Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Because I have to say something

I have opened this page at least 4 times today, and have looked at the blankness without writing anything. I still don't think I have the right words, but Kelly's eloquence convinced me that I must try.

I first wrote about the death of Trayvon Martin March 2012--before George Zimmerman was arrested. My main feeling at that time was disappointment. I am still disappointed, but it is more than that.

I truly don't know where to start. The plan is to throw words at the page and sort them out later. Since I share this blog with the Cistern, she can help me with the sorting.

Since I have so many more questions than answers, perhaps I will start throwing them out there:

Why have so many (white) people been so quick to doubt that race was a factor in this case?

Why did I believe for a moment that a jury of 6 people in Sanford, Florida who didn't have an opinion of the case would be people who would be concerned with justice?

Do people really believe that "Not guilty" is the same as "Good job, dude!"?

Why have so many people been so certain that the most commonly seen photo of Trayvon Martin must have been taken long before he was killed? Is it so ingrained in our culture to be afraid of black young men that his smiling, innocent face had to be inaccurate?

Just to be clear, this is the last known photograph of Trayvon (unless you want to count the autopsy photos) nine days before he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman:

My heart hurts. It hurts because a 17 year old young man was senselessly killed. It hurts because this case has brought to the forefront again how little white people understand what it means to be black in America today. Is it better than it was? Yes. Is it anything close to what it needs to be? No fucking way.

I think back to when I was a 16 year old girl. I put myself in the shoes of Rachel Jenteal. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I had been the one on the phone with Trayvon during the initial minutes of his encounter with George Zimmerman, MY testimony would have been golden...simply because I had the luxury of being born white.

The notion that one can kill an unarmed teenager, claim he feared for his own safety, make conflicting statements that don't agree with the undisputed facts, be found "not guilty," and have people celebrate the verdict makes me physically sick.

I don't know what to say. I am indignant. I am outraged by the comments I have read by ignorant and/or hateful people.

I do not have children, but I am very involved in the lives of my 13 yo niece and 9 yo nephew. I actually enjoy the "hard conversations." I am so terribly sad that the hardest conversations I will ever have with them pale in comparison with the conversations I would be obligated to have with them if they were black.

I knew this wasn't going to be a pretty post--in content or in form. I think it is even more scattered than I anticipated. But it is a start.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

On Turning 48

Today is my 48th birthday. That number gets noticed in my family. And not in a good way.

In some ways, it has taken on a somewhat dark significance. Mother died suddenly at the age 48. She appeared healthy, but there was a silent aneurysm that ruptured and killed her. Four other family members also died at this age--two from very similar causes. The doctors agreed that her siblings, my brother and sister and I, and our cousins should all get tested for signs of a same condition. We all have done this.

Mother was the oldest of 6 kids. The remaining five all passed their 49th birthday with much celebration.

I am the oldest of my generation, and of course, my mother's daughter. There is a certain oddness of "catching up" to her. I would be completely lying if I said that this birthday has arrived without significant thoughts. Some of those thoughts have been a bit dark--particularly during the worst days of my depression. I remember thinking at times that I might not even make it this far. I had a cardiac scare about 2 years ago and spent two nights in the hospital being poked, prodded, and tested. I passed everything with flying colors.

However, the past few months, I have come to view this day and all the days that follow as an opportunity. I have the gift of time. Perhaps it is premature to think that I will live longer than Mother did. I still have a couple of months before I actually "pass" her. My hospice work shows me every day that nothing can be taken for granted.

What I do know is this: I have today. I am committed to seeing this Number 48 as an opportunity rather than a dark cloud. I will not squander my days.

I will appreciate the moments.

I will live and love and laugh.

I will seek the things that bring me joy.

I will do all I can to enjoy every single thing.

I will act foolishly without fear of what others think.

I will enjoy music, art and other things that move me.

I will continue to be the weird aunt/cousin/friend.

I will let the people in my life know how much they mean to me. Old friends, family, new friends, and friends I have yet to meet.

I will dance in the rain.

I will love unconditionally--even if it hurts sometimes.

I will put my heart and soul into my work and be ever so grateful that I have found the work that I am supposed to do.

I will keep an eye out for and relish every chance I have to be joyous and to bring joy to others.

I believe that I do these things now, but I am committed to being ever so much more purposeful in doing them going forward. I do this because it is right. I will do this to honor my wonderful, creative, beautiful and crazy Mother.