Enough

I'm a racist.

Look at me.

America is so disappointing to me.

Something is wrong with me right now because of it; I feel broken. I hope, though, at some point I’ll maybe come to see this as the moment things started to get right.

Yes, I’m tired and overworked and I can barely string two coherent sentences together when I get home at night, but more than anything I’m depressed. 

I’m depressed because, quite frankly, America sucks. We, the people, SUCK.

Actually, let me amend that – we, the white people, SUCK. We are broken as a nation and, what’s worse – we’ve always existed this way. 

We have always been terrible. I’m tired of tiptoeing around it. I’m ready to be on the right side of history, unapologetically.

It feels wrong to even put me and my own pain into this post, but I have to get it out. I have to get THIS out:

We are, and always have been, terrible oppressors, unrepentant capitalists. Rapists and murderers. Lawbreakers and apologists. Hypocrites.

Racists. 

Oh, wait – racism doesn’t exist, right?

No. Wrong. Go here and take the Harvard Project Implicit Race Bias test. None of us are free of racial bias. I’m not.

Does that bother you? Why?  

(Also, you don’t know more than the scientists at the Harvard Project Implicit study. Nor do I. JUST STOP.)

If really, REALLY good people aren’t free of bias, what do think exists on the other end of the spectrum?

I cried myself to sleep last night over Terrence Crutcher. I know I’m not the only white person who did, so I know I’m not the only white person who sees how broken our society is and knows we are all implicated: implicated from our soft, cushiony, privileged perches.

But I don’t know what to do.

I’m a natural problemsolver – I’m actually the best problemsolver I’ve personally ever known, not gonna lie – and I can never let a problem lie. Since I was a teenager, this problem has been bothering me: this nagging feeling that a huge part of America is being totally shafted at best and downright targeted for imprisonment and annihilation at worst.

In 25 years, I’ve yet to figure out the solve. But I’ve been stewing about it to the point where it’s starting to transform into an all-consuming anger.

It’s not just these latest tragedies (please don’t make me explain them). Since I started working in the city again, and volunteering more, and joined the board of an Oakland Public Charter School, all I see everywhere I go is injustice. All I see is the evidence of a massive rigged jury: of systemic racism.

On my walk to BART last night, after dinner with a friend in the Mission, I stopped to help a homeless black woman who’s shopping cart was caught in the sewer grate and I just got… so… angry.

Later, home safe in my beautiful house worth a ton of money, in my comfortable bed, in time to wake up early for my six-figure tech job, which I got with my elite education fully paid for by my executive father, my sadness over Terrence Crutcher brimmed over while I read the news. And then it transformed into a dream about the homeless man I found frozen to the pavement outside my apartment on Jefferson Ave in Detroit, the day after Christmas 2001. I woke up feeling the sting of the subzero temperatures and my lame, futile attempt to bring him a blanket, never knowing who he was, just watching stupidly as the police pried him off the concrete and put him in the coroner’s wagon.

In a way, I feel like I’m back home now. Something is waking up in me. It’s almost like I’ve been on a bit of a vacation from reality this past decade, enjoying too much craft beer and artisan blah blah here in the Bay Area that I almost believed there was a place where you could leave the horrible truth of America behind, but…

Nope. The truth is the truth, and it’s everywhere.

I listened to “Bullet in the Head” by Rage Against the Machine three times on repeat on my commute to work this morning.

THE ONLY MUSIC I CAN LISTEN TO THESE DAYS IS RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE.

When I first started listening to Rage almost 25 years ago, my teenage eardrums were better equipped to handle it. But today it does more for my nearly middle-aged mind.

“Anger is a gift”.

I do not want to “make America great again.” I don’t want to know or spend time with anyone who does. America has yet to be truly great.

I want to get it to greatness, finally: a place where this is actually true

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and
the pursuit of Happiness.

What do I do?

Protest?

Give more money?

Volunteer more?

Change careers?

What do I do?

I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m asking, and I hope someone answers. I have to do something. 

And I will.

••••••••••••••••••••

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates
so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone,
they will be forced to deal with pain.”
– James Baldwin

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7 thoughts on “Enough

  1. Margaret Wisniewski says:

    I wish everybody in the world would read this when they wake up this morning. And I am right there with you on this one. We have not cured racism in America. It exists. Perhaps it always will.

    The change starts with you. I think you will make a big difference. All you can do is this: Try to do the right thing, the right way, at the right time, for the right reason. It’s a simple formula. Let your conscience be your guide. Speak the truth. Treat others as you want to be treated.

    I often ask my teammates at work, “What would Jesus do?” Sometimes it makes them stop and think. That’s how I do my part. Maybe it will catch on. All I can control is what I can control. The rest is up to everyone else.

    And God.

    Love you!

    • lisatemp says:

      Actually, Jesus didn’t believe the rest was up to everyone else. He was a revolutionary and he got executed for it. So I honestly think Jesus would tell me I can do more than I’m doing right now.

  2. Suzy says:

    This is exactly how I have been feeling. I also weep for my children’s future. I don’t want them growing up with all of this hate in the world. It scares me and make me so sad. But what do we do about it? So sad.

    • lisatemp says:

      I don’t know. But I’m going to do something — more than I’m doing now. I don’t have children of my own because my heart can’t take the thought in this world. I can use the bandwidth to fix the problem as much as I’m able.

  3. I felt this way in the 60’s. The ebb and flow is most difficult to adjust to. You already do what you can do,nothing more is required of you except to love yourself above all because a weak you does nothing good for anyone else. Drink some more beer and always maintain a sense of humor . God grant you the willingness to changewhat needs changed, the serenity to accept what you can’t change and the wisdom to know the difference.”… your soul seeks love, Lisa, give it what it craves.

    • lisatemp says:

      That’s just it. I DON’T do all I can do. I can do a lot more. Someone has to. It might as well be me: someone with freedom, money, and knowledge. My soul seeks justice.

  4. eddo says:

    Implicit bias and racism are not the same thing. Implicit bias is something that is part of human nature, part of the way our society works. Racism is a different idea – on the personal level, it’s the inherent belief that someone who is a different race has certain traits or attributes automatically associated with them and acts on that belief. On a societal level, it’s the laws and norms of our society and the way we enforce them that disproportionally or unequally affect people of color. Implicit bias isn’t bigotry – those who show implicit preference are not necessarily prejudiced. It’s the act of racial prejudgment and the application of that prejudgment in our laws and mores that defines what we know as racism. Sometimes, simple recognition of implicit racial bias and knowing you’re not exempt to it can be as an effective tool to fight it as fighting for social justice can be against systemic racism.

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