Archive | July, 2013

We Are Not So Different

15 Jul

You look at me

You think I know nothing

Family worked fields on our land

Put on coffin ships starving

Sent to strange land

Need not apply

We don’t want your kind

Go nurse other babies

Clean toilets, dig graves

Invaders still hold our lands

Names changed language removed

Bearing names of killers

Facial features of masters

We are not so different

I clap on the downbeat

We all assume

We all need to ask

What’s your story?

Who Got Next?

14 Jul

Emmitt Till, July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955
Ron Settles, June 12, 1959 — June 2, 1981
Trayvon Martin, February 5, 1995 – February 26, 2012

Learning is experiential,

Education theoretical in some damn book;

Staying in your lily white halls,

In your upper class malls,

Don’t tell me about justice served.

Ron Settles drove his car,

Minding his own business;

He was in my class,

Cops beat his ass,

Dead at 21 for driving while black.

Your darkness don’t scare me,

Your whiteness just might;

It’s what it’s in your soul,

It’s what you can control,

That keeps me up at night.

Get out of your small towns,

Get out of your small minds,

Go meet some other people;

Stop chanting at your steeples,

Loving your neighbor ain’t staying with your same kind.

Some of my best friends are this,

Some of my best friends are that,

Don’t give me that bullshyte;

This land got a bad blight,

You part of the problem or part of the solution?

Happy Anniversary to My Ex-Husband

9 Jul

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“It is only normal human nature to want to marry and procreate.” – My college advisor, 1978

Today is a very strange day for me. If I had stayed married to my ex-husband, today would be our 30th anniversary. In retrospect, I got married young, at the age of 24. In retrospect, it feels like our wedding was yesterday, 50 years ago, and never happened.

Growing up, I really didn’t think about marriage very much. I never had the vision of the knight in shining armor, the two kids and the house with the white picket fence, or being a soccer mom. I assumed I would get married and have children (that’s what people do, after all), but it was never the first thing on my mind. I thought more about pitching for the Mets, being a professional boxer, or writing a sports column for the New York Times. (Talk about missed clues!)

I entered college in the fall of 1976, and it surprised me how so many of my female classmates were focused on their “Mrs.” Degree. Some dropped out after only a few weeks because they missed their boyfriends back home. I enjoyed college life – from marching band to softball (another clue!) to pledging a sorority – and while I dated a bit, I was not looking for a husband. First of all, there were just too many to choose from; I couldn’t imagine how you could narrow down the field. And, more importantly, I still had that uncomfortable feeling I had since I was young that there was something different about me that did not include the desire to find a husband and settle down into domestic bliss.

My high school was very small; there were 99 in my graduating class, and while there were several thousand in my class at college, after a few semesters, it too felt stifling. I decided I wanted to drop out of school. I didn’t know what I would do; I just knew I didn’t want to be in school anymore. I went to see my advisor and told him I felt out of place because I wasn’t looking for a husband. He looked over his glasses and said in his Kentucky accent, “Why Doreen, it is only normal human nature to want to marry and procreate.”

Wow, that was helpful. Continue reading

No Instant Forgiveness

2 Jul

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Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be broken beyond repair. – Psalms 29:1

Lately, my secular job has made me think about how much worse I am at accepting criticism than I used to be. You would think it would become easier to accept criticism as I get older, but I am finding it more difficult. Part of this is because I am more confident in my skills and abilities now, so when I receive criticism that is just plain incorrect (such as a college professor “correcting” grammar that is correct to begin with), I do not have a lot of patience. Part of it is because despite being managed predominantly by managers who never give feedback unless it is negative, I am still not comfortable with this management style.

As a recovering alcoholic, I am still sometimes guilty of “black and white” thinking in a world that has many more than 50 shades of gray. While younger, I not only took all criticism as valid; I took it as an assault on the very worth of my personhood. In my older years I have been guilty of blowing off criticism altogether, even that which upon further examination would have provided an opportunity for much needed growth. As I like to say about many things, “The truth is somewhere in the middle.”

I have also been thinking of criticism in light of the apology to the GLBTQ community by Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, and in light of the apology of Paula Deen for some of her reported racist language and behavior.

It bothers me that in both cases, some expect (or demand) that those hurt by the words and actions of Mr. Chambers and Ms. Deen should just accept the apologies and move on. Quite a few straight people have written that GLBTQ people should take Mr. Chambers at his word and that, in particular, GLBTQ Christians should not question his motives or his sincerity. Likewise, I have read many Ms. Deen White apologists who write that since Ms. Deen is from the South, she should be forgiven without hesitation.

I am not buying either of these directives. Continue reading

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