Tag Archives: racism

Cowardly New World

27 May

What follows is my most recent column from the Portland Phoenix May 28 issue, enjoy!

I know that the ancient Mayan calendar indicated the world may go and end in 2012, but I doubt it. Instead, let me illustrate how bad it might get, starting in that year.

Tucson, Arizona — April 7, 2012, 7:18 p.m.

 “Excuse me, sir, what’s your name?”

“Carl Alvarado, officer.”

“Yeah, right. Well, Carlos, show me your papers.”

“Papers? I’m a citizen. I live about 12 blocks…”

“Show me your ID, then, Carlos.”

“It’s Carl. I didn’t figure I needed an ID for a walk, sir.”

“Shut your damn mouth, you fucking wetback. You can rethink your story in the immigration service lockup.”

“Officer, we could just go to my house and…”

“Resisting arrest? Cool. We can play it that way.”

“Officer? Shit! Put away the taser, man!”

Dallas, Texas — November 10, 2021

A student of melanin level 8 was expelled from high school today after referring to “slavery” and “the slave trade” several times during a history class discussion, despite repeated warnings from the teacher.

“For 10 years now, we’ve had the mandated term ‘Atlantic triangular trade’ in schools, and for good reason,” said Principal Eric Davis. “It’s been shown time and again that terms like ‘slavery’ and ‘African-American’ and ‘racism’ are divisive and counter-American. I won’t stand for a student of any color throwing the word ‘slavery’ around when we’re trying to intelligently discuss the issue of imposed human resources practices of the past.”

District Superintendent Marge Whitney added, “You let a student get away with that, and the next thing you know, they’ll be bringing back those divisive ethnic studies classes that we in this great state and the state of Arizona have fought so hard to rid ourselves of.”

Washington, D.C. — June 4, 2026

Tea Party members celebrated their biggest victory yet since gaining the White House when President Rand Paul signed into law today the Civil Choice Realignment Act of 2026, giving private businesses the right to deny service to potential patrons, clients, customers or visitors based on religious, ethnic, sexual or philosophical grounds.

In Kentucky, where Mr. Paul had previously served as one of the state’s U.S. senators, Razorback Grill restaurant owner Gil Downey proudly placed up a sign in his front window, minutes after the signing of the law, reading “Whites Only — No Homos” and told reporters, “It’s about damn time we finally got government out of the business of telling us who we have to be around.”

Maybe those vignettes would seem more fanciful, and wouldn’t make my blood run cold writing them, if they weren’t based on recent news stories. Because Arizona’s draconian new laws regarding immigration pretty much give the police the power to demand “papers” from anyone they want to consider suspect in terms of legally being here, any time they have a valid reason to interact with a person on the street.

Because the Texas Board of Education does want to refer to the slave trade as the “Atlantic triangular trade,” a term that makes the act just seem like some simple innocent piece of historical commerce, as if slaves were comfortably stowed on ships along with textile and spices, instead of crammed in like sardines in the hopes that most would survive the journey across the ocean to become chattel and be stripped of all rights and dignity.

Because Rand Paul really does think that the Civil Rights Act really only intended to prevent governmental and “public” forms of discrimination, and that private businesses should be allowed to deny people services based on things like race.

The moves are already being made, and all it takes is enough people to not notice, or not care, or to rabidly support such nonsense, and we begin to have a nation that’s a lot less inclusive, much shorter on the concept of fairness and justice, ripe for more strife and violence, and a whole lot less diverse.

ETA: Just a few days ago in Chicago a Puerto Rican man was almost deported to Mexico since apparently the local cops thought he was here illegally despite the fact his mother showed proof that he was indeed born in Puerto Rico. Thankfully they realized after holding this fellow for several days that Puerto Ricans are indeed US citizens and have been since 1917. In this brave new world sadly I see plenty of Americans possibly being shipped off to countries they have no connection to because they don’t look American, oops make that white.

Really…it’s everywhere

29 Mar

I was relaxing Saturday afternoon catching up on Season 3 of Mad Men courtesy of my love who decided to treat me to the gift of renting the entire season at one time rather than making me wait for them to become available on Netflix. It was a lazy day, kidlet was chilling with Papa upstairs so Mama was engrossed in America circa 1960’s when the telephone rang. Initially I ignored but after looking at the number on the caller id, realized it was my good sista friend who used to live in Maine but now resides in southern New England (CT, MA and RI are southern new England, I live in Northern New England). Let’s just say that since she left Maine she has felt no love with the place and I can dig it, hell she spent damn near 10 years living in the same town in Maine made famous by a certain family that gave us 12 years of presidential rule in the last what 25 years…yep, that town, starts with a K and that’s all I got to say about that.

