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Archive for June, 2020

The rain has started, now the beach is just a memory.

All last week, I sounded like a stereotypical old person: “We didn’t have sunscreen when we were young;” or “We only had black and white TV, no Internet!” I could have told the Grands that I had to walk 10 miles uphill to school, but that would be a lie. I did have to get dressed up in a snowsuit, hat and gloves to wait for the school bus…with other kids … because parents hadn’t heard about random kidnappings yet. Before Climate Change.

No helicopter parents back in the day, I would just stand outside in my playpen watching the activity on our street in Victory Gardens, while Nell did her daily cleaning inside. Once I started school, I’d be shooed out the door after tearing off my Sacred Heart uniform, and hanging it up, to ride my bike renegade around the neighborhood. School was a dull, dreary day full of sitting at my desk with my hands crossed into a ball, gazing at the brick building across the street through the window.

Today Metro Nashville schools have decided to reopen in the Fall. But in true Trumpian fashion, they are passing the buck to the parents in this Time of Coronavirus. It’s up to each and every family, you have a choice – 1) send your child to school, or 2) continue learning online with a remote curriculum. The American Academy of Pediatrics has weighed in – they want every child to get back to school!

“…the AAP argues that based on the nation’s experience this spring, remote learning is likely to result in severe learning loss and increased social isolation. Social isolation, in turn, can breed serious social, emotional and health issues: “child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.” Furthermore, these impacts will be visited more severely on Black and brown children, as well as low-income children and those with learning disabilities.”  https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/06/29/884638999/u-s-pediatricians-call-for-in-person-school-this-fall

Would you send your child to school if he had an auto-immune disease? Would you send your child to school if she had a grandparent living at home? Will the poor go back to school, while the wealthy buy their kids iPads and tutors?

We’ve all been socially isolated these last few months – 16 weeks to be exact. Bars and beaches are starting to close, again, because our infection rate is going up. For anyone paying attention this is not a surprise given our glorious lack of leadership. The rate of infection and hospital admissions and ultimately deaths are directly related to the rate of noncompliance with SOCIAL DISTANCING, MASKS and HAND WASHING.

Yesterday, the Bride went back to the ER, the Groom returned to his ICU, and we had our last day of unlimited hugs with the Grands. We brought yellow, Rainier cherries over to Great Grandma Ada and Hudson. The Love Bug put her hand on Ada’s through the glass – Hudson showed the L’il Pumpkin he had the same Star Wars pattern on the inside of his mask! We all made heart signs through the vestibule window. Our eyes were tearing up as we left.

We are back in the Land of Breaking News – grieving our collective losses, reigning in our emotions after hearing Mr T did nothing, absolutely nothing when he learned our soldiers had a Russian bounty on their heads. If SCOTUS allows us to see Mr T’s taxes, his adoration of Putin will become obvious. SCOTUS is on a roll!

We desperately need something to look forward to, baseball or ballet? Today at least will be a good day. T’ai Chi Tuesday has become Pilates Zoom Tuesday and I have a loaf of Bob’s sourdough sitting on the counter! And at least the rain is dampening the Saharan dust cloud.

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As we were driving home from Florida yesterday, we heard on the news that bars would no longer be serving alcoholic drinks. One night we had pulled our golf cart up to an outside bar on Santa Rosa Beach; there was only one other person placing a To-Go order. She didn’t have a mask on, so our brave Bride kept her distance, and managed to walk away with margaritas for the house – some with and some without alcohol.

I wonder what Florida bars will be serving up now, or will they switch to BYO? Will people still crowd into dark, beer-reeking bars – will they flirt and laugh and cough on one another?

The funny thing is, maybe one in ten people were wearing masks in the Panhandle. In fact, during one golf cart trip I was sitting in the back facing traffic and forgot I had my hand-made, purple batik mask on. Cars, our house, the early morning beach and golf carts were considered mask-free-zones for our little quaranteam… anyplace else, like ordering ice cream or drinks outside on patios the mask came on! We didn’t go to restaurants.

But sitting there, in the back of our little cart, masked with the L’il Pumpkin, who also had his fun Star Wars mask on, I was aware of people staring at us.  And it wasn’t a smiley stare, like “Aw, look at that Nana and her cute redheaded grandson!” Nope, it was more like, “What are you people doing here?” Someone actually hollered something hostile to us. I guess they didn’t think we could exercise our constitutional right to stay alive?

