Stop minimizing trauma if you haven’t experienced it

In Chapel Hill, NC, a statue known as Silent Sam sits on the campus of the University of North Carolina. Activists want it removed and people are holding vigil there until it is gone.

 

Twice this morning, I felt compelled to answer memes about how people who are triggered by events or even physical things in their paths should just quit whining.

One of the memes had a white woman crying with a caption about how we should feel sorry for her because of the statues.

My reply was that she was white, so it was highly unlikely it was from statues of people who owned and hideously abused her ancestors. Science has found the trauma from that is still encoded into the DNA of the descendants of slaves.

Most of these monuments were erected either during the Jim Crow or Civil Rights eras. They were put there to remind people that even though the Confederacy was gone, its rules still applied to black people and that those rules would be enforced — with force.

They were meant to instill fear in people of color. That was their purpose. Get it?

The woman in the meme — and the person who posted it — didn’t lose a great-uncle to lynching in the 1940s or ’50s. Her mother never suffered the indignity of being sprayed with a high-pressure fire hose to “cleanse” the streets of her and her friends.

She never had to attend a school named for the oppressors of her ancestors or listen to her parents talk about being beaten and jailed for trying to register to vote.

She has not had an unarmed uncle, a brother or a cousin shot by a cop who thought he might have smelled pot and then gotten away with it because the victim reached for his wallet and the cop “feared for my life.”

She never had to go to a segregated school where everything — from the building itself to the books and equipment — is inferior. And although this was addressed with desegregation in the 1960s, schools are very nearly as segregated now as they were in the Jim Crow era.

People of color are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed during a routine traffic stop.

The corporate-run prisons use fourth-grade reading test scores of students in these segregated schools to determine their future prison populations.

My reply ended with, “But OK, stay in your cozy little world where nobody ever tried to kill you because of the color of your skin. It must be very nice and warm and cozy there.”

The other meme was about how people can choose how to respond to triggers by choosing to be OK.

My response was, “Obviously you’re never been raped or lost a relative to lynching.”

I can’t choose to be OK when some trigger takes me back to the moment of my son’s death or to being molested as a child. That’s why these things are called triggers.

When you pull the trigger to a loaded gun, it goes off. Those traumas are the bullets. Get it?

You have no right to tell anyone else how to react to walking by a statue every day that glorifies the people who caused your trauma — the trauma that’s written in your DNA because this person who’s being glorified was among those who fought for his right to own you. And you walk on a street named for another of them and go to a school named for yet another …

You’ve never been followed by security guards when you walk into a store because you’re black so you must be a criminal.

You have no right to tell a person of color the cop isn’t going to hurt him after you’ve seen on video the murders of innocent people who look like you and then seen the victim vilified in the media because he might have been jaywalking or the cop thinks he might have smelled pot, and then watched the murderer walk free, even with video evidence against him or her.

In the NFL, murderers, abusers and other criminals get to play again, but a single man who knelt rather than stood for the anthem of the nation that still oppresses people who look like him is blackballed.

It is time for these monuments to be removed from the public square and placed in context in museums and cemeteries.

We need to start thinking about how to replace the monuments to hate with monuments to the courageous people who fought — and continue to fight — racism and oppression.

We need to build monuments to the people who were bought and sold and endured hideous torture before perishing as the property of others.

We need to build monuments to the abolitionists.

We need to build bridges of understanding so more of us understand the trauma others endure, even if that trauma doesn’t affect us. That’s called compassion and empathy. We should try that for a change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were 700 of us and 30 of them, but the anarchist youths who came to Sunday’s peace vigil in Asheville succeeded in disrupting the vigil with violent chants, air horns and drums.

 

We held a peace vigil in Asheville on Sunday and about 700 people came out to denounce racism and violence and to remember and honor the three who died in Charlottesville, Va.

As we were about to start, a rowdy group of about 30 young people came running onto the scene carrying banners. Most of them weren’t old enough to vote and most of them were dressed in black. All of them were white. Some covered their faces with bandannas.

When we started speaking, they started blowing air horns, drumming and chanting violent slogans.

They told us they were Antifa, short for anti-fascists. They’re also anarchists. They came to disrupt and they did.

