ain’t been right

I know we’ve added many names to THE list in the year that has passed since Sandra Bland did… but I ain’t been right since hers was added.  And I ain’t been blogging neither, so I’m gonna start back there although there is so much fresh heartbreak to explore.  Please don’t assume that the others didn’t get to me.  That I didn’t feel a punch in the gut when Trayvon went down, when Zimmerman went free, when the music stopped for Jordan, when Eric couldn’t breathe, a wrench in my heart when Tamir was ambushed while playing in the park, when Freddie’s spine was severed on the “joy” ride, when no on was held accountable, when Alton was pinned and gunned down, or when Diamond’s little girl witnessed that horror from just a few feet away in the backseat- just to name a few.  I did feel it.  I do.

But Sandra Bland, man.  Sandra Bland was me.  And I ain’t been right since.  Sandra Bland was me, not only in the universal sense that because separation is an illusion and everyone is me and I am everyone, but because in the most practical, earthly, human, american way Sandra Bland was me.

IMG_3169

I love to drive.  Which is great because I drive a LOT for work. I love to drive fast.  And safely. Those things, too, are not mutually exclusive.  I am not reckless, I just like a little speed.  I like forward motion.  I like advancing toward a goal.  My dosha is clearly Pitta and once I have direction, I am off.  0-60 in no time flat.  That’s my approach in all things really for better or worse.  The way you do one thing is the way you do everything. As a baby I ran first, then walked, then checked out the crawling thing.  I was born this way.  It’s my baseline.  Various life lessons and my kundalini yoga practice have taught me the art and joys of savoring, of taking time, of being still… but still, I love to GO.

My anger has been tempered through these practices and experiences, too.  But, seeing as I am human and anger is a natural emotion inherently woven throughout the human experience, I still get angry.  And sometimes it happens quickly.  Especially in the face of perceived injustice.  In that intersection between speed and anger is exactly where Sandra Bland and I are one.

I have been pulled over.  It seems to happen in spurts with me.  Thank God there usually are long intervals in between.  When I was a new driver I got pulled over a few times. In the suburbs.  I always smiled sweetly and played dumb and drove away with a warning.  Maybe I really was dumb, not playing at anything,  because I had no fear in those situations aside from “I hope I don’t get a ticket” and “I hope my parents don’t find out.”  That was some kind of biracial white privilege induced ignorance, I guess.  Or maybe it was the era.  In the mid-late 90s we didn’t have cell phones at the ready, social media, incessant news reels.  There were no images in my mind of police brutality.  None that seemed extremely relevant anyway.  Rodney King seemed like a terrible one off.  I’d seen black and white pictures from the 60s, heard my mother’s stories about the dogs being unleashed on the black people and any “uncolored” supporters, but as far as I knew that was then and this was now and we were living in a world where a black and a white person made me… and I was having a pretty good life so…

Fast forward to my next set of traffic stops.  Four years ago.  So much hadn’t happened yet, so I was more upset by being made late to work and any fines that would be incurred than I was afraid for my life…but I was angrier.  I’d had more experiences in the real world.  I knew my “place” in the minds of the general white public and I was easily angered by the slightest whiff of prejudice, racism, or arrogance of any kind. Full of self-righteous indignation.  And one of those traffic stops in particular reeked of all of that.  But I’m pretty smart, and I needed to get to my appointment, so I kept my cool, took the uncalled for amount violations, points on my license,  and the fines and I kept on going.

But what if I hadn’t?  What if I had questioned why I was getting three tickets for a seemingly minor offense that was innocently fueled by a navigation system that kept changing it’s mind and suddenly called on me to exit the highway immediately from the far left lane?  What if I acknowledged what was really going on?  What if I allowed my bad attitude to match the officer’s?  What if I had “talked back”?  Thank God I’ll never know, but all I can think is: Sandra Bland.  Maybe that’s what would have happened.  And maybe it would have taken my white dad too long to get from the middle of the country to the east coast to come in and humanize me and validate my right to decent treatment as he was called on to do when I was in the emergency room with a broken neck.  And maybe I would be dead.