Now when my girl first moved to Maine she was still youngish and happily married to her knight in shining armor, a white fella a good 10 years older than her who made a shitload of cash. So she wanted to live in the best school district for their boys with zero crime…you get the picture. Well lets just say that 10 years in that town took a toll on my girl and that knight in shining armor well he morphed into a cockroach. Right about the time life started changing for my girl she found Blackness in a major way, no more undercover Blackness meaning she was Black when we hung out but did a code switch when she was around whites. Nope she went from being the favorite Negro to having her son’s teacher slap a restraining order on her when she no longer played the game. So yeah, to say she caught the bitter bug about this place would be an understatement.

So she packed up the kids after a bitter divorce and moved back to where she came, but thanks to the divorce and the pesky need for the kids to see their Papa she still is in Maine a couple times a month. Anyway, I gave her a call back since I had a feeling I knew why she was calling. See, a mutual friend had just been in the paper because she was dealing with some racist shit in her little town here in Maine. Long story short, our mutual buddy came across an email that a town official had received and forwarded to other folks…tuns out that email contained a rather unsavory “joke” about Michelle Obama who as we all know happens to be the FLOTUS. The nasty little joke compared Mrs. Obama to an ape, really not very funny at all. Our mutual buddy took this email to the media and lets just say in certain places in Maine folks have a lot to say about this, some felt it was racist as hell and others felt  that our buddy was just an oversensitive Black woman playing a deck of those race cards again.

So my girl wanted to talk about this, also she wanted to get a sense of what I planned to do since I do have a venue for sharing my thoughts courtesy of the monthly column I write for a local publication. Of course you know, I have to say something and those thoughts will hopefully be published later this week unless my editor decides otherwise. But what I really want to get to is the heart of the conversation with my girl, she made a seemingly innocent statement that I have been sitting on all weekend. She stated that she felt Maine was and I quote a racist ass state.

Now I know my girl has a lot of bad feelings about Maine, it’s that lovely relationship that goes sour like milk left out on the counter all day. You forget that once upon a time you liked that glass of milk. In her case she forgot she used to love this state. Lately all she can see is the bad but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water. Make no mistake there are some racists here but the fact is they are everywhere.

Big cities and urban areas are not immune to racism, shit I grew up in Chicago and in the city limits there were and maybe still are neighborhoods you knew were not places to go if you were Black. You might be fine in downtown Chicago but go 20 mins south to Bridgeport and there were whites who would have no problem pulling out the N-word or jacking you up. I remember years ago, a young Black boy from the adjoining community rode his bike into Bridgeport and a group of savage motherfuckers beat that boy silly to the point of brain damage. This story has repeated itself in numerous so-called diverse areas across the United States. Racism and ignorance to the point of violence is real and not at all limited to small white towns or lily white states. Shit I suspect Southern Illinois is still scary place for Black folks.

I often talk with friends from away who remind me that I live in a white state and remind me how much of a drain it can be on the Black soul. I agree it can be a drain but at the same time being Black anywhere in this country can be a drain on the soul. Looking back on life in Chicago, I was denied jobs due to my race…a brokerage firm flat-out told me they could not hire me because the clients would not want to deal with me because of my race. Once I called about an apartment in Chicago’s Lakeview area, an area that seems open and accepting after all its the home of Boystown (gay community) and well on the phone the place was available but when I showed up less than 2 hours later it was magically gone. I could go on…on the flip side and I am being honest I have not found my race to be a barrier to housing or jobs in Maine. I thought they would be but I actually landed a job, a job that by Maine standards paid damn well with complete benefits less than 2 weeks after moving to Maine. Hell, I thought being a Black woman in Maine would make it harder instead professionally in some ways its been a plus. The biggest challenge has been that salaries are much lower than I want factoring in the 100 grand in student loan debt I am carrying.

Now I know some would say that maybe I was just in the wrong areas in Chicago, well I spent my high school years and a year in my early 20’s living in a predominantly Black area and that wasn’t a cakewalk either. I was either teased or ridiculed for my “white” taste in things or looked down upon because I have working class roots…it was a damn I can’t win for losing situation. Get dissed by folks that are not like me and dissed by the one who are like me. So I have come to a place where I cannot let outside shit affect who I am, yes I miss certain things about living in close proximity to my own kind but I try for the most part to not let it get me down. Technology has allowed me to create a virtual sista circle of Black women who are similar enough to me, that I have support, some are sistas I have met in real life and some I only know via email and phone calls but its enough to sustain the soul.

