This Is Today’s Test

I really hate that we’re even having this conversation because it’s so damn stupid, but no one is disrespecting the flag. That’s just a bald faced lie. Kneeling is not a gesture of disrespect. It’s a prayerful, reverent position. If Kapernick had said he was kneeling as an act of patriotic fervor, no one except the Jehovah’s witnesses and the Mennonites would have objected. But he’s kneeling to protest a pattern of violence by the state against citizens, particularly black citizens.

Let’s drill down to brass tacks about this issue. A 12 year old child named Tamir Rice was deliberately shot on sight, without warning, while playing in a park by the police. And nothing happened. His mom got some money because that’s all anyone cares to give her. The local cops ridicule her, sometimes openly. They knowingly lied about her son and what happened. They did not provide immediate first aid for Tamir’s wounds. They made his sister watch her 12 year brother dying on the ground while locked in the back of a squad car, after a full grown man tackled her to stop her from reaching him. They didn’t even follow their own rules. The local DA was forced by protests to convene a grand jury which he threw so flagrantly and deliberately that details of the proceedings were leaked to the public – something which simply does not happen with grand juries. Grand juries do not leak. From front to back, this case is as egregiously unjust and cruel as it is possible to be.

And, by all appearances, a lot of Americans are cool with that. They’ll repeat easily disproven lies smearing a 12 year old child before dealing with the obvious problem Kapernick and other athletes are protesting. To them, the most important thing is that we all agree that there is most certainly not a problem and further, that we are not allowed to talk openly about the problem outside of a few well-worn bromides that have always sufficed before. Unfortunately, there are people with really loud voices and a lot of power who fall into the category of people who just don’t give a shit about a 12 year old kid in a supposed “ghetto” that they won’t even drive through but know everything about. Where a 12 year old child was playing when he was shot by the police, no wilding gang members being available to do the job, apparently. The people who think like this are assholes. These are the people who need to be identified and kept away from positions of power and influence. Because they are literally sociopaths who are a danger to the rest of us.

So here’s what’s happening right now; as I warned y’all a couple of years back we’re going to be having a little test. And apparently God put Kapernick in charge of administering this part of it. The particular question we need to answer for this part of the test is simple:

What is more important to you: living in a country where it’s unthinkable for a 12 year old kid to be shot by a police officer while playing at the park or following protocol for interacting with national symbols?

That’s all you have to answer: which one matters more? A human being or the flag? Justice or a song? Will you kneel for justice and real human lives or will you refuse to on account of mere symbols? That’s the choice you get to make. It’s an easy enough question to answer. Which is more important – humans or symbols and protocols. Sociopaths will make one choice. Decent human beings will make another. So make your choice. What matters more to you? At the end of the day, what sort of person do you turn out to be? Choose. Let us all know. We’re watching.

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Sadly, Being Nice Rarely Changes Things

While I’m usually pretty nice and well behaved here on my blog, it has happened a time or two in real life and on social media that I have been criticized for being too harsh, too dramatic and too provocative. The way I communicate has been called vulgar, bombastic, hateful, angry and divisive. More than one person has tried to plead with me (or shame me) to tone it down. Typically they claim that no one will listen to me because I’m alienating people. Clearly, I have not found these arguments or criticisms particularly persuasive.

To demonstrate why, take a look at these fascinating charts:

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Between 2009 and 2014, the percentage of white people claiming that we have done enough to give blacks equal rights vs those who say that more needs to be done remained stable. Most white people had declared mission accomplished. But by 2015, the positions had completely reversed with most white people suddenly deciding that we needed to do more to give blacks equal rights. What happened? Well, Black Lives Matters happened. Conflict happened. Protests happened. Arguments happened. Roads were blocked, events were disrupted, people shouted and refused to back down. A few even set shit on fire.

