race

Hashtag Black

 

#WearingAHoodieWhileBlack 

#PlayingMusicInYourCarWhileBlack

#AskingForHelpAfterAnAccidentWhileBlack

#ShoppingWhileBlack

#SwimmingWhileBlack

#RunningWhileBlack

#DrivingWhileBlack

#LearningInSchoolWhileBlack

#WalkingWhileBlack

#BeingAChildWhileBlack

#WorshippingWhileBlack

#BeingABystanderWhileBlack

#BeingClergyWhileBlack

#BeingAChurchBuildingForBlacks

#HavingAStrokeWhileDrivingWhileBlack

#CatchingTheEyeOfAWhitePoliceOfficerWhileBlack

#TalkingWhileBlack

#AssertingYourRightsWhileBlack

#PeacefulAssemblyWhileBlack

Today: #LaughingWhileBlack

 "11 Black Women Kicked Off Napa Wine Train for Laughing While Black" 

"Black Women 'humiliated' after getting kicked off Napa Valley Wine Train" 

Tomorrow: ????

Historically and presently:#JustBeingBLACKPeriod 

Me: #UnapologeticallyBlackEveryDamnDay

You: ?

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches?

image.jpg

Last night in Greenleyville, South Carolina, Mt. Zion AME was burning. This same church was burned to the ground by two KKK members in 1995. Between 1995 and 1996, over 70 Black churches were set on fire. 

Last night it was in Greenleyville, but in the days since the massacre at Mother Emanuel in Charleston, there have been at least 6 other Black churches on fire. Investigators seem to have only classified a few as arson, but it's hard to ignore the pattern that's emerging and assume the timing of these are all coincidence, right? 

College Hills Seventh Day Adventist: Knoxville, TN

God's Power Church of Christ: Macon, GA

Briar Creek Baptist Church: Charlotte, NC

Glover Grove Baptist Church: Warrenville, SC

Greater Miracle Temple: Tallahassee, FL (not ruled as arson)

Fruitland Presbyterian Church: Gibson County, TN (lightning strike?)

 

We don't know WHO is burning Black churches, but in at least a few cases, it's apparent WHAT is, and at this point it's unsettling and indicative of an intensified #AttackOnBlackLife. I feel like I'm living the history I read about in history books, watched in documentaries, and heard about from grandparents and other elders. It is not just in the past, it is NOW, a tenet of our reality emboldened and reinvigorated to pummel us in the face daily. 

We can't breathe.
We can't go to the store for candy.
We can't play "our" music.
We can't wear our hair as it is and work.
We can't walk. 
We can't drive.
We can't LOOK at a cop.
We can't run for our lives.
We can't have a stroke while driving and need assistance or be blind, walking down the street to our bus stop.
We can't call for help when a loved one needs mental health services & transport to safety.
We can't walk down stairwells.
We can't march or demonstrate peacefully.
Our kids can't play in parks or swim in pools. 
Our kids can't just be at school. 
We can't defend ourselves verbally or physically or assert our rights to humanity and dignity. 
We can't worship. 
We can't just E X I S T.  Anywhere. 

Who is burning Black churches? Why is there still, in 2015, an attack on Black life? This physical, social, psychological, and spiritual warfare against Blackness and our livelihood must end. It must. We will not stop fighting until it does. 

As hopeless as this feels, today I'm taking action, believing that doing this one deed contributes to that fight. I'll be donating to the "Rebuild the Churches" fund. You can learn more about it here and contribute online here. You can also continue to help Mother Emanuel and the families of those who lost loved ones by finding resources here. Hashtags worth reading through on Twitter: #AttackOnBlackLife #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches #CharlestonSyllabus 

 

 

On Charleston: I Wish I Had Something Better To Say

It's been one week since domestic terrorism took nine Black lives during a bible study at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. 