I wish there was some truly ideal place where one could escape the ugliness of hate but in this country no such place exists so rather than focusing on the negatives I choose to create my own positivity no matter where I go and suggest that others do the same. I like to joke that I create my queendom no matter what…as for the Mainers I suspect if we wanted to call an entire state racist, I say look to southern states. I suspect places like Alabama and Mississippi have a few more racists than a place like Maine. Here we might have a bit of ignorance but not all ignorance equals racism, sometimes lack of exposure creates ignorance but those can often turn into teachable moments.

So what should we do?

15 Jan

Since learning of the earthquake that hit Haiti, I have noticed a curious thing.  Everyone seems saddened to see such a natural disaster hit, the response to what should be done seems to vary greatly depending on who you are talking to. Now as a Black woman, I have a great deal of Black friends some who have been personally affected as they have loved ones in Haiti. Thankfully their loved ones are safe. It seems within the Black community especially those of us online we are feeling the call to arms to help our brothers and sisters in the diaspora. On a quick personal note, my brother who is an architect is trying to gather a group to aid in future rebuilding efforts, so if you or someone you know is either an architect, engineer, or construction type person and wants to get involved, send me an email and I will connect you with my brother for details.

However I have noticed a bit of chill about what should be done that seems sadly to be breaking down along racial lines. I have tried to ignore it but after sitting in a diner and listening to an asshole chide President Obama for sending 100 million bucks, I need to say something that’s been on my mind.

Now when the tsunami hit several years ago, folks quickly mobilized to help, granted the US economy was in a better place but let’s be real compared to a place like Haiti most let me state that again most of even our poorest residents are still doing pretty well compared to what’s happening in Haiti. After all if you are reading this, its safe to say you have access to water and a place to shit and probably something to eat. Based off the images I have seen of the aftermath of Haiti its safe to say even the shittiest accommodations in the US would look pretty damn good to a folks dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake.

No, Haiti is not a pretty place in the minds of most Americans. It’s not an exotic locale to escape to, folks try to leave it and often get sent back. It’s real easy to say its the poorest nation in Western hemisphere without any thought to how it got to be that way. No discussion about how our policies years ago helped it become such a poor nation. No, just easier to say its a poor ass place and it sucks to be those people.

I wonder and maybe I am wrong but for many white folks I wonder how they would feel about this situation if it were a nation of white folks or a nation of pretty exotic people who live in a lush land that we like to visit. Yes, 100 million bucks in a time of economic crisis is a lot of money but at the same time it’s not. Yes it could help a lot of Americans but does that mean we should sit back and say sorry we are having issues we can’t do nothing for ya man!

How does the economic crisis that is largely of our own doing after all, a fair number of folks losing their homes lost them because they allowed common sense to go out the window. Hello! I have said it before but if you earn 50G’s a year what business did you have buying a half a million dollar home and then treating it like a fucking ATM supporting a lifestyle you could not afford. On the other hand there are plenty of folks who are dealing with loss of house and jobs who didn’t do anything wrong, but what does the tragedy in Haiti and the ongoing economic situation have to do with one another? Can we as a society not still stop to help our fellow-man in need?

It’s funny because I work with the poor daily and while there are a few folks that really piss me off on a regular basis I still see folks who in the midst of their own struggle with poverty can take the time to help someone else out. I see the call to arms to help Haiti as a similar situation. No, not everyone drinks pricy coffee or eats lunch out but most of us in this country have some small treat in our lives we could temporarily give up to help someone else out.

I like to think of helping others as good karma, insurance for when  our bad shit happens someone will be there for us. Yet I think for some Americans the core resistance to helping Haiti despite our economic woes is not about our finances but about the fact that deep down those people are not us, they are not attractive to us and while we have a temporary twinge for their plight at the end of the day they are just poor brown folks. We don’t see their humanity because we choose to see them as different than us. Oh, I know for some reading this you will say that’s not it at all but are you so sure? Maybe I am misreading the situation but when I see seemingly intelligent folks questioning our helping at this time, I am left to wonder why is that? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter especially if you are someone who is unsure we can afford to help. It seems to me we are all on this planet together and the humane and kind thing to do is offer help but what the hell do I know?

Wal-Mart and Black Folks…two things that don’t go together

23 Oct

It’s a strange day for me up here in my corner of the world. I need a vacation but that’s not happening for a while so I will take a moment from my busy day to bring some light to some situations that are only now just starting to get national attention.

Many Americans shop at Wal-Mart, some because they like it and some because they have no choice. After all its well-known that Wally comes to a town and often the little homegrown shops go out of business. Me? Well prior to moving to Maine, I had only been to a Wal-mart maybe once if that. I can’t recall. In part because there were no Wal-Marts in Chicago and also because I always associated Wally’s as being the type of place I had no need to go to.

