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MY BLACK SKIN IS MY SIN

Cartoon used by permission: 239571 Birth Target by Bill Day Tallahassee FL

I am 72 years old.  I am Black. I am heartsick.  I am tired.  I am horrified.  I am scared.  I am mortified. I am enraged!  I am undone.  I am hopeless….

This has been my state of mind since the murder of George Floyd, and I feel like I’m sitting Shiva for our country because it finally hit me that all the work I’ve spent my life pursuing toward racial harmony has pretty much come to naught.  Actually, the “Karen” story (Amy Cooper) about the White woman who tried to destroy an innocent bird-watching, Harvard-educated Black man’s life sent a dagger through my heart and dropped me to my knees.  The George Floyd story just finished me off!  The “Karen” story didn’t happen in Mississippi, it happened in New York City.  She wasn’t an old fart set in her ways, she was young.  Ms. Cooper probably worked with African-Americans, maybe even socialized with them. She keeps shouting to the world that “I am not a racist,” and yet, when politely asked to obey a law she was breaking by someone who was Black—rather than complying—she weaponized her White privilege against an innocent man by falsely accusing him of assaulting her.  At the very least, she could have ruined his reputation and his livelihood, but at the very worst, she could have gotten Christian Cooper (no relation) killed by the cops who would have come running with guns blazing to protect this White damsel in distress.

“Nothing’s changed,” I said to my White husband whom I’ve known and loved for almost 50 years.  “Sure, you and I were ‘allowed’ to get married a decade or so after Loving vs. Virginia struck down the miscegenation laws in America, but the plight of my people has been two steps forward (Emancipation), three steps back (Jim Crow Laws), four steps forward (Civil Rights Act), five steps back (Police brutality and White Supremacy Terrorism)…it always seems that Black folks come up short when the math is tallied regarding equality and justice.  You know what the problem is, don’t you, Honey?  It’s slavery!  To coin a phrase from Van Jones, ‘Our Black skin is our sin’ and systemic racism started from the moment we were dragged onto American soil as chattel.  The institution of slavery gave even the lowest form of White man (unintelligent, KKK’er, whip-yielding, gun-toting, racial terrorist) a license to reign over us and left the most excellent of Black person (educated, honorable, God-loving, hardworking, peace-loving) with a target on his/her back.”

“As a White man, what do you have to say about that,” I said to my husband.

“Just listening,” he replied.

Cartoon used by permission: 239715 George Floyd by David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star Tucson AZ

My poor, sweet husband.  The thing is that I know he listens because he is one of the good guys—what the Jews used to call “Righteous Gentiles”—non-Jewish people who risked their lives to help Jews escape the Nazis.  In my case, his children’s case, our grandson’s case, and our Black friends’ cases, he is a “righteous White man” who tries to understand the racism that plagues African-Americans.  But he is still a White person.  Still endowed with certain “inalienable rights.”  And as I mused about how closely connected in spirit the false accusation of Amy Cooper was to the killing of George Floyd, I realized that both situations happened because White people thought they could get away with their actions because of their entitlement—the law be damned.

Consequently, I decided to invite a couple of other “righteous White people” over for a “social distancing bring-your-own-drinks—but go home if you have to pee—cocktail hour” on my very large wrap-around deck.  We sat six feet apart while we caught up on our lives, and had a conversation about race—three White people and me. 

Cartoon used by permission: 239755 Our own worst enemy by Dave Granlund PoliticalCartoons com

(For the purposes of this story my “Righteous White friends” will be called Joe and Meg.  My husband will be referred to simply as “WW—White and Wonderful.” This is only a snippet of a much longer conversation.)

ME:        Hey you three, what does it mean to be White?

WW:      Watch out, everything you say to her will probably end up in a blog.

MEG:     I don’t know…I can tell you that I know that I can’t possibly know what it means to be Black, no matter how hard I try.  I’ve never walked in your shoes.

ME:        Excellent politically correct answer, Meg, but it still doesn’t answer my question.

JOE:       I’m not White, I’m Jewish! 

ME:        Of course you’re White.  You’re an Ashkenazi* Jew.  If you were a Sephardic** Jew, I might cut you some slack.

JOE:       I’m just sayin’, I’ve suffered racism. Oy, how I’ve suffered.  I’m fine until certain people find out I’m Jewish, and before you know it—I’m dealing with anti-Semitism.

ME:        I’m not denying that, but for the sake of this discussion, you’re White.  You know why?  You can blend in and no one would ever know you were Jewish.  My skin color announces my Blackness as soon as I enter a room.  In fact, there have been times when I’ve been promised rental properties over the phone or set up business arrangements via email and White people assumed by my “articulate” speaking voice and excellent grasp of the King’s English that I was White.  But the minute they laid eyes on me, I lost said rental property with the bold pronouncement: “Oh, I thought you was White.  You sounded White on the phone.  You need to know we don’t rent to niggers in this town.”

MEG:     She’s right Joe.  Have you ever been chased by White people when you jog or ride your bike?  Have you ever been denied a place to live?

ME:        We’re getting off topic here.  One of you three White people tell me what it means to be White so I can go get me some of that.  I’m tired of the struggle.

Cartoon used by permission: C Clamp Racism by Bill Day, Tallahassee, FL

MEG:  Well, being a WASP is what being White means to me.  I’m about as White Anglo-Saxon Protestant as they come.  There is not a shred of color anywhere in my background.  I’m ashamed to say that the racism in my family was blatant.  I’ve tried my entire adult life to overcome it.  I also think everyone is just a little bit racist though.

ME:        True, but for the sake of this discussion, it’s about racism against Black people.

WW:      I’m a direct descendant of Governor Bradford of the Mayflower.  Got the papers from the Daughters of the American Revolution to prove it.  I was always told I could be anything I wanted to be because I came from that stock—even President of the United States.  I never thought of it as White privilege, it was just what I could aspire to if I wanted it.

ME:        Yeah, don’t I know it.  His mother has been dead for ages and she is still rolling over in her grave because WW married me instead of a White girl.  Talk about Black skin being my sin.

MEG:     That’s it.  I guess being White means being part of the status quo and never having to think about “fitting in.”

JOE:       I’m Jewish…I think about not fitting in all the time.

MEG:     But if you didn’t tell anyone you were Jewish…it’s not the same burden.

