Sunday, May 31, 2020

People pushed to the edge

Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge
By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Los Angeles Times
May 30, 2020

What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck while Floyd croaked, “I can’t breathe”?
If you’re white, you probably muttered a horrified, “Oh, my God” while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you’re black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, “Not @#$%! again!” Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn’t for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store’s video showed he wasn’t. And how the cop on Floyd’s neck wasn’t an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.
Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it’s not just a supposed “black criminal” who is targeted, it’s the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.
You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.
What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you’re white, you may be thinking, “They certainly aren’t social distancing.” Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, “Well, that just hurts their cause.” Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, “That’s putting the cause backward.”
You’re not wrong — but you’re not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges.
But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting. Just as the slimy underbelly of institutional racism is being exposed, it feels like hunting season is open on blacks. If there was any doubt, President Trump’s recent tweets confirm the national zeitgeist as he calls protesters “thugs” and looters fair game to be shot.
Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.
So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.
What you should see when you see black protesters in the age of Trump and coronavirus is people pushed to the edge, not because they want bars and nail salons open, but because they want to live. To breathe.
Worst of all, is that we are expected to justify our outraged behavior every time the cauldron bubbles over. Almost 70 years ago, Langston Hughes asked in his poem “Harlem”: “What happens to a dream deferred? /… Maybe it sags / like a heavy load. / Or does it explode?”
Fifty years ago, Marvin Gaye sang in “Inner City Blues”: “Make me wanna holler / The way they do my life.” And today, despite the impassioned speeches of well-meaning leaders, white and black, they want to silence our voice, steal our breath.
So what you see when you see black protesters depends on whether you’re living in that burning building or watching it on TV with a bowl of corn chips in your lap waiting for “NCIS” to start.
What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Be an ally (listen, learn, do!)

Sunday, May 24, 2020


Words cannot even begin to express...

Remembering. (NYT)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Come back, New York

Have you been looking through old photos? Longing for a time pre-pandemic? This is me on the steps of The Met in 2012. Look at all those people not wearing masks and not social distancing! I am grieving for a New York I had no idea would vanish overnight.

There is comfort knowing New Yorkers are collectively grieving. Though we can't gather and embrace and cry together, reading these heartfelt love letters are like a balm for my soul.

  • Forgive me, New York, as I forgive you. (NYT)
  • We miss dollar slices, rats and La Guardia. (Man Repeller)
  • We miss museums. (The New Yorker)
  • The crowds, the big-ticket blockbusters that were a subway ride away, "just everything." (NYT)
  • We miss the sounds of New York. (New York Public Library)

A list of broken dreams. (Vulture)

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Is fashion even relevant right now?

Day 50-whatever in quarantine and I wonder what's the point of having more than one outfit besides pajamas (PJs count as an outfit, right?). I've been wearing the same thing every day: black sweatpants and a blue flannel button down. Sometimes my quarantine outfit doesn't smell very fresh because of whatever I cooked the night before. I have no shame. 

If I don't feel like getting dressed I will stay in my favorite pajamas, pictured above. It's coke bottle glasses most days. My make-up brushes have been neglected for weeks. Lipstick seems like an irrelevant luxury (why bother when you'll be covering up with a mask?). The hair? I'm letting it grow like a mermaid's and letting the white hairs have their way.

It begs the question: is fashion even relevant right now?

The pandemic is putting a lot of things into perspective. Before coronavirus my lens was wide angle: I took the world in, curious and full of hope, always anticipating an adventure. Now that lens is in sharp focus: survival. When all of humanity is in lockdown, there's little bandwidth for designer dresses, $100 moisturizer or getting your nails done. These things seem trivial, even frivolous. 

These days, there is liberation in letting go of my past grooming behavior. But I do miss dressing up. I miss swiping Nars Schiap on my lips. I miss wearing heels and clutching a cute purse. I look at pre-pandemic photos and think, "Wow, that was the old me."

What's the point of a fashion magazine? (NYT)