Well after moving to Maine, for the first couple of years living here I started going to Wal-Mart because prices were cheaper but every time I went there, I hated it. There is something about being in Wal-Mart that literally makes me sick. It’s as if they pumped in bad air. I find the whole experience to be unpleasant and coupled with the fact that they are well-known for treating their employees like shit, as well as being anti-union. I started looking for better more sustainable options for shopping. I do a great deal of my shopping directly with small local farmers or small local shops, though I do go to the local big box grocer to round things out. In the end its only a few dollars more but in this case its money well spent.

That said, plenty folks go there and it’s just what they do. I pass no judgement on them….sometimes you do what you have to do. However if you are Black and shopping at Wal-Mart you may get more than you bargained for. Check this story out and this one. In both stories Black folks were shopping and in both instances white folks thought the Black folks cut them in line and well…shit hit the fan. Though in the last story I linked to a young woman who may have been bound for medical school is literally fighting for her freedom. Yep, Heather Ellis is dealing with intimidation from the local KKK and what should have not even been a case or issue is threatening to destroy a life. In that first story a woman old enough to know better thought that calling someone a nigger was appropriate behavior for being slighted.

Um….what the fuck is wrong with people. Are they on dope or dog food? Nope, sadly its that old friend racism rearing its ugly head and in a place like Wal-Mart, I swear there is something about the environment that makes folks just go crazy. You put people together who in many cases are scrapping to get by financially and long lines and its a bad combination. I know I am coming across as rather light about some rather serious situations but shopping in places like Wal-Mart I am aware that you see the intersection of race and class coming together and sometimes it is not pretty.

So I want to do my part and get the word out about the plight of Heather Ellis and send some prayers that this case is dismissed and that another bright young Black life is not lost to the penal system.  As for the rest of us, maybe us Black folks should stay the hell out of Wal-Mart…seriously they are not good for our health at all. In fact we should all stay away from Wal-Mart, the country would be a prettier places if there were less Wal-Marts destroying the landscape.

Edited to add, Revvy Rev left me another example of Wal-Mart and Black folks not going well together, check this piece out http://thetoledojournal.com/news/Article/Article.asp?NewsID=99733&sID=4

Honesty and Race..how honest can we be?

21 Oct

Today’s post is inspired by a local buddy of mine, who had a Facebook status update that said “Most white people are too scared of appearing racist to be honest”. I must admit this has stuck with me since reading it and I thought maybe it would make for a good discussion on race. By the way to the friend whose status update inspired this, I hope you don’t mind that I stole your thought as inspiration for this post.

Now I must admit I am of mixed feelings when I think about this because the truth is as a society I don’t think we are mature enough overall to have true dialogues on race. Yet the bigger question is how do we get there? Personally I can say that being part of an interracial marriage for over a decade has inspired many discussions on race. For me there is no way to be married to a white man without discussing race. Is it a stumbling block for us? Yes and no. There are times when we clearly bring who we are to an issue, and have to sometimes agree to disagree. Though many times the Spousal Unit will admit, that in being partnered to me and part of raising biracial kids that he has had to leave the comfort of his white male privilege to really get an issue. I also can say that sometimes I am inspired to put down my own assumptions about whites and understand his perspective.

I think for me when it comes to racial discussions, especially those that occur between whites and blacks in the United States, that too many times the white perspective is seen as right and the black perspective is not viewed as valid. One only has to look around in the blogosphere to see examples of this, hell Beer Gate this summer with the Cambridge cop and Professor Gates showed how differently we view the world. For many whites, Gates was either a pompous ass professor or the victim of unfortunate circumstances, with a fair number of whites not seeing the situation as that big of a deal.

Yet on the Black side, we saw it as a huge deal, just one more example of the systematic bullshit that happens when you are Black in America. If you think I am kidding, ask yourself why a sitting president of the United States felt compelled to speak up? Because while Barack Obama may be the president he has spent enough years as a Black man in America to understand that what happened to Gates is just routine business as usual and all the degrees and money don’t stop you from feeling the weight of oppression and bullshit when you are Black.

I think that by and large honesty is a good thing but I think in order to get honest, whites need to be willing to temporarily relinquish their privilege at least mentally and attempt to have empathy. If that does not happen, then you are not going to have a real discussion.

My viewpoint for me is supported by the fact that personally the best interactions I have with white people tend to be with working class, lower class and blue collar whites. Those that the only privilege they often have is white skin, I could go on and one with anecdotal stories about connecting with whites who initially I am nervous around because they look scary to me, in many cases I admit and its my bias that white men with shaved heads that look like skinheads or bikers scare me. Yet just last night I was out and came across such a man at a local eatery and ended up having a delightful conversation.

