Rage of the Privileged

(VOTE) You know, with Kavanaugh, what got me the most was his scrunched up facial expression that one day. To me, it was THE perfect, entitled, furious, crybaby face. “This isn’t supposed to ever happen to ME!! Its not rape when I do it!”

It’s as if WE are the ones letting HIM down! smh Contrary to what daddy told you, I had no deal to allow your tire tracks on MY back, sir. Neither do all my sisters, moms, the multitude who have endured this nonsense. But maybe I did make a deal, because he’s up there on the bench. (VOTE)


ANYWAY, there is this police officer, Jason Van Dyke, who took exactly 6 seconds to come out of his car, and murder teenager LaQuan McDonald, who was walking AWAY from the police car, and down the middle of an EMPTY street. The teenager was high on PCP, refusing to interact, and refusing to put down a 3-INCH KNIFE that he was holding as he walked.


So you see, this officer felt his only alternative was to shoot this teenager IN THE BACK – executing him on the spot with 16 bullets. This decision took 6 seconds for him to make.


Empty street. Someone called 9-1-1 because seeing young LaQuan out there alone, the fear was he was trying to break into cars.
DEATH PENALTY. JUDGE JURY EXECUTIONER.


VOTE.


I’ll tell you a secret. Once, a friend and I walked down the street high on PCP. Just once. I wasn’t ever a druggie. I was an excellent student, bookish and introverted. But I was also curious, unprotected, unguided, unsheltered, unspoiled, unattended, unafraid and adventurous. So, of course, I’d try things. Once. Just to see.


PCP – I don’t recommend it. What is it, elephant tranquilizer or something? Ugh. Bad idea. I’d walk in front of a bus rather than leave my kid to think that was something to do. But to my ma, I know you did your best.


Anyway, IJS, LaQuan McDonald. Who knows you’re real story? Were you any worse than me? I really don’t see how! Well, you got to graduate high school. Made it that far. So sad. So unjust. Please be cradled in loving most tender peace.


And now to the point: this officer, Mr. Jason Van Dyke – just look at his face, and you’ll see.


It’s EXACTLY the same expression as Kavanaugh’s when Kavanaugh was having his pity party on the stand, defending his right to “like beer” – scrunched up, livid, entitled, trying and failing, to not be too angry, trying not to cry. “This shouldn’t be happening to ME.” VOTE.


No. It shouldn’t. You and Kavanaugh have both been showing up and doing what your mentors and peers expect of you. Instead, you should have been trained to Protect and Serve Everyone. Treat ALL teenagers like teenagers. Somehow, I know, I know, you got the idea that it was OK to murder some of us. At least maybe you’ll serve 6 years (“2nd degree” murder with good behavior). VOTE.


I heard the latest on Timothy Loehmann, the Cleveland officer who took 2 seconds to murder 12-yr old Tamir Rice. He was hired at his 3rd Ohio PD, in a part-time capacity. But after the immediate public outcry, he was let go. That was this week.


In 2014, twelve-year old Tamir was sitting on a swing in a Cleveland park playing with a toy pellet gun. Officer Loehmann made short shrift of THAT life because someone looked out their 2nd story apartment window and reported to 9-1-1 that someone was playing with a gun that was “probably fake”. It took 3 years for Cleveland to fire Loehmann. It’s notable, too, that they first hired him after he left a job at an Ohio PD, where it was noted in his personnel file that he exhibited “a dangerous lack of composure” during firearms training. When Cleveland PD
Continue reading Rage of the Privileged

My Wish For You

It never ceases to amaze me.

From the time OUR young people hit puberty, brown and black youth face unsolicited feedback from the environment. It’s anything from the I-don’t-see-you face, to one of suspicion and harsh scrutiny.

Bosses go on vacation and tell staff “don’t hire any black people” for vacant positions. That is a true recent story. Luckily my young friend hired the best applicant anyway (coincidentally black). But how common is that noble demonstration of character? Yet, no one is racist and no, we don’t live in a white supremacist society

A white woman walks into a clothing store behind a young black mother buying their toddler’s very first pair of shoes. The salesperson ignores the mother. The white woman gets approached first. “May I help you?” This woman’s response? “Yes, you can HELP HER. But no one is racist and we don’t live in a white supremacist society

This, kind of micro-aggression goes on 24/7. It can be so much worse than that. At best, in place of casual friendliness, there is a constant drip drip drip of negative, fearful, hostile or zero feedback from the environment, resulting in a constant chipping away at a healthy life force. It either weakens or steels the heart, if not the soul. But no one is racist and we don’t live in a white supremacist society

As everyone knows, the only socially acceptable response from a person of color, when at the brunt end of this kind of treatment is: NO response. Zero. Politely pretend not to notice. Anything else and you become THE ignorant angry black person. Why, you’re making a scene! But no one is racist and we don’t live in a white supremacist society.

