Monday, June 22, 2015

Family Roots

     My father was a selective racist.  He was in the Navy, worked alongside men of all races and creeds, traveled the world experiencing a multitude of cultures, but he was also raised in the South, Kentucky specifically, by a radically religious and conservative mother who did not like blacks.  She taught her son well, and although he could abide in the work place, he refused to at home.  There was no way my mother could stand up to him, in large part due to the way he worked his anger out on her face, so she bit her tongue.
     My siblings and I, thankfully followed her lead and didn't pick up his teachings, probably out of a desire to be nothing like him.  Once when I was eight and we were living in Ohio, he told me that if I ever brought a black boy home, he'd shoot the boy in the face at the door, and then he'd shoot me.  He was completely sober when he told me this, so I immediately grasped how serious he was.  
     My husband brought Tim Parrish's article in the New York Daily News to my attention tonight, and it struck a chord.  It's worth your time to understand how deeply racism can be sown in some families.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Damage Control

     It seems that the news is filled week after week with one atrocity after another.  The tragedy that took place in Charleston, SC yesterday was a slaughter, pure and simple, born out of resentment, paranoia and fear.  
     There will be some who will chalk it up to guns and their access across our country.  The war drum will be sounded as we choose sides.  Millions of law abiding gun owners being made to feel like anachronistic barbarians vs. the more highly evolved American.  All of it made more and more warped while the names of the victims are lost and trampled by politicians for the next year and a half.  They'll rile their teams up into a frenzy for every well positioned camera crew.
     There will be some who will point to racism stirring the pot, which it certainly seems to have from initial reports.  I would like to imagine by now that we don't have to pretend we live in a post racial world simply because we've had a black president.  Racism is alive and well in our great country.  I don't need to provide examples to prove my point.  It's born out by the need for the slogan "Black lives matter."  Why should we have to state the obvious unless it wasn't so obvious?  
     The larger underlying issue is one that makes me very uncomfortable to discuss, as it is close to my heart.  It is clear that this young man was dealing with mental health issues.  There have only been a couple pictures posted, but in every one he looks deeply disturbed.  Over the next few weeks and months, I'm sure we'll learn that friends and family were aware of his problems but either didn't know how to help him or were unable to get him proper help.  Educators and doctors will do damage control for months, trying to explain the reality of underfunded programs, lack of staff and stigma.  I have to believe that you've got to be mentally unstable to decide to kill someone, and that level of instability doesn't manifest itself overnight.  Why was it allowed to get to this point?  Why did his father decide to give him a gun?  There are so many questions.
     I hope that this will cause a larger debate, that we won't be distracted by the latest scandal on reality tv or cowed into debating some sports brouhaha.  I beg apologies from my Jewish friends, but all I have been able to think about today was saying Kaddish for those who were lost yesterday.

Exalted and hallowed be God's great name
in the world which God created, according to plan.
May God's majesty be revealed in the days of our lifetime
and the life of all Israel -- speedily, imminently, to which we say Amen.
Blessed be God's great name to all eternity.
Blessed, praised, honored, exalted, extolled, glorified, adored, and lauded
be the name of the Holy Blessed One, beyond all earthly words and songs of blessing,
praise, and comfort. To which we say Amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and all Israel,
to which we say Amen.
May the One who creates harmony on high, bring peace to us and to all Israel.
To which we say Amen.

Yitgadal v'yitkadash sh'mei raba.
B'alma di v'ra chirutei,
v'yamlich malchutei,
b'chayeichon uv'yomeichon
uv'chayei d'chol beit Yisrael,
baagala uviz'man kariv. V'im'ru: Amen.
Y'hei sh'mei raba m'varach
l'alam ul'almei almaya.
Yitbarach v'yishtabach v'yitpaar
v'yitromam v'yitnasei,
v'yit'hadar v'yitaleh v'yit'halal
sh'mei d'kud'sha b'rich hu,
l'eila min kol birchata v'shirata,
tushb'chata v'nechemata,
daamiran b'alma. V'imru: Amen.
Y'hei sh'lama raba min sh'maya,
v'chayim aleinu v'al kol Yisrael.
V'imru: Amen.
Oseh shalom bimromav,
Hu yaaseh shalom aleinu,
v'al kol Yisrael. V'imru: Amen.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Jenner rant

     I wasn't going to write anything about Bruce Jenner's transition, because as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, it's not really any of my business.  With today's announcement and photos of Caitlyn Jenner, I thought this is really like her cotillion party - and who doesn't love a party, maybe I should put my thoughts down.  Yet still I stopped myself.  Looking at the cover online I said, "Self, still nothing to write about here really, just another human being finally being able to come into their own."  But then I saw some comments by acquaintances on Facebook both pro and con, that silly/stupid Fox News segment where they mocked her (as though we should expect anything less), and then finally someone mentioning that this news was the foretelling of the second coming of Christ and the downfall of society.
     Camel's back broken.
     I want to live in a world where nobody gives a crap about all of this.  A world where the only people who she would have had to worry about telling was her family, because everyone else would be busy living their lives and not giving a fuck.  I want a world where my children and their friends don't have to worry about this level of unbridled animosity.  I want a world where this is no big deal, because it isn't.  My husband differs with me in that he feels this example is a big deal because of Jenner's notoriety and sports fame, therefore it should get this level of attention.  I get that part, but I don't want it to be a big deal.  I'm sad for her that she had to wait until 65 to be true to herself, that it was all a big necessary facade.  The fact that she felt it mandatory to live this lie is born out in the reactions by people that I've seen in the last few hours.
     I actually read comments questioning what her plans were for her penis and only then would they believe her actual intent and not a push for attention ... seriously.  What the fuck is wrong with people?  Honest ... to ... God.  If you are in this camp, if you're making jokes and snide comments, I would like you to think about something for one minute more.  What if your child came to you and told you that they weren't comfortable in their skin, that nothing made sense.  What if they told you they had been struggling for years, that they were suffering.  What if they talked about wanting to die. What if they actually tried.  This is your child, someone you created and loved and read stories to at bedtime.  You taught them to walk and then run. You prayed to whatever you hold dear when they were sick for the first time.  You cried with them, danced with them, hoped for them.  And now they stand before you suffering.  Would you mock them?  Would you make shitty jokes, talk about how this was the end of society?
     Would you?
     If your answer is yes, I'm sorry for you.  I'm sorry for your friends and family that will never be able to turn to you for help.  I'm sorry for your children, on so many levels.  I'm sorry for the people in this world that you will never get to talk to, have a meal with, laugh with, learn to be a better person on this planet with, because you have a lot to learn.