So, I ain’t been right since Sandra Bland because Sandra Bland was me.  In the past year I have noticed that though I generally prefer to drive solo so I can chant mantras as loudly as I want and I don’t have to worry about making passengers uncomfortable with my confident driving (I live and drive in NYC for goodness sake, I have to be confident), I prefer to drive with white people in my car.  Cuz like maybe if I get pulled over they can vouch for my character, or their presence will validate my existence, or… anything… whatever will save me from whatever might happen.  Sometimes when I see police cars on the road, signs of physical distress manifest quickly.  Three months ago I got pulled over for speeding.  I was speeding.  No need for self righteous indignation there.  But the sheer terror I felt in anticipation of the experience as I was pulling onto the shoulder of the freeway…it’s as frightened as I can recall ever having been.  The self-admonition I doled out when I realized I forgot to take off the bandana I was wearing to keep the frizz down til I got to work was harsh.  I have since forgiven myself, even though I got a ticket and not a warning.

It’s been exactly one year since Sandra Bland.  Looking around here I think, ain’t none of us been right since because look at how much is going wrong.  But I know that isn’t true.  That doesn’t feel true.  That’s the hurt and anger and fear talking.  And I hold space for all of that within myself, within us.  And I hold space also for the love and peace that can be found when tending to the aftermath of a broken heart.  A broken heart, is an open heart.  As a collective, we are not encouraged to have open hearts.  That takes courage and awareness.  And people who are brave and awake aren’t so easily influenced or scared into buying things.  #consumerism.

But here we are, a broken hearted nation.  A nation who repeatedly has broken it’s own heart.  And things have escalated to a point where more and more of us are unable to remain ignorant. Or silent.  I’m hoping we can make the most of this opportunity to lean in and nurture our brokenness into openness into oneness.

The-wound-is-the-place-where-the-light

Anne Lamott said: “Hope is not about proving anything.  It’s about choosing to believe this one thing- that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.”

FullSizeRender 24

p.s. “i ain’t been right” is kind of a figure of speech.  if there is such a thing as “(al)right”, i have been it all along 🙂

 

Advertisements

the twins

Image

The “Black and White” twins are all over everything I’m seeing on the internet. The trending of the story brings the opportunity to gain more awareness of what we think race is, how we allow it to influence our identity, and (hopefully) how it all really just makes no sense.

I can’t figure out what prompted the interest in this particular set of twins this week. I’ve been hoarding articles about black and white twins for years. It bothers me that when they say “Black and White twins”, they mean one of each. Below is the actual title and opening sentence of an actual post about Lucy and Maria:

Biracial Twins: Sisters Belonging to Different Races:

I’ve heard that the odds of having a set of biracial twins belonging to different races is one in a million. One interracial couple somehow beat those odds…

Um, yeah… it is actually impossible to have a set of biological biracial twins who belong to two different races. If we’re playing along with the notion that there is a race other than human to belong to in the first place, these biological fraternal twins are of the same race(s). But, even the twins themselves seem to have adopted the skewed perspective:

Lucy says,

Maria loves telling people at college that she has a white twin. And I’m very proud of having a black twin.

I may be analyzing too literally, but the simple truth is that these sisters look different. They are of different phenotypes, not races. Their skin color (which is real) is different. Their race (which is not real) is the same. Me being me, I read their title of “black and white twins” like: They are “biracial” so they are black AND white. Both of them are both of them. And both of them have mostly white genes if we’re gonna keep on fractionalizing people into halves or whatever.

Let’s see what the way we talk about and consider these pairs can help us break our rigid notions of race and identity.

First, the biology. How does this happen? Something that stood out to me when reading about most of these sets of twins is that in the case where one parent is biracial and the other is white, that is not clearly stated. I think that’s because people are still unclear on how to process us realistically, but they can’t just say “black” because the half white part is a major detail in the equation.

In the case of the Aylmers it is stated that:

The girls’ nearly opposite features can be traced back to their racially different parents. Their mother, Donna, is half-Jamaican while father Vince is white.

2612C4A900000578-2974869-Family_line_The_twins_mother_Donna_is_half_Jamaican_and_their_fa-a-12_1425253983608

Ok, so Donna is half Jamaican and half white although they don’t make define the other half. Leaving her even more un-whole.  Disappointing to me, but no surprise since most people still think of black and white as mutually exclusive.  Stories like these help us to shift those deeply ingrained tenets in ourselves.  If we’re gonna look at this truthfully, Donna is technically half white and half black.  Vince is white. So how racially different are they? Not very, I would argue.

In most of the other cases the mother is white and the father is black.

There’s one instance where both parents of the twins are biracial with white moms and black dads.