Unfortunately, the amplifier we have used for rallies for eight years died on us, so we had to try to speak over their noise. They wanted their voices heard and they were intent on blocking anyone who disagreed with them.

So we sang. We sang “This Little Light of Mine,” “We Shall Not Be Moved” and “We Shall Overcome.”

And we chanted: “We will not condone violence,” as they chanted, “Black Lives Matter! Blue Lives Don’t,” and “Kill the cops!”

A number of us tried to talk to them one-on-one, and what they want is chaos. That was their answer. They want to “tear it down!” They want to kill all police. They want government gone because our current government is corrupt.

I allowed them to speak as long as they didn’t promote violence. One of them came up and grabbed the microphone, which was sitting on the ground. She thought she was going to take over the vigil. I offered her the “stage,” a 2-foot wall at the front of the space near the Vance Monument, and she spoke about how she thought all white allies were racist because they have no idea what black people want (she was white).

When I talked to one young man about my commitment to nonviolence, he called me a coward. I thanked him for talking to me and walked away.

They appropriated other people’s belongings (including my umbrella) to hold up their signs and then called us names when we wanted our things back because we were leaving. One young man accused me of assaulting the woman who had my umbrella when I took it from her. But it was fine for them to assault a news reporter who came to cover the vigil.

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a ruder, more inconsiderate group of people, or people who are so fully unaware of their own privilege.

We welcomed them when they arrived, we were happy to have them participate, but they didn’t come to participate, they came to disrupt.

Several people I knew who came for a peaceful demonstration left. Others tried to talk to them but came away with the impression that they only want their views to be heard and no one else’s thoughts mattered.

The group that pulled down a Confederate statue in Durham the next night also identified as Antifa. They at least were a diverse group and from what I hear, they weren’t chanting, “Kill the cops.” So, while I’m happy to see the glorification of a system that owned human beings shut down, I’m not happy to see the kind outburst I saw on Sunday from a group of people who are doing all they can to promote violence for their own glorification.

These young people — most of whom were not old enough to vote — think violence and chaos is the solution to the world’s problems, as though they have the experience or the wisdom to solve the complex problems we face as a nation and as a planet.

Our government is corrupt as hell. Our entire economic system is a nightmare for most of the population right now. But to tear it all down and say we should each fend for ourselves is not a solution.

But there was no reasoning with the members of this group. I tried to speak to several of them and not one wanted to hear what I had to say. They shouted me down, calling me cowardly, racist and homophobic.

Yes, I’m white. So are they. There was not a person of color among them. I’d be OK with that if they weren’t calling me and others these hateful things as though they were the only ones who could be allies against the system.

The Vance Monument, which towered over us, is a tribute to a slave-owning former governor. The ground on which we stood still carries the shame of having been a slave market. I suggested we could consecrate this ground and rededicate it to justice and equality. The crowd applauded, and the Antifa folks chanted, “Tear it down!” But they weren’t talking about just the monument, they were talking about everything — all of it.

We held our vigil in spite of them. We will do the same if they show up again. Only next time, we will have an amplifier, and we will spread our message of peace.

I was so disheartened by what happened on Sunday, as were my fellow organizers. I want everyone to have a seat at the table, but I can not ally myself with people whose only aim is the violent overthrow of everything, and the members of this group who I spoke to on Sunday advocated nothing more than violence.

Violence begets violence. Hate begets hate.

There is a better way.

Love trumps hate. Yeah, that was another one of our chants.

 

This can not be allowed to abide among us

Carrying cheap citronella torches and shouting racist slogans, white terrorists held a rally. Not surprisingly, it turned violent.

 

Last night in Charlottesville, Va., a mob of white supremacists, mostly young men, marched to protest the removal of a statue glorifying the Confederacy on the eve of a rally to celebrate white power and their fear of losing it.

Marchers surrounded a church where people were praying for unity, chanting “We will not be replaced,” “White lives matter,” Jews will not replace us,” and other slogans, as they marched.

The issue is that the city voted to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, which protesters say offends their delicate white sensibilities. The statue is still in the park, pending a court ruling on whether the city can remove it.

