It’s a Start

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On Sunday night like many, many people during these troubled times, my sleep was… well… troubled. I’d intended to start a blog post on Monday. And on Sunday night I tossed and turned trying to think of what to write. What to say. How even to begin. I am not American, and I felt that I had no right to weigh in on the situation unfolding in the States following the killing of George Floyd last week.

But since Hubby and I had been watching the protests every day on television, and then the posturing of politicians as a result of the protests, that is what was on my mind. To the exclusion of most other things, including the pandemic. So how could I write about anything else? And how to write something that did not sound like insincere bandwagon jumping. That did not sound mealy-mouthed, or self-satisfied, or condescending. Or as if I thought I had all the answers. Or any answers at all. When I don’t.

Then early Monday evening Hubby and I watched President Trump’s press conference. The address in which he vowed to deploy the military against the protesters. Said, “Our country always wins.” You can see that speech here, if you haven’t already. For a minute or so afterward, Hubby and I just stood there in our living room, looking at each other. Me in my apron, still wearing oven mitts and holding a spatula since I’d rushed in from the kitchen. Hubby just out of the bath, holding his towel, and still dripping a little. And finally Hubby said, “What the fuck, Suz?” And in that moment, I felt a little teary, and scared. Scared for those kids protesting in Washington who’d been only moments before driven back by the police on horseback, scared for all the kids out on the streets in all the cities waving their signs so earnestly. It felt to me like the day the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The term “teachable moment” is one teachers talk about a lot. When events conspire to make the lesson you are trying to teach students so much more meaningful and thus lasting. I was teaching science fiction novels to fifteen-year-old high school kids in 1989. Novels about totalitarian societies, in fact. The nightly news of the goings on in China helped me explain the literature. And the literature helped students to come to terms with the world that was unfolding before them.

And the other night I wished for a few minutes that I was still teaching. Not because I wanted to “use” the events of the last couple of weeks in my classroom, even though, if I were still in the classroom, I would do so in a heartbeat. But because by using those events, finding news clips, and writings about racism, articles, podcasts, and poetry and talking about it all with my students would be at least something I could do. Something useful. So I didn’t feel so helpless. So superfluous to requirements, so to speak.

Instead we turned the television off and ate our supper. And later I scrolled through Instagram, and saw that a former student of whom I am very fond, and who I follow on Instagram, had posted a black square in her feed to support the “Blackout Tuesday” movement in solidarity with those protesting racial inequality and the death of George Floyd. People “muted” their own content to allow the voices of those who needed to be heard to be stronger. So I followed Allison’s lead. I “muted” my IG account with that little black square, and turned off my phone, determined to stay off social media, and the internet entirely, on Tuesday.

It wasn’t much, posting that little black square. But it was a start. It didn’t feel fake. Even though the campaign went a bit wrong like so much on social media these days, filling up the “Black Lives Matter” feed with black squares and apparently pushing out posts that attempted to convey important information about the protests.

So maybe posting that little black square wasn’t actually “a start” after all. But it didn’t feel wrong.

I’d hesitated posting on FB or IG about the protests and about racial injustice in general, despite all the admonitions that “silence is complicity.” I shared a couple of articles posted by people who have solid credibility in my view, but said nothing myself. Then on Sunday, I read Haley Nahman’s post on Maybe Baby. She expressed exactly what I had been feeling. That the facile nature of social media makes it too easy to post a bunch of stuff which espouses values we don’t necessarily demonstrate in our real lives.

When I hesitate to speak out online, it’s not because I don’t care, am unsure of whether it’s my place, or don’t know evil when I see it, it’s because the medium of social media so often lulls us into believing it’s enough. That the right post makes us Good.

Haley Nahman, Maybe Baby no 9.

Okay, so maybe posting that little black square wasn’t a start in the way of doing something helpful or constructive. But Tuesday itself was a start for me. For me “Blackout Tuesday” meant that I didn’t angst about what to write on my blog. I read some articles, worked out, did some housework, listened to a couple of podcasts. Mostly ignored the news. Drove to the bookstore to pick up a book that I’d ordered in February, and which had been sitting in the store since mid-March. And thought a lot about teachable moments.