I admit that sometimes such folks can be scary but I also think that for some of these folks they are aware they don’t have much privilege aside from white skin and in some cases its easier to make a connection.

For Blacks I have to say if we want to engage in an honest dialogue that we too may need to put aside some of our bias and assumptions when it comes to whites though I admit it can be hard.

Yet I will say that in the quest to be honest with one another, it’s also important to be respectful. Take the age old issue of Black hair, yes my hair is different and its ok if we are friends to ask about it but remember I am a human and that maybe being singled out does not make me feel comfortable.

So while honesty is a possibility and there are plenty of whites and black engaging in honest and real discussions, we need to enter them being thoughtful before they can proceed.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue!

That’s right…I am a Black Girl in Maine

11 Sep

Its been a strange day. Today was the last day of girl child attending the program she has been in since she was 13 months old. When she started at the center, over 3 years ago I was teaching part-time and after having spent the first 13 months at home being a very attached parent, to say I was nervous about putting her in daycare was an understatement. Yet very quickly the lovely staff at the center became like extended members of our family, for months they held her while she fell asleep, dealt with cloth diapers, and never once seemed put off with my overbearing ways.

Needless to say in recent weeks it was one of the hardest decisions we made when we had to face the reality that our finances could no longer support girl child staying in their wonderful preschool program. Actually last year we couldn’t afford it but sacrified everything to keep her there in hopes that our work situations would pick up, instead after landing my position last fall, things got worse. A month ago it hit me that we could not continue to live so close to the bone. Yet for the past several weeks, I kept hoping somehow things would work out, that someone would contact either I or the Spousal Unit for a contract position but it didn’t happen.

So we awoke this morning once again reminding girl child that today was her last day, we sent notes to her closet buddies and hope that they take us up on our offer to have some playdates. Truly a sad moment though we may be able to volunteer a few times a month and girl child will be able to go and play with her friends. What is unique about this center is that for being located in Maine which is a really white state, there were other children of color there. In fact her class was about 40% non-white and her closet friend is also biracial. Due to the make up of the school, I have been insulated from the reality of how white Maine is and how that might impact girl child but tonight well…we got the wake up call.

After saying our good-byes this afternoon, we had to rush off to the open house at the new and affordable preschool she will be attending. The new preschool is actually affiliated with the daycare/preschool she has been attending since they are both part of the YMCA but the daycare is a full-time program that runs full days whereas the preschool is only a few hours a week and they are in separate locations. Demographically the folks who send their kids to the full-time program either work or are in school whereas the new program is generally kids who have never been in a program.

So we (that would be me, girl child and Spousal Unit) roll up to the open house, walk in and well lets just say it was um…interesting. Every kid and corresponding parental unit was white, ok its Maine, that’s not the end of the world I say to myself.

Well as I noticed parents glancing at us and not making eye contact I started to get a tad uncomfortable but what really has me writing a rare second post in a day is the fact that girl child being the outgoing character that she is walked over to another girl and started playing, the little girl looked tentative but the child’s Mama looked bothered. She actually at one point grabbed her kid and when I started talking to her looked like she really did not want to respond to me.

Thankfully girl child was oblivious and the woman did eventually allow her child to play with mine, but that scene has me disturbed to my core. As my child went to wander and play some more, I noticed the looks of the kids and parents and it took everything for me to not cry…the Spousal Unit saw the look on my face, the one that generally means I am about to lose my cool and get gutter. Thankfully I did not, instead I brushed it off and put on my best damn snooty voice and held my head high but tonight as I write this the tears fall. They fall as I remember every miserable fucking year I spent as the only Black kid in the class, that was hard enough but at least I went home and saw Black folks.

I cry tonight wondering about our future and how long we will be here, truth is unloading this house would take an act of God so leaving is not an option. It’s funny because tonight I am reminded that Maine is a really white place yet whiteness has so many levels. I generally operate in that space here where I am surrounded by more liberal open types who embrace diversity which while at times as its drawbacks, it generally means folks who if they have beef with me, it’s because I am an asshole and not because I am Black. On the flip side are those who have less exposure to folks from different backgrounds and like tonight it shows.

So I have no idea what the future holds though girl child was oblivious which is a blessing and wants to go back and I have cautiously agreed to try it next week while we explore our options. But tonight I am reminded that I am a Black Girl in Maine raising a Black girl and at times it’s a lonely road.

The evil one, so they believe

8 Sep

I have been staying away from any hardcore discussion of politics since there are so many bloggers that handle it far better than I am capable of…but with the midnight resignation of Van Jones ( ex-green czar) and the hoopla surrounding President Obama’s speech planned for today to the nation’s schoolchildren. I felt it was time to say something.

