Hook versus verse

Our first post-holidays national holiday came and went as expected. Except for that part when Orange Berlusconi, having devoted exactly zero minutes of service to any cause other than self promotion, called a man who has given his life, his body, his liberty (45 times), to the struggle, “all talk.” I did not see that coming. But the rest of the weekend was predictable. Some white people I know, people who give zero fucks about racial/social justice 364 days per year, even people who go so far as to utter All Lives Matter type rhetoric in comments, posted rainbow and unicorny as hell excerpts of quotes and photos about peace and love and following the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

What’s my problem? To paraphrase one of my current favorite fictional figures, Andre Johnson Jr., It’s like the hook without the verse. 

MLK is not the good guy to be juxtaposed against Black Lives Matter or the Movement for Black Lives or Colin Kapernick or anyone else you want to blame for currently inflaming racial tension in America.  This whitewashed idea that he worked for change the right way, while the people on the front lines in the fight against racism today are doing it wrong, is just remarkably insane. 

MLK railed against police brutality and undereducation and overpolicing and systematic, institutionalized income inequality. He vehemently protested rioters being condemned by people who were not outraged by the roots and causes of the riots. He was accused of inciting violence. He was criminalized. In response to the Dream Speech, the head of the blue FBI lives called him “the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of . . . national security.” And he was widely condemned by people who claimed not to be racist – they just didn’t approve of his disruptive tactics and the urgency of now.

And don’t even with the how far we’ve come and how much has changed. Yes, the civil rights movement in MLK’s day helped to ban the formerly acceptable practice of straight up torturing and killing Black men, women, and children at will. White people were persuaded to stop randomly and spontaneously beating, mutilating, burning and hanging Black people from trees. Emmet Till was lynched in nineteen fifty fucking five. He would only be 75 today if he were alive. So, yeah, we frown on wild packs of angry white men randomly murdering children now. Congratulations to us on that amazing progress. 

We are all collectively shocked and shamed now by the black and white photos of lunch counter protesters with milkshakes dumped on their heads. Look how much progress we’ve made. We want credit for allowing people into restaurants? Seriously, how far we’ve come from WHAT? How low is our bar? How absurd a standard of measurement? Congratulations white America on the improvement of “race relations”. Oh yeah, wait, you didn’t do shit. Congratulations on giving in to demands when they got too in your face to ignore anymore.

Rosa Parks, Freedom Riders, Selma, all the greatest hits iconic protesters and civil disobedience we honor and admire and respect and praise now. You know what they were saying? Black Lives Matter. Would you have been upset that a theoretical ambulance wouldn’t have been able to get across the Edmund Petus bridge? Would you have been saying that the protestors would have a lot more support and sympathy if they didn’t cause economic harm to the public transportation system in Montgomery?

You got a problem with Colin Kapernick? You got a problem with MLK. You know what he was locked up for when he wrote the letter from Birmingham jail? Kneeling down in a space where protesting was not allowed. Responding to “supporters” who agreed with his goals but not his tactics, he wrote “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront an issue.”

You know what else he said? “There is nothing wrong with a traffic law which says you have to stop for a red light. But… when a man is bleeding to death, the ambulance goes through those red lights at top speed.. . . There is a fire raging now for the Negroes and the poor of this society. . .” And he called for “massive civil disobedience. . . at least as forceful as an ambulance with its siren on full.”

You know how Govenor Ronald Regan described his assasination? As a “great tragedy that began when we began compromising with law and order, and people started choosing which laws they’d break.” 

Yeah, he asked for it.

You know what “law and order” looked like in MLK’s day? It looked like those black and white movie clips we watch now in disbelief and discomfort and emotionally distance ourselves from by thinking those were the olden days. It looked like those Black bodies we now collectively accept as brave and valiant getting knocked off thier feet by water cannons and attacked by German shepards. Order without justice still looks like tanks and tear gas.

We have a law and order president now who does not beleive in systematic racism, and cannot utter one word about criminal justice reform, except to say that there is [implied “Black on Black” as if that’s a thing] “carnage” in Black America’s streets. And he will restore order. 

Black men have a 33% (or 25% depending on who you beleive, but either way, WTF) chance of going to a (for profit) prison, as opposed to a white man’s 6% chance. There are more Black men in prison than in college. 10% longer sentence than a white man convicted for the same crime. They are 12% of drug users and 59% of people in state prison for a drug offense. Black boys get suspended and expelled at 3 times the rate of white kids. They get shot for holding toy guns in Walmart and at the rec center, and for nothing. Schools are as segregated as 1968. White sounding resume names get called for interviews 33% more than Black sounding names on the SAME RESUME. Black children are 4 times more likely to be poor than white children. 

So yeah, we’ve made progress from the above-referenced randomly murderous with impunity days. No, excuse me, the people who push and resist and advocate, and fight fight fight for progress have made progress. We, as a nation, have allowed this progress to happen with embarrassing and shameful delay and indifference.

 

Thanks to Ellen T (?) for the graphic.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be an 88 year old man with a ton of work left to do. So I’m glad you choose love over hate because hate is too big a burden. Again, congrats on that amazing work. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you like the dream of little white children holding hands with little Black children. 

Now wake the fuck up and get ready for the nightmare of a law and order administration that erroneously thinks that civil disobedience = a war on police. Who promises to bring order without justice. You want that dream? Educate yourself on what the Movement for Black Lives really means and stands for. Share that dream. 

Dog Down

I just can’t even with the yoga right now. The 1%ers with the 0% body fat and the $100 tank tops and nowhere else to be at 11:00 on a Tuesday are killing me. Clearly, there is some self-loathing going on since I myself am here at 11:00 on a Tuesday, jealous of thier clothes and bodies. Yes, that’s what I do at yoga – compare myself to others, and hate all over that giant mirror to avoid looking straight ahead.  I’m doing it wrong; I know. 

