Drugs, history, and the Presidency.

Almost any day now, President Trump will declare a national opioid epidemic.

Or not.

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on Obama breaking into an amazing spontaneous cover of “Amazing Graze” at the funeral of South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney. In doing so, he called down grace on the nation reminding us to look beyond our own skin. He embiggened¹ us all. (Reminder: Pinckney was killed when the terroriam² Dylann Roof shot up the prayer service at the Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charlottesville.)

Meanwhile P.T. Rump offered solace to a grieving widow by way of an observation that the soldier, Sgt. La David T. Johnson, “must’ve known what he signed up for.” And to those horrified by Trump’s far from Presidential behavior, I would offer that unlike Sgt. Johnson, he had no idea what he signed up for. He is a displaced grifter. He didn’t know the audience watching center ring of the political circus expects results!

Aside: Gaslight, gaslight, gaslight, gaslight. Four (4) servicemen were killed in Niger on October 4 and due to the ongoing cage match between P. T. Rump and the office of the President of the US, or due to our collective lack of focus, or due to the daily deluge of <insert horror here news>, the Niger imbroglio was a passing blip in my news feed.

But back to drugs.

President Obama? Our very own Jimmy Carter on steroids.

Followed by President Trump. Our very own Ronald Reagan on meth.

And I really wish that comparison was funny.


¹Embiggen(v.)/embiggened(v.)/embiggening(n.): (a word mash-up of em-, big, and -en): The act of inflating items to be perceptibly larger. Especially useful when referring to esoteric and abstract embiggenings. (Hat Tip: Mr. Viva. Thank you.)

Em (prefix): ” ‘come into a certain state.’ Created to expand meanings. Can be used with many words to form new words.”

Big: of considerable size, extent or intensity

-En: forming verbs

Example: Sentencing terroriam² Dylann Roof to nine (9) consecutive life sentences without possibility for parole embiggens the hope in us that once in a while justice happens.

²Terroriam(s) (a pejorative adjective or noun, pronounced terror-AYE-am): a person (or persons) who uses unlawful violence and intimidation to impart extreme fear in pursuit of egotistical embiggening.²

Example: Terroriam Dylann Roof was given nine consecutive life sentences without possibility for parole.

There are all kinds of reasons Dylann Roof wasn’t called a terrorist.  The qualifier ‘in the pursuit of political aims‘ is present in the noun and adjective forms of terrorism. Even though Mr. Roof’s stated goal was a race war which to me seems political, according to legal scholars and white bullshit artists, his was a hate crime and he was not the picture of a terrorist.

However, as the definition of terror is extreme fear and Dylann Roof took a whole lot of time to inflict extreme fear, next to the definition of terroriam in the expanding Viva dictionary is a picture of Dylann Roof.

 

Sandra Bland, July 2015.

July 10, 2015, the police dashcam video of Sandra Bland’s arrest. (After an exchange with another driver, the action starts at 1:20 mark followed by several minutes of inaction. Return to exchange with police at 8:30 mark, escalates very quickly at 9:30.)

Sandra Bland. An African-American woman stopped by police for a traffic violation. Three days later, Ms. Bland was found hanging in a police holding cell.

Dead.

Death by traffic violation. Not in a traffic accident.  A traffic violation. Let that sink in.

Ms. Bland’s auto maneuvers look like my driving.  At 8:50 when Ms. Bland explained her speeding up and pulling over, I agreed.  “Yep, that’s what I’d do too.  Get out of the way of the flashing lights on the way to catch a criminal or help someone in need somewhere or maintain the peace. This is me getting out of your way!”

And then it turns out I am the pursued. I am the violator, the target of rollers. Well, I would be incredulous too. “What!? Me? Huh?” Up to that moment, the preamble of events, I could be the driver. I could be Sandra Bland.

But the story takes a dark, unexpected turn at the 9:30 mark. Escalation to resisting arrest for a failure to signal? A failure to douse her cigarette? She was not in a posted no-smoking zone. She was in her car. Her car. Her own car.

Failure to signal. Resisting arrest. Three days in a jail cell. Dead. Sandra Bland breaks me. Sandra Bland was an African-American woman.

I am white.

Dollars to donuts that by the 9:45 mark, smoking or not, I would have been signaling to pull onto the road. Driving along my little way a little more careful.  Ticketed or not.

Alive.

Racism & James Baldwin.

I’m visiting video documents of James Baldwin to further my knowledge of systemic racism – what was identified in my youth, what has not changed, what it is like to reside in a country that would rather you were somewhere or someone else.