Not from the point of view of the teacher, but from the point of view of the student. If I couldn’t do anything else useful, I would try to become a student myself, and let this be my teachable moment.

My friend Frances who blogs over at Materfamilias Writes has been reading the book How To Be an Anti-Racist. On her IG feed the other day Frances’ daughter quoted American writer Ijeoma Oluo who said that “Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself.” So we don’t have to be perfect, just self-aware, understand that we’re not perfect, and commit to learning, and to trying to change ourselves. We can be the student, not the teacher. There’s something very freeing about that idea.

And this morning I contacted my former student Allison Dore who I mentioned above. Allison has so much street cred, I knew she would have some advice about where I might start.

I taught Alison years ago, and watched her grow from a mature-beyond-her-years fourteen year old to a funny, funky, book-loving nineteen year old, passionate about causes, and, well, about everything as I recall. We were reunited a few years ago through Facebook, and I went along with friends to see her perform at a local comedy club. She hadn’t changed. We were so happy to see each other that night. I remember we laughed about the time when she was a senior, and a passionate animal rights supporter, and wore a spotted faux fur coat to class. When she walked by my desk that morning, I said in a stern voice, “Oh, Allison. How many stuffed animals had to die to make that coat?” She rolled her eyes, and replied, “Good one, Ms Burpee.”

To date I think that is one of my best lines. Sigh. I’m not the comedian Allison is, but I try.

I’m very proud of her, actually. She has overcome a lot, has a successful radio career, and in the last few years has founded the record label Howl and Roar which aims to reflect the diversity of voices in the comedy industry.

Allison Dore, the woman behind Howl and Roar records.
A recent magazine article about Allison.

Allison is still committed to social justice causes, and she still loves to read. She recommends The Skin We’re In by Canadian writer Desmond Cole, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and anything by Maya Angelou or James Baldwin, two of her favourites. She suggests this list from Town and Country magazine, which appeals to me since there’s both fiction and non-fiction. And this list of ten documentaries, which look really interesting. You can link to each documentary directly from the article.

So I’m going to make a start. It feels right, I think, to be a student at this stage of my life.

We are none of us finished. We are each a work in progress. Certainly here in Canada we shouldn’t feel complacent; we have our own demons to deal with.

So… I have homework to do… and for now… it’s a start.

P.S. In a post written by Kelly Johnson on the blog Cupcakes and Cashmere I found a wonderful list of fiction written by black women as well as a bunch of IG accounts to follow. I’ve ordered one book from the list and subscribed to a couple of the IG accounts which are all written by avid readers.

P.P.S. You can read about and donate to The Bail Project here.

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58 thoughts on “It’s a Start”

  1. It is overwhelming.I live in Iowa,and Trump has not only shattered our international alliances and constitutional norms,but split families .It is nearly impossible to calmly discuss him or even his policies.One of our gardening groups has forbidden any political talk,hoping to keep friendships untouched till after Trump is gone.Well,his botched response to the coronavirus and threatening protesters with Black Hawk helicopters has blown that!Maybe we are in a Greek tragedy.Trump’s character will lead inexorably to his doom,and we will pick up the pieces in exhausted peace.

    1. I have dear friends with whom I can no longer have any sort of deep conversation, for fear that it might devolve into a political discussion turned argument. I have always loved an exchange of ideas, but now it’s turning into a war of words and not sharing thoughts. It has hurt our friendships, at least on my side, because I am so wary of what I can say. The stress is enormous. Social distancing helps a bit because we are limited to phone calls, but I am approaching a why bother attitude.

