Tag Archives: Racism

Dear GOP Senate: the first black POTUS still beat you. Twice.

Dear every GOP Senator who voted today to move forward on repealing the ACA,

Barack Obama still beat you.

Twice.

That’s right. The guy with the funny name and the big ears and the brown, brown skin.

He beat you. He beat you good.

You know who I’m talking about, right? That guy. The one with the beautiful, blacker-even-than-he-was (gasp!) wife who committed the great sin of trying to get people to take a stroll and eat the occasional vegetable. You recall him, I believe? Unlike Kislyak, he’s easy to remember. You know: the tall, handsome one, with the cute kids and the broad smile and the extensive vocabulary?

The one with the Ivy League degrees earned without the help of family money or a legacy name?

The one who won more votes for president than any other person in American history?

The one with the truly impressive inauguration crowd photos?

Yeah, that guy: Barack Hussein Obama. Oh, you sure adored emphasizing that middle name of his! It was your little wink-wink, nudge-nudge, on Fox News or CNN (pre “Fake News!”). You enjoyed needling him with the name he was proud of, the name his father gave him. That gave you a little thrill, didn’t it?

He still beat you.

Twice.

Let’s be real – you stopped giving a shit about not-rich and not-Russian people years ago, but you’d be far less anxious to repeal a now-popular-with-your-constituents, landmark healthcare bill that saves thousands of lives a year if it had been signed by a Democrat with appropriately lily-white hands.

But you still can’t get over it that this brown nobody, who wasn’t groomed for Capitol Hill (or at least the Alabama State House) from birth, whose parents’ interracial marriage used to be illegal in many US states, beat you.

Twice.

And people loved him. Love him, still. They cheer him wherever he goes, with his crisp shirt unbuttoned at the neck, revealing his well-earned vacation tan. Still in his fit fifties, he has years of accolades and humanitarian work ahead of him, while you all have one foot in the grave and the other tied up in the twisted old Confederate flag Bree Newsome tossed defiantly into the sun-baked dirt.

He was, and is, better than you. He changed history, regardless of what you do to his bill now. He changed the conversation. He raised expectations. He made us better, while you drag us down and try, with hand over heart and a word or two about God uttered with a glance up at the dome, to kill the meekest among us.

He was not, and is not, perfect. God, far from it. But he is, above all, a decent man: no sleaze, no scandal, not one opening for you to jab in the knife of, “Him?! An example for our kids?” 

Because he is an example, for all kids. Regardless of color or creed or gender or age.

That’s the future, you know. We’re starting to live in it. A world where your grandson may come home from sports practices one day and tell you he wants to grow up to be as good an athlete as Serena, or where your millennial niece may tell you she decided to become an activist because of John Lewis. A world where your son’s decision to join the armed forces is inspired not by John McCain’s sacrifice, but by Tammy Duckworth’s.

You lost the future years ago. You’re losing it every day. As narrow-minded and cruel as you are, you must be scared. It’s scary when everything you’ve ever known to be true about your own innate superiority is shown to be a lie. I’d almost feel sorry for you, if it weren’t for the fact that you’re actively working to harm or kill anyone who looks or thinks or loves or worships differently from you.

I’m sure many of you will go to sleep tonight contented with the days’ work, grateful that your esteemed colleague’s newfound terminal cancer diagnosis hasn’t deterred him from his goal of taking healthcare away from millions of his fellow human beings. But as unconsciousness overtakes you in your soft beds in your D.C. townhouses, I hope one final recollection rises to the surface and echoes softly in the back of your minds:

Barack Obama, the first black president, is better than you. And he still beat you.

Twice.

Sweet dreams.

Just another day in the neighborhood

I haven’t posted here in a while, mainly because I’ve been focusing my writing energies on finishing and editing a novel (ugh it is HARD, WHY IS WRITING HARD?), and also because, frankly, it seems like the fun, summery topics I would have liked to feature were all trivial in the grand scheme of the seemingly endless American and global tragedies of the last month or so, particularly the killing of yet two more black men by police last week in LA and MN, and then the massacre in Dallas. Basically, every time I thought about posting something, it seemed futile and dumb and silly. Especially this last week, when, as a white girl living in San Francisco, one of the most liberal places in the US and possibly the world, I felt like a lot of this was more removed than it would have been had I lived in, say, Mississippi or Georgia or even outside of San Francisco proper.

Today, however, a woman who lives one block away from me in the Haight neighborhood found this flier at her door around 12:30 pm (see article here; I also saw this woman’s post via NextDoor):

awful flier from 7.12
The “invisible empire” – how chilling is that?

