From now on 4/20 will live on not just as a day to celebrate pot but as a day to remember that a murderous cop was held to account.
I cried when I heard that the jury found Chauvin guilty on all three counts. A choking ugly cry. Gasping.
While I know this is not the end of the war (Al Sharpton) and that the verdict was only possible because it was captured on video, seen the world over, followed by a year of protests and the collapse of the blue wall (Jason Johnson), I want to breathe the relief of a decision well made.
Yes. Yes we get how broken we are that the outcome was not certain here. But let me exhale with gratitude.
Thank you jurors! Thank you “bouquet of humanity” aka witnesses who took the stand! Thank you remarkable prosecution team! Thank you protestors! Thank you cops who took the stand and spoke the truth!
Tomorrow I will lament the fifteen year old girl who was shot yesterday. Tomorrow I will share my outrage at how swiftly Republicans are seeking to outlaw filming police and protests but today: relief.
I shared this 53 second video over on Instagram but I’ll share it here, too. Synchronicity turned the Vogue model’s outstretched arms into something reminiscent of a prone, injured body as the day went on. Unintended but fitting.
It got crowded. What was six feet became four and then two. It was hot. I started thinking about myself in ways I don’t normally, as old, as immune compromised. So just before it was time to kneel for nine minutes in silence, I left. I said metta all the way home.
May George Floyd be peaceful. May he be free of inner and outer harm. May he be cared for gently as he makes his passage home. May he know joy, wisdom, and compassion.
May the young woman who filmed Floyd’s murder be peaceful. May she be free of inner and outer harm. May she be healed of recent and transgenerational trauma. May she be cared for gently as she walks upon this earth. May she know joy, wisdom, and compassion.
May George Floyd’s family be peaceful. May they be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.
May the people of Minneapolis be peaceful. May they be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.
May the people of Houston be peaceful. May they be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.
May all protesters be peaceful. May all protesters be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.
May all members of law enforcement be peaceful. May all police be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they minister to the public gently and for the greater good. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.
May all Americans be peaceful. May we be free of inner and outer harm. May we be cared for gently as we walk upon this earth. May we know joy, wisdom, and compassion.
May all sentient beings be peaceful. May all sentient beings be free of inner and outer harm. May they be cared for gently as they walk upon this earth. May they know joy, wisdom, and compassion.
May the earth be peaceful. May the earth be free of harm. May the earth be cared for gently as it spins through space. May the earth know joy, wisdom, and compassion.
It’s heartbreaking that Chawne Kimber had cause to repost her “I can’t breathe” quilt. After nearly every comment, Kimber asked, “but what are you going to DO?” A drumbeat. A call to action. “What are you going TO DO?”
Here is a link to Minnesota Freedom Fund, which among other things, pays criminal bail for those who cannot afford to do so. I gave a little this morning.
And here is a Medium article titled, “75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice.” It was written in 2017 and things have only gotten worse since then, so it’s still relevant. You could get lost for years doing the suggested reading and movie viewing. Don’t. Get a parallel course of action going.
Massachusetts has been reforming their criminal justice system in recent years, supported by a number of advocacy groups, like Citizens for Juvenile Justice. I made calls to my reps about some aspects of these efforts back in 2017 and am putting the task front and center again.
In “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander describes the devastating impacts of mandatory minimum drug sentencing and forfeiture rules. In the case of mandatory minimums, judges lost the power to consider a person’s circumstances. Sentencing that should have been calculated in months was imposed in five and ten year chunks.
When I worked for Aid to Incarcerated Mothers in the 90’s, I met inmates whohad received mandatory five year sentences for possession of small amounts of drugs. Drug sales were often motivated by poverty or to support a habit. If parents, these women were almost always in danger of losing custody of their children — a secondary and devastating consequence to ridiculously long prison terms.
Alexander delineates how the forfeiture rules not only created incentives for law enforcement to grab property, it incentivized the vigorous continuation of the drug trade itself.
I’m jumping all around here, but there is a through line.
