Operation Caffeination

Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for the ‘Politics & Religion’ Category

Really really

leave a comment »

While weeding out the undesirables from my Facebook page today, I ran across one “About Me” that really stood out to me.

Under political views, this individual had written “apathetic.” Under religious views, however: “It’s all about the REALtionship!”

Hm.

Let’s point out the obvious first here:

1. You can’t spell for shit, meaning that you’ve failed the cardinal rule of being my friend on Facebook. DELETED.

2. You are not in a relationship with anyone if God doesn’t exist. You may be certain that s/he does exist; others are certain that s/he does not. No one has any serious proof to back up their beliefs on this subject, but the atheist who chooses to deny the possibility of the existence of God because of a lack of compelling evidence comes off looking a lot better than the person who believes themselves to be in a loving relationship with a deity who values Tebow above Sara Kruzan, based on conversations they’ve had with a voice in their head.

3. Do you know what people accomplish through politics? We passed the Violence Against Women Act. We fight against bribery and corruption. We fight to end human trafficking. Or alternatively, we fight to redefine miscarriage as murder so that we can lock women up for life for failing to produce healthy babies.

I hear a lot of talk from the religious right about war, the battle being waged between the forces of good and evil, and it all sounds very epic and I bet Peter Jackson could do something marvelous with it but you people are missing it completely. You are not fighting against Satan and his hoards of demons when you do flannel graph stories for the preschoolers at your church on Sunday. You are not accomplishing anything significant when you put your money into the building fund. There’s real fighting going on with clear, definite good guys and bad guys, but you’re too busy being nice and keeping the Christ in Christmas to know what’s going on.

Do not take that as a compliment.

Written by GRSeim

April 27, 2012 at 12:01 am

Tumbling head-first down memory lane

leave a comment »

The woman was dressed in white from head to toe, her black curls matted and damp with sweat. She had smudges of oil shimmering on her face from a previous anointing with holy oil, and she was screaming, arms outstretched and face turned upwards as she lost her voice to the empty blue sky.

I was only five years old, and I was worried about my Sunday school teacher.

“Leave your granola bar in the car,” my mother instructed me. “Mrs. D has been fasting for ten days now. It wouldn’t be very nice to eat in front of her when she’s hungry.”

Mrs. D noticed our arrival and collected herself.

“R family,” she sang out in a strange sort of chant, her gaze distant and glazed, “Praise the Lord that you were able to join us! And bless us and your precious, blessed children! May the Lord JESUS bless them! And keep them in His merciful arms forever! Amen!”

Her hands were on my head now. I started to squirm away in fear, but my father held me still.

“Mrs. D is blessing you!” he growled in my ear. “Hold still!”

“It’s fine!” Mrs. D shrieked, raising her arms in the air above her head and twirling away from us suddenly. I had never seen my typically-demure teacher behave this way before. “It is all for the joy of the Lord and His Son, the pure sacrificial lamb! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Oh, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”

She began to wander away, and we followed. She lead us through the maze of the gravel parking lot and across a field to a shining white tent, where our pastor and several of the elders were standing around a water cooler.

“Well, R family!” our pastor boomed. “You made it!”

“I was in prayer when they arrived,” my Sunday School teacher cooed. “I think I need to go meditate on the Scriptures for awhile now, alone.”

She left us, and the pastor showed us around the tent.

“It’s a perfect reconstruction of the biblical tabernacle!” he boasted. “We even have an Ark of Covenant. We didn’t put anything inside it, though. We decided to wait for the Lord to communicate His unique covenant with us, here on our newly-consecrated church property!”

“Well, it looks like a lot of fun!” my mother beamed politely. “What time is the groundbreaking ceremony scheduled to happen?”

“We’ll probably get on with the ceremony in an hour or so,” our pastor replied thoughtfully. “We should wait a bit to make sure we don’t leave anyone out. In the meantime, though, feel free to explore the tabernacle, and we have donation boxes placed all around the property. Anything you donate today will go directly to the building fund for our new building! Let’s fill up some seats for the Lord!”

I don’t remember much more about that day. It was summertime in Texas and the heat was intolerable, particularly dressed in our Sunday clothes.

That church building was never constructed, though. I don’t know what happened to the money donated to the building fund. The pastor left the church rather suddenly few months later when his long-term affair blew up in his face. His wife left him and took the kids, and we never heard from them again.

