Today’s verdicts made it feel like a good day, and it was for that. Remember, we still don’t even have sentencing done yet. George Floyd’s murderer could receive up to 40 years in prison for second degree murder, up to 25 years for third degree murder, and up to 10 years for second degree manslaughter. We’ll see soon, and hopefully I’m surprised and he receives the fullest extent and it sets a precedence that can’t be ignored.
But George Floyd’s murderer is himself a symptom, a symbol of something much bigger than he is. The murderer is just the oozing abscess on the ass of the dirty system many of us seem to be blind to, or afraid to tell the truth about. That system is still alive and well.
Justice has not yet been served, and just, “no…” Floyd did not sacrifice his life, nor was it sacrificed for some invisible greater cause. STOP IT. He was MURDERED. It is not time to relax or spit empty, pain-inflicting platitudes.
Take that breath today – but tomorrow – well, it’s another day in the same exact system Floyd was murdered in. Don’t be that person that can’t/won’t admit that the problems still not only exist, but are cemented in. We do this same weird dance with elections/politics, and I suspect this won’t be different. One just verdict doesn’t equal justice, nor does it dismantle this corrupt, racist, bankrupt system. So…
Breathe in this moment tonight. Exhale and stand back up tomorrow. Keep it moving. Keep the pressure on.
“If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, that’s not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. They haven’t pulled the knife out; they won’t even admit that it’s there.” -Malcolm X.
So I wrote the post (pictured above) after news of a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. This is on the heels of a mass shooting in Georgia. I wrote it right before I went to bed, and I was feeling just done with the madness. Well, if you are a thinker or a writer, as usually happens, once I laid down in the quiet, the thoughts flooded in.
A little more on this….
Everything I said in that post is 100 percent how I feel. They’re my thoughts. My wish is that I knew what to do about it, knew how to effect actual, lasting change, but my belief is that it’s not a gun problem, but a heart and soul condition. (Shameless plug: I think I have a blog post about that somewhere.) I used to think that we just need to ban every single kind of firearm, but my thoughts on that have slowly, continually evolved. I still wish we lived in a world where they didn’t exist, never existed at all, but I can wish that until the cows come home and it won’t change a single thing. So….
Learn better; do better.Thoughts evolve, and that’s okay.
My thoughts on gun control are evolving as over the years I have come to understand and see how these types of laws can affect communities that aren’t White, and communities that sit in the lower income brackets. This is true of so many of our laws and beliefs. I believe in our 2nd Amendment as I understand it (not in the fear-based, bastardized version so many self-appointed “patriots” vomit out), but I don’t believe just anyone deserves to own a firearm either. So what are the correct parameters? I doubt we’ll ever find agreement on this either.
The Black Panthers showed up and we clutched our pearls.
Remember that time in 1967 when the Black Panthers showed up on the steps of the California State Capitol and then-Governor Reagan (R) and his NRA cronies decided we needed gun control laws right away? Well, I don’t remember because I was barely 3 years old, but it’s not hard information to find. But yes, the NRA wanted gun control laws after that incident! (If you never stopped to wonder “why,” here’s your chance.) What I do vividly remember many times is White men and women parading, storming, and protesting at various state capitol buildings, other federal buildings and lands armed to the freaking gills. What I also remember about those incidents is the government, the twisted NRA, and many so-called patriots saying NOTHING and doing NOTHING about it. Essentially, what I’ve seen is blatant inequality, and the silence I hear is actually an action, a stand.
So there I was with a pretty strong thought about guns and owners, heels dug in, rock solid sentiments. The problem is it centers my own personal fears and knee-jerk reactions rather than the whole picture. It leaves out the welfare of a whole lot of people. Is this the crossroads or a complete shift? I guess I’m not totally sure yet, but I know it is different, and I know that if my thoughts or actions contribute to hurting another group through inequality or inequity, then that’s a clue that some shift needs to happen. It’s a clue tapping at me letting me know that something is unbalanced, unfair, and requires more thought. I have always chosen to be a scout rather than a follower — someone who continually seeks out a higher consciousness and willing to change direction when or where I see I can do better. I’m not afraid to find out I’m wrong. I’m not afraid to change. I’m not afraid to realize my thoughts may have been imitated without thought and it’s okay to change direction. All of that might piss off some folks, but that isn’t always what’s most important. So I adjust, transform, or switch directions.
