Do you know what I’ve discovered? I am never, ever going to join the world of “The Twitter.” I realize that it is one of the many forms of communication needed to stay in touch with one’s peeps, especially when one is a writer or an entertainer, but I cannot be trusted with the medium. I’m 63 years old and I’ve finally gotten to a place of maturity where I no longer use my inside voice (pissy rage) in places or situations where only my outside voice (reasoned grace) should ever be heard. Just in trying to explain why I wouldn’t engage with the little blue bird when it first emerged, I once commented to a group of my younger daughter’s friends (guys and gals), “I don’t tweet, I don’t twit, and I don’t “twat.” (Apparently, in the world of twenty-something white kids, the words “tweet” and “twit” are fine, but the word “twat” is not to be used with one’s outside voice, which became very obvious when they all stared at me in horror, and my little vanilla bean daughter slid beneath the restaurant table to hide her mortification.) Who knew?
But that is my point. The Twitter may be legal and accessible, but it doesn’t mean that someone with my temperament and hot-headedness should ever tweet my thoughts because that would be going a bridge too far in my efforts to conquer my ability to “keep in touch.”
A case in point: Last week a person whom I’ve known for years, and whom I used to call a friend, finally crossed over the line with me. Through the years, I’ve put up with her taking me for granted, her Neanderthal husband’s racist comments to me, her verbal attack against me in front of a mutual friend rather than engaging me in private, and finally her public broadcast attack and lecture about a subject that was mine to hold an opinion about that she didn’t agree with but not hers to lecture me on as if I were a child. All those years of trying to be “nicer than Jesus” with this person finally collided with my hurt and anger, and I realized that we hadn’t been friends for a very long time because she had trespassed on the relationship too many times to count. Had I had access to The Twitter when that revelation of trespassing on my heart hit the hurt and betrayal I felt, all hell would have broken loose because I would have opened up a can of “whup ass” that would have verbally beat the shit out of that woman and left her racist husband’s sorry ass to put her back together again.
See what I mean?! I’m not to be trusted with the privilege of The Twitter or I’ll make Jesus cry, and I would really like to end up in Heaven when I die. (To all my current friends and readers, please note: I’ve never knifed anybody in my life, except with my words, but the visual of me bitch-slapping somebody underscores why I need as many filters in place as possible to keep my mouth shut until I can calm down, and the appropriate contrite verbiage can be found, which ain’t ever gonna’ happen with an instantaneous access to The Twitter. I know myself.) I don’t think I’m the only one who should back away from access to The Twitter given what I read nowadays. Most of the time, I hear all sorts of famous people screwing up over that thing. Just ask the actress, Patricia Heaton (you know, of “Everybody Loves Raymond” fame?). She ran off at the mouth on The Twitter against Sandra Fluke (a young woman from Georgetown University [G-Town]) who was testifying before Congress (you know, the one who Rush Limbaugh called a whore and a slut?). Well, Ms. Heaton had to eat her Twitter account and come back with her tail between her legs and publicly apologize to Ms. Fluke for being such a self-righteous bitch!
Patricia Heaton’s Use of Her “Inside Voice” on Twitter/E-Online
Without access to Twitter, I thought and prayed about the incident I’d experienced with the ersatz “friend,” mulled over the history between the old girlfriend and myself, decided that that some relationships were never meant to go the distance of a lifetime, forgave her, and then let her go without fanfare or hyperbole. Then I blocked her sorry ass from my Facebook page and went on my merry way.
2-year-old-Indonesian boy who smoked 40 cigarettes a day/Google News Image
There are other things that come under the umbrella of going a “bridge too far” besides The Twitter abuse. Take the story of the children from Indonesia who can’t stop smoking. They are addicted to cigarettes and smoke 25 – 40 of them a day. Why? Because there is no law that dictates an age limit to smoke in Indonesia. If you can puff it, you can have it. It doesn’t matter if the kid “becomes emotionally aggressive and uncontrollable and acts like he’s possessed by evil spirits,” according to an eight-year-olds father—it is still legal. Half the Indonesian population lives on less than $2 a day, but cigarettes account for the second largest household expenditure in that country and it has the world’s highest percentage of young smokers according to Yahoo News.
Why is it “because we can,” we humans think we should? Which brings me to the subject of “every mother’s son:”
You would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard about the egregious murder of the seventeen-year-old child that went out to buy Skittles and an iced tea in a gated community and never made it back to the home he was visiting with his father. By all accounts Trayvon was a darling boy, a good student, and a football player who had never even gotten into a scuffle in his boyhood life. As Trayvon walked home in the rain while talking to his sixteen-year-old girlfriend on his cell phone—armed with only a bag of Skittles and an iced tea—a paranoid, self-appointed (unofficial) neighborhood watchman followed him because he was black and wearing a hoodie which made him appear suspicious. Somewhere in between the store and home, Trayvon noticed the stranger following him in a car. The last thing that Trayvon’s girlfriend said to him was “run,” but Trayvon said he wouldn’t run (he knew better), but he would walk fast. The last things neighbors heard were a child screaming for help and gunshots.
