Too Many Hashtags

My heart hurts. My soul hurts. My mind is racing. It could have been any of my male relatives. It could have been any of my male friends. The occurrence has become so common, it could have been me. How many more have to die? I’m emotional and angry and filled with questions about humanity.

Why are all black people a threat even when we don’t behave or do anything that suggests that? Our mere presence is not a threat. We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. That doesn’t seem to ring through for my people, who possess melanin in their skin.

How many parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, sons, daughters and cousins have to hold a press conference, rally, protest, pray, cry in front of the television cameras, before my people are viewed as humans beings with full and meaningful lives?

If someone made mistakes in their past, and had run ins with the law; they deserve due process, if suspected of wrongdoing. They don’t deserve 4 shots to the chest with a cop on top of them. Use your handcuffs and arrest them and leave them to the judicial system.

Black Women, Black Men, Black Children, Black Teens- none of us feel safe anymore.  Apparently we are all threatening, no matter what we do or how we are dressed or our educational level-even when we are not doing anything wrong. When we do what others do on a daily basis- selling things, looking at merchandise to purchase, playing in a park, listening to music with friends, driving, seeking help after a car accident or just walking home, we end up DEAD. Not just one shot to stop us, we get 41 shots when they mistake our wallet for a weapon.  Why is that??? We know why. It needs to be acknowledged.

People will openly grieve for killed gorillas, lions and jaguars, but not for black people. I then hear he/she asked for it and a myriad of reasons why they deserved it. Enough already. What has happened to our moral compass and humanity?

There have been too many hashtags. Each one represents lives lost. The names drop like thunderstorm rains. Since the first video seen in 1991 showing the horrendous beating of Rodney King  by the LAPD,  we began to see up close, modern-day versions of  lynchings. There were 3959 lynchings of black people that occurred in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950. No one went to prison for beating Rodney King.

In 1955, Emmett Till’s mother showed the world, the face and body of her son. A group of white men in Mississippi, kidnapped him out of his bed, beat,shot, tortured and drowned her 14-year-old son. No one went to prison for this child’s murder.

12-year-old, Tamir Rice was playing, like a child should in the park, with a toy gun, Police drove up to him and in 22 seconds, he was shot and later died. They wouldn’t even allow his sister to comfort him in his last pain filled moments. A gun was drawn on her. No one went to prison for this child’s murder.

His life was worth $6 million dollars. That’s what his family received from the city of Cleveland as a settlement for their lawsuit against the city.

There have been so many more deaths since young Tamir.  According to The Guardian 136 black people in 2016 have been killed by law enforcement  This includes Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.  In the past two days we watched one man being executed  (2 different views from survelliance and cell phone cameras) and the aftermath of the execution of the other.

Mr. Castile’s girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter are forever traumatized, because they were sitting in the car, while he was shot. If not for video, no one would have known. I’m surprised his girlfriend was not shot. After the shooting, she was arrested and held for 5 hours. I am no fan of Facebook Live, but we wouldn’t have had the video without it.

Black and Brown people have the task of telling their children how to talk to the police. It’s a conversation that white parents don’t have. But what do white parents tell their children about black and brown people?  These white children grow up to join police departments around this country.

Please tell them this about black and brown people- we love, we are spouses, we dance, we worship, we like to have fun, we go to movies, we love our  children, we find work we love, we attend college, we read books (I’m a librarian), we make mistakes, but continue to grow as people. We enjoy the company of our friends and family, we have feelings. We are flesh and blood.

We are not pets (People try to touch and stroke our hair, invading our person without asking us.) We are not here on this earth for your amusement or your abuse. We are your equals and not beneath you. Do not be afraid of us and then take a job to serve and protect us.

Anyone who is not black, please start having different conversations with your children, with your friends and your co-workers. I know that many white people understand and are with us, they support us and protest with us. Thank you for being human. But, there are so many that are not with us.

Activist and actor Jesse Williams made a speech recently and he said “we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.

The time is now. The last two days prove it. How do we start? There has to be a change in how police departments are run, how officers are trained, including learning cultural sensitivity. They need to be held accountable when they do wrong and kill unarmed people.  The good cops need to be courageous and expose co workers who are not up to the task that their difficult jobs entail. If they are racists, they have no reason being on the job.

I looked to my spiritual and life mentor, Daisaku Ikeda for some guidance, this is what I found and I believe everyone should read it.

human rights

Let’s be human and respect one another. This pain,suffering and bloodshed has to stop. It’s just too much for the psyche and for the heart.

