Tag Archives: Black lives matter

We Still Have to Pitch In

I’ve been sick the past 4 days, so I need to make this short. I wasn’t able to go to the March for Our Lives event in Boston,  but many of my friends did. This picture is from the gathering at the Boston Commons, courtesy of Becky.

I hope I’ve been misunderstanding many of the adults’ comments about the young people leading this movement. Yes, we are proud and cheering them on. But every time I see a quote or post along the lines of “This generation will be great leaders” and “These kids will lead the way,” it sounds to me like the adults are breathing a sigh of relief that we are somehow off the hook. Or that we were/are helpless to change anything, and a new sheriff has arrived in town to save us. I hope I am wrong.

Instead, I hope their voices have inspired you to start engaging to help change things you think are wrong. If you have been doing that already, I hope they inspire you to do more. If you’ve become discouraged, I hope their voices lift you up and keep you going. The more of us who wake up, keep going, join in, the better chance we have to make real, lasting change.

Yes, let’s cheer them on, and let’s dig in.

 

 

Time to Get Busy

I went to bed last Tuesday night having a déjà vu from a  similar election night in 1988, George Bush (H.W., senior) vs Michael Dukakis. I was a young and naïve liberal terrified by a Bush win, which would continue the horror I’d felt as a teenager with Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. I only survived that because my history teacher, who I respected because of his deadpan sense of humor, assured me in all seriousness that politics are a pendulum that swings back-and-forth. I was also somewhat inoculated by that teenage elixir of disdain for all who came before me and the hubris that nothing truly horrible would ever happen to me.

Eight years later in 1988, I was desperate to have the pendulum swing back to the left. Things weren’t looking too good when I went to bed that night. In the morning, I made a deliberate effort to wake up before the alarm, turn it off, and spend a few blissful moments with time and information suspended. And in that moment I tried to draw strength from the silence and the idea that all things were still possible.

And then I turned on the radio and was immediately devastated.

My naïveté then was thinking the world as I knew it was over with Bush as president. Little did I know how much worse it would get with George W. Bush (the son), and then how much better it would get — from my perspective — with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

So last Tuesday night I went to bed laughing at my 20-something self; how cute is it that I thought two Bush presidents were the worst we could get. When you are a liberal pining for the Republicans to look more like Bush senior, you are pretty well fucked, my friend. Wednesday morning I repeated the ritual: woke up before the alarm and tuned into the exquisite place of not knowing. I couldn’t quite get to a place where all things were possible. I’ve been kicked around the block a few too many times to be able to muster that kind of protective naïveté.

I got up, I picked up my phone, and my stomach lurched at the alerts proclaiming Trump had won. After dry heaving, I went through a rapid fire set of emotions — fear, doubt, disgust, and then landed squarely on resolution, fueled by anger. And it was then that I appreciated my 51 years on this planet. I know things for sure that my teen and 20-something self did not. I have way more confidence, tools, and resources than they had. And I also have a special kind of anger, thanks to perimenopause, and it’s not something you want to screw around with. It comes from a deep, hormone-fueled place, the same hormonal place that pushes a 9-pound baby out of a hole the size of a lemon. We’re talking lifeforce here, and I’ve got a mainline to it.

I’m smart enough to be afraid for all us who Trump has maligned, and as the days pass, I’m even more fearful of the pack of Dementers he’s allowing to be assembled as his transition team. It’s like Dick Cheney times 5. But as someone who went to rallies for the abortion rights in the ’80s, I take it as a sign of progress that there will be also rallies for people of color, sexual orientation, and religion to fight for the rights that have been gained since Bush senior. To quote my favorite movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, “I’m older than you and I have more insurance.” I’m lucky enough to live in liberal Massachusetts, and I will do what I need to do to fight this. I don’t have small children or a partner to consider. I’ve been kicked around by life some, and I’m stronger for it. I’m in the perfect place to hold the line

Here are the things I’ve done so far. If you are so inclined, do what you can with what you have. In this fight, everyone’s contributions count, big or small, words, money, actions.

  1. Don’t forget self-care. This is a marathon not a sprint, and we’ve got to outlast them.
  2.  I’m lucky to be able to rearrange my budget to give to Black Lives Matter, Human Rights Campaign, ACLU of Massachusetts, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  3. I saw a great illustrated guide of 4 simple step to help victims of harassment. The creator, a Paris-based artist, focused on Islamophobia because that is what she has experienced in Paris, but it works for any situation when a person is being harassed. You engage that person with small talk, and don’t acknowledge or engage the attacker. Check out the whole explanation.
  4. I’m planning on going to a women’s march on January 21 in Washington, DC, a day after the inauguration. I’ll go wherever else I can.
  5. Be as kind as you can to yourself and others.
  6. I’ve gained strength and hope from the many people who are engaging, helping, listening, and fighting for all of our rights.

