BLACK LIVES MATTER… ?, #11
BLACK LIVES MATTER
NOTE: Reader Caution is advised. Certain language I use in this post is graphic and will be offensive to some. Everything shared here is the truth.
Black Lives Matter.
I have finally come to this table to drink this Koolaid.
And I can – now, acknowledge that Black Lives Matter.
It’s taken me some time. I’ll admit.
Largely because I just don’t get it. … Black Lives Matter?
Are black lives the only lives that matter. Do brown ones matter. How about yellow ones? Purple ones? Red ones? White ones… Plaid?
It’s absurd… to me.
To tell me – nay, shove it down my throat – on every front page newspaper headline, every lead-in story on the evening news, every fucking clown out there who has a social media handle and thinks they’re some important authority to the issue… that because you say so, it is so.
That Black Lives Matter.
Of course they do. … who the fuck are you? Seriously?!
Daphney Lindsey… matters.
Stephen Walker… matters.
Deron Johnson… matters.
Tammy Miller… matters.
Tamu Shaw… matters.
Brian Ashe… matters.
Anisa Downey… matters.
Sabrina Mathews… matters.
Auburn James… matters.
If you were to tell me that any of these people didn’t matter… I’d tell you to go fuck yourself. And fuck you. Who the fuck are you?
These were… are, people I grew up with. Deron was my best friend… from 1st grade to 5th grade. I loved Anisa… we were friends in elementary school. She was bad ass and I loved her. Tamu? Fucking loved her. If you had a problem, and you were on the right side of the equation, Tamu had your back. Tammy? She inspired us all. She was rad. So funny… she and her sister Cheryl and her brother Reggie – fucking kicked ass, the Olympians and the Major League baseball stars that they all were. Philandus? Could throw a fucking football like no one. And God was he handsome. Auburn – heart of gold, bigger than his chest could hold… and just down right handsome too.
There are… were, so many other ‘ black ‘ people I grew up with. The idea of them NOT mattering… didn’t ever even cross my mind.
Were they different… ? No. This is so bizarre. No, they weren’t. Why do we ask this? The color of their skin was… is different – than mine. The texture of the hair was… is different – than mine. Other than that… no. We lived in the same neighborhoods – most of us. Canyon Crest and Sunset Hills. Some of the kids were from poorer neighborhoods. A ‘ woke ‘ moment for me is only now coming to understand in recent years – duh – that the black kids I was friends with from poorer neighborhoods were bussed into our ‘ rich ‘ neighborhoods as a part of school integration and school bussing policies developed in the 1970’s to equalize the playing field and create fair and equal opportunities for all our youth. I think my parents forgot to tell my brother and me that. Finally, something my parents did right… because where you lived wasn’t important then… to me anyway, and it is not important now. Where you live or the color of your skin. We all just went to Castle View, and then to Gage, and then on to Poly.
We were just kids… growing up. Laughing and crying. Succeeding and struggling. Being kids…
And so I don’t get it. Not then. Not now.
I don’t get why a cop has to pull over a black person quicker than a white person.
I don’t get why a shopkeeper has to keep a watchful eye over a black shopper and not a white shopper.
I don’t get why a white person thinks it’s interesting to pet a black person’s head.
I don’t get why its assumed that a black person is more likely to be armed than a white person.
I don’t get why a white person thinks it’s interesting to talk about how tan they can get in the summer… and how much closer their skin color gets to a black person’s.
I don’t know why we assume all black people eat watermelon and fried chicken and chicken waffles… and white people don’t.
I don’t know why black men are believed to have such large penis’s… as compared to white men.
I don’t understand why it’s believed a white woman would only be attracted to a black man because of his huge cock. Or if a black man is around a white woman, its only to rape her.
I don’t understand why black people can call one another ‘ nigger ‘ while a white person can’t…. I wish this would just stop all together.
I don’t understand how anyone could not feel the deep soulful joy of a black church on a Sunday morning.
I don’t understand how we think black people are naturally poorer… dumber… slower… known for poor decision making… assumed to be on social welfare… and using drugs… and pushing out babies without daddies… and… and… and… blah… blah… blah.
I don’t get it.
I do not fucking get it.