So here I am with little direction, nagging thoughts, armed with a scout mentality.
I’m going to stay in this inquiry until I have a solid direction. It’s important to me that the footprint I leave on others isn’t one on their backs. It’s important to me that my activism supports our Black and Brown communities in equality. It’s important to me to self-examine regularly and make sure I’m in alignment with what I say I want in the world, and that I’m not aligned out of fear. I’m going to have a conversation with a friend of mine whose ideas have also changed around gun ownership, whose ideas were much like mine and have also evolved quite a bit over the past year or so. I was invited to go to a shooting range event by that friend, and my husband and I are going to attend. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never shot a gun in my life, and they’ve always scared me. I have no clue what I might learn, who I might get to talk to, but I’m open to it all because personal evolution is calling. I’ll blog about my experiences and thoughts.
People come to us whole! It is only in our own eyes that we see and make someone else otherwise. Putting “less-than” upon another person is our own shortsightedness, not theirs.
What if you spent more time appreciating your spouse’s strengths than you did on wishing they did something else better or more? How much better could it be if you celebrated the whole of who they are instead of lamenting who they are not?
What if you got to know your kids just as they are, and loved their kind of genius that is already thriving in them vs. working to mold them into who you wish they would be? True, our children need our guidance. I believe fully that they come into this world already knowing every ounce of who they are, but we think or think we should know better and we convince them of the same. How confusing! Imagine if they were guided standing in who they already are instead of what we wished we could change them into!
Imagine the possibilities, the transformation, the opportunities that could open wide up by freeing up the other from the heaviness of our shortsighted expectations. Understand that it doesn’t just free them up, but us as well. Imagine that! No, really, take a moment to go on ahead and imagine it. I’ll wait.
Now, imagine all the love and affinity you could pour into that newly freed space – that even they could pour into it. What a world that could be. In my imagination, I see families freed up from generations of cycles of all kinds of abuse, spouses and children freed up from the different levels of fear and terror they feel when they hear the other spouse’s or parent’s car pulling up in the evening. I imagine children and young people freed up to be whatever it is that they dream and has them feel like the whole and worthy beings that they always have been, and employees returning home at the end of the day feeling satisfied instead of used. I imagine whole groups of people from different cultures and ethnicities walking freely on this Earth just as they should, knowing that they are loved and cared for just like anyone else, and not only accepted but appreciated for everything they are.
So I will end with what I started with. People come to us whole! It is only in our eyes that we make someone else otherwise. Putting “less-than” upon another person is our own shortsightedness, not theirs.
Move beyond imagining. It’s a superpower we all possess.
I know you might find me confounding and even exasperating at times. I know you may not understand (or care) why my voice is so loud and my energy so explosive. It’s possible that you think I don’t handle things appropriately, whatever that means to you, and I’m sure some of you think I do too much and others think I don’t do enough. It is what it is. I’m sure I could use some balance. I am sure of a lot of things, and I am sure that I will not apologize for any of this. I appreciate the truth in matters, even when it forces me to change direction or it makes some “side” look bad and it doesn’t feel good. I may not always get it right, but I know I get it wrong less. I am a human being first, and a mother second, but the second feels like my most important job. Like most people I am a lot of other things as well – hooks and edges, bumps and curves, questions and answers, some broken parts – but both of those pieces, human and mother, drive me the most. What I want for my family is nothing less than I would wish for yours, but NEVER at the EXPENSE of the LIVES of mine.
Tomorrow is a big day. I hope you voted or will be voting tomorrow.
I hope you vote/d for a world that leaves no one out, a world that embraces everyone, a world that can evolve into a world that works for all, where every single person knows they belong. My understanding is that many of us voted OUT of fear instead of voting fear out. I’m talking about the propositions and measures in this instance. (I understand that many of us definitely voted out of fear for our presidential choice. But… if you know me, you know I will be talking about that one later, no matter who wins.)
