Posted in Covid-19, Political, Social Commentary

Musings on Connections, Covid, and the Election

Right now, I’m thinking of my last refreshing interaction with a stranger. With the toxic atmosphere that is in abundance today along with having to wear pesky but life-saving masks, it’s difficult. A body needs that type of interaction where you leave feeling like you’ve just departed a warm embrace. Those are the small moments of eye contact with a stranger on the street, punctuated with a gentle smile. Those are the spontaneous moments that trigger a quick exchange that leads to a laugh that leads to a lingering smile you carry all the way back to your car.

In thinking about it, I realize that it wasn’t very long ago that I had one of those experiences. I had made what was supposed to be a quick trip to the grocery store. As I stood in line, my husband FaceTimed me to say that we needed snacks because “We don’t have any snacks. Get some Cheez-Its and some beef jerky.” he joked. We never buy beef jerky but the man behind me, who must have been a beef jerky fan, said through his mask “I’m with him!” I turned to him and laughed while exaggerating the squint of my eyes to overemphasize my amusement behind the mask. I told him not to worry about holding my spot when he kindly offered as I left the line in search of snacks. That was actually only two days ago. It was the day I voted.

That morning, my husband and I got out our voting guides, our mail-in ballots, and our laptops and spent several hours going over the local candidates and the propositions. It was very important for me that we really read and understood as much about the propositions as we possibly could outside of the ads that collectively intrude on the latest news of yet another tweet from President Trump.

Going over the propositions isn’t an easy task. I began by mentally settling myself on my foundational principle: That which is going to be best for those with the least–and worked my way from there through the purposely confusing language. My husband and I talked a bit about each one and found that we were usually on the same side when we’d bubble in our choice.

It’s kind of a lovely thing really. It’s a moment to escape the constant assault of the cephalopod that is cable news and social media. Their tentacles latch on to our compulsive nature, the need to be informed, and the desire to connect, so pervasively that turning it off or deleting an app conjures feelings of absurdity and anxiety. Those several hours of sitting, undistracted, with just the text, and giving thought to the implications of impacts raised by those charged with writing the pros and cons, along with a bit of sleuthing to understand, as much as possible, the hidden hands behind all the pieces, was an investment of time that paid off with the feeling of honoring those who fought and died for my right to have my say.

For the past, almost four years, we’ve endured the toxicity, the destructive policies, and divisive behavior of a man who makes us question our own connectedness to our fellow human beings. A man who makes no secret of his self-absorption and bigotry, and has reinvigorated the disease of racism in this country to such a degree that Covid is merely the cherry on top of his noxious administration. An administration that has us eyeing strangers and summing them up along party lines, and labeling strangers as idiots if they aren’t on our side and wonderful compatriots if they are. Of all of the things that President Trump lauds about being the only one to ever do, the most astounding fete of his leadership that nobody has done since the civil war is split the country in half, disrupting the spontaneous connections that make us all know that we are one. While you can easily glean which way I chose to vote in the Presidential race, you can also glean that my choice is not without the deepest consideration for my fellow citizens, especially those with the least.

The one thing I am looking forward to in the next four years is that the U.S. begins to build back better our connectedness to one another and to continue the work of creating a country where everyone is welcomed, everyone is valued, and everyone is safe.

Posted in Parenting, Social Commentary, Uncategorized

I Don’t Want White People to Apologize

In the wake of recent media traction of the two-month old murder of Ahmaud Arbery, I shared a Facebook post by speaker and author, Sharon Jamison from May 7th, 2020, where she asserted:

I don’t want white people to apologize. I want them to use their privilege to help dismantle a system that kills black people.

After posting it, I received a message from a dear friend who’s white. She asked exactly what it is that she’s expected to do? I didn’t consider the motivation behind her question because her feelings for having the question are rightfully her own and an analysis of that wasn’t really required for me to give her my thoughts on the matter. I took on the role of messenger which is something I’m getting really good at as I navigate parenting 20 somethings. When my children come to me with a question or a need for input on a choice they intend to make, I succinctly offer my truth as I see it and move on with my day.

In that regard, I offered my friend this:

  • Acknowledge that racism exists.
  • Fully understand the impact of it on nonwhite people.
  • Challenge your assumptions and motivations when forming an opinion on social issues involving black people.
  • Ask questions and be willing to accept the validity of another’s perspective from a lived experience that is not your own.
  • Champion causes that are designed to facilitate equity in opportunity. Conscious and unconscious biases are at work that make this very necessary.
  • Tell your uncle Bob, your co-worker Karen, your supervisor Tom, your husband Josh, to shut the fuck up when they go on about “them niggers…”

I am resolute in my understanding of how pervasive racism is. Those who made it their business to construct the institution were very thorough in weaving their virus-like ideology in with our natural human instincts, the latter being the same no matter what racial category we are placed in. They are woven so tightly that unwinding them seems impossible.

