I’ve struggled with not participating in the marches and protests and mass gatherings of the last 10 days. My health and the health of my partner and my family remain paramount. Since March, I’ve narrowed my circle of contacts to 6, passed on business opportunities and put off properly burying my best friend. I want to see my 87-year old parents next weekend and have carefully planned that visit since May. It’s been achingly difficult but I’ve committed to not taking any chances with my health or theirs.
Today was cathartic on many levels. Today I found a way, on the bike, to try to understand, to begin to affect change. Shane and I joined a small bike tour of what I’d call How Systemic Racism Works in Atlanta: urban redevelopment sites, kick-ass corporate stadiums, broken streets that have never healed, whole neighborhoods forgotten in pursuit of the almighty dollar. But mostly, promises broken.
All of this culminated in riding past the home of Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year old black woman who was murdered in 2006 by 3 members of Atlanta Police Department’s elite Red Dog unit — a vice squad on steroids since disbanded. Expecting a Drug Den, they ran up her wheelchair ramp, sawed through her burglar bars, kicked down the door and fired 39 shots at her. She was armed and defended herself, getting a shot off before being downed by 5 or 6 police bullets.
The cops had the wrong address.
They went on to cuff her when she died, plant drugs in her house and lie about everything afterwards.
For me, Johnston’s death is the grotesque culmination of every aspect of systemic racism. Racism that’s ingrained over generations and perpetrated in education systems and allowed to fester through economic activity ends up with public servants killing old innocent ladies resting in their homes, in neighborhoods no one cares about.
We must do better. Today, I started anew.
So, you didn’t want to wear a mask because you selfishly thought it impinged on your rights (fact check: you don’t have the right to spread a lethal disease).
So, you wouldn’t subscribe to basic science and keep a safe distance between your untested self and the rest of your fellow humans (fact check: COVID-19 spreads via tiny particles of moisture, which you exhale at varying speeds and velocities…which means, you spray beyond 6 feet when you talk, laugh, cough and sneeze. As do I, a person whose status you do not know).
So, you want all you can grab for yourself and your children, ignoring the plight of others, as your savior, Jesus Christ, commands you to do. You ignore others’ health and well-being through your vote and your political (meaning the whole of society) choices and quit “loving thy neighbor as thy self.” In fact, you do everything to make sure your neighbor doesn’t stand a chance (fact check: death by asphyxiation, knee to the neck, to be exact).
So, did it occur to you that the Niggers that live in your city, your state, your country are your neighbors? Also, the ‘Spics, the Chincs, the Kikes, the Wops, the Faggots, the Gimps — that Tranny using your restroom — all of us, we are your neighbors?
So, let me get this straight, you’re appalled by the violence those people — your neighbors, remember them? those who have nothing left to save except their lives — exact on the symbols of your privilege and the temples of your consumption?
So then, your false bronzed prophet grabs your Holy book and stands before a church that moments before was occupied by your “neighbors” (fact check: he cleared them away with tear gas) and says he’s turning the military against you and us and everyone in the name of “the one law.”
Remind me again about your rights? Tell me about your savior? About how much you love your neighbors?
Well my friend, you deserve what’s coming.
Redemption is a ticket that you long ago traded for the comfort of Walmart, Donald Trump, that tattoo and your lily white ass. Good luck.
They’re going to eat you alive.
My Alma Mater, Auburn, never gets the credit it’s due. It’s been the stepchild of Alabama higher education since before its inception. It’s been the scrappy street fighter to Tuscaloosa’s sophisticated ring boxer. Its National Championships have been repeatedly denied and disputed. Auburn’s academic credentials have never been brought to the forefront. The University’s impact on the State: underestimated and overlooked. Professors taught there because they were compassionate, had hidden talent and thought they could do some good there on the Plains. And perhaps, because they might not make tenure elsewhere.
They tell us we’ve never amounted to much. And if we did, it was a fluke, an anomaly. They tell us we cheat, that we’re less than. They question our every move, shine the brightest of lights on us. They call us a cow college — as if cows are inferior. As part of the Auburn family, you are certainly more well aware of your faults than any outside critic will ever be. You can’t help but be; you’re told of your inferiority at every turn.
