer water anyway, so you add alcohol to it and a little bit of watermelon flavoring and let’s be real, I’m fucking in. White Claws have a bad reputation, mainly because people are jealous, and don’t like to have fun, and are boujee with their alcohol choices, so they try to pass judgement on me but it won’t work. Fight me. I’m a bad bitch.
Anyway, White Claws keep me hydrated, and I never seem to get drunk on them, just a little tipsy, which is a good thing. It means I can drink all day at the lake for funsies and not feel bad the next day, which might be why there are no laws when you’re drinking Claws. (Disclaimer: There are in fact laws when you’re drinking Claws, as my 11-year-old likes to remind me.) But I mean, is there? Cause my White Claw koozie says otherwise.
Anyway, White Claw is owned by Mark Anthony brands, the same company who brought us Mike’s Hard Lemonade and totally changed the high school girl experience for the better back in the late 90s. The owner, Anthony (not Mark) started his company by selling wine out of the back of his car, which is both badass and boujee, so who’s a bitch now? Thanks Anthony, for all your hard work. I salute you.
Now go forth and have a safe, happy, law-free day, y’all.
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.
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!
I’ve decided to take part in the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices Challenge created by @blackandembodied and @jessicawilson.msrd. I won’t be blogging, posting on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook from now until June 7th in an attempt to #MuteTheWhiteNoise. Instead I’ll be listening to what Black people have to say. I’ll be watching and looking at art created by Black artists and activists. I’ll be reading Black authors. I’ll be looking inward and reflecting on what I’m learning, how my world views need changing, and how I can help elevate the Black Community. Please follow the hashtags and the original creators of this challenge on Instagram.
Below you will find links to articles about white fragility and anti-racism by Black authors, as well as Black activists to follow on Instagram. I hope you can find time to educate yourself on these topics and listen to the unheard voices in the Black Community. Please remember that Google is your friend. Don’t rely on the people below, or any of your Black friends, colleagues, or Black people in your community to educate you. They are too busy and it isn’t their job. White supremacy and racism work because white people do not take a stand against it. It is a problem that white people created, and it is one that we need to work to end. It is time to take a stand, even toward people you love and admire. Our silence is deafening to the Black Community.
Read, read, read! Read the books listed in the illustration above for starters, and follow the authors on social media or on their paid Patreon accounts. Please keep in mind that some of these books have become very popular in the last few weeks (which is great), but I have heard of price gauging online. This in no way benefits the authors. Whenever possible, order the title from your local independent bookstore who supports Black writers. It may take a couple of weeks to get the book, because some are on backorder, but it is worth it. The titles from the illustration above are:
Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? by Mumia Abu-Jamal The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge Good Talk by Mira Jacob Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji & Anthony G. Greenwald Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? by Moustafa Bayoumi The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz Citizen by Claudia Rankine An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz Mindful of Race by Ruth King Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Tatum Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell & Aurélia Durand
In the meantime, here are some articles to get you started reading and thinking now:
I’m a shower shaver. Always have been. I remember learning to shave my legs in a tub of luke-warm water, after years of being tormented about my long, black leg hair by my sister, while my mother refused to let me near a razor. I was in fifth grade when I eventually stole my mom’s razor, sat in a tub for much longer than I should have and contemplated it. Then I just did it. My mom got mad. My sister laughed. I was bleeding from knee to ankle, but I was proud, so proud of my smooth legs. Now I wish I had never picked up a razor.
Shaving my legs, tweezing my eyebrows, waxing my mustache, Jesus, I’m so over all of it. I wish I was so body positive that I could stand proudly and say, Fuck you, World! While I flip the world the bird, and my mustache blows in the wind like Tom Selleck’s. But alas, I succumb to societal beauty standards, well some of them, like waxing, shaving, plucking, and zapping unwanted hair. Bleh.