There’s so much vitriol around elections, (and I’m guilty as well) and in my mind, this insane level of it began when Obama ran. It just seemed there was so much hate towards a Black man and his campaign. I’ve studied long enough to know that hate stems from fear, but my GOD…. I honestly wonder, when is it JUST hate, plain and simple? The hate, anger, and fear is so thick that we’re losing childhood friends, family members, and other friends from our circles — be it by our own choices or theirs.
2020 has been the perfect shit storm, hasn’t it? Many of us talk like once the election is over, or once we hit the new year, that miraculously it’s all going to go back to some kind of unusual peaceful normal. What even IS that? To me that sounds similar to the coronavirus president’s motto, “Make America Great Again.” I mean, what IS “great,” anyway? Is it:
Citizens that cheer on a man who should be stately, but instead makes fun of others like a second grader who doesn’t know any better?
Police being allowed to mame and kill people without due process?
Healthcare costs only the wealthy can actually afford?
Separating children from their immigrant parents, never to be reunited again?
Defunding our schools?
A country full of people either too uneducated or too unwilling to see how our past affects its citizens to this day?
A mass of citizens who think a flag is something to be revered over human bodies, decency, and the actual country it represents?
Water, air, and land so polluted it’s uninhabitable, poisons our bodies, and has species of plant and animal disappearing forever?
An election and political system so fraught with bribery, lies, and deceit that we can barely figure out who to even vote for anymore?
Drilling into our Mother Earth to its own detriment and, ultimately, ours?
Lifetime politicians who end up being in it so long they think they actually are anointed for it?
A prison bail system that is created only for the wealthy or those willing to risk it all?
A death penalty system so flawed with a mindset to follow that is so flawed it believes it’s okay if we get it wrong sometimes?
Citizens who will believe a man with a 100-word vocabulary over scientists?
Same citizens who think that somehow COVID-19 is either a hoax, or isn’t that bad because either “people are only dying because they had preexisting conditions,” or “it’s not really that many people dying?”
Citizens so horribly callous that they justify in their minds the atrocities we create against other sentient beings?
People who would rather lie or believe lies than to just admit fault and move on in a better light?
I’m sorry. I just don’t see the “great.” Also, truthfully, I’m not really sorry. I’m a lot of things about it, but I’m not sorry that I don’t have the capacity to be unable to grasp how people ALLOW themselves to become this way.
When did even “just” ONE life become so meaningless — so worthless? God, forgive us. We’ve become SO ugly.
I’ll be waiting to see if we can pull ourselves up and out of this abyss we’ve thrown ourselves into. I’ll be waiting to see if we FINALLY learn from this election to start paying attention to what’s going on under our noses. I’ll be waiting to see how many go back in the shadows until the next election when they think it’s time to come out and yell again. I’ll be waiting to see how many of us decide it’s time to do something about this F’ed up system the very day after the election. And I’ll be waiting for my comrades who’ve been with me and before me all along to pick up our mantles once again and hit the streets and the airwaves for a world that revolves in love. ‘Cause honey, this ain’t it.
I was out trying to fix a sprinkler earlier today. (Yes, Mama, I had on my N95 mask.) I was working as fast as I could so I could get back in the house. I noticed that I had ash on my arms and could feel it getting in my eyes. My glasses lenses were scattered with it. I noticed it on everything. I noticed that I couldn’t see behind our property very far today from all the smoke. When I got in the house, I decided to take a shower to get the smoke and ash off of me, and I noticed that the top of my head had quite a bit of ash on it. Seeing that ash on my head, even more than when I was out in the yard, shoved me right into a reality I hadn’t examined thoroughly before.
All I could think about was that people’s lives were raining down and floating all around me… pasts, futures, hopes, dreams, plans, tiny pieces of homes and precious belongings, maybe even pets and other wildlife. And I couldn’t help but think, “Please, no people.” Whatever it used to be, it’s all things that can’t be put back together again. They can be replaced, some of it, but if you’ve ever lost or broke something special, often times it’s just not the same. I hear it said often in times like this, “At least they didn’t lose their lives.” In an obvious sense that is 100% true, but it’s also not true at all – when we work so hard for the things we have, the places we live, the things we cultivate and that are precious to us.