  2. Oh Dearest Susan, God bless teachers like you. My daughter who is thirty years old speaks of how this period of time feels like a defining moment of her generation, beginning with events related to but not exclusive to the pandemic. I recall her first partly panicked phone call describing how she and a friend had witnessed empty grocery store shelves in their respective neighbourhoods for the first time in their lives. Didn’t we think, over the following weeks, things couldn’t get worse? Well, they did.
    I knew what I’m supposed to do to combat Covid-19 but what’s a soon to be senior white woman to do or say about racism without being considered cringe worthy? I can’t even bear to watch the video of George Floyd’s arrest all the way through.
    I have biracial cousins in the U. S. in Virginia, but I don’t know much about their experiences with racism. I have never asked. I do know when one little boy, whose father was African American came to Canada and I met him, my aunt called and wanted to know how dark he is. She’s an extremely kind woman but it bothered her. He is in his 30’s now.
    All I can think to do now is to be ready to learn. I’ll be looking for the people who can teach me, whether it’s online, in print or in person.
    I can recommend an amazing book of historical fiction drawn on factual events. “The Book of Negroes“ by Lawrence Hill. I had the distinctly emotional experience of visiting the location of a good portion of the book in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

  3. During these difficult and unprecedented days, our elder son interviewed for and was offered a job in a private high school where he will be using his PhD in English to teach “social justice”. He is leaving a major university to do so. He is excited and looking forward to pulling together his syllabus. He is joining a unique educational experience for young people fueled by a talented faculty of many advanced degrees and a few Fulbright scholars, to boot.
    Tonight, we called him and asked if there is a book that we can read to give us insight into these tumultuous times. He is mulling over the titles and suggested the four of us, including his wife (PhD in African American Literature) read the same title and have a FaceTime phone chat to discuss our readings. My husband and I are looking forward to this! We need to stretch our gray matter, enlighten our souls, and prepare our hearts to understand these times and the history that brings us to these days.
    I thank you for this post. I’ve seen two authors that our son suggested. I also thank you for your coming alongside Americans as we watch in shock, dismay, and disbelief as to the actions of the White House. (I can’t bear to call him the President.)
    Charlene H

  4. Thanks Susan. i understand totally what you mean about social media. i read somewhere the term ‘word salad’ relating to portentous statements using a whole lot of seemingly profound buzz words which add up to saying nothing. i am going to follow some of your reading links and try to understand more than i do now. its not enough for me any more just to be passively non racist – its time to be as involved as possible

  5. It is so horrible indeed….
    I’ve read Angie Thomas’ novel The Hate U Give last year and it seems so current. It could be described as Young Adult book,but it deals with contemporary black experience in America (or so I did understand last year,so please forgive me if I’m wrong about it ,from my european perspective and from a country where people from other continents are welcomed and respected,at least in my circle of friends)
    How lucky your students were….
    Dottoressa

  6. Sue, I’ve been wrestling with the very same issues in my own overdue blog post. We just have to start right where we are. I feel like I’m trying to make up for 59 years of having my head in the sand in a week. Thanks for the excellent resources listed here. Our country is reaping what it has sown in 2016 with the disaster of the Trump presidency. The violence on our streets is the fruit of the last 400 years of tragedy.

  7. Barbara in NJ

    No apology necessary for weighing in on a situation you see as distinctly American. We should all care about our neighbors, yes? As a transplanted Canadian (30 years there, 38 here), I’ve found the inequality deeply disturbing yet can’t pretend to understand the African-American experience. I don’t know if this is the tipping point but things do feel different this time. Mind you, I was convinced the Sandy Hook school shootings would be a tipping point but nothing has changed in that regard. What I do know, without a shadow of a doubt, is that the current occupant of the White House is the worst possible one to see us through this annus horribilis.

  8. Thanks for your Canadian opinion on Trump. Most of America is appalled by the actions of this man, and not just what happened to the protestors on June 1 when he had the military police tear gas the peaceful protestors so he could do his photo op at the church. Just his comments made during the campaign of 2016 were enough to alert reasonable people here that his presidency would be dangerous and evil. Now we are unfortunately reaping the consequences of his election. God forbid he gets reelected! we won’t have a democracy at all.

  9. Wendy in York

    That can’t have been an easy post to write Sue . It’s no good ranting at the neighbours but you were as fair & eloquent as ever . We seem to be at a real low point for world leaders just now , including here in the UK . We can only hope the youngsters of the world learn from our mistakes & improve matters in the future .