At this point, I seriously question the possibility of all of us living totally free from the sick mindset that avails itself upon us, generation after generation. Down every street we jog, in every park where our children play , in every coffee shop we enter, on every road we drive, the evil of racism lurks. It’s either a simmering boil or boiling over scalding everyone in its path.

My heart goes out to Ms. Wanda Cooper, Ahmaud’s mother, and the rest of his family. I suspect I will compose other writings motivated by similar events and my heart is heavy. I’m going to text my two sons now, to make sure they are okay.

Image used courtesy of https://unsplash.com/@thirdworldhippy

Posted in Social Commentary

This Week’s Discovery

My mother-in-law passed away in February of this year. Among the things she left behind, was her collection of books which I have been so eager to dive into. Now that all of her affairs have been settled, I plucked a book from the shelf by closing my eyes and grabbing the first book my hand landed on. It just happened to be The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace by The Dalai Lama. This is my “This Week’s Discovery.”

The book is 181 pages long and serves as an introduction to the idea of how to live life without suffering. It focuses on developing a disciplined mind by first recognizing that our minds are subject to ignorance, confusion, and misconception, all negative states of being. Then it shares the Buddhist approach to overcoming those things. I cannot go much further into any concepts or ideas right now as I’ve only completed Chapter 1 but it has been an inspiring read so far.

It’s fascinating to me that this book is the one that I came to because the question of how to live without negativity has been a prevailing question throughout my life. As of late, it has had a strangle-hold on my consciousness. The primary motivator of the negative emotions I experience these days, have a great deal to do with exposing myself to news media as well as social media. At times, it gets to be an obsession. When I feel the obsessiveness becoming too toxic, I am able to pull back from engagement and try to balance out the negative energy by seeking ways to positively connect with people or to share more positive, funny, and inspiring posts or articles. It’s important to be engaged with news and social media in order to stay informed, but it is a constant battle not to drown in the vitriol, gossip, and negativity.

As I read this book, my goal is to remain focused on the ideas presented because so far, what I’ve read has resonated with me in a positive way.

Now, I’m not of a religious nature. This means that I have no desire or compulsion to rep any religious order. I do believe; however, that my spirit, made up of a cycle of energy that governs my thoughts, has to be fed through a quest for understanding. I’m stating this here as a reminder to myself not to move beyond the pages of the book to seek out information on the person through which the resonating ideas have come. The ideas are what I’m interested in. Not the Dalai Lama. He is no more of a human being than I am. He is filled with as many good qualities and flaws as I am and it is too easy for me to allow human flaws block the ideas that could prove to be helpful in my life’s journey.

In closing, another wonderful discovery I made this past week is brevitymag.com! This site publishes 750 word essays by new and established writers. They also have a wordpress blog for writers to connect and share ideas.

Posted in Social Commentary

This Week’s Discovery

Each week I’ve decided to post something new that I’ve come across. It could be anything from a new concept or idea, to something more tangible like what I’ve chosen to share as my very first This Week’s Discovery. I hope you check out my discoveries and give me some feedback when you do.

This week’s wonderful discovery is Larry Wilmore’s “Black on the Air” podcast! I’ve missed Larry’s voice since his show was cancelled on Comedy Central leaving me to wonder why Tosh.0 seems to have an unnecessary lifetime engagement. Please pardon the digression.

Anyway, it’s nice to hear Larry’s distinct voice as he interviews various people like Ibihaj Muhammad, the Olympic Fencer, or engages in random discussions with someone who fills in for a guest who was MIA and who tries to take Larry down the conspiracy trail of  JFK and the moon landing. That episode reminded me of the many discussions with my son who is so thankful to be “woke” about the Illumanti and Valiant Thor, the alien from Venus who worked in the Petagon. What do you even do with discussions like that? I generally find myself poochie mouthed, furrow browed and looking at him in silence until he says, “What? You just want to stay sleep mom.”

