Tuesday, June 30, 2020

"All I was trying to do was become better"

Good morning blog family. Thank you for checking on me these past couple of weeks. I had no words and too many words for all the hell we were, still are, living through, and finally, I just decided to be silent for a spell, to sit with my heartache over the young man in Aurora, Colorado who played his violin for kittens in shelters in his spare time, who wore a ski mask outside because he had anemia and was often cold. That sweet faced boy was walking home one night, gesticulating wildly, possibly dancing to the music coming through his earphones, and someone called the cops on him, said he was acting strangely, said he had no weapon, didn't seem dangerous (so why call the cops on him?), and then the cops came and harassed him, roughed him up the way they do with black men, and he was so confused why they were doing that to him, this boy who played his violin for kittens.

The cops could not provoke him to resistance, which what they do so they can arrest and claim resisting arrest, in fact the boy asked why they were hurting him, he said he loved them, he said he was sorry, and then the cops called EMS saying they had an emotionally disturbed person and the medic came and shot him up with enough ketamine for a 220 pound man even though the boy, sorry the young man, weighed 140 pounds. The ketamine caused his heart to seize and killed him. I know, because my son is a paramedic, that the medic doesn't know his job, because he should have been able to calculate the proper dose for slight bodied boy who had been roughed up by the police for no reason. The young man's name was Elijah McClain.

I keep thinking of him as a boy because he possessed such innocence. His cousin said he was "the sweetest soul." These were his final words.

Now you see why I have not been here. The tragedies pile up, and they pour out of me when I sit down to write. I did not intend to write about Elijah McClain this morning. I thought I would just post a picture of flowers and say thank you. I didn't understand that Elijah McClain was still so much on my heart that he would find his way out through my fingers, through tears wetting the qwerty keys.

But since I went there, I should also bear witness to Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, 27 years old, who had fallen asleep in his car in the drive through line of a Wendy's burger joint. He wasn't blocking anyone. Other cars could pull around him and get their food. It was his daughter's birthday, and he had been drinking. Someone called the cops. When they came, he asked if he could just walk home to his sister's house a few minutes away. But no, they began to harass him and escalate the situation. He was compliant the whole time, until they pointed a taser at him and tried to slap cuffs on him, at which point he grabbed the taser and took off running. He was drunk. He wasn't reasoning at full capacity. All the same, running away from cops seems a very logical thing for a black man to do because if you go anywhere with them you very likely could end up dead. Rayshard ended up dead anyway. The cops shot him in the back, and then walked over to his prone body and one of them kicked him while the other stood on him.

Never mind that after arresting that white boy Dylann Roof who murdered nine black people who had welcomed him into their prayer group at a Charleston church in 2015, the cops bought him a meal from Burger King because he was hungry. He had gunned down nine people in the act of praying yet the cops managed to arrest him without putting a scratch on him. Then bought him food. The least the cops could have done for Rayshard Brooks is call him an uber or offer to drive him home in their squad car. He was unarmed, a family man. He wasn't actually driving drunk though obviously he had been. But driving drunk is not punishable by death. He just needed to get home.

And then there are the seven black men across the country who have been found hanging from trees in the past two weeks, in front of a City Hall, in a school yard, in a park, all ruled suicides. I promise you, black men do not hang themselves from trees, even if they have decided to exit this life. How do you rule a man whose body bears bruises from a recent battering as a suicide? Why is the press not covering this story? Some are whispering that it's cops who are orchestrating this new/old form of terror. I don't know it that's true but they're the ones ruling these lynchings as suicides, and in their response to BLM protests across the country, they're the ones making the most convincing case about police brutality, too. 

My daughter and her boyfriend had to drive to a town in New Jersey two weekends ago and they asked to borrow our car. I thought nothing of it as I waved them off, and then suddenly, I was hyperventilating, realizing they were heading to a small town in the middle of nowhere, a place I knew nothing about and could not visualize, and would they find Trump supporters there, white supremacists who might do them harm, and I couldn't breath properly until they called me a couple hours later and said they were on the way home.

So this is why I have not been writing here. Who wants to read about such casual everyday trauma? And yet, it seems that when I sit down here, I cannot write anything else unless I set this down first. I think I feel driven to bear witness because until November, it is the only thing I can do.


  1. "... all i was trying to do was become better ..."

