I don’t subscribe to the views of most black people. In fact, I may be the only black person who thinks the way I think and feels the way I feel about race relations in this country. Nevertheless, I’m a black woman living in America and I will say what I feel. My opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s.
The most recent incident of racism is the shooting in Charleston. Anyone who claims that it is not racism in any way is a flipping idiot. A white man walked into a black church, sat down with the people for an hour, and then proceeded to kill as many of them as he could. It doesn’t matter what he allegedly said. It doesn’t matter what his Facebook profile (that has since been taken down) said. It doesn’t matter what all his relatives say about his burgeoning interest in white supremacy. The facts clearly tell us that a white man, who was not a congregant of the black church, walked in and deliberately stole the lives of 9 innocent people.
But I don’t believe his actions are representative of the majority of white people. Most white people in America are not “white supremacists” and stand in solidarity with black people against injustice. While America has moved beyond government-sanctioned racism, it doesn’t mean that racism in American no longer exists.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I have always struggled to fit in with the black community. I don’t harbor views that make me leery of every white person I come across. In fact, I embrace many white people who enter my life. They have accepted me and made me feel like a person instead of a woman with a dark skin color. All of my bridesmaids (save my maid of honor) were white. My husband is white. The majority of my friends are white. I have many white acquaintances. I have rarely felt racially threatened by a white person. When I dislike someone, the color of their skin usually doesn’t factor into it. It often stems from the fact that I think they are idiots, ignorant, or inconsiderate.
Racism in America has escalated to a high level because of the media constantly shoving supposedly race-related incidents down our throats. Not every incident against a black person is directly race-related. (Notice I used the word “directly.)
Recently (within the past year or so), we’ve had a lot of incidents involving white police and black victims. A white policeman does something stupid and a black person usually suffers at the hands of the cop. As a friend (who is white) mentioned, there may be a subconscious element of racism. In America, we engineered to be leery of black people because they are often seen as “criminals” or untrustworthy. For me, it’s all about dress. If a dude (white or black) is dressed with a bandana over his head, has a baggy T-shirt on, and his pants are sagging down so you can see his Calvin Kleins, I will cross the street to avoid him. Again if a dude (white or black), is dressed professionally or even in a casual manner that appears non-threatening, I will remain on the same sidewalk. Appearance does matter.
Getting back to the white police versus black victims, I think a lot of these situations are the result of a majority of white men being cops who police predominantly black communities. As a result, there are often clashes between the two, so when a fatality occurs, it’s automatically branded as a race-related incident. I don’t believe these white cops wake up in the morning thinking, “I’m gonna kill a [insert N-word here] today.” No. These cops wake up willing to perform their duties, and when an incident occurs in area that is in or close to the inner city, some cops (again who tend to be white) act rashly, leading to the unfortunate deaths of black people.
I don’t believe the murder of many of these black victims is premeditated. But I do think we have a lot cops who are complete morons and should never have been allowed to serve.
Throughout American history, mostly in the 20th and 21st centuries, clashes between black people and white policemen have been common. Before, it was government sanctioned or government allowed. While these kinds of incidents are not as common as they used to be, there are still far too many problems occurring.
Does racism against black people in America still exist? Yes, absolutely. Are there cops who are racist? Yes, absolutely. But I think we need to do better as a country to improving race relations. White cops need to bridge the divide and reach out to black communities. Get to know them so that when an incident occurs, the first cry isn’t racism. The first cry is “most white cops aren’t like this in our community.”
Black people need to reach across the aisle too. Approaching a cop is always scary. But again, if a police officer appears non-threatening, simply smile or make a comment about his willingness to protect the community. The police are people too. They are under a lot of stress—far more than most people can imagine. A bright spot in their day can make a difference in how they respond to situations. Often when someone is in military uniform, people thank them for their willingness to serve and protect our country. Why can’t we begin to do the same for a police officer in uniform too?
Easing tension between blacks and police is a 2-way street. Maybe my ideas for bridging the gap aren’t the best. But we’ve got to start thinking of ways to improve race relations in this country instead of implementing self-segregation. White people are NOT the enemy. And if we embrace the ones who embrace us, we can begin to weed out the ones who want to harm us.