WW:      Maybe that’s it: Being White means you get to assume, presume, and expect certain rights and privileges.  You think your life is supposed to be whatever you want it to be because you are a White male, especially.  When that doesn’t happen, it often comes as a total shock.  For instance, when I was out of work for four years, the worst part of it all was the despair of my dreams deferred.  This was not supposed to happen to me.  I kept telling God and Eleanor that this sure is a waste of a perfectly good White boy!

ME:        And what did I tell you?

WW:      “Get over it.  Now you know how the Black man feels.”

MEG:     I’m not so sure it is relevant what it means to be White to White people if we want to solve racism in America.  I think if we are human we need to listen to the stories of the pain and fear that Black people are experiencing and learn from it without getting defensive about being White.  It’s not really about us.

ME: Well, it kind of is…

Cartoon used by permission: 239646 The Flame by Bill Day Tallahassee FL

WW:      I think that’s the key: Listening and absorbing the stories.  Sometimes I think our entitlement and privilege keep us from hearing the stories about people who aren’t like us. People in general are terrible listeners. Those histories of the African-American journey since 1619 are there to teach us, if we just listen and work to bring about the needed changes.

ME:        I know what it means to me to be Black.  It means never feeling completely comfortable or totally accepted.  Being Black to me means always being on guard because some White person feels he or she is entitled to hoist a Confederate flag in my community—all the while claiming they are not racist—“It’s just my heritage.”  It’s always making sure I’m not perceived as the “angry Black woman” to White people as I respond to that gun-toting White Supremacist that the goddamn Confederate flag is my heritage too—a heritage of bondage, enslavement, and terror and it needs to burn in Hell, not be flung in my face.  I can never, ever relax.  My Black skin might scare them if I’m too demonstrative—too passionate about a subject. Too anything! Remember Honey in our early Jesus freak days how some White Christian chick told me that my Afro offended her, and I needed to get rid of it because she thought I looked like a Black radical and that freaked her out?  Good grief.  This chick was supposed to be my sister-in-Christ for Christ’s sake. Ride or die for Jesus and all! 

WW:      I loved that Afro on you.  Talk about sexy!

ME.        Focus Babe.  I think the thing that chilled me to the bone this week is that it doesn’t seem to matter how much education a Black person has, how much money, how much status, how much talent, how innocuous our activities—our skin color can get the police called on us by any entitled White person—just because they can.  We are rarely given the benefit of the doubt.  Remember how Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard’s most prominent scholar of African-American history, got arrested by a Boston policeman for entering his own house?  You know, he’s the guy who helps celebrities find their roots, right?  President Obama held a beer summit with Biden, Gates, and the cop to smooth things over.  Conservative talk radio and Fox News trashed Obama about it for years.  Well, we know now that Gates and that policeman became friends.  In fact, the policeman gave Professor Gates a sample of his DNA, and the two of them turned out to be distant cousins and share a common Irish ancestor.  (So take that and shove it up your ass, Fox News.)

WW:      Maybe that’s the answer to the beginning of healing for our country from racism.  Maybe if we as White people recognize our privileges and entitlements and stop clinging to them, then we could seek out what connects us as human beings with all people of color.

ME:        And WORK, WORK, WORK together to change policies, and laws, and institutions…

CONVERSATION ON RACISM TO BE CONTINUED…

*Ashkenazi Jew: originally from Eastern Europe, Germany, Russia

**Sephardic Jew: originally from Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia

Cartoon used by permission: 239837 History Quiz by David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star Tucson AZ

Lest you think I’m being hyperbolic comparing Amy Cooper’s false accusation to the policemen’s heartless murder of George Floyd, I find that the demonic spirit of both comes from the same well-spring—racism.  Our history is replete with these nightmares that haunt African-Americans on a daily basis.  Here are just a few:

1891 Joe Coe’s lynching—Lizzie Yates, a 5-year-old, said she was raped by a Black man.  Coe was a railroad porter, husband and father of two.  Witnesses vouched for his upstanding character and whereabouts on the day in question. Many years later Lizzie Yates confessed she had lied.

1921 Tulsa Race Massacre—Sarah Page accused a Black teen of assaulting her, which later on proved not to be true.  Dozens of Black people were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands were left homeless or displaced.  Greenwood (affectionately known as the Black Wall Street) was home to scores of lawyers, teachers, preachers, bankers, and business owners. The entire town of Black residents was burned to the ground by Whites (nationally renowned Black surgeon A.C. Jackson—the best in the nation—was gunned down while standing on his front porch trying to cooperate with the attackers).  What wasn’t burned was confiscated.  It has been recorded that for years afterwards the once wealthy Black women of Greenwood saw their jewelry worn with prideful abandonment by White women who passed them on the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

1923 Rosewood massacre—Fannie Taylor accused an unidentified Black man of assaulting her (accusation proved to be a lie—she was having an affair with a White lover who beat her). Many of the Black people in the mostly Black township were massacred by White Supremacists and Rosewood was obliterated.

1931 Scottsboro boys’ trial for rape—Victoria Price and Ruby Bates (suspected of prostitution, they tried to escape potential morality charges by accusing nine black teenagers [age 13 – 19] of raping them on a train). The women were examined by a doctor but no evidence of said rapes were found.

1955 Murder of Emmett Till—Carol Bryant accused 14-year-old Emmett of whistling at her and flirting (a few years ago—6 decades later—Bryant admitted to falsely accusing Emmett and said: “nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him”).  Emmett was beaten, mutilated, shot in the head, and thrown in the Tallahatchie River after being bound to a 70-pound cotton gin fan. He was discovered three days later.  His face was so disfigured his own mother couldn’t recognize him.  The killers were acquitted, although they subsequently boasted to Look Magazine (for thousands of dollars) that they were responsible and proud of it.  After his death, Emmett Till became an icon of the civil rights movement.

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE:  If you are wondering why you should read about these horrors (after all, you didn’t commit them—no one you knew was involved in these crimes—you weren’t even alive for the majority of them)—think again.  I challenge you to listen, learn, and absorb these stories and many, many more. Unfortunately, there are too many to list here. But that is what the Google machine is for.  Search out these stories, not only to appear “woke,” but to gain an understanding of why traveling through life with Black skin can truly be misinterpreted as the mark of Cain by many a White person who will swear on their mother’s grave that they are not racist.