145223_twins-family-740896_jpga4009876ce786f8b37f46ca1bfa71684

Twins Kian and Remee with their parents Kylee Hodgson and Remi Horder who both have white mothers and black fathers.

So here’s the scientific explanation:

Million to one odds:

The odds against of a mixed race couple having twins of dramatically different colour are a million to one.
Skin colour is believed to be determined by up to seven different genes working together.
If a woman is of mixed race, her eggs will usually contain a mixture of genes coding for both black and white skin.
Similarly, a man of mixed race will have a variety of different genes in his sperm. When these eggs and sperm come together, they will create a baby of mixed race.
But, very occasionally, the egg or sperm might contain genes coding for one skin colour. If both the egg and sperm contain all white genes, the baby will be white. And if both contain just the versions necessary for black skin, the baby will be black.
For a mixed-race couple, the odds of either of these scenarios is around 100 to one. But both scenarios can occur at the same time if the woman conceives non-identical twins, another 100 to one chance.
This involves two eggs being fertilised by two sperm at the same time, which also has odds of around 100 to one.
If a sperm containing all-white genes fuses with a similar egg and a sperm coding for purely black skin fuses with a similar egg, two babies of dramatically different colours will be born.
The odds of this happening are 100 x 100 x 100 – a million to one.

Taking all of those maths into account, this family is super duper special:

145240_durrant_twins_jpgd3dc08043c2b5c6ebac7747a09aadada

Big sisters Hayleigh, left, and Lauren Durrant, right, hold their new siblings Leah, left, and Miya, right. Scientists say the odds of their parents, Dean Durrant and Alison Spooner, having two sets of fraternal twins with strikingly different skin tones and eye colors is ‘one in millions.’

Now on to the sociology. Honestly, I’ve always been a little worried about the darker twin when I contemplate how they experience the world.  Because the world will experience each of them differently and sometimes that must manifest in drastic ways.  As a child I was frequently in all white environments and I know first hand how it feels to be valued less than your fairer complected peers.  Frankly, as an adult I am frequently in mostly white environments and sometimes the same vibes are flowing.  But as an adult I know better than to take that personally.  As a child not so much.  That might sound sad, and sometimes I was, but because of those circumstances I learned to see beauty and value in places generally thought to have none.  That is a gift.

So anyway, I was worried about the “black” twin because I thought they’d be having similar experiences to mine and thinking, “But I’m really just the same.  We’re TWINS for God’s sake.  Why are we exempt from the same regard as all the other twins in the world?  And why am I getting the short end of the stick.  Unfair.”  I was also concerned that it could cause a rift between the twins and rob them of the twin bond which I always thought would be so fun to have.

Turns out I was wrong.  According to the interviews it seems that the lighter twin struggles more and there are no traces of a lasting breach between them.

The Aylmers

twin <3

(Of her childhood) Red-haired Lucy said her pale complexion had prompted speculation that she’d been adopted: ‘My classmates used to ask if I was adopted because my siblings are all quite dark.

‘It was pretty hard, it went on in secondary school and it wasn’t very nice.’

The impact this has had may be gleaned from this recent post on her Facebook page:

…thank you so much for all your lovely comments about the way I… look. I’ve never had so much confidence. I’ve gone from spending 3 hours covering up every inch of what I naturally look like before I left the house for as little as 2 minutes. To now wearing next to no make up with my natural red hair…

James and Daniel Kelly

James-and-Daniel-Kelly-007

James (left) and Daniel Kelly, twin brothers

When Daniel and James went to nursery aged three, the twins’ skin colour plunged the family into controversy. “They were at this very politically correct nursery, and the staff told us that when Daniel drew a picture of himself, he had to make himself look black – because he was mixed-race,” says Alyson. “And I said, that’s ridiculous. Why does Daniel have to draw himself as black, when a white face looks back at him in the mirror?  Daniel had one white parent and one black, so why couldn’t he call himself white? Why does a child who is half-white and half-black have to be black? Especially when his skin colour is quite clearly white!”

Primary school passed without colour being an issue: but…everything changed when they went to secondary school… the racism they encountered there had a huge effect on them.

It all started well, says Alyson. “The school was almost all-white, so James was unusual. But it wasn’t a problem for James – it was a problem for Daniel.