I have tried and failed several times a day for the last seven days to come here and express my emotions and thoughts around it, to put what's broiling within me in response into coherent, meaningful language. I want to say something that will pierce your heart and obliterate your sense of what you think you know about living in this country the same way his bullets pierced their existence and cut off their breath mercilessly. I want to say something that will permanently knock the scales from your eyes like Paul's, and cause you to finally SEE us the way you see yourself: as human and of immeasurable worth. I want to say SOMETHING that will slice you at the knees and cause your face to desire a wall to press and wail into, like this latest attack against Blackness has done to me.

I want to say something harsh, raw and unfiltered, something that looks the lower nature of Whiteness dead in the eyes and tells it to go fuck itself. I want my words to teleport you into the Black experience in America. I want them to break your soul open and rip out its spine, leaving you paralyzed and unable to face anything else.  I want the pain of the Black experience to constrict your heart and break your ribs and fill your lungs so that all you feel, all you breathe is the legacy and daily satiating of unchecked and unfettered White violence. 

I want to say something nice and palatable, appeal to your higher nature-perhaps I'll get more bees buzzing into life-saving, racism eradicating action with honey. Maybe if I was less angry, less outspoken, less of your idea of what Black womanhood is...

I want to say nothing at all because I've honestly run out of words, out of appeals, out of the ability to make the truth plainer than I already have, but I don't. have. that. option. 

Options? None of my options involve disengaging, not responding, staying silent, checking out to preserve my mental health...I can't strip myself of Black skin and the social construct created by those who fear it and therefore have no other choice but to react. To respond. To engage. To scrape something from inside my soul together that I can present to you that says "See? SEE? DO. YOU. SEE?! WHY WON'T YOU SEE?! WHY WON'T YOU SPEAK?! WHY WON'T YOU RISK EVERYTHING YOU KNOW FOR WHAT'S RIGHT?! WHY WON'T YOU RISK SAYING BLACK LIVES MATTER-NOT ONCE, NOT TWICE, BUT DAY IN AND DAY OUT, IN WORD AND DEED UNTIL WHITE SUPREMACY HANGS FROM A NOOSE ON A TREE, ITS GUTS DISEMBOWELED AND ROTTING LIKE THE BLACK BODIES IT HAS RELENTLESSLY SATIATED ITS APPETITE ON?"

We risk everything, every day, risk our lives just to exist, breathe, walk to the store for candy, swim, worship, TO BE. The fact you risk so little is a betrayal that eats away at our marrow like terminal cancer. 

Last Wednesday night while Dylan Roof was taking innocent Black lives simply because they are Black, I was watching A Different World with Bertski. We were laughing deep belly laughs, fondly reminiscing about late 80's and 90's fashion, and marveling at the brilliance of Black creativity as we watched Denise & crew navigate college life. 

At 10:14pm, my marveling at Blackness turned into shock and mourning at the debasement and eradication it continues to experience in 2015. 

I have spent the last seven days searching for something to say that would be anything but rambling, incoherent rage or despairing hopelessness. I've been trying to keep it all in online, working to amplify the words of others, words that say what needs saying every day far better than anything I can scrape up. I know there is work to be done and I know I have to keep doing my part in it, in whatever ways I can. I know I need to keep speaking. I know I have an obligation to keep responding through written and visual art, because like Nina Simone once said, "You can't help it. An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times." She's right. I have no other choice because I feel the weight and signs of the times too deeply in my marrow. I hear them echoing in my soul chamber. 

But right now my face is turned to the wall and my lips are moving, vocalizing all that's broiling within me quietly or loudly as I let the anger out to keep from being consumed by it. Right now my hands are seeping into paint and letting fragmented thoughts and emotions communicate on canvas raw and uninhibited. Right now I'm having more hard talks with Brennan because he's the oldest, drilling into him and his brothers that they are loved, worthy, and deserving of being and living. 

Right now I'm just lost from it all. This is all I've got. 

image.jpg

Black Is...

My protest. My Black. Despair weighs heavy today. It sits in my belly like a brick, wraps it's fingers around my throat and squeezes until my breathing becomes shallow.