Cartoon used by permission: 239607 The Death of George Floyd by Jeff Koterba Omaha World Herald NE

Eleanor Tomczyk is an author and a humorist who is an award-winning voice-over performer.  In 2011, she created the blog, “How the Hell Did I End Up Here” which features mostly satirical posts that have thousands of readers around the world—although she was recently banned in Pakistan (for real!).  Tomczyk’s three books were featured in a recent book festival:  “Monsters’ Throwdown,” “Fleeing Oz,” and “The Fetus Chronicles—Podcasts to my Miseducated Self.”  Currently in her 70s and living life like it is freakin’ golden, she is a consummate storyteller and much sought-after motivational speaker.  If you don’t believe me, just ask her!

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Standing My Ground on Fear

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   I think I need to get a gun.  I haven’t talked it over with my husband yet, but I will when he returns.  I’m becoming increasingly paranoid about the weirdos that I keep bumping into in my neighborhood, at the doctor’s office, in my church, and at the mall.  And then there is the news.  The more I read the more paranoid I become.  The more I think about the Zimmerman case, the more I think that maybe his defense was right when I review the times I’ve noticed suspicious-looking characters and needed to Stand My Ground to protect me from an imagined threat.  The only problem is I’ve never owned a gun, but how hard can it be to get one?  Seems to me, given the 2nd Amendment, any idiot can own a gun.

gun ownership by idiots Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

Used by permission:  Gun ownership by idiots by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

So when my husband, WW, called home from his business trip last week, I decided to run my latest “revelation” (that’s what I call my harebrained schemes) by him, and hoped I’d get his buy-in.

WW:     “Hey, Cutie!  What have you been up to since I’ve been gone?”

ANNIE-GET-YOUR-GUN:  “Oh, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and. . . I’m thinking of buying a gun.”

WW:     “WHAT?  No, no, no, no, NO!  For Christ’s sake:  what brought this on?  I’ve only been gone two days.”

ANNIE-GET-YOUR-GUN:  Fear!  I’ve become increasingly paranoid about the people I don’t know and maybe even some of the ones I do know—especially those who have become Tea Party advocates and Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity supporters. (Remember how our friends used to be sane?)  Well, some of them are not anymore, and they are scaring the shit out of me.  Who knows how long it will take before they believe one of Beck’s conspiracies and come after me to take me out?”

WW:     “Cutie, first of all, you don’t hang with those people anymore and neither one of us has any intention of renewing our acquaintances with them.  Secondly, you don’t know the first thing about guns.”

ANNIE-GET-YOUR-GUN:  “I don’t need to know anything about guns—they are part of my God-given constitutional rights.  The 2nd Amendment is sacrosanct.  Besides, the local Wal-Mart will sell me what I need and tell me where I can go to get myself trained to hit any asshole with my best shot—fire away!   I need groceries, anyway, so when you come back, let’s pick up some household staples and a 9×19 mm Walther P99, German semi-automatic pistol.  That should fit my needs, although it might be too big to fit in my purse.  I’ll have to bring in several of my Coach bags to see which pistol will travel in style.”

Gun for Stand Your Ground Olle Johansson  Sweden

Used by permission: Olle Johansson | Sweden

WW:  “The bastardization of Pat Benatar’s song notwithstanding:  What has gotten into you since I’ve been gone?”

ANNIE-GET-YOUR-GUN:  “Well, since you’ve been gone, buddy:  FEAR—PURE UNADULTERATED FEAR!”  Maybe the NRA is right:  If I get a gun, I will be emboldened to tread where I’ve never gone before.  Did you see the article in the paper that reported several cases of men coming to the doors of unsuspecting homeowners in our area and pretending they were there from the Public Works Department to check out the home’s water lines?”

WW:     “Nooooooo . . . What has this to do with you turning into Django Unchained?”

ANNIE-GET-YOUR-GUN:  “It was all a ruse!  Once they got in, they stole whatever they could get their hands on while they distracted the homeowner in the basement.  Well, don’t you know, a guy stopped by the other day and said he was from the Public Works Department and needed to check my water line.”

WW:     “You didn’t let him in, did you?”

ANNIE-GET-YOUR-GUN: “Of course not— I’m nobody’s fool!  But then he didn’t ask to come in; he just let me know he was on the property and went to the side of the house to fiddle with the water main.  But I could tell it was all a ruse, and he was up to no good because it was just like the newspaper said it would happen, AND he was the spitting image of George Zimmerman—before he gained 130 pounds.  Rumor has it that George has been hanging out in our area.  I think his parents live over in Maryland somewhere.   After giving the “Public Works” guy the evil eye for a while (I stared at him from the window), it was right then and there that I knew I might need to shoot through the window into his ass while he was bending over the water main before he could gain entrance into my castle and steal my shit—or even worse.  I mean, I may be old, but men could still try to mess with me—if you know what I mean.  In fact, the paper said that a ninety-year-old woman got raped the other day.  I mean all systems point to me needing a gun.”

WW:     “Uh huh.  And did you ever find out who the man was at the door because I know and you know that it couldn’t have possibly been George Zimmerman?”

ANNIE-GET-YOUR-GUN:  (barely audible) “Well, he was really a public works man with a legitimate excuse to be on our property.  To tell you the truth, I think I scared the shit out of him because he kept looking over his shoulder at me, finished the job in record time, and raced away in his clearly marked public works truck as fast as he could.  “He was driving so fast that I could hear the tires screeching as he pulled away from the curb.”

WW:  “He probably thought he was going to be shot in the ass by a crazy woman.”

ANNIE-GET-YOUR-GUN:  “Whatever!  There was another man who came by yesterday trying to talk me into letting him install new windows in the house—new windows, my ass!  You will never believe who he looked like?”

WW:  “Let me guess:  Charles Manson?”

ANNIE-GET-YOUR-GUN:  “No . . . the FAT GEORGE ZIMMERMAN—the Zimmerman who has gained 130 pounds!”

WW:  “Oh for God’s sake.  I’m coming home ASAP.  Try not to kill anybody before I return.”

ANNIE-GET-YOUR-GUN:  “Humph!  WW, I have to protect myself, and you need to know that I may not wait for you to return before I start packing heat.  I’m looking up fashionable leather holsters online even as we speak. So don’t use your house key because you might scare the devil out of me and cause me to shoot first and ask questions later.  Let’s establish a secret knock so that I know it’s you.  Try and get here before it gets dark because I’m especially paranoid after the sun goes down, and start calling my name as soon as you enter the house so that I recognize your voice and don’t mistake you for a mad rapist.  Tell the kids not to come home unannounced!”

WW:     “Oh, God . . .”