None of this makes any sense to me. None of it. The kids I grew up with, having named just a few here – with their parents and families and black communities, weren’t any of these things. Yes – their hair was different. Of note, I’ll be so happy when black women STOP straightening their hair. Why would you do that? When you have such rocking gorgeous natural hair!? Honestly, I can tell you we thought many black people smelled different. Yep, we did. I think you should ask some of those black people what they thought about the way we – white kids, smelled. We smelled different to them too. Especially after Phys Ed. Nasty. Some obsessed about their ‘ ashey skin ‘ … aka dry skin? Guess what dumb asses – we all have dry skin. It’s just more apparent on a darker background. Fuck. Just get some lotion.
So I don’t get it… somehow these things mean that Black Lives DON’T Matter? I don’t get it… I’ve tried so hard to get to this moment.
Today, I’m the ‘ G ‘ in the LGBTQ line up.
Its gay pride month.
Leave it to the gays, to take a day and turn it into a month… fuck, let’s just do rainbows and unicorns – and brightly colored red g-strings, with studded cock rings, and black leather harnesses accessorized with Elton John sunglasses – ALL YEAR. Waive that flag high y’all. Waive it high!! … seriously? Turn down the house beat for a minute… so I can hear myself think.
Another thing I don’t get? Being ‘ proud ‘ to be gay…
I’m no more ‘ proud ‘ to be gay than I am proud… to have blue eyes. Yes. Granted, my eyes are stunning [ when they’re not bloodshot anyway ]. Liquid lapid blue. When my grandfather was alive, and I still interacted with my father, you could line us all up – me with my brother, and we were like some kind of freaky alien blue eyed invader pod from some Irish highland. Our eyes are so blue they’re creepy… and mesmerizing… mmmmmm. ; ]] But nothing to be ‘ proud ‘ of. I don’t see my sexual orientation as anything to be ‘ proud ‘ of. It’s who I am. It’s just not a ‘ thing ‘ for me. So the notion of being ‘ proud ‘ to be gay is as relevant to me as being proud to have blue eyes. It’s just strange and bizarre. It’s who I am. … and… yes… to this discussion, who I am – matters.
Who I love… how lucky I am to have such beautiful eyes. It matters.
So… then I get to thinking… long and hard. With the house beat turned down to a manageable backdrop melody. These past couple years. Escalating with each police arrest. Each police killing. Every mother sobbing her eyes out over the son, and the daughter, she has lost to a brutal AND UNNECESSARY killing. Each riot. Every building burned to the ground in all of our communities. Each person killed because they can’t breath.
I get to thinking, I’m a ‘ faggot ‘.. not too dissimilar from what being a ‘ nigger ‘ is. I can literally, and with great authority, empathize with my brother and sister… the niggers. This faggot can do that.
As a faggot – a fudge packer, a but licker, a pansy, a queer – I get to call my fellow faggots ‘ fag ‘ , ‘ bitch ‘ , ‘ girrrlllll ‘ , ‘ sister ‘ . But anyone who isn’t a faggot isn’t allowed to call me… us, that. Or any of these derogatories. Again, I don’t get this whole thing either. I have to pass this one over to the psych’s in the room… And just like nigger, I wish this bullshit would stop too.
As a faggot, I suck dick. Yep, I do. And I fuck guys. In the ass. I’m a ‘ top ‘. So yep. That too. I passionately make out with the ones I fall in love with. And I love that. I hold hands with the ones I truly love. And that makes my heart soar. I fantasize… as I’ve done since I was a closeted teen in Riverside, California in the 1980’s, about a perfect partnership and a perfect family and a perfect home with my perfect guy. Can’t say I’ve nailed that one yet, but I do fantasize. And I do continue to show up and try.
Oh… and while I’m sucking dick, and fucking ass, and making out… and fantasizing – I am raising a brilliant young child, running two successful businesses, paying my taxes, growing my investments and net worth, giving to charitable causes that are important to me, volunteering my time to causes that are important to me. Failing miserably at times. Learning from my failures. Standing back up to march forward. Succeeding wonderfully at other times… and amongst it all, finding time to ride my horses, and love my dogs… and smell the roses in my yards.
Through it all I pray. To a God I know loves me deeply. And has always known that my life matters… and he’s got my back. From the very beginning, being baptized, and then spending my Sunday youth in those pews at Saint Catherine’s.