  10. Thanks for tackling this Sue.
    I respectively posted the black square on IG but really felt uncertain on what or how to say my thoughts..so I said nothing. Being a past long term caregiver to family and working in the dental field I am very sensitive to peoples needs and have strived to put others before me. I know racism exists but the extent is mind boggling. This is a Canadian problem too and a wake up call for us all.
    I too, have become the teachable student!

  11. Thank you for this thoughtful and helpful post. As I was reading it, a news clip on my TV was Megan Markle saying she was nervous that she would say the right thing and how it would be interpreted. But then decided that the wrong thing was to say nothing. (My take on it, her exact words will be on video and no doubt repeated).

  12. Your best post ever – written with candor and humility. In a time of deepest despair (I live in the US), I’m heartened to see so many people – white people, myself included – finally sitting up and taking note, saying “I am listening, I am ready to learn.” My son said the past few months have felt like we are witnessing “the end of the world.” What if it’s only the end of the world as we knew it – and that we can rebuild something better from the ashes? For the first time since 2016, I’m hopeful that together we can make 2020 a watershed moment in history.

  13. Mary J Kreuziger

    Whoa … hold on there. President Trump has been mis-represented by our biased media here in the states all throughout his campaign and presidency. One recent example from above … teargas was NOT used to push back protesters in DC when Pres. Trump strolled over to St. John’s church. That was a media lie, and just one of many, many lies that our media is spreading constantly, constantly, about Pres. Trump and his administration. The media in our country is not independent by any means. They align themselves with the liberals and the Democrat party, much to the distaste of the rest of the country. And, the show of military force is a way of deterring all the damage that is being done by out of control “protesters”. It does not mean that “force” will be used, but rather it is to show that the criminals are not in charge and allowed to run rampant, breaking laws as they go. I can no longer call them “protesters” either, as they have been ALLOWED to become a criminal element out to destroy our cities, our homes, our businesses, our economy, our laws, and our government.

    The identity politics and spygate tactics of our past president and his administration created the divisiveness that we see today. While I know there can be racists on BOTH sides, I see Pres. Trump as the least racist president ever, and Obama as one of the MOST divisive and racist, that is what identity politics does. We see the troubling and law breaking past president and his administration coming to light this week with our Senate hearings. That kind of criminal behavior could and should bring prosecutions and jail time for many in the Obama administration, the FBI, DOJ and CIA. But you won’t see much of that in the mainstream news.

    Our country is on the road to healing itself, with President Trump correcting many mistakes of the past. The majority of people here in the United States ARE behind Pres. Trump overwhelmingly, and he certainly has my support. I appreciate hearing all views on this topic, but I do not like it when only ONE side gets to express their views, as is typical in mainstream news. Other than this little political difference, I love this channel, and will continue to read your very interesting blog. I hope I have shed some light too, on the ever negative mainstream news, and may some of your readers seek out the other news outlets showing a completely opposite point of view. God bless all of you.

      1. Thank you, Mary. It’s so hard to have a different opinion from the press and many more without being the object of hate. We have to lay so low, so quiet.

        1. Mary, I support your right to communicate your beliefs. I do think however that we all have the responsibility to be accurate in the facts we use to back up our opinions. We need to check our sources. The mainstream media is a great big river. Some truth can be found on both shores, ranging from Fox News, to the Wall Street Journal, to AP Press, to the New York Times, to the Washington Post. But also some falsehoods, and some misrepresentations.

          So, for example, it’s factually untrue that the majority of people in the USA support Trump. Almost every single reputable poll right now puts his approval rating below his disapproval rating. Including Fox News. He can be the president you want, but it’s in accurate to say that most Americans support him.

          In terms of whether it was tear gas used against protestors outside the White House, first it was reported that it was, then other advocates said it wasn’t, and just now yet other sources are showing photos purported to prove that it was. I’d put that issue in the, “We don’t know yet” category.

          I make a concerted effort to read sources across the political spectrum. The only ones I avoid are the outright partisan hacks, the Daily Caller and InfoWars on the right, and the Palmer Report and Raw Story on the left, for example. Those places may occasionally report the truth, but so rarely that they aren’t worth my time.