I understand that some white people are afraid of the future because they don’t consider people of color to be their equals and they don’t want to cede their white privilege to them.

Life was easier for them when the color of their skin gave them a pass they didn’t necessarily deserve. Now they have to deal with removal of the symbols of their former unquestioned power and it scares the hell out of them.

Change is never easy, especially when you believe you’re being suppressed simply because you no longer have the power to keep others down.

Their fear is real, but it is misguided. You don’t have to give up your rights to allow others to have theirs.

Perhaps they fear that minorities are becoming the majority and if they behave toward white people they way they themselves were treated, there will be trouble.

When you hold power and misuse it, I suppose you should fear what happens when you lose power.

But here’s the thing: Those people in the streets last night, carrying cheap Home Depot citronella torches and Nazi and KKK banners, chanting racist slogans and threatening the people inside that church — I have friends who were in that church, and they were scared — did so with the help of police, who didn’t disperse them immediately.

I have seen reports of just one arrest, and a friend who is there now warns us to stay home because both sides have provocateurs and both have weapons. It is not safe there.

What happened last night — and continues today — is a page right out of 1930s Germany, and the Republicans (and most of the Democrats) in Washington have yet to roundly condemn it.

Where the hell is the outrage?

Yes, all my progressive friends have called this out.

But those in power — the people with real power — have done little.

Had those protesters been carrying a Black Power banner, immigrants’s rights pickets or a Quran, the National Guard would have been mobilized and we would be cleaning the blood of the protesters off the streets of Charlottesville this morning.

I know this is true because I live close enough to Charlotte, NC, to have been there the day after police shot an unarmed black man, and the Guard was mobilized within hours to combat people who were protesting the death of an innocent man, not just the removal of a symbol of white power (the kind of power, by they way that allows for police to get away with gunning down unarmed black man after unarmed black man after unarmed black man).

Can you see the racism yet?

Too many white people go on about their business after these murders, relieved that it isn’t their sons being shot in cold blood because a cop says he smelled pot and feared for his life. And to rationalize their complacence, they vilify the dead black man. He was selling illegal cigarettes. He smelled of pot. He might have stolen a couple of cheap cigars. He was jaywalking.

What these people don’t see, sometimes even after it is pointed out to them, is that jaywalking is not a crime punishable by death, and not just that, but without so much as a single day in court.

The white mob in Charlottesville last night was a terrorist mob. If Muslims had done that, we certainly would call them terrorists. But when white people do it, they’re just voicing their discontent.

Violence erupted when the white marchers encountered counter-protesters, one of whom apparently sprayed the demonstrators with mace, and fights broke out. I don’t condone that. If we are to rise about the hate of the alt-right, we must not be violent. Violence is what we are protesting. If we commit it ourselves, we become that which we oppose.

But there were no reports of arrests.

Imagine no arrests if the protesters had been black.

Wouldn’t have happened.

Imagine the outrage if the protesters had been anything other than white. Can’t you just hear Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell calling for stern reactions and punishment to the greatest extent the law allows? Can’t you just imagine the Twitter storm emanating from the White House?

But the White House embraces the fascist movement. Staff members working for the Occupant are more than a little sympathetic.

Overt racism has been rude and inappropriate for the last several decades, but it is enjoying a return to power under this administration, which emboldens racists. They know they can get away with their hate when the people in power share their views.

Frankly, I think the divisions in the Democratic Party are promoted by these people so we can’t interfere with their rise to power, nor their hold on it.

We must work together to defeat this. We can not bicker over whose fault it is that this administration even exists.

We have to work as one. We have to rid ourselves of this hate.

This can not abide.

 

 

 

Sixteen in one day is no coincidence

The Jewish Community Center here in Asheville, NC, received a bomb threat yesterday.

That, in itself, is scary enough, but ours was just one of 16 Jewish centers that received bomb threats yesterday.

Sixteen in one day. That’s not a coincidence.

Ever since the person occupying the White House was elected, hate has been on the rise. Bigots and racists have gotten the message loud and clear: Hate is in vogue again.