Standing my ground Daryl Cagle  CagleCartoons com

Used by permission:  Daryl Cagle CagleCartoons.com

I am discovering that the Stand Your Ground law is just another component of America’s love affair with guns that is immoral and has been birthed out of the manipulated fear towards our fellowman by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who have pushed this law into existence in twenty-five states.  In the last thirty years, guns sales had been plummeting and the gun industry discovered that if they could manipulate Americans with fear that our “castles,” our children, our sidewalks, our parks, our neighbors, our places of worship, our shit were just one confrontation away from being stolen or harmed, then they could make money in perpetuity.  The NRA has made us believe that backing away from a public confrontation when it is safe to do so (like staying in your truck as Zimmerman was told to do by the police) and avoiding the murder of another human being is no longer the mark of a godly man or nation, but gunning down one’s neighbor is our constitutional right and one we should be proud to uphold.  And, oh yeah, there is a slight detail that bears mentioning:  the gun industry’s reward for this strategy—12 billion dollars a year.  In other words, my fellow Americans:  we’ve been had by a very cynical, greedy, and sick industry!  (Remember how the cigarette industry pushed smoking as sexy, cool, non-addictive, and not harmful, when its executives had a gazillion studies in their desk drawers that showed smoking was addictive and caused cancer?  Hmmm!)

stand ground reverse response RJ Matson

Used by permission:  Stand ground reverse response |Cartoonist: RJ Matson

I am also discovering that the Stand Your Ground law, beyond that of your castle being stormed by zombies, is a license to kill.  (IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  If you break into my home with the intent to rape and murder me and my family, and I can’t get away from you, I will stand my ground and blow your fucking brains out with whatever I can get my hands on.  I get that part of the law.)  But the part of Stand Your Ground law that needs to be adjusted is born out in the following story:

Last year, John Henry Spooner, 76, of Wisconsin

Shot and killed his 13-year-old neighbor who was returning his family’s garbage can from the curb.

Mr. Spooner shot Darius Simmons, 13, on the sidewalk

While the child’s mother looked on in horror

While the child tried to run away, screaming, “Don’t shoot me, please don’t shoot me,”

While the neighbor shot at him several times,

As Darius Simmons died in his mother’s arms on the sidewalk.

When asked why Spooner shot the African-American teen,

The white man said he thought the boy had stolen his shit (his stash of guns)

No evidence of such a theft was found—only Mr. Spooner’s paranoia.

Irony:  the entire murder was captured by Mr. Spooner’s security camera on his house.

When asked if Spooner felt bad about taking the life of a child before he was sentenced to life in prison,

Mr. Spooner’s reply was:  “No, not that bad.”

Darius’ mother’s reply was:  “Oh my God!”**

Guns friend or foe Luojie, China Daily, China

Used by Permission: Guns friend or foe: Luojie, China Daily, China

 “To him who is in fear everything rustles.”Sophocles

“There is no passion so contagious as that of fear.”—Michel de Montaigne

 “You can’t buy six packs of nasal decongestant but you can buy a .50 calibre sniper’s rifle, just like the US military uses in Afghanistan.”Patrick Radden Keefe blogged for The New Yorker magazine

“What has happened is the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law has become so over-arching that the definition has been lost. There are a lot of people claiming ‘Stand Your Ground.’”—Bob Buckhorn

“…if you’ve had a terrible day, if you just don’t like the other guy very much or if you want to try out that new handgun you just bought, you can feel free to escalate the level of violence in a physical altercation by shooting him. Even if you kill him, the law has got your back. You’ll be immune not only from criminal prosecution, but also from any potential civil lawsuits.”—Ladd Everitt from Waging Nonviolence*

Guns are Sacred END David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Used by permission:  Guns are Sacred | David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

REFERENCES

http://blogs.suntimes.com/backtalk/2013/07/the_bloody_idiocy_of_stand-you.html

*http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/why-stand-your-ground-is-really-kill-at-will/

**http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/wisconsin-man-tells-jurors-he-killed-13-year-old-neighbor-out-of-anger-and-to-seek-justice/2013/07/18/e0f9467e-eff5-11e2-8c36-0e868255a989_singlePage.html?tid=obnetwork

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
19 Comments

Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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HELP! I Need a White Man!

Do you know what I discovered many, many years ago?   Everybody needs a white man as a side-kick to get over in America, especially if they are black, brown, or tan.  People put on you what they fear and they see you through the eyes of their own ignorance.   Because of this, living in America can be rough when you’re attempting to engage in the activity of simply “walking while Black.”  I know this because I’m black, and I’ve been profiled since the age of ten years old, and I’m now sixty-five-years old.    I’ve been profiled so many times that as soon as I could, I decided (if I was ever going to have any peace on this Earth) to get me a white man to ease my passage through life.

Walking while black John Darkow  Columbia Daily Tribune  Missouri

Used by permission:  John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri

When I was ten years old and living in Cleveland, I grabbed my little sister, Pee-wee, who was seven years old and snuck onto the trolley train via the back door.   We rode it all the way to its final stop in Shaker Heights where only white people lived.  I don’t know why I did this.  It just seemed like a good idea at the time.

“Pee-wee, let’s go find the land where only white people live; it will be fun.”  I said.

By the time we got to the end of the line in Shaker Heights where the only black faces were the maids in white uniforms getting off the trolley to clean the houses, Pee-wee and I were totally and hopelessly lost.  The only people left on the trolley was a white couple in their sixties, and when they realized we weren’t the children
of one of the maids, the man became apoplectic and began to yell and scream at us for daring to enter a neighborhood where we did not belong.  Pee-wee and I were scared to death and had no idea how to get back to the “black side of town.”  Because I’ve always had more mouth than sense, I think I said something tantamount to:

“Fuck you, old man—you not my mama!”

On those choice words, the old man chased after us and tried to beat the shit out of us with his cane.  Fortunately, his wife had more sense than he did and pulled him off of us before we were hurt too badly.   I knew right then and there that I was going to need something more than my good looks and sharp tongue to get me safely through life—I was going to need myself one of them white men as a guardian angel!

racial profiling

When I met my husband (WW—“White and Wonderful”), one of the things that I fell in love with was his ability to rescue me out of situations that the profiling of the color of my skin seemed to entrap me into during the day.  Here was a man who had papers from the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) to show his direct lineage to Governor Bradford of the Mayflower.   On top of that, he was always told he could be President of the United States at the very best or a lawyer at the very least.  Consequently, the man thinks the world is his oyster and has no fear. The dude can go anywhere and no one ever questions him “walking while White.”  Awesome!  So we developed a code.  He was to accompany me where “walking while Black” might get me killed if I were alone, and whenever I met an impasse on my own, I would simply holler or ring my husband on the phone with a quick command:  “Come quick—I need a white man to rescue me!”  He would arrive—Johnny on the spot—and I would appear less scary, richer, or more respectable to the profiler (remember this was a while ago—in the early days of our marriage).  It came to be known between us as:  SECRET WHITE HERO COMES TO AID OF ET “WHILE WALKING BLACK.”