For anyone who doesn’t know Larry Wilmore, I first became aware of him on The Daily Show during Jon Stewart’s reign. His title on the show was Senior Black Correspondent. He would come on to provide a humorous “black perspective,” as if there is such a thing, on news events involving black people. He then branched off with his own show on Comedy Central called The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore that followed The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. It was a nice lineup on Comedy Central. Unfortunately, the Nightly Show was cancelled shortly after Wilmore’s, and I have to keep it one hundred, painful to watch performance at the White House Correspondence Dinner in 2016. He doubled down on his lackluster jokes by closing with a “tribute” to President Barack Obama by saying, “I’m going to keep it one hundred, yo Barry, you did it my nigga.” I located the video specifically to quote him and I still cringe when I hear it. I’m not going to get into the reasons why I feel that to be horribly wrong because it’s just something that will live on as one of those moments of the Obama era and possibly the unfortunate end to a very good show. Even in light of making the decision to use that term, which he totally owns and probably doesn’t totally regret, I find Mr. Wilmore to be smart and of course fearless. He’s someone I’d love to be in  a room with and just talk about all of the latest political events of the day. He’s been resilient since the cancelation of his show. He has his executive producing hands in the brilliant “Insecure” with Issa Rae on HBO and helped to launch Black-Ish. Prior to those recent accomplishments, Mr. Wilmore had developed a long list of writing creds, including the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and In Living Color. The man is clearly talented and I’m so happy to be able to reconnect with him through his podcast.

Below is a picture of Larry Wilmore (Center) with my husband and our wonderful cousin Julie.

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Posted in Political, Social Commentary

Hysteria

two apples on the board
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

The time is now. Yet, we sit frozen, waiting for the monster to knock down the door. The moment that pulls us away from life today, into a tomorrow that makes yesterday a dream. Our ancestors know that feeling. We have that feeling in our DNA.

We hesitate from the speed and absurdity of it all. Which is reasonable, predictable, and why we will be overtaken and thrust into a world we thought we’d never know again.

It is not easy to decide to resist when uncertainty sets in. Information sources run 24-hours and have been made suspect. How seriously can one take a news source that reports on a missing plane as breaking news, for three months straight, and includes serious consideration of supernatural events and a black hole? Let alone a news source where 86% of the statements made in front of cameras are false or mostly false*?

The poor public, so far removed from being able to see for our own eyes. However, even when given the chance, the voices of fallacious debate builds cataracts. We wade through the chatter to determine the right thing to do. Ambivalence sets in or there is a hunkering down on one side or the other because someone said you must choose. Will it then become a matter of coming out on the other side with only your body intact or what’s left of it?

Yes, this writing is out of sheer hysteria. I am of the ilk who clings to words rather than guns when simmering in fear. We can come back from a misuse of words and I have no faith in any source to cause a finite ending of anyone.

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*Politifact.com

Posted in Political, Social Commentary

The Fight Against Domestic Violence – We’re Winning!

Happy Apple (2)
Better Days!

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As I was searching for a way to add my voice to the current discussion on domestic violence or intimate partner violence, as some call it, I stumbled across a very exciting fact. Since the implementation of the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) in 1994, there has been a steep decline of 67% in cases involving intimate partner violence. Prior to the VAWA we saw 1.7 million cases of intimate partner abuse and as of 2011 the number has decreased to less than 700,000. One would never know this by watching media reports!

The VAWA currently administers 24 grant programs and is described as being “designed to develop the nation’s capacity to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by strengthening services to victims and holding offenders accountable.”

I do not know about anyone else, but the fact that this Act has had such a tremendously positive impact on the lives of women shows me the great power of our tax dollars when they are put to good use.

Now obviously, this is not to say that more can’t be done to further eradicate the problem of intimate partner violence. A large part of what continues to need attention is the inequality of power between men and women.

It is believed that at the very root of intimate partner violence is the subservient role to which women have been traditionally subjected. This role allows for the devaluing of women, as is evident by the disparity in salaries between men and women which the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports a wage gap of 22%. There is an even larger gap for African American and Latino women. The pervasive practice of unequal compensation could arguably be part of the financial abuse that helps to impede women from leaving abusive situations.

While our society continues to tolerate the devaluing of women, we will continue to see incidences like the Ray Rice abuse scandal, and corporations like the NFL attempt to turn a blind eye to the seriousness of the matter.

As a former victim of 12 years of intimate partner abuse where the traditional woman’s role was the focal point of my ex-husband’s very existence, I feel it is imperative that more outreach be done in churches, mosques, synagogues, as well as places of employment to further the effort of bringing violence against women to a zero state.

There is no doubt that we, as a country, with the implementation of the VAWA, are moving in the right direction. We need to continue to make strides and put pressure on our religious institutions, as well as corporations, to change the way they handle intimate partner violence and how they perpetuate the problem. Lastly, we also need to watch out for legislative posturing that could derail VAWA altogether. The pesky GOP has a knack for being on the wrong side of things these days.