This Election In Free Verse: Part II

read for yourself. ignorance is bad.

Read.

It’s been about two weeks now since Trump became the President Elect and every day that passes proves my grieving more correct than even I wanted to be.

At some point during this election, people had their anger manipulated and took that anger to the polls instead of reason. They said they were the normal people, the working class, the silent and oppressed America. They said we made their children soft, called them racists and xenophobes for merely speaking their mind, emasculated their men, and eroded the values on which this nation was founded. They had to put a stop to it.

I cannot fathom having the ability to look past the blood and bodies and tears of so many to make a vote just so people will stop calling me names and be nice to me.

Hillary didn’t give them the voice they felt they needed. She was too much like what had already ruined everything. Too liberal not to mention democrat. Enough was enough. They couldn’t bother with a 3rd party vote because that wasn’t realistic. So they went to the polls and they voted the only person they felt would uproot this rotten, oppressive flow of everything awful.

And here we are with Nazis – erm, national populists – in an advisory position to the highest office in our nation and one of the most powerful in the world.

While I can understand that some people would have liked a different conversation on the topics of race, oppression, social justice, and other related issues, I cannot fathom having the ability to look past the blood and bodies and tears of so many to make a vote just so people will stop calling me names and be nice to me.

However, here we are because enough people had that same choice and made it only proving the outrage of so many to be completely founded. Yet, for all of this, there is something I fear only a bit more.

See, a bunch of people were able to vote for Trump because they had padding. Hillary was an open target with this email scandal and cold personality and all, so of course voting Trump was a good idea. She was heavily steeped in years within politics, so of course she’s corrupt. Right?

But now Trump has to stand alone. On his own merit. We knew he had none to truly speak of, but Hillary just couldn’t be a thing, so we shrugged off the locker room talk, the racism, the misogyny and laid a path for him straight into office. Well, now he has to step up and take his place as a leader. Here is an indicator of how he is doing so far:

This is where the largest question for me lies. Going into the office, we see inconsistencies and the tweets of a teenager (to be kind), but at some point, that silent-but-oppressed majority are going to have to confront Trump as he is and not as they wanted him to be.

When he is not who they hoped he would be, who will they blame for it?

  • They can’t blame Trump. He was every bit of who he said he was.
  • They can’t espouse the values of the populists because they are obviously bad.
  • They can’t bring themselves to admit they were wrong.

That leaves the rest of us who are already grieving because we knew what was at stake. So what then? What will happen when that silent-but-oppressed majority of people are made to suffer the same fate that they voted us into thinking to make things better for themselves?

What then?

This Election In Free Verse

read for yourself. ignorance is bad.

Read.

The grief hit me on the way home on election day and I couldn’t help thinking about how, no matter how things went, everyone was going to hurt.

Everyone.

I started to pray and the more I did, the more I felt like crying. It felt like something long coming. The stock market started crashing around the 60th electoral vote for Trump. I kept the page on, refreshing, not to see what the result would be, but to see how deep it ran.

That’s what happens when you’ve been paying attention. I woke up the next day to messages, mostly of surprise and shock, from every quandrant I live on (excepting Facebook). I felt conflicted because I felt nothing.

No shock, no surprise. Just… nothing.

I felt conflicted because I felt nothing.

I remembered the news for the last few years and the sentiments I’ve seen crossing social media about so many different social issues and they could be summed up as:

  • People being angry for being called privileged.
  • People being angry at being oppressed.
  • People being fed up with abuses of power at the civic levels.
  • People being angry at mainstream media for the way reporting has been handled.
  • People being terribly misinformed about social issues and what the implications of ignoring them are.
  • People being inflexible of mind and heart and unwilling to listen to… well… anyone.

None of this is recent. This is 2014. This is 2001. This is where the bodies and the blood and the anger led.

I wonder about the 6.6M or so people that voted for no one at all. Not even a 3rd party. They went to the polls and voted, but not for a presidential option. I wonder about the people that normally don’t vote that showed up to this one. I hear they were normal people who were tired of being made to feel bad about being white, straight, and male.

I try to imagine what it is like to be terrified for your life for any number of reasons and then watch as someone votes to bring that terror to power because they don’t like being called a name. I try to imagine being able to say things like this:

I think about the last time I felt either of those things and remember that, when I did, someone died. I then try to see things from his point of view and have to wonder as well: what would have happen if we had chosen a means of starting the necessary conversations that was less angry, more considerate, less militant. What then? Would that have helped?