Writing Again

I’ve been MIA, but, I had my reasons. First I had a flu bug, which just put me out of commission. Flu Shots are not for me. I’m not sure what’s in that concoction. The side effects may be worse for me, cuz, frankly  I’m sensitive to medications.

Two days a week of physical therapy, is kicking my butt. I recently started an Adult Literacy Training Program that I am so excited to be a part of. I’ll be helping adults to improve their literacy skills. One part of the training is writing. I had to select an object and write about it for 30 minutes. I’ll share what I wrote.

Walking stick or cane, I have used one at different times in my life. Once, I broke my ankle and one was given to me after months of using, its cousin, Crutches. I graduated from you to gradually walking on my own again.

A few years later due to illness, pain and fatigue, I had to fight vanity and accepted the fact that I needed a cane. I had the belief that canes were for the elderly or the disabled. I  later accepted that I did have invisible disabilities. Canes were for those who needed the assistance. There’s nothing wrong with that, however, I didn’t think that was me. But, I had to accept that it was. As time passed, I fought my hidden feelings and opinions and challenged my life as a 47-year-old cane user.

Soon, I couldn’t go anywhere without you. You became my personal companion. We’ve become Inseparable, like that Natalie Cole song.  As people drifted away from me and didn’t include me in their life’s events, you were there. Perhaps, seeing you disturbed them, but we are a package deal.

I was in physical pain, but still I felt the stares from strangers. Kids seem to be drawn to you, perhaps it’s your bright and bold color. My last one was purple and you are cobalt blue. My thought was, if I have to use a cane, it might as well be fashionable. When kids, under 8, pass me, they look in awe at the metal in my hand. Their eyes follow my steps. They are walking forward while their heads turn backwards. It always makes me laugh and lift my spirits.

I like that I can fold you and not always have you visible.You were supposed to be a quick fix to help support my body, but you’ve been with me for three years and hanging on. I want a divorce from you, yet scared to quit you. My balance is bad, I sway to the side unsteadily, and I’ve fallen. Yes, I’ve fallen and couldn’t get up. I’ve violently met the sidewalk with my whole body, and it wasn’t pretty. Since you entered my life, I have managed to stay standing upwards.

I’m only 50 and have a lot of years ahead of me. I just can’t stay with you. I feel no one sees me. They see you first. I’m standing still and know their minds are wondering why I need you. I get asked by people who like your three-point legs and color, “Where did you get your cane?” “My mother needs one like that.”(Bummer)  😦

I get asked, “Did you hurt your leg?”

I never have any easy answer. Replying, I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue along with lower back and balance issues, just doesn’t roll off the tongue easily. I don’t think they understand that anyway. At times I say its my back, other times, I say balance problems.

You have helped me get out of chairs, in and out of cars without tripping over myself.  On the days I’m so fatigued or my back is aching so badly, that I can barely get up;  I appreciate you.

Very recently I started physical therapy and the goal is to “get me off that cane.” I hope you are not too upset.

She has me doing balance exercises and wall squats to strengthen my core. Painful, but I’m pushing through. Significant change will take time. I can’t stand for long periods, but I’m doing better. I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs at all. I’ve graduated very slowly, climbing up, stopping to rest, often, with you helping me all the way. I’m gasping and panting when I get to the top. They say I’m getting stronger and could be getting rid of you by the end of the summer.

We are walking farther now. I’m planning to walk around the track at the park with your help. Gradually our contact will become less and less. I’m happy and I’m honestly scared. I want you gone, but afraid of swaying my way upstairs or falling and hitting the concrete. It hurts like hell during and after that type of event. It puts holes in the knees of my pants. My budget can’t afford new clothes.

My pride gets taken away and my self-assurance gone. How will I be able to handle our breakup?  Is this what’s called a dysfunctional relationship?  I think so. We have done so much together. I don’t know if I can get along completely on my own.

I’d like to walk and not get weary. My new orthotics are helping.  I’d like to do things on two feet instead of three. I’d like the questions to stop and for people to ignore the obvious. I have trouble walking on my own. Looking at me, minus the cane, I look like nothing is wrong with me. Looks can be deceiving.

I am strong in other ways. I know there are people who need a cane and refuse to use one. That used to be me. Maybe they can adopt you  when I put you away for the last time. For me, it will show my progress. There will be joy and jubilation, tempered with some trepidation.