My Sunday School teacher was discovered murdered in her apartment a few years after that. People said that it was because she always wore jewelry when she participated in prison ministries. Looking back now as an adult, of course, I am appalled at the way this woman’s entire social group ignored her obvious drug addiction. They manipulated her into working for the church for free for nearly a decade, and blamed her Cookie Lee collection for her tragic death.

I was the only one who cried when she died.

Written by GRSeim

April 21, 2012 at 5:53 am

Seattle tackles discrimination against publicly breastfeeding mothers

with 5 comments

My kids and I were able to participate in a hearing today at the Seattle City Hall. Read about it here.

We were there to discuss public breastfeeding, and the work the city is doing to deal with cases of discrimination against nursing mothers.

It was a really fun, engaging experience and I feel like I was able to present a unique perspective on the issue as a breastfeeding mother who is also an active Metro rider. It was really affirming for me to be able to participate in something adult and political and personally significant like this with my kids at my side. Maybe my mind won’t be complete mush by the end of this little motherhood experiment after all! 😉

In the interest of fairness, one of the councilmen (who appears to be a willing advocate for breastfeeding mothers himself) took the time to share the concerns of those who oppose the new anti-discrimination legislation being presented. Here are the (paraphrased) concerns he voiced, along with my personal responses.

1. Opposition: It’s disrespectful to the people around you to breastfeed in public. If you know it makes others uncomfortable, you have the responsibility to do something about that, like nursing in your car or bringing pumped milk along on outings.

Rebuttal: This argument makes the elitist assumption that all nursing mothers have access to cars and breast pumps. Until a year ago, I did not have the option of returning to the relative privacy of my car to feed my child. I had to deal with his hunger when and where it struck. I did have a breast pump, but I couldn’t afford milk collection bags, and my son refused to drink from a bottle anyway so it wasn’t an option for me to cart a cooler full of pumped milk along in addition to all of my other baby care supplies every time I left the house.

Continuing on the topic of pumping, non-lactating individuals may not realize that each of those pumped bottles takes a solid thirty minutes for me to prepare, not including the time it takes to sterilize the bottles and pump. That is a lot of time to ask a woman to devote to an unnecessary task when she is struggling to find time to feed and bathe herself as she balances her own needs against the needs and demands of an infant. You are also asking her to accept a certain degree of physical discomfort as the breastfeeding rhythm is interrupted for an outing. Breasts work on a supply-and-demand basis, with milk production identically matched to the needs of the individual child being nursed. If the demand is suddenly altered, the milk production will continue at its normal rate until the woman is made uncomfortable by the excess milk backing up. If the interruption is prolonged, her body will drop its production rate, which obviously puts the mother and child at risk for premature weaning. It’s a slippery slope that many women are find out about about the time they hit the gravel pit at the bottom, because stress, anxiety and frustration can inhibit your milk let-down, preventing your hungry baby to access the milk that is making you so stressed and uncomfortable. When we know how important breastfeeding is to our personal health and financial security as a country, why would we push women into such a destructive spiral?

At the root of this issue, however, is that the concerns and values of theoretical people who may theoretically experience discomfort if they realize that they are sitting near a breastfeeding woman are trumping the real, observable needs of women and their babies. This leads me to wonder who these theoretical hypersensitive souls may be. I’m guessing we aren’t concerning ourselves with the possible discomfort of middle-aged women, right? I believe that if we are honest with ourselves, we will realize that we are working here from the assumption that the public sphere is a male realm, and that is what we are worried about- that these uppity breastfeeding mothers are using their breasts in a non-titillating fashion, and then have the nerve to add insult to injury by doing that right out there in the open where any man can see that they are there, breasts and all, literally not giving a fuck. It sounds weird, yeah, but sex is weird, and how else do you explain the intensity of the outrage we face as mothers engaging in the totally radical act of feeding our children?

2. Opposition: If you give women free license to breastfeed in public without establishing strict guidelines to control their behavior, it will quickly devolve into a public nudity debacle.

Rebuttal: First of all, you do realize that we’re talking about women here, right? Not feral barn cats in heat?

Secondly…no, wait, go back to that first point. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT WOMEN HERE. We are sexually harassed, stalked and raped. You think we’re taking this public exposure stuff lightly? Think again. We have a lot at stake here. We also represent the majority of individuals struggling with eating disorders, anxiety and depression. The weight loss industry in the U.S. is currently worth $60.9 billion, and yeah, not all dieters are women, but you don’t meet too many men who make a lifestyle out of dieting the way so many of us do. Too many of us internalize body hatred and run with it.