Right about now, I should be posting about my mid-year goals. But this year has sucked so bad so far that my mid-year goals are what I want to write about least.
Are the basic things okay? Sure, my entire family’s healthy (for the most part) and we’re all alive. We have food, shelter, and water. We’re doing great on that front. In fact, I’ll even let you know that we’re financially more well off than we’ve ever been.
But I am miserable. I wake up every day wishing I were dead. What I earn does not make me happy except for the few seconds twice a month when I see how much has been direct deposited into my account. I am able to distract myself with Facebook and Twitter. But when those things are gone, I am left alone with my thoughts. And my thoughts cannot figure out how to escape. How to extract myself from my current situation. I cannot even brainstorm a decent way to commit suicide.
The year started off great. On January 2nd, one of my best friends and I spent the day in Philly taking in Independence Hall and enjoying a few beers at a bar featured on the Food Network. Then January 5th came. And then every weekday after that. It all felt like a nightmare. Being excluded. Not fitting in. Dealing with catty women. My current work situation takes me back to high school and the questions that I grappled with then: Why doesn’t anyone like me? Why won’t anyone go to lunch with me? Why won’t anyone hang out with me after hours? Am I not cool enough? Am I too weird? Is something wrong with me? I showered today but did I not soap well enough to eliminate any odors?
In early April, the senior editor left and I became the only editor in the entire agency. It’s not a big agency, only 28 people, but there’s enough work flowing through that I cannot handle it alone. I have found egregious mistakes in the final round before things have gone to print. On Friday, I found an egregious mistake on a piece that has already been printed and will cost the agency hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. (Likely thousands.)
In late February, the agency hired a new supervisor for the copy department. She has been difficult to get along with. At every moment I think she’s a cool gal (she’s going to San Diego Comic Con this year), she does or says something that upsets me. She seems to have cooled off within the past few weeks but I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I feel like I can’t get too comfortable anywhere.
People at the agency I thought I was friendly with have distanced themselves from me. People only discuss business with me. No one takes a real interest in my personal life. (Not that much is going on but I am a person with various interests too, I think.) I make an effort to discuss personal things with others but the sentiment isn’t reciprocated.
My son is a man’s man. He loves daddy and grandpa. When he hurts himself, feels sick, or tired, he gravitates toward daddy (when it’s just me and daddy around). I always thought I’d be the one to kiss his boo-boos and cuddle with him when he’s not feeling well. I always thought I’d be the one to put my child to sleep, play with him, watch TV with him, and take care of him. He likes me sometimes but not always. I’m not who he clings to. I don’t even feel loved by my own kid. When he was first born, I felt like I couldn’t bond with him and now I feel like PPD has robbed me of my ability to bridge the gap created by those first few months. He doesn’t even want me. Sure, he’s familiar with me and I can make him smile and laugh but if you spend enough time with the kid, he’ll gravitate to you too. He’s just a really nice, fun kid. But I’m no one special. And I want to be. And the fact that I’m not kills me. I’d rather be out of the picture than feel rejected by my own son.
My therapist tells me I need to love myself and accept myself. I’ve pretty much decided that’s not happening so we need to find another solution. Loving myself would require rejecting the majority opinion that others have rejected me and have deemed me not worthy of inclusion. Accepting myself would require thinking that my quirks (soft rock love and all) are awesome and what other people think be damned.
I can’t do that. Because I want to be loved by others. I want to be accepted by others. No, not everyone has to like me, but I want someone to extend the invitation to feel included. I want to not feel like a freak and a weirdo around the people I spend most of my time with every day. I just want to be included.
I recently took a test for certification as a medical/scientific editor. It was sufficiently challenging. I wouldn’t be surprised if I passed or failed either way. It was a weighted test with difficult questions counting more than the easy ones. This year has been such shit, I’m sort of expecting to have failed. So I guess I will be surprised if I pass after all. (Even if I don’t, I will make plans to get to attend a conference in San Antonio later this year to try and take the test again.) I keep in touch with the former senior editor and she’s convinced that I passed. She’s one of those people who’s always convinced she’s right. And I hope she is.