Much like me, BLM was criticized for being too harsh, too dramatic, too provocative. They were called vulgar, bombastic, hateful, angry and divisive. They were told that all they were doing was alienating people.  Right wing media engage in a demonic smear campaign against them to make J. Edgar Hoover do a jig in his grave. The leaders of BLM, however, had studied the history of non-violent social change and they knew better than to give the calls to simmer down and be nice any credence. And for all the criticism and complaints, people’s eyes started to open and their minds began to change. Their denial became less sustainable. In a very short amount of time, opinions flipped quite dramatically.

You see, the idea that we can get people to change their minds about important issues, come out of denial and recognize the error of their ways through civility and dialogue sounds high minded and reasonable. Except reality doesn’t actually work like that. It could, if people were better at listening, less defensive and less invested in victim blaming. But they’re not.

Which is why it is both good and necessary that we have some people who are willing to be obnoxious, piss everyone off and refuse to back down. People who are willing to have people think that they’re a jerk and talk shit about them and say nasty things to them. And while not everyone can or should be that sort of person, I am quite happy to be one of those people at this moment in history. I get that at any given moment. I have a fair number of people mad at, disgusted by or appalled at me. That’s OK. I’m a mom; it’s not a novel experience for me.

Spotting a Sociopath in the Wild

shifty_eyesThe sociopaths I have had the misfortune to know all watch people very closely, gauging their reactions & plotting their next move. They very quickly figure out how to present themselves in order to gain whatever advantage they happen to be seeking with each person they engage with. They will decide that one person will adore them and another will be appalled or frightened or awed and set about making it so. If they’re good enough at it, they will speak one sentence to a group of three and each will hear something different – a threat, a need, a sense of comfort, whatever it is that suits the sociopath’s need.

Managing how they are perceived is a constant concern which can give them an air of distraction. Even if you see what they are doing, it’s hard to tell if they realize what they are doing. Perhaps they simply don’t realize? In fact, these games they play are always on their minds.

Remember when people used to say they distrusted someone because they had “shifty eyes”? That wasn’t entirely without cause. If you watch a sociopath, and you catch them when they think no one is watching, they’ll be scanning the room. Not just when standing alone, but in the middle of intense conversations when the other person is so intent on what they are saying that they’re no longer focusing any attention on their conversational partner. The sociopath is still listening, still giving verbal signs of engagement, but their eyes are scanning around them, observing details, gathering data points they might be able to use later. If your eyes meet, the sociopath might wink and look away after taking note that you’re watching too.

Sociopaths are just very dispassionate observers. They may seem reactive, but if they lose control, it’s because they gave themselves permission to. They’re far more in control of themselves than you or I often are. At least the slick ones are. It’s what allows them to plot and scheme against everyone they come in contact with. So next time you’re in a crowd, see if someone nearby has shifty eyes and you just might catch a sociopath. Or they might catch you.

 🙃 PS Don’t you love the new emoji they made for me?

Let’s Be Real, My White Peeps . . . 

I read a Facebook post this morning from a woman who has adoptive children from Africa. In it she shared the sort of evil, hateful messages she received about her family. Telling her that her small black son will rape her white daughter is the least offensive example she gave. Because my mixed race family is not as high profile as hers, I have not witnessed much of the open vitriol that she has, just the more pervasive, quiet examples of destructive racism. Like having my family’s future decided by a new boss who had a severe problem with the talented, hot-shot black guy who reported to him. The effects that working in extremely hostile environments for years on end sometimes had on my husband’s mental well being. The neighbors who refuse to socialize with us and sometimes even discouraged their kids from befriending our kids. The occasional bizarre reactions to my sons when they were little.

I could write books of examples of how my husband’s skin tone and nose have affected our lives. The time he almost died from incompetent medical care in an area with one of the highest discrepancies in outcomes between racial groups in the country. That he’s moved into our last 3 homes sight unseen as a way around pervasive housing discrimination. The difficulty getting a decent loan. Seriously-  it’s hard to stop giving examples. It pervades EVERYTHING. I don’t actually think about it much because what’s the point? It is what it is. And I’m not even the one bearing the full brunt of it.

