What does “Black Lives Matter” mean?

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The other day I stopped at the Wawa on Fairview Rd. near Swarthmore for my morning mocha cappuccino. I was wearing my “Black Lives Matter” mask that I’d gotten at the nearby Dollar Store. Next to me at the ordering screens was an older white woman with a mask dangling from one ear. When she finished, she turned toward me and when she saw the mask on my white face with my white hair, she gasped in horror, shaking her head no! no! no! and sending such a wave of hatred toward me that I felt it like a punch in the gut. Her loathing was so strong it seemed to take all her will power not to spit on me!

While over my eight plus decades I’ve been next to friends, colleagues, protesters, fellow activists and neighbors more times than I could ever count as they were subjected to subtle and vicious attacks of racism, I could only protest; my voice was usually ignored unless I wrote about it publicly. I’ve seen racism in politics and policies for most of my life, and have seen our distorted history books and the systemic racism legislated to create the horrific inequities that make America the white supremacist country that it is today, so well-delineated by Michelle Alexander in her book, The New Jim Crow. I took some deep breaths and looked this terrified woman in the eye with compassion. What could I possibly say to her? I caught myself wondering if she had a gun…maybe in her car? I try my best not to think in these ways.

Feeling powerless, I grabbed my coffee and left, shaken at the thought of how people of color are subjected to this kind of barrage of personal, political and legal hatred every moment of their lives, where once they step out into white America, their bodies are no longer their own. Yes, institutionalized racism in every aspect of life does cause health problems in people of color!

A couple of days later, I was talking with my son, Eric, who lives across from Herbert Best VFW post 928, a headquarters to law enforcement motorcycle clubs in Folsom. He said that on Saturday, a gathering of about 75 protesters were to gather in support of Black Lives Matter. When the got to the park, they were blocked by about 50 bikers, armed with Trump signs and a Confederate flag, protesting involvement of overpaid athletes who “took a knee against police brutality”, their scary visages threatening violence. No mention of guns was made in a brief article in the Delaware County Daily Times. There is a video of truckers “burning rubber” surrounding demonstrators in black smoke.

The marches went around the edge of the park, continuing on to the municipal building at Rte. 320 and MacDade Blvd. where the bikers again blocked their entrance. Both groups ended at the Ridley Twp. police station where they apparently disbanded without further incidents.


What is it about the Black Lives Matter movement that evokes such fear and hatred and propensity for violence so close to the edges of our town, which for the most part hasn’t dealt with much more serious things than the theft of yard gremlins?

Why did my mask of support evoke such irrational fear in a woman who knew nothing about me, only that my skin and my hair were white? I confess for a moment I had a blip of prejudice crop up in me when I thought “She’s obviously a “Karen!” I wouldn’t let myself hold onto that thought, stomping it out of my head with some deep, releasing breaths. But I was still scared, and confess I was hesitant before I went out with that mask on again. But I did.

But who are these people? What fears have molded them into haters, killers, and supporters of a regime that is killing them through lack of a national plan to fight a virus that knows no politics. How have we come to this? And is there any way, considering who is in charge, of coming out of this violence and fear, and moving toward a new vision of a new America that works for ALL?


Judith Trustone, Co-Director
Global Kindness Revolution
Swarthmore
www.Trustonekindness.com

Long Term Solitary Confinement Must Be Abolished

Channeling Mr. Charles Dickens, very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony solitary confinement has inflicted upon me. The last twelve months in solitary confinement have been a terrible endurance that none but those who have suffered the like can fathom. Lon term solitary confinement is a mode of punishment which no man has a right to inflict upon a fellow human being.

I hold that this insidious daily tampering with the mysteries of the mind is immeasurably worse than any torture of the body. All who have been subjected to this nefarious punishment must return to society morally unhealthy, diseased of mind, and unfit for the rough and tumble contact and busy action of the real world.

Long term solitary confinement as a mode of punishment must be abolished if we are to stake the claim of being a civilized society. Only the most depraved would sanction a protracted wasting of the flesh and slow mortification of the spirit as a legitimate form of human punishment–a punishment bereft of hope and promise.

