Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sit, Swear, Stand


This government is of the people, for the people, and by the people. If you are not protesting this current administration, then you are handing our democracy to an inept despot whose advisors are white supremacists, Nazis, white nationalists, and, probably, the Russian government.
So when trump uses the power of his office to tell NFL owners to fire players who refuse to stand during the national anthem, we ought to align on the side of freedom of speech and on the side of equal justice in our police and justice system. If you don’t, just hand our country over and prepare to live without the freedoms we often take for granted but that aren't shared by all our citizens.
I stopped placing my hand over my heart during the pledge of allegiance and the anthem years ago. I’ve lived the ugly side of America. I understand many in this country don’t think my husband Ronald and my daughters Cara and Mackenzie matter, and in turn, don’t think my voice matters because I engaged in race mixing. That hasn’t stopped me from being a patriotic citizen. I continue to fight for the ideals and values of this country that are sometimes skipped over or ignored in the quest to prove this country is for white people and not all our citizens. Now I will not stand for the national anthem or the pledge of allegiance. I agree with the professional athletes who know that any day of the week when they are off the field or the court, they are just another black person at risk of becoming victims of dangerous and possibly fatal interactions with the police, vigilantes, and white supremacists. They are also representing the 28 percent of people of color who live in poverty and who do not have a national stage on which to speak about the issues their communities face. And don’t tell me how, as a few people already have, that professional athletes make so much money they should stay quiet.  No, they shouldn’t. Don’t be silent, especially under the rule of this racist administration.
The white team owners are horrid and racist if they cannot support the players who make them so much money and make sports so exciting to watch. They don’t deserve to have such great players if they are only valued for their skills and not because they are human beings who matter and who face discrimination and danger in this country.
In many of my Facebook posts, I swear. I use common swear words such as fuck, shit, asshole and bastard when I post articles about trump (I also refuse to capitalize his name—and I certainly will not call him president) and everyday articles that clearly show we are not living in a post-racial society. Rather we are living in a segregated society where it is dangerous and sometimes fatal to be a person of color.
This started after a homeowners’ association meeting I was holding when I was still the president—before I resigned because they refused to stop doing business with the attorney we hired to conduct our legal affairs when I discovered he was the state chapter chairman of the League of the South, a white supremacist, secessionist group that hopes to start a race war. At the HOA meeting we were talking to the district police captain, who came to our meeting to talk about safety and how to reduce crime in our neighborhood, about our shooter neighbor, the one who blindly shot through her garage door because she heard Mexican voices in her driveway and who also claimed an escaped prisoner, a black man, of course, had been captured behind her house—it was a lie. He was caught six miles away.
We were trying to explain to the cop that she made our neighborhood dangerous for the neighbors of color, many of whom were teenagers. In fact, she was a danger to all of us, because shooting blindly without knowing what is beyond your target, and not even knowing if your target is a true danger to you, puts everyone in danger.
The cop kept defending her Second Amendment right and said that he supported her shooting blindly because she had a small child in the house, and nothing would change his mind.
Ronald stood and told the story of how a police officer treated him while he was doing yard work at our old Syracuse home. He demanded to know if Ronald lived there—I suppose lots of criminals rake the lawn before breaking and entering. Then he told Ronald to get his “fucking license” to prove he lived there.  Ronald quoted the police officer in telling the story, so people would be aware of how quickly a police stop initiated by racial bias can escalate.
We were holding the meeting in the community room of the church near our neighborhood, where one of our neighbors is a pastor. He made Ronald leave the meeting for swearing in the house of the lord, and he locked him out. I was crying when I told him that Ronald does not swear, he was quoting the officer to make an important point about how dangerous it is to be black when certain neighbors were vilifying every black person who entered the neighborhood. He didn’t care, and he didn’t unlock the door. I asked the one black couple if they could give me a ride home after the meeting, but Ronald had waited for me out in the parking lot.
That evening made me want to swear, even though I don’t usually, because when people think using swear words is worse than people of color being murdered just for having brown skin, I think we should take a fucking stand against it. So I decided that night I won’t put up with that bullshit and I will take a fucking stand until it is safe for people of color to live their lives safely in America without the threat of dying by the hand of a racist while going about their daily business.
I will sit during the national anthem, in support of people of color who feel this country doesn’t want them here, doesn't think they matter, and will engage in murder to prove it, and until such time all Americans are duly able to exercise their rights as citizens and where they can safely be where they are; I will swear until Christians get their damned priorities straight and stop hating on people, claiming it is in God’s name that they are doing so, and until they remember the good news and act to live it;  I will stand beside people of color in protest of the new Jim Crow, the blatant murder of people of color, and the segregation of our country where people of color are expected to be invisible so white people can feel comfortable. I will stand with them because their lives matter. I hope you will, too, even if you think it doesn’t affect you. Check your white privilege and join in, or else nothing will change. Join me in being a creative maladjusted. Don’t be silent.
Washington Examiner

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Disavow Now!


