I found a treasure!

So I had completely forgotten about this. The funniest thing is that I have no idea how to get back into it because I don’t know which email address or account I used to create the blog. BUT I had painstakingly transferred all of my snarky Duggar posts (including the one that gave me the most hits EVER on my site) to this other blog, out of some misguided attempt to…I don’t know what. A friend told me that perhaps I should delete the posts if I was feeling sheepish about them, and for several years now I thought that’s what I had done…so to me, anyway, this is a treasure. Or maybe I’m just not a nice person?! Yeah…that too.

Anyway, enjoy the snark…if you dare!

http://antiduggarology.blogspot.com

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random, whiny, unedited

(otherwise known as “would have made this my Facebook status, but that would have been super-obnoxious”)

I went to an orientation this morning for substitute teachers for a center-based special education program in a town about 30 minutes away from me. I don’t know if I will sub there a lot, but in part it felt like it was free training, and I think I also needed the motivation.

Motivation is not something I have enough of, today or any other day.

My eyes lit up when I saw the kids. I felt energized by the information that was shared. The assistant director of the school used the words “evidence-based practice” several times, and I was impressed with the facility and the energy of the place.

(It was a little bit…white, though. Maybe “white” is not the right word, but it felt too perfect…wealthy…insular. The names of the teachers were overwhelmingly of the same ethnicity, and it felt like a bit of an insider’s club. Maybe not fair to judge after an hour in the place, but let’s just say that it was clear that we were not in an inner-city school district.)

Motivated. Trying to remind myself that I need to push forward with this school thing and then I can be around kids all. the. time.

You think that would have spurred me on…go home, dive into the schoolwork, get this one class out of the way so I can go on to the next…

But no. I turned on the Uber app, hoping to cover my trip out to the boonies. Took two riders. Needed lunch; was craving Chinese food, so I stopped and got some. Carb coma ensued. Fell asleep (but not for long enough). Woke up. Went shopping for no reason.

I need to sleep, because I know it will help me to feel better. But I am sick of myself, sick of knowing that I could be moving forward, but for this invisible force that holds me back. Sick of my house being in total disarray…sick of the crap I eat that is probably making me more tired…sick of my days getting away from me and my constant level of disorganization.

My therapist tells me that she has nothing new to add to the situation, that I have the knowledge that I need…I hear her words, I know she is right.

But I am still stuck.

I am running out of time. I am wasting my life. I have barely twenty good years ahead of me career-wise, and yet I am driving towards this goal via the slowest possible route, even though the highway is easily within my reach.

And right now, I just need to go to sleep and tell myself that I will make better choices tomorrow.

Resisting arrest

It was maybe ten years ago that I was in my apartment complex’s pool with a friend’s young daughter. She was not a good swimmer at all, and was reluctant to go into the deeper end of the pool without my help. At one point, I can’t remember exactly what we were doing, (I do have a habit, even to this day, of letting kids use my back as a surfboard in the pool. Note to self: just because you’re in the water does NOT mean it is not going to hurt like a @%# later.) but whatever we were doing, she was either on my back or on my shoulders. We crossed over the point between the shallow and the deep end, and in her panic, she was holding on to me more and more tightly, pushing me down underneath the water.

With my head under the water, I could not explain to her that she needed to let go so that I could get my footing and thereby get us both to safety. I have very little understanding of fear of water, having spent my summers swimming in my grandmother’s backyard pool since before I could remember, but I can understand that it must be terrifying. Her panic was palpable, and yet, in order for me to regain control of the situation, I had to wrest her hands away from my grasp.

It was probably a mere 15 seconds, and I don’t really think that we were ever in any serious danger, but it frightened me nonetheless.

My friend’s daughter was like any other human. When faced with an immediate threat, real or perceived, her mind and body reacted, and her only instinct was to stay alive. It’s an instinct all of us have. It’s what keeps people going in the face of almost impossible odds…it’s why we refer to people with cancer as “fighting bravely”…it’s what makes suicide more difficult than people who haven’t been in that place can imagine. We are human, and our instinct is to stay alive.

Which is why I am so, so tired of people saying, “well, if _______” (insert police brutality victim of the week here) “hadn’t been resisting arrest, they wouldn’t have had these problems”.

These words are usually spoken by people who, even if they were in an encounter with the police because they themselves had broken the law, would never have to experience the abject terror that people of color – whether they have or have not done anything wrong – face every time they have an encounter with the cops.

As a white woman, being stopped by the police is an annoyance at best, albeit triggering in terms of my unresolved crap with authority figures. However, I can think of very few situations in which a random (or not-so-random) police stop would leave me fearing for my life.

I don’t know what it feels like to be a person of color in this country. I don’t know what it is to feel some unidentifiable combination of anger and terror at the mere sight of someone in law enforcement. And because I don’t know what that feels like, I am in no position to say what I would or would not do in that situation.

If you know anything about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you know that it can lead to a state of constant fight-or-flight hyper-alertness. I imagine that living with the trauma of so many difficult encounters with police over time, either in one’s own life or as a witness to this violence, might lead someone to act unpredictably in the face of this threat. It’s not even accurate to say that this is a “perceived” threat, because for too many black and brown Americans, this is a reality borne by experience after experience after experience.

When my friend’s daughter was pushing down on me in that pool, pushing me further into the water, she was not trying to “resist” my instructions, or my efforts to contain her. She was, rather, trying to resist drowning, to somehow keep herself from the threat she was facing. That threat was very real to her in that moment, and so she thrashed and fought back against my efforts to free her hands from my shoulders and flailed and shouted.

She thought she was in immediate danger of dying, and her body reacted. She did what humans do. She fought for her life.

