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Hate-tweet

When speech becomes text, hate-speech can become hate-tweets.

Yes! Once again racism is at the forefront of our Nations dialogue. Not race. Not abstract expressionism one has to guess at, like people hanging empty chairs from tree limbs. No, my friends. For the first time in, I don’t know…four years (?), we’re getting a deluge of blatant, anti-black speech and text from people all over the nation.

These people are afraid of the world that changed around them while they were busy fighting against that change with everything inside them. And, as Rachel Maddow pointed out in a brilliant post-election delivery, those people thought their candidate would win. They were bamboozled in a sense. They bet against progress and now they fear some justice from on-high.

Perhaps this is it. Not that justice was the intent of the prevailing electorate, but that this is deserving of a group who would be so singular in their mindset about what this country should look like and how it should be run.

We keep hearing about demographic changes. They are as real as “the struggle” for equality. America is “browning.” With that shift comes the shift in power dynamic. And if racism is about anything, it’s about power.

Now that the citizens of this country (a large number of whom are black and brown) have elected a brown person for a second time, and those who perceive that shift as something negative are reverting to their subconscious defenses: racist speech.

I use “subconscious” because I don’t believe a majority of people who are now spewing tripe actually engage their own racism on a daily basis. Americans are subject to programming from various sources, and some of those sources (parents, religious groups, media) are inherently biased in some way. When those biases are meshed with the complexities of our history in this country, we get more outrage than we’ve seen since Casey Anthony got off.

Thought I was gonna mention O.J., didn’t ya? Dammit, I just did! Anyway…

Because dealing with racist ideologies is so hard that most people would rather try calculus with their eyes closed. Chances for dialogue come up and are brushed under the rug because we haven’t been taught how- as citizens with particular histories- we are supposed to unpack these moments and grow from them.

Something as simple as welfare provides a great example of history vs. perception. The system that was enacted primarily assisted white women, war widows I believe, but now assists a plethora of people. The perception, however, is that welfare is mainly abused by young black women who figured out how to game the system.

Sadly, that’s an easy thing for all kinds of Americans to accept because of the programming inherent in our culture. Due to the vicious legacy of white supremacy, many don’t give a second thought to whether the negatives presented about blacks represent a reality. Layer this with internalized racism and one finds even blacks are all to eager to back up the fiction created about us.

This is why I can’t really be mad at these people who have been subjected to programming with racist undertones their whole lives. Of course, they’re going to be upset! Of course, they’re going to shout, text, and tweet “nigger” until they’re blue in the face or their thumbs break off. It’s all they have to fall back on.

And it doesn’t help that both sides have been telling their constituents and their viewers “If the other guy wins, you’re f*cked.” That’s not an actual quote by the way…I don’t think.

Now we’re saddled with a large group of people who’s racism has been brought to the forefront, and the psychic violence has begun. What are we to do?

Engage.

This is, once again, something we have to face head on. We can not continue to pretend like people don’t feel this way, nor can anyone pretend that these outbursts are valid. I will not for one moment argue freedom of speech. I will, however, argue that there is no freedom from responsibility, for either side. Racist speakers must be held accountable, and the enlightened among us can not shirk from the grand opportunity to dismantle ignorance in a way that many only wish they could: by talking.

But we’re so afraid of hurting feelings, stepping on toes, revealing our true motives or discovering another’s. We can’t be afraid of “the truth.” “The truth” is the reason why the people who have been lied to are losing their minds now. People are flipping out because they weren’t given (or didn’t seek out) the facts on the ground. And the facts on the ground predicted the changes in our country for years. That doesn’t mean Obama’s election was a certainty. It means something like it was, and is, an inevitability.

It happened once. Must have been a mistake. It happened again. Oh, sweet, white Jesus…this must be real!

Well, it is. And people who aren’t white, or male, or heterosexual will continue to get elected to public office. And if this country can survive itself, we will see more of them in the Oval Office. Then we’ll get to deal with ideas about the effects of menstruation on U.S. foreign policy, or if our military will be required to do dance numbers instead of drills.

Foolishness abounds, but so does hope. Isms are prevalent, but so is acceptance. For every riot, there is a peace rally. For every lie there exists a truth to undo it. The old axiom holds. The truth will set you free. But it seems incomplete without the addition that has recently become so popular. Yes, the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.

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Forward

I must admit, I’m pleased President Obama has been elected to a second term.

