The firefigher is a hero. The fire inspector is an asshole… even though he saves far more lives.
The firefigher is a hero. The fire inspector is an asshole… even though he saves far more lives.
Don’t mistake the uncomplicated for the easy. Sometimes the simplest tasks are the hardest.
-Jim’s One-Minute Messages
Although I agree ideologically with people that are upset at officials within the Trump administration, if you are berating someone while they are having a meal or kicking them out of your restaurant, you are a crackpot.
Hey, I get it. You don’t feel privileged. You’ve worked hard to accomplish something in your life. You’ve faced some hard knocks, but you’ve persevered and you have achieved. You might hear “white privilege” and dismiss it as offensive and racist; somebody’s trying to take away something from you that you earned.
I hear you, but I want to clarify something.
White privilege is a group phenomenon, a larger social issue rather than an individual one. In fact, I’ll equate it to climate change. Human driven climate change isn’t weather change, as certain U.S. Senators would like to imagine. Climate change works on a global level and is manifested as an increasing global average temperature. Yes, there are local fluctuations, but OVERALL the planet temperature is rising. White Privilege is a social phenomenon whose effects are felt in aggregate as asymmetric incarceration rates, greater income inequality etc. Yes, there are fluctuations. There are some suffering white folks just as there are some affluent black folks, but overall, there is a general social and economic advantage in America to being white.
I will concede that perhaps “white privilege” is a term that is probably unnecessarily antagonistic and when launched as a rebuke certainly isn’t building bridges. Still, I would exhort people who would classify themselves as white to attempt to understand where it comes from and own the concepts behind it. Try to see the collective position of power not as privilege for oneself, but as a duty to correct the sins of the past.
..that we obsess over our technology, hunch over it, faces uplit by the glow of flickering screens – the iPhone, the tablet, our computers, our screens, we use them to search for things, to learn things, to yearn for things.
It was better when we ran barefoot, it tells us. You see, the modern running shoe is not optimal for the way our bodies evolved. We cackle. These are the things that Big Shoe doesn’t want us to know. We know better now.
We run free now but not complete. Our device wil tell us the next step. We enter our search in google with a small “g.”
It was better when we ate raw food. You see, our bodies evolved to eat what was in nature, unprepared, unprocessed. Bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, white bread, canned food – these are the foods that Big Agra wants us to eat, but our bodies know better. Don’t be a slave, man.
We swipe the screen, our fingers dancing a sort of mini-tango of pinches and whorls. Here it is, another piece of truth that has been lost to us, brought to us by this gadget pressed together by beautiful Chinese hands.
We poop wrong. Modern humans, in our eternal fascination with everything civilized and clean and controlled, have forgotten how we were supposed to poop. We were meant to squat on the ground, knees high, pressed against our chests. It is only in this position that we relieve our bowels without undue stresses upon our rectums. Big Toilet doesn’t want you to know that, though, as they lie and cheat and steal to support Big Sewer Authority.
We nod our heads. It all makes sense. We know the truth now. We are free, free at last to poop in a hole, eat raw food, and run barefoot through the field – not too far though, we must keep to the confines of the fire, not straying from its light or nearest charging station.
This is this dynamic in the United States. No one likes to admit it, but it happens – little by little, bit by bit. No one person is responsible. No one person thinks they are causing a problem, just reacting to forces outside of their control. My property values are going to go down, they say. Another code word that white people use is, “Schools.” I moved for better schools.
The bottom line is this: white people believe that when black people move in, neighborhoods turn bad. So white people leave. The problem is that they are creating a self-fulfilling prophesy, and they don’t even realize they are causative rather than reactive. Those forces are in their control. White people are the hegemony. White people are not helpless homeowners just looking for good schools, simply reacting to forces outside of their control. It is disingenuous to conclude that white people are powerless to stop the inevitable decline when communities turn black.
White people say: When black people move in, neighborhoods turn to shit.
I say: When white people move out of neighborhoods, they take their shit with them.
That’s it, isn’t it? Neighborhoods don’t degrade because black people are moving it, they are degrading because capital is fleeing. The power, both political and economic, the hegemony – it’s mostly in the hands of white people. It has been this way for hundreds of years, and I don’t see it changing any time soon. The only way for it to stop is for white Americans to stop fleeing from black Americans. Stay and invest. Maybe you would earn more living in a more affluent area, but is acquisition really the point?
Please stop fleeing with your capital; stop driving communities to poverty.
It’s the little things, suddenly spending lots of time with mom, deleted photos, inspirational memes about new hope, new challenges, new directions. I know those posts are for you.