I can't breathe.

I can't move. I can't think through the fog unfurling in my mind, clouding my thoughts. I can't speak. But most of all I simply can't breathe.

I sit down to write but my words have left me to sit and feel the weight of hope's absence press into my chest. I want to write, but instead I can only collect myself to sit and stare out at nothing while despair continues to scoop out my insides and rend me hollow.

I want to yell, to scream "FUCK!" at the top of my lungs and let my hands do the talking for the rage consuming my heart raw. I want to do something, ANYTHING, EVERYTHING to bring injustice to it's knees and behead it in one swift, clean, blow.

But instead I just can't breathe, and sit immobilized by grief, the only sound able to emanate between breaths the gnashing of my teeth. My knees buckle. A sob erupts from my throat, the force knocking me to my knees. I keen there on the floor beside my bed, hands clawing and tearing at my clothes, heart beating painfully and loudly in my ears as I try to give vocal utterance to the grief rocking my body.

Despair weighs heavy today. It's left me gutted and has brought me to my knees (again), but I get up. I have to. Have to take Alex to school. Will have to pick up Brennan later. The baby needs changing. So I get dressed. I answer Feminista Jones' call and adorn myself in all black, reminding myself that even though it may feel like it in these moments that come to rob me of hope, black skin is not a curse. It is not a death sentence. There are systems and laws and beliefs in place that will say and carry out otherwise, but from my gut comes the truth: Black is not a death sentence.

I get dressed. I change the baby. I take his brother to school. I go for a drive in the rain while the baby sleeps peacefully in the back and strengthen my resolve to not give up. I have Black and Brown boys to raise. I can't give up. Their Black matters.

I come home and open my laptop to come here and write. Some words have returned and are ready to be spoken. They don't feel like enough for such a moment as the one we are living, but they're all I have, born out of a desperate need to not give up.

Black is...our life. Black is meaningful. It is resilient. It is rich. It is love. It is home. It is beautifully resplendent in its glory and it is strong. It is important. It is human. It is living and breathing flesh and bone wrapped around heart and lungs. It is the brawn that built this country. It is the brilliance that has driven American innovation. It is dynamic, multi-faceted and nuanced in its genius. It is the creativity that's given birth to some of the greatest art and music the world has ever borne witness to. It is proud. It gets beaten and is pushed down by hate but it rises. It has survived the mass destruction that is white violence time and again and will continue to do so. It is worthy. It used to be sold at the highest price on the auction block but whether it be enslaved or emancipated, it will always be priceless. It is more than. There is nothing "minor" about it except the place your ingrained bias chooses to house it in your mind. It is my sons. It is my mother and sister. It is my brother. It is me. Our Black matters. Your negation of it doesn't cancel out this truth. Our Black MATTERS. 

******

I'm selling two prints the art shop. Profits from one will be going to organizations dedicated to racial justice and empowering Black youth. Profits from the other will be sent to a fund that's been set up for Tamir Rice's family. You can buy them here and here.

DSC01335

Trayvon

State of Affairs: Black & Blue in America

I have words about the grand jury indictment verdict in Ferguson. I have words about their choice to not indict Darren Wilson for Mike Brown's death. But I'm not ready to share them here yet. I've shared some initial reactions on Facebook and have spent the rest of the week just oscillating between grief and rage to be quite honest. My voice hasn't settled enough yet for me to express anything in written word.

Before the decision was announced on Monday, I shared my initial reaction to the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice over on BlogHer. You can read it here.

Last week I wrote about the death of 37-year-old Tanesha Anderson over on BlogHer as well. You can read that here.

Sigh.

My heart is the heaviest it has been in a very long time. Fear and despair have been gripping my lungs so tightly in the wake of all of this that breathing is a struggle when I look at my boys.

The only way I could really cope with it all this week was to paint, so I did.

