Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fear sucks...and children are CHILDREN.

Could the news of the world get any worse? Everything that is happening lately seems so incredibly hopeless and scary. No matter what happens in the world, I always think about the kids involved.  Kids GET to me. 

When horrible things happen, I experience a peripheral trauma of sorts. When Columbine happened I was new to my career and I didn't have children yet. It upset me for sure, and I was a school employee, so it hit home. But when 9-11 happened I had an 8 month old baby. That whole thing was so surreal, but I clearly remember thinking that maybe we shouldn't have brought her into a world like this, and I was terrified to leave her and go to work. I had nightmares for days, the most vivid being one where my baby was on one side of a massive wall of fire crying for me and I couldn't get to her. It's been 14 years and I still remember that dream. I've written about Sandy Hook before, and it still really messes me up when I think about it, so I try not to. But man, that was about as close to home as it gets, with me working in elementary schools every day, having two elementary aged children myself, and discovering that the school psychologist was one of the people who was killed. I probably had nightmares then too, but I don't remember them. What I do remember is crying a lot, mostly in the shower or my car and praying like it was going out of style. So now we are all hearing about and seeing the horrors that are coming from the recent terrorist attacks and I'm so incredibly sad. I'm so sad and discouraged that I have a hard time finding words, but I have had my first nightmare. In my dream on Sunday night, I was driving in my car when everything stopped. It was night, and all the lights went out, my car died, and nothing worked. It was like everything died at once and in my dream I knew that everything was ending. End of the world, boom, we're done. I did manage to use the "wait, this isn't happening, wake up!" strategy, and I did wake up but I had a very hard time going back to sleep. I wish things didn't affect me so much, I wish I wasn't so sensitive. However it's unlikely that this will change now, halfway through my life.

I think that fear is probably the human emotion that brings out the absolute worst in people. Everyone reacts to it so differently, some with anger and hatred, some just retreat and hide, and some just start spouting ridiculous nonsense. I've come very close in the last couple of days to signing off social media altogether. I will not slide down the rabbit hole of engaging in all of the religious and political arguments regarding terrorism and the refugees because it makes me want to plunge needles in my eyes while jumping off a cliff. It makes me insane, and I really need what remains of my sanity. What I can't keep myself from doing is thinking about the kids, ALL THE KIDS who are being affected by all of this. I think about the kids who have lost parents in the attacks. I think about this sweet angel in the video above who is so scared and confused, and the blessing that his father is, and the relief on his face when he believes the flowers and candles will protect him. And I think about the refugee kids, a ton. There are a lot of personal stories about the kids online, Humans of New York did an incredible series about the refugees.

Trauma is a very tricky thing. I have never worked with children who have gone through the trauma that the refugees have. But there have been plenty who have been through gut-wrenching stuff. Loss of parents, exposure to domestic violence, homelessness, gang violence, guns and drugs, parents in prison, and horrible, horrible abuse. There is some trauma that my kiddos have endured that I won't even talk about unless I absolutely have to. Mike had to tell me recently to stop telling him details, and he's right. No one should hear the details I hear unless they have to. Here's what I know for sure, trauma runs DEEP. It lasts for a long time and rears its head when they think it's over. It's insidious. Those babies who have seen the horrors that ISIS has inflicted, it just scrambles my head. It's been like continual terrorist attacks for some of them, and then constant fear when they run. Dangerous situations, no food, nowhere to sleep, watching the panic their parents must be experiencing. Will any of these little ones ever be okay or will they all become bitter and unable to trust anyone? Children all deserve to feel safe, and when I see that taken from them it makes me want to curl up in a ball in the corner and stay there forever. That's not going to help a damn thing, so I keep going and trying and praying. 

I won't live in fear. Fear sucks. Of course I'm afraid, it's overwhelming to think that there is such tangible evil in the world, and that people feel justified in doing such disgusting, heartless things. Yes, it makes me never want to leave my couch, but I refuse to be afraid of other human beings in general. Evil isn't the norm, or the majority. It's a really ugly, oozing wound on an otherwise perfectly normal body. Those who know me well know how much I adore going to concerts. It's a huge part of who I am, I have always loved it and there is a joy I get from live music that's hard for me to explain. There's usually such amazing positive energy with so many people loving the same thing, it's my happy place and something I always look forward to. Sometimes I get show letdown. So for those monsters to mess THAT up too?  It upsets me, but I'm sure as hell not going to stop going. I will be more aware, and it will cross my mind as a possibility that someone could come in with a machine gun, as sick of an image as that is, but I won't stop going. I won't stop my daughter from going either, she inherited my music issues. I'm a cautious mother, but I have never wanted them to think the world is a scary place. They can ride their bikes and skateboards in our neighborhood, Maddie can go to an all ages punk show. I can't protect them from everything, and now the world looks a little uglier, sadly.