Do you really, honestly believe that these are people who are likely to strip down in public, using their status as breastfeeding mothers as an excuse to engage in lewd behavior? We are talking real life women who have given birth within the last year or two. Most of us weren’t wild about our pre-baby bodies, much less the mess left behind after pregnancy. We are flabby. We have new folds and stretch marks and scars that are just blowing our minds. We’re learning about the joys of nursing bras and cleaning spit up out of our hair and giving up on jewelry because our babies like to eat sparkly things. There are very, very few women at this life stage who feel sexy. We are not generally out looking for attention. Most of the nursing moms I know feel pretty shy about nursing in public. For most of us, it’s only something we do when we have to choose between giving the kid a quick nurse or letting them scream endlessly in hunger and fear. Our children are our main concern, and our only concern when it comes to breastfeeding. We are trying to care for our babies, and our dignity and modesty feature on the list of things that we sacrifice for our children. Most of us aren’t totally thrilled about this arrangement, either. We do it because our kids are relying on us to provide them with nourishment. No one else figures into this equation at all.

If you do see a mother of a small child who is breastfeeding and still managing to be sexy and succeeding at both…you know what? Slow. Clap. I can’t believe I have to say this, but aren’t we all pretty interested in making sure that women feel comfortable enough in society to be comfortable in their own skins, to be bold and authentically, erotically connected and empowered? These are the amazing women that we are all so fascinated by, the ones many of us are holding out for, the ones who are out of our leagues. Encourage the awesome! Maybe we’ll see more of it.

Will there be people who abuse their freedom? Yes. There will always be that handful of people who are gross and abusive and no matter how much room you give them, they’ll make a point of taking it a step further just out of grossness. The thing to remember is that those people are assholes, not bitches. Asshattery is not related to gender, age, race or religion. It is great and non-discriminatory that way. It is okay to recognize when an individual is being gross, and it’s natural to be offended by flagrantly crude behavior. We just have to remember that, just as we can’t deny people their right to free speech just because Rush Limbaugh opened his mouth once, we can’t deny the vast majority of responsible nursing mothers the opportunity to effectively nurture their children just because someone, somewhere may get it into their head to use their tit as a squirt gun in a restaurant. Deal with the tit-squirt-gun gal based on her own situation and merit, and deal with me (the most clothed person ever) based on mine. And for the love of god, don’t try to lump me in the with tit-squirt-gun chick because I’m just as icked out as anyone else over this kind of grossness, even though I totally just made the whole scenario up. I feel a bit like making my mind eat soap for that one.

3. Opposition: We’re mammals, breastfeeding is kind of what we do. Women who claim they’ve been discriminated against for breastfeeding are probably blowing their experiences out of proportion. There is no need for the government involved.

Rebuttal: Clearly, you are not paying attention. See here and here and here and here.

Written by GRSeim

April 5, 2012 at 6:15 am

Remember who you are

with one comment

As I understand it, there was a black woman who lived a very long time ago. Her name was Susannah, and she was in a relationship of some sort (I’d like to think it was consensual and oddly romantic, but the odds are good that it was actually rapey and horrific) with a slave ship captain named John Hemings.

Susannah had a little daughter by Hemings, who she called Elizabeth. Hemings attempted to buy Elizabeth from Susannah’s master, John Wales.

I wish I knew why; I have so many questions about this story. Was Hemings a decent guy who would have settled down with Susannah given the opportunity? Was he abusive? Did he intend to harm Elizabeth? Was John Wales the abuser in the situation?

I don’t have the answers to those questions. What I do know is that John Wales refused to part with Elizabeth. He sold her and her mother to his future father-in-law, Francis Eppes, and then later inherited them back into his estate as part of his wife’s dowry. Francis somehow created a legal stipulation that required Susannah and Betty (as Elizabeth was called) to remain with his daughter and her heirs forever.

Again, I wish I could know so much more. Was it because Betty was part white that she was granted preferential treatment above the other slaves in Martha Eppes’s estate? Was there something else that was unique about her than made people uncomfortable with seeing her live out her life as a slave?

Whatever the reason behind it all, Betty and her children stayed with John Wales. She had four children by a fellow slave, and then John Wales took her as his concubines. Betty gave birth to six children by this man who had owned her as property from birth.

John Wales had children from previous relationships as well; one of them was a girl named Martha Eppes. She inherited Betty and her children, six of whom were actually her half-siblings, when she married Thomas Jefferson in 1772.