But the woman whose post I link to above said something that we very much have in common; that she had previously been unaware that white supremacy and racism were still a thing. Just like this woman, prior to marrying my husband, I had no idea it was like this. None. My husband would get desperately frustrated with me early in our marriage because I was completely incapable of factoring racial discrimination into my decision making process. He’d say, “It’s different for black folks. It just is. Things don’t work the same for us as they do for white folks.”
And I’d kind of stare blankly at him, unable to process what he was saying because it was such melodramatic overreaction and not a healthy mindset to approach life with. When I would attempt to explain this to him, the desperate frustration would kick in. Because I was delusional. I really was. I had no idea how reality works. I just didn’t. And that worked for both the good and the bad in the end, but clearly my delusion didn’t last forever. Reality has a way of intruding.
See, I don’t think that white supremacy and racism are primarily heart issues as is commonly said. White supremacy and racism certainly corrupt our hearts, but primarily they are a set of false beliefs. The most obvious being that white people are self-evidently better than black people. We may not put it so crudely, of course. We’ll just point out differences in crime rates and out of wedlock births and style and lack of achievement and the experiences we’ve had with individual black people who rubbed us the wrong way. We’re not saying all black people are bad. If someone lives up to our standards, we’ll accept them regardless of their race. We don’t even care about color! Don’t even see it, in fact! Like Dr. King said – content of character, not color of skin.
I saw a picture of a girl holding a sign at a protest once which I think describes this kind of thinking pretty perfectly:

“You take away our daddy’s and then make fun of us for being fatherless”

Having been trained to think the world work very differently than it does in reality makes us white folks very hard of hearing. (And then we play victim and get mad that people are yelling at us, btw.) But here’s what white people need to hear: there is a very real problem and we can do an enormous amount to fix it. It starts with admitting we are wrong AND – even more important-  correcting that. People shouldn’t have to put their hate mail calling their small sons rapists on display to get your attention anymore. This is not news. We shouldn’t have to have tiki torch Nazis parading around a statue of General Lee for people to realize that there are racists among us. (And not just cordoned off somewhere in the boonies either.)
People have been telling us how bad it is and we don’t want to listen. We want to argue and explain. I had a guy on Twitter the other day try to convince me that racial problems came down to an issue of semantics and bad communication. No – racial problems come down to people being mistreated and their lives getting fucked up while very smart white folks want to talk semantics and demand the benefit of the doubt no matter what. To me, racial problems mean all kinds of real, practical things. To him, it’s all just words. Which is about as good an illustration of the problem as any.
We are the problem. We’ve been the problem. And if that hurts your feelings or makes you angry, too bad! Really. Grow the hell up. You’re not a toddler. You can handle some bad feelings. Ask black folks. They know more about bad feeling a than you do, that’s for damn sure. And no – I don’t need to know you to know that. Because if you really had suffered that much, you wouldn’t have hurt feelings or be mad right now because you know that depth of suffering is far too serious to be that petty about.
Anyways, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here. It’s a thing that happens – the more you tell the truth, the more people who believe lies reject you. Oh well. But perhaps you can share this with someone who needs to read it. Because this has to stop. We white people need to accept reality and stop arguing/being defensive so that we can all get to work fixing it. Unless white people really do want to live in a world where skin color defines us. Because until we stop fighting, that’s what it looks like to everyone else.

Dark Ooze and Webs of Light

Image result for web of lightYears ago while in prayer, I saw the earth in my mind’s eye and there was this thick darkness oozing over the planet like crude oil. It had spread in a solid mass across much of the northern hemisphere and blotches of it popped up and began oozing all around the world. And then I saw spots of light begin to pop up in areas not yet covered under the dark ooze. Threads of light began connecting these spots of light, creating a web of light. It reminded me of those maps of flight paths with connecting nodes. As more and more spots of light and connecting threads formed, they reached around and across the planet. Eventually, the web branched to the places which the dark ooze had covered. In the places where the dark ooze was, the webs of light were not visible at first. But as I watched, the webs of light began to burn through the dark ooze, dissolving it completely. At the end, the planet was covered in a dense web of light.

