It Matters

These days racism seems to have emerged more overtly  in the public consciousness both in the instance and in the outrage. It is heartbreaking but complicated.

Racism never left us in this country, it just was disguised in the name of correctness for a time. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. But in a peculiar and sad way the return of overt racism and it’s concomitant behaviors is a good thing. This comes under the category of the devil you know is easier to fight than the devil you don’t. Not that racist behavior is ever a good thing.

And while outrage is good and appropriate, social media outrage unaccompanied by action, doesn’t do anyone much good other than to shine a light. For some of us knowing what to do other than sympathize and voice our outrage is perplexing and difficult.

I just finished reading the autobiography of Albert Woodfox, a story of one of the most egregious miscarriages of our “justice” system that I know of; and I was a public defender for a good long time. Albert Woodfox was wrongly and improperly convicted, slandered and tortured and was kept in solitary confinement conditions for forty years. His memoir is full of the injustices done to him and many others, but it is also filled with grace and courage and compassion for others. Albert Woodfox is one of my personal heroes and this book should be required reading for everyone. Louisana, it’s congress people, judges, attorneys and most especially the former governor, Bobby Jindal, should forever hang their heads in shame.

Woodfox talks not only about the system and the injustices it did him,  but he talks about racism in rational and meaningful terms. He talks about the vilification of the Black Panther Party that was founded to do good, not violence. Woodfox preached constant non-violence to all those he was incarcerated with. His strong compassionate voice serves to set right many of the notions that were born in the sixties when striking workers held up signs that said “I am a Man” and continue today when movements like Black Lives Matter are vilified as themselves racist. One might ask why anyone in this country and this age should have to identify that they are human and worthy.

And if you think that inequities of race don’t continue to exist in our criminal justice system, look at the demographic statistics. Even more, read this book and see what the state invested in continuing to incarcerate an elderly innocent black man. And understand that it was not until 2016 after eighteen years of court dates, disappointments and many lawyers and supporters efforts, that he walked out of prison. And he did not walk out acknowledged as an innocent man. He pled nolo contendre prior to a third trial that would clearly again be unfair. And even as he chose freedom, he agonized that he had sacrificed his integrity by doing so.

Albert Woodfox is a man of unparalleled ntegrity, courage and grace. I wish to live with a fraction of that. And so, when you don’t know what to do when faced with racism, speak up even if it seems dangerous; take out your phone and record it; be counted; take action.

You have a voice, use it.

Stay in touch!

HELP~?

So being laid up as I have been is a different kind of experience.  This is when being single gets interesting.  I am a generally independent sort and for the last ten days I have been mostly helpless as a result of surgery on my feet.  Now we don’t think about our feet all that much, until the can’t be used!  And if I am up too much they definitely let me know.

As a result of this, I have been forced to ask for more help than I am really comfortable with.  And it has forced me to think about why we are so resistant to asking for help.  Do we think we aren’t worth it?  Or that people secretly don’t like you and just won’t show up?  It is odd.  Giving help comes completely naturally, it is just what we are supposed to do.  Getting help, what an emotional struggle.

I have been so blessed with friends who did show up.  Dinner has arrived at my house every day for eight days.  Take out filled in the rest.  I have discovered Grub Hub, but that is a story for another day.  People have taken out my trash, gone to the store, called every day, driven me to the doctor and sat in the house while I took my first shower.  My son has shown up every day since he came back to town, just to see if I need anything.  He is cleaning the pool and other sundry tasks.  All the minutiae of everyday life that you need to be on your feet for.  I thought I was super prepared, hah! That’s a laugh.

And so, having to learn to accept help with grace and gratitude, that is the lesson. I believe there is a lesson in every experience, we just don’t always know what it is.  When my father had dementia and lived with us, the lesson was patience (I have had a few lessons on that…).  When my marriage ended, the lesson was that I am quite enough all by myself.  That prepared me a bit for this next lesson which is that I am not always enough with out some dependence on people who love and care about me, whether I believe I am worthy or not.  I am not sure how gracefully I have managed this but I know this – I am overwhelmed with gratitude!

Stay in touch!