DSC01335

I have words to say about all of this. But until I feel settled enough to share them here, I'm just sharing this. I started three others as well. They're a response to the terrorism and white violence being inflicted upon Black bodies and Black humanity. I've made this first one available for purchase as a print in the shop. (https://www.etsy.com/listing/213041581/state-of-affairs-black-blue-in-america) Profits from its sale will be donated to Race Forward (https://www.raceforward.org/) and BYP 100 (http://byp100.org/about/). Once I find a fund that will support Tamir Rice's family, I'll be making a print available to donate profits from as well.

It's the only thing I know to do right now that will help.

Jon Stewart is My Bae. Jesse Williams Too.

As always, Jon Stewart's brilliance breaks it down for those who just aren't getting it. I've loved him for so long, but after this, he's officially my bae.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/T_98ojjIZDI]

So is Jesse Williams.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/UL5awaQNNQE]

[youtube=http://youtu.be/reLp0kR5wGQ]

A Matter of Race (Jesse on CNN talking about Mike Brown)

Now What?

Not guilty. Now what? What do we do now? Where do we turn? Who do we turn to, except each other to grieve and travail as despair and fear grip our souls mamas?

What do we do women of color? Jim Crow's ghost is laughing at us, reminding us yet again that it is a crime for our men to even exist, reminding us yet again that ever since they were first chained to ships bound for these shores, our men are not worthy of life and freedom.

Black & brown manhood has once again been demonized, criminalized, and deemed a threat to humanity, and allowed to be stalked and hunted like prey by predators blinded by fear, insecurity and delusion.

Profiled in broad daylight.

Hunted in the dark.

Statistics.

Killed by them and by each other. Every. Day. By the hundreds.

What do we do now? What do we tell our babies? How do we raise our sons? How do we dress them? Where can we send them to keep them safe from urban violence and from the suburban neighborhood watchman with a gun?

What is enough? Education? Income? Manners? No...seems like it was for awhile but that got ripped from us tonight. Again.

How do we change the system if we can't become it because they're closing our schools and putting our men in prison? How do we fight systemic legal and cultural oppression?

When will our voice be heard? How much longer do we have to go on killing ourselves everyday? How many more of our futures must be killed and destroyed by violence? By systemic and cultural oppression?

When will our anger be deemed righteous and worthy enough to receive and initiate effective change for ourselves and our men? Our baby boys?

Not guilty. What do we DO now? Except hold our sons and feel the crushing weight of guilt for bringing them into a world & society that doesn't value their personhood shatter our hearts?

I am a wailing woman tonight. A woman travailing in despair for the lives of brown boys and brown men in this country. For my sons. For my husband. For my brother. For your men, your sons.

What do we do? What do we tell them to encourage them to be who they are when who they are is on trial every day? Misunderstood, demonized, criticized, devalued, and dehumanized on a daily basis?

What do we do besides hold our babies tonight and feel hopeless and terrified to send them out into the world and see pain and maybe death too soon in their future?

How do we fight? Where do we fight? WHO do we fight? When will our fight for them and their fight for themselves matter?

When will brown men and brown people matter in this country? We haven't since Columbus set foot on this continent. We have been fighting genocide and for our existence for that long. When will the fight for survival end?

A brown man can be sent to jail for fighting and killing dogs. But if he fights for his life after he's stalked and confronted? He goes on trial for his own death and his killer is handed the gun that ended his life as he goes home. Free.

Not guilty.

What do we do?

Let's Wake Up From Our Inoculation & Get Real About Violence & Race in America

I didn't find out about the shootings in Newtown until early Friday afternoon. I don't spend my mornings watching the news and had spent all of Friday morning playing with Alex and writing my previous post. When Alex went down for a nap, I settled in on the couch and pulled up Twitter, looking forward to catching up with my friends & posted links.  That's when I found out. Tweet after tweet expressed shock, terror, anger, and talk about mental illness, gun control...As my mind scrambled to try to figure out what had happened, Bertski started yelling and cussing, his voice angry and choked up with emotion. I ran to the room and found him staring at his computer screen, his face a mix of anger and disbelief. Following his gaze, my eyes met the headline on CNN's front page. I stared at it, unable to process what I was reading. When I did I quietly went back to the couch and started reading what was coming in about the shooting.