First off, I have spent the past several days laid up in bed praying what I had was a bad cold and not a raging case of H1N1 which meant I have had a lot of time to watch tv. Kids, Glen Beck is one crazy motherfucker. I actually rented a video of his and tried to watch it, um…anyone who watches that man on a regular basis and believes him is a few brews short of a six pack. (I know rude as hell, but I have to call it like I see it) Personally I see Beck as an entertainer who would switch sides if it meant more pesos in his pocket, he is a stone cold loon and he admits he doesn’t really consider himself a journalist. He is just a loud-mouth ignoramus.

That said, he is as vicious as a pit bull and as fellow bloggers were reporting he scored a victory this round with the resignation of Van Jones. (feel free to Google if you want back story, too tired to get into it)Though I will say this, um,  Mr. President how come I feel there is a pattern you are developing of throwing folks especially Black folks under the bus? Just a question.

Now to the meat and potatoes, as you probably know by now, Obama is planning a speech to the nation’s school children. A nice stay in school, work hard type of message; this sort of thing has been done before by other presidents and while yeah, there may have been a few Democrats screaming it was a waste of tax payer dollars back when a Republican president was doing it, the outrage was nothing like what we are seeing now.

Oh no! I have watched the news, read the blogs and man oh man, there are some folks who really feel that we are gearing up to live under a socialist regime and that Obama will be subliminally sending messages to the kids via this speech. Um, who really drank the kool-aid? Yet when we take a look at the folks yelling and screaming about Obama and his socialist ways, I have noticed an interesting thing except for a few delusional Blacks that are probably hired, most of the folks yelling are white, they tend to look either very Christian or very working class and are quick to say racism is not an issue.

As my Granny used to say, youse a lie! Look Black folks know though our more liberal white brethren try not to admit it but all this talk of socialism is just a smoke screen. Fact is Obama could be less government more business, free Nascar passes to folks and you know what? People would still hate him, you know why? Because he is Black, technically he is only half Black but in America  we still have that unofficial one drop rule and you are Black so in this case he is pretty damn Black. 

The bottom line is Fox News, Glen Beck and all the crazies out there are exploiting working class white folks fear of the unknown..aka the Black man. Guess what? Its working too, these folks are riled the fuck up and I swear any moment I expect RAHOWAto break out because the real truth is the birthers and the townhall nuts fear change by a Black man. In many cases we are looking at folks old enough to remember when all a Black man could do was shine their shoes and now he is the damn president of the United States. Mind blowing I guess, if you are mind is that small.

So I say, quit lying and stop misusing words like socialism, believe me Obama is hardly radical in fact if I had it my way you would indeed feel a touch of real socialism but in this country that will never happen.

Burnt Out

14 Aug

Maybe it’s because the dialogue around the health care issue is starting to get ugly (when will folks just get real and say the issue is the fact that a Black man is in charge? Quit pussyfooting around) or maybe its because work is getting crazy…in any event I am in a rare place where I almost don’t want to know what is going on in the world. I wake up listening to my local NPR affiliate station and generally in the evening I  watch the local news station; I have always been a news junkie but lately watching or hearing the news feels so heavy.

In November after the election, I was filled with so much hope for this nation. Now though I think we are on a one way course back to a dark place. Birthers, town hall folks….I was so saddened when I heard about a protester at one of these discussions that held a sign up (sorry too tired to link it) saying death to Obama, Michelle and their girls. What the fuck is wrong with people? Seriously, if I were Michelle Obama right about now I would be saying baby, you need to quit….do a Sarah Palin and just exit stage right.

I guess we ought to be lucky though that the First Lady does not think like me but I can only imagine if I find all this nastiness stressful, how hard must it be for their family? 

All this to say I am feeling burnt out on world events and happenings yet because of my work its hard to escape the ugliness that exists in the world. I see families daily in so much need, families mired in generational poverty that at times makes me feel so silly talking about my own financial woes here at BGIM. After all, while my financial situation is a tad shitty at the moment, fact is I write these posts from the comfort of my home that is mortgage free. My freezer is filled with good healthy food and while Visa, MasterCard and that bitch Sallie Mae want their money, all my basic needs are met. The work I do is often good at keeping me grounded and making sure I don’t wallow in self pity too long.

Nope, truth is I am burnt out, its strange because if I didn’t like blogging so much I would say its time to say good bye yet I do like blogging. But most of what I write is about current happenings so not sure what that means for the future of BGIM. Any ideas? Maybe more posts on the simple life in Maine?

