“A Real Catastrophe”

Lin-Manuel Miranda was right. He IS going straight to hell.

He’s the real catastrophe.

Between that awful, evil statement about Puerto Rico today and this article on Vox, I might explode from rage. And I don’t even have any relatives there – just an ex-coworker from there. I can’t imagine what folks who have family/friends there are feeling right now. Particularly since they’ve been in budget crisis for years, so this is the worst of all possible scenarios.

I send anyone affected all my love.

So Much Going On In the World

It’s the time of year when sorrows overflow. Hurricane season is beating up the coasts, from the Caribbean and the US southeast to South Asia on up to freaking Nepal. Brutal forest fires line the whole West Coast of America. Rohingya refugees flee from Myanmar to flood-wracked Bangladesh. Earthquakes in Mexico. We’re fighting real Nazis here in America, as well as people who claim they’re just conservative but who are really Nazi-adjacent. They’re like Vichy America.*

Finally, there’s 44.5 and his bullshit over DACA.

Seriously. If a group of politicians really wanted a better replacement for something, they would not suggest repealing it first. They come up with a bill to modify or replace, and submit that fucker to Congress.  44.5 tried the whole “get rid of it then we start over” with health care and no one bit.

These kids are amazing, extraordinary kids. They’re *paying* to stay here; they’re not getting anything for free. This has been as much their home as anyone who grew up here. For most kids, we don’t think of home as where our passport is from – we think of home as where we went to school, or learned to ride a bike, or first realized that that kid on the swingset with us was our best friend.

This jackass up there in the seat of power doesn’t care how cruel he is. And I’m seeing a lot of similarities in the people who support him.

In the middle of all the other devastation happening in the world, I can’t even wrap my mind around why.

 

 

* More about this one later. It’s been wriggling around my mind since Charlottesville.

No Justice For Philando Castile

I’ve been trying to figure out what to say, here.

The man who shot another man – he shot an innocent man, a man who did *everything* right according to law and public opinion – was acquitted.

It’s not like I’ve seen justice for others. The list of names to say is very long.

The thing that hurts here is that Castile did everything perfectly. There’s nothing to argue with here (though I know tons will try). On the live tape, when his partner asked, in terror, why the officer shot Philando Castile… the officer answered “I don’t know.”

Twice.

I saw that. I saw that on that video. The officer *didn’t know* why he pulled the trigger.

For that to be excused, to be glossed over? That’s nauseating. So any person at any time can be gunned down by a police officer and nothing will happen….

Oh wait. Except for white folks who shoot at people of color. They don’t get gunned down at all. They get taken alive.

Seriously, what the fuck?? There’s no justice here. The system worked the way it is supposed to work but there is no justice. I have believed that for years, but now I really know in a way I didn’t before.

Also, this travesty was just a few days after the shooting of GOP politicians. Those folks are crying and accusing “the left” of causing this.

Oh really? *looks pointedly at the list of acquittals*

Things have GOT to change.

 

The Person Who Made “Rebel Princess” A Thing

Black and white photo of Carrie Fisher, with wide smile and long unbound brunette hair, in snowy Norway, wearing a winter jacket and wooly knitted gloves

(B&W photo of Fisher in winter jacket and wool gloves, hands clasped in front of her and a wide smile on her face, hair unbound. CC License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Tom Simpson/randar on Flickr)

 

I’ll be honest:

I’ve known for a long time I loved Carrie Fisher, but I didn’t know I LOOOVED Carrie Fisher.

I remember being all about Luke when, at the tender age of 7, I first saw “Star Wars” (what is now referred to as A New Hope). It wasn’t so much about him being called the hero – I loved the goofy, awkward farm boy becoming important, becoming someone who was needed by the world. In contrast, Leia starts off the movie already royalty, already in a position of power, and already incredibly self-possessed (and able to withstand torture) at the age of 19.

I envied her. But I didn’t identify with her. I was clutzy, boyish, whiny, and I couldn’t rescue myself out of the nightmare I was living at the time. She was a princess, AND she was a rebel, AND she rescued herself (twice!) AND she led a group of righteous fighters against what was arguably the biggest threat in their universe.

I didn’t feel I even had the right to identify with her. I couldn’t even identify with Disney princesses who never rebelled – how could I identify with a military leader?

Then, in Blues Brothers, she was an ex-girlfriend who dared to hunt down the man who betrayed her and literally blow shit up to get him out of her head. That brought her much closer to the type of person I thought I was. Strange? Sure, but I was a pretty angry kid, and this was something I understood.

I remember Under the Rainbow being simultaneously strange and forgettable. I remember her small role in Hannah and her Sisters being dwarfed by the fact that the movie seemed almost tailor-made for me, during a time when I had a furious hate-on for Woody Allen.