Based on the rather sad grammar and composition of the flier and the original post from my neighbor, I’m pretty sure it’s genuine, which means that someone or some persons are undertaking to recruit, albeit rather pathetically, for the KKK–on Haight Street, of all places, which is hippie central if you ever saw it. Of course, the likelihood of this person(s) having any success in gaining converts is pretty freakin’ low, given the population here, which, while overwhelmingly white, is also overwhelmingly socially liberal (it’s not uncommon to see #BlackLivesMatter posters and shirts on black AND white people’s homes and bodies around here). Obviously, the entire area is openly disgusted with this flier, regardless of whether it is truly authentic or a bad, sick joke.

That being said, seeing this prompted two very different emotional reactions, the second of which generated this lovely post you’re reading now:

Initial Reaction: This is happening here? How dare they? It’s awful to think that there is someone who, if not living in my neighborhood, is spending time here in order to spread a message of hate and racism and try to recruit my neighbors into what is basically America’s #1 Lynching and Cross-Burning Club. My neighborhood, in my adopted city–how dare this monster, whoever he or she is, come into MY street and spew this shit! I was really riled up.

Secondary Reaction: Oh my God, I have so much privilege. Once this news started spreading via social media, I spoke about it with a black friend who also lives in the Haight, and has lived here longer than I have. I was bowled over when I heard this friend’s initial reaction, which was not one of disgust, as mine was, but of fear for their physical safety. This person takes a bus to work which drops off, sometimes late at night, a couple blocks from where this flier was found. Unlike me, their first thought was not, “What an asshole racist; I can’t believe someone would do this!” Their first thought was, “There’s possibly an asshole racist loitering nearby; what if they get violent?”

That’s the question we never really have to ask ourselves when it comes to racists, isn’t it, fellow white people?

What if they get violent? 

I saw the picture of that flier and became angry because I couldn’t believe this was happening in my neighborhood.

My black friend saw the picture of that flier and became frightened because they didn’t feel physically safe in their neighborhood.

 

 

What a giant reminder of my own privilege, huh?

So why am I writing this? I guess to offer another rebuttal to the “All Lives Matter” crowd in general, who are super loud right now: to at least to one dick racist KKK member in the Haight, all lives definitely don’t matter. But I also write to remind myself and any other white people living in so-called liberal enclaves that our homes are not exempt from the reality of racism and violence. We need to speak out and be strong, vigilant allies to our non-white neighbors and friends and family members. The site of the Summer of Love, with its graffiti murals and overpriced vegan burgers, can be just as dangerous a place for a non-white person as Ferguson, Missouri. We can’t get complacent. We can’t sit on our asses. The system is set up to benefit us, to keep us safe, no matter where we are–and that means it’s our responsibility to change that system so it keeps EVERYONE safe. We can’t ever forget that responsibility, vegan burgers or no.

#BlackLivesMatter

If you can, consider donating to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund– you can donate to support police reform in particular.

Little House Books: Five Adult Reflections on the Little House Books (A-Z Challenge)

Happy Sunday! Today, L is for Laura Ingalls Wilder and her series of “Little House” books, which made generations of young girls yearn to harvest hay with Pa in the prairie and take a ride with Almanzo behind Prince and Lady in a buggy. Seriously, though, those books are great, and if you haven’t read them are YOU EVEN ALIVE?

I’ve just ordered the annotated autobiography of LIW, and am excited to start it, but first I thought I’d share five VERY IMPORTANT ADULT REFLECTIONS on Wilder’s series of children’s books now that I’ve re-read them. My main takeaway is, it’s crazy what you miss as a kid!

5. The sheer number of times they all definitely should have died is insane: As a kid (I read the books for the first time around age 8 or 9 I think), the adventures of Laura, Pa, and the fam were definitely exciting, but I don’t think I ever really understood how close they were to death on a daily effing basis. I know Wilder glossed over some of the tragedy her family did endure, but the stuff she felt she could include without giving kids chronic depression is remarkable–especially when you consider how FUN a lot of it seemed after the fact. Pa gets stuck in a snowdrift for three days with nothing to eat but Christmas candy? What a quaint story! The town’s on the brink of starvation and Alamanzo and Cap ride off into almost-certain death to get wheat to feed them? How cute and brave of them, lOL ALMANZO WILL U MARRY ME? Mary goes blind from fever? How…okay, um, that one’s not really funny, even if Mary is annoying.

4. Mary is annoying: Look, I do feel bad that this bitch was blinded, but COME ON, BE A HUMAN BEING THERE IS NO WAY YOU WERE EVER THAT PERFECT. I get that Laura obviously loved her sister fiercely, but I do not believe that she was this sainted perfect person that she’s made out to be in the books. I liked her better when she was off at blind college, tbh.