The incidents began immediately after the election. A Jewish friend of mine in Florida came out of synagogue and put her grandson into the back seat of her car, and as she drove off, she was followed by a pickup truck with bumper stickers supporting the person who won the electoral college vote and sporting a confederate flag. They pulled up alongside her car and began shouting anti-Semitic remarks.

Muslims began to report being harassed, as did LGBTQ people. Sporadic reports came in of violence, threats and vandalism at mosques, synagogues and cemeteries.

In the month after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented nearly 1,100 incidents of bias-related harassment and intimidation like the one my friend experienced.

Last Wednesday, a white man walked into a restaurant in Olathe, Kan., and shot two Indian men, killing one, while shouting, “Get out of my country!” A third man, a white man who tried to intervene, also was shot and is recovering.

The man in the White House said these incidents have nothing to do with him and his rhetoric, but I disagree. When you rail against immigrants, when you say all of Islam is evil, when you ban Muslims from traveling into our country and detain and search and harass anyone who looks Muslim at the airport, when you fail to mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when you appoint a known white supremacist as your chief advisor, you encourage hate.

It used to be unfashionable to be a racist, but now they are emboldened by the election of one of their own.

What’s worse is that no one in Congress is calling for an investigation into this coordinated effort to intimidate Jews — and let’s not pretend that’s not what this is because 16 bomb threats against Jewish centers in a single day isn’t a coincidence.

I sent faxes to both my senators and my representative, calling on them to denounce this hate and to call for a federal investigation, since this went across state lines.

I ask you to do the same.

I stand with my Jewish brothers and sisters. I also stand with my Muslim, LGBTQ and immigrant brothers and sisters from around the world because I take seriously the commandment to love my neighbors — and all of humanity are my neighbors.

 

 

Whose fault is this, anyway?

This is my son, Mike, a very wise young man. I continue to be influenced and informed by his compassion and love.

This is my son, Mike, a very wise young man. I continue to be influenced and informed by his compassion and love.

My late son came to me in a dream last night. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, he usually has something profound to say.

I have been so discouraged since the election, which to me is the death of tolerance and inclusion in America. Yesterday, after seeing footage of followers of the man who would be president doing a Nazi salute, I was thinking that I don’t even want to live to see what happens.

Really. I’m 64 and I’ve lived most of my life in an America that was working to make itself better. Women managed to claim sovereignty over our own bodies. The Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the rights of interracial and LGBTQ couples to marry, all happened within my lifetime.

And now this: a common criminal, a con man, misogynist, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic narcissist is elected to the highest office in the land.

I have been furious at people who voted for him, even though I love some of them as friends and family members.

But Mike had something profound to say again: “You can’t blame sheep for being led to the slaughter.”

People have been fooled by this con man, and his accomplices at Fox News, CNN and all the other corporate “news” outlets that gave him free time, that promoted his candidacy as entertainment and that refused to investigate his shortcomings and crimes.

To make things worse, the corporate media played Hillary Clinton as a villain — a nasty woman. News of her private e-mail server (the same one used by her Republican predecessors at the State Department) was all over the news, as were the charges that she had something to do with the four American deaths in Benghazi. For 30 years, she was portrayed as a shrill, conniving bitch, and the American public bought that, even though she has been a dedicated public servant.

As for whether Bernie Sanders would have won — and he was my preferred candidate — do you think these people making Nazi salutes would have let a Jew into the White House? Really?

The corporate media have led the American public to the slaughter. They have shrugged off their responsibility to investigate and inform, and instead have gone for lies and profit.

They have peddled the false equivalency of “both sides do it,” until people believed it was equal, and they continue to do it as they claim I have no right to be angry because the other side hated Obama.

Obama isn’t a criminal. He didn’t have to settle a fraud lawsuit before taking office. He was never accused of rape. He never cheated on his wife — his only wife, by the way.

Mike was right about that, but as he said he had to leave, I told him once again that I didn’t want to be here, especially without him, and he answered the same way he has before:

“That’s not an option, Mom. You have work to do.”

I have work to do.

I told a Muslim friend this morning I will go with her to the grocery store or anywhere else she is afraid to go alone. She was born in Pakistan and still wears traditional clothing — a sari and hijab. But she is an American citizen. This is her homeland now, but she is afraid to be here.

