Have I lived the life I wanted?

Canaan’s descendants settled in the land of Canaan!

canaanIn the Boston Globe recently, there was an interesting title. “If I die now, have I lived the life I wanted to?” The subtitle: “The pandemic has people examining their lives. Some don’t like what they’re seeing.”

“Spouses are being left, retirements pushed up, friends dropped. People are moving to rural spots and strengthening their faith, and those fortunate enough to have a choice are saying ‘no’ to commuting.”

But I don’t think it’s just the pandemic. As the article noted, “A married couple have taken stock of their lives… They have been hanging out with the wrong people — friends who were nice to their faces, but, they now realize, are selfish. The friends refuse to wear masks or support Black Lives Matter, stances that rule out any further relationship.”

So it’s all of it: IMPOTUS, COVID-19, George Floyd and all of the ramifications of each. It’s certainly true for me.

Let me let you in on a little secret. I hate writing about race and racism in America. The only thing that I hate more is NOT writing about it. There is a hole in my stomach, probably from acid reflux, when I don’t write what I am feeling.

So I have come to a conclusion. There’s a woman in my life who is really upset with me. It is because I told her, in an email discussion in late June, that IMPOTUS was a bigoted person. Therefore, her support of him appeared racist to me. She says she’s “devastated.”

Old Testament

My realization, my culpability in this, is that I held back in the past. For instance, when she laid out to me that black people became slaves in America because of the curse of Canaan. I wrote about this theory five years ago.

From here: “Canaan’s descendants, however, did not settle in Africa, but in the land to which they gave their father’s name—the land of Canaan!… Later, Joshua conquered this land and placed the Canaanites under forced slave labor (Josh. 9:23)…. Thus, the prophetic curse of slavery was literally fulfilled on the Canaanites. The curse, therefore, applies to no ethnic group in existence today. The mistaken idea that Ham’s African descendants are cursed is a myth too often repeated even to this day!” And it’s out there a lot.

When I finally did figure out the absurdity that she was talking about – even assuming that the Bible is literally true, which she does – I might have called her out about it. But I didn’t, in the name of peace. But, as it states in Jeremiah 6:14-15:

They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.

My disservice to her, then, was not saying something sooner. It’s not her support for IMPOTUS that is the reason I believe her views are racist; that just codifies it. It’s because of her views on the curse of Ham, and the seeming glee she had sharing this with me five or six years earlier. And some other things too.

June rambling: And They Lynched Him

1600 Black Lives Plaza

goofus and galliantMia Birdsong is the host of More Than Enough, a Nation podcast that uses the concept of universal basic income to start a conversation about dignity, deservedness, and the country America can and should be.

UMBERTO ECO: a practical guide for identifying fascists.

In Memoriam: Duane Ivan Todman.

Sudan: Anatomy of an internet shutdown.

People Who Tried New Quarantine Hobbies Tell Us How That All Worked Out.

Deciphering appliance error codes for washers, dryers, dishwashers, and ranges.

A Stroll Along State Street in Albany, New York, a stretch of road I know extremely well.

Kurt Thomas, U.S. gymnastics’ first world champion, dies at 64.

Triangles vs. Rectangles: What’s the Better Way to Cut a Sandwich? (it involves math)

She Gets Calls And Texts Meant For Elon Musk. Some Are Pretty Weird.

Ain’t it the troooth.

If you can’t find self-rising flour, just add 1.5 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt per cup of all-purpose flour.

Why Is It ‘Eleven, Twelve’ Instead of ‘Oneteen, Twoteen’?

Race in America

George Floyd’s Autopsy and the Structural Gaslighting of America.

The cascade of crises in black America.

The Mimetic Power of D.C.’s Black Lives Matter Mural.

Why The Small Protests In Small Towns Across America Matter.

The protests bring on a Me-Too reckoning and media reckoning on race.

This Is How It Feels To Be Racially Profiled.

From 2018, and still unfortunately relevant: Before You Call the Cops – The Tyler Merritt Project.

The Schomburg Center’s Black Liberation Reading List and Anti-racism books (NYT).

CNN/Sesame Street town hall on racism.

Lots of resources here and here.

What You Should Keep In Mind About COVID-19 If You’re Protesting.

