I am still raw from last night’s verdict. I tried to watch the case over the past few weeks but it was too difficult. People were sidetracked by Rachel Jeantel’s color, weight and grammar. Sidetracked by a little weed in Trayvon’s system and old pictures of him on social media. And then last night, I thought I could handle news coverage after the case but a few minutes into watching the defense gloat and I was sick to my stomach. And then Zimmerman’s brother came on asking more questions to tarnish Trayvon’s reputation and push the idea that Zimmerman, who is alive, is the victim. I tend to get angry over verdicts like this, but last night I cried.
After last night, how can we look Black boys in the eyes and tell them they are valuable? We can’t act like this is an isolated incident when it seems every year an unarmed Black man or boy is killed and justice is not served. One can’t help but notice how Vick got two years for dog fighting and Placo got one year for shooting himself, but Zimmerman serves no time for admitting to shooting a child. What we learned last night is that you get a pass for hunting a Black child if you feel scared enough. We also know that every act of self-defense isn’t considered Stand Your Ground when a Black woman,who didn’t kill anyone, was given 20 years.
And what scares me more, this idea that your fists, your attitude and a slab on concrete are now dangerous weapons at Black men’s disposal and are so dangerous that they can be countered with a gun if you feel threatened enough. When I heard this come out of Zimmerman’s brother’s mouth, my first thought was of Douglas Reddish and how his case has already been totally rewritten. Instead of a Black man punching a drunk White man for yelling profanities and racial slurs at him and his girlfriend over lunch, I can already hear how the angry, drunk, belligerent man is the a victim because Reddish used the weapons of his fist and the sidewalk to knock him out. Because Reddish couldn’t just sit there and take the verbal abuse.
And perhaps the worst part, how so many people were sad about the verdict but not surprised. Some people weren’t surprised from a legal standpoint. I don’t really understand their argument, but I’ve heard if enough from lawyers and pundits on television that I have to believe at least some of it is true. But mostly, many people already know that the lives of Black men and boys are never valued as much as others. This is how you can have a case about murder and somehow manage to place the dead victim on trial. The irony of Zimmerman’s frustrated muttering, “These assholes always get away,” was not lost on me.
Today I am still sad about the verdict. Today I still wonder how do we explain to boys that even though there are countless examples of them being killed with no one being found guilty or sent to jail that their lives still matter and that they are still valuable. Today I wonder how can men balance protecting themselves and their families while juggling everyone’s fear. How can we look men in the face and say you can no longer protect yourself if you feel threatened because it’s not safe for you? You’re in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. It’s not fair and it’s not going to change anytime soon. I think Cord Jefferson nailed it: It’s a complicated thing to be young, Black and male in America.
I hate the way people talk about “daddy issues.”
I think the biggest misconception about daddy issues is that people know how to deal with them. It took me easily 15 years to figure out that “dealing” with my father meant forgiving him and accepting him where he was. It took me a few more years to actually be able to do that. And I was lucky (using that term real loosely here) because my father had an excuse I could buy (addiction and PTSD) but more importantly, because he changed. (I wrote about it yesterday.) I’m only beginning my research on adults and their fathers, but from what I’ve learned so far, this is not the way it always goes.
More often it’s a painful disaster. A few months ago I read Naked With Socks On’s piece about when he confronted his father about why he wasn’t there. His father didn’t have a good answer, he barely had an answer at all. And when that happens you are crushed. Hell, I was crushed and it didn’t happen to me. Another public example is a scene in the documentary the Prep School Negro. Andre visits his father’s house for the first time and confronts his father about what happened, where he’s been, what the deal was. To be honest, watching this scene was like watching a horror movie. I didn’t want to watch because I was scared of what the father would say. And like NWSO’s father, this guy didn’t have an excuse and it hurt. It was literally painful to watch.