My marriage is great, though. My husband and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary in late August. No small feat! We’ve weathered my reoccurrence of mental illness, infertility, the death of loved ones, job changes, hospitalizations, surgeries, various friendships, waxing and waning spirituality, and so on. To celebrate, we’d like to take in a Red Sox vs. Yankees game at Fenway in July. I will be up there for a patient-centered conference on maternal disorders so we have been able to work it out.
My spiritual life is crap. I pray very little. I rarely attend church. (I’ve been attending the local Roman Catholic Church on and off.) I can’t tell you the last time I’ve read my Bible. I am back to the point where I am probably going to hell but am begging and pleading the Lord God Almighty to accept me into heaven in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m not an atheist or agnostic. I have been antisocial and have not wanted to engage in corporate worship. Or schmoozing with anyone from church, for that matter. And then there will be the questions: Where have you been? Haven’t seen you. We’ve missed you!
Maybe we should go back. I know they actually miss us. But this stage of life has taken away our energy to socialize weekly and stay out late Sunday through Thursday. (Friday and Saturday are more flexible for us. But even then, the little man goes to bed at 8:30 pm and our community group gets together at 7 pm. What’s the point of going?)
I’m behind on domestic life. My husband does EVERYTHING: laundry, dishes, housework. He takes care of the little man when he gets home and stays with him through the night (No, our little man is not sleeping on his own and he does not sleep through the night. He is 16 months.). My husband drops him off at daycare and takes care of him in the morning. I now do very little. I wake up, go to work, spend at least 8 hours there, come home, eat, drink a beer or two, and then pass out. I’m very unhappy with my life. I’m a crap mother and a poor excuse of a wife. Being a freelancer allowed me the time and opportunity to do everything I needed to while still earning an income (albeit, inconsistent and fluctuating). I kept up on the checkbook, did laundry, managed medical bills and made sense of the explanation of benefits from insurance. My desk wasn’t super tidy but I knew where everything was. I kept an eye on items that needed to be restocked. Sure, I was powered by 5 cups of coffee a day but I was efficient and useful. My home has never been pristine but it’s not the mess that it is now (and no, it doesn’t really have much to do with my kid). I eat out every single night. I can’t tell you the last time I had a homecooked meal. We used to spend Friday nights with my in laws and my husband’s maternal and paternal grandmothers. Now everything is disjointed and I can’t tell you the last time I’ve seen my husband’s paternal grandmother (who we used to see every week).
I drink beer like it’s going out of style now. It’s the only way I can relax after a grueling day at work. If I’m honest, it’s self-medication. Alcohol has a relaxing effect on me that my actual medications to manage bipolar illness don’t. If I need to, I will drink beer AND take my medication. I really don’t care. If I get sick and die doing that, I’m actually okay with that. I really am that miserable here.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for reading. This post isn’t necessarily for others to read (although since you’re seeing this, you’re obviously welcome to it) but more of a brain dump for me because I haven’t been able to write.
I miss writing. Blog posts, news articles, creative writing—I miss it all.
Most of all, I miss me.
This post will probably be a stream-of-conscious rambling and full of typos because I’m typing this on my phone. Bear with me. I hope this is short because I haven’t adjusted to the size of the iPhone 6 so my fingers keep slipping. (Not plus size; just regular size.)
Anyway, for the past 2 weeks I’ve been attending a local Roman Catholic Church. In a lot of ways, it feels like a homecoming and in other ways it’s changed. I still remember the sign of the cross, many of the congregational responses (although some have changed and one deleted), and when to sit, stand, and kneel (for the most part). I enjoy the 20-minute homily (mainly for the brevity), the availability of hymnals, and the fact that I can (again, for the most part) enter and exit the church unnoticed.
But there’s so much I disagree with now that I’ve been away from Roman Catholicism. After having been Protestant for as many years as I was Catholic, the following are my gripes:
- Transubstantiation. This is a big one for me. I don’t believe that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus. I believe they are symbols that represent his body and blood.
- The Catholic Church being considered the “true” church. I get the sense (from this Sunday’s homily) that anyone outside of the Catholic Church is “outside the fold.” I don’t know if that means lack of salvation but I bristle when I think that there’s only one “true church,” ie, denomination.