So when I think about how ugly the world has gotten over this past week and way beforehand, I will think about this precious father and the moment his son's sweet face registers relief and comfort because he believes his daddy. We all should.

Friday, August 28, 2015

God gets it...

And of course right now I am thinking of all the other bloggers that have written the same kind of thing, that I'm not as good as Jen Hatmaker, that this is all going to sound really contrived, yada yada yada. We haven't been to church in weeks and I'm going to post about faith? Well, yes. I am, actually. And all of this is only my opinion because you know, this is just a BLOG.
He Gets Me

Over the years, I've felt like I didn't totally belong at church, or fit into the ideal of Christianity. There are so many things I don't DO. Aren't Christians supposed to DO stuff? Like every day without fail? Dang...I don't pray every day, I don't do any kind of daily devotionals, and my Bible probably has dust on it. Sometimes when I'm in large groups of Christian women, I don't know what to say or how to behave. This is due to the fact that who I am, truly, is a person with a bit of an edge who is heavily dosed with sarcasm, has majorly twisted humor, and often a filthy mouth. I love music and going to shows, and I know sometimes people probably think "isn't she getting a little old for that?" I'm not a typical wife either, my husband cooks every night, we share bills and have separate bank accounts. I clean, but not nearly enough. He totally and completely shares in the parenting. I let my 14 year old watch things I didn't think I would, because she's really mature. These hangups, like I don't fit the "mold", is 100% my problem. Am I getting judged by others for not being Christian-y enough?  It might happen here and there, but it's probably not happening in the way I think it is. 

And it's all crap. God sees me come to church in flip flops and be completely over it and uninterested sometimes. He sees me stay in bed on Sundays sometimes too, He sees me yell at my kids. He knows my road rage is off the chain and how badly I want to go see Straight Outta Compton. He hears me laugh at inappropriate things at work, and He knows that there are days when I feel like maybe I could scrap this whole career/family thing and just travel for the rest of my myself.  And He definitely hears me when I curse like a sailor, and while I am trying to rein it in just a tad, I am totally convinced that He has accepted that it's an integral part of my personality. So f'ing there!

You DON'T Have To Be Someone Else!!

I didn't grow up really believing in God, at least in not a direct way. I didn't go to church when I was young, I was never in a youth group. From the outside, I know what it looks like. It looks like you have to fall in line, pray daily, read daily, vote Republican, hate gay folks, do only churchy things, only hang out with churchy people and NEVER listen to secular music. That said, there are things that help you grow in faith for sure. Praying and reading the Bible help. Any opportunity to help others who have less than you do, and to demonstrate that God is only about love are essential elements in my opinion. I'm even going to list a VERSE! 

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love- 1 John 4:8

So basically, you do NOT have to change who you are to have faith. You really, really, really don't. I guarantee that God doesn't want sheep...well, there are all those Shepard stories. Different allegory! God doesn't want us to be lemmings...there's nothing particularly redeeming about lemmings and they can't be guided, they just plummet right off that cliff. I promise you that in your church (if you go), there are at least a dozen people who are super concerned about how they appear. Should they raise their hands during worship? Are people watching them to see if they tithe? Did they wear the right clothes? Is it awful that everyone else seems so enthralled and they're feeling nothing?  All of those laments have been mine at different times in my life and it took a long time to realize that none of that matters to God. He meets you where you are, and it's good. I am not a hands-in-the-air girl and I will never be because it just doesn't feel right to me.

So Why Bother?

I feel like it's possible for me to be a decent human without faith and I know quite a few people who don't believe at all and it doesn't affect how I feel about them. I'm not the kind of person to tell folks they MUST go this route in order to be validated and respected. So all I can speak to is what this is like for ME and how it feels.

