I wrote this post June 1st, 2020. It was just after George Floyd’s murder, but before the shooting in my hometown, Kenosha Wisconsin and the unrest that followed. Like everyone, I was bombarded my nasty messages from the then-president and would also scroll through Facebook and see similar messages from friends and people I grew up with. This was a terrible time for all of us. I was contemplating protesting here in LA (or maybe I had finally gone out, I can’t remember. But I was pissed.) Today, as we reach the George Floyd anniversary, I had two thoughts: “What am I still doing today to speak up” and “Last year it was us being killed. This year it’s Asians and Jews. Nothing has changed.”
When will we get it together??
Technically, things have changed. We have shifted. I have shifted. I’ve found my voice. Last year, I was afraid to post this post because I wasn’t sure I could handle any backlash. I was too tired to fight. Exhausted. I wanted my friends to like me. Thankfully, I have grown. I hope you have too.
June 1, 2020
If you know me, especially from my formative years of junior high and high school than you know I surrounded myself with good people. I am good to everyone. I don’t like conflict and therefore avoid it and don’t welcome it or call it into my life. I don’t cut people off – either after a wrong has been done to me, or a relationship ended, or even when driving (knowingly). I am a Pollyanna by some definitions, and usually go with the flow and keep the peace.
But now, I am a fucking angry.
I cannot take one more person who agrees with the rhetoric of a person (any person) who acts with no morals and speaks so meanly against people.
Why? Because I don’t do that. Treat your neighbor as your brother. What happened to that bullshit? Treat people as you want to be treated. What happened to THAT bullshit? I don’t care that I was born in 1970. I don’t care that I am the last of some Mohican that grew up with the 1950s remnants of what made America great. If there was anything that made America great, which I believe came from hard work and – fuck. Nope, no more greatness to be given because WE haven’t earned it, just like a cookie after dinner. We have to earn greatness. You don’t STEAL it. You don’t beat it to death until you get to drag it home and put it on your mantle as the blood drips down onto the hearth and seeps into the burnt ashes of your fireplace. You don’t get to string up greatness on a flagpole and say it’s great just because. This country is amazing and it is strangely fantastic, like a baby born with two heads and lives. Or like twins that are born and one is white, and one is black. This country is a Wild Wild West movie-set façade where with one big gust, the whole thing falls down. THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT BY PEOPLE WHO WERE FORCED TO DO IT, GOT NO CREDIT FOR IT EXCEPT A WHIPPING AND SOME COLD PORRIGE THE PIG WOULDN’T EAT and then were shamed for even being alive and being around when actually some other motherfuckers brought them here by LOOTING AND PILAGING AND STEALING SHIT!!! I can-not take it! Do you understand the hypocrisy? If THIS is greatness, go ahead, wallow in it, but for the sake of all that’s Holy and for the sake of the blue-eyed, blond haired image of Jesus that is nailed above your mantlepiece (and my grandma had one, too) A-C-C-E-P-T IT.
Acknowledge that things were wrong. That’s a start. And if you still don’t think things were wrong, I want you to imagine how it feels to have a heavy chain on your neck all day long. I want you to imagine being on your feet all day and not getting to sit down. Do you feel this way already, maybe? Are you working at a plant all day and your feet are hurting and your back is hurting and you do the same thing day in and day out and you go home with nothing to show for it? Is that chain around your neck your nametag or your badge or your keycard that shows who you belong to and who you work for?
This isn’t fun. This isn’t great (again). This is shit. And we are in it, bad. Real bad.
I was always afraid to protest because I didn’t think I was XYZ enough to protest. Not Black enough. Not courageous enough. Not hurting enough. Well, now I’ve had enough and that is reason enough.
Black people do not deserve to die just for being Black.
Every chance I get, I say, “I’m from Kenosha Wisconsin.” I am fucking proud of it. I love where I grew up. I loved how simple it felt, how people said hello and how the summers were spent on the lake and how I walked barefoot to feel the grass between my toes. I know what greatness feels like. Sorta. Because I was “allowed” to. Back then I was naïve, a little. I knew that our family wasn’t treated like other families who lived in other parts of Kenosha. We were given a pass that comes with a whole lotta things that mainly stemmed from education and access. I got a pass all the time because, “Peppur, I know you. You’re different.” When I was in junior high school, I was playing at a white friend’s house and her mom said, “I don’t like Blacks, but Peppur, you’re okay. You’re different.”
What if I had been stripped of those things that allowed me to be “different”? Asking for a friend.
Privilege doesn’t mean we get to sit by while others are hurting. Privilege doesn’t mean we get to point a finger at someone else and say they deserve what they have comin’ to ‘em because we simply don’t take the time to understand where they are coming from.
My mom, dad and stepmom went to college. Privilege. I grew up in a single-family home on a nice street in a good neighborhood. Privilege. I had my own room in which to do whatever I wanted. Privilege. I ate breakfast every day. Privilege. I went to a private university. Privilege. (Was I accepted in 1988 due to affirmative action? I don’t know. If I was, privilege.) I speak French. Privilege. I have traveled to Europe multiple times and lived in Europe. Privilege. I have no children. Sadness AND privilege. Do you see? Do you see what I am doing? I am acknowledging my privilege. It is uncomfortable. It makes me feel less than, like all I have and had I suddenly don’t deserve because I was somehow given it, when I know damn well I worked hard for I got.
I could not get a job after college. I hadn’t thought about it until now, but was it because of my name? Did someone look at my resume and say, “Ehhh, too Black. No thank you.” If my dad’s friend hadn’t hired me, I’d ‘a been screwed. PRIVILEGE.
A lot of us need to do this exercise. And not for the result to then turn to your (one) brown friend with pity and remorse and say, “Ohhh, you poor person, you have been wronged.” NO, you don’t put your guilt onto that person, you own that shit and understand why you have what you have and why your brown friend doesn’t. That’s it.
And if you’re in non-brown skin but understand what it is like to be held down by your last name, or your teeth, or your weight, or ‘cause you say “ain’t” insteada “aren’t”, or because you didn’t get to go to college and nobody will hire you, or [fill in the blank], …then you know what it means to be left out. You know what it means to be shamed, to be made to feel less than, and to not have access to what you damn well know you deserve. You know what it means to not have. By the way, you are not any better than the other not-haver. Somebody’s always got more, and it does no good to keep putting the brown person below you so that you can feel better about how low you already are. We are all low. We have sunken to the level of the scraps the pigs don’t want. Notice I say we. We’re in this together. Now, more than ever.