Trayvon vs blasphemy of character John Cole The Scranton Times Tribune

Use by permission: John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune

 EXAMPLES OF ET WALKING WHILE BLACK

While living in all-white neighborhood in Virginia Beach, VA and having walked every day for six months with two white friends who lived in same neighborhood, I attempted to walk the exact same route alone one morning.  I wore what I wore every day:  an African head-wrap (as was the fashion of the day in the Black community), a jacket to ward off the chill, earphones covering my ears, and my hands in my pocket to keep the Sony Walkman from banging against my leg and bruising it. 

PROFILER(s):      (Two old white women following me in their car for ten minutes or so who began to shout at me with indignant anger.)   “Hey, what are you doing in our neighborhood?  What’s that in your pocket?  What’s that thing on your head?  Where have you come from and where are you going?  You better not be here when we get back!”

“Baby—I need a white man”:   I stood my ground (couldn’t go anywhere else—I lived around the corner) and white husband walked with me on days that white friends could not.  I never saw the old ladies again.  Never had any more trouble but sure would like to have been able to walk alone again, because that was my time of meditation with my God.  Should have told the old white bitches I was praying but didn’t think they would believe me or care.

African head wrap fashionfordames dot blogspot dot com

African head wrap fashionfordames.blogspot.com

While putting groceries in back of my station wagon in the grocery store parking lot in Virginia Beach (what was it about that goddamn city?), a white man sneaks up behind me and scares the shit out of me.

PROFILER:   “What are you doing in the back of this car?  Whose car is this?  Where did you get those groceries?”

“Darling—I need a white man”:   Profiler disappears into his church van when I stand my ground . . .

“You got a problem with me putting my damn groceries in my own damn car?”

. . . while I threaten to call my white husband to kick his ass.  Husband shops with me for a while to establish a pattern hoping that profilers will get over themselves in the town that Pat Robertson built.  Never understood why the profiler (“the man of God”) thought I’d be stealing diapers, paper towels, eggs, and cleaning products from a car I clearly had opened with my own key.  I wonder what sermon he’d ever heard that profiled black suburban moms stealing station wagons while clutching their grocery list in one hand and coupons in another.

Bag of Candy Defense Florida Gun Law John Cole The Scranton Times Tribune

Used by permission:  John Cole| The Scranton Times Tribune

While jogging in upstate New York, the Po-Po (police) followed me more than once, often interrogating me about why I was running along a deserted country road.  (What’s that old racist joke?  If you see a white man running, he’s jogging; if you see a black man running, he’s just robbed somebody.)  I took to wearing all sorts of bling, makeup, and expensive jogging suits to give off the signal that I was one rich-bitch that belonged in the neighborhood, so piss off.

PROFILER:           (The Po-Po) “Who are you?  Where are you going?  You look like the fifteen-year-old delinquent who escaped from the reform school last night.  Where did you get all this jewelry and these new clothes?  Did you rob a jewelry store and the fashion boutique on Main Street?  Let me see some identification to prove you are who you say you are.  A thirty-four-year old school teacher—who are you kidding?”  (I guess I should have been flattered that I looked fifteen, but I knew I didn’t really—the Po-Po only saw my black skin and profiled it into what he feared.)

“Honey—I need a white man”:    My white avenger moved us to Israel for three years after that, and what a great relief it was to live in a country where I was just the “American” and nothing else.  I could walk around and not be profiled and enjoy myself as a person.  I finally could fully taste freedom.

I’ve been profiled while shopping (“you can look at the watch but I won’t take it out of the case, because you people always steal”), profiled while depositing a check into our joint checking account after the sale of our house (“yeah, right, I’m supposed to believe your name is really Tomczyk—Smith, maybe, but never a Polish name”), and profiled while returning to the US from Canada after a business trip the week after 9-11 (“before you board, security needs to do a full-body cavity search on you, your seat will be changed, and an air marshal will be sitting beside you into DC—it is what it is.  You fit the profile—you are the only black person on the plane!”).  The list is endless and still I love this country, yet I can’t imagine having lived this long if we had had “Stand Your Ground” laws all the times I was profiled. The words hurt, but I got over those and so would Trayvon Martin, if Zimmerman had stayed in his truck and not stalked that child when he was “walking while Black” with Skittles and a tea.

Trayvon Right to Life Adam Zyglis The Buffalo News

Used by Permission: Adam Zyglis | The Buffalo News

I am discovering that the verdict of “not guilty” for George Zimmerman has left me in a great deal of pain, a lot of despair, and an inordinate amount of fear for the future of my grandson.   I listened to and read all of the defense and prosecution’s examination and cross-examination of the witnesses at the George Zimmerman trial.  If I am being honest, I knew the trial was going to exonerate Zimmerman half way through because his lawyers had mounted a much more vigorous defense than the prosecution’s case.   I don’t have a law degree, but I could tell when the prosecution’s case derailed which was high on emotion but lax on connect-the-dots facts.   The jurors didn’t necessarily believe Zimmerman’s lies, but they were charged to convict only if the prosecution had proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  I would want that type of defense if I had been in Zimmerman’s shoes.   The system worked, and I can’t fault the jury.  I, for one, will respect the jury’s verdict and leave Zimmerman in God’s hands.

George Zimmerman has been found “not guilty” but that is not the same as being found “innocent.”  Zimmerman knows he lied.  Trayvon Martin knows Zimmerman lied.  God knows that Zimmerman lied.  Martin Luther King once said:  “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”  God—the “Hound of Heaven,” and my big white man in the sky (just kidding, I know that God is black and is a woman—Ha!)—will have his justice for innocent blood that has been shed.   George Zimmerman has no idea what it is like to be profiled, but he will find out when the God of the Universe gives him no peace until he repents.  So go on Zimmerman—you’ve got a “get out of jail for free” pass now, but God don’t like ugly, and Hell ain’t half full yet!