I am angry, but then again, I’ve been angry for quite a while now. America voted a racist into the White House, the place he calls a dump, which was built by slaves. He led the charge against the Central Park Five, even after they were proven innocent, he wouldn’t rent to blacks when he worked for his father, he tried his damndest to delegitimize Barack Obama as president and as a citizen, and he openly courted white supremacists while he campaigned and pushed for a violent response against his protesters. He hasn’t spoken one word of unity for Americans or one word of disavowal against white supremacist terrorism. Yesterday’s statement was worse than disappointing. It was a quiet pat on the back to white supremacy.
Did you vote for him? What didn’t you hear right when you listened to him speak? Or did you silently agree? Or loudly agree like the Trump supporter who raised her hand Nazi-style? What kind of country were you hoping for?
Domestic white supremacist terrorists consider Trump their ally. His dog whistles called them and emboldened them. He hired them on his staff and appointed them to his cabinet. Do you understand this yet? Are you outraged yet?
Yesterday white supremacists wore riot gear and carried bats and rifles to protest the removal of a confederate monument. They intended violence. And it happened. One dead (three if you count the helicopter crash) and 35 injured. 
Where were the parents of the man who plowed his car through counter protesters? Did they know he was becoming radicalized? Did they think it was just a phase or did they agree with him? His mother said that he has a black friend -- the excuse used by many a racist these days. Dylan Roof had a black friend, too.
Or is this what the other officers of my homeowners association averred when I pointed out that our lawyer was a white supremacist, a leader in his racist organization? That it was "just a hobby," and would not prevent the lawyer from serving all our neighbors equitably. They supported keeping him and accepted my resignation. Does his mother believe it was just a hobby?
Do you understand what those monuments represent? They are not monuments to heroes. They are not monuments to Southern heritage. They are monuments of intimidation. They were erected in the early 1900s during Jim Crow law to impress upon black Americans that they were not equal and never would be. White domestic terrorists have been a part of America since the beginning of this country when settlers turned on the native people and set up an economic system based on the free labor of black people. Their belief in a supreme race allowed them to treat human beings as less than animals, to abuse and torture them, kill them, and rape them. Certain eras gave them permission to spread their hatred and beliefs in supremacy, and this is one of them. People have died violently because of their rhetoric and continue to die. 
The system of supremacy and privilege is still in operation.
It won’t change as long as you won’t acknowledge that it exists. You are afraid of losing something, of losing what you believe to be your status as a white American, endowed with supreme abilities and intelligence. Maybe you won’t say it out loud, but you believe it, every time you applaud the police for shooting an unarmed black man or child or choose to be silent, every time you applaud Trump for his hateful rhetoric or tell us to give him a chance, every time you don’t disavow the hatred and violence of white supremacy.
And, liberals, you are a part of this, too. Every time you shut down a friend or family member for telling you how it is to be a person of color and every time you tell them they are reading into a situation as racist because you don't see it that way. Every time you don't check your privilege. Every time you say it isn't as bad as we say it is. Every time you think of us as whiners and worry about how we ruin your comfort and your good time because we make you think about how different and dangerous our experience is from yours.
I don’t feel sorry for you if you can't see this for what it is or it makes you uncomfortable to talk about. Your thin white skin exhausts me. Either you are or you aren’t. Either you stand with us or stand with haters. Will you really listen this time or blow it off because it doesn't affect you? Will you be part of a united America or part of white supremacy and engage in subjugation, deportation and murder of those who you consider unequal? It really is black and white.



Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress, via Associated Press

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Reversing Discrimination

I owe you an apology, dear readers. I’ve left you hanging since January.  Maybe you think the Trump high jinks left me wordless. I can’t say they haven’t had an impact, but rendering me wordless was not the result. Rather, I’ve been writing and writing, and I am nearly done. I will publish a book soon, and I hope you will read it, not just to humor me, but because it is a small contribution to the conversation about race in America and is in honor of and dedicated to the women who have lost sons and daughters at the hands of biased police, vigilantes and white supremacist terrorists. 
Now a little bit about these last seven months:
There has hardly been a day when I haven’t had the news on for most of it. That isn’t the healthiest response to all that is going on, but, at the same time, there is so much going on. The difference in headlines in as little as an hour can be mind warping and tough to keep up with. Trump voters got what they wished for when they kept searching for ways to delegitimize former President Obama and candidate for president Hillary Clinton – lots of scandal and incompetence and chaos and election interference and maybe, no, probably, collusion and criminal activity. It’s like watching a really bad reality TV show. I’m expecting fisticuffs in the daily White House briefing any day now.
Trump supporters also wished for isolationism, and Trump has diminished our world presence and his status as the leader of the free world one stupid misstep, bullying word, and ignorant comment at a time. Trump had one success, the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch can barely hide his extreme right agenda.
Trump supporters denied climate change, and Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord. Trump supporters were afraid of immigrants and wished to turn America white again, and AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, even beleaguered, in Trump’s opinion, showed his support of a bill presented by Senator Tom Cotton under the guise of immigration reform that, if passed, will assure America remains a white, (fundamental) Christian, and English speaking only majority. The beleaguered AG also penalized sanctuary cities, put a halt to consent decrees negotiated and agreed upon by cities and police departments to hold the police accountable in use of profiling and excessive force, and announced a crackdown on journalists and their sources in the federal government who leak information. Finally, and one wonders how someone so beleaguered can accomplish so much of his white nationalist agenda, the AG announced a call for attorneys to assist in an investigation and possible charges against universities who use affirmative action plans in their admissions  processes.
Watch what you wish for, Trump supporters. Fields of vegetables and orchards of fruit are going unpicked and are rotting due to a shortage of workers, while Trump successfully brought into the country 15,000 immigrants for his low-paying seasonal hospitality jobs. Obamacare hasn’t been repealed or replaced, and some of you are secretly relieved. The wall wasn’t built. The swamp wasn’t drained, rather, it is spilling over. Taxes for the wealthy weren’t cut – how was that going to help you again? The Legislative branch of government is even more dysfunctional and paralyzed than ever. And your lives haven’t changed one iota except that the air you breathe and the water you drink, cook with, and bathe in is about to get dirtier.
Affirmative Action, which has been around since the 1940s, has gone before the Supreme Court many times in the past forty years. Each time, it is ruled legal. Perhaps Trump believes the Supreme Court now has the votes to shoot it down. Or maybe this is an exercise in appeasing the Trump supporters who continue to show up at rallies to boost his ego.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Office of the General Counsel, defined affirmative action this way: Any measure, beyond simple termination of a discriminatory practice, that permits the consideration of race, national origin, sex, or disability, along with other criteria, and which is adopted to provide opportunities to a class of qualified individuals who have either historically or actually been denied those opportunities and/or to prevent the recurrence of discrimination in the future.
There are a couple of important things to remember: 1) there is no quota system, which many detractors claim is the reason the laws are unjust, and it specifically states “qualified individuals, ” which detractors seldom mention because it goes against their narrative of unfairness; 2) these laws protect these classes of individuals from future discrimination. Companies, municipalities, and universities create affirmative action plans based on criteria such as demographics, historical patterns and practices of recruitment, hiring, admissions, and retention, and current information about applicants. These plans are in place to level the playing field, and until the playing field is completely level and there is no threat of regression, they will continue to exist.
The concept of reverse discrimination is a tell on white privilege. It proves that if you are white, your expectations are shaped by that fact. You expect to be hired, accepted into college, approved for a mortgage, approved for a lease, to live where you want, to be hired in the field you are interested in pursuing, to have the best schools, to go wherever your heart desires, and to seldom hear the word “no.”
It also proves something else, and that is if you believe there is reverse discrimination, you know that discrimination exists and you approve of it. You know not everyone can hope for the things you take for granted, and you don’t care as long as you get yours even at the expense of others. People with this mindset accept privilege and worry that equality will diminish their status rather than lift the status of others to equal status.
The Declaration of Independence opens with this: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The use of “men” does not exclude women and gender non-conforming individuals, nor does it only refer to white Christians. Man, or mankind, is inclusive, not exclusive.
The preamble of the Constitution states: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Trump administration is erasing the best hopes and ideals of this country and is flouting its founding principles.
The response is to resist, persist, contribute to the national conversation on defining who we are as a country, be an active civic and critically thinking citizen, disavow discrimination of any kind, let Trump supporters know our vision of America is inclusive and we welcome them to the conversation, support the individuals who are willing to run for elected office and who are willing to go to the mat to fight for our best selves and ideals for America, stop in-fighting about who is and isn’t progressive enough, remember your own privilege and check it, and vote in every single election. We got this.