Trayvon’s body lay in the morgue for three days as a “John Doe” while his parents frantically searched for him. Who goes out for candy and tea and doesn’t return? His body was drug and alcohol tested by the police (he was clean) but the murderer was never tested, never investigated, and never asked to provide proof of his claim that he shot in self-defense. Trayvon is dead but the murderer, as of this posting, has yet to be arrested because he pursued this child under the protection of two Florida laws: The Right to Carry a Concealed Weapon and the Stand Your Ground law.
Some people think the murder of Trayvon was a hate crime (there is some confusion as to whether there was a racial epithet said to the 911 despatcher by Zimmerman just before he shot the son of the Martins) and some people think it was what my peeps like to call “Walking while Black.”* My gut tells me that it is an extremely complex situation with both racial overtones and thoughtless gun laws that go a “bridge too far” for our volatile and fragile society. We won’t know just what motivated Zimmerman until he can stop hiding behind the gun laws and be honestly investigated. We do know that in Zimmerman’s zeal he had called the police department over 46 times to report “incidents” that never came to fruition. But one thing is for sure, the murder of this child better be a “come to Jesus” moment for our nation and our love affair with guns, because next time it could be any mother’s child or grandchild, no matter what the race and no matter what the place.
President Obama’s comment today, March 23rd
“I can only imagine what these parents are going through,” Obama said. “And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together — federal, state and local — to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened. If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.” The Washington Post
“Walking while Black: A Cautionary Tale”
*I am discovering that “Walking while Black” is something that every black child used to learn at the knees of their parents or caretakers. It means that you must always assume that most (not all) white people will think you’re up to no good when you walk through an all-white neighborhood, therefore, you must walk with hands exposed, a pleasant expression on your face (even if your dog just died), you mustn’t wear anything that obscures your features, you must answer every rude white person’s questions in a polite manner (even if what they ask is none of their goddamn business), and you must never, ever, ever run! I’ve been married to my man, WW (“White and Wonderful”), for almost 33 years and because he has always made decent money, for years we lived in all white neighborhoods. In the beginning of our marriage, I was a long-distance runner and, like clockwork, the white Po-Po (police) would stop me mid-run to find out what I was doing in the neighborhood I lived in. So I started wearing make-up, pearls, and diamond tennis bracelets (it’s a wonder I wasn’t robbed every other day), and the latest fashionable jogging attire so that my persona screamed “I’m a corporate executive’s wife, so if you mess with me, you’ll have hell to pay.” That worked for a while until I moved to a different location further south.
By the time I arrived in Virginia Beach, Virginia (a beach town with a church on every corner and a military pit stop), I was no longer a runner but did enjoy a morning constitutional of a brisk walk or two. Out of concern for my safety, WW made me promise to only walk in our neighborhood and only with a couple of neighborhood women who had befriended me. So three times a week for six months the ladies and I walked the same route (it never varied) through our neighborhood (at the same time), while wearing the same thing (jogging wear and a head wrap/scarf, full makeup and dripping with bling), and life was grand. But one day both of the white ladies, whose husbands were in the military, had an event that required their attendance, so I went out alone to walk the same route, at the same time, in the same outfit I’d worn for six months. Within ten minutes, a car with two white women in their fifties pulled up alongside me and the driver angrily demanded to know who I was, what I was doing in their neighborhood, and why were my hands in my pockets? I started laughing because I thought they were joking. “Ladies,” I said. “You must be pulling my leg—haven’t you seen me pass your house every other day for six months? I’m your neighbor for God’s sake!” They did not think me humorous at all and as I looked up and down the empty street, I realized that if these women shot me, no one would believe that I had been minding my own business and was just out taking a walk. As I “slowly” pulled my hands out of my pockets to show them that all I had was a Walkman and a couple of tissues, I’m not ashamed to say that I did a “Step-and-Fetch-it” (servile persona) routine with a toothy grin plastered from ear to ear as I said: “Aw, shucks, Ma’am, you knows how it is with us womens of certain age—we’s gots to keep up our constitutionals or we’s will turn into little porkers, and we’s can’t have that, now cans we, girlfriend?”
The saner of the two women forced the angrier woman to move on as she shouted, “I’m watching you; I can tell you’re up to no good—you better not be here when I get back.” I slowly walked the “one block” back to my home (forcing myself not to run)—back to my babies, my sweet, precious white husband, and I thought, “I must spoil the garden of racial equality that I’m raising my girls in and tell them what happened to me today. I must tell them about what it means to be ‘Walking while Black.’ I must warn them.” And I wept!
I didn’t end up teaching my children about “Walking while Black.” I just couldn’t bring this evil fruit into their lives. In fact I never told them this story because hope springs eternal, and WW and I decided to rear the children to be color-blind (which they gloriously are as adults today), but I often wonder if we blew it by not warning them of certain perils so that they wouldn’t be blind-sided. Because I now have a grandson who looks the spitting image of Trayvon Martin at three-years-old, and I am concerned that that survival technique will not be passed on because I naively thought we were headed for a brave new world in America by now. Maybe Trayvon thought, as my children still do, that color is irrelevant—heart and character are the defining motivators—and given that, he probably thought he would have had nothing to fear simply walking to get a bag of Skittles and an iced tea.
Author: E.L. Tomczyk
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