These videos were filmed on film using film and all the chemicals for production when I was a child of a single-digit age.  Although it’s tempting to express outrage that these artifacts were unknown:buried:concealed:hidden from me, I will take this moment to reflect that the tech which allows me to reach through the webs and communicate did not exist until ARPANET grew up into internet and Bill Gates and the Cisco kids could bring it all home.

Continue reading

The view from my safety pin.

I started wearing a safety pin in the wake of the election of Donald Trump.  A trend started after the vote to Brexit in the UK, it is a small outward sign that one is a “safe” person. It is a sign of solidarity between the “to-the-privilege-born” and the not.

My safety pin. It is my advertisement that I am an accepting face, a safe space, a zone of comfort. And every day I pin up, I pray I do not need to step up to support my safety pin. Continue reading

Good news!

On this morning after a weekend of being riveted, horrified, saddened, dismayed, disgusted, angered by the violence and news coming out of Charlottesville, Virginia; after my amazement that the POTUS’ response to the violence correctly used the multi-syllable big word ‘egregious’ coupled with a clear dog whistle;  after all of that I would like to take a moment and celebrate some good news!

  1. Elon Musk powers up on an island. I want to take more time and look at the data presented in this article,  but I celebrate continued solar energy use and development combined with battery storage.
  2. Bruno Mars donates $1M to Flint, Michigan for the water crisis that started in 2014. For today, I celebrate Mr. Mars’ acknowledgement of the problem and contribution.
  3. Waymo, Google’s self-driving car arm is considering automobile exteriors with adhesive properties such that if you’re hit by a Waymo, you do not become an equal and opposite reaction into something else. This sounds like really kewl technology and while I celebrate that Waymo is looking into options, it almost sounds like pedestrians are at risk? Really, Waymo? So,  I celebrate, wonder, and will continue to watch this development.
  4. Paul Manafort’s home was searched for evidence by the FBI using a ‘no knock’ warrant! Whoa.  The good news: Didn’t see that one coming! And thank you Ann for pointing out that the search occurred outside the leaky communication channels residing in the White House and Mr. Manafort was not tipped off that it was coming.  I celebrate that not all of government leaks!

And to end, good news from a favorite scene in Futurama. Professor Farnsworth presents Fry with a pill, number 7 on this link if you want to listen.

Fry: I can’t swallow that.

Professor Farnsworth:  Well then, good news! It’s a suppository …

Mistaken Identity

Early evening, dusky, we saw police lights rolling out our front windows, the blue and red of coming and going but in this case stopping.

And I thought I recognized the stopped car, but couldn’t be sure — my neighbor who is in high-school and, or his friends?

Certainly something is wrong, is not right when the police did not just stop the car but blocked the street from through traffic. Two black police SUVs and a cruiser. And something is wrong when the police have guns pointed at the car and its occupants.

And I watched as the driver exited the car, hands up, backing up, patted down and cuffed. And then a passenger, and a second passenger — hands up, backing up, patted down, cuffed, car emptied. Hood, trunk, doors opened. All clear.

My neighborhood is bird-chirping quiet. While the scene unfolded in the street, people walked their dogs to the corner and looked, I watched a cyclist stay the course and just pedal past the cruiser. Life goes on after all. And my husband took the dog out and while he did my neighbor came out of her house, her son’s home. What is going on? There had been no sirens, no sound of warning to get her out of the house any sooner.


Today, I wake to the thought of my own identity mistaken. I’ve seen my doppelganger in a photo. And so I do not fault the police. There are bad, evil people out there and we know that the job we ask the police to do — to protect and serve — contains all the right, all the wrong, and all the grays in between. It is not binary. The bad guys have doppelgangers. The good guys have doppelgangers. Based on photographic evidence, it appears I might have been at a Stockholm Motorcycle Fair. I wasn’t. It looks like me, but it wasn’t.

Being presented with a photo of a mirror image of oneself taken across the ocean does not register on the scale of the experience of a physical confrontation with real authority, real weapons, real and present danger while driving in your own neighborhood.

And as I put my little safety pin on today, it looks wretchedly pathetic, a minuscule token of what? Awareness? Insight? Empathy? No, it can’t be. After watching that drama with real police, real guns, real African-American teenagers backed into a wall — all that experience, all that fear, all so young. No, I don’t have nearly enough for anybody.

I’m too old to carry a security blanket and suck my thumb.

The safety pin will have to do for now.