Based on that, there’s a lot to be said about what we voted for, but I only want to mention the largest one which is this: we are in this together now.

I wonder if that would have been heard. So far, it hasn’t. o far, soft gets dismissed as drama and being too harsh gets people to lie in wait for voting day and make themselves known then.

I’m not a political science major, so for Clinton and for Trump alike, I only have what they said in this election season to gauge them on. Based on that, there’s a lot to be said about what we voted for, but I only want to mention the largest one which is this: we are in this together now.

I wonder if you can hear a chant of “my body, my voice” through blood. Through a body. Across an ocean. Through a wall of paper.

Whether we wanted it or not, whether we regret it or not, for better or worse and until the next four years are gone, we are in it now and we have to work through it even if we have to work through it with people that get make my mom text me at 9:30AM to ask if I’m OK. Even if we have to work through it surrounded by people that make my mom ask me to call her the moment I land somewhere just to let her know I’m alive.

I want to ask the people that voted for Trump because he wasn’t Hillary or because they felt disenfranchised how they feel. I hear that many of them don’t like or espouse what Trump stands for, but they saw no other alternative to make their voices heard.

I wonder if you can hear a chant of “my body, my voice” through blood. Through a body. Across an ocean. Through a wall of paper.

And then I return to my convictions and my basis of faith and I have to ask: how am I going to keep loving them, too. I don’t get exempted from that responsibility during wars or elections in spite of what people might tell you or behave like.

I’m a kaleidoscope:

  • I want everyone to listen and respond instead of reacting.
  • I want people to recognize issues and deal with them.
  • I want people not to fear for their lives.
  • I want to be angry, but I’m not even surprised, so I don’t know.
  • I want a world safe enough for my mom not to be concerned about me. I’m 34 right now.
  • I want my friends to not be terrified of existing.
  • I want to not have potential nazis in office.

Am I not as normal as these disenfranchised people? Don’t I have that right to peace? How do I even process this?

When do I get to stop asking?

I don’t know y’all. I don’t know.

Let’s Be Honest: Part I

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Another week where my pen refuses to move so we’re here again. However, this is a special note related to social media because mental and emotional health are important as is the much-avoided subject of honesty.

So let’s be honest about things.

I’ve seen so many postings about protesters burning things and destroying their communities (football fans are immune from this criticism, of course), about being more like MLK, about how the Irish were also enslaved…

I would prefer that you just tell me that you hate me and be done with it.

That’s all, really. Just that honesty would be appreciated.

Let me give you this to chew on: it’s been about sixty years. Literally a portion of my mother’s lifetime since MLK marched for civil rights and here we are with people being murdered and paving the way to civil rights 2.0. This is where peaceful protest brought us. Which is to say, nowhere in particular.

Somehow the ability to be downtrodden but polite, quiet, and respectful as we are continuously dehumanized is the path to being respected enough by the masters of an unjust system to just be heard for a moment until the football commercial ends.

So yeah, just let me know you hate me. That you don’t see me. Tell me again how I couldn’t be associated with these riffraff on the news chanting something about systemic racism because I’m smarter than that and the media is trying to divide us.

Let’s get this over with.

A Treatise On Boredom: Part II

overit

My pen won’t move.

I wanted to write about things I’m learning at work, things I’m seeing at home, the recently renewed desire I have to further my skills in UI design, literally anything else.

But my pen would.

Not.

Move.

Whenever I sweep my hand to draw the first letter, I bump into a dead body. You’d be surprised how hard it is to sleep when you’re tired of things like this.

I didn’t even need to read the stories before I saw how they would be distorted or shut down completely:

  • Black on black crime.
  • Something about what MLK would have done.
  • You don’t know the stresses police go through, how dare you.
  • You only have a split second to make those decisions, so you can’t judge them.
  • Can we not make this about race?
  • Something about how BLM is awful for everyone.
  • Something about how we should move past race so healing can begin.
  • Something about a significantly less important thing like a celebrity marriage.
  • Something about how white people trying to notice injustice are being sent death threats.
  • Some insensitive headline from a major news outlet while lesser known outlets are attacking the heart of the issue.
  • Something about Kaepernick was right or wrong or both.

It all becoming so normalized, I should just donate everything but my funeral clothes and remain in them. I fight my inner cynic tooth and nail, but find myself unable to win some days.