- Mary. I’ve been hearing from Catholics lately that Mary is not worshipped but merely revered as the mother of God. Unless the position on Mary has changed within the past 16 years (and I don’t think so), I’m pretty sure Mary is worshipped to be almost if not practically on par with Jesus’ holiness. My entire schooling was in Catholic institutions and I firmly believe that Mary is held to a higher standard than a saint like, oh, John, Paul, Ringo, or George. (Whoops. Well, I got 2 out of 4.)
- Kneeling before statues. I’m no longer comfortable with this. I’ve read through Genesis and Exodus a few times enough to know that God doesn’t seem to be a fan of “idols” or bowing down before man-made images.
I guess those are a few of the things that hold me back from Catholicism. (Although I must admit, it really pissed me off on Sunday to see how many people accepted the host and then bypassed the cup [er, chalice as they call it now]. Partake in the Eucharist in its entirety or don’t partake at all. Yes, I’ll admit: It’s gross to drink from the same cup as other people [backwash and all that] but if it’s holy, then it’s purified, right?)
Like I said before, I’ve been Protestant about as long as I was Catholic. (I was essentially a Protestant for 2 years while finishing up high school.) I gravitate toward Protestant beliefs. Much of it makes sense to me. I think Martin Luther (of the Reformation) was a badass. I’ve enjoyed the emphasis on worshipping Jesus alone. It was refreshing to hear a different perspective on salvation: grace by faith alone. (Catholics believe in grace plus good works—something I now battle with based on my interpretation of passages from the Book of James.) I’ve learned so much more about the Bible, especially the Old Testament, in Protestant churches.
But I’ve become disenchanted with many Protestant churches. In an effort to try to shift away from Catholic traditions, some have abandoned liturgies from their services. Sure, the service tends to be somewhat structured, but it lacks that liturgical feel that the Catholic Church provides.
Call me old fashioned, but I am dismayed at the growing trend of using PowerPoints (or nothing at all) for worship music. I’ve never understood how anyone is supposed to know or be able to sing any of these new worship songs without sheet music. Unless you listen to Christian music religiously, which I suppose is the assumption, there’s no way to know the music being sung in church. In the Catholic Church, a cantor sings the chorus for the entire church then encourages everyone to sing the chorus with him or her, thus introducing the melody. The cantor usually sings the verses alone when the song is not in the hymnal.
Then there’s my biggest beef with Protestants: the hour-long sermons. Perhaps in the days of Jonathan Edwards when he preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” people were much more attentive and receptive to a lengthy sermon. These days, we in America have short attention spans. Long sermons bore us to tears even if you are an entertaining, charismatic speaker. There’s only so long you can hold your audience’s attention before it drops off. (Speaking of that, kudos to you if you’ve made it this far. And yes, I’m still typing on my phone. Ow.)
Protestant (excluding non-denominational churches) tend to be on the smaller side (unlike 200+ people in a Catholic Church) providing the opportunity for it to become a place where “everybody knows your name.” I’m at a point in my life where I want to be invisible. I want to go to church, worship God, and then leave with minimal to no interruption. I go to the Catholic Church in the same community where I worked at a local library so running into my former coworkers occasionally is to be expected. But for the most part, the church is so big, I can dodge them if needed.
Regarding childcare, Protestants win over Catholics in my estimation. Protestants usually have a nursery or some form or childcare or Sunday School for young children. Catholics tend to deal with their screaming babies during Mass. Some Catholic Churches have partitioned a room in the back of the church with speakers and a glass panel to accommodate people with special needs, such as moms with babies, the elderly, and the physically handicapped. But it’s hard for many Catholic Churches to retrofit this.
I guess that’s my 2 cents on my faith. I’m stuck in limbo. I probably won’t return to the Catholic Church as a member (technically I’m still a member of a church on Long Island, NY) but I don’t know if I can handle one more 7-11 praise song at a Protestant church. (Sing 7 words 11 times.) I recognize no church is perfect, but at this point, which church’s shortcomings am I able to tolerate?
I’m super late with posting this, but life and the holidays have all gotten away from me. Anyway, I post these goals for me to review and keep tabs on myself. The one goal I achieved in 2014? Keeping my son alive. That’s all that mattered.