I hit “like” on a picture with the children.
Maybe it’s a job change, a move. There are the inevitable appliance purchases, selfies, lost weight.
I pick through it. I notice it. I read between the lines and I think I can see what has happened. I don’t know why it has happened, but I see you. We’re no more than acquaintances at this point, perhaps dear friends in the past, but I don’t know if you’d feel comfortable with me intruding to offer a kind word. I don’t know how “out” you want to be. Besides, I could be wrong about everything.
I hit “like” on a new outfit.
I remind myself that nothing on social media is accidental. Much like a scripted crime thriller, everything has a purpose. You are vague for a reason. Everything is deliberately done, even what old photos remain. Besides, your closest friends probably already know, don’t they. I am not one of those.
I hit “like” on a “hang in there” comment.
I passed another tangled iguana carcass on the road today. There he lay, twisted and bloated, flattened in places, tire tracks decorating his thick hide. It got me to thinking how in those moments before his death, that that poor iguana had functioned exactly as he was designed.
His design is among the oldest on our earth. His kind have survived because, although primitive, they are effective. Their design is tried and true. I tried to picture the confidence on his face at the last instant of his life. “I got this,” he thought, as he stared down the barrel of fate, sure that his ancestors throughout the millions of years evolution would protect him. “I have not just prepared for this instant all my life,” he thought, “but for all of existence.”
“Bring it,” he breathed.
And then BAM, it was all over, his spine twisted, the vegetation of his gut splattered this way and that.
What went wrong? He stood his ground. He can’t be chased, because he wasn’t running. That big thing will stop, give me a sniff and then I will whip him with my tail, make a menacing sound and he will leave. Or perhaps I will climb a tree. But no, this time the big thing did not stop. The big thing came barreling down with nary a thought of satisfying its belly. In fact, it seemed not to notice me at all.
What do we do when our preparation does not yield the desired results, when it becomes irrelevant, when we function as designed for an environment that no longer exists?
It’s the lining that’s important, we said, the silver lining, that is. It is always a struggle to see it, dulled by the swirling mists and clouds and rain. Oh, and was there rain… 20 inches in one day in some places. Our electricity went out first, and with it Internet, phone, and then the water. Power was out for two days and it took a good chunk of the stuff in our refrigerator. Water came back after three, and Internet and phone after four.
So where is the silver lining, you ask? Look closely, and you will find it in the pancakes. That’s right, those pancakes were made with spoiled milk. Those rich fluffy, cake-y, awesome confections were made with lumpy cheesy milk. They always turn out super extra special when we use spoiled milk, and with the power outages we suffer weekly, it’s a common occurrence.
So, bring it. Hit us with your best shot. We’ll just keep making more pancakes.
I got to know my compost pile. I collected the paper, vegetable refuse, grass cuttings, and piled them up in a chicken wire silo in the back yard. It smelled sweet as it decomposed, and I watched the little bugs and the lizards that scampered across it. I watched the millipedes churning away in the compost’s belly excreting black gold.
Occasionally, a hearty squash seed would start to sprout and I would hesitate as I turned it under with my pitchfork. He was trying so hard, I would muse. As the soil became fertile, the neighboring tree’s roots reached up and suckled at its base. The yellow flowers were bigger, brighter, more numerous this year.
I planted some tomatoes, too. I placed the seeds in egg cartons and when they were “estrong enough” (Princess Bride, anyone?), moved them to beds mixed with compost soil. The tomatoes grew big and round, fragrant and luscious. Before too long, though, they began to whither. One by one, in a period of a three or four weeks, half of the tomatoes were dead dry sticks. I soon discovered my enemy – snails. I poured salt on one and watched him bubble and froth until he was just a puddle. I decided to never do that again, and the snails would have my remaining tomatoes – every last one. I will try again this next year.
As well you may know, I’ve been experimenting with coffee cherries; from fruit to roast. It has been fun to see how much work goes into a simple cup of joe. It’s mind boggling how complex the whole process is. There are infinite opportunities for failure throughout, and you never know how a cup will turn out. How late did the cherries mature? Did they ferment too long? Did they dry too slow? How was the roast? Too hot? Too short? Too long? Not long enough? Was the brew water temperature too hot, not hot enough? How long did it steep? My goodness, and to top it off, it seems that the the particulars of the bean, our little diva bean, require all those variables to be adequate to her liking.
The cup of coffee is always good, I’ve found, but always different. It’s frustrating and wonderful.