I’m instantly intensely angry at the introductory instructional inspirational bullshit about thanking myself for making time for my practice and how its the best thing I can be doing in these challenging times.
Really Becky?

Pretty sure you left out the words “for yourself” Best thing you can do for yourself. Don’t even frame this hour as anything other than a guilty pleasure in these “challenging times”. We both know that your keratin treated, extended eyelashed, shiny skinned audience is blissfully unaware of/unaffected by current geopolitical challenges. Trust me, these perfectly pedicured ladies did not shed a thought on immigration while they were busy not speaking to the woman scrubbing their feet.

Phony as a facelift and nothing to play with

I’m pretty sure there are infinite better uses of my challenging time, if not for selfishness, than you putting a shivasina rock on my forehead. In fact, while you did that, I thought of at least 100,000 ways I could better serve my children, my job, my fellow Americans, and fistula centers in distant places where women walk 20 miles with parts of babies hanging between their legs to get help.

Yup. That’s  what I thought about while you put your little rock that reeks of the anti-bacterial shit that breeds superbugs and will eventually wipe us all out, on my head. But I’ll keep coming. I have to now; I wrote it down.

The cost of motivation I’ll stay with.

Just so that my physical condition does not deteriorate faster than my mental. Cuz then I’d be dead soon. I have no allusions of attaining nirvana. I am simply too weak now to fight my way through the trendy boxing class, so yoga it is. Even if I mediated, or just breathed, successfully in class, I would lose any inner peace immediately upon hitting the grocery store on my way home. I’m just stuck in anger, righteous or ridiculous, right now.

Simmer down now.

I hit bottom every February. It starts with fall: the dying, the darkening, and I am holiday seasonal affective disordered from Halloween to the Super Bowl. I’m worse than I seem until I really lose my shit for Black History Month. Then its March and croqui and basically, manic light and love. This holiday season has been exceptionally infuriating and mad just feels better than sad right now. I know, boo fucking hoo – poor me – yoga is hard, check my privilege, blah blah blah. If I’m annoying you, stop reading. Right now. This is my therapy, not yours.

I’m mad at the people telling me not to be mad. I’ve listened to complaints with an open heart and worked toward unity and compromise. I’ve done that. I’ve tried respect and empathy and compassion. I’ve failed. Now, even on my most optimistic, positive days, when I get convinced by the yoga instructor that I have to put my oxygen mask on first before I can assist others, and I start to detox the anger, and relax, I leave class and just get all wound up crazy at the grocery store again.

The local little grocery store is a different demographic than the recent transplants and Mayflower society girls at yoga class. Those people are at Whole Foods right now. Here are my fellow suburban descendants of white flighters. People with OFD fathers and grandfathers of the greatest generation who used the GI bill and reverse affirmative action mortgage deals to settle into split-ranches with restrictive covenants, back in the day. I know their story. And I think about our similarities and bridging our differences with conversation when I hear one say Merry Christmas! to her acquaintance who replies

YES! WE CAN SAY THAT AGAIN NOW!

My, what an interesting interpretation of election results, you dumb fucking ostrich bitch. I need a Keegan Micahael Key-like anger translator, only the exact opposite, to lean over and gently inquire, excuse me, but I’m hoping you might help me understand your viewpoint? See, I don’t know how to interpret what you’ve said except to think that under Obama, people felt compelled to consider the possibility that the recipient of a canned well wish might not be Christian. But post-election, that’s just not something you need to think about? Is that it? Or did you just never think about it at all. Just heard somewhere that those bastards made a rule that you can’t say Merry Christmas and ran with that?

From experience, I know that there is no tone nor words kind or soft enough to kick off  this dialogue that does not immediately make the listener feel attacked and afraid. That the people openly bitching about the War on Christmas are not open to logic or reason on the subject. No matter how much I want to talk and come to understand, and not to “win” the conversation, there is nothing that I can say that will move them to consider anything outside thier own echo chamber. I already know that the person is not open to listening to me explain, nicely, that nobody gives a fuck if they say Merry Christmas to thier friends who celebrate Christmas. And I’m too fired up to truly hear her shit right now anyway.

No amount of intellect and reason is going to penetrate that straight up fear of equality and insecurity about her culture’s superiority. At its very core, it is based upon an unwillingness to consider, nevermind respect, the other’s feelings. That’s the whole point of her story. ME FIRST. ‘MERICA FIRST. That’s the whole fucking platform.

And I already know that it bothers her that her work has a “holiday party” or her kid’s school has a “winter concert” instead of a Christmas Pageant. I don’t know how else to nicely explain that the idea is to share the celebration with people who have traditionally felt left out. Or worse. I already know, from her loud and proud proclamation, that she is not interested in healing through conversation. She just won. She has no reason to consider or compromise.

You are like a two-year old, Lady, shouting “MINE! All MINE!” about your Christmas spirit, for chrissake. Blow out all the Menorahs and Kinaras, so your Christmas candle can shine brightest. Well, this little light of mine says fuck you to the darkness in you. Namaste bitch.  Congratulations on your imaginary new rights and freedoms. Celebrate ’em while you got ’em, I guess.

Spent time hating and that ain’t changing it

I will spend time hating the twisted interpretations of Dr. Martin Luther King’s messages that will flood my feed, and the innaguration, and the inFormationless Gaga Super Bowl for another month. I am soft as a grape, in my mind and body, but will do my best to avoid inappropriate public fragile white tears. I will go to yoga until I am physically capable of sitting still in an open and receiving posture again. For now, I will sit here with my chest caved in, and let Mr. Bey manage my mayhem.