Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

News

Fighting The Ughs In My Personal Life And My Politics

Anytime I see the word trump in the news, capitalized or not, I just get… ugh. Yeah, that’s the word. I get ugh.

It doesn’t help that I’ve got some personal things happening right now in my life that for the first time ever make me feel prolonged sadness. I feel very ugh almost all the time now.

But, there are some things going down that are fighting the ughs.

Personal

  1. I finally booked an Airbnb for the Paris portion of the trip my husband and I are taking to Europe for New Year’s. Nothing like having somewhere to sleep so you don’t end up in a hostel to make you smile.
  2. I have started playing Sims 4 again, and writing stories about my Sims. The SimLit community is fantastic and I’m so happy to rejoin them after a long hiatus.
  3. I’ve finally got my younger cat Jasmine on my side! She seemed to barely tolerate me since we moved to New York, staring at me with contempt every time I dare to show affection to my husband or older cat Belle. But yesterday morning, she climbed into my lap and sat there purring while I petted her. Chris and Belle were just as confused as I was.

Political

dapl-protest-strong

  1. The protesters in North Dakota triumphed! Read about it on NPR. CNN has this picture on their website that is just so powerful to me. It reminds me of the interconnected struggles of all marginalized communities. I’m hopeful that all the naysayers who swear protesting does nothing will now shut the entire fuck up. If you’ve been under a rock, and you don’t know about #NoDAPL, well, all you need to know now is the Army has agreed to reroute a pipeline that had the potential to damage the groundwater and desecrate the burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The Army backed down from the latest in a series of violations of a treaty signed long ago. The celebrations that are happening today are heartwarming. It is so much better than what we thought would happen. December 5th was designated as the day they were going to forcibly remove people from the land to setup a “free speech area”, supposedly “for their safety.” So much bullshit and gaslighting went into that concept, but it matters not! Instead of that crap, December 5th is now a day of celebration for everyone who supported their cause.
  2. Yesterday was the anniversary of the day Fred Hampton was murdered in 1969. You may not have heard of him, but you should go learn about him. He died for the cause and is an example of what you must be willing to sacrifice for progress. Today is the anniversary of the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. You likely have heard of that, but you should still learn more about it, and the Freedom Riders too. These sustained protests are examples of the economic power of the oppressed, as well as their ability to fight against unjust laws. Looking back on the significance of these days informs our present and future. The varied forms of protest as well as the varied outcomes leave me with pride, courage, and resolve. And believe it or not, it also helps me push the ughs away.
  3. In the context of history both decades and hours old, I look forward to what’s coming next. For me, that is the Injustice Boycott. In just over an hour after this post publishes, we will get details of who the boycott targets are. I grew up hearing stories about how economic protests made Montgomery, Alabama integrate their city bus system and how all the major national African-American organizations boycotted Arizona until they observed Martin Luther King Jr Day. I’ve always believed in the power of protest to affect change. I was on board with protests against Chick-fil-A and other companies that have been associated with discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, and I’d like to think I’m a good ally for that community, ever learning and evolving to be an even better ally. I’m just glad that now I get to engage in a protest that helps my own community. Once they put up details about the protest, I’ll probably put up another post explaining how I’ll participate.

I’ve been struggling as of late to stay positive and happy and optimistic about the future. But on days like today, there are glimmers of hope that the darkness won’t last.

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Everything Is Awful! A Song That Definitely Wouldn’t Make The Oscars

If you have small children or great whimsy in your life, you know about the song Everything is Awesome. It was liked so much, it was used as one of the performances for the 2015 Academy Awards.

I think about this song because it mostly makes me feel happy/amused/smiley, but the song itself is represents a way to fool the masses into falling in line and distracting them so they don’t question authority. I wonder if a song about fighting the power would make it to the Oscars.

For the past several posts, there hasn’t been much happy in my life, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. I will say that the title of this post is hyperbole. Everything is not awful. Just a lot of things are.

So what awful thing am I talking about today?

I was walking in to work this morning, checking notifications that came up on my phone when I saw the news that Florence Henderson had died. This made me really sad; I immediately thought of her on Dancing with the Stars, and when she visited this past season for Maureen McCormick.

I will never get tired of seeing celebrities break out of their molds on this show.

I will never get tired of seeing celebrities break out of their molds on this show.

These days, I have very little patience for white-washed TV shows like the Brady Bunch. But this show came out before I was even born, so I was watching reruns on Nick at Nite as a child before I knew better.