When making investments, you can either choose a socially responsible fund (an ESG investment) or have an otherwise ordinary fund apply filters. We chose Trillium as our ESG fund and applied the filters of fossil fuels and private prison corporations to others.
Privatization of the prison system creates incentives for keeping incarceration numbers high. More bodies equals more profits. ICE has been housing people in private prisons as well.
While I’m not sure that I fall all the way on the side of prison abolition, I most definitely want the racist and other inhumane policies to undergo reform. Our numbers are beyond shocking.
In closing let me say how gratifying it was to watch Amy Cooper go down in real time. From “twitter do your thing,” to her identity being posted within hours, to her voluntary surrender of her dog before sundown, her termination from Templeton Franklin the next day, and finally, her being banned from Central Park. She went full Donham* and deserved every bit of it.
*Woman who cried rape and effectively killed Emmett Till. She recanted a couple of years ago.
We don’t go out much anymore but did last night. It was lovely. The hosts are terrific cooks (always such a treat!) and another neighbor couple that we enjoy attended. We used to see these people more. There is abiding affection and we really welcomed the chance to catch up.
But here’s the thing. Self-doubt mucks up the works for me.
I rocket between bombast and feeling silenced. I interrupt. I’m curious but impatient. I want to know what people really think but I don’t want it to take forever. I want them to know what I think but sometimes have trouble inserting myself. So I launch grenades. Abbreviate myself to the point of inscrutability.
ADD has a role in this. Irish word drama, too. But self-doubt might be the MOST operative factor.
I want to be believed and failing that, I want to believe myself. At least, when I’m pretty certain of a thing. Instead, I reflexively grant my questioner more authority than I grant myself.
I do excruciating post-mortems. Just ask K. Or, read on.
There I was in bed last night ranting and googling. Googling and ranting. SEE? Roxane Gay DOES live in LA! Of course I know this. I’ve followed her forever on Instagram and am a little star struck, and so why did I question myself? Why?
SEE? It says right there: Ayanna Pressley co-chair of Warren’s campaign. I’ve been carefully following how Warren is trying redress her “lack of receipts” in the black community, so of course I know this, knew it in real time, celebrated it, so why did I question myself.
Soon after the appointment, I took the time to watch a fraught moment of EW’s at an arena in Atlanta and scanned enough black Twitter to get a sense of why it was controversial (Pressley took the mic when black protestors interrupted — EW using a black woman as a shield?!) Seen challenges at how the three co-chairs were depicted in the announcing photo (racial stereotype much?) I mean, we’re talking a granular level of attention here. So why didn’t my assertion carry more weight?
Did it carry weight?
(On the point of close attention, I was the only one at the table who’d listened to EW’s New Year’s Day address and noted with approval, therefore, her use of the term “enslaved” when referring to our first black poet, Phyllis Wheatley. Applauded out loud how artfully EW wove facts about the poet’s life into her remarks. Not at all facile. It’s an inspiring speech not just because of how thoroughly EW seems to be integrating lessons about race, but for everything else she says, too).
What’s with all the doubt?
(Another relevant example: how the #KHive on twitter practically ruined Warren for me. Together with the whole “unelectable” thing, I’ve been in pretty full retreat. Is this realism or doubt?)
Gay and Pressley were the easy issues. Verifiable.
But what about Bernies’s terrible record on guns or his faux “outsider status” and what exactly is black opinion on Kamala’s prosecutorial record?
So yes I misspoke (for effect!?) about sex trafficking and Robert Kraft, but immediately joined in the correction because of course I knew that the questionable trumpian Chinese proprietor no longer owned the place at the time of the incident.
Oh, do you see?
I want to occupy my sit bones and speak from a place of quiet authority. To listen better, too.
To end, let me reference a very upsetting dream from last night (talk about doubt!)
I am being questioned by a black woman about what I have actually done to promote justice or to inform my writing about black characters and slavery. I lamely answer, “I read a lot?” She nods as if to say ‘that’s not nothing,’ but… Another black woman has stolen ALL my sewing needles. I take some of them back. Somewhere on the wall, a quote of mine is posted. It’s old and unevolved and embarrassing. I can’t remember now what it said.