20 children dead. Kindergarteners. First graders. Teachers hiding their students and sacrificing their lives to save those of their students. Assault rifle. A hundred rounds of ammunition. My whole body started shaking, my heart sank, tears blurred my vision. Pain, shock, and disbelief gripped me and rendered me unable to speak. I turned to Twitter to try to express my grief, only to realize that it was too much, too triggering, to overwhelming, the arguing and hateful comments too disgusting. I turned everything off and tried to focus on cleaning my house while processing the grief slowly consuming me.

What happened in Connecticut has shaken me to my core. I'm disgusted, enraged, and mourning the loss of life and desperately wishing the families affected could experience comfort and peace in the midst of their grief.  I'm horrified that such young children were subjected to such terrifying, cold-blooded violence, and feel both grateful and guilty that Brennan had a fun-filled, SAFE day at kindergarten, while the children in Newtown did not and will never have the chance to again or become the people they were destined to be.....

Over the last few days, I've read hundreds of tweets and a large amount of posts by people expressing much the same emotions I myself have been feeling. I've found solidarity and join in with those expressing outrage and asking as my friend Stephanie did: "If not now, then when?" When will we care more about the lives of our children, and human life as a whole over our "right" to own an assault rifle, or an arsenal of weapons in our homes...even if they are for hunting or so-called "protection?" When will we look at the context of the time period and intent of our forefathers when they originally wrote the second amendment and realize, that the context in which our society now lives is drastically different from the one back in the 1700's? When we will look at updating an outdated perspective?

I've also seen people discussing mental illness, both the need for better mental health care and access to it, as well as the need to "protect" ourselves from such "dangerous and unstable" individuals. "Put them away where they belong, they aren't fit to function in our society." I've seen the media and others instantly assume that mental illness was to blame for the killer's actions, even BEFORE we knew he really did have some mental problems we now know were never addressed. I've seen heated arguments about gun control, rights, and people demanding we FINALLY do something to make it so these kinds of events are less likely to occur.

So I want to take the time today to address two very important things that I think need to be thought about and acknowledged in the aftermath of this latest tragedy to rock and horrify our nation. I waffled back and forth with whether or not to say these things and make them part of the conversations we're having with each other and the questions we're asking, the arguments we're making. After some thought-provoking and civil conversations with friends who urged me to share my thoughts, I've decided to just go ahead and say somethings that I know are not going to be well-received, seriously thought about, and given validation. As I discuss the following points I beg you to not forget that I am in NO WAY diminishing or intending to trivialize what occurred in Connecticut, Wisconsin or Colorado. Bear in mind that I am just as horrified, enraged and heartbroken as you are. But please open your mind up and seriously ponder what I have to say.

First: I hate the way each time something like this happens and captures national attention, the immediate conclusion people jump to is " this is SUCH a heinous act of barbaric violence that only someone who's mentally ill could commit such a crime." Do I believe that there are some mentally ill people who become violent? Yes, definitely. However I believe that it's a small percentage and know that the majority of those living with mental illness are not violent towards others and have no intent to be. I have a mental illness and while I've tried to harm MYSELF I've NEVER thought of actually committing a violent act against another human being. So when I hear people instantly associate senseless acts of violence with mental illness, it infuriates me, because I know that doing so only perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental illness, and compromises the efforts to make mental health and the resources it so desperately needs, a priority in this country.  It damages & undermines the empathy and understanding of mental illness that thousands of people are trying to advocate for in this country as well. For more thoughts on this, please read this letter from a mother whose son has a mental illness: "I am Adam Lanza's Mother."