Martha Eppes was intelligent, a good writer and seamstress and well-read. People liked her. By all accounts she was interesting, pretty and bright, and had a good sense of humor (sadly and predictably, there appear to be no surviving descriptions of Betty).

Martha and Thomas had six children together. Martha is believed to have suffered from gestational diabetes in each of her pregnancies that wrecked havoc on her body and ultimately killed her. The first Jefferson child, Martha (called Patsy), was the only one who lived a full lifespan; she died at 64 years of age. Her younger sister, Jane, died when she was one; Martha endured a still birth a few years later before giving birth to a fourth child, Mary, who died at 24. After Marry, Martha and Thomas had another daughter, who they named Lucy Elizabeth. She died as an infant. Martha conceived one more time. I find it telling to note that she gave this last baby a recycled name, also calling her Lucy Elizabeth. I have spent so much of my life dreaming about my future children and carefully crafting their names. I can only imagine the kind of jaded depression that would lead a person to just stick a decent name on a kid without thought or apparent tenderness.

Martha Jefferson died a few months after the second Lucy Elizabeth was born. She was only 33 years old at the time. Thomas Jefferson suffered a nervous breakdown following her loss, and the little Lucy Elizabeth soon followed her mother to the grave. Thomas Jefferson never recovered from the loss of his wife. He moved to France a few years after her death, leaving his surviving children behind in the care of their aunts and uncles who were still serving the Jefferson family as slaves.

Two years into his stay in France, Jefferson decided to summon his younger daughter, Mary to join him. Mary was only nine years old at the time, so she was accompanied by the youngest of her slave aunts, Sally, who was fourteen (note that this whole time that Martha was birthing little daughters only to rapidly find herself attending their funerals, Betty and Martha’s father were successfully birthing babies left and right and then setting them up to live out their lives as slaves).

Historians argue about this next chapter of history quite a bit, but I do not personally find it difficult to believe, particularly when taken in context with the rest of this family’s sad story.

Thomas Jefferson and Sally (his dead wife’s half-sister) apparently began an affair while in Paris. It grew into a relationship that lasted for forty years. They conceived a child while in Paris, and Sally and her baby returned to the States with Jefferson’s promise of freedom.

The young baby died soon after their return to the free world, and Sally went on, living as Jefferson’s concubine and slave for many years. She had six children in all with Thomas Jefferson, with four of them surviving to adulthood.

Meanwhile, little Mary, who was attending a convent school in Paris while this relationship ignited, returned home and married her cousin. She gave birth three times in four years and then died of health complications caused by pregnancy and worsened by depression. Only one of her children, a little boy, survived.

Jefferson granted each of his mixed-race children their freedom when they came of age, but curiously, he never freed Sally. His surviving daughter, Martha, eventually set Sally free after Thomas Jefferson’s death in 1826 (he was 83 when he died). Sally went to live with her adult sons, who were living free, dignified lives in Charlottesville. She remained with them for nearly a decade, living independently in their own home, and she got to see one of her grandchildren born and take part in that child’s life before she passed away in her early 60’s.

This story applies to our lived today on so many different levels. I am so sick with anger and stress right now that I can’t stand to delve into all of it.

Read this and ask yourself, do you really think that race doesn’t matter, that life is what you make of it? What happened to the black babies born on the Jefferson’s property whose mothers were not raped by white men, who were clearly black? Those people and their families undoubtedly remained in slavery, and then in segregation, and then lived through Jim Crowe and the violence that marked the Civil Rights movement and descendants of those slaves are almost certainly following the news right now, hearing people attempt to excuse George Zimmerman of Trayvon Martin’s murder because of whatever problems Trayvon may or may not have had at school and if I were the one holding my babies tight in fear as I watched that story unfold, knowing what this society owes me and seeing how this society continues to treat me and mine like shit…well. I’m not living with that fear, I am not carrying that load. But speaking as myself, within the context of my own life, I have no excuse, I can think of no defense. I feel sick, weighted down, broken. This is ugly. This is as ugly as it gets.

Moving from racism to sexism…do you really think that Jefferson would have taken issue with women having free access to birth control? He lost his own cherished wife due to complications in pregnancy, and their entire eleven years of marriage were dominated by death as they lost child after child. If ever there was a man who understood contraception as the foundation of women’s healthcare, surely it was Jefferson, whose life of suffering and loss would have been entirely prevented had he and his wife had access to any of the fantastic birth control methods we have available to us now.