The vast majority of human beings who have endured long term solitary confinement are transmogrified into zombies – living breathing creatures with no heart or real feelings, senses numbed dulled and atrophied by extended extreme isolation and deprivation of real human contact. They are like a caged bird that after years of not using its wings is released only to realize that despite retaining the appendages of wings it can no longer take flight. The muscles and nerves required having wasted away.

Long term solitary confinement as a mode of punishment is reprehensible to modern human conscience and must be abolished, permanently discarded upon the pile heap of the history of man devised barbaric and inhuman punishments like quartering, the rack, and crucifixion.

 

The Color of Resistance

Who would have thought that the color that wraps baby girls at birth, pink, activating their gender programming, would become the color of revolution. Not the pale pink called blush favored by contemporary brides, or the generic pink favored by girls. None of those. This hot pink shouts I am woman, vibrant, powerful, three million marching globally against misogyny and imposed limitations. Embracing our “femininity” we roar, “No More!”

A sea of hot, hot pink.

A sea of peaceful protests, pink-hatted women leading the way of non-violent protests.

I imagine what seems impossible, in these violent yet hopeful days, a sea of three million men proudly sporting “pussy hats” in solidarity, committed to exposing “toxic masculinity” and finding a way to contain it before the planet dies taking all of us, even the climate change deniers, along with it.

I want one of those hats!

 

pinkh

 

Is this a business waiting to be born? Many knitters cranked them out by the thousands. Made in America.

At a recent art gallery opening, I spoke to a woman executive living in DC who knits for fun. She’d made dozens and gave them all away to marchers.

But she had to stop.

The stores in DC were all out of hot pink yarn!

Do Refugees’ Lives Matter?

Do refugee and immigrant lives matter? It was just a news flash caught out of the corner of my eyes as I tried to ignore the all-Trump-news-all- day cycle that has gripped the media. The TV screen showed an overloaded rubber boat with refugees from Syria and Afghanistan cheering as they landed on the shore of one of the Greek islands, stops along the way to an uncertain future. Standing in a classic George Washington Crossing the Delaware pose, instead of weapons they held selfies aloft, one man in the bow holding a selfie stick as if it were a flag of freedom. Another held up his newborn baby triumphantly as a weeping woman carried a small child above the waves. Kneeling and kissed the earth, a bearded man shed tears of relief. The news clip ended with the bedraggled refugees, in a single file, escorted uphill to a village by authorities, their futures, their very lives, uncertain. They may be forced to return to what for many is uncertain death.

Trump has exposed a darkness lurking within the human spirit that unleashes hatred and fury toward these “others” making meanness and total lack of compassion the norm, here and in Europe in a rerun of the Know-Nothing Party which flourished here in the mid-1800s as an anti-immigrant party. Philip Roth refers to these people as “the indigenous American berserk!” I couldn’t help but recall when a dolphin was recently stranded on the beach where I was staying in Florida. The attention, tenderness and the hours spent cooling the animal, strategizing what to do and occasional reports to the curious crowd about what the authorities were doing when they drew blood and took vital signs.

Three hours later, the struggling dolphin was carried in a sling across the hot beach to a waiting truck that would take it to Sea World for “rehabilitation.” The sweaty crowd cheered, our emotions touched by observing the recue, an act of resistance, to push back against the harm humans cause to the natural world that, according to Terry Maseur of LA, a hummingbird rehabber, “draws out raw emotions that unleash our deepest insecurities about our humanity, mortality and place in the natural world.” My tears flowed at the kindness shown by officials and the watching crowd. That compassion disappears under the dark cloud of nativism and nationalism shown by so many descendants of immigrants.

I heard about the signs for my ancestors saying “No Italians” and “No Irish” need apply. So much for my ancestors. The only true “Americans” are Native Americans upon whom we’ve heaped genocide and government policies that have almost destroyed the original settlers, who lived lightly on Mother Earth, thinking about the effects of any actions on seven generations to come. Those spewing hatred of immigrants should explore their own histories, what their ancestors endured to come to our shores for freedom from violence, religious persecution and the possibility of economic opportunity. A Native American suggested that they collect $500 from every American as a fine!

Imagine if instead of hating these 60 million refugees, 30 million of them children, seeking refuge from their violence-plagued countries, we welcomed them, embraced them with care and kindness, helping them become acclimated, treating them as compassionately as we treat dolphins…