It was on the eve of my getting ‘ legally ‘ married, that the Supreme Court of The United States ruled in favor of marriage equality. Not one for bandwagons, I didn’t take to the street with the rainbow flag that I don’t have. But I did stare at the television when the news broke and I rushed to turn it on. And I cried… I did say out loud… ‘ never in my life could I ever have imagined this would happen ‘ . I didn’t. Never. It would never happen. I might live to be 80 or 90… please don’t force me to 100. Not pretty. And if I lived that long, the closeted teen from Riverside, California could NEVER believe that our great country would tell me that I was equal… that I was important… Wait… wait for it…
… that I mattered.
Because up until that unbelievable moment in time, beaten into me over decades, from birth… I knew with certainty… that I didn’t… matter.
My parents told me so growing up. Through all their actions and their behaviors. I didn’t matter. My grandfather begged me to seek conversion therapy when I came out. I wasn’t going to matter unless I did. As friends and supportive relatives giggled and thought it was cute to ask who was the girl and who was the boy in my relationships. Does that fucking matter?? And NO – THAT IS NOT A THING. As the Reagans, while reminding us to just say no as I came of age in the 80’s, would confirm that what we now define as LGBTQ folks, are an aberration of humanity and that God is right to punish us with AIDS, amongst other things at the hand of our fellow – mostly white – man. Obviously – we didn’t matter. As all this… and the flying ‘ FAG! ‘ hurled from the passing car on Santa Monica Boulevard, I knew… that… my life… did not… matter.
So… is this how people with black skin feel? That because our white European ancestors to this country built this country on the enslaved labor of dark colored people, who we brutalized in their homes of origin, in Africa and the Caribbean, beating and chaining them, hauling them to burgeoning states uniting in this New World… that they don’t matter?
That this country’s initial major industries – textiles, specifically cotton; agriculture, specifically sugar and tobacco; and building materials, specifically lumber then steel – were produced in the quantities they were produced in at the profit margins they were sold at market for, all resting on the free labor of black slaves, for export back to the mother land… that their lives didn’t matter.
That the inspiring and rich cultures that the ancestors of slaves built in this country, in the hundreds of years that have followed, specifically in the South – Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Texas… and more broadly throughout these fifty states, places filled not just with amazing foods inspired by ancient other-continent recipes, but filled with song and sounds that grab your heart and shake your soul… that their lives didn’t matter.
That the God that is so prevalent within so much of the black community in the United States, across a number of denominations, would EVER tell a black person that their life didn’t matter…
That a black man, with his black wife, and their black daughters, ascended, with their families – RIGHTFULLY – as a brilliant, fully qualified, passionately committed public servant… and American citizen, to the highest office of our land to lead us, and the world, with such authority, empathy, vision, kindness… that he… didn’t… matter… That she, our First Lady – biliant, educated, accomplished, inspiring – RIGHT… didn’t… matter…
That some very sad white people, grossly improperly and unconstructively dealing with their issues of loss and fear and ‘ other ‘ ism, could ever believe that … lynching, and burning, and dragging someone behind a truck, and bombing a church filled with black children… was ever ‘ right ‘ … because black lives didn’t matter.
And that today, white people, cut from a too similar cloth woven in a past never in step with humanity, believe they must – they must – redistrict voting districts, reassess affirmative action, revisit policing authority… all with a none too invisible agenda of ‘ keeping things the way they’ve always been ‘ … when, the now of this moment is telling you with absolute authority, fuck you. We’re changing the rules. NOW. We matter…
I haven’t done any of these things I’m outlining to anyone black. Or anyone else. I haven’t. I just haven’t. And I’m not going to wear that label of white guilt or white shame. I’m not doing it. But when I imagine… as I do in June, now. As a gay man. Who is supposed to be riding the pride truck. And especially so this June with where we all are together. How scared I was to be gay as a teenager. Because it was true. AIDS was God’s punishment for me. And I was deserving of dieing a horrible death for expressing … me. And my love. How terrified I was – and how much courage it took… sometimes still takes – to hold the hand of the guy I’m dating when we are in public and walking down the street to dinner. How as bullet proof as I think myself to be, that the hurling ‘ fag’ from the passing car… makes me wonder – ‘ does that guy have a gun? Is there a chance he wants to kill me? ‘ . That, to this day, the people who biologically created me, STILL don’t ‘get’ me. That I will always be so foreign to them and what they hold as ‘ right ‘ . That I watch my son playfully laugh and banter with his buddies as they gallop off to load on to the morning bus for school… that someone in his day might hurt him… because his dad is a fag.