I wonder if there is a single new thing to say to anyone about this. No one is listening. We just want uninterrupted traffic and we want people to stand during an anthem made in a time when I was 60% of a person.

We want black people and other influential or popular figures to complain about all of this on their own time and not when we’re in the middle of enjoying ourselves. I wonder what it is like to be able to divest myself of an issue that is murdering people because I know it is impossible to be touched by it.

I wonder what it is like to trust the justice system. To know that, as imperfect as it is, it will likely come to the correct conclusion most of the time. To be able to rest in the fact that, when it comes to authority, I will not be judged by the color of my skin. That if I ever commit a crime – no matter how heinous – I will always be treated as a human; I will always be taken to jail alive, I will always get a trial, I will always be treated as a human by news media, I will always be spoken of in as positive a way as possible no matter the circumstances or my guilt, I will always be treated with dignity in every sphere.

I wonder what it’s like to be normal. To be treated as normal and naturally occurring. For no one to feel special for being decent to me. To not have people vying for accolades over simply apologizing for doing me harm and moving forward.

I wonder a lot and might wonder a lot more if I didn’t feel so incapable of experiencing the emotions that go with those musings. Because let’s be clear: I can’t bring this to work. I have a job to do and I must do that until I’m dead or until my immediate family dies because where I work, I’m surrounded by people untouched – sympathetic, but untouched – by this issue I think about upon waking, during lunch break, and apparently while I sleep.

A Friendly Reminder on Self-Care

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This week, I’m on vacation in the lovely state of Washington. Today, I went to the beach and I didn’t look up anything. I just took pictures and stuck my feet in the water for a while. I listened to the voice of the ocean and felt the life in it. I got my clothes wet and everything was right with the world.

As I stood there, I thought about those of you I left on the frontlines of the mess that is basically America and I wanted to leave this with you: It is OK.

No, really: it is OK.

  • It is OK if you ignore twitter for the next day, week, month, etc.
  • It is OK if you ignore facebook, too.
  • It is OK if you are exhausted with educating people that aren’t aware of issues.
  • It is OK if you don’t want to engage.
  • It is OK if you need to recharge or refresh or renew.
  • It is OK not to feel guilty about that.
  • It is OK – more than OK in fact – to post cute puppies, kittens, or your favorite song.
  • It is OK to just get ice cream, go outside…

It is fine and does not mean you don’t care or that you’re a bad activist or weak or anything if you just need to put down the world for a while. It will be here when you get back. The struggle will continue. And continue. And continue.

For now, rest and make space for your well being. It is OK.

The Face of Blackness

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A friend and I were talking about recent events and I started talking about how other of my friends were worried about me; a friend had texted from Atlanta and another from California wrote a text to ask me to be safe and so on. I mused on how they were right to be concerned although I don’t want them to be.

This friend stopped my musings with “That’s kinda making it personal. Like, I could understand where your friends are coming from, but that’s not you. The job you have, the money you make, the way you dress and articulate are not really of those that end up in these situations…”

This is where we talk about assumptions for a moment.

I explained that all of these things she observed came with years of practice. Years. When I came to GA, I lived in a low-income neighborhood. My mom encouraged me to read, make friends with white people, and avoid these kids in the hood. Read everything I can.

For her, these were the means I had at my disposal to get just far enough ahead to get out of the situation we were in. So I did. I read encyclopedias, I joined a big brother program and hung out with successful people as much as I could. Most of which were… well, you know…

Listen: just because I don’t smell like smoke doesn’t mean I haven’t been in a fire. That I haven’t burned. Nah. That’s how how it works

The result? My mom gettings into arguments over how articulate I was in 7th grade. With my teachers.

People assume I come from some middle-class family like the Huxtables because I shop at H&M. No. I worked and practiced for that, homie. I couldn’t sleep for the first few months I lived in GA when I was a kid because there were no police or ambulance trucks making noises. I saw someone get beat up for no reason in my front yard. I lived through every low-income stereotype there is or will be likely. But people see me and assume that my job, my clothing, my speech means I’m somehow removed from all of that.

Or that I never experienced. Listen: just because I don’t smell like smoke doesn’t mean I haven’t been in a fire. That I haven’t burned. Nah. That’s how how it works. I have two sisters and a brother within minutes to hours from my home living in low-income areas.

That trouble – and the people who are near it – are right in front me and I’m only two steps away from that at any time. And further, I’d only have to wear a hoodie once at the right time. Wearing saggy pants makes me a suspect.