“The boys were in different classes, so for a while no one realised they were related. Then someone found out, and the story went round that this white boy, Daniel, was actually black, and the evidence was that he had a black twin brother, James, who was right here in the school. And then Daniel started being picked on and it got really ugly and racist, and there were lots of physical attacks. Daniel was only a little kid, and he was being called names and being beaten up by much older children – it was really horrible. We even called the police.”

“I was really bullied,” cuts in Daniel, his face hardening at the memory. “People couldn’t believe James and I were brothers, and they didn’t like the fact that I looked white, but was – as they saw it – black.”

It is interesting that it was the white twin, Daniel, and not the black twin who was on the receiving end of racism…”Those kids couldn’t stand the fact that, as they saw it, this white kid was actually black. It was as though they wanted to punish him for daring to call himself white,” she says.

“I started to notice how angry Daniel was getting at school, how people were provoking him and how he was getting hurt,” says James. “And when he got pulled in fights, I went in too, to help him. I didn’t want to see my brother being treated like that.” James does not look like a kid who would end up in any fight: but, when his brother was up against it, he weighed in – and, says Alyson, the bruises and cuts they both came home with told their own tale.

They’re a straightforward, outspoken family, the Kellys: all they’ve ever wanted for their children is a fair chance in life. And if their youngest twins have made anyone think twice about their preconceptions about race and colour, they don’t mind that in the least. “It’s good to challenge people on race and sexuality and other issues where there’s prejudice,” says Alyson. “If knowing my boys encourages anyone to think a bit more deeply about how we label people, then that’s just great as far as I’m concerned.”

Amen to that Alyson.  And thank you!

In terms of the impact on the family in general, in every interview both the twins and their parents recount that they had many experiences in which in one way or another (sibling to sibling/parent to child) no one could believe they were related and they had to prove it and other similar nonsense.  I’m a big believer in “a family should be something you can see just by looking at it” because I know how it feels when that is not the case.  I don’t know how to describe the feeling.  It’s jarring I guess.  It disturbs the foundation of a person.  Of a family.  And for what?  By what merit?  At the expense of whom?

I say:  For nothing.  Based on no true merit.  At the expense of all of us.

while i was away

besides hoarding articles, traveling too much for work, and evolving into a more holistic version of myself I had a fantastic time chatting with Heidi and Jennifer on the Mixed Experience podcast while I wasn’t blogging over here.  Y’all know I love me some Heidi Durrow.  She’s not only been a wonderful friend to me, but an inspiration as well! Oh yeah, there’s also that riveting novel she wrote called “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.” Such an important novel.  Period.  And in terms of the mixed experience it, like Heidi, is a true gem.  Here’s the interview if you’d like to listen.  I’ve been told it’s pretty good.  I also further explain why I had to take a break…again.

heidi and me

The Mixed Experience Podcast

most likely to suffer

I knew this, like on the inside of me, however reading it was profoundly gratifying.  Of course we are most likely to suffer…from many things.  You see, we’re not just invisible in the realm of public services and policy, but one could argue that we’re invisible everywhere we go.  Even at home to a certain extent.  Depending on circumstances of course.  And not only can we be misunderstood by teachers and health care professionals, we may very well be misunderstood by our parent(s), friends, and extended family.  Seeing as the truth of our experience has been ignored and denied, we’re also invisible in history.  Seeing yourself reflected back to you in a way that is congruent with your self-image is a “luxury” we are not often afforded.  And though there is no written rule on the subject, the feeling that our story is not valid and our voice is not wanted unless we surrender to societal expectations is palpable.

How about everybody just let us be and take us for who we say and show that we are?  Which means acknowledging, listening, hearing and imagining into some level of empathy.  Doesn’t seem like many people are interested in doing that.  Perhaps because if they did, the entire illusion would crumble.  Lots of identities are tightly wound in that illusion. So, then who would you all be?  You’d be like me.  Untethered from out-dated classifications and free to be whoever your heart tells you you are.  My heart has never mentioned race to me.  Has yours (to you)?

Mixed-race children ‘are being failed’ in treatment of mental health problems

The fastest growing ethnic group in Britain is still being treated as if it is only integrated into black culture, says report

mixie fairy b:w

Children of mixed race are at greater risk of suffering from mental health problems and are not getting the support they need, says a report.

Despite mixed-race children belonging to the fastest-growing ethnic group, the research, backed by the National Children’s Bureau, found that they faced “unrealistic” expectations from teachers and other adults who did not understand their backgrounds.

While mixed-race young people are over represented in the care, youth justice and child protection systems, the authors said they were “invisible” in public service practice and policy.