- Use the elliptical trainer once a week.
- Take a 30-minute walk around the corporate center twice a week.
- Read the Bible again. (I’ll probably jump around and read some of my favorite books of the Bible this year.)
- Take the BELS examination in May (and pass!).
- Take a fun and relaxing 10-year anniversary trip with my husband.
- Read 5 books in their entirety.
- See 1 movie in the theater with my husband this year.
- Lose 30 pounds this year.
- Be more assertive about my work and what I can and can’t handle.
- Spend more time playing with and taking care of my son when I’m not working.
- Eat heathier: Incorporate 1 fruit and 1 vegetable into any of my meals per day.
- Attend the Postpartum Progress conference in July.
- Pay off my my credit card with the highest balance.
- Sock away a substantial amount of income toward a down payment on a house.
- Limit fast food, such as Chick-Fil-A and Wendy’s, to twice a week. (This does not include fast casual, such as Panera Bread and Chipotle, or sit-down restaurants like Texas Roadhouse and Cracker Barrel.)
I am dealing with pain and hurt.
How do I be vague and specific about what’s going on in my life all at the same time?
I feel like I’ve loved and I’ve lost. Like the rug was taken out from under me. That I had no say. That every decision was made for me.
I feel as though I need to walk forward into life trusting few, if any, people at all.
I’m afraid that the ones I’ve opened myself and my heart up to will shatter me into a million pieces. Never to be fully reassembled.
I feel wronged and confused and bewildered.
I embark on a new journey and set sail with an uncertain course. I don’t know whether to keep my heart to myself or to open it up, leaving me open to brokenness again. I feel like I’ve already opened myself up to certain people and I just can’t take it back.
I wish I could. I wish I could be quiet, keep to myself, “normal” me. Busy as a bee. Quieter than a tree.
I don’t know how to slowly unveil myself. All my quirks, foibles, and eccentricities. I feel like I’m sort of a BAM! package deal or a “Nevermind, I pass.”
After years of pretending to be quiet and not showing my true self, I don’t know how to become bubbly and cheerful. I guess.
I’m afraid. Afraid that all my hard work will come tumbling down in a matter of weeks. Will I crumble? Will I succumb to pressure?
I thought I had a family. I did. But then they were collectively taken away from me.
My heart hurts. My heart bleeds. My heart wants so much more. I live hard. Love hard. Live deeply. Love deeply.
It’s a blessing and a curse to be so alive, to give your heart out to so many.
Because the majority of people will break it without care.
I feel so heartbroken. As though I entered a 3-year romantic relationship only to be broken up without a plausible explanation. Shift the blame on me and when I try to do what it takes to make the relationship work, cut me off like a New York driver in rush-hour traffic.
I wanted to make it work so badly. Even if the break was in my best interest, I wish it would have been relayed to me. But now, I feel adrift. Alone. Cold. Without a home.
There’s another land on the horizon. I just don’t know what challenges and benefits it will bring. Will it bring any benefits at all? I’m gearing myself up for challenges.
I need to guard my heart. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” — Proverbs 4:23
And let me TELL you, I have issues.
I have a lot to say and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll find these thoughts quite redundant. But I need to put them down somewhere and get them out of my brain and off my chest.
Let me preface this by saying: I don’t hate white people. I think white people and black people need to work together to effect change. That being said…
I live in a white neighborhood. It’s a peaceful neighborhood with very little crime. One day, I sat in my car, idling in the parking lot next to my apartment, listening to the remainder of a favorite song. I had just come from the gym and it was at night. A cop car pulled alongside me with a white officer at the helm. He very politely asked if everything was okay and I replied that it was. He gave me a dubious “okay” and pulled away.
I’m not sure what probable cause he had for pulling up. Because businesses were closed? Because it was a lone car idling in the parking lot? Did he see that I was a woman all alone? Did he see a black person in a car and wondered what the hell I was doing in the neighborhood?
I’ll never know. But the latter option has run through my mind.