A Jewish friend says the raised arms of white supporters of this man at a political rally remind him of the tattoo on his mother’s forearm. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. He said it also reminded him of the hatred in his schoolmates’ eyes when they beat him up because he was a Jew — and he went to school in a middle-class, suburban town.

Another Jewish friend was followed by a pickup truck, plastered with bumper stickers for this man and sporting two Confederate flags, as she left her synagogue with her 7-year-old grandson. The truck pulled up beside her and the two white men inside started screaming anti-Semitic insults at her.

I have felt compelled, as a survivor of sexual violence, to help other survivors cope with this sexual predator by starting a support group called #IBelieveTheWomen, as this man promises to sue and ruin all the women coming forward to tell of his unwanted sexual advances toward them.

I will not accept that this country really wants to be led by this criminal. I will not be sweet and give him a chance to govern when I know what he is and what he wants to do.

But I will stop blaming the voters when the culprit is the slaughterhouse personnel at Fox News, Breitbart and other peddlers of right-wing bullshit.

I will blame The New York Times and other so-called mainstream media for giving this man a pass until it was too late to turn the ship around. I will blame corporate newspaper companies for laying off reporters and editors at a time when our country most needed real information.

This will not end well. The right controls all three branches of our federal government now. These people will not give up the power they have attained, and some of us will die fighting them.

Just look at what’s happening in North Carolina. Our governor has lost a close race, and the state Supreme Court has gone to a Democratic majority. The governor has refused to concede and the GOP legislature is hinting it might add two justices to the court to give the Republicans the majority again. And there’s talk of throwing the gubernatorial race to the legislature, which would appoint the Republican governor to another term.

Now legislators are denying they will have a special session to increase the size of the court and stack it, but they have called special sessions before to push through unpopular and ill-considered legislation.

Those of us who still have critical thinking skills need to use them now. Our very existence as a nation depends on it.

Leaving now is not an option. We have work to do.

 

 

 

This person is not — and never will be — my president

Neither of these men belongs in the White House.

Neither of these men belongs in the White House.

This has been really hard for me. I have friends and family members who voted for this person. They begged me to give him a chance because they hated Obama as much as I hate this person.

I’m sorry, but Obama doesn’t trigger crippling anxiety in you because he is a sexual predator and you are a survivor.

Obama never threatened to take away your right to control your own body.

Obama is a Constitutional scholar; this man likely has never read the Constitution.

Obama symbolized an acceptance of diversity. He is well read and intelligent. Even when attacked mercilessly and blocked at every turn, he never lashed out. This person is awake at 3 in the morning lashing out on Twitter because of a verbal insult issued years ago.

He is a dangerous man on every level, mentally ill and willfully ignorant. He is hate-filled and his entire campaign was fueled by hate — by racism, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, homophobia — and I don’t expect the next four years to be anything different.

You can say you’re not racist, but if you voted for this man, you voted for the candidate endorsed by the KKK. You may not be consciously racist. You may have people of color in your family and love them more than you love yourself, but you just slapped them in the face if you voted for this man, even if it was an unintentional slap.

The first thing he did was to choose a stalwart of the “alt-right” as his closest advisor. The alt-right is nothing more than a polite name for neo-Nazi. Look it up. They stand for hatred of people of color, of anyone not white, male and Christian. Many of them have had their Twitter accounts canceled for tweeting hate.

“Give him a chance,” people said. “He might not be so bad.”

I don’t have to give him any more chance than I would give the man who molested me as a child or the man who abused me as an adult. His behavior makes it abundantly clear who he is and what he will do.

Already, there’s talk of a Muslim registry. Know that I will register as a Muslim on Day One, as will millions of others who hope to protect our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Already, he has appointed people who want to strip me of my rights to control my own body.

Already, Paul Ryan is talking about stripping senior citizens of their Medicaid and Social Security, and gutting Medicaid, which is the only access poor people have to care.

Already, there is talk about getting rid of minimum wage, which is too little to live on as it is.

Already, there is talk about deporting millions of people who are working hard and trying to do better for their families.

Already, there is talk of annulling the marriages of my LGBTQ friends and neighbors.