The report – Mixed Experiences – growing up mixed race: mental health and wellbeing – drew on several studies and interviews with 21 people about their experiences as children.

Co-author Dinah Morley was concerned at the lack of understanding over what it meant to be mixed race, a group most likely to suffer racism. “I was surprised at how much racism, from black and white people, had come their way,” she said. “A lot of children were seen as black when they might be being raised by a white single parent and had no understanding of the black culture. The default position for a child of mixed race is that they are black.”

The report found that those with mixed-race backgrounds were more at risk of mental health issues because of their struggle to develop an identity. Morley said the strongest common experience was the “too white to be black, too black to be white”.

The 2011 census showed that the mixed-race population was the fastest growing ethnic group in Britain, amounting to 2.2% of the population of England and Wales.

In 2012, research by the thinktank British Future found that prejudice towards mixed-race relationships was fading. The report, The Melting Pot Generation – How Britain Became More Relaxed About Race, talked about the “Jessica Ennis generation”, crediting the London Olympics 2012 athlete with changing attitudes towards mixed race. “That positive role model is also seen as something very important,” said Morley.

Jessica Ennis is a positive role model for people of mixed race

Jessica Ennis is a positive role model for people of mixed race Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Image

what did i just do?

This right here…this is everything.  And right on time because I need a little hope right now.

102 year old Rosa Finnegan checked herself.  And though what she discovered left her feeling ashamed, she shared it anyway.  Nationally.  Nothing braver than that.  The self examination and the sharing alike.  And while I admire her and have teared up each time I’ve read the story, I can’t help but think “Damn, it took 100 years for her to ask herself ‘What did I just do?'” I am so not judging Rosa here.  I think she’s a hero. Not exaggerating.  I also understand that the racial climate into which Rosa was born in 1912 was much more “extreme” for lack of a better word.  Perhaps Rosa had much more racial bullshit to sort through than those of us born half a century or more later. So what’s our excuse?

I gotta say here, too, that Rosa isn’t a hero to me only because she was willing to explore her racial prejudice, but because she was willing to explore an aspect of herself that most of us would catalog as “bad” and then scramble to cover up, deny, suppress, ignore, or whatever.  So many avenues to attempt this kind of escape!  But the only way to freedom from this age old entanglement is through the honest investigation, the acceptance of what is found, and the willingness to shift to more holistic perspectives and behavior.  Without judgement, shame, or attachment.  Sound easy?  It is and it isn’t.  What do you do when you notice that someone isn’t white like you, black like you, mixed like you, straight like you, gay like you, rich like you, poor like you? How are your actions dictated by these observations? And are those really the things that define a you?  That define any of us?  I think not, but we sure do spend a lot of time identifying ourselves and each other by such measures.

At 102, Reflections On Race And The End Of Life

Rosa Finnegan celebrated her 102nd birthday on Wednesday. She was born in 1912 — the year the Titanic sank. She stopped working at 101 and now lives in a nursing home in Massachusetts. Time has gone by fast, she says.

Below are excerpts from Rosa’s interview, reported and produced by Ari Daniel and Caitrin Lynch.

rosa-102-07549ace66cb7c10ce45a926d0a47e16b98bd1da-s40-c85

‘Not One Bit Different From Me’

Let me tell you something that happened to me here two months ago. It’s going to be a little hard to talk about this because I’m ashamed of myself, in plain English.

One day, they came and asked me if I’d like to move to another room. And when I was taken to the other room, I saw Ada, a black lady sitting there in her wheelchair with her oxygen tank beside her. And we had a nice little chat and I left. But first thing I noticed was that she wasn’t white, like I am, which is the thing that stopped me from moving into the room with her.

And when I got back to my own room, I sat there and I said, what did I just do? Rosa, you’re not a nice person at all. I felt very bad about that, so every time I went by her room, I would go in and sit and talk with her. And I met all her family. There was always someone there from the family to be with her. If she had some cookies or candy or something, she’d always say, here, have some of this. I felt kind of warm every time I went in to talk to her. And we got to be friends.

When it comes right down to it, she is not one bit different from me. She believes in the same God I do. She has children, grandchildren. And one day, one of the aides came to me and said, Rosa, do you want to go in and talk with Ada, she’s very sick and I don’t think she’s going to make it. Well, I went in and I did the best I could. She was sort of semiconscious and I leaned over and said, hi, Ada, how are you doing? And I didn’t get any answer. And her son was sitting there. And I said, if she should come to a little bit, please tell her that I was here and that I’m thinking about her. He said, thank you, I will. That night, she passed away. I haven’t got over it yet.