  • It brings me peace. I never sleep better than after I've been grappling with horrible thoughts before I finally give it over to Him. Calm. Peace. There was a day recently when I was in a completely vile mood and I was driving. A song from church came on my Ipod and the words made me feel SO much better. It sounds so contrived, but it did happen. Then the next song was NWA. 
  • It keeps me focused on what I should strive to be. Perfect? Absolutely no way. But I do need to strive to be kind and love my neighbor, even when she calls the homeowner's association on us for not properly landscaping our front a drought.
  • It's an amazing thing for me to know that regardless of how jacked up I am or the next horrible mistake I'm about to make, He loves me and forgives me. This is not the same as having a license to screw up. It's not insurance, it's acceptance. One of my favorite scenes in The Sopranos was when Pauly Walnuts went to church to ask for all of his tithes back because the ghosts of all the people he murdered were haunting him. It doesn't quite work that way!
I don't think I was meant to believe any earlier than I did, I think I had to live my first 24 years without Him. I do think he has a plan for all of us, and we can't make it happen the way we want to all the time. The bottom line is that He truly understands who I am, who we all are, and despite this fact?  He loves us anyway.

And He needs more people brave enough to just be themselves.

Friday, June 26, 2015

I AM AN ALLY...wanna know why?

*I have vacillated about writing this post for weeks now, for a variety of reasons. Fear, mostly. Privacy. The possibility that sharing something personal could be seen as exploitation of some sort. But in light of today's supreme court decision, the time seems right to me. This decision has been discussed and approved by all important parties involved. 

People have always thought that my feelings about LGBT rights had to do with my dad and the fact that he was gay. But the truth is that I felt the same way long before he came out to me when I was 21 years old. I was raised to be accepting of everyone. I had gay friends and co-workers in high school. It's never mattered to me. Of course, when I discovered that my father was gay, the parent I was closest to in my youth, it became deeply personal. I honestly thought that outside of being gay myself (I'm not), nothing could be more personal than having been raised by a gay parent.

I was mistaken.

Guess What, Mom?

I wonder what the stats are, or if any longitudinal studies have been done about families...what are the odds of having a gay parent and a gay child? But here we are. My beautiful daughter has always marched to the beat of her own drummer, and I have always loved that about her.  She has always been an old soul and wiser than her years. She was 4 going on 7, 8 going on 12, and now 14 going on about 23. She knows who she is. We stopped being able to dress her in girlie Halloween costumes when she was 3. Starting at 4, she chose to be a pirate, a skeleton, a Ninja. To be clear, she does NOT want to be a boy, and that is well covered territory. She has friends who identify in different ways and I don't pretend to understand all of it, but I try. But she is solid in that she loves being female, except for the week or two every month when we all hate it. She first mentioned to me that she thought she might be attracted to girls near the end of 6th grade. It didn't rattle me at all, I think kids go through a lot of phases in puberty. But as time went on and she talked more and more about it, I began to realize it wasn't a phase. She knew our feelings about the issue as a whole, but was still a little skittish when it came to telling us. Her dad's response was priceless...he said, "There is nothing you could do to make me love you less, you're my daughter. And now I don't have to worry about you getting pregnant."  

She IS young, but she is rock solid in who she is. Is it possible that she will grow up and fall in love with a young man? Sure, that could happen. However, I am not willing to brush off her acknowledgment of herself and just say she's too young to know. The gay people in my life that I love and respect all say that they knew when they were young. Most of them fought against it for years and years and tried to deny that part of themselves before they fully came out, but they still say they knew. She's young. She knows.

Now, I have to be honest. I always thought that if one or both of our children ended up being gay, it would be a piece of cake, no sweat. Again...WRONG. It's been waaaaay harder than I would have imagined it to be. On any given day, I have a gazillion conflicting thoughts flying around in my head about this issue. Here are some of them:

Killing People is Illegal

Any parent on earth who is honest with themselves is familiar with the murderous rage that bubbles up inside when someone hurts their baby. I love kids, I have always worked with kids, but I have honestly been able to visualize knocking a few of them out lately. This feeling always shocks me a bit, that irrational split second when I feel like I could totally run someone over with my car and be fine with it. So for those of you who are reading this who have seen the hurt on your child's face when they were left out, not invited to the party, not chosen for the team, imagine this scenario:  A peer tells your child that she will burn in the pits of hell. That their existence is against God's plan. That they're disgusting. Imagine having your child in middle school and having to tolerate girls saying nasty things to her in the locker room, constantly accusing her of "checking them out." Imagine what it feels like to have your daughter crying in your arms, saying she just wants to be "normal".  I could cut someone. But I won't.

