It’s just getting on to 6 AM. I’ve been up since 5 due to a stomach whatever-this-is… it’s definitely got me questioning dietary choices lol.
I’m gonna put out some resources for mental health next week. There are also some podcasts that I love for folks who struggle with mental illness that can provide alternatives to what is typically out there. We need all we can get.
I want to be clear about something though:
I don’t judge folks who are expressing their rage and their grief through protest. People can and should resist with their hearts as well as their minds.
I can’t believe we’re already at two years since my first post.
Status Report: Living in KY is great, though I have been on the road a lot. I’m really looking forward to more time at home, though it has been good fun doing my job for U.S. Labor Against the War
On the ever-so-difficult emotional health front, I am constantly reminded that when I’m playing my cards right I can get anything done and still be able to manage how I am feeling. But I need to respect my physical health too and take a break (like I am today, for the most part.) Exercise can be harder to pull off but I’m recognizing the need to get off my ass and move. Sometimes it can even be fun!
Two years ago, I had a rough time and it got pretty deep pretty fast. But it didn’t last. Nothing stays the same forever. Something to keep in my back pocket when seas get rough…
All my bipolar folks out there, remember that you aren’t by yourself in this. At minimum, you got me. Reach out if you need help, take a break if you need a break, and don’t forget to drink a glass of goddamn water. Your body and your mind need that shit and we need you.
I spent a lot of time in union halls in the early 2000s, at first with union memberships and later with leadership as my role (and experience level) changed. I got to know a lot of people and learned a lot. More often than not, I would find myself alone with a group of men and we, once my supervisor left the room, would inevitably let the situation turn bawdy. Stories would be told, lies or truths, and we would reminisce.
I have been in two or three situations similar to the one depicted in the Donald Trump audio that is now everywhere. As a young guy, I often played the role of a Billy Bush. I would chuckle and go along for the ride. I would laugh as the alpha demonized a conquest or hinted at a situation like the one Trump described. I played along.
That was pretty fucked up. I was wrong to do that. I am sorry for my role in those situations.
Sometimes I was playing politics. Sometimes I was being naive about what was being said. But sometimes… I was going along because I thought that was how things should be.
I am sorry for being that kind of guy.
My confidence level grew and I started learning from men I admire. I learned that I could choose male allies, friends, and mentors. I recognized patterns in my own behavior that lead to bad relationships and stupid decisions. I learned and I grew up. I took responsibility.
I still do stupid things. But I recognize them as wrong and I apologize for them. I am not perfect. Most of the time, I am a very human mess.
My circles are different now. My introversion keeps me from maintaining a huge number of close friends, but the ones I do have aren’t Donalds and they wouldn’t tolerate a Billy in their lives.
I am sorry.
“We are what we repeatedly do.”
I’ve got a full Google inbox, three days to get ready for a conference, and a two-year old son who demands my undivided attention when I pick him up. Lately, it just hasn’t been part of my day’s plan to explain race and racism to people. I’m already exhausted. It takes a lot to push down all the weird feelings and drive all over the country anyway.
I appreciate your desire to learn more, but I can’t help you out right now. There are groups like SURJ, etc. that will help you sort through your feelings and figure out what to do. If you want to talk mental health, Doctor Strange, or something else… come through.
Oh, and I’ve been using DDP Yoga to get my blood moving and defy the darkness. Check it out https://ddpyoga.com/
Justice is full of surprises. So is Anice. Every day is a new opportunity to discover those surprising things. I love that about our life, about life itself. That ability to surprise me.
Stop using mental health, mental illness, as a slur.
I see your bullshit.
Last night I asked my mom about 1968 and if she felt it was similar to today. Mom recalled that time pretty clearly. She remembered adults “whispering” about what was going on. People were fearful and had heard stories about Black Panthers recruiting kids her age. They were afraid of shootouts with police and her father, my grandfather, got together with the gym teachers and other black men and formed the “K Men.” They would take turns stationed at the doors of the school to “protect the kids from the Black Panthers” in case they wanted to “disrupt things.” But if they wanted to talk to the principal first to give a “seminar or lecture” they would let them in. She learned the lesson that we fight with our minds instead of “guns or fists” and that the best weapon was “education,” specifically “credentials.” That’s why they liked King better… “he was an educated man.”
The lesson about credentials, etc. didn’t really take with me as I’ve never been quite into “respectability,” and I asked why she thought I was so different. She recognized that I’ve always been “wired” differently and that my response to things that I don’t think are important is akin to the story of Ferdinand at the bullfight. But she also informed me that she sees us living in a different time. When she was growing up, if you crossed the wrong white person on the wrong day she said you could be “taken from your home in the middle of the night.” Black families would often suddenly “move away on a rumor, afraid of being killed for some slight” and that was the reason why her family moved from South Carolina to Pittsburgh before she was born.
So many thoughts about leaving MD.
Getting here was quite a challenge. We had a near collapse in the opportunity that would bring us here. Then we had to sell the house and at multiple points there were issues and challenges that felt so crazy and oddly timed. That culminated in a move beset by the largest snowstorm in recent DC metro history. Who would have predicted record breaking thundersnow when you are moving everything you own?
But we made it. All our stuff, surprisingly, made the trip with us.
Truthfully, it often feels like a real coup that we even made it out. It took quite a bit of work and luck to make it. Anice and I often look at each other in wonder, both feeling like a crew at the end of a heist film with our loot.
Justice has settled into a new routine with, as he often shouts, ‘new friends!’ He is still exploring the house, finding new places to play and hide. His grandparents are close by, a fact he is now well aware of. They are exhausted by him I am sure, but they love him so much I imagine they don’t really care.
I’ll let Anice
tell her story when she’s ready, but I will say the three weeks away from her felt long.
Am I sad to have left friends? Yes. Am I sad to have left the area? No. It was time to find a life and pace worth living. The action and excitement of the area doesn’t thrill me like it once did. My activism is still here and I still have passion, but my life is more important to me now. It requires a blending of the two that honors both needs. Changes…
If you visit we have room. There’s also bourbon. That’s important.
After a working day and a shift in schedule that put me with an unusually anxious child all day, I am finally alone with some thoughts.
Ten years from now, my son will be Tamir’s age just about. I wonder what kind of world it will be. I want my kid to be free to be a kid. Sadly, his light-skinned face and curly hair will be an odd ugly blessing. People will wonder his racial identity for years. He’ll need to identify himself as black if he wants to, I bet… something that he’ll grow to love and/or hate.
I am slowly recognizing that the letter written to my unborn son will be inadequate. No amount of preparation will be enough to protect him. It certainly hasn’t done much other than make me a quick-to-apologize, slow-to-recognize mess. I shrink myself for the benefit of others. I regularly avoid conflict because it doesn’t fit with my idea of who I am, even though for a long time late at night I would dream of battle with scores of enemies. While these were the dreams of a man with high blood pressure, sleep apnea and grinding teeth… they were my dreams (that I still have occasionally.)
When I indulge that part of me that loves the feeling of good, passionate, hard-fought conflict in a way that is healthy and righteous I always feel better. Even when I lose, I win when I listen to myself. What right will I have to deny that feeling to my son? What world am I creating for him when I encourage him to be afraid of being who he is?
For 2016, I’m making myself a promise that I’ll lose what’s left of my apology filled protective mechanism. It no longer serves me and it will certainly not serve my son. We will live in this new world together, unbossed like my shero Shirley Chisholm. I’m going to participate in movements I care about but remember to nourish myself. Maybe he’ll come along with me… if it isn’t past his bedtime.