          It’s all about living honorably, in my opinion, with discernment, and I believe that’s our responsibility for this great gift we’re given of being human.

          1. Days later I can’t get over one of the readers on this blog, Elizabeth, called someone else a troll. Who knew there should be a “please be kind” reminder here.

    1. Barbara in NJ

      Do you not remember the financial mess created by the Bush administration that the Obama Administration was charged with cleaning up? We were ON OUR KNEES by the time he was sworn in and he pulled us back on our feet, in spite of the opposition from the other side. For eight years, he got all the blame but none of the credit for what his administration accomplished. Eight calm peaceful scandal-free years and it’s a day late and a dollar short for Republicans to create one now. I’m from Canada, my husband is from England with our families and friends still there. We’ve been keen observers of American politics and I can tell you unequivocally, the world is indeed laughing at us but not for the reasons Mr. Trump claims. He is a stain on this country.

    2. There is such an array of untruths in this post, Mary, I can’t even begin. Trump has the lowest poll numbers for any incumbent since polling began. He is historically unpopular, and for very good reasons. If you’re interested in facts, you might try expanding your sources of information.

  14. I had been silent for too long myself because I didn’t feel like I deserved to speak about it because of my own upbringing (which I pretty much rejected by the time I was 10, but still). My blog is primarily about singing so I wanted to figure out how I could post something about it and still be relevant with my usual topics. I think I hit upon the right tone: http://mezzoidvoicestudio.blog/2020/06/02/we-breathe-to-live/
    And to the Trumpette above this, there WAS tear gas. I believe the priest who experienced it.
    The only thing Obama did to sow divisiveness was to be black man in the White House. Some people couldn’t stand that. Too bad for them.

    1. It is insulting to call someone a troll or “Trumpette” because she brings up points you don’t like or agree with. What about civil discourse? She insulted no one. You are shutting her down in an unacceptable way.

      Here’s the thing: I am sorry that Obama and Trump were presidents.
      One egregious thing is that both of them put corporate heads into important positions (for example, and these are just one each when there are many more, Obama made a Monsanto man the head of FDA, Trump made a Sinclair Broadcasting man head of the FCC– not draining the swamp there).
      Obama supporters conveniently overlook Fast and Furious, his increase in drone strikes, his bailing out the nuclear industry, his promise that “you won’t have to change your doctor” while ignoring single payer healthcare and kowtowing to the health insurance industry, and many other bad things.
      I bitterly resent having to defend the truth about either of them. Obama was not coming for guns, Trump did not
      say drink bleach. The Democrats and Republicans are so ostensibly polarized, with outright lies on both sides, but they both belong to the corporations.
      It is undeniably true that much of the media are out to get Trump. If they weren’t, why would they lie, for example, about what he said about “good people on both sides” when he was referring to the debate about taking down the Confederate statues.
      I find Trump to be an embarrassment to this country, but I felt the same way about Obama. Until both sides can objectively evaluate their candidates, and hold their feet to the fire, we’ll continue to get worse and worse candidates. This administration is the direct result of voting for the lesser of two evils for generations.

  15. Thank you for your post Sue. It is so good to know that our Canadian neighbors feel as so many of us do. I follow many people in the UK on Instagram and have been impressed by the outpouring. I, like you, am determined to learn and do more to be a better ally. I am reading “Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race” by Reni Eddi-Lodge and have ordered “White Fragility” by Robin Dianglo. I have also put several documentaries and programs into my Netflix queue. Last night at our weekly church Zoom visit we all engaged in a good discussion of ways we could learn and help. Several of the younger people had some great ideas and knowledge. It gave me good hope. Here in Lincoln, Nebraska there has been violence and ten million dollars of damage. However, the leaders in the city are caring and understanding and have endeavored to work with the protesters. Again, that gives me hope. Thank you again!

    1. Mary J Kreuziger

      Imagine, millions and billions of damage in Democrat run cities. Why was that allowed to happen? Where is the common sense? The media is calling them “peaceful protesters”. That is was criminals do.