And then there are the boys....It's very interesting to me to observe how boys have responded to this fact about her. I honestly never gave it a lot of thought, but over the past year I have observed two trends: Some boys seem to believe that with their overwhelming, undeniable 14 year old masculinity, that they can "turn" her straight.  The second trend seems to happen after the first one has been attempted, all for naught...faced with the idea that she truly won't be interested in them in that way, they then ask if they can "watch" her with another girl. LORD.  I shake my head, man. It is somewhat refreshing to realize that boys this age have not changed at ALL. Boys this age are sex-driven beasts, and it's not their fault. It's predictable...and not a bad litmus test, actually. She does have a few male friends who have not given in to either trend, so maybe there's hope. Or they just know not to say it out loud! I don't want to kill these boys, actually...I just keep shaking my head.

Would You Like To See a Menu?

There are too many options now. There, I said it. When I was younger, you were straight or gay, sometimes a bisexual person would get in there. Now there are like 62 possibilities. I find this absurd, and it puts our kids in such a tough spot. There is so much damn pressure for kids to absolutely identify "what" they are at such a young age. I have equated it to having to declare a major in college. Nowadays, when you enter middle school, it's like you are issued a card that identifies who and what you are. I hate this, it pisses me off. It may not be the case in my child's life, but as a whole I believe that this causes mass confusion for a lot of kids. I've seen it firsthand, these poor young ones change "what" they are weekly. Whyyyyyyyyy????  In middle school, most kids don't even know WHO they are, let alone "what". CHILL OUT. It's not that serious, and at the end of the day, it's no one's business one way or the other. 

You Are a NOUN, Not An Adjective

This is one that makes me crazy. It is so much more important for my daughter to be solid in WHO she is, not what. I have told her to answer the inane question "what are you?" with a hearty "I'm Maddie." or "None of your business."  On some days, she totally agrees with me, and on some days she feels that this advice is tantamount to me telling her to hide who she is. Aye, carumba. This part is soooooo hard. She is such a tremendous individual, I want people to spend time getting to know her without having to know who she might want to eventually date. Sexuality is a part of who people are, but it's just one part, a small part. She is Maddie, not That Lesbian, The Gay Girl, or (my favorite), IT. Uggggg....this is when I have to remember that killing people is illegal. 

The only person I am concerned about my daughter loving right now is herself. Learning how to do that, for all of us, can be a lifelong endeavor. Who she falls in love with in the future is really of no consequence at the moment. The only people I want her to think about when it comes to who loves HER is God and her family. All of the rest of it can come later, there is so much time for all that madness. I've told her more than one time, "You are not allowed to date now. Nope, no way. You have the rest of your life to feel confused and rejected, focus on yourself and who you want to become."  

Christians Aren't Hateful

I have friends who will disagree with me on this notion, but I will fight till the death over this one. People who truly get it, real Christians, will NOT condemn people to hell for being gay. Sadly, the ones who get the most press are the whack jobs. It makes my heart hurt. That lovely young lady who told my daughter she'd burn there? Oh yeah, of course she's Christian, of course she's active in her youth group here in town, and it makes my blood boil. She has a public Instagram that is Christian and mostly positive, but she has used it to spew a lot of hateful crap towards gay folk. I thought about contacting the youth pastor at that church about it until I heard from a kid who had attended that youth group and heard the pastor say dreadful things about gay people. SIGH.  It saddens me so much that someone in a position of power who has access to impressionable teens would teach such a thing. Interestingly, once when this young lady confronted my daughter, Maddie said, "But Jesus hung out with all kinds of people, prostitutes, can you say he would hate me?" I was beyond proud about that one, even though she had no intention of evangelizing, she did an excellent job of it! 

So to all of the Christians who focus on this one issue, and project all of their angst and anger onto it, PLEASE find something more productive to do with your time. Feed the hungry, house the homeless, love the unloved, give to the poor...there is a lot to do and limited time to accomplish it. Save your energy for the things that are truly important. 