3. I completely forgot about those weird church revival meetings in Little Town on the Prairie and they are creepy: There’s a really weird passage int the book where DeSmet holds the equivalent of televangelist “I WILL HEAL YOUR SIN!” meetings in the church, and people flail and speak in tongues and do all sorts of crazy shit. How did I block this out? What I really liked upon re-reading is how Laura and Pa and the family are like, “Okay, we’ll go to these just to seem like we’re on board, but y’all are FUCKING CRAZY” and they try to make sure they’re the first ones out the door. It’s a nice, subtle commentary on how, even back in the days when nearly EVERYONE in the frontier identified as Christian, extremists were still seen by some (Pa and Ma and Laura, at least) for what they were–fucking nuts. Chilling stuff–though, on the bright side, those meetings are where Almanzo first asks Laura out (which is also kind of creepy as she’s just fifteen, but, hey, it was a different time; you had to have your babies before you died of dysentery at age 28!).

2. Holy Racism, Batman: I’d completely forgotten about how racist these books could be. I’d totally blocked out the minstrel show! Yes, there is a minstrel show in Little Town on the Prairie, and Pa is in it, and it’s appalling, but as a kid I was like, “Oh, cool, they put on their own entertainment, how ingenious!” What was I thinking? Well, I guess I was thinking what all little white idiot girls from New Hampshire thought in the early nineties, but I digress. The most disturbing part is that adult Laura, the narrator, obviously thought it was fine–she describes Pa’s blackface get-up like it’s super-clever and even transcribes the song he and his compatriots dance to in all its glory. I get that she was from a different era, but still, it offends modern sensibilities. And then, there’s the issue of the “Indians.” Sigh. Ma hates Indians and spends a good deal of energy saying awful shit about them, though Laura intimates that Pa didn’t always feel the same way about the Native Americans they encounter; he respects their knowledge of the prairie and even heeds their warnings about the Long Winter. There’s zero acknowledgment in the books, however, that the American government is basically stealing lands from their Native inhabitants. I guess Wilder would be biased given her experience, but still, it’s pretty gross in hindsight.

1. We are all noobs today: Look, obviously as a white family settling the Old West the Ingalls and the Wilders engaged in some problematic shit. However, they also traveled thousands of miles by carriage on practically non-existent roads, built their homes from scratch, raised their children on garden vegetables and luck, survived the ravages of disease and death and the elements, and then they fucking thrived. I loved to play dress-up as a Pioneer girl when I was ten, but if you actually put me in a hoop skirt and tossed me back to that time, I would be dead in, like, 48 hours. If disease or starvation or a tornado didn’t get me, I’d be burned as a witch by those freaks at the revival meetings, or at the very least thrown out of town after they caught me sampling whiskey at the saloon in a very unladylike manor. I guess I’m saying that, despite their faults, I raise my glass to Laura, Pa, Ma, Mary (ugh) and the rest: cheers, you crazy pioneers! I’m glad you made it, and my God am I glad to be alive now and not then! Also P.S. Almanzo ilu xoxo ❤

 

Now I’m off to Barnes & Noble to pick up Laura’s annotated autobiography. Have a great Sunday and please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

 

Visualizing Utopia

I took an involuntary blogging hiatus over Thanksgiving due to the DeathColdwhich laid me out flat for a good eight days; I’m still hacking up phlegm on an hourly basis (you’re welcome for the mental image).

As a return to blogging post-DeathCold, I was going to do a beauty post with my recommendations from my latest Allure Beauty Box, but I couldn’t because my mind is still spinning from the latest high-profile incidence of domestic terrorism that took place on Black Friday at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs as well as the revelations regarding Laquan McDonald’s murder at the hands of police last year, among, as usual, other horrific things.  Hell, as I’m typing this, my Twitter feed is telling me that there is a mass shooting incident ONGOING in San Bernardino with as many as 20 injuries possibly reported (Update as I finish this article: 12 dead possibly. My God.)

I’m so, so, so tired of this. Exhausted, in fact. Aren’t we all?

I’m so tired of the culture of violence, especially against women, children, people of color, and the poor. Tired of the racism and Islamophobia. Tired of the unwillingness of so many people to see that things need to change, from rape culture to reasonable, commonsense restrictions on gun ownership and use (BTW, if you want to post a comment here on how gun violence is solely a mental illness issue vs. gun availability, please just don’t. As a mentally ill person myself, you’re not gonna convince me and I’m sure I won’t convince you. Feel free to ignore this post and go find someone else to talk to about it; the internet should have plenty of safe spaces for that. Thanks in advance.).