Congratulations Florida. Today you set a record for one day of additional Covid infections – 9,585 cases.

In the very middle of our drive, in Alabama, Bob and I happened to listen to this administration’s long overdue propaganda report on radio CNN. No wait, it was called a presser of the White House Coronavirus Task Force brought to us by the Department of Health and Human Services. I happened to be driving during a white-out downpour, but I’m pretty sure I NEVER heard Pence (or anyone else) mention the word “mask.” The word Pollyanna jumped to mind.

“But it was also clear that Pence remains locked in a mindset that downplays all bad news about the pandemic. When confronted with the growing death count, he likes to point out the daily total of dead Americans is lower than it was once. When discussing the rise in cases, he said, “Roughly half of the new cases are Americans under the age of 35, which is at a certain level very encouraging news,” because the disease is less deadly for younger people. He avoids the idea that states are experiencing spikes and prefers to discuss localized “outbreaks.” https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly-coronavirus-special-edition/2020/06/26/pence-and-the-power-of-positive-thinking-489656

Like the Flapper, Pence must be a big believer in positive thinking. His advice was to pray more, which was laughable except for the fact that he means it. In response to a reporter’s questions about masks, he talked about our constitutional freedom to assemble with or without a “face covering.”  Even the word “mask” is verboten.

Well our Mayor Cooper has taken over the reins in Nashville. Last night, Metro Nashville was debating whether to mandate masks! And lo and behold, masks WON! By tomorrow at 5pm, our personal responsibility for the health and lives of our neighbors will trump (HA) our individual liberty to have your face unmasked. For a Republican state, TN has grown in my affection. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2020/06/26/nashville-require-face-masks-public-coroanvirus-spreads/3266522001/

Here is an old picture of the Bride at Berkshire Medical Center’s ER; she looks to be about the same age as the L’il Pumpkin. Bob was the director of this teaching hospital. On Monday, the Bride will return to her work wearing an N95 mask, treating everybody and anybody who enters her ER. It seems like it was yesterday that she posed for this health  magazine shoot.

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We’re back at the beach! The Bride and Groom tested negative for coronavirus, left for Florida and quarantined there for a week, and then, ta da, we got in the car. I had a little panic attack about leaving our “safe place” but Bob gave me courage.

It was a seven hour drive through Alabama, pit stops were questionable since rest areas were crowded and MacDonalds was a no go. The last stop sold peaches, watermelons and tomatoes out front – bonanza!

We hugged the heck out of our grandbabies and it is heavenly. Hugs good morning and hugs good night! Hugs for no reason at all.

This area of 30A has soft, white powdery sand and tidal pools that remind me of Menemsha Pond on the Vineyard. When the Bride was a toddler this was my “happy place.” Warm, brackish water only a few feet deep, perfect for sand castles and clam digging.

Time stops here, where an emerald sea holds dolphins and sea turtle nests scatter around the beach. Be careful not to make holes in the sand when you walk, the baby turtles might get trapped.

The Flapper used to tell me that I was in my “perfect place,” because she believed in the power of positive thinking. And I told the Love Bug how she would cover me with cold wet tea bags to soothe my sunburn. Because, when I was young, we didn’t have sunscreen.

I hear the L’il Pumpkin calling, “Nana, Nana…” so I must go. Because we have to get in the golf cart and GO, and we have treasures to find, and the beach is calling. And Bob calls me a camp counselor but really I just remember back when our kids were little,

And I’m grateful to play with our littles again.

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Do you get the impression the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?”

@realDonaldTrump

I actually chuckled! Could it be that Mr T has actually got a sense of humor? A favorite reporter of mine retweeted his latest Twittering. We’ve just returned from a trip to Whole Foods, masks and groceries on faces and in hands, to hear that the SCOTUS has knocked another decision out of the park.

The current administration, made famous by keeping children in cages, will not be allowed to send Dreamers, the undocumented adults who came to this country as children, back to their countries of origin. Amen Chief Justice Roberts!