Already, there has been a marked increase in hate crimes. A friend of mine was threatened as she was leaving synagogue with her grandson. The threats came from white men in a truck plastered with stickers supporting this man and sporting two large Confederate flags.

Gay friends have had people tell them their marriages — and the more than 1,000 rights and privileges that go with them — will end as soon as this man takes office and begins stacking the Supreme Court.

You might have noticed that I have not uttered this man’s name. I will not give him that much respect. He is not my president. When President Obama leaves office, I will have no president.

I am prepared to fight for my rights and for the rights of everyone this man considers “other.” I will not be a dutiful American as millions of Germans were in the 1930s. I will be a dutiful human being and fight against hate.

And if you want to spew hate against me or anyone else on my Facebook thread or in comments here, I will block you. I will not tolerate hate in any form, from any person. I am fine with disagreement, but I will block hate every single time.

Stand against hate, fight against tyranny

I will protest. I will put my body on the line, but I will not be violent.

I will protest. I will put my body on the line, but I will not be violent. Let us take to the streets in PEACEFUL protest.

This week, the daughter of an African-American woman told her mother that she, her Latino husband and their children would be moving out of the country following Tuesday’s election of a man who has promised to show nothing but contempt for them.

Another woman’s biracial grandson was called the N-word on the school bus.

A lesbian friend was called a reprehensible name and told her marriage would be annulled.

A Muslim friend is afraid to go grocery shopping.

These examples are just among my friends.

In our schools, Latino children are being taunted with threats of deportation and gay and trans children are being harassed.

This is the new America.

On Facebook, a high school friend complained that Democrats are bad sports because a white man reportedly was beaten up by black men because he voted for the man whose name I refuse to utter.

I reminded that friend of the verified news reports of gays, Muslims and people of color being beaten up as their assailants named this man who might move into the White House.

The hatred is palpable.

I will not hate. I will not commit violence in any form. It is against everything I believe, everything I stand for.

That does not mean I won’t fight.

Last night, I listened to Rev. William Barber on a conference call with hundreds of other people, as he told us he believes we do not have to be gracious about the political victory of a man who has promised to be cruel to immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ people and more.

We do not have to offer congratulations to a man who has shown no compassion, no honor and no regrets for the violence of his followers.

This morning, I spoke with my friend, Rev. Rodney Sadler, who echoed Rev. Barber’s sentiments.  Rev. Sadler and I talked about the protests we plan to organize and/or attend, and about our fears for the safety of people we love.

Sitting at home is the same as doing nothing. Silence in the face of tyranny makes one complicit. As this man tries to implement his hate-driven policies, we who enjoy privilege must stand against all of it.

I will stand with my brothers and sisters whose lives and bodies are under threat. You will have to go through me to get to them. I will do everything in my power to protect them, except violence. I will not stoop to that.

I am a follower of Christ, who instructed us to love our enemies, to care for “the least of these” among us. I will feed the hungry and love the marginalized. I will defend the defenseless and give voice to the voiceless.

To me, loving my enemy does not mean being gracious toward someone who would let children go to bed hungry, who would deport millions, who would strip women and LGBTQ people of their legal rights, who tweets vile insults to people who disagree with him.

Loving my enemy means not harming them in any physical way and believing that they are deserving of redemption if they seek it.

Loving this person him does NOT mean any form of approval for his policies or beliefs.

I will stand against this person as I stand for peace and justice for everyone. I will not sit down.

I will take to the streets with my brothers and sisters. I will do no violence. This is my promise.

 

The lies of racism

Clergy from around NC and other parts of the country led a peaceful protest in Charlotte Thursday night. No none was violent and no one was injured.

Clergy from around NC and other parts of the country led a peaceful protest in Charlotte Thursday night. No none was violent and no one was injured.

Why do so many people, comfortable in their middle-class homes and neighborhoods, buy into the rhetoric that black people hate whites?

Why do so many insist that black people bring all their troubles on themselves?

Did black people buy tickets to sail from Africa to America during the Middle Passage?

Did they voluntarily submit to being bought and sold and used as livestock?

Did mothers voluntarily offer their children up for sale?

Scientific studies have shown that these kinds of trauma are written into the DNA of humans and can have an effect for generations.