  16. Jo in Chicago

    “Do you know who had to die so you could wear that fur coat?!! ” “Yes, my Aunt Mildred.”
    Borrowed from an old New Yorker cartoon.

  17. I wish I could have written such an eloquent and thoughtful post today, Sue, and I’m glad you did. Honestly, as I wrote not very articulately this morning, Trudeau’s 21-second pause makes so much sense to me as a response right now. So much to sit with. . . . (even when one ignores the distasteful commenters popping up where least expected. . . )
    Thanks for the hat-tip.
    xo

  18. Mary J Kreuziger

    Notice above … always the name-calling if you have a different opinion and viewpoint. We should be mature enough to be beyond that. It certainly isn’t persuasive, or helpful, or insightful, or necessary. Thanks to many out there who share my views. We really need to speak up.

  19. Thank you for sharing. I live about an hour and 10 minutes from Minneapolis. We are well aware of the racial disparity in our state and our community has ongoing issues with low graduation rates for students of color and high discipline rates, including suspensions. This is always concerning to me as people can’t succeed in life without an education. I feel these children are set up to fail too often. My husband’s company struggles with their lack of diversity and works to correct this as know it enriches their company when it is diverse. It broke my heart to see this police violence and I hope they are convicted. I have worked in the Corrections system and regularly saw the racism there. I don’t have a lot of trust in “the justice system” and pray it does better this time. I think the video of Philandro Castille will always haunt me and so, so sad.

  20. Suzette from AL

    OMG! Forget Right, Left, Conservative or Liberal. Why can’t we observe the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Always know we can learn something everyday. We do not have to like what we learn but at least try to understand it. Our country needs people to understand and respect different views, especially at this time; I don’t always like what I hear on both sides-but I try to listen and learn! Maybe stop watching so much Fox News and try other news outlets to get a more balanced idea of what others are feeling. Believe what you will, BUT respect the opinions of others.

  21. Thank you, Sue, for such an eloquent post. It’s heart-breaking down here, made all the more so by folks who simply refuse to open their eyes to what’s going on. Like you, I’m embarking on a self-education project, in my case following new and diverse voices on Instagram, donating to bail funds, adding to my reading list, and most of all, listening.

    1. Oh, one more thing: there are studies that show that there are 8 specific policies cities and police departments can adopt that will reduce police violence by 72%, saving both civilian and peace officer lives. If you go to 8cantwait.org, you can not only read about it, but you can enter your zip code and find out how your city is doing. I was shocked to find out that my town (majority Black, I’m a minority here) has only adopted 3, so I wrote our mayor to advocate change. This is something we can all do!

      1. Thank you for the information on the 8cantwait.org site. Unfortunately my city is too small to be listed, but watching the peaceful protest here on Sunday become violent after sunset, I was happy to see that the actions our police took were what this site recommends.

      2. I love this comment, Carol! What a tangible example of the willingness to learn and then to use the newfound knowledge to take a concrete step to push for policy change. This is what we’re called today as anti-racists, and you show that it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or beyond our reach. Thank you!

  22. Thank you Sue for the post. I believe each of us must examine our hearts, our beliefs and our actions. Not just for today but for the remainder of our lives.
    My heart weeps for my country, what is happening now, for the injustices that prevail. Name calling must stop where ever it comes from. It keeps you from truly looking at your own self and actions. Name calling is often used to dehumanize and compartmentalize but what it really only serves to do is degrade the name caller. I grew up in a segregated South so I know the ugly. I have lived the in the Midwest many years. I am always struck by people who say how awful the South was and is. Yes, ugly is still there. But no one wants to look in their own mirror or their own backyard. This won’t be solved by the politicians EVER. But we, as people must do better and better and better. Dignity of the human person. Thanks again.

    1. Minnesota is not the South. However, Mr. Floyd is from Texas. Some of his family still reside in the Houston area and his son in Bryan, Texas. His family has spoken out against the violence that has erupted in many areas including LA ( West Coast), NYC ( East Coast) and in Minnesota. San Antonio, Houston and Dallas have had bad riots as well.