This is one of those visions that probably doesn’t require too much explanation. But I wanted to share my basic take on it. In my mind’s eye, the dark ooze started around Great Britain and spread out from there. I believe that this represents the powerful old money and corporate interests which rule the world and have spread a sociopathic, amoral ideology across the planet. The dark ooze carries with it the forces of slavery, oppression, the worship of money, a mentality of entitlement for the rich and a disregard for the well-being of the poor. This is a force which has spread using the technology of the day. Ships, planes, machinery, trains. It has been powered by dirty fuels and degrades the planet and human beings alike in order to obtain resources it needs to feed itself. These technologies brought benefits, of course. But the technologies were expensive and those with money controlled them. Unfortunately those with money have often been quite evil.

The light, I believe, represents the internet, strangely enough. Like all new technology, it originated under the control of the darkness. And it has certainly brought darkness right into people’s world in many ways. However, it’s also allowed the good people to speak out and be heard, without having to have great wealth to do it. These would be the spots of light I saw. The lights connect and a whole web of goodness, freedom and truth has been created beyond the reach and control of the forces of the darkness. In fact those who are ensconced in the old, dark ways that have wrecked so much harm on the planet tend to shun the internet. They still make their plans and agreements by flying around the world, meeting face to face. Meanwhile, I have a good friend who is a minister in the slums around Bangalore who I talk to multiple times a week and support as I am able. Neither of us can afford a plane ticket, but with this new technology, we can exchange ideas, strategize and support each other.

In the end, it is this web of goodness which will defeat the darkness. In fact, I think we’re seeing it happen as we speak. We’re probably at the point where the web of light has started spreading under the dark ooze, but before it burns it away. God willing, that part will be happening shortly.

At any rate, I always hesitate to share these kinds of woo-woo signs and visions. Such things being the purvue of shysters and charlatans. And crazy people. But it is what it is. Let’s just hope that this one is true. Or better yet, let’s work hard to make it true.

Kids and Politics

I’ve heard a fair number of people wondering what to tell their kids about Trump and current events. As someone with kids ranging from 21 down to 6, I thought I’d share how we do thing in our house. I’m not saying that this is the “right” way to deal with the issue, just that this is what my husband and I are personally comfortable with.

First of all, turn off the news. We do not have the news on either the TV or the radio in our home. If you absolutely must listen or watch, do it when the kids are in bed or at school. Most of the news is garbage anyways. Local news is racist and consumeristic garbage. Cable news is distorting and evil. NPR isn’t so bad, but it can be pretty emotional which is hard for some kids to deal with. You can access all the news you need to know online without your kids being exposed to it.

To the extent that my kids are exposed to the news and politics, it’s through dinner conversations between my husband and I with the older kids joining in. We tend to avoid subject that would cause serious anxiety, unless we can talk about them at a high enough level that it will be hard for the younger kids to follow. For example, we might say that Trump’s behaving like a fascist, but we’re not going to go into what fascism actually entails. Mostly we stick to inside ball – there was an executive order signed, this person spoke out on this issue, Trump’s approval ratings. Things like that.

With younger kids, it is my opinion that they don’t need to know what’s going on unless it’s coming right to your door. Children need to be able to focus on their own lives and don’t benefit from the anxiety of watching the goings on of the grown folks. To the extent that you do talk about it with them, keep it vague. All my 7 year old knows is that Trump is president (she doesn’t like his face) and that I don’t think he’s a good man. We also had a discussion about the fact that we’ve had other presidents who weren’t good people before so she’d know that we’ve survived bad men before. (I used George Washington keeping slaves and his relationship with Oney Judge as an example.) Frankly, if your young child is asking a lot of questions about politics and the news, they may be being exposed to too much of it.