Well, have a happy weekend! We are expecting a heatwave so I suspect I will be logging in plenty of time on the beach this weekend.

And we wonder why we are still talking race in post-racial America

20 Jul

If you are sensitive to discussions about race, do me and you a favor and just skip this post…I am talking race today and it might start feeling a smidge uncomfortable. What you are about to read is a column I wrote for a local publication that was rejected by my editor on the basis that maybe when I am talking race, I am the one with the chip on my shoulder. It was suggested that I need to look at why I get so bothered by racial things…I don’t know maybe its because as a Black woman living in these divided  States of America that despite having a Black president racism is still a fact of life and as much as I wish race wasn’t an issue that I didn’t haveto think about, that just is not the world I live in….

Uncomfortable in my own skin

I’m proud to be Black. I sometimes joke with my husband that I’d like a “White suit” for those days I don’t want to deal with preconceptions from other people that derive from the color of my skin but the fact is: I wouldn’t want to be White.

Then again, lately I feel conspicuous in my dark skin. So, what’s the trigger for that?

Hell, what aren’t the triggers?

In the nearly three months since David Okot was killed by the Portland Police after reportedly waving a gun around in a threatening fashion, I’ve watched the continued deterioration of relations between Somali and Sudanese immigrants and the police. Seems like whenever police have to chase a Somali or Sudanese kid for stealing something, now they’re accused of harassing these two groups. And lately, there have been rumblings that when the police are called by some Somali and Sudanese residents of Portland, the calls might be ruses to lure police into confrontations.

Closer to my home, Rory Holland of Biddeford in late June reportedly shot dead, at 1 a.m., brothers Gage and Derek Greene–aged 19 and 21–outside his home. Holland has a criminal record going way back, for a variety of unsavory crimes, and is the kind of guy who seems to like to file lawsuits against people for fun and profit.

Also, there is Shalom Odokara, who runs Women in Need and was vice chairwoman of Portland’s Planning Board until city officials learned that she recently pled guilty to criminal charges in federal court. She was already on probation after pleading guilty in 2006 for embezzling $108,000 from the World Bank, and in 1989 she was convicted for trafficking heroin from Nigeria to Maryland.

As if that’s not enough, it turns out that Portland city council member and current mayor Jill Duson apparently knew about at least portions of Odokara’s criminal past already, and didn’t tell her colleagues, nor ask Odokara to resign.

Can you guess what Okot, Holland, Odokara and Duson all have in common?

Yeah, they’re Black.

And I feel sometimes like the rest of us Black people are being judged in light of that. Any time even one Black person makes the news prominently for a crime in this state, I get tense because people almost invariably start look at me harder and more suspiciously. And in a short span of time, three major stories in which four black people and a couple of entire immigrant African populations figure prominently.

Oh, joy!

Partly, I sense the judgmentalism in the comments I see online in response to news articles about these events. But while I realize that those aren’t allMainers, why is it that so often, when I sit down in a restaurant or coffee shop and settle into my “eavesdropping for entertainment” mode as usual, someone starts talking about Rory Holland or Odokara or the “Somali problem” within seconds? And why am I getting more grumpy looks from people after living in my community for six years now?

And no, I don’t mean the Canadian tourists; I’m used to getting weird looks from them every damn summer. I’m talking people who see me in passing on a regular basis.

In African-American culture, many of us are raised to understand that, for right or wrong, our actions will be seen as representative of the entire Black community. My 17-year-old at times tells me this thinking is outdated. But even he has come to realize that  wearing the baggy pants and gym shoes that is so popular with youth is a surefire way to invite trouble from racists and attention from police even though he doesn’t do anything nefarious or suspicious.

So I would urge all of you to please remember that it’s White people who commit the vast majority of crimes around here–and no, aside from having run into Rory Holland in downtown Biddeford from time to time and steering clear of him because I thought he was creepy, too, I don’t know these people. And I certainly shouldn’t be judged based on them.

End of column……

Obviously this piece has a local slant so feel free to google additional information if you really want to know what goes on in Maine. Now it was funny because as the Spousal Unit (aka resident white guy in my house) and I were discussing how I should proceed with my column, we got news of this story. Seems Skip Gates, a well known Black scholar and Harvard faculty member was arrested for breaking into his own house. Now having read the police report it appears Gates forgot the rules of Blackness in America…when dealing with the police, they don’t give a damn who the fuck you are, and you can best believe Barack Obama in a few years when he is out of office if his ass ever gets caught without Secret Service detail and the local police think he is suspicious, he too could get locked up.