Then, I adored her writing for a few years. Postcards from the Edge hit a soft spot I have, and while I have not had the book for a number of years, I remember at the time reading it more clandestinely than I ever did for Judy Blume’s Forever.

A few years later I remember loving her role in When Harry Met Sally with unreserved glee – going from “You’re right, you’re right,” the immediate chemistry between Marie and Jess, and the “Tell me I’ll never have to be out there again.” But I did notice she seemed to have aged a decade in those few years.

And then, to my media-glazed eyes, it seemed like she disappeared from the major movie scene. I didn’t recognize her in Soapdish, Scream 3 and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and I was shocked at how she looked during her brief turn in Wonderland. I also somehow missed her many more memoirs. I’m not sure how, but somehow I was oblivious to the fact that she was writing tons.

Therefore, when I saw the poster for the show of Wishful Drinking, I was happily surprised. Ooh! She’s still there! The sense of unrepentant honesty, the originality, the ability to open her life and heart for others was a delight, and while I only read snippets in passing, I was always impressed by her ability to do that while her family was still living.

Again, I envied her. And still didn’t feel like I had a right to identify with her.

Once the new movies were announced and her participation was guaranteed, it was with great delight I watched her take her royal ass and rebel against Hollywood the way she did. Of course, she has been doing it all along, but being back in the Star Wars spotlight really put her power into focus:

Being a rebel princess isn’t just about fighting fascism. It’s about fighting for what is right and being able to be your own, whole self.

I envied her, as always. But I also empathized with the amount of struggle and pain it all came with.

That struggle and pain, finally, was what I identified with.

Side note: What’s interesting is that between 1995 and 2005 I was also having a LOT of rebellion dreams. Being a participant in a rebellion, fighting helmeted jackboots, being a leader in a military organization, being depended upon for crucial intelligence. While some of the dreams were tough, most of them were amazing to experience.

Until today, I never realized it’s because of her I could even have those dreams. I may not have ever identified with her, but somewhere in me she planted the seed –

You can be a rebel and a princess. It might mean something different for me and for you than it did for her, but the two things can live together.

Love you, Ms. Fisher.

this is my president (after e. e. cummings)

this is my president:rages come and go,
frail Azures suffering from night’s upset wing
strong silent Greens silently sorrowing,
absolute shame like baths of orange snow.
This is my president:pursed lips do blow
upon dark flames within white hearts,and sing
(of strength deplorable and the insulting sling)
minority faces he will now lay low.

This is my president. Time shall surely reap
and on Death’s blade lie many a loved one curled,
in other lands where other songs be sung;
yet stand They here encaptured,as among
the slow-shown hate perpetual and deep
some tiny-fingered monster steals the world.

 

(the original is at http://hellopoetry.com/poem/1656/this-is-the-gardencolours-come-and-go/)

No Title Can Convey the Grief

What a horrible week.

CW: Dallas, rage, etc.

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5 officers dead in Dallas. 7 more wounded. This is the worst loss for law enforcement since 9/11.

I don’t know all their names yet, so I can’t speak them.

But I can say that while I understand the rage of Mr. Micah Johnson, Army veteran (and honestly white folks I know you do too, even if you pretend not to), that does not excuse his actions. The same way nothing excuses the actions of the officers who killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (and Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice and TOO many beautiful human beings taken from us).

It’s even more devastating when I read that the people who were protesting – POC who are members of protest groups like Mothers Against Police Brutality – report that the Dallas police force were working hard to regain the trust of the black community there. That the police were being good to the protestors.

… yeah, I got nothing. I’m off to cry for a good long time.

Why the FUCK Does This Keep Happening? What is WRONG With Us, White People?

CW: Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, police brutality, really seriously gross murder details, talking about white people (and acknowledging I’m one)

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Are you ready? *deep breath, squares shoulders*

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So I didn’t read or see any details about Mr. Sterling until after 3-something pm my time yesterday, because I fucked up something at work and was paying attention to fixing that fuckup.

(Side note: What LUXURY that is. That’s privilege, folks. That someone can be brutally murdered within a certain community and no one is texting me to cry about it, no one is sending me DMs to express their pain and outrage… I could easily have made it through the entire day without more than a cursory awareness of what occurred.)

And then I saw it. The photos were bad enough, but the videos? Father of five. Looking at the cops with complete incomprehension on his face. Thrown across a car and onto the asphalt by these cops, one of whom knelt on his neck and screamed in his face before taking out his gun and pressing it against him.

I fought not to throw up, even before I heard the shots.

