Unbearable Weight

Yesterday, another Black American was executed on the streets by police.


9/20/16, Charlotte, NC: Keith Lamont Scott, age 43

I have not looked closely at the details of this latest shooting in North Carolina yet. How a father sat waiting in a car. How a gun book in a poor black man’s hand became life-threatening in other men’s eyes.

How frail my nation, quaking from its birth in fear of the literacy of black voices. When has a book in a black man’s hand not been seen as provocation for violence?

Witness North Carolina’s own penal code, passed in 1830-1:

Therefore,  Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same,

…That if any slave shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any other slave to read or write, the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace, and on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to receive thirty nine lashes on his or her bare back.

But that is knowledge for another time. Today all I can picture is Scott’s young child, skipping home from school towards a beloved parent and finding death instead.

I cannot yet endure knowing more.

9/16/16, Tulsa, OK: Terence Crutcher, age 40

I have not read yet all the details out of Tulsa, where a police department with a documented history of planting drug evidence has just planted released drug evidence against their latest victim.

Since I learned that even from the air above, a policeman in a chopper had concluded that the black man having car trouble looked like “a bad dude,” these words from the slain man’s twin sister have played on repeat in a corner of my mind: Continue reading “Unbearable Weight”

The Suspect Has Been Identified. The Suspect Has Been Killed.

It turns out to not be a firearm in the sense that [a firearm] fires real bullets,” Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs to reporters, at a press conference following Wednesday night’s fatal police shooting of Tyre King


According to police witnesses, 13yo Tyre King had a bb gun in his waistband.

According to early reporting, Tyre was a man who had just started 8th grade at Linden STEM Academy.

Children today grow up so much faster.
Black children today grow old so much faster.

*

At 13, I started 8th grade too. Shooting spitwads from the back of Mr. Taylor’s 6th period, were those men? Was Lance Trumble a man the day he drooled into the English teacher’s water glass when she stepped out of the room?

Was I a woman when I laughed?

Adulthood comes unlikely early to those whose fruition is feared.

*

A spitwad is not a bb is not a Glock 9mm.

*

Columbus, Ohio, is the same department that served and protected 12yo Tamir.

Tyre is the second Ohio citizen Bryan Mason has served with a bullet and protected out of life in four years.

According to policy: Office Mason has been placed on paid administrative leave and will be receiving psychological support counseling. According to policy: Officer Mason will be offered leave time to assist in recovery from a traumatic experience.

What support counseling available for the King family.
What trauma recovery offered to Tyre.

Nothing ages a child faster than death.

The (In)Evitable Questions

~ ~ ~

A friend tells me she is bracing for the inevitable ‘well why was she holding her child?’

Why did Sandra talk back. Why did Tanisha have a heart condition. Why did Yvette step out of her house. What was Miriam doing in Washington, DC. Why was Korryn holding her 5yo son, sitting with him on the living room couch in her own home.

Traffic tickets. This began with traffic tickets.

If a response to that (yes, of course, inevitable) question is “so they wouldn’t shoot her,” said in a tone of (yes, of course) scorn—my reply, simply: “yes, of course so they wouldn’t shoot her.”

So they wouldn’t kill her.

And still they did.
And still they did.
And still they did.

Traffic tickets and her baby in her own young arms. How small the humanity that looks at that scene and thinks he must (of course, yes) destroy it first.

 


Featured image: Instagram photo of Korryn Gaines, via The Root

Accountability Partners

 

Dear Self,

This is a very clear choice between two sides.

Not black or white.

Not black or blue.

Sure as shit not the individualizing red herring of “good cops” vs. “bad cops.”

No—

we are choosing between the side of life…and the side of death.

That simple.

By which I do not mean easy—

though I do mean urgent.

Look at the picture below, as you contemplate our next steps and what commitments we will make. Must make.

I await your answer.

Do not make me wait long.

All my love, always—
alice

bachman_batonrouge
“This is what a police state looks like.” ~Imani Grandy [Baton Rouge PD detaining a demonstrator protesting Alton Sterling’s killing by police. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters (via)]

[EDIT: This BBC report has more context on the incident and the photographer, as well as other pictures also taken by Jonathon Bachman in Baton Rouge on Saturday. POWERFUL STUFF.

As the granddaughter of a news photographer, I am seriously impressed by this man’s photojournalism chops.]

[2nd EDIT: (via Twitter @tyriquex) The woman in the photo is Leshia Evans, mother to a 5yo son. She is still in jail.  https://t.co/C3hkjJb2jk ]

Listening

I am listening.

I am listening to the anguish, rage, and fear being expressed by my Black friends and colleagues. I am listening to Black writers and other public figures.

Understand: I have anguish and rage of my own (and other feelings also) about the violent murders of Anton Sterling and Philando Castile this week by agents of the State, sworn to serve and protect its citizens. I have anguish and rage…and not-fear. I am not terrorized by the entrenched systems of White Supremacy and anti-Blackness that exist at the heart of my country. That are the history of my nation. I am these systems’ beneficiary. I own that fact, even as I work to oppose and dismantle them—and in this moment of Black mourning, I choose listening.

I have anguish and rage of my own (and other feelings also) about the sniper fire that interrupted a Black Lives Matter protest last night in Dallas, killing at least 5 police officers and wounding others. Details are still trickling in.

And I am listening.

I am listening as if my life depended on it.

For Black lives surely do.

BLM_names


Postscript: In my non-blogging life, one of my commitments is curating social media content for an organization dedicated to racial and social justice. I am considering writing a post about specific and concrete ways that I and other white people can contribute to anti-racist, anti-White Supremacist work in the world. (The reaction to my posts re. the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Florida got me thinking there might be a hunger for this among the folks that read CaaBP.)

If you follow this blog and would be interested in reading ideas about what we as white people can do, please let me know in the comments or by email. [coffeeandablankpage(at)gmail(dot)com]

Mother’s Day Rage Ballad; or, An Incomplete List of My Very Loud No’s

Wanna know my biggest secret?

I am the Incredible Hulk.

always angry

More precisely, I am like the Hulk. I too have a never-ending stream of anger, not far below my surface, that I can tap into at any time.

I didn’t used to know that I had any anger at all. Society exerts pressure at every level to deny women access to their own “unwomanly” rage, to shame them for feeling it, and to gaslight them as crazy, shrill, and irrational if they ever show it.

Dunno about you? but it all really pisses me off.

hear me roar

Add to that my upbringing in a family where only one person was allowed to be angry — explosively, frighteningly so — while the rest of us tiptoed around trying not to provoke him. By our late teens, my brother and I had each decided that we would “never be angry” as adults, attempting instead to banish that most basic feeling from our emotional lexicons. Nothing good ever comes from anger, we reasoned, only hurt to the people closest to you.

Also, to borrow my mother’s words from a few years ago when I mentioned being angry about a medical misdiagnosis (and, more importantly, at the blowhole who misdiagnosed me): “If you’re going to get over feeling angry at some point, better you should just put the anger down right away and not bother.”

Only now, in my mid-40s, have I started to bother. Started to be bothered.

And unapologetically so.

It feels a bit like a perimenopausal hot flash, except the heat doesn’t subside. And I haven’t yet contemplated crawling into the refrigerator to escape it.

hades is fine

For this Mother’s Day, then — in honor of the complicated layers of anger I feel with my mother, at my mother, and on behalf of my mother — allow me to present:

Alice Says NO to Things That Make Me Angry, As Illustrated by .GIFs

Continue reading “Mother’s Day Rage Ballad; or, An Incomplete List of My Very Loud No’s”