Archive | December, 2019

Black Lives Matter, But Thank You for Flaunting Your Racism

23 Dec

Ew. Ew. Ew. Next time a white male says to me, “All lives matter,” I’m not going to freeze up. I’m going to say, “Check your privileges.” If only I’d said it today. I could have done so much better.

I was at the post office to ship two boxes of gifts—one for a friend who lives in St. Louis. The white male behind the counter said he grew up in St. Louis. He should have stopped with that. That’s a normal thing to say if you see a St. Louis address on a package. But he didn’t stop.

He talked about living in different parts of St. Louis. He talked about moving to different neighborhoods and even mentioned a specific intersection that I tried to picture. He mentioned a family member moving out of the city and into a certain part of the county.

He proudly stated that four of his cousins work for the city of St. Louis. When he said that they work in law enforcement, I started getting uncomfortable. I lived in St. Louis for about a decade, so I know what it’s like to be harassed by St. Louis cops for being female and for having an Indiana license plate. I remember the stories that black and female friends recounted about their experiences being harassed by cops in St. Louis. I’m pretty sure every ticket I’ve gotten was in the St. Louis area, and that was a lot of tickets. A friend of mine called St. Louis “a fascist police state.”

He said that one of his relatives worked twelve hours a day in Ferguson—as in when the cops killed a black kid and there was a huge Black Lives Matter protest that made national news. I saw a powerful play about it. I said, “I’m glad I left St. Louis before that,” because I was thinking about how overtly racist and hostile St. Louis is.

It wasn’t until well after I left that I realized HE WAS BOASTING BECAUSE ONE OF HIS RELATIVES WAS ONE OF THOSE POWER-TRIPPING RACIST COPS IN FERGUSON. You know, the ones with a tank.

It wasn’t until he said, “All lives matter, I say,” that I finally froze up in shock and couldn’t make eye contact with him anymore. He’s lucky I’m so slow to process. I’m ashamed that I didn’t call him out.

I used to work in retail in St. Louis, and I have horrible memories of racist white people coming into my workplace. (Not to mention of course fundamentalist Xians jamming their religion down my throat, anti-vegetarians, ignorant hicks who claimed I have an accent and asked where I’m from and ridiculed me when I said that I was born in Indiana… and sexual harassers.) And that was before that sexual predator neo-Nazi narcissistic sociopath started squatting in the White House and emboldening white surpremacists. But I don’t live there anymore, and today I was on the other side of the counter.

So, yeah: the post office needs to tell their employee to read So You want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Olua … and he and I both need to read the book How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

The last thing he said was, “Merry Christmas.” Another assumption.

I should have replied, “I celebrate Hannukah. But thanks, I look forward to giving feedback.”

Neighbors and a YA Novel

5 Dec

I dreamed that I lived in a contemporary apartment and stepped outside. Was I chasing someone? I don’t know—I forget that early stage of the dream.

I got angry about something and bit my smartphone, breaking the screen again and feeling immediately guilty and ashamed. I was walking on a sidewalk that ran just outside the off-white, concrete-looking apartment building–a drab building with drab surroundings, no plants within sight–and I thought I was approaching the sliding glass door of my apartment.

I stepped in through the slightly open sliding glass door… but it wasn’t my apartment. It was an apartment that belonged to a hetero Chinese couple in their sixties or so. I apologized profusely, and the woman was friendly. The man barely acknowledged my presence.

The woman gave me some things, including pink fabric. I was surprised and honored. Break into someone’s house, and they give you stuff?

Then she asked me to clean off their dinner table, because they were going to have guests for dinner. That was a relief, because it sounded more like the least I could do to make up for intruding like that.

The sliding glass door led into a rectangular combination of living and dining room. The dinner table was diagonally across from the glass door, further right if you’re standing with your back to the glass. To the right of the table was a wide doorway leading into the kitchen. The place was cluttered in general, like my place… or worse, more like the house where I grew up.

It was challenging to get all the stuff off the table, especially since it wasn’t mine. I kept finding folded bits of paper that looked like drafts of ground or floor plans. When I was hesitant to just put something in random places, the woman took them from me. At some point, I carried something into the kitchen. One time, I returned from the kitchen, and they must have been fast, because they’d scrubbed the tabletop clean while I was carrying stuff into the kitchen. At this point, guests had arrived.

 

 

I dreamed… a YA novel, I think. A teen girl was in an adventure. The place was I think a dark place, including a train track going into a tunnel, or something like that. Meanwhile, she meets up with a teen boy, and they both have telepathy–they’re able to communicate via thought, which isn’t common in this world. So she climbs a big black metal block of a thing, she sees him on the other side of it and they say stuff to each other in their heads. She runs over to him, they take hands, and they descend a ladder from the black metal box. They run away.

They’re running from someone or something dangerous. Maybe one or two people, maybe an organization.

My cat Gabriel was on top of me, so I didn’t want to move, and I began dozing off again… and dreamed that I was reading a book review by a white male, a review of the novel I’d just read. The way he wrote about it, you’d think all the characters were male. It was about this one guy… and a bunch of other men… and I stopped reading. I thought, “Boring. Did he read a different version of the book? The version I read wasn’t all men.”

Of course, it was the usual slap in the face, a white male who only thought the male characters mattered.

Secret Powers

3 Dec

I dreamed about a teen girl who developed magic powers–I forget what, maybe communicating with ghosts—and she ended up wandering city streets at night. She ended up at a hospital and unfortunately had some cocaine or something illegal in her blood stream. The black woman doctor who saw her was very kind… but did call her mother, who came to the hospital and was furious. Neither the doctor nor the mother had any idea what was really going on.

Gideon the Ninth Has Invaded my Dreams

2 Dec

I keep having dreams apparently inspired by the novel Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir. The dreams involve wandering corridors in a gigantic house or palace. But of course, that’s not terribly different from dreams I’ve had over the years.

I dreamed about a place with numerous people, in some sort of building. There was a nun–I think a Catholic nun (which must be Gideon-influenced) and there was someone wearing a bright blue plaid tam with a big red pompom on top.

But I was out on a terrace and turned away from the building for an instant. When I looked again, there were various people seated at these circular tables with cubbyholes, something like phone booths, and a plastic sort of shell that went down around them. The nun was one of these people, and she was wearing the tam.