While I was muted…

June 2, 2020

Trump is as scary as we thought he would be when we cried and gasped in shock upon his election.

Why couldn’t people just vote for a woman?

My highest hope is that we scared the hell out of them when we elected Obama twice. The white man got very shaky in his boots with the boot straps still attached. They were so scared that there would not be enough. That the country and the world was a pie and that Obama was passing out too many pieces at his Chicago church with the Reverend who spoke of Black man’s power or at the borders when he passed out pieces of pie for all immigrants seeking peace and a chance at lifting their persecuted life or at the other who looked liberated with their rainbow shirts, tattoos and unbridled belief in the power of love. The white man got scared so fearful that it reared it’s ugliest head and elected the trappings of the gloating of money and the braggadocio of tawdry fame at any cost. The white man was willing to sacrifice the white woman. Their own mothers. Their sweet baby sisters and their wives. Their daughters and their babies who they had swore to protect. White women and white girls were reduced to pussies.

I do not think I can watch the Epstein documentary on Netflix. I saw one photo collage of Trump at different ages with 4 different young girls all claimed by his arrogance and possessiveness. He is a taker. He is a mine mine mine. He is the lowest of humanity and so many people voted for him. Including people in my own family.

Voters decided to ignore his vileness and elect him president of the United States of America. One person told me that he voted for who could put his family in the best position. Monetarily. Our decency was denied for the promise of more money. Education, healthcare, justice, food for hungry children. These are human needs. It is our job in life to guarantee that humans mean more than money. We value your personhood more than a dollar.

Can Biden rise to the occasion? The world depends on him.

I write this week without posting so I can learn and hear and reflect on what I am hearing from our Black brothers and sisters.

And Mim. How will I protect her?

At 11, she has a fascination with love and boys and kissing. She practices kissing a post that holds up our ceiling in the kitchen on a daily basis. I buy more books on sex education. I find some with pictures of black people. She asked me earlier this year if black men had black penises. She has only seen white penises. A glance of her dad while he pees. Her cousin that is her age and her toddler cousin. She thought maybe black men had these white penises attached to their black bodies. The next years of puberty and teenagehood will be dangerous and beautiful and intense. I want to teach her the realities while not scaring the hell out of her.

She has heard how beautiful she is countless times. And she doubts it.

To be raised by a white family. To not have her color reflected in those around her. A painful shame. I haven’t addressed this enough. I have work to do. I talk about joining a black church.

Mim’s class had a game on Zoom. It was the innocent game of guessing whose baby picture goes with which baby. A white baby girl in a strawberry dress popped up on the computer screen. Children unmuted themselves and guessed a classmate. Wrong. Wrong and then right. Again a white face in a butterfly dress with chubby thighs and the children unmuted themselves and guessed “Charlotte, Lois, Audrey, Ariel.” Incorrect. It was Emily. Then mim’s baby photo popped up. She sat on her knees on our bathroom counter watching herself in the mirror. More beautiful than any child ever seen, believes this proud mama. And children umute themselves and say Mim. I ask my flushed cheek girl, at the very very end of the school year, How many girls in her class are black? And she says me. There are black boys but no other black girls. There was no way she could play that baby game fairly. I say that in humor because I cringe that I did not protest. I am ashamed and that is only the tip of the racial iceberg. I assumed because her teachers were POC that I didn’t need to count the number of black girls in her class. I assumed because I live in a small liberal city within the greater liberal city of Atlanta that I didn’t need to count the number of black girls in Mim’s community. I allowed her to be the only one.

When my dad was really sick and hospice nurses were coming in to my parent’s condo on the water on Hilton Head Island to care for my raised on a Southern cotton plantation with black slaves grows up to be a banker who cherishes his 12 grandchildren regardless of blood or race, the doorbell rang. Mim ran to answer the door- one of her self proclaimed jobs. It was a Black woman. My dad’s hospice nurse was black. Mim let her in with a huge grin and showed her to my dad. Mim ran back to me. She has my color. We laughed with joy and hugged. I judged with liberal superiority- in South Carolina Mim never gets to see black faces. No one with her skin ever knocks on my parent’s door. We told the lovely kind gentle woman why Mim was excited and she smiled at my girl and told her that’s right. She is chocolate like her and beautiful. Two chocolate queens.

The truth is Black people don’t knock on my door at home in Decatur much either. We have Black neighbors in our condo community. But they don’t knock on our door. My children have Black friends and they are welcome at our house. But mostly white people come to our house.

Cheerleading was a good outlet for Mim. There were black girls at cheerleading- more Black girls than white girls and Black coaches.

I am learning to capitalize Black. I learned that in 2020. Better late than never.

I haven’t watched tv news in years. I listen to NPR. I read news on my computer form the Washington Post, The New York Times, The AJC, and the Atlantic. I don’t see what you see on the news.  I am scared to. I wonder what you see that allows you to vote for a man who values money and power over all compassion for humanity.

I had such pride for our country when Obama was president. I had pride for him. I believed we were moving past so much that had kept is imprisoned from our full potential. Moving past racism. Moving past seeing people as less than. HumanRights and dignity for all were mushrooming and flourishing. LGBQT. People with disabilities.

Reading this physically exhausts me

The word different. I don’t want to be seen as different from Mim. We are so immersed in each other’s existence. There are times when there is nothing other about us. We are together. We are love. We are family. And yet in black and white print we are different. No matter what we want, it isn’t so. The truth is we are different. Our different-ness is not the same as the different-ness between me and my other children. This is bigger.

The realities of adoption are painful. The joy and life Mim gives me comes from an immense pain of her birth family. Mim herself has pain. She has told me that she is scared that her birth mom is ugly.  She had severe disabilities and was emaciated and her teeth were not cared for. When Anup was alive she lived in a subsidized housing high-rise in Brooklyn near the Flushing subway station. Very different than our life in Decatur. Her fingernails were too long and yellowed. Her teeth were unbrushed and decaying. Her ability to care for herself was limited. Her health was precarious. Her wheel chair was a bit grimy and her chair cushion had a pee pad on it that revealed too much. Getting close to her took an effort- disregard my need for cleanliness and love her for who she is- the mother of my child.  Once she accidentally ran over Mim’s ankle because she wanted to touch Mim so badly and her disability disregarded Mim’s need for security and Mim’s ability to understand their relationship. Mim could barely understand that this woman was her mother. Mim called me mom. And Anup and Willie called Anup her mom. Mim clung to me and kept her distance from Anup’s wheelchair. Anup jutted closer to touch Mim- she wanted Mim to know her and love her without a need for time or adaptation. Her hand reached for Mim swiftly causing the wheelchair to swerve and the big heavy wheels to roll slowly over Mim’s skinny five year old ankle. Mim’s panic met Anup’s desire to be loved. Mim’s pain met Anup’s frustration with her chair and Mim’s tears. So much pain.

___________________________________________________________

This time of listening and learning- muting myself so I can focus on Black knowledge has been untethering. Digging into what the world needs is overwhelming because it is systemic, ingrained, long lasting. The foundation needs to crumble. New building blocks need to be erected. This is both deeply personal work and fundamental change for the universe. In this time of great unrest like a never before seen in my lifetime quarantine tangled with police brutality, police murder and powerful protests seen through the lens of riots to the white majority, my children have driven 24 hours straight to Colorado in a Jeep Wrangler with their dad for the next 15 days- I lose the energy to hide my pain. And my pain isn’t what this is about.

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