Certainly I think it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of us would not trade our lives for any of those other things, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or isn’t significant. It may even be life-changing and cause a domino effect of other hardships.
So I said a quick prayer over the ashes on my head, a prayer for what was contained in them – the things that though they showed up as ash are actually the intangibles that keep us all going. I didn’t think to mention any of this until I saw someone posting a little bit ago about how annoyed they were with all the ash on everything. I get it. It’s messy and it’s certainly not good for us to breathe in. Yet, I think it’s sacred. Granted, we’ll have to wash it off of things, and some of it will catch in the wind and be shuffled off to another destination over and over again, but I sure will see it differently forevermore when I watch it floating down, resting on things, or being rinsed away.
Here is a Black man in the blue system… do you see how they treated their “brother” in blue? He can belong to the blue system; he is still Black. He can belong to WHATEVER he wants to belong to. He can take off the uniform or the badge, but he cannot get out of his skin. If you think this story is an isolated incident, I invite you to take off whatever it is impeding your eyesight and sensibility.
Stop being afraid to look. Stop being afraid to acknowledge. It takes looking squarely at it, getting past your hurt feelings, your fear, your denial, to change this. The SYSTEM is racist. Stop with “not all cops” and “Oh, it’s just that one bad cop….” It doesn’t matter that you know one good one or post a video of that kind one. The SYSTEM is racist. Law enforcement is just one thread in the web of a racist SYSTEM. That is why it is called “systemic racism.” Our country was literally builton this and for this. Yes… FOR this. THIS is our FOUNDATION.This is its intent. It is working just as it was designed. This is not an accident.
If you built your house’s foundation or business on a pile of shit (now I have your attention), how long do you think it would last? How long before it became so offensive you just couldn’t take the stench anymore? How long would it take to just break down and finally fall into its own waste compost?
What if it was built on the backs of Black bodies? WELL, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE HAVE DONE.
We have ignored the stench for too long. It is breaking down and the bones are showing. A truly free and whole society cannot continue to be held up on a foundation of brittle bones, stench, fear, hate, and violence. It’s crumbling. While it Is flailing and falling, it is sucking more bodies down with it, including you and me — Mr. and Ms. WhiteBody. Those that stand by watching or pretending not to see are letting it happen. You think you are free from it; you are not. You may not look at it or talk about it, but that doesn’t mean it is not there. The cracks are in the foundation; the infection is present. You are also enslaved to a system that doesn’t give two f**cks about your well-being, but it has you thinking it does. Whatever we let happen to another sentient being, and certainly our most marginalized, permeates our souls. It strips the skin off of our humanity, leaving us bare and vulnerable, and at the point of breaking down. Some of us don’t even realize we are being digested down into the sink-hole of humanity because we are so used to living in the dark, or because we would rather live in the dark than to do the necessary work of setting ALL LIVES free from the rotting corpse of this country’s foundation. We would rather go down with it than to do the work and the recognition to save us ALL.
You can continue to spray the air freshener, paint over it, decorate it with flowers and ribbons, plug your nose, close your eyes, prop it up, or rename it… but it is falling. The signs are all around us. You might want to pay attention to the road you are on.
This is a whole package filled with all kinds of racism – some blatant and obvious, and also insidious, stealthy, and meticulously planned. It has to be unpacked.
I appreciate the work of W. Kamau Bell. Recently he was a guest on Conan, and he was asked about “All Lives Matter”rhetoric and #BlackLivesMatter. The entire interview is really good, but if you want to jump to specifically that part, it is at 11:30. With that said, I urge you to watch the whole thing, especially if you have been trying to figure out your White or non-Black place in this ongoing movement. If not now, when?
There is something ANY ONE of us can do. Being silent ain’t it. If ALL of us aren’t free, NONE of us are free.
One last thing: It is up to the benefactors of this system to fix it, dismantle it, change it, cure it. It is not up to, nor can it be done by those that are inflicted by it. For a great example of what inaction looks like and the harm it causes, read “The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas.”