If you live in an urban area where there are protests going on, are going to one or will take them to one, telling them that people are upset with the direction the country is going and are making themselves heard should be sufficient. Maybe add in that you’re protesting in order to speak up for the people who get mistreated. Personally, I avoid using the social issues of the day as jumping off points for discussions about serious issues such as equality, empathy, free speech and the like. If you’re raising them right, those are ideas that you are already teaching them in word, action and deed already. (Again, these are my opinions, not me pontificating at you about the right way to handle these things.)

Tweens are still pretty self-absorbed (as they should be) but they are starting to be more aware of the wider goings on in the world. This is the age when they typically start paying some attention to dinner table conversations. So they are gaining some feel for how things work and the general tenor of what’s happening and are usually satisfied with that. With my tweens, I asked them every week or two what kids at school are talking about in regard to the news and/or the president. Obviously not everyone is refraining from discussing politics in front of their kids and kids do have a tendency to parrot what their parents are saying. So things do get said. I’ll ask them what the general opinion among their friends/classmates are (apparently all the 6th grade girls turned on Trump when the news about how he talked about women came out). Then I’ll ask what they think about things being said. Often that’s enough, but if there’s a problem or some misinformation, I’ll counter it. I also try to offer a bit of context to what they are hearing. Like when the pussy grabbing recording came out, I told my daughter that Trump has a bad history with women, so this is the sort of thing that we can expect from him.

Once the kids get into their teenaged years, they tend to be spending a fair amount of time online where politics is ubiquitous. Because they’re growing up in a home where the news and politics is dinnertime conversation, they typically start at least glancing at the news on their own. Both my 17 and 21 year olds keep up with the news fairly well, although not nearly as obsessively as I do. But this is usually the age at which they will start piping up during dinner time conversations or bring it up at other times with us, as they know it’s an area of interest. At that age, I generally try to give them room to tell me what they think, rather than just spouting off at them with my opinions. I’ll gently challenge points of disagreement or bring up ideas, information and perspectives that I can see that they are missing.

As they get older I will sometimes run my own ideas and opinions past them and ask for their opinion. When you’re old enough to have children who are young adults, you’re old enough to be in danger of getting stuck in your thinking and shutting yourself off from new ideas. Asking your kids what they think gives them a chance to think more deeply themselves while potentially exposing yourself to a different perspective. I also like to ask them about the opinions of their more politically aware friends for the same reasons. This is the age where I’ll start arguing more forcefully with them about things we disagree on. But I never let it get too serious. We can agree to disagree, even majorly. But since we’ve been training them in morality, empathy, care of the least and the like as core values, their politics tends to wind up not too far from my own. Although they’re not nearly as radical as their dad and I tend to be. At first anyways.

In writing this, I am aware that although we are a mixed race family and we’ve had more than our fair share of problems, I’m writing this from a very privileged position of being middle class, well educated and largely protected from the wider goings on in the world. Like I said, I’m not saying that our approach is the right approach, but it’s what works for us. I don’t want my kids to be ignoramuses, of course. But I also don’t want politics to become a dominant feature of their lives unless they develop their own fascination with it independent of me. What I really don’t want, however, is to wind up with a young child who is anxious, angry or scared about the state of the world. Nor do I want my arrogant cocksure adolescent who has little to no real life experience spouting off ideology and opinions on the internet like they know every damn thing.

So there you have it. Some thoughts for those of you wonder what to tell the kids. Do with it what you will

Just How Out of Touch Are Trump and the Radical Right? Here’s the List

Image result for signs women's marchIf anyone is confused about why the country is in an uproar right now (aside from the fact that cheeto Mussolini just took office), consider the difference between what the American people want and what is being forced on us by our government and the radical right:
I’m sure there’s more, but those are the issues I could think of off the top of my head. If you would like to suggest other topics for me to research or know of polling on other topics you can direct me to, please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.
At any rate, the point is that right now we have a government pursuing policies which the majority of Americans disagree with, often by huge margins. For whatever reason, these people and their supporters seem to be under the impression that they matter more than the rest of us and that they are entitled to force their will on us. How did this happen, you ask? Seeing as we’re supposedly a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people and all. Well, it’s not because they’re winning more votes, that’s for sure:

Social Justice, Prophetic Voice Memes

My brain won’t write today, so I made memes. I’m thinking of doing more of these pairing social justice issues with prophetic words of scripture, so if you have suggestions put them in the comments and I’ll see what I can come up with.

blm-peacedapl

If you’d like to share these (please), just right click on them and chose “save image as”.

Your Simple Act of Resistance For the Day 1/23

We’re in a bit of a quandary here with Trump. He is giving every appearance of being a despot in the making. It’s possible, he’s just an idiot savant who is going to be one of our worst presidents and we’ll recover. And maybe our institutions are strong enough to withstand any attempt by him to step too far outside the lines. But after the last year in particular, that seems like a foolish thing to put our hopes in. Institutions haven’t been doing so well for quite some time now.

So, for now, we do what we can figure out to do, learn what works and what doesn’t and stay alert. Not everyone will be willing or able to see the threat and respond to it, unfortunately. But I really do think that if those of us who are aware enough to be alarmed keep showing up, join forces and resist, we will come out on top. So it’s in that spirit that I’m giving you your simple act of resistance for today.

A group of former congressional staffers have put out a guide for best practices to get our legislators to listen and respond to us. It’s called Indivisible. Your assignment for today is to go to their site, bookmark it and download the guide. If you’re ready, you can also sign up to receive updates on calls to action and find groups forming in your area. If you’re not, you will have the guide available and be able to easily find the site again when/if the time comes that you know you need to get involved.

One of the reasons I’m sharing this site with you is because, unlike other advocacy groups, these folks are truly working from the grassroots. They’re not asking for money or compiling a list of email addresses to sell or solicit from. They’re just trying to provide an easy way for people to learn best practices, connect and keep abreast of what’s going on.

Alrighty then? Ready, set, go!

Trump Declares His Inauguration Day a “Day of Patriotic Devotion” #notajoke #notadrill

I’ve been arguing for months that it’s Trump’s intention to turn us into a Russian style oligarchy. So far, he’s done nothing to convince me otherwise. And now there’s this:

day-of-patriotic-devotion

Yes, that’s actually declaration, signed by Donald Trump, declaring the date of his inauguration to be “A Day of Patriotic Devotion”.

Honestly. I don’t even know what to say, except this is not a drill. This is really happening. I believe that if we the American people, who still believe in our values, constitution and way of life, continue to show up, we will stop this. But it’s definitely going to be a fight. Sigh.

Update: Apparently Obama also made a declaration regarding his inauguration day, except with a completely different, service oriented, non-fascist tone:

As I take the sacred oath of the highest office in the land, I am humbled by the responsibility placed upon my shoulders, renewed by the courage and decency of the American people, and fortified by my faith in an awesome God … On this Inauguration Day, we are reminded that we are heirs to over two centuries of American democracy, and that this legacy is not simply a birthright — it is a glorious burden. Now it falls to us to come together as a people to carry it forward once more.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2009, a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, and call upon all of our citizens to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

I wonder if this is going to be Trump’s tactic: to ape action’s Obama took while giving them a scary, fascist twist. His supporters are so far in denial that they’ll just point to whatever precedent Obama (or whoever) set and ignore the substance of the matter. I mean, I’m literally involved in an argument online right now with people advocating for jailing someone for sharing a dark fantasy, even in jest. Uuuuuuggggggghhhhhh.