I think the fear of these scenes becoming a reality is why I think a lot of people avoid having the conversation. What in the world do you say to a parent who wasn’t there and offers no acceptable reason? What do you do with that information? I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what I would do. And my guess is, a lot of you don’t know either.
What was the point of me writing this? Lately, it seems that everyone fancies themselves experts on fathers and fatherless children. And frankly most of what I’m reading comes from people who have no idea of what they are talking about. I also have many, many thoughts on how we talk about women who grew up without their fathers, but that is another post. I say all this to say that I hope the next time someone wants to tell people to go deal with their daddy issues, they’ll think for one second about what that really means, how much time it takes and how it feels.
To be clear, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t “deal,” I’m saying offer some compassion instead of ordering someone to do it.
I have this friend at school, let’s call her B. B is easily one of the smartest kids in my PhD program and is super nice. And she was a total bookworm, putting school over relationships. Last year I consoled her through her first major relationship, which basically meant I kept assuring her what she felt was normal and ok. I’m ok with that because most of the time, what you are feeling is totally fine. Anyway, relationship with first guy ended and she had conflicting feelings about it which she felt terrible about. I listened and told her what she felt was normal and ok and that made her really happy.
Anyway, B and her boo break up. She’s fine with it, we both continue to work on our PhDs. Then one day B comes in my office and tells me she’s met someone and she likes him. He’s also a student but in a different school within our university – actually in religion, which is totally not B’s thing. She also tells me he has a history (read: marriage and a kid). I clutch my pearls, I mean, this would be her second major relationship. But she’s so happy, which makes me so happy. She says “It feels right,” and I smiled. I mean, what would I have said anyway, she was so happy. I keep my doubts to myself.
A few weeks later and her boo is in my office. Official introductions are made even though we both heard of each other already. He’s cool, I approve, we joke about baking cookies.
Fast forward a few weeks, and B walks in and announces she is going to marry her new man. I laugh and say “ok.” But the look in face tells me it’s more than an empty assertion, she is going to marry him. “In September.” Uhm, that’s like two months away, but hey, who am I to tell her what to do with her life? They’ve talked it over. She admits that yes, it sounds crazy, which comforts me because at least she gets why I’m giving her the crazy eye s.
She tells me of plans to bring him to meet her parents and how she will meet his parents in the upcoming months. Everything is moving right along. After visiting her parents, they decide to postpone the wedding until December. And even though December is still way within a calendar year of them meeting, this seems much more realistic. She’s still really happy, there are no problems in love land. I think to myself, this never happens in real life.
Another few weeks and she’s met his mother. Her mother and his mother get along, she loves the family, all is great in the world. She announces that she’s getting married next Tuesday, they’re back on the original time line. In fact, they’ve already filled out the first part of their marriage license paper work. They are ready to go.
I ask what happened, why the change? And her response was so simple, “What am I waiting for?”
In fact, most of the time when we talk about him, she often asked “What am I waiting for?” And I started thinking about my own life. I’ve been mulling around with an idea to write a book but procrastinating on that. At that point, I clearly wasn’t writing the paper that I needed to be writing. I kept putting everything off because I felt like I needed to wait for something (I still have no idea of what I’m waiting on most of the time), but I had to ask myself, what in the world was I waiting for?
I couldn’t think of a good answer, so I got going on what I wanted to to do. Started the book, finished the paper.
And it felt good. And it feels good.
B got married to her boo that next Tuesday. I saw her that Thursday, she was talking to my boss about a paper they were writing together, I couldn’t help but noticed how relaxed she was. I couldn’t contain my excitement and was trying to be cool because I didn’t know who she told, but I busted in and interrupted their meeting.
“So did you do it?”
“You know, what you said you were going to do on Tuesday?”
“What did I do on Tuesday?”
“Fool, did you get married?!”
“Oh yeah. I got married! (to me) I got married! (to my boss, who just laughed because this scene is now totally ridiculous).
So B got married, I finally turned in my paper (and passed my class, praise baby Jesus) and I’m working on the book, which I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about this year. And we all lived happily every after.