To the conservatives and religious folks that think they have the right to judge other people’s major life decisions…go back and read it again. Put yourself in Susannah’s shoes, Martha’s, Betty’s, Mary’s, Sally’s. Can you honestly find fault with these women? As I see it, the only person who acted wrongly in this story was the slave ship captain who fathered Betty, and even with him we do not have enough information to be able to guess whether he might have been violently, criminally evil or merely a product and victim of his times like all the rest. For the women, and particularly the women of color in these stories, life was a terrifying drudgery,something to be escaped. How long can you go on trying to survive in a world that does not value you as a human being, that doesn’t care about your life or your fate?

In 1839, 13 years after Jefferson died, a man named Charles Goodyear invented the first rubber condoms and IUD’s (I’ve read that people were attempting to use sheepskin condoms and diaphragms made of halves of lemons before this point, with very little success). Congress banned the propagation of information regarding these life saving devices thirty years later, arguing that the information was obscene, and went on to make the U.S. the only Western country to criminalize contraception (at the time, or across the board? I’m not sure, need to read more on this point).

I wonder as I type those words, if Congress bothered to get Martha Jefferson’s take on contraception before making that decision, or if they took Susannah or Betty’s stories into consideration.

Women need contraception. We need to be able to have abortions if our life circumstances make them necessary, and we need to be recognized as the only appropriate persons to decide what constitutes necessity. We need strong laws protecting us from rapists and abusers. We need these things because our lives aren’t livable without them. We are vulnerable, not because of our femininity but because nature doesn’t really care if we live or die beyond childbirth. Left unchecked, our reproductive systems will work us to death. We have the technology, we have the resources; to force us to return to the kinds of lives Sally and Mary endured would be heartless and brainless, and tragically it would not be long before that kind of pigheadedness could be construed as murderous as well. Women die due to the simple inability to access contraception all the time around the world.

All I can say is, my daughter and I will not be those women. We will not be sent back to live such heartbreaking, empty, tragic and fleeting lives.

We will remember where we’ve come from, and we will not be forced back.

Written by GRSeim

April 1, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Death: less pearly gates and light-filled tunnels and more like the DMV.

with one comment

The intoxicated homeless man stumbles towards me, waving his arms above his head. My children don’t react to this common sight at all. I shake my head in amusement and greet him, “Hello, Jimmy. How’s Elizabeth today?”

“Oh, she’s doing well,” he slurs politely. “And how are my favorite kids doing today?”

“We’re just looking for ducks and squirrels,” my little son informs him.

“Ah, those are some tricky critters to catch, aren’t they,” Jimmy smiles congenially, absent-mindedly flicking some crumbs out of his whiskers as he slows his gait to match our rambling pace.

Darren sighs heavily. “I’ve never caught a squirrel before,” he confesses sadly, his shoulders slumped.

“I did, once,” Jimmy confides, “but it got away before I could show it to anyone.”

“That’s a bummer,” Darren sympathizes.

“Well, yes it was,” Jimmy laughs ruefully. “But it wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last.”

Jimmy and Elizabeth spend most of their nights in the abandoned schoolyard by our house, and most of their time in the day is spent walking to and from the various churches and community centers in the area that host free meals for the poor.

Here is what I know about them: Jimmy is abusive, sometimes violent. Elizabeth is an alcoholic, and on her last legs. They have three sons who, quite understandably, refuse to have any contact with them.

Every time I hear someone trumpet personal responsibility as it relates to healthcare, gun safety, childcare, the minimum wage…I always want to tell them about Jimmy and Elizabeth. These people are not well. This last winter nearly killed Elizabeth.

Whatever has happened in the past that lead up to their current predicament, they are suffering now and need help, but who will help them?

Their children, who I’m certain have suffered decades of abuse and neglect at their hands? People who will be doing remarkably well in life if they are even able to function normally as adults when you consider the kind of start they had in life?

Or perhaps these generous community centers and churches should ban together to care for our city’s most vulnerable residents: the ones with cancer, HIV, the ones who left limbs behind in Iraq; the ones with dangerous mental illnesses, addictions and criminal histories, stress disorders, violent tendencies and perverted sexual habits? How do you see that working, exactly? Do the Sunday school teachers and front desk receptionists take shifts?

Jimmy and I both know who should be taking this responsibility on: it’s me. I am a CNA and I am completely capable of dealing with people like him. I am not afraid of him. Before I had my kids, I spent about 50 hours a week bathing adults, brushing their teeth, doing their laundry, literally cleaning their shit. And here’s the thing, I don’t just do it, I enjoy it. I connect with these people and sometimes change their lives. I have a unique talent that society desperately needs. I am the answer to this problem.

