“Privileged”

 

The Container Yard Outside Art by Sek

 

Kyle Korver is an NBA player for the Utah Jazz, a white player. He recently wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune, titled “Privileged.” If you’ve not read it, the link is here. And yes – I think you should read it.

 

I could go on and on about the piece, about my thoughts and feelings on the subject matter, but I won’t. Korver’s thoughts and feelings are expressed honestly. The man speaks truth.

 

May we all learn to listen.

So. Alabama. (This is a Rant and a half, y’all.)

 

The South

 

When I think about all that’s going on in the world, there’s too much ugliness for focus. Sadly, I could rattle off about a jillion topics, but the standouts at the moment – in my mind – are these: the swirl of activity around hate is seemingly endless; sexual harassers and predators, who have existed for all time, are clueless regarding just about every little thing under the sun; and the racists of the world are too stupid to recognize their rightful place – beneath rocks.

 

On the hate front, religious hate definitely pops up. It seems that a lot of hate stems from anything different from ourselves. For some reason, we are particularly unhappy when others don’t bow to our own deities. Honestly – I don’t know why we give a rat’s ass why someone aligns with religions different from our own. As long as folks are good and decent, why should their worship matter? I won’t lie – I do know a couple of judgey Christians and they’re no picnic. In a single breath, they will gladly tell you what they believe Jesus would do, then proceed to say something vile and decidedly un-Christian-like without so much as the batting of a holy eyelash. I occasionally have to deal with these folks, so deal I do. In direct contrast to them, when I’m around good decent Christians, it’s a friggin’ delight. Recently my sweet friend Gwendlyn said she was feeling overwhelmed by the way so-called Christians are perverting her faith. I suggested that if Jesus does ever decide to come back to this planet and chooses to land in the U-S-of-A, he’d best make his appearance in California, as it might be the only safe place for him. If Jesus popped up in some parts of the country, while wearing his half-dress/half-robe and sandals, I’m pretty sure some gun-totin’, Republican, self-proclaimed holier-than-thou Christian would bust a cap in Jesus’ ass. I’m also pretty sure the shooter would fire in the name of – you guessed it – Jesus. The dead guy in the street.

 

Hate isn’t limited to religious differences, though, so a plethora of others receive a ton of disdain on a regular basis, too. I find I’m at a loss on this front also. I mean, how is homosexuality a threat to my marriage? The answer is – it isn’t! Never has been, never will be. I see you, wide-stance politicians who protest the loudest in public, while getting a little too close to young same-sex colleagues in private. And please remember, most of us have eyes. We all see you.

 

When it comes to the subject of sexual harassment and assault, I am completely biased. Not only because of my own experience as a female, but also because of the experiences of every single female I know (and of course – the ugliness isn’t limited to female victims). I could write a book of #MeToo horrors, and that’s just one gal’s experiences. The ridiculousness of what we live through every single day is appalling. Truth is, I don’t know how some of my friends and acquaintances have managed to live through all of it. I really don’t. And I say that as a victim of assault. So yes – I’m outraged. But I’m also incredibly proud of all the women (and men) who are coming forward with their life stories. I admire them and I support them. And if I hear one more asshole say something about getting past all this, because he’s sick of hearing about it, I may have a conniption. Newsflash, motherfuckers – there is no getting past it. Predators are too stupid to evolve into decent people, and we seem to have a steady stream of idiots in our midst. Hell – we in America have installed a predator-in-chief! I can hardly believe it, but we did. And I will never understand how parents bring themselves to support a predator in office, or anywhere, and still have the audacity to consider themselves decent to their children. I don’t get it. (And please don’t try to defend yourself to me if you’re one of these lost souls. Just unsubscribe. Um-kay?)

 

No, I don’t worry about how long the calling-out of sexual harassers and predators will go on. I’m more concerned about it stopping too soon. It needs to continue, to keep going. Sadly, it will take more years than I have left to live, in order to see real change. That breaks my heart, and yet I still support every victim who finds her (or his) voice. One final thought on this. If you’re the type of male who believes females are the weaker sex, you may want to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Women put up with more shit in a single day than most of you could handle in a decade. Weaker sex, my ass.

 

I also have a few thoughts about racists and they’re not good thoughts. But before I share them, I want to remind some of you that my exposure to racism is vast. My Georgia childhood was a master class in how to be a dumb-fuck racist. Here’s another newsflash: I failed. Despite being raised in a house where I was regularly told my skin color made me better than others, the outside world told a different and wonderful story. I was ten years old when I fully realized, all by myself, that I wasn’t any better than people of color. I was an observant little kid – and a straight-A student – and I decided to share my newfound knowledge with my family. For I was a giver, don’t you know. That big moment found me at the table for supper, announcing, “I don’t think there’s any difference between white people and black people. My friend Leslie, who’s in my same grade, is just as smart as me and she’s nice and pretty, too.” I was immediately slapped across the face by my father. He told me I better not ever say things like that again, and that I was wrong and if I knew what was good for me, I’d shut up. Well I did have some idea what was good for me, so I did indeed shut up.

 

But I knew more. I don’t know how, but I did. I knew I had been right in thinking Leslie was my equal. Hell – she may have been smarter. She was certainly prettier. To this day, I don’t know why I knew my father was wrong. I just did. I had found truth. And if I had to keep my mouth shut about it, in order to protect myself from physical harm in my own home, then that’s what I would do. But that demanded silence didn’t change anything. For I knew – in my heart – that I was right.

 

Here’s the thing, and this is mainly for you closet racists. If you stand on a corner and announce that you don’t believe a suppressed and persecuted group of people has any damned reason to complain about the state of their lives, you simply cannot feign surprise when other people, who consistently make the same announcement, decide to support you for your speechifying. In other words - if you stand with white supremacists, you don’t get to be upset when they stand with you. In announcing your racism (whether it be overt or closeted), you basically gave yourself a debutante ball and invited your fellow racists to attend. And that’s on you, every single time. It doesn’t matter how you all got to your privileged perches. You’re there now and the view is the same. And it ain’t good.

 

And that’s the problem, y’all. I and about a jillion others know nothing but white privilege. That’s not our fault, per se, as our skin color is just our skin color. It shouldn’t mean anything, because it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just part of how we look. But, and I’m being honest here, it’s all I know. Being white is my only experience. I can do my best to empathize and I can do my best to understand, but I will never ever know what it’s like to go through this world as a person of color. I have no idea what it’s like to be judged adversely for my skin. No one had to teach me how to behave if I ever found myself face-to-face with a law officer aiming a gun at me. Do you know how many parents are mortified that their children will be lost forever just because of their skin color? I didn’t have that hanging over my head when I was a kid. Still don’t. I can’t imagine what that must be like for the kids, any more than I can imagine what it’s like for their parents. It’s terrifying. And ridiculous. And utterly stupid. But that’s what racism is, folks. Utterly stupid.

 

And for my white peers who still think Black Lives Matter is a crock, I feel sorry for you. You’re so ignorant you can’t even see how ignorant you are. Or maybe you’re too superior to admit you’re wrong. Or maybe you’re both of those things, along with a slurry of other ugly isms. That’s all pretty pitiful.

 

I was reading an article about a new book by John Hodgman. In the piece, this excerpt from the interview with the author is quoted: ”Why did it take me till my 40s to understand that the biggest privilege of white privilege is the ability to turn off race and pretend that it is not an issue?” At least Hodgman got there, even if it was in his 40s. Too many of us haven’t gotten there yet. And god help us, too many of us never will.

 

All of this brings me to now. So. Alabama. The big news of yesterday was the turnout of good, decent people in the 22nd state of this country. The majority of voters declared their kith and kin as being off-limits to known predators (and unknown, too, I pray). The good folks told their daughters (and sons) that they will believe them, should they ever need help. They told their kids that they won’t look away from their young souls, and that their kids can count on them. Those voters made it clear that a modicum of decency is required to occupy their highest offices. And that hopeful businesses are welcome to set up shop in the state. Yesterday, Alabama was dangerously close to extinguishing its light, but it didn’t. Goodness prevailed. Thank all the gods for that, y’all. And heaven help us, may goodness continue to rise up and prevail, everywhere. Amen.

My Tribe

 

 

So.

 

I haven’t so much as looked at this blog since the morning after the U.S. election. Which sucked, by the way, as my country decided to pursue hate, fear and ignorance. Officially. (Couldn’t you have kept that shit tamped down in your own home, for cry-eye? Did you have to display it right out in the open?) Since that awful election, I’ve been hiding. But I can’t hide from me, or my life. And though I am still mostly refraining from hanging around people, as the depression I carry will likely be with me a while, I do need to be around me. And my tribe.

 

My tribe is comprised of legitimately hopeful souls. They don’t live their lives in fear and they absolutely do not judge anyone for bullshit reasons (think religion, sexuality, skin color). My tribe definitely consists of educated people. But not all of us hold advanced degrees. For example, one outstanding member of my tribe only made it through sixth grade, and I defy anyone who would call her “elite.” My tribe of like-hearted souls do things for others on a regular basis, but you’d never know it, as they aren’t seeking a tax write-off or a plaque for their walls. No – these folks are just decent for the sake of decency. I thank God for them and I love them.

 

The rest of the mo-fos, on the other hand, are most certainly not in my tribe. They are terrified of the world and for some incomprehensible reason, falsehoods are their bread and butter. If it isn’t spewed on Fox news, they don’t believe it. (And when it is spewed by disreputable sources, they believe the bullshit blindly.) They claim to be disciples of Christ, even as their actions surely lead God to weep. They wear hypocrisy like a comfortable, old sweater. And I’ve gotta tell you – that style isn’t doing anybody any favors. Their snide, racist comments are unwelcome and ugly. Their holier-than-thou judgment of anyone different is just plain ignorant. And frankly, to put all this in terms they can understand, ugly is as ugly does. Their ugly behavior is aging them, and not in an attractive way.

 

Because I haven’t been able to snap out of the dark abyss I’ve fallen into (since the election), I’ve been turning to trusted writers and sages, trying to glean some wisdom or a bit of guidance. A few have mentioned drinking more (which I’m doing, thank-you-very-much) and some have mentioned the wisdom of those who’ve gone before. Which brings me to back to Jesus. I don’t give a rat’s ass about political party affiliations, but I’m pretty damned sure that if Jesus hitched a ride to America, he would not be hanging with conservatives. Because let’s be honest, there isn’t a damned Republican who’d invite him in, as he would probably look like an umkempt hippy. Let’s also not forget that Jesus was a Jew, and probably had olive skin and dark eyes, you judgmental crackers. And if Jesus had the audacity to speak of helping others and giving for Christ-sake, he’d be beaten up by a Drumpf supporter before he could show his ID. I bet that if Jesus had the gift of hind-sight, he’d ask for a holy do-over. I mean it. I can see it – Jesus saying, “I know I said all that stuff about turning the other cheek and loving thy neighbor as thyself, blah-blah-blah, but I’m pretty sure that if I don’t keep an eye on you, you motherfuckers are gonna crucify me. So I’m gonna head on out with my posse, turn some water into sweet-ass wine and call it a day. Take it sleazy. Christ out.” I am, as you might imagine, not an authority on all things Jesus. But he was supposed to be a pretty cool dude, so I stand by this idea. And even though I’m not on team Christian, I’m also pretty sure Jesus is down with my views on this. Or at the very least, entertained.

 

I don’t know what to tell ya. As grateful as I am for my tribe, I still have to live with the rest of the country. Hell – I’m related to a lot of the rest. And the truth is – I just don’t have a lot in common with the rest. I don’t believe in rounding up immigrants. I know who harvests and processes my food, and as I like to eat, I appreciate the immigrants who do the shit jobs in America. The ones who wash dishes. The ones working in awful conditions at the meat-packing plants. I don’t believe in some bullshit about certain rights being reserved for only some. I have gay relatives and friends. Of course they should be able to marry, or rent an apartment, or get a damned job. I don’t believe racism is an option. I have relatives and friends of every skin color. Judging people based on ethnicity doesn’t make them any less human. But it does make the ones doing the judging look like ignorant assholes. Because they are. And don’t even get me started on sexual assault and women’s rights, because I am seriously on the verge of breaking my foot off up in someone’s ass the next time some old white dude tries to tell me anything about my body. You motherfuckers.

 

Which brings me to this: it may be time for us to part ways. You may be terribly offended by some or all of what I’ve written here. That is your right and I respect that. (It’s America, remember? You get to choose.) So please – unsubscribe. Forget you ever knew me. We simply may not be members of the same tribe. Go hang with cohorts who share your views. Live your life. Over there.

 

I’ll be over here, with my tribe. We’re a busy group. We’ve got homeless to feed and shelter. We’re taking care of women who’ve escaped abusive relationships. We’re trying to make sure poor children get basic medical care. We’re teaching English to eager newcomers. We’re building houses for folks whose best hasn’t quite afforded them the opportunity of their own homes. We’re trying to stop bullying in schools, even though it has been stationed in the highest office of the land. My tribe is a good group. Just thinking about them brings me calmness and strength. And gratitude, as they are truly the best this country has to offer.

 

So yes – please unsubscribe if you’d like. Please. Tell yourself you’re not a racist, even as you forward ugly, obnoxious memes. Tell yourself you’re a good, loving parent, even as you stand up for a sexual predator. Tell yourself you’re a good person who supports folks with disabilities, even as you stand up for a bully who openly mocks the disabled. Tell yourself you’re a worthy, humane being, even as you shelve your basic morals and ethics to stand up for and support a terribly indecent person. Tell yourself whatever you need to so that you can sleep at night. And unsubscribe.

 

For the rest of you choosing to stay? My tribe? I’m back, y’all. And the gloves are off.

Grave New World

 

 

So this is our life now. This is what we’ll see before going to bed at night and what we’ll read first thing in the morning.

 

The past week’s various shootings across America have left me feeling like a 4-year old. I don’t understand much of anything. My safety is in the hands of others (who may or may not be able to provide it). Any knowledge I’ve gleaned from my short time on this planet is mostly useless. At the same time, I feel ancient. My body and mind are too tired to keep going in a world that refuses to learn. The ignorance and fear of my countrymen is heartbreaking. I’ve seen this all before and cannot understand why we’ve not yet chosen change.

 

And yet we continue down our road of ignorance and hate. We indoctrinate our children by openly discussing our fear-rooted racism at the dinner table. We use slurs in the presence of impressionable teens. We buy more and more weapons and espouse our rights in doing so. We think it’s okay to walk onto a college campus with a gun thrown over our shoulder. In short, we are fools.

 

So this is our life now. I daresay our situation is dire, our world grave. If we choose to watch the evening news before going to bed, we will likely see reports of yet another senseless killing. If we elect to read the papers after we wake, we’ll read much of the same. It is pitiful and pathetic. And I will never understand it.