RIP Trayvon The Truth

RIP TRAYVON

***

“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.  That includes me.”President Obama speaking on the death of Trayvon Martin

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-nessan American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”W.E. DuBois

 “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”—Desmond Tutu

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”—Frederick Douglass

“One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him.”—Socrates

“He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it.”—Plato

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Easter Bunny Throw Down

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   Easter bunnies take their lives really seriously and the competition among them to be the Queen Pooh-Bah of Bunnies on Easter is something else.  You’d never know that Easter was supposed to be the celebration about the death and resurrection of the son of the Christian God who came to redeem us from horrendous choices (both ours and others) and teach us how to live on Earth together in love, peace, and joy both here and beyond.  To hear the bunnies talk, Easter is ALL about them, the colorful eggs, and the baskets filled with chocolate Cadbury candy.   I caught wind of this fierce competition recently when the Miss Easter Bunny Pageant of 2012 was held in a copycat Beatrix Potter world up in a small town in New Hampshire like the Hill Top Farm in the village of Sawrey, Cumbria, Lake District that Ms. Potter loved so much.

“Friends” Pinterest image

I went “undercover” as Big Mama for my “Big Mama Speaks” column this week to participate as the Master of Ceremonies of the anthropomorphic bunnies and “bunny wannabe’s” who were competing for the title of Miss Easter Bunny 2012.  Below is a segment of the question and answer session for some of the lucky finalists.

BIG MAMA:  “Our first contestant is Black Bunny Rollin’ from the Southside of Chicago.   I ain’t gonna’ lie—glad to see one of my ‘peeps’ trying for the gold ring.  Ms. Rollin’, since the Trayvon Martin murder, our country has been on edge racially.   56% of Whites think we should move on to other subjects and drop this distasteful matter, while 90% of Black people think we should hold the Sanford police department’s feet to the fire until justice is done.  How would you use your Easter Bunny title to heal race relations amongst the citizens of Sanford and foster brotherhood and love throughout the nation?”

Bunny Wallpaper/Google Image

BLACK BUNNY ROLLIN’:  “Hey, Big Mama.  How YOU doin’?  I am so glad you asked me that very sensitive and important question because I’ve been thinkin’ about this very thing for a long, long time.  I would flood the land with Easter baskets filled with hollow chocolate bunnies and “marsmellowey Peeps” to show that we are all one and the same under the skin or coating, as it may be, so why don’t we just ‘chill’ and follow the great Rodney King and ‘just all get along!’”

(AUDIBLE GROWN IS HEARD FROM THE BUNNY AUDIENCE)

BIG MAMA:  “Thank you Black Bunny.  Sounds like your answer to our racial problems is ‘get high on sugar and die.’  Obviously, we haven’t read the latest report on sugar, now have we?  Um-humph! Anyhooooo. . . our second contestant is Bunny “Going Rogue” Palin.   Ms. Palin, your name sounds vaguely familiar and really scary; in fact, I’m getting eye tics just saying it out loud.  Have you ever run for office?  No?  Okay, I could have sworn, I’d met you before.  Ms. Palin, the NRA lobbyists have gotten completely out-of-hand.  What are your views on gun control?  What would you do to reign in this growing scourge in our country?   Guns are flooding our schools, homes, and streets, and we are gunning each other down like clay pigeons and without so much as a “by your leave!’”

Courtesy of www.angrybunnycomic.com

BUNNY “GOING ROGUE” PALIN:  “What the hell is that, a gotcha question?  I support our constitutional right to bear arms, and if you’ve got ‘em—flaunt ‘em, if you don’t—‘tote a Colt,’ or maybe you are a sucker and have been brainwashed by the lame-stream media.  At the very least, I’d flood everybody’s Easter basket with chocolate toy guns and bullets from the cradle to the grave that sport the inscription:  Viva la Second Amendment!  And then I’d pass out NRA stickers with the lock and load insignia for their Easter Baskets.  Yeah, Baby—‘cause that’s how we roll in Alaska!

(ONLY CRICKETS CAN BE HEARD FROM THE OUTSIDE.  NO SOUND COMES FROM THE HORRIFIED BUNNY AUDIENCE BECAUSE THEY CAN HARDLY BREATHE WONDERING WHICH BURROW IN HELL  THIS BUNNY CAME FROM.)

BIG MAMA:  “Ooooh-kay. . .!  Thank you Ms. Palin.   Let’s move on to the next contestant.  Ms. Norma “Nutria” Bunny.   Ah, Norma, I don’t mean to be rude, but you look awfully big for a bunny.  Where did you say you were from?”

NORMA BUNNY:  (BUNNY VOICE EXTREMELY HIGH-PITCHED EVEN FOR A FEMALE BUNNY) “I’m from around these parts.  What’s it to you?  Toss me one of them contestant questions so we can get this over with, Big Mama—I ain’t got all day.”

BIG MAMA:  (clears throat, trying not to show how close she is to opening up a can of “whup ass” on the obnoxious bunny)  “The human recipients of your Easter joy are stressed to the max.  They will need to know that you have a sense of humor.  The March jobs report just came out and it is below expectations.  What is an example of some of the things you’d do to help cheer up the jobless and lighten their spirits?”

NORMA BUNNY:  (BUNNY VOICE EVEN HIGHER THAN BEFORE) “Why, I’d use my girlish bunny charms and my beguiling ways and “make ‘em laugh.  I’ve got tons of jokes like this one:

Two chocolate bunnies walk into a barn.  One has a hole in his ass and the other has no ears.

  What do they say to each other?”

Pinterest

(AN ANGRY COMMOTION IS HEARD IN THE AUDITORIUM AS AN AUDIENCE MEMBER SCREAMS OUT:  “That’s no female bunny, that is ‘NORMAN Nutria’ from Louisiana—the river rat that attacked the woman in Wal-Mart a couple of years ago.  He/she’s an imposter and she’s wanted by the PO-lease!”)

My concept of Norman Nutria (a.k.a “Norma Bunny,” a.k.a. Myocastor coypus)||Google Image

WANTED BY THE FBI

Louisiana woman sues Wal-Mart over incident with “Norman the nutria”||May 7, 2009||LA Times

(AS THE COMMOTION REACHES FEVER PITCH, BUNNY SECURITY CAPTURES “NORMAN” NUTRIA AND BIG MAMA RESTORES CALM TO THE AUDIENCE WITH NO ONE THE WORST FOR WEAR.)