How about if a non-POC, points this out – even to “FRIENDS”? After friends recover from the first uncomfortable dialogue, that person soon enough finds themselves relegated to the “careful, gotta walk on eggshells with them” category – “too interested in politics”,  or “too sensitive”, “takes it too personally”. My wish on the magic lantern is that every white person would be like that white guy who was meeting those two fellows for a business meeting in Starbucks. “What the hell is going on??” And notably, what did those two men ask for?
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“Robinson and Nelson also settled with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a pledge that the city will create a $200,000 program for public high-school students who aspire to be entrepreneurs.” 

“We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” Robinson told the Associated Press. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”

Here is what amazes me. Among even the most kindly, well-intended white people, there is a jagged stone wall of resistance, up against even considering and discussing the obvious benefits of white privilege, over a lifetime. The reason cited most often in my world is, “Well, we all have serious problems. Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled, had it hard, encountered much unfairness.”

Yes, life is hard for lots of us. So somehow, it follows that there isn’t much interest in pondering on how to support or listen to brothers and sisters who live side by side in our communities facing these invisible barriers and ever-present fears, on top of everything else.

You see, I’ve come to notice that as white people, we are the objective ones. We understand everything. We have the true perspective. We know. We have nothing to learn from our brown and black brethren. We explain to THEM how to feel and how to perceive their encounters. And we are offended when that doesn’t quite work out to our satisfaction.

Yet somehow, NO ONE IS RACIST. I have never met a racist. I HAVE met a homophobe and many transphobes. Because they distort the Bible to back themselves up, so they try to defend hate against love. Imagine!

With the exception of white people who are centering their lives on this situation, to this day, I have not met any white person who will admit that our society is still structured on white supremacy. Not a liberal, not a conservative. It seems the way it goes is, “If I haven’t experienced it, in my heart of hearts, I just don’t believe it. They are exaggerating, misunderstanding, dramatizing.”

Laws MUST be put in place and laws must stay in place, and be enforced to protect EVERYONE in our society, for that very reason. You see, no one is doing it. No one. YET, IT IS DONE.

Even though science has established that there is no such thing as race, most still have a tribe that extends past families, and most cling to this as a primary identity.

Yet, in my experience, it is only by living and loving each other, ignoring that imaginary race barrier, that we understand the truth of our shared humanity, in our guts, our minds and in our hearts. Without knowing each other, and knowing each other WELL, it’s very hard to get past society’s walls.

Still, there are those of us to whom destiny calls, to create or be born or be parented and nurtured in families that ignore these cautions and barriers. Beyond the walls, we find a rich and beautiful tapestry, a depth of understanding, and lots of love. It’s love that by it’s very nature, extends out to all peoples of the world.

That is my wish for you. May you continue to expand your circle of love, increase your wisdom, and reap your joy. I will be right there with you.

 

January 17, 2012 Haiku

Well, it’s May now, but on January 17 around this time, I submitted an entry to my niece Lori’s blog. It was Haiku Tuesday, according to Lori – or Lorelei, as I sometimes call her. So although I am positive my entries are not worthy of the name, I was, at that time, in the habit of throwing one in on Tuesdays. I love Lori.

So I took a little break and was silent at my desk at work for a moment. What I settled on was as follows:

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Ambling along my way

while caverns yawn ahead.

Claire! Take care.

Don’t slip.

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“That’s odd”, I thought. But it felt right so I stopped there. “That’s the one for today.”

A couple of hours later, I received a call from my spouse, Donald James. He was calling me from the middle of a street intersection in Apex. “Claire, I’ve been in an accident. The car is totaled.” I had trouble hearing him. He said, “I’m okay. Sorry if you can’t hear me. There are fire engines.”