What I do believe more is that there are some very sick bastards out there with no conscience, who for whatever reasons they deem important, senselessly embark on killing sprees-either for fun, some kind of glory, revenge, or to send some kind of message they can't communicate in another form or fashion. I think instantly labeling such people as mentally ill, especially before it's even been verified, is not only sensationalistic in regards to the media, but also dangerous because it gives these killers a subtle immunity if you will from the justice system and public opinion. It gives these killers the opportunity to capitalize off of the insanity defense and increases the chances they will be institutionalized in an understaffed or funded mental health facility instead of in jail or on death row where they belong in my opinion.  So, I firmly believe we need to be very careful about automatically associating mental illness with violence.

Second: This is going to be very hard for the majority of you to swallow and I'll be honest and let you know it's as equally difficult for me to say, because I know that when you force people to confront harsh realities outside of the bubbles they live in, their first reaction is a visceral one; they instantly get defensive and reject what's being presented because really listening to and acknowledging what's challenging their belief and world view requires asking themselves some rather uncomfortable and tough questions. I know, because I've experienced it myself, several times, especially within the past year and a half.  I also know what I'm going to say will be met with a " this is NOT about race, race doesn't play a part in these tragedies, and you can't compare this to what has just happened." But I'm here to say that whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, race DOES play a role when it comes to violence and how we respond to it in this country.  Socioeconomics also plays a role, but they really just intersect and sometimes overlap each other so I'm making these points understanding this fact.

Let me be honest and say that as senseless and horrific as what happened in Newtown is,  and as heartbroken as I am over the loss of life, I'm also very aware that this kind of violence occurs EVERY day in minority & poverty-stricken communities and receives very little, if any, attention either on a state or national level.  When senseless violence rocks these communities, no one in the media EVER instantly considers mental illness as a contributing factor, or as an explanation as to why someone decided to go on a killing spree. There are no "we need to ACT NOW and demand our elected officials to make access to weapons more difficult. This is UNACCEPTABLE!" expressions of outrage-at least not on a national level.

I also know that if there is any outcry or demands for change from citizens in these communities those cries for justice and real change are often ignored, stifled, and stalled by politicians who care more about advancing their own "more important" agendas than getting their hands dirty and dealing with the complicated and messy reality of life in urban areas.

You're going to hate me for saying this but do I believe the reasons for the lack of attention and demand for change are steeped in racial bias? Yes, you're damn right I do. I know it is, because I've witnessed and have family members who have lived it, pushed and argued for change, for help, and been ignored or beaten down by a system designed to stay broken instead of fix the problems. Now I know and have spoken over the years to lots of white friends, co-workers, classmates, etc who adamantly and even vehemently claim that what happens daily in the inner city is not on the same level as what happens in communities that don't experience violence everyday. I've even had heard white people during class discussions on violence and race say that it's not as serious of a problem because it's "expected" to happen in urban communities, because "that's just their way of life. That's the ghetto. Those people choose to live that way instead of choosing to live the right way."

My response to this bullshit (and yes, racist) argument? Tell it to the thousands of families that are slaughtered on a regular basis, in cold blood. Tell it to the thousands of school children who are shot and killed in school, walking home from school or while they are outside playing because one of their relatives had a "beef" with someone and that person decided the only way to handle being "disrespected" was to kill everyone attached to the person who supposedly wronged them.; to "send a message." Tell it to the families of those who are killed on street corners and the front steps of their homes...to the parents of children whose throats have been slashed and bodies thrown away in a dumpster.

Perfect examples of cities with this level of everyday crime are Chicago, Philadelphia, and Camden, NJ, a city that can't afford to pay their police force so they've laid them off.  The crime and violence in Camden is so vile, that the city council has given up and reached out to the state and federal government for help. Are they getting it? Not enough to solve the crisis happening there.  In Philadelphia where my mom is a school administrator in charge of dealing with students who have violated the district's "zero tolerance" policy, kindergarten-second grade students are constantly being brought into her office because a knife or gun was found in their book bag. One six-year-old girl told my mother she took the pistol from where her mother stored it because she wanted something to defend herself if something happened while she walked to and from school. She was terrified of that daily journey. 4 days later, after being in my mother's office, she was found dead in an alley down the street from her home with her backpack still on. Was there an outcry then? A demand for stricter gun control laws and a more threatening police presence? No. Why? Because it's an everyday occurrence. It's "expected" so "there's not a whole lot that can be done to fix it." Too much politics, too much bureaucracy, not enough REAL action or solutions being implemented. Murders in inner cities happen because that's what "we" do. It's normal. So we just "deal" with it as a way of life.