I imagine… and it begins to click. My life didn’t matter… to anyone, but a small circle of folks who could see beyond the label of faggot. Until in 2013 when the United States Supreme Court, a small circle of folks representing the greatest minds… at least legally, amongst our entire national population, said loud and clear in passing the Marriage Equality Act,
YOU MATTER!… YOU!… YOUR LIFE. MATTERS!
You – I – am a human being.
Not only does the Constitution that is the bedrock of our nation say that I am entitled to EVERYTHING that EVERYONE ELSE is ENTITLED TO, but as righteous common and good sense… human being to human being… I matter.
How could anyone ever see that differently. That’s a rhetorical statement. There isn’t any other way to see it.
And then… this month… I’m struck by the bittersweet irony. Sickening. Saddening. In my 50 years on this Earth, with all that has come to pass for folks like me that hang on to one of the letters in the LGBTQ moniker… we – we LGBTQ people – would not be here if it weren’t for the agonizing work and centuries old commitment – OVER 400 YEARS YOU’VE BEEN AT THIS… FUCK – that the black community has endured for equality… to matter. Because the black community has fought, to the grave, literally, to matter… For over 400 years in these United States, black people have fought.
All the moms. All the dads. The sons and the daughters. The brothers and sisters. Grandmas and grandpas. Aunts and uncles. Husbands and wives… who have passed from this Earth to their Heaven, believing at their departure that what they did, how they lived, what the contributed… didn’t matter. How hard they have fought… It makes me sick to my stomach and makes my heart hurt so deeply.
NO HUMAN BEING – NOT NOW, NOT EVER – SHOULD HAVE TO FIGHT – AT ALL – TO BE RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR FUNDAMENTAL, GOD CREATED AND GIVEN, HUMAN VALUE. NO ONE.
AND THERE IS NO OTHER HUMAN BEING WHO CAN EVER – NOT NOW, NOT EVER – DENY ANOTHER HUMAN BEING THAT VALUE. NO ONE.
I would be a royal prick to not acknowledge that my value – as a gay man, along this brutal path in our human story, at some point surpassed the human value of a black person. Of black people… somewhere along the way.
I have work to do.
As grateful as I am to the shoulders – the black shoulders – I stand on… strong. And, yep… this part I do with pride. I need – I MUST – hop down. I, now, must stand firm on the same ground, with my strong feet, and my strong legs, and my broad shoulders…
It is now my turn to raise my fellow human… yah that one, the one with the black skin – UP.
I must raise him and her and them… UP.
This is YOUR moment. With all that YOU are. All that YOU’VE been. And all that we can never imagine you will become.
IT IS YOUR TURN.
I don’t know whoever told you you didn’t matter. YOU MATTER.
You matter to me…
Be you. Be strong. Be proud of what you’re accomplishing and the new order you are founding for all the black… and gay kids. All the brown and yellow and purple and red… and white people who will inherit your legacy.
Daphney Lindsey… matters. Deron Johnson… matters. Tammy Miller… matters. Cheryl Miller… matters. Reggie Miller… matters. Tamu Shaw… matters. Brian Ashe… matters. Mrs. Ashe… matters. Anisa Downey… matters. Sabrina Jackson… matters. Auburn James… matters. Diedra Armstrong… matters. Stephanie Carr… matters. Richard Aubert… matters. Gloria Blakey… matters. Philandus Jackson… matters. Sean Foster… matters. Mondo Boyd… matters. Aaryn Walker… matters. Ken [ that sweet kid at the Starbucks ]… matters. Eric Alexander… matters. Wendy Alford… matters. Kelly Allen… matters. Renee Barlin… matters. Edward Bolar… matters. Tara Bowden… matters. Kimberly Butts… matters. Darrell Conner… matters. Malikah Crummie… matters. Deanna Cunningham… matters. Yatasha Edinbyrd… matters. Marcus El-mongo… matters. Sean Foster… matters. Timothy Harrison… matters. Yvette Hill… matters. Yvonne Hill… matters. Kenneth Hosea… matters. Jemal Lilly… matters. Walter Newell… matters. Christopher Nix… matters. Linda Parker… matters. Rikki Parker… matters. Orlando Parks… matters. Charrissima Rogers… matters. Michael Smalling… matters. Michelle Smith… matters. Annette Wallace… matters. Kenny White… matters. Wesley Williams… matters. Natasha Woods… matters.
Black Lives Matter.