If you think I am tripping as the young folks used to say, well you are asleep at the switch. There may be a few times when Black folks cry race when its something else but too many times race is the issue, it never stops being an issue.  Sadly too many well meaning white folks these days point to the fact that we have a Black president as hard evidence that racism is mostly dead. Look, truth is Obama won because the economy sucked and folks realized that with McCain and Palin we would really big screwed…when it comes to folks and their money, they will do what advances their best interest and McCain was not in most folks best interest. You think the economy is screwed now? Imagine life under the maverick duo? I know…nasty thought!

Instead we have to look at ways to get around issues of race and not let it be an issue but that still does not stop us from having days when we shake our heads and go damn!  As for me, well I am gonna do some soul searching and figure why oh why I get so bothered by race..maybe its because every time my son leaves the house there is a part of me that prays and wants to tell him no don’t go. Maybe its because I hear the stories of abuse that Black and biracial kids put up from their peers here in Maine for the crime of not being white…maybe its because despite the fancy letters that go after my name, I still encounter folks daily who question who I am and whether or not I am qualified to do my job. Just little stuff that keeps me wondering….

How to raise a racist

5 Feb

This a true story that I am about to share with you, one that I almost hesitate to share because I know some of my readers in my daily life but one that I think needs to be shared for all those who think that the election of Barack Obama has done away with racism in America. For all the talk of post racial America, I call bullshit loud and clear. No, racism is still woven into the very fabric of this nation and our culture and I have discovered the seeds of racism are still planted very young and will ensure that we still will grapple with this evil for at least another generation.

Up until a few months ago, I worked at a freelance grant-writer and consultant, a job that after a while was starting to wear on me. Too many of my clients looked to me as a miracle worker and in the current economic climate I started to realize a little job security might be a good thing. Which is why when the opportunity came up to become Executive Director of a center that serves poor and working class families in a neighboring community came up, I jumped at the position.

Now as a Black woman in Maine, I was a tad hesitant about how this might work since all the families we serve are white, however as a person who was raised poor and working class I can relate to these folks. Well, initially I thought things were going well and while the board (aka my bosses) probably feel they are going well, I am starting to realize that for some of our families my blackness is an issue.

 Recently due to a staffing shortage, I have had to take over running of the after school program myself some days which means that I have a lot more contact with the kids and their families then either I or the board thought would be necessary. The only alternative was to be closed until I can bring on the necessary staff which for some our families would have had a devastating effect since our program is free and these are not cheap services. I will be the first to tell you that watching the kids myself is outside my comfort zone, I like kids, shit, I own a couple myself but watching someone else’s kids is a different situation then watching your own kids especially when you are watching 20+ at a time.

Well at first, it looked liked things were going good, several parents I spoke with last week were happy that I was there and that we were going to be open albeit for less hours while I resolve the staff shortage. However a kid told me something last week that cut to my core and honestly unnerved me initially….little boy A generally comes everyday with his cousin, little boy B. So I noticed that little boy B had not been coming, so I asked his cousin A where was B. Little boy A told me that his cousin B was not allowed to come if our site manager was not there.

Now I have lived 36 years as a Black woman in America so you know where my mind went but I didn’t push and just left it alone, though it was still in the back of my mind until yesterday. A couple days ago, I saw little boy B and his Mama outside the center, well the Mama looked in and saw me and then put boy B back in the car and drove off….and no the site manager wasn’t there so it was just me.

Again, I pushed the doubts aside but yesterday well they came out again, yesterday our site manager was in which meant I could go back to my job of running the agency instead of overseeing this program, but boy B told me something that knocked me off my axis. So both boys were in yesterday and I commented to little boy A that it must be nice that his cousin was there and he said to me in the presence of the site manager that Little Boy B again can’t come if I am just there because Little Boy B’s parents don’t like me. Mind you he said it in that childlike naïve way that kids repeat what they hear at home. The site manager asked why all the while turning beet red and the little boy just repeated his statement again and said because……and that was it.

 Now some might say “Blackgirl, you are jumping to conclusions” Um, no….like I said earlier I have been Black 36 years and some shit you just know, you don’t need a map or a GPS system in this case to get to the conclusion. Mind you until recently little boy B always came up to me and issued me a big hug and was always talkative, this kid is a sweetheart, in fact a truly likable kid. I have noticed that now he stays away from me as if he has been instructed to stay away from the nigger.

See, this is how you raise a racist and start em young. I will be honest I went home last night almost thinking what the fuck am I doing here. However I prayed to forgive that family and at this point it’s between them and the man upstairs, anger is not an emotion I either need or want though there is still sadness to see that such a warm loving kid is being raised to hate early on. So while for my more educated and open minded country men and women of the paler hue racism may seem like a thing of the past, I tell you nope it is not.