I can hear the coming justifications now – criminal, selling illegally, he had a gun, he didn’t get on the ground freaking fast enough, he fought. According to the convenience store owner, Mr. Sterling didn’t do a damn thing wrong before the cops started yelling. And I defy ANYONE who isn’t a martial arts expert to not struggle when someone is kneeling on your NECK.

Anil Dash spoke truth to ignorance here:

It’s nothing more than white supremacy to think that somehow, this man on the street, someone respected by the people around him for *pulling himself up* after his criminal past, is more deserving of this treatment than Travis Kalanick, who comes from solid upper middle class roots, who has disclaimed any and all responsibility for the assaults that have been perpetrated by his employees (consultants or no) while breaking multiple laws in his effort to “disrupt” the industry.

And then this morning.  HOLY CRAP. I can’t EVEN fathom what the fuck happened there.

HE WAS IN THE CAR. He was INFORMING THE OFFICER HE HAD A CONCEAL AND CARRY PERMIT.

And bam.

This officer freaked the hell out because a law-abiding black man had a gun, because the ONLY thing he could imagine, after asking a man for his license and registration, was that he was going for that gun. I simply cannot FATHOM that there was any reasonable, logical reason for an officer to then shoot this man in front of his girlfriend and a 4 year old who was sitting in the back seat.

WHY ARE WE SO AFRAID? White people, WHY? Black people are NOT perpetrating violent crimes against us at ANY rate half as close as we perpetrate on ourselves. (Yeah, you talk about black on black crime – lemme talk about white on white crime sometime. Psh.) And yknow, we even might deserve what we’re actually afraid of, but it *isn’t happening* and we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and why this gut-level reaction is happening.

Because these are people. And they’re good people. And it is completely insufficient to say that they’re one-off reactions because we KNOW that isn’t true. Good people are being murdered – yes, murdered – and we are writing it off.

Stop looking at what you yourself would do (or think you would do) to people of color, white people. Start looking at what far too many specific assholes do publicly, and then recognize that for everyone who does something publicly, there are *five more* who will do something horrible to a POC’s face that we never see, and then look at what those numbers look like as a statistic about us.

Stop defending yourself. Start defending LIVES.

Because anyone who dares say All Lives Matter? I dare you to start ACTING like it.

A Day and a Year Since the Charleston Shooting

CW: Charleston shooting, Emanuel AME’s history, racism & murder.

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I’m going to repeat one of the things I said in the last post.

This act by Dylann Roof was an act of terror as well as a hate crime and an action taken by a sick person.

These beautiful human beings – Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Reverend Depayne Middleton Doctor, Reverend Daniel L. Simmons, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Susie Jackson, and Ethel Lee Lance – were kind enough to allow a young white man to join a small Bible study group held for their black congregation. In return, this young white man accused them of “raping our women” (note that 6 of the victims were women above the age of 45; 3 were grandmothers) and “taking over our country” – then shot at people attending, killing 9, before turning the gun on himself only to discover he had exhausted his ammunition.

According to survivors, the first person he aimed at was 87-yr-old Susie Jackson. 87 years old. A respected and beloved elder whose nephew, Tywanza Sanders, attempted to talk the shooter down. Mr. Sanders was shot when he threw his body in the way of the first bullet, which was meant for Mrs. Jackson.

Why would someone who was just sick, or even intending to perform a hate crime, specifically target the oldest woman there first?

Because, of course, Roof’s intention was never to just kill people. His intent was to terrify the congregation, with a specific political and social aim of trying to undermine the church.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, otherwise known as Mother Emanuel, is the oldest black congregation in the south and has rebuilt itself quite a few times since being founded in 1816 (though the movement on which it is based was founded in 1787, after Richard Allen and other black Methodists rejected the church in Philadelphia due to racist treatment). The church itself has suffered many acts of terror in its history – for instance, after Denmark Vesey, a leader in the church in the 1820s, was hung for supposedly organizing a revolt of enslaved people that was scheduled to occur on June 16th or 17th of 1822, the whites of Charleston burned the original Emanuel AME building and forced many of the leaders of church out of the state.

There is some theory that Roof chose the day he chose to echo this same event. The fact that five black churches were burned within a *week* of the shooting underlines this unpleasantly. Terrorists are known to prefer anniversaries of other successful attempts as a form of symbolism. (But then again, so are governments.) Sick people… not so much. Even hate crimes on one or two individuals don’t follow that pattern. Those are most often crimes of opportunity.

We really need to start recognizing that domestic terrorism is a thing, and that people of color and people in the LGBT community are the most likely targets.

We need to acknowledge that America has had a *history* of terrorist activity.

Let’s start focusing the war on terror on the hate we generate and perpetuate.

Let’s look in the mirror, folks.

The Charleston and Orlando victims, survivors, and their families are owed that.