The day we signed the papers on our current home my vision was clouded by the master bathroom. It’s beautiful. Small, but mighty. There’s only one small vanity and a toilet, but there is this wonderful shower! It is all glass, with stone floors (the bathroom itself has heated floors), and artful tile work throughout. It is floor to ceiling and has all the fancy accouterments that a shower should have. And it’s huge! It easily fits Jerimiah and me. Or Duke and Jackson and me, when we are in swimsuits trying to scrub mud from Duke’s legs while he attempts to run through the small opening that we leave in the door to let the smell of wet dog escape. It’s perfect.
But the first time I took a shower in it I realized there was nowhere for this shower-shaver to stick her legs when I shaved. It needed a bench. So I did what anyone would do, I hopped out of the shower, threw clothes on, ran to Homegoods, and bought a bamboo shower bench. Perfect. Except, well, today was the first time since I owned the bamboo bench the I actually sat on it to shave my legs.
Listen, I’m a creature of habit. Years and years of awkwardly standing in the tub, with my leg perched on the edge has made me think this is the only way. So the first time I shaved my legs with my bamboo bench in place, I just stuck my leg up on the bench and shaved standing up like usual. Then I kept doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I use the bench. I sit on it regularly while the hot water from my raindrop faucet drips onto my head and I think about the world. I cry on my bamboo bench. A lot. Y’all know I’m a shower cryer, I don’t have time to defend that. I cried on that bamboo shower bench the first week we lived here because I missed Charlotte and I didn’t want to live in Georgia. I cried that summer when my son was sad that we didn’t have any friends yet. I cried when my friend called with bad news about her parents. I sat on the bamboo bench and cried when that student opened fire on the UNC Charlotte campus. When they couldn’t find that little boy with autism for days. I cried on that bamboo bench when I thought we were going to be transferred to New Orleans. I cried when my son cried when a friend was being bullied at school and he realized he needed to stick up for her. I cried when the spring tornadoes sprang up the Midwest, when we had to cancel our trip home because Covid-19 was here. I cried for Ahmaud Arbery, for my state, for our country, for this world.
But today, for the first time in a year, I sat on that bamboo bench and I shaved my legs. I let the water fall on me. I didn’t cry. I just sat and shaved. I wondered about all the times I should have done this before. All the times I let my own stubbornness stop me from doing things. My own stubbornness, my own ignorance, my own self-doubt. I thought about shower-shavers. I thought about women who wish they had clean water. I thought about women who refuse to shave their legs and under arms. I thought about little girls with no mother to teach her how to do it. I thought about the good I have learned by others, but society, by my environment, and my world. And then I thought about the bad. But I didn’t cry, I just shaved my legs.
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.
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.
The Conscious Kid on Instagram
Rep. John Lewis
Rachel Elizabeth Cargle
Dr. Bernice King/The King Center
Brittany Packnett Cunningham
The hashtags: #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #IRunWithAhmaud #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor
The Goodnights are going on vacation! Woohoo, us! If you have been around awhile you might know we are travelers. Nothing soothes our wandering souls like a good road trip out West, or a quick flight to NYC to get some pizza and see a show. But this Covid-19 has put a real damper on traveling plans. As it sits we have five airline flights to anywhere in the US, but we are a little too risk-averse to fly right now, and well, all the places we love to visit are/were hotbeds for the Coronavirus, all except one: Table Rock Lake.
We lived on Table Rock Lake for five years in our early twenties. It was the place I first learned to swim (I was terrified most of my life to swim), it was the place we got married, got pregnant with Jackson. It’s a big lake, surrounded by small towns on the Arkansas/Missouri line, and it just so happens that my MIL owns a place right on the water. We try to get down there every summer, and for awhile it looked like we wouldn’t be able to pull it off this year, then well, we decided to try. So, I guess what I mean to say is the Goodnights are tentatively going on vacation! We are planning, but we won’t know for sure until we hit the road the day we are slated to leave. Wish us luck that things don’t change too drastically as of June 30th.
In preparation we invited the regular crew down to hang with us, including my best friend Rachel and her daughter Madi. Rachel and Madi and the rest of their family have been quarantining like us for the last 80 days or so, and are happy to continue to do so until they meet us at the lake. But because we are coming from DeKalb County, Georgia (a hotbed for the virus) and going to Southern Missouri, with family from Kansas (both places with low incidence rates of the virus) we are preparing by getting tested before we leave. The idea of even possibly putting anyone is danger horrifies us.
