Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Cookout

 

Yesterday, Matt and I took advantage of the unusually nice seventy-degree weather and took a walk through the park in Frederick. Rather than compete with traffic, we parked on a side street and cut through a bit of downtown. We happened by a rundown apartment building and some houses in need of attention on a sadder street just as the occupants were setting up for a neighborhood cookout. I was struck with a note of longing.

Poor, black neighborhood cookouts were a way of life for me, growing up. There was no money for family vacations (most people didn’t have those kind of jobs anyway). There was no money for a lot of things. But what you could do, was pool your resources, hang out, let the kids go wild and catch-up on community.  When black people get together, anybody walking down the street can eat. I missed that.

Especially given our circumstance. We don’t live in a neighborhood that favors block parties. I offend half the people we know, by virtue of my existence (I’m okay with it. Most of the people I offend, need it). They only party with people who agree with them, and BS overload gives me indigestion, anyway.

We enjoyed our walk and detoxed a little from the acid we’re constantly wading through, but that cookout lingered in my thoughts. It was a classic example of the ‘Gutter Flowers’ I’m so into. The area wasn’t pretty. The people didn’t appear to have much, and yet there was laughter and fun and the camaraderie that comes from having to make do with what you have. There’s no one-upmanship. No, who-has-what that’s better. Your job or your look didn’t have anything to do with what went on your hotdog.

On our way back to our car, we caught sight of the party in full swing.

They waved us over.

They would not take no for an answer. Because when black people get together, anybody walking down the street can eat.

It was a moment. We didn’t have to. We didn’t know these people. We had things to do. The area wasn’t pristine. It wasn’t racially balanced… We had an arsenal of excuses at our disposal. We ignored them all.

There were three older guys sitting on a tailgate. One of them may have been white or mixed. I’m not sure, but my husband is white. He had a burger. Because they didn’t have a preference on who was welcomed. It didn’t matter, that I was a black girl, with a white man instead of a brother. What mattered was, where I put the ketchup when I was done using it.

We talked and laughed and looked and listened. I wanted to take a picture, but I didn’t see a cellphone anywhere. If you’ve ever seen a group of ten-or-more people not on electronic devices, it’s a work of art. That’s not to say, they didn’t have them. But, they were doing community, it wasn’t worth a picture to interrupt that. I left my phone in my pocket.

Ernestine a.k.a Tater, has seven kids, twelve grandkids, and eight great-grandchildren. She drove an over-the-road rig for ten and a half years- the first year, without a CDL license. She says she didn’t have a choice.

Charlie and Wilder took turns manning the grill and Gwen sat there, nursing a beer. She told me, she didn’t contribute a thing- she couldn’t. She lost her job two months ago, but everybody made sure she had food…and today, a beer.

As far as the state of the nation, they had opinions. But only a few. Ferguson is like a third world country, somebody said. The racial divide is one of the reasons they came out and fired up the grill. They hoped, they prayed, somebody like my husband-somebody white would rather eat than fight. That’s as far as politics went.

Just as we were leaving, a lady with two kids were being wooed by the aroma coming off the grill and the temptation of games.

Those awesome neighbors, who clearly had less than many, put a table full of love in the midst of a time of hate. They challenged us to trust. They rewarded our effort with acceptance and food…good food.

There’s your Black Magic.

YOUR WAR

If you think this is only about politics, you have abandoned the truth. Democrats and Republicans have been running the country in turns for years. Ford to Carter to Regan, Bush to Clinton to Bush; that, is not this. Politics just happens to be the stage on which this latest power struggle has been set. President Obama’s birth certificate was not politics. His religious affiliation was not politics. Placing Mr. Trump in office was not about politics-he’s not a politician. This is not politics. This is war.

A war you incited. A war you wanted. A war you’re going to have to learn to live with, because it’s not going away. All of your weariness, all of your attempts to disconnect, all of your pretending it’s politics, is just your privilege kicking in. Only, this time, it’s not working.

Let’s get your favorite tactic out of the way so we can get on with business.

Diverting. Please, stop diverting. As I said, it’s not working.

Dealing with Mr. Trump’s actions/behaviors by focusing on what President Obama did doesn’t change Mr. Trump’s actions/behaviors. Tit-for-tat is petty. Always has been. It means, you are intentionally avoiding the truth. And, while we’re on the topic of what President Obama did: According to my calculations, you’ve had eight years to discuss President Obama. That’s 2,922 days (including two leap years). Over 3,000 if you count the time leading up to his first election. That’s a lot of hours to complain, resist, organize, whatever. But, that time is over. What President Obama may or may not have done, is neither an excuse nor a justification for Mr. Trump. (But, you already knew that.)

Today, we’re taking about you and your war. This is about supremacy. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else. I think most of the people who support Mr. Trump have one thing in common: they wholeheartedly believe he will advance their particular form of supremacy.

You have to give credit to the White Nationalist, at least they own it. They aren’t pretending it’s something other than what it is. If you support what they support, you are supporting them. Period. …for whoever is not against me is for me. I put it in red because Jesus said it. Mark 9:40

For extreme conservatives, it’s about preserving an ideal and a lifestyle that is beneficial to them… regardless of the cost to the rest of us. Until now, America’s greatness has been at the expense of minorities. Only a supremacist (closet/subconscious/outspoken) believes that’s a good idea. Only a supremacist (closet/subconscious/outspoken) would think the rest of us should sit down, be quiet, and accept it.

And finally, the Christians who don’t know the difference between Christianity and white privilege. They believe it is God’s will- and their duty- to force everyone to live according to their understanding. Your entrance into heaven or banishment into hell is dependent upon their interpretation of the bible. And, whether or not the country is ‘blessed’ is determined by how a situation affects white-people. (You know America was founded on Christian principles…and stealing land and making slaves.)

Supremacy doesn’t get any more supreme than that.

So, here we are. Fighting your supremacy in all it’s forms. It doesn’t matter how many times you divert. It doesn’t matter how political you pretend this is. It doesn’t matter if you claim God is on your side (screw the rest of us). This is a war you created and catered to when you chose supremacy over love…again.

Since we know your game, it’s only fair for me to tip our hand. Just this one time. Mr. Trump is making America great again. Not by returning us to some period of white-only prosperity. But, by giving us the incentive to rise. America’s greatness comes in large part, by way of it’s minorities. Race, religion, orientation, whatever. We, the minorities, are also, We, The People. We know how to fight -some of us have been fighting this particular war since the beginning. We know how to get along and see equals rather than less-thans. We see potentials not problems. We don’t live in fear of others (we are others). Because, we are true Americans of the United States.

You don’t have to like us, we accept that. Regardless, we’re not coming under your supremacy ever again. You’ll have to accept that.