I feel like I do what I can, you know? A lot of you feel that way, too, I bet. We donate money to causes we believe in, support and vote for candidates to public office who we hope will be able effect positive change. And yet, it still feels like nothing gets better. Part of this, I know, is due to the fact that we have access to news of horrible events 24/7 thanks to social media. Awful things have always happened, but now we hear of them more often, with video and audio recordings of the carnage as it happens to bring the horror even closer to home.

So what do we do? What do I do, not just to make the world a better place, but to keep myself sane? Other than continue to donate money and vote and speak out where I can, I’ve had to rely more and more these days on a super-lame-sounding but effective technique to keep myself going: visualization.

About a month ago, I read the fantastic book The Feminist Utopia Project, which is a collection of about sixty stories, cartoons, interviews, fake news articles, etc. imagining a better future, courtesy of dozens of feminist thinkers in many fields. I highly recommend it, even if you’re not that big into feminism. Reading this book gave me a new tool to deal with the horror of the everyday world: visualizing utopia.

When things get awful, like they are getting right now in San Bernardino as well as in thousands of places around the world, I try to take a breath and imagine that fifty or one hundred or two hundred years from now, those who come after me (or maybe even me, if I’m lucky) will see a world that is measurably better than this one. One where the term “mass shooting” is only discussed in history class, the way we discuss the Spanish Inquisition today. A world where we take care of our planet instead of treating it like a disposable coffee cup. A world where no one’s life is better or worse than anyone else’s simply because of their gender identity, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or where they live in on the map. A world where religion, if it exists at all, is ONLY a source of peace and inner strength for believers and a cause for generosity and love rather than an excuse for hatred. A world without violence. A world where gun control is a non-issue because no one feels like they would ever even need a gun to protect themselves. A world where a woman can go for a run in the park at 3 am with no worry for her safety. A world where no one is homeless. A world where no one is hungry. A world where fewer people are sick, and those who are receive free, top-quality care from medical personnel who are caring and well-treated themselves. A world where there are no borders, and people pass freely from one place to another, sure of hospitality and interest and love wherever they go. A world where I spend every day cuddling with doggies.*  In a word, utopia.

Today especially, we are really, really far off from that world. As it seems to do every couple of days, my heart is breaking for a new group of victims of violence as I type this. I don’t want to become desensitized to it, but I want to believe that things can be better. I want to believe in my utopia. I choose to believe in it today, and I actively wish for it. If the holiday season brings anything good with it, any sort of power, let it be the power to bring humanity closer to this utopia, or any version of it. I’m visualizing, hard. I hope you can take a moment today to visualize it, too. If enough of us do, it can only soothe our souls and bring us closer to making it a reality.

Peace. And I promise, back to beauty posts and funnier shit later this week.

*Ok, this one is a little selfish, but, come on, what is Utopia without doggies?

wp-1449088113483.jpg
Roxie would definitely be part of Utopia.

 

 

 

May I please remind you that it does not say “R.S.V.P Christians Only” on the Statue of Liberty!

cher gum
Even this bitch gets it, GOP

Hey, like, dear 21st century people and the
GOP or whatever:

So like, right now for example. The Syrians need to come to America. But some people are all, “What about ISIS and terrorism and stuff?” Well it’s like when my likely Jewish forebears were being persecuted for their religion in Europe, right? The US was like, well, we’re not big fans of you guys and would greatly prefer you stay out of our great country because you’re gross or maybe Nazi spies or whatever.  My great-grandpa or whoever was like totally buggin’.  He and his family had to haul ass across Europe, somehow find transport on some disgusting boat with no masseuses or cell phones or, like, shoe shiners or anything, and finally settle in the United States.  And then his kids and grandkids and nieces and nephews and stuff had to work their asses off so that they could create lives for themselves and, ultimately, become so successful that I now live in a totally classic house with columns that date all the way back to 1972!  So by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier in terms of immigrants because, like, we’re a country of immigrants and the only people who aren’t actually immigrants and who ever had the right to be, “like, GTFO” were the Native Americans. And so if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, and stop being complete assholes with no concept of American geography, we could certainly party with the Syrians.  And in conclusion, may I please remind you it does not say “R.S.V.P. Christians Only” on the Statue of Liberty!

Thanks!

Cher Horowitz

Addendum: Review of Cher’s speech from classmate Travis Birkenstock:

“Two thumbs up!  Fine holiday fun!  Also, love the lack of complete assholery and racism!”