    The strength of sorrow and mourning and love is clear in your written voice, bearing witness. May we all draw strength from those inner resources. I'm grateful for your presence, with or without words.

  2. My heart aches. I am so sorry.

  3. I have been thinking of you...I was going to write, but I knew... I knew what angst and anguish you have been experiencing. Every headline rips our hearts out. I had no words to share to lift your heart. What words are there that would ameliorate this unfolding tragedy? I don't know the words. I am screaming everyday. November is our only answer. We mourn. We mourn.

  4. Darling. I read about Elijah McClain I heard the violinists playing for him last night playing Amazing Grace. I’m so glad you wrote of him. I love you. In times of no grace in times of bounty. I love you.

  5. Oh, my dear friend. We had not even heard of most of these cases of brutality. I don't understand a mentality that can be so brutal. Seems like a disease to me, but how do we cure it?

    I'm so sorry for the heartache, and understand the need to pull back to think. Please take care.

  6. My tears at reading this are only a shadow of your own, I know. I'm glad you were able finally to write it and be in this space again, so sorry for all that is besetting the world right now.

  7. I'm glad you came back, I knew your silence was because you were hurting. I saw your post about JK Rowling and came here to read it, but it was gone. As a transman I was interested to read it.

  8. The murder of Elijah McClain has been eating at my heart since it was reported. How much longer does this go on? What drives these people to be so awful? If it weren't for the murder of George Floyd, this murder probably would not have come to light, the Aurora police has already put it behind them.
    I wish this country would be better.


  9. "If you are not part of the solution , you are part of the problem " they say.
    You are part of the solution - hold on to that very tight .

  10. I haven't written anything about BLM or the atrocities committed by the police who are supposed to be there to protect the public because I don't even know what to say. I'm white and I don't even know what it would be like to have assumptions made about me because of the color of the skin. It's too much. Too much hatred. Too much anger. Too much violence. I don't know what to say.

    How can it be okay for police to execute people on the street? Because of the color of their skin. How can there be rules for one color but not the other? How can there be so much hatred of people who have been marginalized for so long?

    There are billionaires who shit on people, who screw their employees out of money, who lie and cheat and steal and that's okay? But a young man who is different? A little weird? Who wants to be left alone? He's dead because of the color of his skin. How is that okay? Why is this happening? What fucking year is this?

    I want to scream and cry but instead I feel hopeless and helpless. And this sounds so stupid but I am sorry. I am sorry that there are white people that treat people differently, that hate and kill black people.

    I don't get it. We are all the same. Except people have been taught to hate, why? Because it's easier? Why are white people so afraid of black people?

  11. I have missed you, wondering how you are. This is so sad. this is so unjust. this is despicable what black people endure in this country. I weep for those innocent young black men, I weep for you, I weep for this country and as bad as I feel, I know it is nothing compared to what you feel. I am ashamed, shamed by the murderous hatred some people have towards black people in this country, people they don't even know or know anything about. and the irony? white people spend hours at the beach trying to get their skin to turn brown.

    I have, several times, bought heavy things at Home Depot, refusing help to load at the register because I know I can load the items myself and yet every time a man has stopped in the parking lot after seeing me struggle (or hearing me curse) and stopped to offer help, it has been a black man while the white men just walk on by.

  12. There is so much to carry right now. May this be the rupture that opens to a new world. May that new world be on the arc of justice. I will spend the rest of my life trying to do better. Sending love.

  13. You know how I feel. And how I am so ashamed of my white skin so often. Now, almost all the time. As I wrote on Elizabeth's comments this morning- we got pulled over for speeding yesterday and although yes, we were definitely going above the speed limit, the Highway Patrol guy just gave Glen a warning because well, you know- he's sixty-six years old, we were on our way to see our grandchildren, it was Glen's birthday, he hadn't had a citation in seventeen years.
    And because we were white.
    After we got the warning and started driving again I told my husband, "Well. There's your white privilege. Not only didn't you get a ticket, you also didn't get killed."
    Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?
    Nah. It's true.
    And we know it.

  14. Utterly broken hearted, I knew that you were absent for this very reason, and so it is, will love be enough- don't think so.We are a terrible species. A sad, miserable, cruel species.Is this time pivotal? Will we become better?

  15. Good to see you back despite your horrific testimony. We are living in a time of turmoil.