Fox News apologizes for segment linking stock market gains to the deaths of unarmed Black men.

vlogbrothers.

Iowa Republicans Vote Out Rep. Steve King, the most overtly racist member of Congress.

Ella Jones Elected to Serve as Ferguson’s First Black Mayor.

The myth of the kindly General Lee.

#IMPOTUS

Blessed are the poorIf He Goes Even Lower, We’d Better Be Prepared.

The Regime Is Beginning to Topple.

History Will Judge the Complicit Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president.

Cockwomble (noun) – A person, usually male, prone to making outrageously stupid statements and/or inappropriate behavior while generally having a very high opinion of his own wisdom and importance.

This is your America.

NYTimes Op-ed warns of a ‘vaccine’ October Surprise.

The unemployment rate is really 3% higher than claimed.

Lincoln Project ads: Leadership and Steps and Mattis.

An idea: buy a postcard, send it to Temporary Occupant, 1600 Black Lives Plaza, Washington, DC 20500 (ZIP Code should get it there), and send your message of disdain. (Postage is 35 cents, but hey, spend 20 cents more, slap that first-class stamp on it, and support the USPS.)

The Bunker Boy – Randy Rainbow.

Now I Know

The American Civil War of World War II and Giving a Word a Different Spin and They Called it “Massive Resistance” and A Step Too Far? and Cherries, Helicopters, and Hair Dryers and High Altitude Flatus Expulsion and It Doesn’t Stand for “Eradicating Dangerous Mosquitoes”.

MUSIC

And They Lynched Him On A Tree by William Grant Still.

Lift Every Voice, Karen Briggs violin rendition.

Rise Up – Andra Day.

EK Ellington, W Marsalis, O Wilson.

No One – Kevin Flournoy ft. Rebecca Jade.

Jungle Love – Morris Day and The Time.

People Get Ready.

Lizzo.

Coverville 1311: Cover Stories for Outkast, Lauryn Hill, and Jack Johnson.

Took The Children Away – Archie Roach.

Flivver Ten Million by Frederick Shepherd Converse, performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Let The Sunshine In from HAIR Virtual Corona Version | 2020.

Sound of Silence – Dana Winner.

21st Century Schizoid Man – Toyah & The Humans, A tribute to Bill Rieflin.

Smile – Voctave A Cappella Cover.

Once in a Lifetime – Kermit the Frog.

Mr. Ed Theme Song, in German.

Plymouth Rock landed on us

reflecting the zeitgeist

basquiat
by Jean Michel Basquiat
On YouTube, there is an 18-minute video by Candace something or other. She’s a pleasant young black woman who gave a very professional, very measured talk.

She explained that George Floyd, the black man who was killed by the Minneapolis police last month, was “neither a martyr or a hero.” She’s gotten nearly six million hits since June 4.

Candace tells us that Floyd has a criminal record with multiple convictions. Instead, we should be lifting up David Dorn, the 77-year-old unarmed black retired grandfather of 10. He was a retired “St. Louis Police captain killed after responding to a pawnshop alarm during looting.” And it is a terrible story.

I knew that when an electronic family gathering came up – one I frankly ducked after the previous one – Dorn’s name would come up. “It’s too bad [Dorn’s] death is not more prominent.” Instead, a guy who took drugs is the one we are asked to “say his name.”

So why does George Floyd reflect the zeitgeist, besides the fact that we saw him die by a callous cop? According to this article in Business Insider, it was a combination of “pent-up anxiety” and “the actions of the president and law enforcement across the country [that] have created an outrage multiplier that has mobilized participants.”

Viva la Resistance!

Shockingly, to my mind, this has been a “diversifying movement.” There are a whole lot more white people out there demonstrating, and not just in the United States but all over the world. OK, not in Antarctica, but everywhere else. The progressive movement is fired up, optimally in a supporting role.

People, a fair number of them, have checked in to see how I am. Some I know IRL. Others I’ve known for years from online contacts, such as Amy, Melanie and Greg, and Jaquandor, who quotes me in a post. Also one guy I barely know online, which kind of creeped me out.