The Auburn Creed teaches us to be humble, above all else. To value what matters in life. To work hard. To elevate honesty and the human touch. To appreciate clean sports. To count on what we alone can earn. And we do. And we go on, ALL IN, as family, rebounding after every loss with optimism for the next contest. For we know what matters.
Being the eternal underdog teaches you that it’s OK to lose. It’s OK to make mistakes. And it’s OK if your team doesn’t always grab the brass ring. Sometimes second place is better. Sometimes giving it your all teaches you more than winning it all. Showing up and giving it 100% always wins. That’s the Auburn way.
And tonight, after I watched Bruce Pearl (a cheater, a liar and a damn fine basketball coach), and his team of equals fight back to come *this close* to a shot at the National Championship, I realized once again that there is great value in not winning. There are infinite lessons in losing – more so than winning. The pain of defeat. The inherent improvement that results from licking one’s wounds. The joy and utter exhaustion of giving it all. That fleeting glimpse of what’s possible.
The lessons learned through picking up the pieces, I think, serve one better than sustained victories and constant success ever can.
So, with that, I say: “War Eagle, Y’all!! It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger.” I love this University that continues to teach.
Right now, I realize that the friendships I have, the ones that I’ve nurtured and have been nurtured through for the longest time, are the ones that are getting me through the present.
Foundations are important. For upon them, great things are built.
For my Libtard friends who think the Dems need “new leadership” or “someone young” or a “fresh perspective,” what’s your rationale? Who exactly do you have in mind? What’s their track record? What’s your person’s plan?
Let’s not forget how well “new blood” worked for the GOP and their golden boy, the impotent Paul Ryan…
If you’re gonna play, play hard. Blue took the House in a huge wave. Now is not the time to cower, to tinker, to tread lightly. Back a champ, one who’ll get it done, someone with a proven record. Like her or not, she knows her caucus and *always* has the votes.
Don’t worry about the vilification coming from the Right…that’s just fear.
The Times’ profile is genius in what is says…as well as what it doesn’t.
So 32 people have gotten sick from a product and the government unilaterally says, just before the national eating holiday, DON’T USE THE PRODUCT and everyone’s freaking out….
Sometimes, in your deepest rage, you imagine terrible things, the awful things you’d say at that darkest of moments. You rehearse and refine them while you’re raking the leaves or cleaning the commode. Steeling yourself, you forge forward, sharpen your blades, prepare to pounce on the unsuspecting prey.
And the next day, nothing broached or uttered or subject skirted, you spend the day creating, laboring, testing, trying. The moment comes and goes. The anger passes by like a whisper, in the dark, miles away.
And cleaning the dishes, somehow it bubbles to the surface. It breaks from the crust, clean and delicate and wonderful. Much like the meal. It comes out of you in a hug, a moment of honesty and tenderness, acquiescence and oneness.
And it works. That airy souflée of truth. At its apex. Luscious and wonderful, light and not yet deflated.
Received and responded to with equal honesty, realization, guilty regret and promise.
And it works. Far better than you planned or plotted in your sabotage. The combination better than the single ingredient.
When does one learn? When does one listen? Where is patience? Where is understanding?
Quit imagining more.
We ask ourselves.
I learned something this week, in Provincetown. Not that that’s unusual. Quite the opposite, actually.
I learned more about the definition of Hospitality. That definition that I’ve been chasing for quite some time. What I discovered was that it does not have to include a huge or elaborate or fancy or, even, correct meal. It only has to include the idea that welcoming friends and strangers into one’s home is the most basic of human gestures.
In fact, it recognizes quite a few universal needs….nourishment, contact, interaction, relaxation, safety….love.
So thank you for the ill-received fried shrimp, shell-on. Thank you for the the grunts and groans and non-communication as you sat at your computer making lists each morning. Thank you for the reluctantly-accepted, spur-of-the-moment invitation that turned out to be a delightful evening and the impetus for new, lasting friendships. And thank you, for the hug, the recognition, the “hey John Brown!” and the embrace of the newest addition to my life.