That’s not the only instance in which my family has had a run in with white cops. I often tell the story of my dad who was driving home (we lived in a predominantly white neighborhood) and was less than a half-mile from home when he got stopped by a cop. The officer asked what he was doing and my father said he was heading home. The officer asked where that was and my father said it was down the street, a couple of houses away. The officer let my father go and my dad made it home safely, but he was always convinced he got stopped for DWB — driving while black.
I had a conversation with my husband that left me in tears last night. Because I love my son and I well and truly believe that he’s somewhat at a disadvantage because of his skin color. Despite the fact that Trayvon Martin was not killed by a cop, I really fear my son getting into an altercation with a cop simply because he’s walking around with a hoodie at 6 pm during the winter when it’s dark. My son may be half-white but he’ll only be seen as a black man in the eyes of the law.
I’m tired of making excuses for black people and why they deserved what they got. Mike Brown didn’t deserve to get shot at 12 times. I don’t care if police are trained to empty their clip or if they’re supposed to shoot until a person goes down. I think that’s barbarous. That 12-year-old in Cleveland, Ohio, didn’t deserve to die. I don’t care if he chipped the paint off the toy gun to make it look real. He was TWELVE.
Minorities have a history of getting the short end of the stick:
- “Oh, that black person was being an idiot to the cop so of course he got shot.”
- “Oh, that woman was all over the man so of course she was asking to get raped.”
- “Oh, that Latin American immigrant came into the country illegally so of course his American kids should get deported.”
When does it stop? Who polices the police? I wasn’t much on white privilege before Ferguson, but I guess I am now. White people are more likely to be in positions of power. Black people, to succeed, have to (quite frankly) kiss ass in ways that their white peers don’t.
My mom always told me that black people have to dress nicely and act properly in front of white people if they want to get anywhere. My mother was promoted to the head forewoman position at her job from being a CLEANING LADY. She doesn’t attribute it to her great work ethic (which she had) and great English (she’s got a strong French accent). She attributes it to the fact that she dressed properly and always acted politely in front of white people in positions of power.
You see, I play the game, too. Where a white person can walk into an interview with jeans and be a likely candidate, I have to dress up in a business suit, be articulate, and put on my A-game to get the job.
Oh wait, that’s not a fair comparison because anyone who walks in with jeans won’t get a job in a white-collar industry.
You’d be surprised.
I’ve had to work TWICE as hard as my white peers to succeed in academics and in my career.
I really don’t believe white people are the enemy. It may sound like it, but I don’t feel that way. (Drop in reference to white husband that validates my lack of racism) My sole point is that white people hold the upper hand on a lot of things. In ways they don’t even realize. I may not always identify with my black peers, but that doesn’t negative the fact that my skin color is still dark.
So I guess I believe that white privilege exists. And I don’t know how to change it. It’s been an institution in America since the 1700s. Maybe the first step in breaking down white privilege is accepting the fact that, if you are white in America — and I don’t care if you’re a redneck or live in Appalachia — you have advantages over black people.
I guess that’s it.
I’m worlds better than I was in August, September, and October. After trying different medications (and getting back on my Vitamin D and fish oil with omega-3s), I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. Bubbly me. Not exactly cheerful but normal. I’m on a max therapeutic dosage for lithium and Lamictal along with reduced dosages of Prozac and Ability. The combination seems to be helping. I just saw my psychiatrist and he didn’t want to tinker with a good thing. I was in such a good mood that I drove myself to and from Philly safely and considered walking into his office as though I were manic. But I decided against that and just let him see my bubbly disposition.
“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” — Stuart Smalley
I haven’t really had suicidal thoughts lately. Not like when Robin Williams died. It’s like I took his death and internalized it to a point where I felt hopeless. Not like I knew the guy, but he was so vibrant and full of life that I couldn’t imagine living a life any better than he did.
I’m looking into a new daycare for my son. I was looking for something a little more local, but I just found out that he shares a crib with another baby at his current daycare. Even though the workers sanitize and put clean sheets down, it still rankles me that my son shares a crib with another baby. He should have his own! It could help explain why my son has been consistently sick with a cold since August.
My postpartum depression, I think, is getting better. I’m still afraid to care for my son when no one’s around. But I hope to use a few days in December to take care of him while everyone’s at work and show myself that I am capable of that. I need tackle this particular anxiety head on.