Don was not okay. We found out later by looking at the police report that a woman at the wheel of a Chevy Suburban lost consciousness behind the wheel, her foot slipping to rest on the gas pedal. She hit the car in front of her, which sustained minor damage and pulled her way. She hit the car making a right turn into her street, knocking it off course. Then, still picking up speed, she ran the red light and came flying at Don, going about 55 mph, and hitting the front of his car at an angle, still demolishing the vehicle. Had he come through the green light even 1/2 a second sooner, she would have crashed right into his door. She continued on at a slower pace, stopped by the low brick wall near the gas station on the other side of the intersection. From what we know so far, Don was the only one with a serious injury.

But he was able to get out of the car and only thought his shoulder really hurt. His glasses were near the car and he pointed that out to a fireman, who retrieved his glasses for him. They were okay and he put them on. He was ushered to the side of the road, which is where I found him, with a policeman handing him back his license.

He told me our 2004 Prius had entirely sheered off the two front wheels of her Chevy Suburban at the axle. It was dragged on to the tow truck. So, of course, did our car.

We eventually discovered that he was not okay. He had two complete breaks of the C7 vertebra in his spine. That was when the fun really began. This kind of injury can easily cause paralysis or death at any point from the moment it happens until it’s repair, and during the repair as well. The surgery required was, as the surgeon we eventually settled on explained to us, “massive”, “carried serious risk” and “not routine for any surgeon”.

Don is a cautious person and no gambler. He had no good options, but he chose to try hard to give the bone a chance to heal on its own. This was boring and painful for him, and nerve-wracking and stressful for those around him. But hey, it wasn’t my neck! I supported his choice 100%.

He took almost no pain medicine, because he wanted to listen closely to his body and know how he was feeling. He wore first a rigid neck brace, later a heavier brace, covering both his chest and his back. He limited his activity to 4 hours of sitting at a time in the one chair we owned that he could tolerate, alternating with 2 hours of lying flat on his back in the bed he could tolerate, which is in our guest bedroom.

We went through three surgeons, eventually finding one who remains to us, an angel from heaven. An amazing man. He listened carefully to Don’s request for alternatives and brought to his attention a cervical stimulator – an electric device that has been proven to enhance bone growth. It’s more used post-surgery, to speed up healing, but Don was turning over every stone.

Based on what the surgeon explained, he knew it was unsafe to even lift a frying pan. He could not drive. On rare occasions that he had to be in a car, he rode in the back seat with the driver driving very carefully to avoid bumps. An air bag going off could kill him. He could not really walk outside much, because outside our house is a gravel driveway and uneven land. He could only remove the brace briefly to eat.

After almost 4 months of this, there was no significant change in his cat scans and x-rays. So he gave in to the inevitable and on May 8, he trusted Dr. Moe Lim, of the UNC Spine Center, to carry out a 7-hour surgery to re-stabilize his spine. As Dr. Lim reminded him, “It’s not really an elective surgery.” It took 13 screws, 2 rods, 2 connecting rods, bone grafts from his spine and from donor bone. He is now recuperating.

The effects of this accident on his life, but also on mine, and even the ripple effect on those closest to us,  have been massive. He can tell his own story and I hope he will. As for me, I am conspicuous in my absence, from the lives of my friends, and my children and my co-workers, due to both care giving, and to the ripple effect on my own health. I’ve been challenging a disease since 2005, and Don was before this, ‘the strong one’ that made it so I could mostly keep on keeping on with a busy job and a busy life.

But there have also been gifts – many I am sure are still to come and still in delivery. Most areas of life are getting a reboot. But we will save that for another day. It’s ongoing and still too soon to understand. Don is two weeks post-surgery and so far so good. He did well with it. Me: not so much. My health has taken some real hits and while I am out of work to help him, we have both needed help as, after several days of sustained high activity, I would become quite ill. I’m thankful my sister moved here a few years ago, to be close, and for my other friends. I am positive my health dips are temporary. And Don’s proving he is still his amazingly hardy self during recuperation.

I am grateful. I will always remember that haiku that came to me in that moment of reflection. “Claire, don’t slip.”

“Exams are coming. Do your best.” is how I take that now. And I have!

I find it reassuring to look back and remind myself that those words came to me as counsel. It encourages me to take what has unfolded and continues to unfold as something that I can make it through, will make it through, and above all, an event that can have a deeper significance.

I have the highest respect for the still small voice and try ever harder to hear it.