Not Everyone Will Like This

I'd love to be able to say that I don't give a rip what anyone thinks, but I would be lying. Of course I care. I'm scared of being open about this, and I'm worried about how people will treat my family because of it. Not everyone in our family has been explicitly told, but they've probably already figured it out. I asked Maddie about this, about me stating it like this and posting it, and she said that it would actually be somewhat of a relief, not having to say it herself. This may be a bumpy realization for some, but I truly pray that they will take the time to think about it and continue to show our child unconditional love anyway. That is what families do. 

I go to church with some exceptional people, many of whom I know do not share my outlook on this issue. I don't only respect or tolerate these people, I love them. That is one thing that I have learned as an adult that is really important to me...I can love and be friends with people with whom I disagree on fundamental issues, but it requires mutual respect. Will everyone at my church welcome this news with open hearts? Probably not, and that has to be okay. Everyone is absolutely entitled to their opinion on this. Will some of the parents of the youth group I work with be upset? Jeez, I hope not, I have no idea. Some of the youth themselves may be upset, but I love them too. We can all be people of God and disagree...except for when it comes to how we treat one another. That is non-negotiable, Love Thy Neighbor is not up for interpretation. 

My Child Will Never Have to Hide

Our daughter does not have an affliction, there is nothing wrong with her. This is not a hardship she will have to toil and work to overcome. She doesn't have to wish to be normal, she IS normal. While I truly pray that she focuses more on herself as an individual and not just on who she may be attracted to, she will not have to hide who she is. She will never have to worry about her parents being ashamed of her. She is so many things! She is my incredibly smart, insightful, mature, wise, artistic, talented, loyal, hilarious, creative, beautiful, original, musical, joyful daughter. She is also stubborn, argumentative, difficult, forgetful, irresponsible, and maddening. I love her ferociously, and nothing will ever change that. Who she chooses to spend her life with is her business, and all I pray for is that it is someone who will love and respect her for exactly who she is.  Knowing that if she chooses to get married later in life, that it will now be legally recognized and respected anywhere in this country fills me with joy and pride. 

And I know my dad is smiling.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Recluse...Freak or Genius?

I have always felt that the reclusive folks in our society are kind of scary. I think about Ted Kaczynski and the weird militia types in Wyoming and Montana. I think about people who spend so much time alone that they lose perspective on how to relate to other human beings.  These days though?


It's not just that I am dead exhausted, with this being the busiest time in my profession. It's more about the horrible swill that we are bombarded with on a daily basis, from the Kylie Jenner challenge to Dr. Oz (hate him) to the nightly local news that invariably has several shootings every day, all in Stockton. It's bad news or stupid news. In regard to politics, I'm done believing anyone. The mudslinging starts sooner and sooner every election season, and it's so nasty, immature, small, petty, and disappointing. I may vanish altogether when the elections REALLY begin. Unless the information is delivered through a comedic lens, I can't stomach it at all. And with Colbert and Jon Stewart stepping down, that may not happen anymore. I don't want to be bitter and disgusted with the information that is shared in our world, I want to not KNOW. Head in the clouds, or the sand, or switched off entirely. Yes, please. Oblivion sounds amazing right now.

Lately I have been fantasizing of running away to Calistoga and holing up in some rustic Inn with nothing but my books, Ipod, and my computer (for writing only). I will eat. And sleep. And read. I will talk to strangers, and only if I feel like it. I will browse awesome bookstores alone. I'll walk around a lot, outside, at sunset. Right now that sounds like the most amazing thing ever. Of course, this is unlikely to happen, at least in the near future. I adore my family, and my 10 and 14 year old children are not known for their silence. I am willing to adapt my fantasy so it fits my reality. Maybe I could run off for a DAY. I crave just being in nature alone with minimal distractions. Maybe I should play hooky once every school year and just run away from home. I'll be home in time for dinner at least!

In the meantime, when I can, I want to DETOX from all the dross that is thrown at our senses daily. No television, no internet, and no NEWS. The news blows. Seriously, there is so little news in our news. BBC America is the only decent, somewhat impartial news out there that covers more than our egocentric, America-obsessed culture. Remember actual news? Remember when it really was reported fairly by trustworthy folks? I am still astounded that journalists are now getting their news from Twitter. TWITTER.  I am fascinated by CNN's tendency to cover a story for 24 hours when there is nothing happening whatsoever. They air footage of correspondents just standing there. Just standing...nothing is happening. Is this where our collective intellect has gone?