So, after slavery ended, did black people volunteer to be arrested off the street and placed in prison camps where they labored for free?

Did they offer themselves up for lynching?

Did they freely choose to live in abject poverty because they couldn’t get a decent education in segregated schools so all that was left to them was sharecropping so white people could profit?

Were segregated and inadequate schools the ones they wanted for their children?

Did my friends in the 1950s and ’60s choose to be relegated to the backs of buses and back doors of restaurants and balconies of theaters — if they were allowed in at all?

Did they not dream for better lives for their children?

And today, as schools have been re-segregated, and black children trapped in crumbling school buildings with lead pipes and mold contamination, schools with far fewer computers and not enough textbooks, why are black children cruelly held to the same standards as the children in wealthy districts, where there are no school-to-prison pipelines?

Did you know that for-profit prisons calculate future “inventory” based on fourth-grade reading scores in mostly black neighborhoods? Doesn’t that sound like black children are being set up to fail so they can make profits for somebody?

When black people are trapped in poor neighborhoods with no banks, no grocery stores and lousy public transportation, are they supposed to look at the lack of opportunity and be OK with it?

Don’t talk to me about how people can rise out of poverty because a few have been fortunate enough to be able to do it. Before you can pull yourself up by the bootstraps, you have to have boots.

I was raised in a white town. We weren’t wealthy. In fact, when I was young, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, we were downright poor. But we were white. Doors were open to us that weren’t open to black families.

We attended excellent schools, even though we lived in a house that once was servant’s quarters on an apple farm in Massachusetts. We didn’t have central heat or hot water, but we did have access to great schools.

I had — and still have — a healthy dose of white privilege. Cops don’t see me or my husband or my son as a threat just because we exist and walk into their field of vision.

I have been accused of being driven by “white guilt,” the racist term for people who care about what is happening to our black brothers and sisters.

I am not guilty of anything more than having that privilege I described. It’s what I do with that privilege that matters. Do I sit in my living room and watch events unfold in Charlotte, or do I go there and stand in peace and love with fellow human beings who are being oppressed and try to protest the blatant racism of our public policy?

Do I try to understand the pain that is inherent in their existence or do I pound my fist on the arm of my sofa and wonder why they want to destroy everything “we” built?

Do I criticize every effort oppressed people make to be heard as “inappropriate,” even when it’s peaceful, or do I stand (or sit) with them?

I choose to be part of the protest.

I choose to stop waiting patiently for change and to demand it begin now, with the release of the police video of the execution of Keith Lamont Scott.

I choose to stand with my brothers and sisters in peaceful protest of systemic racism.

I choose to get angry when people judge the violence that breaks out when militarized police forces show up in riot gear and begin pushing people back and using tear gas and billy clubs if people don’t want to move.

I have been in such situations and I can tell you, I feel furious when it happens. It feels as though our valid concerns are being invalidated by people who have all the power and care nothing for our lives.

For some people the only answer is to fight back. When nonviolent protests are met with violence, some people will become violent. I’m not excusing it; I’m saying it happens, and it might not happen if there was any evidence people in power would listen to the grievances of the protesters.

And don’t talk to me about “proper channels” because those have been closed off. I have been arrested twice for trying to exercise my Constitutional right to talk to lawmakers.

It began with the death of my child, but it continues with the deaths of other people’s children because I know the pain of losing a child to injustice, and I know it happens more often to people of color, and I know that’s wrong.

 

 

 

‘But both sides do it!’

deplorable

“Both sides do it.”

What a load of crap.

Yes, Hillary Clinton called some of Donald Trump’s supporters “a basket of deplorables.”

That’s because they’re acting in a deplorable fashion.

Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers and I didn’t hear a single one of his supporters ask him to scale it back.

Donald Trump has said repeatedly that Muslims are terrorists, and his supporters have cheered.

Ah, yes, but Hillary has been accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl, and there are witnesses.

No wait, that was Trump.

But Hillary has defrauded thousands of people with her fake university.

No wait, that was Trump.

But Hillary stands at the podium and encourages people to hit opponents at her rallies, offering to pay bail for people who get arrested.

No wait, that’s Trump.