I remember a holiday episode where she sang O Come All Ye Faithful, which for years I wrongly remembered as her singing O Holy Night. It’s an absolutely absurd plot, but I loved it. The kids contemplating cancelling Christmas because their mom couldn’t sing is likely a contributing factor to why I don’t want kids, lol.

I wonder about Florence Henderson’s political beliefs. Is that weird? I’m not sure if she’s on record having voiced an opinion about women’s rights or race relations or LGBTQ+ equality or the Dakota pipeline/Flint water crisis or any of today’s pressing issues that I care strongly about.

I’ve been keeping a running tally in my head for a few different lists:

  1. Wholly Against Us
  2. Suspiciously Quiet When It Matters
  3. Too Little Too Late
  4. Oh, Now You Wanna Speak Up When It Affects You and Yours
  5. I See You Making Efforts, But It’s Not Good Enough
  6. Social Media Warrior, Okay, Okay, But What Are Your Actions?
  7. I See You Speaking AND Acting, You’re Down for the Cause
  8. You Should Definitely Be Considered a Leader of the Movement
  9. It’s Like This Isn’t Even Happening In Your World

Florence would definitely go on list #9. Most people seem to speak highly of her, she was an amazing woman by all accounts. My perception of what makes a person amazing, however, is evolving. I don’t know that I can consider someone “amazing” who isn’t helping the fight for equality move forward.

Today is particularly rough at work too. A lot of the deaths we’re getting in are under suspicious circumstances, very sad, and hard for even the doctors and medical examiners to deal with.

I’ve got a lot of conflicted feelings. For instance, there’s this article in the NY Daily News: NY Daily News: Sorry, America, but ‘The Brady Bunch’ was a lousy show. The tweet for this article was even worse:

twitter-brady-bunch

 

It feels a bit disrespectful, no? It’s not so much the sentiment because I was basically just saying above how a show like this would do nothing but piss me off were they making new episodes today.

For me, it’s the language. “No disrespect…but..” I mean, come on. Only dedicated assholes say things like that. And yes, maybe the show does suck, and maybe that’s been this journalists opinion since he was a little kid. But to decide that today is the day he must share his opinion with the world is a bit tone deaf.

Florence Henderson spent a lot of time defending the show from critics with very real and accurate criticism of the bubble in which the show existed. So confronting her stance on the show is… I guess… fair game. Kinda like when you review someone’s legacy after death, it’s usually okay to point out the parts you specifically agree with.

But the article didn’t address anything she’d ever said about the show. It was just an opportunity to crap all over a show he clearly never liked. This was in poor taste.

I was genuinely sad at the news of her passing this morning, but I think focusing on it today is helping me cope with some personal issues, as well as the continued craptastic current events (Jill Stein getting hinky with the recount money, Dakota Access Pipeline injuries and assaults at the hands of police continuing, more black folks dead at the hands of hateful white people, more minorities assaulted by Trump supporters).

Seriously y’all, how fucking long until 2016 is over? I swear something moderately bad could happen 1/1/17 and I will be less bogged down by it that if it happens on New Year’s Eve.


Race Baiting. Let’s Talk About It.

Oh yeah, I’m going there.

I spend a lot of time on twitter. Every time one black activist or another posts literally anything about race issues, someone responds with hateful awful language. They usually spout the worst stereotypes anyone has heard about whatever group being discussed.

Sometimes that activist retweets the words or responds to them, usually highlighting the bigotry, prejudice, or outright racism of the language.

Inevitably, a third person responds, accusing the activist of race baiting.  Every time I see that accusation show up on some activists timeline, I get confused.

My first thought always is: how is it race-baiting to simply talk about and acknowledge that race issues exist? How is that activists to blame for some awful language of some random online troll?

The mere mention of possibly settling Syrian refugees in their home state makes many an online troll express dangerous and scary views. I’m an American born and raised, and the words are frightening to me. I can’t even imagine how those words land in the world of a refugee, simply here to make a better life for themselves.

But then, the part of me that is always looking to try and understand the sliver of logic that usually exists in even the most fucked up arguments kicks in. I think: Do I know anyone who unreasonably lashes out at a culture they don’t understand the second they perceive a threat from that culture?

The unfortunate answer is I do.

In black American culture, there is a lot of intolerance towards others who don’t follow traditional black (read: protestant/intolerant Christian) views. The stereotypes towards the LGBTQ+ community, Asians, Latinxs, and women are damn near intolerable to my ears. They are mostly rooted in ignorant stereotypes because of how segregated so much of the American black population is from the rest of the country.