When did I turn into this weird old lady? Seriously, I feel that two days away from turning 45, I have officially entered the middlest of all middle age, and that I am justified in saying crap like, "Back in MY day..."  To hell with it.  BACK IN MY DAY.....

  • We spoke to each other face to face, or at least on the phone.
  • No one could photograph and monitor our every move.
  • We went outside to play and got dirty and came home when it got dark.
  • We weren't afraid of freaking everything in life! Not everything caused cancer, or blindness, or autism. 
  • We ate food. Just food.
  • We paid attention to pop culture, but it was not revered like a religion.
  • We got to play in school, and take art and music as part of our normal day.
  • We bought records and tapes at the record store. 
  • We bought concert tickets by standing in line at the record store. It was FAIR. The tickets cost the same amount and people didn't snap them up online and then resell them for five times their worth.
  • If we screwed up in school, it was OUR fault. Not the teacher's fault, or the curriculum's fault, or that "other kid's" fault. 

So I don't believe that I will be moving up to Alaska to live in the bush, or build a cabin in Montana. I won't set up a tent on the beach in Costa Rica. But here is what I will do.  I will read. I will pay less attention to that stupid crap and more attention to my surroundings. My surroundings include:
  • My husband
  • My lovely home
  • My beautiful children
  • Birds
  • Flowers
  • Trees
  • Wind
  • My comfy bed
  • Awesome food
We don't HAVE to pay attention to all the crap, we can choose to become more reclusive in our minds. Or at the very least, a whole hell of a lot more discerning!!  I think I may be turning into my mother. Luckily for me, she's pretty cool. Love you, Mom!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tell me again how racism is no longer a problem??

The events over the last year have saddened me so much that I have refrained from comment for the most part. The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and now Tony Robinson have made me feel so discouraged. These incidents are so divisive, incites so much anger that often erupts in violence, and just makes me feel so hopeless. We're going backwards, folks. Just SAD.

But then I saw the video from the fraternity kids on the bus from the University of Oklahoma and I'm SICK, I'm DISGUSTED, and so incredibly ANGRY. I honestly can't wrap my head around what those kids did. When I was trying to get my thoughts together so I could write about this, I thought about posting the video, or even just writing what those kids said in the chant, but I can't do it. It's so hideous, I don't want it on my blog. Instead, I'll just write all the stuff that has been slogging around in my brain since I saw it.

I'd like to kick the crap out of their parents.

Those are still kids to me, those frat "men". How in the hell does this happen? It's not random, that kind of bias and hatred has to be taught, modeled, and ingrained in someone's head for it to stick like that. What the hell did these boys hear when they were growing up, what did they see? This kind of thing is generational. 

My dad was born into a very well to do family in Virginia in 1930. They had a nanny, a cook, a maid...all black. He loved his nanny so much and always talked about her. She didn't live with them, and when my dad was old enough to drive, he'd drive her home sometimes. It bothered him that she wouldn't sit in the front seat, but she would say, "It just ain't right."  She spent more time with him and his brothers than their mother or father ever did. And my father hated the division and the way things were back then, so he and my uncle fled to California in 1950 to get away from it. Two other brothers remained, and that mindset remained with some people in my family. My sister visited my East Coast relatives in the late 70's, and I visited in 1987 or so. We were both shocked at the comments of our uncle and cousins. I clearly remember one of my cousins leaning over and saying, "Hard to believe he's your dad's brother, huh?"  I recall wanting to get out of there, because at the age of 17, I couldn't understand the why people thought that way because I had been raised so differently. My dad and one uncle broke that trend, but it continued with the some who stayed in the old environment. I'm proud to say that other East Coast relatives of mine rejected that narrow minded crap and forged their own path.

I would SKIN my children if they ever said anything that hateful, but we have worked hard to raise them as people who accept others, regardless of differences. They'll stumble, but we are here to correct them and readjust their perspective if that needs to happen. Are those kids going to be corrected by their parents??? I would force those kids to read books like "On the Laps of Gods" and watch movies like "Twelve Years a Slave." I'd make them discuss what it would feel like if any of those things happened to people they love. But those parents will probably just swoop in and rescue them, make excuses for them, and pay for expensive apartments off campus for them to live in since they were kicked out of their frat. Because honestly, most parents don't hold kids accountable for their actions anymore, but that's another post...