Even as old as I am, you think you’re not prejudiced but all of a sudden, you really find out you are. How stupid I was. Because before you know it, it’s all over. Thank God, I had a chance to really get to know this wonderful woman.

The reporting of this story was supported by the Olin College Faculty Summer Research Fund.

heart energy burst

whatever happened to

the KKK?  I mean I know they still have rally’s and such, but to me that seems more similar to a Civil War reenactment than a gathering to further a cause.  As if they’re remembering the good old days when they had an influence.

So what happened to put the torches out?  Did skinheads take over?  Neo-nazis?  White Supremacists?  Are those simply politically correct terms for the KKK these days?  Not exactly.  Apparently the Klan got caught, convicted, and executed.  Once.  And the one time that happened, they backed off.

The legacy lives on however.  Maybe if the hoods and cloaks hadn’t been hidden away we wouldn’t be so shocked by the actions of Dunn and Zimmerman.  Or by the juries who could not bring themselves to name those actions murder.

kkk jesus saves

Here’s the case that supposedly stopped the Klan.  According to the internet, there are some who didn’t get that memo.  Seems as though we’ve taken a few steps back, unfortunately.  In this post-racial age, we don’t get convictions.

 Henry Hays and James Knowles were arrested.  Hays, convicted, was incarcerated in the Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Alabama, while on death row. He was executed in the electric chair on June 6, 1997. The Associated Press reported that Hays was Alabama’s first execution for a white-on-black crime since 1913. Hays was also the only KKK member to be executed for the murder of an African-American during the 20th century. U.S. District Court Judge W. Brevard Hand sentenced Knowles, then 21 years of age, to a life sentence.  He avoided the death penalty by testifying against Hays at trial.

Donald v. United Klans of America

Popular Name:

Michael Donald Lynching Case

Shutting down the notorious United Klans
Nineteen-year-old Michael Donald was on his way to the store in 1981 when two members of the United Klans of America abducted him, beat him, cut his throat and hung his body from a tree on a residential street in Mobile, Ala.

Angry that an interracial jury had failed to convict another black man for killing a white police officer in Birmingham, the Klansmen selected Michael Donald at random and lynched him to intimidate and threaten other blacks. On the same evening, other Klan members burned a cross on the Mobile County courthouse lawn.

The two Klansmen who carried out the ritualistic killing were eventually arrested and convicted. Convinced that the Klan itself should be held responsible for the lynching, Center attorneys filed a civil suit on behalf of Donald’s mother, Beulah Mae Donald vs. United Klans. In 1987, the Center won an historic $7 million verdict against the men involved in the lynching.

The verdict marked the end of the United Klans, the same group that had beaten the Freedom Riders in 1961, murdered civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo in 1965, and bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.

The group was forced to turn over its headquarters to Beulah Mae Donald, and two additional Klansmen were convicted of criminal charges.

kkk-fliers-1024x576

19 again

Basically, I never want to hear about post-racial America again.  And I hope no one is left wondering why I would spend so much time and energy talking about race since things “are so much better.”  Because they aren’t.  We’ve just gotten comfortable pretending that they are.

Today would have been Jordan Davis’ 19th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Jordan Davis.

1920118_265094433651589_1042104730_n

I don’t know what else to say about it right now.

This lady did:

How Keeping Our Sons Safe Makes It OK for Whites to Be Racists

BY: 

The Jordan Davis case led some parents to give their kids “the talk.” But doing so absolves white people of their responsibility to unlearn stereotypes that scare them.

The slaying of 17-year-old Jordan Davis by a white man who didn’t appreciate his taste in music had some black people scrambling to give black boys “the talk” about how not to scare white people into shooting them…a lot of black parents who love their children are probably repeating it. I understand it.

But I don’t like it.

I don’t like it because as practical as it is, it inadvertently feeds the notion that black youths, and black males in particular, ought to capitulate to racist whites in order not to suffer at their hands.

And any white man who believes that black kids ought to turn down their music because he doesn’t like it, even if they are only sharing the same parking lot for a few minutes, isn’t seeking respect.

He’s expecting submission.