I’m reasonably fine, though it’s really difficult to keep up with the changing landscape. I’ve never had to rewrite what I’ve prepared here in my life. NASCAR’s getting rid of the Confederate flag? That’s great, of course, but it’s like Oktoberfest without beer.

Still, there’s this line from the movie Malcolm X (1992) that keeps popping up in my head. “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us!” It’s not quite what Malcolm actually said, but the film dialogue is better, I think.

Naturally, IMPOTUS is restarting his rallies. His first one after the BLM demonstrations is on Juneteenth. In Tulsa. It sounds like Stephen Miller’s fingerprints are all over this.

I pointed out Candace earlier. Now here’s Kimberly, a black woman, whose video has lesser production values, and about 3000 hits. She’s also quite intelligent, but eventually loud, and vulgar. You might recognize her from the end of John Oliver’s piece on the police. If you want to hear more from her – and you should because it’s far more a reflection of my feelings – go HERE.

Time for police reform continues to be right now

Create a policy for a transparent investigation process due to law enforcement misconduct.

police reformIn the area of police reform, the Minneapolis Police Department is particularly problematic, I’ve discovered. One might not be surprised to find a story in the Boston Globe, from 4 June with the headline. Don’t let labor agreements thwart police accountability. “Union agreements too often prevent police departments from firing officers who act violently or inappropriately. Lawmakers of both parties need to take police discipline out of labor negotiations so that accountability can no longer be used as a bargaining chip.”

Yeah, do you know who else wrote that? The Federalist! And with some chilling details: “In the particular case of George Floyd…: at least two cops should have lost their jobs long before the event even occurred. Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on [George] Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, had previously received 20 complaints filed against him, resulting in two letters of reprimand. His partner, Tou Thao, was sued in 2017 for stopping a man without cause and beating him in the street. In both cases, their contracts protected them.”

Here’s another dreadful piece of the puzzle: “Lt. Bob Kroll, head of Minneapolis’s police union, said that he and a majority of the Minneapolis Police Officers’ Federation’s board have been involved in police shootings. Kroll said that he and the officers on the union’s board were not bothered by the shootings, comparing themselves favorably to other officers. ‘There’s been a big influx of PTSD,’ Kroll said. ‘But I’ve been involved in three shootings myself, and not one of them has bothered me. Maybe I’m different.” Maybe.

So it’s a bit scary when a white man calls cops on black men at Minneapolis WeWork gym, which fortunately did not turn into a dangerous confrontation.

Still, Minneapolis public schools voted to sever their contract with the police. “We want justice for George Floyd, and we know that justice isn’t enough. And now is the time to defund the police and invest in the community.”

Likewise, according to the LA Times: “As protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd [continued], Los Angeles officials said [June 3] that they will cut $100 million to $150 million from the city’s police budget as part of a broader effort to reinvest more dollars into the local black community.” Here’s what the defund the police movement means.

It’ll be interesting to see if the misunderstood and frankly misleadingly labeled defund movement takes hold, and if so what it will mean.

Perhaps, it’ll be like what Bernie Sanders is pushing for: “civilian corps of unarmed first responders to supplement law enforcement, such as social workers, EMTs, and trained mental health professionals.”

Watch/read this now

If you’re still grappling with what this policing issue is all about, I most highly recommend Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. At the very end is a very eloquent, very angry young black woman talking about Protesters, Looters, Rioters, and the social contract between black people and the police.

The Weekly Sift guy explains How Should American Policing Change?

Surprisingly, in AIER, Donald J. Boudreaux suggests we protest also against police unions and qualified immunity.

New York State

“What we’ve been seeing play out across cities and townships throughout the country [recently] are Americans taking to the streets speaking out to say they’ve had enough of the status quo. Protesters are demanding meaningful systematic and structural changes to address the egregious racial inequities in our justice system and, really, in every facet of our government and society – including in policing, housing, health care, education, and employment, to name a few.”

There’s a list of potential police reform initiatives in the above graphic for New York State. Item #1 is the repeal of New York State’s police secrecy law, Section 50-a, which “hides police misconduct and abuse records from the public.” Retired Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox: “Repealing New York’s 50-a law is a critical step to protect the public safety of all New Yorkers.” It was just passed!