How do the black kids on that campus feel?

This is the thought that brings tears to my eyes when I allow my brain to really go there. I thought a lot about it today. I have a child who is only four years away from leaving for school, and I work with a bunch of amazing young people in my church who are seniors and looking forward to college. They are filled with excitement, nervousness, and some trepidation. They all feel like their lives will really get started when they get to college. Then I imagine the black kids on that campus, freshmen who may be away from home for the first time. I imagine their parents worrying about them all the time, the same way I will when mine leave for school. What kind of thoughts went through their heads when they finally got to campus? I'd imagine they were excited to meet new people, make friends, and take classes in areas that they were interested in, just as I was when I started school. Then I imagine what it was like for them when they saw that video, hearing and seeing a message that was so vile and hateful. That message made it so incredibly clear to them that they are unwelcome, unwanted, not valued, and not even seen as fully human according to those frat boys. I wonder if they had classes with some of those kids and mistakenly felt that they were seen as equals. I imagine their parents watching it and wondering if they had made a huge mistake in letting their precious young adults go into that environment. I think about the parents feeling like, once again, it's one step forward, ten steps back when it comes to race relations in this country and how hopeless it must feel. If I were a young student on that campus, I wouldn't feel safe with scum like that around.

Kudos to the University

As awful as all of this has been, that University moved FAST. That incident happened Saturday, the video was shared on Sunday, and by Monday those kids who lived in that house were given their walking papers. The fraternity shut that chapter down immediately. The president stated that he would be happy if they all left. Two of those kids have already been expelled. That was impressive. It was also heartening to see the rest of the student body unite and make it clear that this kind of behavior isn't to be tolerated in 2015, or any time. 

White Privilege 

People who believe that this doesn't exist are deluded. As a white woman, I do know what it feels like to be treated like I am less intelligent than the men around me, and I do know what it feels like to be sexually harassed and threatened. But that's it. I don't know what it feels like to be looked at with suspicion instantly when I enter a room, or store, or walk down the street. I will never know what that feels like. I will never know what it feels like to have to assume that police will probably not believe me, so I need to watch my step more than other people have to. I'll never know what any of that feels like, but do you know who does? People I love.  I've been with friends when they have been questioned for NO reason by law enforcement. I had a friend in college who was arrested for not providing ID to the cops that he wasn't able to do because he was handcuffed. He had done nothing, it ended up being a case of mistaken identity, but he spent a couple days in jail. Whoops, sorry! I had another friend that I've known since middle school. His parents got him a convertible Mustang for graduation and he got personalized plates. What he didn't realize initially was that his initials also stood for "assault with a deadly weapon", and that's why he kept getting pulled over in Berkeley and Oakland, as a young black guy in a nice car. We still laugh about that, but it would not have happened if he was a white guy. One of my oldest friends, who doesn't have a mean bone in her body came to visit me at my stupid college I went to freshman year of college and was waiting for the elevator at my apartment to open. The kids in the elevator recoiled in fear, I saw it with my own eyes. We laughed about that too, but it's really not funny.


I feel awful, I feel guilty and I haven't done anything. I have nothing in common with those jackasses in that fraternity beyond my skin tone and heritage. I was really blessed and lucky to be raised in Pasadena when I did, and I thank God for that all the time. But I still feel like I should apologize on behalf of those guys. But here's what makes me chuckle about that. I know some of my fellow white folk who have said "But that's not fair! We didn't do anything, we didn't own any of the slaves. This isn't our doing, it's not fair if the black community lumps us all in with a few bad apples in that fraternity! We need to be judged by who we are now, and they should respect that! We shouldn't be judged like we're all the same because we're not."  Ummmmm, yeah. That doesn't feel very good, does it????  

The difference is that while some white people may feel that way in regard to this particular issue, the sad truth is that very few people will be talking about this in a couple weeks. However, there are plenty of black folks who have to deal with that bullshit mindset every single day. It's not changing any time soon, and it hurts my soul. I pray about this, a lot. I work hard to raise our children to be inclusive of everyone. I don't treat people differently based on what they look like. None of it feels like enough. Even in writing this, I feel like I almost don't have the right to address this because I've never lived it directly. I will never have to.