I made a new friend last week and she suggested I watch Skins (British, not MTV) because it was addictive and she was now obsessed with it. I can understand show addiction (south park anyone?) but I kept forgetting to watch it. She reminded me again on Thursday and I’ve been watching it on netflix ever since. She was not kidding, I’ve been up til 3 am for the past two days watching it. I made it through two seasons already but I wanted to talk about one scene that really struck me. It was in the season one finale, and it’s involves Maxxie (the only openly gay kid in the grew), Anwar (the Packistani muslim) and his father. I guess this may be a spoiler but the show aired in 2007, so meh.
Anyway, Maxxie and Anwar got into a huge fight because Anwar suddenly decided he couldn’t be cool with Maxxie being gay based on religious reasons and Maxxie wasn’t going to have that from an alchol-drinking, drug-taking, premarital-sexing-having hypocrite. On Anwar’s birthday, Maxxie calls to wish him a happy birthday. Anwar invites him to the party but Maxxie won’t come unless Anwar is honest with his parents and tells them that he is gay. Understandable, Anwar is hesitant.
Throughout the episode Anwar’s dad asks him Maxxie, where is he and how much he likes him. Anwar can’t spit it out. Later Maxxie stands outside the party but won’t go in. Anwars looks for him but doesn’t see him. Later Anwar calls Maxxie to share some good news and finds him outside. Maxxie still won’t come inside. Just then the dad comes out and talks to Maxxie, and this is when Anwar finally gets the balls to tell his dad Maxxie is gay. His talks talks right over this, so Maxxie tells him himself. His dad pauses, smiles and then says:
It’s a fucking, stupid, messed up world. I’ve got my God, he speaks to me every day. Some things I just can’t work out, so I leave them be. OK? Even if I think they are wrong because I know one day he’ll make me understand. I’ve got that trust. It’s called belief. I’m a lucky man.
Now I know, I know, it’s just TV. But I’ve just got to hope that some time soon more people can take this attitude. You don’t have to like it, but let it be. And maybe if you’re mature enough, you can try to understand it. When I think of David Katu and other gay people in Uganda and other African countries, people having to prove their gayness to stay in America, hell, adults making fun of the princess boy, I get so sad. All this hatred and violence, based on religious ideals, because people can’t put enough faith in their God and that he has a plan that it’ll all make sense some day. It’s wild, wild world dude.
Lately I’ve begun to notice all the murals around Brooklyn. I love them.
that doesn’t make me want to tear my hair out. So i was reading/lurking on postbougie and they hat tipped TNC (another place where i lurk) and he was explaining why he decided not to marry the mother of his children and (i’m assuming) his girlfriend.
When I read what it was about, I was ready to tear it about. After all, I’m all about (healthy) marriage and it’s one of my two policies of choice for change in the Black community. The other is education if you must know.
While I don’t necessarily agree with his reasons not to marry, I can certainly understand and respect them. It’s not that I think that marriage is a magic pill. I understand that they take a lot of work and a lot of patience. A marriage is a commitment – not just to a wife, but to your children as well. And I guess some of the reasons TNC said he didn’t want to marry, this insurance, is what I thinkis the missing piece to child stability in single parent families. I think a relationship that TNC appears to have is rare outside of marriage and this is the type of relationship that intiatives like The Healthy Family Initiative are strivig to achieve. It’s not so much the contractual relationship as it is the loving partnership that policies, and society, are trying to achieve.
do we have all these hood long-shot-under-dog movies to show white people we can make it out the hood, or to show people in the hood that there are other ways out?
uhm why are all the black people on sex and the city freaking police or drivers. whomp? i wanna be the black sex and the city.
|8-25-11 edit – Whenever I look back on my blog and see this post, I just want to cringe. I can think of nothing sillier (now at least) than to want to live a sex and the city lifestyle. I’ll prob elaborate in a later blog|