I just finished reading a book about a child, a little girl who was abandoned at the age of 3 by her parents, who had to flee Nazi Romania and the invading Iron Guard death squads during WWII. They thought their child’s best hope of survival was to dress her in her finest clothes, and leave her in a stairwell of a fancy apartment building. They thought she might be kept alive by one of the wealthy families, instead she was found by the concierge who took her to an orphanage:

The Girl They Left Behind, (by Roxanne Veletzos) in this way, tackles not only the tension of life in the face of numerous bombings and political escapades, but also tries to encompass the emotional drama of adoption and how adopted parents and children alike struggle to adjust to becoming a family. This picturesque exploration compounds the ticking clock of war that Veletzos leaves in the story’s background, leaving Natalia and her adopted parents, Anton and Despina, to make their decisions in the face of bombings, communist rule, and a desire to stay alive and together. https://medium.com/the-coil/book-review-roxanne-veletzos-the-girl-they-left-behind-celia-daniels-89d645eb1168

The parallels in the rise of Fascism in 1940s Bucharest to today are compelling. Based on a true story, Veletzos’ tale is similar to her great grandmother’s experience as an orphan during the war. Though we had not visited Bucharest on our Viking trip, I remembered the shoes on the shore of the Danube in Budapest. And in particular, the small shoes of Jewish children who were massacred there. This book is a page-turner. It will keep you up reading until 3 in the morning.

I thought of our newly discovered niece, Tamara. Adopted at birth, she thought she was part Italian. Raised in North Carolina, she said, “I’m the first Jew I ever met!” We all laughed.

Talia didn’t know she was Jewish. I didn’t know that after WWI, Soviet Romania sold people back to their families, mostly to Israel, for large sums of money. At one time, 35,000 Jews lived in a typical city in Romania, now there are a few hundred. If your Jewish family members survived the concentration camps and Death Squads, you could have them officially smuggled out of Romania for cash, paying off loans, or oil-drilling equipment. How much is a life worth, George Floyd’s brother asked Congress.

I remember once my foster mother, Nell, told me that the Flapper never gave them any money for me. She said this proudly, even though Daddy Jim’s job barely paid the bills. Of course my biological mother was widowed with young children and didn’t have much money anyway. I was never officially adopted, I was just waiting. But I guess the Flapper did get a stipend from the government for each child under a certain age; it was called The Aid to Dependent Children Program passed in 1935.

It provided $18 per month, and $12  for a second child. So I guess she got $42 dollars a month for my two brothers and me, thank you FDR! But she did pay for summer camp at St Joe’s and ballet school. The young girl who used to sneak out of her window in Scranton to dance to Tommy Dorsey’s band, wanted her daughter to know her way around a dance floor.

Congratulations Dreamers! And welcome to your new home, Uncle Joe will seal this deal next year.

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Yesterday was a day for the record books. In a 6 to 3 ruling, the SCOTUS ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, passed when I was a junior in high school, also covers gay and transgender rights. Now, along with the rest of us, the LGBTQ community cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. ANY workplace. HALLELUJAH!

It was a glimmer of light in a desolate spring. Americans have been staying at home, making and wearing masks to protect the must vulnerable among us, giving up our freedom to assemble, to go to restaurants and beauty parlors, and hug our loved ones.

We have witnessed the murder of unarmed, African Americans by a police force operating with impunity for decades. Risking infection from a novel virus, we have marched and protested, demanding change. Americans of all colors and all religious beliefs have said enough is enough. Black people have not had the freedom to drive or walk… without the underlying fear of being attacked.

So now that Title VII is the law of the land, what do evangelical Christians think? Elizabeth Dias writes in the New York Times:

“No question it is going to make it harder to defend our religious freedom, as far as an organization being able to hire people of like mind,” said Franklin Graham, who leads Samaritan’s Purse, a large evangelical relief group.

“I find this to be a very sad day,” he said. “I don’t know how this is going to protect us.”

They want to be able to hire people of, “like mind.” Their “religious freedom” is at stake! I wonder, was this what Norman Rockwell meant when he painted the Four Freedoms? Tucking your child in at night, free of fear? Or was it the profiles of white faces deep in prayer?

Because Black parents today must have “the Talk” with their children about the police. Because White parents today must explain systemic racism to their children. Parents today are buying bullet-proof backpacks in anticipation of schools re-opening in the fall. Because a small number of Americans cannot see fit to give up their “freedom” to own assault rifles. Because some even marched into a statehouse, guns strapped to their backs, because these same “Freedom Loving” people didn’t like wearing masks!

Their freedom was at stake because of a cloth covering their nose and mouth.

Yesterday, the light did shine through a very big crack in our society. Bigger than the Liberty Bell. Maybe the intersection of gun violence and racism will finally be addressed by legislators saying NO to the NRA. Maybe the majority of Americans will be able to stop living in fear, and will practice their religion where it belongs – in a church, mosque, temple or their home.

Today is not a sad day. In fact, today is Great Grandma Ada’s 96th birthday and we will celebrate her as best we can, through the glass in the vestibule.

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At daybreak, I hear Ms Bean’s clickety paws on the floor, and the bedroom door closes. If I’m lucky, I might get another sleep cycle. When I wake from my Covid dream, the one about keeping Great Grandma Ada away from the crowded dining hall at Camp St Joseph, I have to change my nightgown. Bob likes our bedroom freezing cold at night, and I’ve been sweating glowing a lot lately.

Breakfast is easy; but first, coffee. I know Bob loves me because he keeps the Keurig carafe filled with water. I need to wake up with a big mug, my only caffeine fix of the day. And I like to watch a few cable news networks in the process – how many more deaths, what state is seeing a spike in virus infections, what does, “Defund the Police” actually mean?

Breakfast is a banana, covered in vanilla yogurt and granola. My favorite Hudson Henry granola from Virginia, the orange bag with pecans and chocolate. We order it in bulk, direct from the company. I pour myself a big glass of green iced tea, and flip open my laptop.

Bob eats Eggo waffles most days and doesn’t like watching the news in the morning. He’d much rather watch Rachel Maddow at night; we are the exact opposite in our daily news consumption. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I watched Rachel before bed. Or if I did, my Covid nightmares would get worse.

This morning, he’s in the living room with classical music and his iPad. Soon, he’ll be outside watering the garden.

In my office, I check in on Twitter, the BBC, and the New York Times, in that order. Did you know that Winston Churchill was a racist? An idea for an essay is percolating in my mind. I look up and out the window, something has caught my eye. Beyond the parking lot across the back alley, a shirtless man keeps popping up doing jumping jacks. Intrigued, I stand to get the full view – eight push-ups on the ground followed by the jump.

Some people miss the gym more than others.

Around 9am Bob pops in to say he’ll be walking Ms Bean, and I hear her happy joy circle dance by the front door. He yells back, “By the way, I fed the starter.” My cell is off and Bob knows not to disturb me when I’m writing. How do I know? I know this because I overheard him tell a friend that Tuesdays he’s on his own in the morning! Well until 11am anyway.

We used to drive Ms Berdelle to 11am T’ai Chi at the Y on Tuesdays, but now we set up two yoga mats on the floor in the living room. Bob has decided to join my Zoom Beginner Pilates class. He’s read my post and gives me feedback like any good editor while we gather foam rollers, balls and exercise bands, the tools of the senior set.

During Pilates I find out there’s a fire burning in Tucson, where my instructor’s mother lives, and she had to be evacuated last night. I try to concentrate on cracking a walnut between my shoulder blades, sticking my tush out, and what I’m going to make for dinner. I try not to think about climate change.

After Pilates Bob asks, “Do we have any plans for lunch?”

Luckily, I don’t have any plans for lunch, so we decide to walk down to the Vietnamese restaurant and see if there’s a table on the socially distant patio. We haven’t been out to eat in three months. Unluckily, all the tables, which is maybe half of the usual tables, are occupied so we pick up two ready made salads and walk home. I really miss going out for lunch.

Long ago Bob told me I was making him fat because I’m a pretty good cook, a backhanded compliment for sure – ever since that day, whenever I cook something for us to eat, he gets to make his own plate. You see, somewhere along my feminist learning curve I decided that I was supposed to plan and shop and cook a delicious dinner every single night… for 41 years… but not breakfast or lunch.

I never got the memo that I didn’t have to cook dinner. I still look with wonder at younger women who say they never cook. I mean, is that even possible?

After lunch we decide to make a Shipt order on my computer. Bob likes to do this with me, he drags in another chair so we can sit side by side while we discuss the status of milk in the refrigerator. We would rarely go grocery shopping together in the past, but he needs more bread flour. Bob is now on his fifth try at perfecting sourdough bread, in my vintage Dutch oven.

“You should see, my starter is growing!” Bob tells me proudly and we discuss the merits of sourdough baking – damp towels, parchment paper, bubbling.

The afternoon is upon us and it’s time to start our day, so we go back upstairs to shower and I change my yoga pants and floss my teeth. I’m responding to comments on social media about my blog on my phone and doing laundry when I hear a timer go off. It’s time for Bob to “do something” big, there’s lots of noise in the kitchen. I think he’s making the dough, or maybe it’s time to “stretch and fold.”

Then my phone bings and we have to drive-through the pharmacy and get a case of wine curbside delivered.  We suit ourselves up in masks and head for the car. As soon as I start the engine, my cell rings so loudly on blue tooth that we both startle. Four people call us in that 15 minute round-trip ride. A brother has a tax question, a grand daughter has a bee bite, a neighbor has a medical consult, and what color gray should the Bride paint her new bookshelves?

We arrive home and I Google “panzanella” salad. What a great Italian idea for the heel of a sourdough loaf of bread! It’s also close enough to 5 o’clock somewhere to pour a cold, glass of unoaked Chardonnay. But first I must feed Ms Bean.

Then I tell Bob to pick some kale, and I pick some tarragon. Chopped garlic and tarragon, mixed with a little honey mustard and salt and pepper, then add Balsamic vinegar and some good EVOO. I wash and halve some cherry tomatoes, tear up the kale, and Bob’s picked a pepper too. I improvised and threw in some leftover pasta salad and added some cubes of Swiss cheese, but any hard cheese would do. I combine the chunks of bread that I’ve dried a bit in a hot oven with the veggies and pour the vinaigrette over it all.  https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-panzanella-italian-bread-salad-recipe-206824

We had to dance around each other in our galley kitchen since Bob was kneading or rolling dough while I was assembling the salad, but he pronounced it my best summer salad evah!

Time for another stroll with Ms Bean. She’s super excited because I’m joining them. We’ve relaxed our puppy sniffing rules a bit, but we still don’t stop to pet other dogs. Sometimes we talk, but half the young people in our neighborhood are not wearing masks. How can people be so callous? Our Mayor has decided to keep Nashville at Phase 2 of re-opening, but we’re staying home in our own Phase 1 for the most part.

The bread is sitting on the counter rising, and we’re ready to wind down. Tomorrow morning the sourdough bread goes in the oven. We might play Scrabble or watch Netflix tonight. Or talk to the kids on the patio across the way, they are both residents at Vanderbilt. Our kids are driving to the beach for a well deserved vacation from Covid.

We could all use a vacation about now.

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Calls for racial justice and defunding of the police are a constant across our country. Old, arthritic knees of legislators knelt on marble floors in our Capitol for nearly nine minutes yesterday. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds, the exact amount of time Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd. If only restructuring and dismantling militarized police departments could fix hundreds of years of racism – in real estate, in schools, in medicine, in the very fabric of our existence.

No, it can’t, But it’s a start, and we’ve got to start somewhere. Read “Just Mercy; a Story of Justice and Redemption,” by Bryan Stevenson.  https://justmercy.eji.org/  And maybe watch the film, with Jamie Fox. It’s streaming free this month https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/stream-just-mercy-free-june-180975044/

I first met Stevenson back in Charlottesville, VA in 2016. His lecture introduced the idea of taking down a Robert E Lee statue near the courthouse – the same supposed reason a bunch of neo-Nazi, “Unite the Right” zealots decided to march on Cville the following year.  A mostly White audience wasn’t buying it; in fact, that statue is still standing. He warned us, “We will ultimately not be judged by our technology, we won’t be judged by our design, we won’t be judged by our intellect and reason. Ultimately, you judge the character of a society . . . by how they treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerated.”  https://mountainmornings.net/2016/03/20/being-brave/

This is what Stevenson had to say in a recent interview about police brutality:

“Now, the police are an extension of our larger society, and, when we try to disconnect them from the justice system and the lawmakers and the policymakers, we don’t accurately get at it. The history of this country, when it comes to racial justice and social justice, unlike what we do in other areas, is, like, O.K., it’s 1865, we won’t enslave you and traffic you anymore, and they were forced to make that agreement. And then, after a half century of mob lynching, it’s, like, O.K., we won’t allow the mobs to pull you out of the jail and lynch you anymore. And that came after pressure. And then it was, O.K., we won’t legally block you from voting, and legally prevent you from going into restaurants and public accommodations.

But at no point was there an acknowledgement that we were wrong and we are sorry. It was always compelled, by the Union Army, by international pressure, by the federal courts, and that dynamic has meant that there is no more remorse or regret or consciousness of wrongdoing. The police don’t think they did anything wrong over the past fifty or sixty years. And so, in that respect, we have created a culture that allows our police departments to see themselves as agents of control, and that culture has to shift. And this goes beyond the dynamics of race. We have created a culture where police officers think of themselves as warriors, not guardians.”    https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/bryan-stevenson-on-the-frustration-behind-the-george-floyd-protests

IF we can transform a police culture from warrior mode into guardian mode, what else could we do? Can we spend the same amount of money on a student’s education, no matter where they live? Some towns see nearly half their budgets go toward policing, and they argue over school budgets. This is truly a function of what we value as a society. Do we want every child in America to reach their full potential, or only the rich and well connected? Should every town have a tank and a SWAT team?

I feel like we are in the midst of a great constellation of events. 2020 went like:

  • I wanted to work to elect gun sense politicians, and evict Mr T from the White House. But we got slammed by a tornado, our neighborhood was torn apart.
  • Then we came under the spell of a deadly virus, a pandemic the likes of which we’ve never seen. We became hermits. Bob started baking bread, we both started making masks.
  • And now George Floyd and his killer cop have changed the narrative, having an almost nine minute video of a murder in broad daylight brought racial injustice home. People of all shades of color did not, could not turn away.

Yes our gun culture intersects with racism. Both are real public health emergencies, capable of killing so many Americans, just like a virus. A virus, as it turns out, will seize the opportunity to infect more poor people. More African Americans, more Latinos. People without the means to stay isolated, people who must work delivering box upon box to the rich people.

A virus likes nothing better than a population that can forget, people with short-term memory loss. It can easily spread its tentacles, just like gun violence, killing without remorse. Imagine voting down a gun sense bill, an assault weapon ban, after 20 children were slaughtered at Sandy Hook.

We cannot defeat a virus or change our gun culture without addressing racism. And our racist president would like us to think it’s all about “law and order.” But it’s about our history. Our tortured history of Jim Crow and Reconstruction, it’s about red-lining voting districts and voter suppression laws, and so much more.

Racism would like us to forget our history, but in fact, we must confront it.

This is our chance, this intersection of public health emergencies, to create a more just and peaceful society. What will you do, which side of history will you be on? Don’t turn away.

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Last night, on the tenth day of protests in our country, three young girls got together on Twitter to organize a march for justice in Nashville. “Know justice, Know peace.” I had slipped out of my cocoon to visit Whole Foods in the afternoon, and was surprised to follow almost ten state police cruisers back home. Since I’m not a teenager, I was left out of that Twitter loop. But I heard the helicopters overhead as I was creating dinner with leftover chicken and chickpeas, so I tuned into the local news.

Last night, for the first time in a long while, tears started rolling down my cheeks. I don’t cry easily, but something about a big, burly Black police officer taking off his vest and kneeling down on the ground with a young girl just got to me. After dinner, we noticed a young woman with two kids in her car had a flat tire at the end of our street. Bob, of course, came to her rescue and we supplied juice boxes and snacks – it was near 90 degrees yesterday in the shade. Does it matter that they were an African American family? I wanted to hug that woman, but we kept our social distance.

I started to think about some of the Black women I’ve known over the years. The beautiful girls in my college dorm room from Atlanta who told me that the problem was precisely that I’d NEVER known any Black people before. Because I grew up in a White suburb, and all the schools and camps I’d gone to were lily white.

My Black supervisor at Head Start in Jersey City. My first real job as a preschool teacher, and she laughed at me when I wanted to pick up all the broken glass outside the school in the middle of the projects. She told me my students had to learn to play among the broken glass.

And my older Black aide who told me the children had to learn that when a building burned down, the people in charge would put up a fence around the rubble and do nothing. And all the time I wanted to fight that belief system, a system that seemed cruel and unfair.

My younger Black aide who told me they NEVER call the police, they only bring trouble. My privileged White brain didn’t understand this at first. My step-father was a judge, the cops in our town were good people. This was almost 50 years ago!

Today is Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. She was an EMT asleep in her bed when a SWAT team of police with a “no knock” warrant killed her. Is this called “friendly fire?” To add insult to this heinous murder, the real drug-dealing person of interest the cops were looking for was already in custody. Was it a clerical error? At first the news called her a suspect! She was doing everything right, working grueling hours during a pandemic. A family member said, if they can kill Bre, they can kill anybody. https://www.npr.org/2020/06/04/869930040/as-the-nation-chants-her-name-breonna-taylors-family-grieves-a-life-robbed

My phone is reminding me to wear orange today – to take a stand against gun violence. Really? I mean, I am still concerned about the NRA in the pockets of the GOP, but I’m more concerned about police brutality and racially motivated modern-day lynchings. I’m listening and learning about racism and implicit bias. For instance, when the Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, mentioned getting rid of “cash bail bondmen” I had to do some research. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/11/nyregion/how-does-bail-work-and-why-do-people-want-to-get-rid-of-it.html

“The most fundamental criticism of the bail system is that it needlessly imprisons poor people. In 2010, when he was 16, Kalief Browder was accused of stealing a backpack and released on $3,000 bail, which his family could not afford. Mr. Browder spent nearly three years in jail on Rikers Island waiting for trial before the charges against him were dismissed. In 2015, he committed suicide.” Harvey Weinstein had his lawyer fork over a million dollar check.

It made me think about Sandra Bland, who filmed her own arrest in Texas because she failed to signal a lane change. A traffic stop turned ugly. She was moving to Texas for a new job at her old college, and because she couldn’t afford bail, she went to jail. She was just 28 years old and was found hanging in her cell three days later.

Here is a quote by Toni Morrison at the lynching memorial in Montgomery. “They do not love your neck unnoosed… Love your heart, for this is the prize.”  #SayTheirNames

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Last evening in America’s Capitol, peaceful protesters were tear gassed so that our toddler-in-chief could take a photo-op in front of a church, holding a Bible. Was Mr T concerned about police brutality, the seeds of systemic racism or the death of George Floyd? No, he is obsessed with his numbers, specifically his Evangelical numbers. Just like MAGA loves “the Blacks,” Mr T loves his Christians.

This morning, as I scrolled through page after page of Instagram black screens for #BlackoutTuesday, I came across a quote by Elie Wiesel: “When human lives are endangered, When human dignity is in jeopardy, Wherever men or woman are persecuted, Because of their race, religion or political views, that place must – at that moment – become

The Center of the Universe.  

This morning I saw a picture of Hitler holding a book, surrounded by adoring crowds. It was probably his book, but still, it was juxtaposed next to Mr T’s bible/holding/church picture… standing all alone. Ts weekends of golf have been interrupted; he’s been scolding governors over the phone and threatening to release the Army to do his bidding. Like a coward, he hides in the White House bunker and turns out the White House lights.

This morning the sun is out and birds are still singing. Summer heat is about to descend on Nashville. My phone began buzzing, alerting me – tonight will be another 8pm curfew per Mayor Cooper. Nashville PD has arrested a suspected white supremacist, 25 year old Wesley Somers, for setting fires in our historic courthouse. I had heard that something was fishy about the rioting and looting, but I didn’t know what or who to believe. Our country has seen seven days of protests; this is the 12th week of quarantine for our family.

This morning, the Bride called on her way to the hospital. I had ordered her a long cowl that can be used to cover her hair under her PPE. She said it works great, it even keeps her N95 mask from slipping. The number of Covid deaths is going down in Nashville, but I still dream about too many people gathering together. I feel sick when I think about George Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe.” Is that why Mr T and most of his followers refuse to wear masks, because they can’t breathe? Or is it that they care less about other people and more about their vanity?

This morning I found Somers’ sister’s Facebook page. She’s starting a GoFundMe account for her brother who, she says, used to be into hard drugs, but turned his life around. He just got in with the “wrong crowd.” Only 25 years old with multiple arrests, including one for domestic abuse. Our city has been ravaged by a tornado, a virus, and now this, peaceful protests turning violent.

This morning I’m wondering if our democracy will hold, I’m worrying about the center of the universe. I’m thinking about the sculpture garden documenting the history of racial terror lynchings in Montgomery, Alabama at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. We were just there before the country closed down. Educate yourselves, and go there if you are White, to the Black experience. What if your son, or grandson was Black when the police stopped him for a broken tail pipe?  Read, listen and organize if you can – https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234

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