Because of the high-rates in our county and state (about 3,500 cases/45,000 cases) and the fact that we are not trending down (wait, what?! You guys opened like a month ago and the ‘Rona didn’t disappear?) Le sigh. Where was I? Because of high rates in our county and state, drive-thru testing is open to all residents. You don’t have to be showing symptoms, or have been exposed to anyone. All I had to do was call DeKalb County. They gave me a website to pre-register. I did it. Picked a date and time, June 5th, and boom, we are registered. We were sent a confirmation email with a QR code for each of us to bring with us to our appointment, which is actually just a ride through a church parking lot on the other side of town and boom, we are done.
We picked June 5th because we plan on leaving at the end of the month. That gives us a weekend before the test to stock up on food and essentials so we don’t have to leave the house until we head for Missouri. We have scoured the CDC and WHO websites, and we think this a “low-risk vacation,” but a little extra caution never hurt anyone. Honestly the scariest parts for me are the drive (it’s a ten-hour drive, so at least two stops for gas), the risk that we will be exposed by a family member or friend who stops by unannounced (don’t be surprised if we just wave and walk away, we love ya, but we didn’t quarantine for 80 days for you to roll up and hug us without a mask on), and/or exposing the people back home to something we picked up along the way. So this isn’t really a stress-free vacation, but it’s the best we can muster at this point.
So there you have it. Our tentative, stressful, summer vacation! I’m excited, and nervous, and prepping like mad, but I think it will be totally worth it to see our people.
There is this meme that is circulating that says, Growing Old is a Trap! and I laugh every time I see it. It’s funny, absolutely. And I get the sentiment, especially when my 75-year-old friends share it. It’s just that as I age, as I approach (gasp!) 40 years on this planet, I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t feel old. I don’t feel like I’ve been told I will feel my whole life. My whole life I’ve watched my mother, my sisters, my cousins, and friends reach 40, and most of them dread it. Like, absolutely dread 40. They dread it for a multitude of reasons. They say your body starts to break down. You can’t lose weight anymore, your energy level plummets, your hair suddenly turns grey, your family turns on you, wrinkles crawl across your face. I mean, they make it sound horrific, crypt keeper shit, y’all, and at 38.5 years of age I just gotta say, I don’t feel it.
I mean, I guess I have one-and-a-half years for the shit storm that is 40 to get here, but if I’m being honest I already deal with half that list. I already have greying hair. My husband, also 38-and-a-half, is full on salt and pepper now. I have friends in their 30s who have been dying their hair for years to cover grey. I already have creases and wrinkles around my eyes. Laugh lines, reddening skin. It’s been the hardest ever for me to lose weight since my hysterectomy. It used to be that I could workout a little, cut some carbs and bam! I’d lose 20 pounds. Not anymore. My energy level has always been dependent on my mental health, it ebbs and flows. Why should I be scared of turning 40?
Society, I guess. Women who are 40 have been programmed to think they are dead. Their life is over. Omigod, you’re 40! But you look so young! Yeah, bitch, cause she is young. Or, Omigod, you’re 40! Do you knit now? No bitch, I have ass-slapping sex with my husband every night, so I don’t have time for knitting.
Truth be told I am just beginning to feel like myself again after all the shit my 20s and early 30s did to me. I feel like I’m just starting to blossom. I was always a late-bloomer, so this doesn’t’ bother me much, but I absolutely look forward to my next 38-and-a-half years because I honestly feel like my life is just beginning again. I’m in regular therapy, which has been a game changer. I have a firm-ass grip on reality, something that eluded me most of my life. I’ve lived through just enough grief to know how it works, but I haven’t let it make me jaded. Not yet, anyway. Will my hair go grey? You bet. I might not even dye it, don’t know yet, haven’t decided. Will my wrinkles set in? Will my hands start to bend? I hope so, shows character. Will I wear grandma sweaters? Shit yeah I will, I know I will because I already do. They are warm. And have pockets. Who doesn’t love a fucking sweater with pockets? And what is that, is that a peppermint in the pocket?! Oh shit, just what I needed to settle my stomach after my third cup of dark roast!