Many believed this election would be a referendum on Obama and his efforts to stimulate the economy. All the media mainly focused on was the numbers: unemployment, jobs, and debt. All important but, none all-important. Follow me?

Now it seems the Americans who represented those numbers surprised the pundits and prognosticators by showing up for something more than what’s in their wallet. They showed up for the future.

Voters have elected the nations first biracial president for a second time, while also voting expanding rights in four different states that I know of. Maine and Maryland struck huge blows for marriage equality, voting to legalize same sex marriage. Washington, D.C. already legalized same sex marriage for its citizens but Washington state makes the list along with Colorado for legalizing Marijuana for recreational use.

It should also be noted that Minnesota voted down their Amendment 1, like the one we had here in North Carolina which sought to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

Things are opening up out west in terms of basing drug laws on hard science and not…well…NOTHING. The north-east continues to become more inclusive and accepting of the truth that ideal marriage is between loving adults. And the south…

The American south seems to be right where it has been since before I was born. Mired in religious roots that don’t serve the times they’re found in and- like other rural areas on the whole- lacking in the education and diversity which pulls that wool from over peoples eyes.

Yet, despite the darkness that I see much of region (consider discussions in Alabama around poll taxes and segregation in schools) I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. Here is where I can make a difference.

Access to mobility throughout the country lessens investment in your current location. When you know you can leave, you care a little less about what happens where you are because you can go somewhere you perceive as being right for you. Working to change the place you’re in is much harder but I would argue more satisfying. North Carolina seems on track to remaining a backward state, rife with citizens who are clinging to outmoded beliefs and ideas. I can either move, wait for them to die, or I can get to work.

What good will it do if all the forward thinking, educated citizens continue to balkanize? We can’t maintain a United States by continually dividing. Besides, why move to another state and end up embroiled in their regional politics when I haven’t even tried to fix my own?

Well I’m not moving. And the old mindset is not dying (not fast enough at least). So it looks like it’s time to punch the clock, instead of the one who voted for the other guy. It might not feel as good now, but the pay off will be worth it. Look how far we’ve already come.

A New Chapter

“To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back…”~ Quaithe to Daenerys Stormborn, A Clash of Kings

I’m a reader who loves a good turn of phrase, and never more so than when I can apply it to my life. Last week I had the rewarding opportunity to “go east” for a week to help my father help take care of my mother after a surgery on her back.

My biggest take-away was the poetic role reversal. Getting up throughout the night, preparing meals, helping to stand and walk; she was like my baby. She even tried to show how she could do something herself and then flopped, chuckling her own small failure. And what parent hasn’t doted on a child’s ability only to be met with a blank stare or a shy grin when performance time comes?

I may not go to every family function, but I appreciate the functions of family. We are the ones who are going to be there for one another. No¬†questions asked. No obstacle impeding. I know my parents would knock down walls to do for my sisters and me. They already have. And when they couldn’t, they loosened the bricks so we could do the rest.

So this wasn’t about getting paid. This was about payback.

But I do want to talk about getting paid.

Now that I am back “west” the next part of my journey is due to begin as I wrap up my tenure at Guilford Technical Community College in the next two weeks, and then go forward by “going back” to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Not as a student this time, but as a full time employee at the university’s Jackson Library.

I can’t overstate my gratitude and excitement about this. I have the opportunity to expand my current skill set, continue working with the public, and ultimately to remain in an academic library, while surrounded by my best friends: books!

And all of this in a library where I worked for four wonderful years. I left a lot of good energy circulating around that place. Looks like it’s called me home!

The Prisoner

Feeling really empty now,
But I don’t think it’s hunger.
Feeling all of twenty-five,
And wishing I were younger.

Caught by Love in a gilded cage,
To serve my current term.
Bound by bars unbent by rage,
To keep myself from harm.

A swift escape, my single wish,
I contemplate each night.
I punch and kiss with shackled wrist,
Which fight will give me flight?

At times the guard,
Loves own cruel self,
Will display the world,
Or someone else.

I can not touch,
Bound as I am,
This lust so much,
For a single man.

I twist and turn, but am held fast still.
I’m changed by this, and lose my will.
I lose the world,
And someone else,
Because Love first made me lose myself.

Through Water

What can you see with two eyes?

You need true eyes.

Tune your mind to the clear skies and leave the storm behind.

Walk through the rain and wash away what you would only wash and keep.

Keep only what you need.

You don’t need what you’re leaving behind.

Walk to me and leave wet footprints so all will know the path.

The way to come,

Through water.