black lives matter

What Can We Do?

I cried for several days because of the news of Ahmaud Arbery. It felt very similar, to me, to Trayvon Martin’s murder and it just gutted me. And George Floyd happened. And everything escalated.

I woke up to text messages from coworkers about the Justice Center in downtown Portland being set on fire, staff trapped in the building. I spent days glued to news and twitter and watching as protests, which started peacefully, turned violent all around the nation.

Portland loves a protest. They’ve been protesting everything for as long as I’ve lived here. I’ve participated in several protests. YEARS ago I marched against George W Bush and the war and I remember we shut down the freeways near downtown. I marched in the Women’s March. I am 100% in support of protests and marches and using your voice FOR CHANGE. My sincere hope is that the protests in the last week will spark some change. We need reform, we need checks and balances in police departments and police unions. We need good cops to stand up to shit they see, we need bad cops to be punished, and not protected by bad unions and bad contracts.

This is my opinion. I know not everyone will agree with it, but at this point, my heart hurts and I kind of don’t care. Black Lives Matter. Period. That is not a statement against anyone else, or a statement against military. It’s just a fact.

I wanted to do something positive, share something in my area of expertise. I know a lot of people feel stuck or lost or not sure how to help. You can start with knowledge. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. So here are some of my favorite books, written by African American authors. These are just a few of my favorites and I included two newer books that are very important reads and I recommend everyone pick up.

1- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“Then the mother of the murdered boy rose, turned to you, and said ‘You exist. You matter. You have value. You have every right to wear your hoodie, to play your music as loud as you want. You have every right to be you. And no one should deter you from being you. You have to be you. And you can never be afraid to be you.'”

Heavy, heavy stuff. I teared up a lot during this book. I definitely recommend this book for everyone!

This book is short. It’s a collection of short stories/essays/letters to the author’s son about race in America and his experiences growing up African American in Baltimore. It also talks about current events like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. He talked a lot about police and his fear for his son with the police.

This book was so heartbreaking and very eye-opening to the African American experiences and how current events are effecting their day to day life. It’s a hard book to read, but an important one, I think.

Despite the heavy, heartbreaking topic, the author did not come across as angry. The theme was sadness, grief and fear.

2 – Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin

I wrote a lot about this book when I reviewed it awhile ago. I won’t rehash it here. But I recommend you reading it. It’s written by his parents and it will gut you.

3 – Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde is an outstanding feminist writer. I loved this book in particular, but she has a lot of other great books, too. This is an autobiography of her life in New York, growing up in the 50’s as a black, gay poet and activist. She is absolutely amazing and her writing is stunning!

4 – Native Son by Richard Wright

Wow, I don’t even know what to say. I read this book for (I think) Sophomore English class and it left such a lasting impression on me I kept the book and I’ve reread it half a dozen times over the years. It’s a compelling story, one you CANNOT PUT DOWN. It is shocking. It is horrific.

It takes place in 1930’s Chicago. It’s about a race revolution, about a relationship between a white woman and a black man, a mistaken death, race, poverty, wealth, communism, social issues… It is such a good book, so worth reading.

5 – Another Country by James Baldwin

I have been a huge fan of James Baldwin since I was a teenager. I read this book in high school (on my own, not for English class or anything) and it left a really lasting impression. It takes place in the 1950’s. But it’s not a love story…it’s…about race and jazz and art and booze, and sexuality. There is racial tension, sexual identity tension. Pretty much anything by James Baldwin is worth a read.

More authors to check out:

Angela Davis

Alice Walker

Roxane Gay

Michelle Obama (her memoir was OUTSTANDING)

Here are some book lists to check out:

The 100 greatest books ever written by African American women

20 Best Books About Anti-Racism to Educate Yourself

14 books by black authors that are shaping our conversation about race

Instead of Amazon, please support a local business owned by African Americans. Here is a list you can try. And here is another list.

Stay safe, keep reading, keep listening and learning and trying to understand. Join the conversation.

Pandemic Thoughts

So far, I am coping okay. I guess I am in my “groove” of the new norm. Get up (I set my alarm). Have coffee and breakfast. Workout. Start work. Have lunch. Take a short nap during my lunch break (20-30 minutes tops). Have some tea when I wake up. Take Bella for a long walk. Back to work. Play with Logan. Watch TV. Have dinner. Read before bed.

This article in particle was really interesting. I definitely have been feeling that grind of monotony lately. The last few weeks have been hard. I was depressed, emotional, stressed, crabby, irritable, hormonal, add anything else to the list, I was it. I was feeling the pull in ALL DIRECTIONS. Trying to work from home, be a mom, be a wife, have time for myself…anything…it was all a struggle.

I try not to get political on this blog because it’s not really what it’s about and honestly, who cares, right? But I’m mad. I was furious and depressed in 2016. Did I love Hillary? No. But I voted for her and felt like she would have been very, very qualified. Our current administration is a fucking disaster and a shit show and I am SICK TO DEATH of the hatred, the bigotry, the idiocy, the disregard for KINDNESS and SCIENCE and FACTS.

The pandemic has magnified all of those emotions. As someone who has always been fascinated by science, and in particular deadly diseases and pandemics (if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you can see it from my reading history), I’ve wondered what would happen if we had a pandemic. The first time I thought we might be close was Zika. Then that kind of went away…or, didn’t come to the states really. But still. I read about this stuff all the time and I believe in scientists.

So when I see people going to Target and the grocery stores and NOT WEARING MASKS, or gathering in big groups to protest re-opening businesses/protesting the shutdowns…it makes my head hurt in so many ways. (I find it so weird that no one cared that people with guns were marching on capitols protesting but…peaceful protests in recent days have been tear gassed…)

Trust me, I want the economy to open up, too. My husband lost his job at the beginning of this mess. I am upset. I am stressed. We need him to get a job. We need the economy to open up. I am worried about the years of lasting effects on the economy–like businesses that will close forever…I am worried about Logan’s daycare closing. I am also worried about daycares doubling in cost when things open up again BECAUSE THEY CAN. Because we are all desperate.

And then the recent events…the horrific events that have been the #1 topic of all social media and news outlets–as they should be. I am devastated by the deaths. I have no words that will really make any difference. But I wanted to say something. I am working on a post, that will hopefully be a little more constructive. But right now, I’m just mad.