BIG MAMA:  “My goodness gracious.  Lord, have mercy—you just never know what’s gonna’ happen in a day.  Calm down everybody.  No one got hurt, thank God, so let’s do our best to carry on.  We only have one more contestant and then we’ll choose a winner.  Now where were we?  Our next contestant is Dr. Henrietta Beatrix Bunny.  Welcome Dr. Bunny.  I understand that you are a history professor at Beatrix Potter University.  A lot of humans are interested in the history of how the bunny, the basket, the boiled eggs, the Cadburys, and the jelly beans supplanted the death and resurrection of the Lord?”

***

Pinned by milkbeforebed.tumblr.com

DR. HENRIETTA BEATRIX POTTER:  “I’m-so-happy-you-asked-me-that-question-because-it-is-really-quite-the-story-since-history-is-always-quite-the-story-is-it-not? (GULP) Well-you-see-the-Christians-stole-all-the-pagan-rituals-and-tied-them-into-their-new-celebrations-and-Easter-is-no-exception. (GULP) Greg-Jenner-has-written-a-marvelous-article-(I-tell-you-just-marvelous)-entitled-‘Easter:-what’s-with-all-the-bunnies-and-stuff?’-and-he-says- that- the-word-Easter-came-from-the-word-‘Eostre-who- was-a-pagan-goddess-in-the-Saxon-religion. (GULP) In-fact-almost-everything-we-do-or-have-done-emerged-from-the-pagans-and-we-either-modified-it-to-fit-the-biblical-characters-or-we-outgrew-it. (GULP) Why-Mr.-Jenner-tells-the-most-delightful-story-about-how-Christian-farmers-used-to-bless-their-lands-to-make-them-fertile. (GULP) They-would-go-out-and-follow-these-pagan-instructions-to-the-letter-of-the-law:

‘1) At night, dig up four clumps of soil from the four corners of the field

 2) Then take a sample of every grass, herb, tree in the field, and add it to milk from every cow, and honey from every bee hive.

 3) Now add holy water to this concoction, and drip it in the holes…

 4) Now sing an incantation, asking them to grow.

 5) Now sing the Lord’s Prayer, several times

 6) Now take the four clumps of earth into the church, and get your local priest to sing four masses… one for each clump

7) Now get four crucifixes and write Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on them. Place the crucifixes in the holes you have dug, and shout ‘Grow!’ nine times

 8) Now sing the Lord’s Prayer nine times

 9) Now turn east, bow and say a prayer

 10) Now turn around clockwise three times, and then lie prostrate on the ground while chanting about your lovely green fields

11) Now bless the plough and bless the seed

 12) Now plough a furrow, and place a cake of honey and milk in it.

 13) Well done, you now have a fertile field!’

WHEW-isn’t-that-so-silly! (GULP) Now-back-to-bunnies-eggs-and-Easter-which-came-to-us-via-the-Germans in the 17th Century. . . .”*

***

I am discovering that one must never give a professorial bunny an open mic!  Anyway, a very beautiful bunny won (Miss Honey-pot Bunny) that was a mixture of all the bunny races and became the proud Easter Bunny of 2012.   But since none of the answers of the bunnies were satisfactory to nourish the spirit and soul of humans, Miss Honey-pot’s Easter duties only encompassed satisfying the taste buds and the body.  IMP. NOTE:  “Norma” Nutria escaped from the Bunny security and is still on the lam.

Prize Rabbit/Google Image

I am discovering that bunnies, boiled eggs, and Easter candy (I do so love me some jelly beans) can only feed the body, but the rejection, the loneliness, the fear, the cruelty, the injustice, and the pain and horror of living on this Earth can only be overcome by the touch of a god who has the ability to feed my soul and inhabit my spirit so that I will not retaliate and become the evil that assails me.  I don’t understand everything about my Lord’s death and resurrection, but nobody has come back to tell me what is really on the other side (I don’t believe that little boy who claims he saw Heaven for a “hot chocolate minute”—he’s a mimic of his religious parents—no more no less), so I could be wrong about so many things which is why I respect other religions and would never, ever lead a crusade.  But until the newly departed atheist author, Christopher Hitchens (“Hitch”), comes back and says, “nanny-nanny-boo-boo, I was right—there is nothing beyond the veil,” and Carl Sagan tags along to confirm it, I’ll stake my claim on the resurrection and keep aiming for an abundant life on this rock and beyond.  To that end, the Easter Bunny will stay in its place of “cuteness” along with Santa, and I’ll go and join in on Handel’s Messiah with the rest of the imperfect Christians on Easter as I humbly sing, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the Earth.”

Happy Easter and a glorious Passover (“Chag Pesach Sameach”)!

Ruben’s Resurrection of Christ

* http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/greg-jenner/easter-whats-with-all-the-bunnies_b_1406355.html

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Are You Happy?

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  The Federal Government wants to start measuring our happiness as American citizens.   After all, our constitution does guarantee us the right to the “pursuit of happiness.”   What a hoot!  They’ll probably call it the GNH (“gross national happiness”) as opposed to the GDP (“gross domestic product” or the sum of our economic output), and that will be one more thing to worry about.  (Note to the Feds:  please do not give me a survey on my opinion of our sorry-ass Congress or the state of the Republican Party before you give me the survey about my GNH—results will definitely be misrepresentative of my actual state of being which will be highly agitated.)

Kingdom of Bhutan—“Land of the Dragon” (Photo courtesy of buddhanet.net)

The term, ‘gross national happiness,’ was coined in 1972 by Bhutan’s then King Jigme Singye Wangchuck but according to Peter Whoriskey’s article in The Washington Post (“If you’re happy and you know it . . . let the government know”), “. . .statisticians will first have to define happiness and then how to measure it.  Neither is a trivial matter.   There is even some doubt whether people, when polled, can accurately say whether they are happy.”

Photo courtesy of businesspundit.com//Google Image

Right now the Mega Millions Lottery which covers 42 states is worth $640 million, and I’m sure most Americans are secretly fantasizing about what they would do with that much money if they won it, because they are all assuming it would make them super happy.  But research has borne out the facts that 9 out of 10 lottery winners end up worse off than before they won the lottery and many wish they had torn up the ticket.  Because, you see, humans are creatures of extremes:  whatever shit you were addicted to before you were flushed with cash will simply get magnified once it is infused with $640 million.  Data has shown that if you were a gambler before the jackpot, you’ll simply become a person who bets higher stakes until the money is all gone; if you have an addictive personality before you win the extra Benjamins, you’ll become a junkie who uses a gold tipped syringe to “shoot up” rather than a stainless steel one.  And if your cash-infused habits don’t get magnified to the extreme, then relatives you never knew you had will come out of the woodwork and torment you for handouts until the day you die or give away all your money—whichever comes first.