So, Trump my message to you is this: if you or those around you are interested in dismantling human rights of any kind, than I dare you to go ahead and grab my pussy, but I warn you–it’s got teeth.

Black Lives Matter

Last Thursday my friend Mike texted me and asked if I wanted to join a protest against the decision not to indict the officer for the death of Eric Garner in NYC. Garner died while police were taking him down to arrest him. As a divorced mom, I only have certain evenings that I can be civic-minded, social, or watch old reruns of Starsky and Hutch, so I was happy the protest was on one of those nights. Mike and I had both been feeling frustrated and helpless about the Garner news following on the heels of the heartbreaking news out of Ferguson. Another grand jury failing to indict a police officer for a death of a black person. Like the NYC protest earlier in the week, the one in Boston was called to coincide with the lighting of the Boston Commons. I admit was a little conflicted on this point. I wanted to speak out and support racial justice and equality and I have no problem interrupting purely adult events, but as a mother, I didn’t want to be responsible for traumatizing a bunch of kids. I didn’t mind kids seeing us, but protests can quickly turn ugly, and I didn’t want to be a part of a toppled burning tree and kids who would associate racial justice with Christmas haters. I needn’t have worried. The protest was peaceful and orderly and although we stopped traffic in the street nearby the tree, we respected the barriers the police had erected around the ceremony. The kids may forever hear “Black Lives Matter” sprinkled among the strains of “White Christmas,” but I can live with that.

We stood in a crowd that began to grow. Every time we turned to look behind us more people joined. The crowd was encouragingly diverse, especially for Boston, which is pretty white. All shades of skin color and all ages, from gray heads to wispy-haired toddlers. We couldn’t see the speaker, and it was hard to hear, but the chants would flow back to us like the wave at a sports stadium. But honestly, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that we were there, with like-minded people, speaking out. After a while the crowd started to move. Even as I was chanting, a small part of my brain acknowledged the power of the crowd and giving myself up to it. The protest was not an elaborately planned civil rights March on Washington. It seemed more organic. I had no idea where we were going, but Mike and I followed and chanted. We stepped out into the street stopping traffic. For all of Boston’s bad driving reputation, not one driver yelled at us. Some cheered, some looked annoyed, and others just took the opportunity to text with immunity. We went around the tree lighting ceremony and walked up the small hill to the state house. The sight of police in riot gear “lite” lined up along the state house lawn was sobering. They had face shields and were wearing neon yellow jackets. I was somewhat reassured by the article I had read in the Boston Globe the week before about a longer march after the Ferguson decision. The police chief was exuberant that the police and marchers had been respectful and no property had been damaged. He seemed like a reasonable guy and so far this march was reasonable. We stood by the gates chanting while the cops stood in an impassive line. Finally the protesters with bull horns turned us back down the hill and we walked in the downtown streets. It was a little surreal. The traffic at this point was being diverted, because there were no more cars. Police on bikes rode alongside us as we chanted and walked. One of the chants was “Hey, hey, ho, ho, these racist cops have got to go.” Mike commented that he didn’t like that chant, but being the word girl, I pointed out that it could be interpreted as these racist cops over here have to go, while we support those cops over there who are not racist. Of course, one thrown rock and the cops wouldn’t care very much about the nuances of demonstrative pronouns.

We wound our way down Washington Street and we were getting a little punchy; a guy behind us tried to start rogue chants. Some were kind of funny, like as we were going by a tall skyscraper he started chanting “Take the bank! Take the bank” and then “Take them all! Take them all!” We all started laughing because it didn’t even make sense, and he was laughing too.  At the corner of State and Congress we stopped. Again I had that sense of just being in the crowd, in the moment. I didn’t know what the plan was or where we are even trying to get to. Mike and I joked they were just going to march us down State Street into the ocean. But then people started lying down. It was a “die in.” We’d been standing and walking for almost two hours so it actually felt kind of nice, even on the cold pavement in the middle of street. As we looked up into the dark night sky, Mike and I marveled that we’d probably never get to see this view, quite like this again. Then “Take the bank” guy started chanting “Get me a blanket! Get me a blanket!” and we started laughing again. Irreverent? Perhaps. But it occurred to me that the humor would help keep us safe from an anger that could turn into confrontation and get people hurt. Our presence, thousands strong was enough. We were lying in the street and chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” and “I can’t breathe!” We were making our point without fire hoses, police dogs, and burning buildings. Without riot gear, tasers, and mace.

To fit in my space on the street, I was curled up on my side and the hip I was resting on started to hurt. The ground was getting cold. Finally we got up. It was 8:30. Mike and I, who had both marched on Washington in our 20s—he for the AIDS crisis and me for abortion rights—were tired and hungry. It was time for us to let the young ones carry on without us. At least for the night. A few blocks away we encountered another large river of people parallel to the folks we’d just left. Yes we were leaving the protest in good hands, and we would continue our own education—Mike reading about white privilege and I rereading my books about the Civil Rights Movement.

Black lives matter.