Any white store owner, or night watchman, who expects a black youth to take off his hood because it scares him, even though that black youth has no plans to do anything scary, isn’t asking for respect but for his irrational fears to be coddled.

Most of all, I don’t like it because we’ve been through this before.

In the 2002 book Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South, Charles Gratton recalled his mother’s instructions when she sent him to the grocery store. She told him, “If you pass any white people on your way, get off the sidewalk. Give them the sidewalk. Don’t challenge white people.”

Similarly, many black people who grew up during Jim Crow times remember being told not to look white people in the eye and to avoid doing things that might get them hurt or killed for being defiant or, as they would say back then, uppity.

A refusal to turn down music or take off a hoodie could translate into being uppity for whites like Dunn, who believe that black youths—who, like many of their white counterparts, are grappling with awkwardness and immaturity—owe it to them to suppress their attitude.

They don’t.

I get that it’s important to give black youths the advice they need to be able to live to fight another day, as Guns and others are doing. But we cannot forget the importance of fighting conditions, such as Florida’s “Stand your ground” law, that feed the idea that whites like Dunn can get away with fatally shooting a black youth like Jordan because he and his friends didn’t comply with their request.

jordan-davis-friends_full_600

Jordan Davis’ friends

We cannot forget, because something is horribly wrong when, more than a half-century after legal segregation ended, when we have a black man sitting in the Oval Office, Jim Crow-era instructions are being revived to protect black youths. These instructions have little to do with young black people being respectful to white strangers and everything to do with them being submissive to whites—with black youths giving white strangers permission to cling to fears about blackness by not being so, well, black.

And when we make black youths solely responsible for not frightening white people with their music or their style of dress or their swagger, we absolve white people of their responsibility to unlearn the stereotypes that are scaring them.

Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy, The Butler) did too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UL5awaQNNQE

i’m sorry but, no, they aren’t atlanta black star…

…They are biological parents of black and white children (if we’re going to identify by race) seeing as biological means they share the same DNA.  Doesn’t it?  Or does race really just mean status, leaving biology out of the equation altogether?  In that case, I guess the children are black because that’s how the world will perceive them whether their famous white parent is around or not.  Until all of that changes 😉

8 Famous White Celebs You Didn’t Know Were Biological Parents of Black Children

February 13, 2014 | Posted by 

bob-dylan-black-daughter-600x274

Bob Dylan

mick-jagger-black-daughter-600x347

Mick Jagger

ellen-pompeo-black-daughter-600x448-1

Ellen Pompeo

Justin+Chambers+10th+Annual+John+Varvatos+0fHbl9NcWJgx-600x434

Justin Chambers

david-bowie-iman-black-daughter-600x333

David Bowie

Peggy-Lipton-Black-Daughters-600x386

Peggy Lipton

Chris-Noth-Family-600x510-1

Chris Noth

Robert-De-Niro-Children-600x321Robert DeNiro

you don’t even know me

I posted this video on the vlog the other day…

…and then I found this clip of Tia/Tamera’s brother, Taj, addressing the same issue.  And i love it!  Makes me wonder if males are less sensitive to these things.  I mean, I already wondered that, but now i re-wonder.  Skip to 4:00 to catch the clip…

 

 

 

19

Today would have been Trayvon Martin’s nineteenth birthday.  I wish I didn’t know that.  I wish there were no reason for me to know this information. I wish Trayvon Martin was some random guy in Florida that I would probably never have the pleasure of meeting, let alone wish a happy birthday.  But I do know about Trayvon Martin.  And I think about Trayvon Martin.  And I am grateful for Trayvon Martin.  Happy Birthday Trayvon Martin.

trayvon martin aviator

When the verdict was read, I felt it in the gut.  I’m usually not emotionally invested in trials.  I believe this was a first.  I didn’t even know I was invested until the “not guilty”.  I was stunned and disappointed and hurt.  And angry.  But mostly hurt I think.  Because Black men in America had just been given confirmation that their lives don’t matter.  Are not valued.  That’s the message I received.  You are not valuable.  And I guess that’s the message we’ve always received on some level.  Our country has relied on this notion of inferiority being taken for granted.  We don’t all believe it.  But we are working a system that is held together by it.

I’ve been meaning to start a series of “White Privilege is…”posts.  Both here and on the youtube.  So this is gonna be the first one:

White Privilege is going to the store for skittles wearing a hoodie and not being followed.  Or harassed. Or shot.  To death.

photo