Look, I love you 20-somethings, you’re adorable. You’ll also really dumb, but that’s how it is supposed to be! You have A LOT of living and learning to do. A lot of it. And no one wants to take that from you, lest not me. Live, girl! And keep living, and being dumb, even well into your thirties. Then, grow up. Cause it’s honestly not that bad. It’s not a trap at all. You might even learn a thing or two, about the world, about yourselves. After all, you live, you learn, then you get Luv’s (but not really, you only get Pampers cause all the others leak loose stool out yo’ baby’s ass all over the backseat of your new car.) See that? I taught you something. If you let us teach you, we will. But for real, I love you. You make me happy to see, to watch you do your beer pong and your whatsy-daisy, it’s just that one day, when the avocado toast is gone, and the wrinkles have set in, and your 40 and you still don’t have any idea what you want to be when you grow up, I want you to know that it won’t be as scary as it sounds. Trust me, I know.
So let’s stop this 40 is death thing, and embrace who we are. And while I’m at it, 50 isn’t death either! Neither is 60! OMIGOD, stop it Missy, is 70 death?! No! You know what death is, death. You dead. So stop living like you already are and do some shit to wake up. It doesn’t matter how old you are, today is your day.
Update after talking to my husband. I was telling him I was frustrated with how people think growing and learning and evolving is bad and while he agrees with me, he politely reminded me that you only grow, learn, and evolve if you allow yourself to. Not everyone will. Or wants to. He reminded me that you have to, “know better to be better.” Man, he’s so spot on. All the stuff above only works if you allow yourself to not be burdened by structural pressures. If you educate yourself. If you love yourself enough to show yourself some grace. Please do that, y’all. ❤️
We met a man last summer in Coastal Louisiana who was raised on the bayou. He used to hunt for and collect alligator eggs as a child, then hatch them and raise them in his bathtub until they got too big, then he and his brothers would take them back out to the swamp and drop them near where they found them. He spoke Louisiana-French, a creole language spoken across ethnic and racial lines, by people who consider themselves to be Cajun or Louisiana Creole, as well as Chitimacha, Houma, Biloxi, Tunica, Choctaw, Acadian, and/or French. Creole is the type of language they speak, but Cajun is derived from that. There is always a dominate language with pidgin languages known as the superstrate language, while the lesser is the substrate. In the case of the Cajun there is English, then French, then African, Spanish, and Native American. When it all converges in one person, the result can be wonderful and confusing. He told us how to “pinch the tail and suck the head,” showed us places we had never seen before, and explained that Lagniappe just means getting a little something extra than you paid for.
He would speak to the alligators primarily in French, then speak to us in English, then speak to his friend in Creole. He would codeswitch from one being to another, never skipping a beat, never missing an opportunity to tell his story to whomever would listen. Always with an eye on the alligator.
The man was our tour guide on the Atchafalaya River Basin, a combination of wetlands and river delta where the Atchafalaya and the Gulf of Mexico converge. The basin contains 70% forest habitat, and 30% open water. As far as wetland river basins go, it’s almost stable. It’s the largest contiguous block of forested wetlands left in the lower Mississippi River Valley, and the largest block of floodplain forest in the United States, with 260,000 acres of cypress-tupelo. It’s iconic, and terrifying, and a little bit surreal.
Soaring over the Atchafalaya Swamp we watched a baby and momma Osprey spread their wings from the top of a hollowed cypress. We saw a 12-foot alligator lead his blind friend to food. We overheard the story of the Louisiana Black Bear, and the floods, and the inoperable South Farm, and the ATV-traffic that threatens many of the existence there. We saw beaver dams, and otter running for their lives. We felt the slap of an alligator tail against the oiled metal of the boat. For the first time in my five years in The South, I let it grip me. Take ahold of my head and my heart. It was something I didn’t expect to happen, but something I am glad did. Like when you get an extra donut in the box.