  23. Thank you Sue for having the courage to address this topic. It is just as relevant here in Canada as it is in the US and I was dismayed when our Premier suggested otherwise in yesterday’s news briefing. He went on to say that he does not have these “lived experiences”. I believe that is a big part of our problem. A lot of our Leaders as well as a lot of us as privileged White people don’t have those lived experiences and it is difficult to relate to. I know I can do better and I know our Premier can too so I wrote to him yesterday and implored him to meet with Black people and listen to their stories. That was my “it’s a start” moment.

    Sue, an interesting read and relevant for the times we are in is a book called ‘Fascism: A warning’ by Madeleine K Albright, former US Secretary of State. In her book she talks about Leaders like Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco who turned their countries into dictatorships. It happened in times of economic troubles when citizens wanted someone to “save” the Country. They saw strength as a plus until it was too late to stop.

    Glenda

  24. Trump was talking about the devolution of what were supposed to be peaceful protests into riots, the throwing of Molotov cocktails, looting, destruction of property and even assault and murder which occurred in many areas of many states. It is the job of police precincts and city governments to manage their police, city government and police chiefs/ commissioners as well as state governments led by governments to provide control and oversight. Trump’s message was that the federal government would step in to stop the rioting if governors did not. Some governors asked for assistance. Trump may have been trying to create a positive, encouraging image of support and leadership that went terribly wrong in DC. However, the protesters were asked three times to move ( only to move) and they refused. Trump would not be the one to order any tear gas. I am heartbroken that men and women of the cloth are making political statements. I believe a person can point these things out and still remain anti racist. The remedy is for the people of these cities/ states to vote. Meanwhile, the police officers who were abusing Mr. Floyd have been arrested and charged with murder/ accessory to murder.

    Stacy

    1. Wow. More disinformation. Again, where to begin. I’ll just stick with a few points, as it’s a work day.
      Zero governors asked for Trump to send troops to occupy their streets and use military tactics against the legal and Constitutionally guaranteed and btw, overwhelmingly peaceful protests.
      Protestors committing murder? In “many places in many states” ? What are you reading or listening to?
      And as for being “heartbroken” that clergy are speaking out against human rights abuses, including a 400+ history of in fact, murderous, racist practices, please see: Liberation Theology, the Catholic Workers movement, the history of progressive religious movements of all faiths, and someone you’ve probably have heard of, Jesus Christ.
      Do you know how many times a white police officer has killed a black person without provocation in the history of our country? Or how about just the past decade? And do you know how many times a police officer has been held accountable for such a murder? You might be interested in looking up the statistics, if you can tolerate something that others find heartbreaking. To my knowledge the only officer ever who has seen prison time for the death of a detainee was a black officer accused of killing a white woman. This is but one reason that over a week of massive protests were necessary to get all 4 officers charged.
      So no, your final point is not proof that all is well with our criminal justice system. Normally I’d just let comments like yours go, but it feels like an abdication of my piece of responsibility in this tiny corner of the world to let it pass at this moment, when my beloved country seems poised on the precipice of fascism.

      1. Well, I thought I would state what I know; especially since the son of Mr. Floyd lives in my town and has pleaded for peace and peaceful protests. I remain convinced that reforms and voting at the state and local level are the answer. I am accurate as to how the system is supposed to work and Minnesota failed.

        1. Furthermore, please look up the following:
          How the Federal Government was called upon during the Administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson to enforce integration of the schools, ending segregation, which governors sought help from the National Guard during the current crisis, the list of things that have been done since 2016 to improve the lives of African Americans such as additional support for historically Black colleges, private industry internships and Criminal Justice reform. Please also refer to The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  25. Very well written Sue … I totally agree with your and Stu’s reaction to President Trumps press conference… and with everything else you’ve written here. You’ve explained your thoughts and feelings so much better than I could.

  26. I think the heart of the blog has been lost a bit in the comments. This is about HUMANITY, about the willingness to learn about someone different to us, to recognize our experience isn’t everyone’s experience, and exercise our empathy and compassion. Every single person can learn more about others, and doing so will make us better people. Sue is talking about how much we can learn from each other, and how it will inspire a compassion you might not have known was there.