But I can’t do this work for free.

I can understand how people can look at the situation and think, you’re an alcoholic, you won’t go through treatment, you’ve done this to yourself…why should I pay for your mistakes?

But if there’s anything I’ve learned through providing end-of-life care, it’s this: we humans make way more shit than any of us can ever clean up on our own. Even if you have been a self-made island this far, I promise you that you will not die that way. You will absolutely end this life indebted to someone. You don’t get to be awesome and do it all on your own; nature prevents that.

The only choice you have is will you die indebted financially or spiritually. I probably won’t ever be able to prove this, but I believe that we rest easier in death when our debt is a spiritual one; the people I’ve cared for are just a little bit immortal, and I know that sounds silly but it’s real. I talk about them, mimic them, reference their stories, share their memories.

I remember their favorite colors.

I grieve their passings, even when we don’t particularly like each other or get along well, because we share a real human connection that can’t be defined or set down on paper.

When was the last time you experienced that kind of connection in our current medical system? Has your insurance agent ever remembered your birthday, or your favorite dessert?

Have they ever named their child after you, to keep your memory alive after you’re gone?

Our society needs change. Our president is fired up to tackle the healthcare system, I say let’s ride that wave and see where it takes us. It can not be made any worse than it is now. Don’t wait to find that out first-hand.

Written by GRSeim

March 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

For Trayvon

with 3 comments

He’s standing in the street, gesturing wildly; his voice is raised loud enough that I can hear him a block away. Ice cold tendrils of fear work their way through my stomach. I’m alone and it’s getting dark. I have my baby in the carrier on my back, and my three year old is trying to pry his fingers out of my hand so that he can chase pigeons (why are there always pigeons, everywhere I go?). The man is yelling at a bicyclist who is waiting for the signal to turn.

The bicyclist is white. The other man is black. And I’m a little scared of him.

Am I safe? Should I proceed, or pick a different path to my car? What is going on?

I replay the situation in my head. I try to erase the colors and accompanying prejudices from my mind. What I see is a man, speaking loudly, moving energetically. I see another man standing not two feet away from him, not reacting to the outburst in any visible way. I know that if I were standing that close to an unstable, potentially violent person, I’d be doing whatever I could to extricate myself from the situation. This guy is sitting still. He doesn’t appear to feel threatened. We’re on a main road. I have my phone in my hand if I need to call 911. I am hardly defenseless on my own, either. I have martial arts training, a strong set of lungs and a great big ugly temper. I know that I can trust myself to take care of myself. I choose to continue, but cautiously.

The light changes as we approach, and the cyclist slaps the black man on the back.

“I’ve gotta run,” he says, smiling, “but it was great to run into you again! I’ll give you a call soon!”

“Just drop by whenever! Right over there,” the black man points to a high rise building that dominates the block next to us. “I’m in the penthouse, you can’t miss it!”

He turns away from the road, grinning broadly, and sees me watching him. I know I probably look surprised.

“Man,” he smiles, dropping to a normal speaking tone, “I haven’t seen that guy since grad school! I thought he’d moved away. What are the odds?”

He saunters off in the direction of his million-dollar penthouse dwelling, still smiling and shaking his head at intervals, galvanizing the pigeons into flight as he departs. My son sighs in exasperation and quickly begins seeking out a new group of winged targets.

I’m alone again. My hands are shaking. I feel sick. A sudden rush of tears sting my eyes, triggered by overwhelming waves of relief? Frustration? Guilt? Some combination of the three. My baby is beginning to whimper for another snack. My son is still jerking against my firm grip on his sleeve.

“Let go! I need to chase that bird over there!” he wails, arms flailing blindly as his prey disappears into the dusk at a tantalizing waddle. I realize that, while I have been lost in this internal battle against my own prejudice and bigotry, my son has remained completely fixated on the hunt. He didn’t even notice the impromptu class reunion.

Maybe my hesitation escaped his attention as well.

Maybe he didn’t notice the fear that had to have been visible in my eyes.

Maybe black men will be able to express emotion safely in my son’s company when he reaches adulthood.

Maybe things will get better.

Maybe.

Learn more about Trayvone Martin and take a stand against institutionalized racism here.

Written by GRSeim

March 21, 2012 at 6:42 am

She’s no friend of mine

leave a comment »

“Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a

gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”

-Christopher Hitchens.

Written by GRSeim

March 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm