Storming the Castle

The mortarboard has been tossed, the tassel turned, the gown gone. We sat in a stadium full of pride, parents up in the bleachers hovering over their kids one last time. As if designed by Zach, Cal Poly’s graduation was efficient: short speeches, spaced seating, punctual pronouncing.

Forgoing the usual thousand-named alphabeticals, the first to arrive were the first to leave, having passed through a dual-threaded system of readers and diplomas. An hour later he was done; two hours later draining a keg with college friends and their aghast parents.

He starts his career next week, but I’m already sitting at his desk, wondering how we got here so fast. I know most middle children aren’t used to the spotlight, so I hope Zach has his sunglasses on for the next few minutes.

Continue reading “Storming the Castle”

Homegoing: Out of the Center

“The white man’s god is just like the white man. He thinks he is the only god, just like the white man thinks he is the only man.” –Ma Aku, from Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing’s beautiful journey widens the canvas of history and offers me another chance to consider a world that I am not the center of. Yaa Gyasi’s novel connects generational stories from the heart of West Africa to America and back — with a long view of history. I loved reading it, and was affected by it in ways that are worth reflecting on: taking a wider view of history allows us to decenter ourselves.

Continue reading “Homegoing: Out of the Center”

2020 Favorites

Some really great Video found our screens this year, and while it’s getting much harder to narrow down, I’ve managed a Top 10. That’s partly because there is so much more available, but also in this year, there was so much more time available to watch.

But first, music. I love exploring new sounds and artists, hearing new perspectives through soundwaves and lyrics, and this year took me places unexpected.

Continue reading “2020 Favorites”

Whose Heritage?

[based on research by Southern Poverty Law Center]

This was originally published a few years ago but recent events – repeated events – are causing me to dig in again, and I know many of you are too. When I take the short-view of Race in America – this week, this year, this decade – I respond with words like, “Shocked”, “Surprised”, and “Where did this come from?”.  With those responses, I no longer need to tell you my skin is white. You already know. 

Because none of this is a surprise to People of Color, as I’m hearing time and again.  My surprise doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening, it means I wasn’t listening. The re-post below (with some editing) written after a 2017 Unite the Right rally at a confederate memorial in Charlottesville, shows but a few more strands that look different when seen as part of the whole.  At least, I went into it thinking it was only a few strands… Continue reading “Whose Heritage?”

A Dry Mouth

 

“The objective reality is that virtually no one who is white understands the challenge of being black in America.”

These past two weeks.   Have left me with a dry mouth, unable to form words.  I wanted to be able to say more but the letters on the screen all blurred together.

The death of George Floyd was but one in a long line of wake-up calls about racial disparity, but it’s a loud one.

But this dares me to have hope: that we might all agree there is a problem. And when we do, our call is to stay focused on addressing this problem amidst all the distracting reactions and counter-reactions.

“How did I miss this?”

To move forward, though, we must Continue reading “A Dry Mouth”

Tied into a Single Garment of Destiny with MLK

Pause to think for a moment: you’re boarding a public bus to head downtown for some errands, maybe to the department store before a Saturday lunch at a barstool diner. In front of you, an older gentlemen steps onto the bus, pays, and turns walks past the only empty seat in the front, all the way to the back where he will stand for the ride, because where he sits depends not on his age or order of boarding, but on the color of his skin. You follow him onto the bus and then, because your skin is white, rest yourself in that front seat.

White people in the front, Black people in the back.

And when you get off that bus, heading toward Woolworths, you stop for a drink at a water fountain. There’s a water fountain clearly designated for you, which you enjoy before a quick stop at the “Whites only” bathroom.

All of this happens out in the open, right there in the 1950s, in front of God and everybody. Continue reading “Tied into a Single Garment of Destiny with MLK”