But people at Hillary’s rallies punch opponents while her supporters cheer.

No wait, that’s Trump’s rallies.

But people at Hillary’s rallies call for her opponent to be hanged.

No wait, that’s Trump’s rallies.

But Hillary held that huge fundraiser for veterans and then didn’t give any of the money to veterans until she was shamed into it.

No wait, that was Trump.

But Hillary has cheated on two spouses and brags about her sexual prowess all the time.

No wait, that’s Trump.

But Hillary was endorsed by David Duke, the white supremacist and then tried to deny she knew him.

No wait, that was Trump.

But Hillary cozies up to Vladimir Putin and then denies she has ever met him.

No wait, that’s Trump.

But Hillary’s spouse stood at the national convention and plagiarized the current president’s spouse’s speech.

No wait, that was Trump’s (third) spouse.

But there’s evidence that Hillary’s spouse was working illegally in this country before they were married.

No wait, that was Trump’s (third) spouse.

But Hillary’s family has taken millions of dollars from her campaign fund.

No wait, that’s Trump’s kids.

But Trump’s foundation has provided clean water and more to tens of thousands of victims of natural disasters.

Opps, sorry. That was the Clinton Foundation. No one has figured out yet what Trump’s foundation funds.

But wait. Trump helped open negotiations for a settlement with Iran that stopped it from developing nuclear weapons — and the settlement, finalized in 2015, is holding without a single American soldier dying in “boots on the ground.”

No wait, that was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But Hillary’s the crooked one, right? And the press is giving her fair coverage because, after all, she’s the candidate of her party, right?

Uh, not so much. At a rally here in Asheville on Monday, Trump opponents stood outside and called his supporters rude names. At least five opponents were slapped or punched and they were escorted out while their attackers were allowed to stay.

In my 64 years, I have never seen a campaign as violent and mean as this one, and it’s not Hillary who’s doing the damage.

Trump has been allowed to get away with disgusting racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, xenophobia, with suggesting we could use nuclear force, with calling for wars and more wars … He has been shown to be crooked and mean-spirited at every turn, while the corporate media have given him a pass every time, not calling out his hate or his lies.

But calling his behavior and that of his supporters deplorable somehow disqualifies Hillary?

What a load of crap.

 

 

It takes courage to stand up by remaining seated

Unless you're doing something to bring injustice into the light and protest it, you need to be quiet about Colin Kaepernick's protest.

Unless you’re doing something to bring injustice into the light and protest it, you need to be quiet about Colin Kaepernick’s protest.

Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem the other day in protest to the injustices suffered every day in this country by people of color.

A lot of Americans are pretty pissed about that, but those same Americans will ignore or excuse the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of cops.

They say nothing as dozens of veterans commit suicide every day because they can’t get the care they need after four, five or six deployments to war zones.

They remain silent as the maternal and infant death rates go up because access to women’s health care is shut down by people who call themselves “pro-life.”

When the courts find that the new voter “protection” laws actually were written to make it harder for black and brown people, students and the elderly to vote, these same people claim those laws are fine. “Surgical precision” was the way the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals phrased it. The people who wrote North Carolina’s voter law actually requested and reviewed statistics on black people’s voting habits and wrote the law to maximize the hurt. I know because I was in the courtroom when the state’s lawyer reluctantly admitted it.

When transgender people are singled out for discrimination in “bathroom” laws, these same people who hate Colin Kaepernick turn the other way because it doesn’t affect them.

We complain about people “taking” from the government. “Something for nothing,” we call it. But at the same time, we refuse to pay people a living wage for 40 hours of work.

“Get off your lazy ass and work,” we say to people who hold down two and three part-time jobs because huge corporations don’t want to help people get health care, so they only hire part-time workers to avoid offering health care, sick time and other benefits.

But when a football player — someone they love because he provides them with entertainment — has the temerity to bring these injustices to their attention, they just hate him.

“He’s a coward,” they say.

Really? He’s willing to sacrifice all he has to make this statement.

The national anthem is a song, a symbol; the people Colin Kaepernick stood up for by staying seated are very real, as are the injustices they face every day in our society.

In my book, whether I agree with his action or not, he has courage.

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