This conversation is important because thinking that you can buy yourself out of oppression or out of your race is dangerous.

I will never have a job so good that I won’t be black anymore.

There’s no way to articulate myself out of my melanin-kissed DNA. But then again, I don’t want to. I’m black and normal and successful and that is as it should be. All together. All intact.

TL;DR: Be careful about these assumptions you make about who is connected to this struggle and who isn’t. Being black (or anything) is a lot bigger than speech and clothing. It is who I am. No return receipt and certainly not a reason to kill me, but maybe that’s what it will take.

A Treatise On Boredom: Part I

overit

Exhaustion.

That’s what this week has left me with. Exhaustion of mind, of body, of heart. I can’t with the states and the people in it right now. Jumping the shark is barely adequate for this madness. After a lot of observation, I’m going to leave these gems that I think need just one more repeat because, as usual, you aren’t listening. I’m going to be raw.

That’s a preface, not an apology.

  1. #Blacklivesmatter isn’t a declaration of war. Extreme personalities aren’t the face of a people or a movement. I don’t get any joy out of seeing police get brutalized or buried. No one wants anyone’s lives taken. If anything, it would be rather nice if everyone would just stop doing that. In fact, that would be super.
  2. “But they should/shouldn’t have…” I’m just going to go out on a limb and say you’re a rape apologist. If she wasn’t wearing that or in a certain place or “giving off the wrong hints” or any of those things, she wouldn’t have gotten raped. The same logic is being used to justify a gross abuse of power.
  3. All cops aren’t bad. OK. Cool. Noted. I’ll even throw in the #bluelivesmatter hashtag with this one because their deaths don’t bring us closer to justice, however….
  4. All cops should be accountable. No exceptions. Cops aren’t above the law, but are paid representatives thereof. They are subject to the laws they enforce. They do not get a pardon when they’ve been entrusted with lives. None at all. You have too much power to be able to run amok without having a REALLY thorough mental and emotional health check along with a pristine record of having no issues with domestic abuse, drinking, drug use of any kind, no criminal record, and at least 3x as much de-escalation training as training in firearms… at minimum. Oh and stop acting like I am somehow ungrateful or unpatriotic because I want accountability. I’m not ungrateful to my parents if I don’t want to be abused and say so. Accountability is important. “No taxation without representation” ring a bell?
  5. A movement can be criticized, but that critique should come from the inside and the nearby. There’s a lot that BLM does right and there’s a lot it does wrong, but I’m over people who have no desire to actually fix the problem criticizing people that are trying to do so. Either implement a better idea or shut up.
  6. Black on black crime. Shut up. The criminal statistics on a national level or even local don’t support this race of superpredators and thugs you want to pretend we are. Also, amounts and proportions are different things. 100 black people can die and 1000 white people can die, but if there are 1,000 black people total and 1,000,000 white people, those numbers tell a different story. Coming to me with raw data and interpreting that as some place that you get to comfortably ignore racism? Just don’t.
  7. #Alllivesmatter. Happy to talk about that when I don’t have people from other states and cities and continents along with my mom who just turned 60 asking me to post now and then or call them when I’m leaving town because they don’t want me dead.
  8. “Fix the black community first.” I’m sorry, but I didn’t know the police were allowed to murder people that weren’t perfect. Glad we cleared up that your community has to be perfect and blameless before you have a right to live…. unless you’re white or “white enough”.
  9. “I’m just saying…” Shut up. Just stop speaking.
  10. Picking sides. For the umpteenth time: I want justice for everyone equally and that is all. I’m not playing your stupid game of “you either like black people or police” because that’s bullshit as in “you either hate BLM or you like white people”. I’m tired of people acting like I only have the mental or emotional capacity of a sun-baked brick. Stop insulting black intelligence. Stop insulting mine. By the way…
  11. “I thought you were better than this” aka “Stop believing the media”. Let the media say what they will, but in case you missed it people are fucking dead and it was wrongful and it was caught on raw film. I’m over people acting like if Fox News shut down right now that racism would magically end. The police – good and bad – are doing what they do whether it is seen, heard, reported… or not. Just. Like. Everyone. Else. Stop insulting my intelligence (again!) by behaving like I don’t see what I see and know what I know. No one needed the news to know what was going down when the first body fell let alone the 2000+ that followed. Bye, Felecia.

I’m not even waiting until Thursday to publish this. You can have this week’s post early and marinate.