    1. Hi Allison,
      I didn’t feel that the heart of the blog post was lost in these comments. In fact, I thought the comments contained the essence of the post. I read them as (I felt) they were offered; sincerely & through the lens of our shared humanity. I disagreed/was angered with a few comments, & think some contained information that was objectively incorrect, but I appreciated ALL the civil discourse.

  27. Thank you, Sue. I haven’t posted anything this week because everything feels trivial compared to this… tipping point.
    I’m grateful for all of your reading suggestions and links, and for positive ideas from a couple of your commenters. I’m always up for learning how to be a better human being.

  28. Sue, thank you for having the courage to tackle this complicated and very disturbing issue and for doing it with wisdom and grace. I’ve bookmarked this post so that I can go back and look more closely at the references that you’ve suggested. Regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum, surely we can all agree that there is much amiss in our world and that we each need to do something to become better informed.

  29. Thank you so much for this post. I know you listen to podcasts so I’d like to recommend The High Low. Their last episode on 2 June was devoted to resources we can access to educate ourselves on racism.
    The lists are not exhaustive, but include fiction, non fiction, social media, kids resources and other links. This is a British podcast and well worth listening to … the episode notes are very helpful.

  30. Okay. I think we’ve all had our say. Thanks for the many supportive comments, the added reading suggestions, and the fur coat joke. That made me laugh out loud. The best part of blogging is the conversation it facilitates. And I don’t just mean from readers who agree with me or with each other. I hope that we can have differences of opinion and still respond to each other respectfully.

    Back when I was still in the classroom, I expected my teenage students to take part in class discussions, formal conversations about some area of study in which they had to take part, state their point and defend it with evidence. Many hated it at first. They might be too shy, afraid that their point would be made by someone else first, or afraid they would look silly. Each student was expected to state their piece at least once. They could also respond to each other maybe once or twice politely, but they could not not hijack the discussion. There were, after all, thirty other people who needed to be heard. Class discussions were and are a great learning tool. Over the course of the semester, I saw kids grow in confidence because they knew they would be listened to, and treated with respect. I saw kids initially mimic my actions or my words when I instructed them in how to respond, and then relax with the situation enough to just be themselves. It was a wonderful learning experience for them about how to speak up, how to form an opinion and share it, how to have a serious but respectful conversation. And how to live in the real world, actually. We all need to be able to express our opinions. We all should feel that we are able to be heard.

    But ultimately I felt by the end of yesterday that my own ideas, the purpose of my post had been lost in the kerfuffle. I had hoped to facilitate a discussion about how we might open ourselves up to learning, even at our age, even if only at a distance through books and films, something we may have never known. What it feels like to be oppressed, to NOT be heard.

    I grew up the child of a single parent, in a family of four where there was little money, where my mum felt the stress every day of whether there would be enough money to stretch to pay day. Until I was fourteen and my mum married my stepfather. But you know that already. There was stress and fear in our house a lot. But we were privileged compared to many, many kids then and now. And my mum never let us forget that.

    So when I became a teacher I could identify with a student in my class whose family had little money, I understood the sense of a precarious future because their parent might lose their job, or how it felt to be the child of divorce. But I had no idea how a black student felt walking in to my predominantly white classroom. No sense of what life was really like for them. And the idea of my post was that maybe it’s time I rectified that.

    Anyway, now I’ve said my piece… again. Ha. I won’t be responding to every comment like I usually do. I hope you understand that. xo

    1. Thanks, Sue. It turns out all those years of being a teacher and encouraging students to stay on topic are also useful blogging tools 🙂
      I thought your post was excellent and the reading list mentioned on the Cupcakes and Cashmere blog is a great one for book groups. My group has read several and the books were impactful and memorable.

  31. What a good post – and a good follow up comment from yourself. You are such a thoughtful and eloquent person. I recall you are of the “will you still need me, will you still feed me” age (no age at all!) and retired – but what a loss to the teenagers you could be working with. The college you worked at must miss you greatly. But at least we readers are reaping the benefit of your stimulating posts. Thank you.

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