I think about the communities I don’t hear a lot of aggression towards: indigenous Americans, refugees, disabled people, vets. I’m not sure why those people have escaped widescale ridicule in the black community. Or maybe they have and I just don’t know those people.

Let me finally get to my point.

In the times of life where I’ve been present for one of these ignorant rants against another community from the mouths of black folks, their justification is usually along the lines of, “well, if you didn’t bring it up, wouldn’t have to share my crappy views with you on the topic.”

They literally accuse whoever mentioned the touchy subject last of being at blame for their toxic language. It’s the same though pattern that produces such gems as “I don’t care if you’re gay, I just don’t wanna see that shit” and “This is why the black family isn’t intact, feminism is tearing apart black men and women”.

For the record, I’m not saying that ignorance in the black community makes it okay for the white trolls on Twitter. The ignorance of both makes me sick to my stomach.

What I am saying is that because this toxic pattern of behavior touches closer to home for me, I think I understand this thought process a little bit.

That’s how I know it can’t be tolerated. This gaslighting bullshit cannot go without challenge. I’m not suggesting getting into an online fight with a Twitter troll, but I’m suggesting confronting it when you hear toxic language come from the mouths of your friends, family, and colleagues.

You may not change someone’s mind, but we can at least restore some decency in terms of what is okay and NOT OKAY to say to and about others. Free speech is one thing, but targeted hate speech and menacing is on a whole other level.

Even if you can’t get through to someone, you never know who is listening. Maybe the person overhearing your defense of what is right will come around.

Don’t let the accusation of race baiting back you down from talking about marginalized communities. If your words precede someone spewing toxic language, that’s not your fault. If merely the mention of someone different makes someone go off like a crazy person, that’s not your fault. Don’t let them drag the fight down to their level.

Keep standing up for what matters to you. Keep fighting. Keep speaking up. Continue to fight for your own community and work harder everyday to be an ally to other communities.

Don’t let racists, xenophobes, homophobes, and misogynists turn your words of power into bait.

If you’re looking for a sound argument against gaslighting, particularly in light of the results of this most recent American election, check out this Twitter thread.

twitter-gaslight


Heading to Times Square, After Some Prayer

I thought I’d have a funny story to tell for my first consistent blog post in months. My girl is in town with her cousin for her birthday. They’d never been to New York before, so she wanted to visit.

I know her  through some degrees of separation. My best friend joined a fraternity in college. Her husband is one of his line brothers. The first time we all hung out is when he brought a very pregnant her to their fraternity’s annual party called The Champagne Sip (don’t worry she didn’t drink).

We did have a laugh-filled night at The Waffle House though after the party. And they cemented themselves as the favorite couple I’d met through my best friend. Over the years, we’ve had some good times though we don’t see each other nearly often enough.

This couple now has three children, all of whom call my best friend godfather. There have been many gift-help-picking-out moments over the years, which always result in something fun & educational… and maybe noisy.

But I didn’t see my girl last night. She arrived to her hotel in Times Square yesterday and we planned to meet for drinks at my favorite bar in Times Square, Havana Central.

But then I started hearing about everything happening in Paris, every terrible detail as it arrived in a push notification to my phone from CNN.

I said a prayer for the people of Paris, and decided I wasn’t going out.

Since Chris and I moved to New York, I’ve been more aware of what it means when a major city gets attacked,

I know Chicago is a major city, so is L.A., and a few others. But when I worry about American cities, my first two thoughts go to D.C. and NYC.

Whenever there is a concern for the safety of major cities, my first thought is to stay in/immediately head to Brooklyn. Manhattan is where I spend a bunch of my time, but I live in Brooklyn.

I don’t know if I was overreacting, I just know that I live in New York now.

The world kept turning, people kept coming together in Paris to deal with a tragedy, and I went home last night.

At the time I’m posting this, ISIS has claimed responsibilities for the attacks in Paris last night, Belgium has already begun to make arrests, and Paris is still treating the over 300 people who got injured.

It’s hard to wrap my head around what’s happened, to just continue with a normal day knowing that so much has changed for so many people.

But I’m going to try because that’s what we do, right? We say a prayer, put something supportive on social media, donate some money to a fund, then… keep it moving.

It never seems like enough, but I don’t know what else to do. There’s power in prayer, I do know that.

I’m going to go see my friend today. In Times Square. They say it’s safe. I hope they’re right. I’m definitely going to pray some more before I go.