However,  I am a survivor and I’ve been through a lot. This is another obstacle to persevere through and overcome.  My cane and I will be together for just a bit longer….just a little bit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of Mother’s Day

Their activity list may include: brunches, lunches, dinners, a spa day or just a day for themselves, Mother’s Day is on Sunday. This day has become a bittersweet one for me. I have no children, not even a pet  ( I’d love a small dog but with recurring pain and uncertainty about leaving the house, I could not with a conscience have a dog, I can’t walk ). I had birds as a teen and I don’t want fish or a snake. LOL!   In Panama, where my family is from they celebrate this day on Dec 8. So, I can’t call my Aunt that lives there on Sunday. Both women who raised me have passed away.

This leaves my Aunt in NJ as the one I send my card and gifts to on Mother’s Day. I appreciate her so much because there are days I will call her and I ramble on and on about my health or my faith ( She introduced me to Buddhism) and she listens.  I don’t often get a lot of the older female wisdom, that so many take for granted. She has lived a life and knows the important things going on in mine. She is my mother’s older sister. So, I say thanks to her and I love you, as she fills a void in my life. She wishes for me the best things in life, most importantly my happiness. For 20, plus years she wanted me to chant and become happy. I was a very hard sell, but she planted the seed of knowledge and after chanting for me and having extraordinary patience, I became a Buddhist. Buddhism has changed me and my life.

I was at a low point then. Illness was ripping and roaring through my entire body. It still is but my attitude towards it, is different My great aunt who raised me (Mimi) was in a nursing home and didn’t remember me any more, due to Alzheimer’s. She had recurrent pneumonia and I couldn’t imagine my life without her. You see, as she raised me, she sheltered me too much. No friends, no hanging out or parties.  School, studies and education were of the most importance. She wanted me to do something with my life and didn’t want any distractions, including boys. All types of distractions were sorely needed. To this day my socialization skills are not the best because I didn’t have a lot of practice. Chit chat is not my forte’.  Through my Buddhist practice and meeting new people all the time, I am getting better. I did graduate from college and worked as a paralegal for a time. I went back to school for my graduate degree and became a librarian. My career goals were fulfilled. Health issues have now shoved those careers aside for me. Maybe new ones are emerging…

Since I was at home practically all the time she was more than my mother, she was a beloved friend. She had a cheating husband and was unhappy. I became her happiness. Something no person can fill for you. We watched TV and I got any book I wanted to read. She got me hooked on The National Enquirer, Star Magazine and People Magazine before I was a teenager.  I also got most of the junk food or clothes that I wanted. I still fight with myself not to reward myself with food and clothing. I am so unsuccessful at it. LOL!!

Download-Happy-Mothers-Day-Images-3Later on, when I could have left home and was making my own money; I started having health issues. When her already unstable health became worse, I wanted to provide her with the care she had given me. Looking back, my actions were well intentioned, but I hurt myself and my own growth in the process.  We had formed such a bond, I was devastated, confused and relieved all at the same time when she passed. The pressure to make serious decisions for her life was over.

I had felt similar loss when my mother passed away when I was in my twenties, but it was different. My Mother didn’t raise me but she was a presence in my life. She was present at graduations and holidays. She taught me how to ride the buses and the trains. She took me to the nail salon for the first time and to Disney World. She made incredible potato salad and loved Teddy Pendergrass, Barry White and The Jones Girls. She even loved country music. She liked to have a good time, have boyfriends and dance. My mother just wasn’t ready or prepared to be a mother, because she didn’t experience it in her own life. I felt baffled as a child and resentful as a young adult thinking that my mother didn’t want or love me. We never got to talk on a deep level about my feelings. My mother passed away at 51 from cancer and I had many unanswered questions. I think that as time has gone on, I understand her as a person much better now as I have had time to learn about her life, experiences and not just what people wanted to tell me. She wanted the love she never got as a child. I still miss and mourn her because I know our relationship could have been better.

As a kid I felt torn between two women. One was mothering me and the other was my mother.  Who did my loyalty go to?

Mimi and Mommy, I love and miss you both terribly. I wish I had just another day with both of you. For anyone who has faced a similar struggle just love them both and know they both love you. Don’t feel conflicted. Treasure them, tell them how much you love them, everyday no matter what has passed. Start from today onward. They won’t always be here to say those simple words, that come with such difficulty for people.

I won’t be making breakfast for anyone on Sunday morning but I know I am not alone. So many have lost their mother, grandmother or mother figure. Let’s never forget them and I wish them, and every Mom out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

https://youtu.be/4I3TxyYDcSw Céline Dion – Goodbye’s (The Saddest Word)

https://youtu.be/3CLlo82PPB4  A Song For Mama- Boyz to Men