Daily News/Google Image

So I’ve given this entire “gross national happiness” concept a lot of thought and since I’m old and have learned a few things along the way, I thought I’d write an open letter to our President in this week’s blog to offer him some suggestions as to what he should look for to determine if his American peeps are really happy or if we are just bullshitting him (not counting Fox News or the Tea Party—there is nothing that would make them happy except Ronald Reagan coming back from the dead).

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Dear President Obama:

First of all:  How you doin’?  My name is Eleanor Tomczyk and I’m one of your biggest fans.  While reading The Washington Post the other day, I noticed that the Feds want to start monitoring GDH.  Personally I don’t know how you’re going to accomplish that since we are such a desperate, angry bunch of humanoids.  But if you were to ask me, if you really wanted to know how to do this, I thought I’d send you a few tips to pass along to your census takers.

IMHO, Mr. President, all your questioners need to ask are three non-sectarian, bi-partisan questions and they will be able to determine the state of mind of any American in the land.

GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS SURVEY

  • DO YOU NAP?

Nap Time/Google Image

Here’s the deal, Mr. President:  I’m sure you’ve noticed that you are in charge of a bunch of really cranky, partisan people.  We are perennially pissed off about everything, and some of us are really bent out of shape because you slipped by them into the White House!  On top of all that angst, we love us some guns almost as much as our religion and lack of sleep and guns are a volatile mix!  Why, today, in a neighborhood not too far from where both of us live, one neighbor shot another neighbor over three trees bordering the property that wasn’t the property of the neighbor who got shot.  And the shooter wasn’t even the owner of the house—the owner’s father shot the other dude on his behalf who was the friend of the neighbor who lived down the street—all because of three fuckin’ trees (pardon my French)!  I think we Americans are on the verge of losing our minds just because we are so freakin’ tired.  I don’t mean to sound like an “old fart,” but we haven’t had a good attitude about life sense the Sunday Blue Laws were struck down.  Even if you weren’t religious and didn’t go to church, no matter how rich or poor you were, at least you could catch up on your sleep and read a good book.  It may be my imagination, Mr. President, but we could use a national nap time to up our “happiness quotient.”

  •  DO YOU GARDEN?

E. Tomczyk’s “Blush” Hibiscus

E. Tomczyk’s prize-winning variegated yellow Princess Hibiscus

E. Tomczyk’s Violet Wave Petunias

Mr. President, enclosed is a small sample of my flower garden last year (aren’t they fab!).  I’m recreating something similar on April 30th for the 2012 summer season.  As I’m sure the First Lady has told you, there is something about digging in dirt that eases the stress and elevates the endorphins, especially when Puccini’s La Boheme (or Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”—whatever floats your boat) is playing in the background.  (Personally, I’m rather suspect of a person who doesn’t like to garden.)  Mr. President, my American sisters and brothers need to get back into the dirt.  Anything as little as flower boxes outside our apartment windows to community gardens would help relax our minds and shrink our chubby waistlines.  Whether a person gardens or not, will give the Feds an excellent understanding as to whether Americans are happy or agitated as hell because they don’t have any dirt to turn into something beautiful to soothe the soul.

  •  DO YOU GIVE A SHIT ABOUT ANYBODY BUT YOU AND YOURS, AND HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CULTIVATING EMPATHY FOR OTHERS WHO ARE NOT LIKE YOU OR HAVE DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES?

Twins: blue-eyed white-skinned “Remee” and her biological twin sister, brown-eyed, brown-skinned “Kian” born in 2005 in Britain

Mr. President, I’m sure you know this, but I have discovered a secret:  we are all God’s children—just different flowers in God’s garden.  I know an alien from another planet would never believe that concept that we’re all created equal if “It” had dropped down into our country the past two weeks and witnessed the Trayvon Martin murder and miscarriage of justice, along with the attempted smearing of Trayvon’s reputation from the extreme Right, and Spike Lee’s stupid terrorization of that sweet old couple when he tweeted their house address by mistake in his attempt to flush out the murderer, George Zimmerman.  (Really, Spike?  Seriously, Dude?)    Mr. President, if you see Spike when you’re out and about would you please ask him what the hell was he thinking?

The other day I discovered a phenomenon:  Black and white twins born from the same parents.  Did you know that the chance of this happening is only one in a million, but in one family it has happened twice?  But don’t you think God purposely allows twins to be born of different skin and eye colors from the same parents just to mess with our heads and to illustrate a point:  we are all sisters and brothers under the skin?

Triniti and Ghabriael Cunningham—twins born in USA/ABC news file photo

 If we answer the “happiness” survey as people who try and consistently learn something that will broaden our perspective about those who appear different than us, then the Feds might find that our happiness equates to that openness.  Might I suggest that you have the survey ask how many of us have seen or plan on seeing “Bully,” the documentary about the realistic portrayal of middle school and high school students who are bullied—some to the point of suicide?  Have the Feds ask your survey takers if they plan on teaching their children not to stand by and watch the bullying of another child or if they plan on teaching them how to put a stop to it.  Our country’s happiness and future depend on us becoming more empathic to the suffering of others, not becoming bullies ourselves, and joining together as a nation to stamp our this scourge.

Courtesy of www.thebullyproject.com ||Contact this site for distribution of the film in your city

Thank you, President Obama, for considering my input and here’s wishing you and yours an abundance of joy and grace.  I’m pulling for you.

E. Tomczyk (a.k.a “Big Mama”)

P.S. I just have to ask, Mr. President:  Are you happy?

******

I am discovering that money will come and it will go, things will always happen that we can’t control, and that happiness is temporal:  Joy is what is eternal.  Happiness is circumstance based and the circumstances can be destroyed in a heartbeat by mean people, the weather, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But joy is attitudinal and no one—absolutely no one—can take that away from you.

Author: “One Joy-filled Big Mama”//photo by J. Tomczyk

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”—Viktor E. Frankl

“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor E. Frankl

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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A Bridge Too Far

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?

ruthawestbrooks8654.highschoolfootballhq.com//Google Image

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.

Getonmyspace.com//Pinterest

Getonmyspace.com//Pinterest

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:”

17-year-old Trayvon Martin with his little brother who was recently gunned down by George Zimmerman, a vigilante self-appointed neighborhood watchman

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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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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