Trump supporter
Chicago Tribune


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Goodbye, America



Ronald always carries a paper towel in his pocket due to his allergies. Every once in a while, he forgets to remove it when he puts his pants in the wash. That happened this morning, and I’ve spent a good part of the day removing paper towel bits from the washing machine, the dryer, and the clothing, sheets and towels I washed.  Because of the static, it is even more difficult to locate every little piece stuck to a sock or a pair of underwear. I’ve found a little joy picking up all those pieces of paper towel. They are a mundane distraction from a weekend filled with terrifying news.
America, as we know it, grand, a world power, the melting pot, and wholly imperfect, is gone. In its place is a country created through the dire lies of an ego maniacal, self-absorbed, ignorant, bigoted, misogynistic, rich, reality TV star posing as president. He used those lies to sign one executive order after another, appoint completely unqualified individuals to important cabinet positions and posts, and surround himself with advisors who are white supremacists and greedy businessmen. Then he spends his time distracting us by talking about the size of the inaugural crowd and the millions who, he is sure, voted fraudulently.
And America is left with the fallout and the consequences of his words, actions, and orders.
America has always been imperfect. Democracies are, especially ones that open their doors to anyone who dreams of something different and better. We have a history that we are not always proud of. We have stumbled and fallen on the wrong side of history more than once. We still have a race problem that a good part of America refuses to address. There is an economic division that is ripping the middle class to shreds and leaving the poor with no paths out while making the rich even richer. There is too much corporate intercession in our laws, causing the government of the people to be more about the government of the corporations and their wealth. And while we continue to struggle for equality and quality of life for all our citizens, some people are still left on the fringes.
In spite of all of that, we are still a great country. The struggle is part of who we are and, more often than not, our moral compass guides us to the right side of history.
But that is not true right now. Because of an individual who is unfit to hold office, we are a country in crisis. The impact of this man’s erratic and uninformed leadership affects not just our country, but global stability.
I am still waiting for the GOP to speak out against the things that are going on: White supremacists in key positions, Russian influence on the election, ill-conceived and unconstitutional executive orders flying out the door as quickly as they can be written, attacks on the free press, and, now, attacks on immigrants, even ones who are now citizens. The Muslim ban Trump promised his supporters was rolled out Friday by executive order, only White House staff is trying to spin it differently, using those alternate facts Kellyann Conway was quick to offer up when Trump was caught lying.
Where is the GOP? Why haven’t any of the GOP Congress or Senate appeared before the press to weigh in on what’s happening in our country? Senator Chuck Schumer did, with tears in his eyes and his voice breaking, because the very foundation of our country has been pulled out from under us.
The ACLU stood up to the executive order to detain Muslims. So did thousands of citizens who protested at airports. Others are emailing or calling their representatives.
Will any of this stop this train wreck? I don’t think it will unless the GOP stands with us. They are the ones in power. When will they decide the country is more important than their elected positions and ideology and do the right thing?
Are we going to repeat a terrible world history, the one that caused the world to go to war a second time in one century and that caused us to say over and over, “Never forget?” Have we forgotten that terrible history so soon, the memory of which Trump trampled on as he wrote his Muslim ban executive order on the remembrance day of the Holocaust?
Where is the GOP?
In the meantime, besides doing one thing every single day to resist, like writing to my representatives and donating money to groups who are standing up to this oligarchy, I will continue to pick the paper towel bits out of the laundry and yearn for our imperfect America where we can fight the good fight through discourse and votes, hopefully ending up on the right side of history, and where our president, even when we don’t agree with him or her, is still serving the best interests of the country and not his own self interests and those of his inner circle.

#resist #unite #impeach #holdtheGOPaccountable