Nationally

On the federal level, there is a bill called the Excessive Force Prevention Act. It was originally introduced in the House by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries which would make police chokeholds illegal under federal civil rights law. [The next bit I purloined from an email.]

National Bail Out is a Black-led and Black-focused organization that works to end the horrific policy of pretrial detention and cash bail that keeps so many people of color in jails and prisons without a conviction, simply for being unable to pay. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, National Bail Out has been working to bail out Black mothers and caregivers—and now to bail out protesters who have been arrested en masse.

Senator Brian Schatz (D–HI) has announced that he will introduce an amendment that will prevent local police forces from getting tear gas, drones, armored vehicles, and high-caliber weapons of war from the military. This important amendment — in addition to initiatives to defund police departments and hold police officers accountable for committing crimes against the public — will help combat systemic police brutality in the U.S.

Contact Congress TODAY to stop police departments from buying weapons of war.

Arming police forces with military weapons doesn’t reduce crime or protect law enforcement officers from violence. In fact, police forces that are equipped with weapons of war are more likely to kill civilians. Even worse, militarized police forces often target Black and minority-majority communities, where getting killed by the police is among the leading causes of death.

Local law enforcement agencies have bought billions of dollars worth of guns, explosives, helicopters, and more from the military. Senator Schatz wants to end this practice by passing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. This important amendment will prevent the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, but only if more members of Congress support it.

Have we had an American Stonewall? “If a politician wants to exercise real leadership, let them proclaim a day of healing where they lead a march of police and protesters together in support of a new era in police relations.” OR you can go the other way, with heavily armed men who refuse to identify themselves patrolling the streets of Washington, DC, sent by the Bureau of Prisons.

The other three

After Nearly 10,000 Arrested During Week of Protest, Three Other Police Officers Finally Charged Over Murder of George Floyd. “All you had to do was arrest three more.” “All four police officers involved in George Floyd’s death are now facing criminal charges. Until now the only one charged was Derek Chauvin, the officer who pinned Floyd down with his knee on his neck. Minnesota’s AG announced he’s facing second-degree murder charges, updated from third-degree charges (which carry a shorter sentence). The three other officers – Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng – were charged with aiding and abetting murder. But recent news could escalate tensions.”

People have asked me, “What can I do?” Find whatever initiatives on policing that have been undoubtedly been kicking around your locality or state for years and let your representatives know you support police reform.

Become an anti-racist, please

“Racism is an insidious cultural disease.”

All the black people in your life are tired
Posted on my cousin’s FB feed last week. I TOTALLY get it.
I’m rather pissed off, OK? The Trumpy people to whom I am somehow related engaged me in conversation this past weekend about George Floyd. But the FOX News watchers managed to obfuscate it with” Yes, but.” Suddenly, it’s the question of “If the demonstrators can go out to protest, why can’t we open the churches?” Kellyanne Conway would be proud.

But I’m also rather annoyed with white liberals who are shocked, SHOCKED that police abuse still takes place. Haven’t you been paying attention? And they’re sending me solutions – “this is a chance for REAL dialogue!” I’ve been having “real dialogue” at least since my sister Leslie and I, as high schoolers, went to the nearly lily-white Vestal (NY) Junior High School to talk to the choir kids.

People Need to STOP Saying “All Lives Matter”. And they REALLY need to quit with, “That’s not what Martin Luther King, Jr. would do.” Remember, they killed him, too.

I saw the video of Van Jones on Conan O’Brien this week. Jones said, and I’m paraphrasing, “White people, you need to do the work.” He specifically recommended that they watch Thirteenth and read The New Jim Crow. I TOTALLY agree. In fact, they both appear on PARADE magazine’s 40 Anti-Racist TV Series, Docs, Movies, TED Talks, and Books to Add to Your List.

“There’s no such thing as ‘not racist’” – Ibram X. Kendi

Anti-racist? YES – check out this link! It’s not just, “I can’t be prejudiced, I have a black friend.” It is becoming “actively conscious about race and racism and taking actions to end racial inequities in our daily lives.”

Dealing with racism should not be black or brown people’s problem. “Being anti-racist is believing that racism is everyone’s problem, and we all have a role to play in stopping it.”

Here’s a quote by author Scott Woods:

The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not.

Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on.

So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.

counteracting interpersonal racism