So now imagine that you are facing an immediate threat. Perhaps you are angry, and you don’t watch your words as closely as you should. Like a child talking back to a parent (unsettling image, but the power structure is set up in such a way that I’m often reminded of the children’s book Matilda: “I’m smart, you’re dumb; I’m big, you’re little; I’m right, you’re wrong, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”), you open your mouth, or you move in the wrong direction, and you are suddenly and painfully aware that you have provoked the rage of this authority figure, and you may very well be killed.

Or maybe it’s a case of mistaken identity, and yet you are taken to a police station and repeatedly sodomized and beaten…or maybe you simply grew up in the shadow of incidents like these, both the larger cases that are publicized in the news as well as the ongoing narrative in your own community of confrontations large and small.

If you don’t know what it’s like to live in that world, then you ought not speak of “resisting arrest”.

What they are resisting is death. What they are fighting against is the generations of brutality and fear that are seared into the flesh of this nation’s history. However they are reacting, it is all they can do in that moment. When you have a police officer’s knee in your back, or his gun to your head, it is not the time for calm; it’s the time to figure out how to stay alive.

If you resist, they may kill you. If you don’t resist, they still may kill you. And the definition of “resisting” is ever-broadening and not easily defined. And if you are a young black or brown man in this country, you don’t stand a chance against these changing definitions. You certainly do not have the luxury of trying to guess whether this is the day you will die at the hands of the officer who is approaching you.

They aren’t resisting arrest. They are trying to stay alive.

And they are doing this because this is what humans do.

What if everything you’ve ever been told is wrong?

The churning I am experiencing means that everything I have to say will not fit neatly into a single blog entry. But let me start by saying this:

It’s not about what you think it’s about. Or rather, it’s not that simple. If nothing else, remember that. There is so much going on beneath the surface.

I have so much to say and it pains me so much to say it and it is going to take me a while. But let’s start with this phrase: “Implicit Bias”.

Got a minute? Take one of these tests. Or a few of them. Then ask yourself how you came to believe the things that you believe. The things that you don’t even *know* you believe.

This mess we’re in came from somewhere. We want to believe that we woke up one day with our enlightened, post-racial selves and that we are not carrying the baggage of our nation’s history. And why can’t people just get over it?
A poem by June Jordan, called “Jim Crow: The Sequel” is haunting me these days. It was written roughly in the Clinton era, and I think I came across it in an issue of Essence magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

But for two hundred years this crazy
land the law and the bullets behind the law
continued to affirm the gospel of
God-given White supremacy.
For two hundred years the law and the
bullets behind the law, and the money and
the politics behind the bullets behind the
law affirmed the gospel of
God-given White supremacy/
God-given male-White supremacy.

And neither the Emancipation Proclamation
nor the Civil War nor one constitutional
amendment after another nor one Civil Rights
legislation after another could bring about a
yielding of the followers of that gospel
to the beauty of our human face.

I know that the phrase “white supremacy” will upset some people, but please know that I am not talking about someone with a Klan hood in their closet. In fact, I am not talking about individuals at all. And I think that before I can go further, I will need to define a few things, will need to explain why I label myself a “recovering racist”. As disorganized as my rants may be, I would be so grateful if some of you would be willing to see through that and to join me as I continue to wrestle with these issues.

Sunday blogging against racism #28–Love is in the house

. . . or is it appropriation?

I typically listen to the “mostly talk” Christian station, and NPR on Saturdays . . . but on Friday nights, I’ve been tending to put on one of the other Christian stations in town (it’s the Northern Bible Belt–we have like six Christian radio stations! And that’s just on FM! It will have to be a SBAR for another week to talk about why almost none of them play any “black” gospel music . . . )

Anyway, on Friday nights I can hear some of the more “progressive” Christian rap on this other station, so I’ve been tuning in. One song that I’ve been hearing a lot is called “Love is in the house”, and one line in the song had me puzzled–I just couldn’t believe that I was hearing what I was hearing–so I came home and Googled it . . .

sure enough, here’s the line:

Daddy always said that I wish I was black
cuz when love is in the house the house is packed

Now, maybe this bothers me because I still wrestle at times with that same idea of “wishing I was black” . . . but the longer I live, and the more I learn, the more clear it is to me that there is something “not quite right” with this desire . . . at least for me (can’t speak for this well-known white guy/Christian Rapper) . . . but it smacks of appropriation . . . something I’m just beginning to grasp, but of course I have that annoying zeal so typical of new converts.
the thing is . . . this is someone who has a stated goal of fighting racism, with a cleverly named foundation dedicated to this goal . . .

but it still bothers me . . . seriously, having heard the song twice in a weekend, I just can’t seem to let go of that one line.

Maybe I’m not being fair. look, right there on his own website, it says that he is “a prophetic voice for racial reconciliation” . . . and who am I to argue with that?

could I say the same of myself, though? and have people believe it? and still not “get” that my first duty is to deal with my own whiteness and the ways I benefit from white privilege on a daily basis?

I need to chew on this some more . . . and I should probably read more about him before I pass judgment on the guy. but really, I think it’s myself that I am really judging here . . . because as much as I want to come off as “one of those GOOD white people”, I still don’t trust the ugliness that lurks within, even if I claim to bear the name “anti-racist Jesus follower” . . .

I have wrestled with the concept of being a “race traitor“–the wording on this website sounds so appealing, in a trendy sort of way: “treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity“– but can I really shed my whiteness that easily? or do I need to own it, acknowledge its benefits, before simply stating, as I have in the past, that I want to “convert”?

I think I need to ponder this some more . . . but would love to hear your thoughts as well . . .