So what's my point?

  • That when things like what happened in Newtown occur, the immediate response and assumption by the media and public is 1) if the killer is white, he probably acted so violently because he's mentally ill, and didn’t get the adequate mental health care that could’ve prevented his violent actions. When it's a white man committing these kinds of horrifying crimes, the media and police work overtime to snuff out and explain his motives for doing so. If he has an illness, then that almost gives people some kind of...I don't know what the right word is, but it gives them something to partially explain away his behavior. "Of COURSE he did this because he's mentally ill and unstable." Me personally, my first response is that he must be some kind of vengeful son a bitch who decided for whatever sick & twisted reason that his relatives and the KINDERGARTENERS he didn't even know deserved to feel his wrath.
  • There is never any national attention, sensationalism, outrage and calls for more restrictive gun control laws unless something this violent and senseless occurs in a predominantly white, suburban community where exposure to violence is not an everyday reality its citizens have to live with. It's not "real" or worth addressing until it happens in their backyards and touches them, and then there is outrage, there are vigils, there are relief funds, there is mourning. And guess what? There damn well should be. Yes- we need to stop and mourn the lives of those innocent children who died way too young & were robbed of becoming who they were destined to be. Yes, we need to help their families recover and offer them whatever they need to make it through this. Yes, we need to honor those who gave their lives to save others. Yes, we need to help the children who witnessed this unbelievable horror who will forever be traumatized and most likely develop PTSD as a result. But we should be doing the same for those who endure this everyday in communities deemed as lost causes.  We need to be just as outraged, just as saddened, just as heartbroken, and just as vocal for the forgotten and broken down communities who don't have enough voices to speak & fight for them-for their children. They are American citizens too and their kids are America's children too.  The fact that we only cry out for some and not others disgusts me just as much as the violence in Wisconsin, Colorado and now Connecticut.

Also? In President Obama's address to the nation on what happened in Newtown, he said we need to quit with the bullshit politics and get real about fixing this problem, "whether its at a temple in Wisconsin, a movie theater in Colorado, an elementary school in Connecticut, or a street corner in Chicago." Guess what? That was the FIRST time in my ADULT life I have ever heard an elected official in high office put the violence that happens everyday in urban communities on the same level as the violence that occurs in predominantly white communities and say we it's past time we deal with this shit.

We need to focus on mental health care in this country. We need to pressure our elected officials to change our gun control laws. But while we're focused on addressing the immediate needs in the aftermath of what happened in Newtown, we need to think long-term and look within to have a much larger conversation on the racial, and socioeconomic issues that breed violence period. We need to confront ourselves and get real about getting to the real roots of these problems. We need to change the way we teach our children about differences and tolerance of those who are different from them. We need to level the playing field for everyone, no matter what race, creed or sexual orientation. Until we do, the governing systems and climate of our culture will continue to be unbalanced, riddled with double standards, and experience the heavily resistant movement toward the "post racial/post modern" society we mistakenly claim to already be.

****************UPDATE***********************

After I published this post yesterday, I came across an essay today expressing & expounding brilliantly on what I talked about here. It helped me feel proud for sharing my thoughts and it was gratifying to read someone else sharing similar thoughts. It was written by Tim Wise, a noted author & speaker on race relations and white privilege: "Race, Class, Violence, and Denial: Mass Murder and the Pathologies of Privilege." I've been an avid reader of his writing and perspective for close to a year now-I highly recommend taking some time to read and reflect on what he presents in his other essays.