Tag Archives: history

A White and Shiny and Probably Horrendously Inflammatory Blog Post

4 Dec

Dear White People,

it happened again. Another murderer got away because of white skin and a shiny badge. We drive around with our white skin and our shiny cars, mere passersby to injustice on the streets. We sit in our white houses with our shiny lives and ignore the systematic burning of a people to the ground. In both Missouri and New York, we like our white snow and our shiny presents, having the luxury of not caring that outside, it’s cold. We’ve got our white skin and our shiny privilege. We don’t have to worry about frostbite.

Look, I know. I know. I make generalizations. White people are also poor. White people are kind. White people suffer. White people care.

White people built this whole fucking country to be poor in and to be kind in and to suffer and care in ’cause we stole it from yet another people without our skin tone.

We established that this was the best country, our country, and disallowed anyone else access to that pronoun. Even when we shipped human beings over like Fedex two-week arrival packages. “Here, Mary Sue, I got you a nice black girl to help you and Ma with your dresses.” “But Daddy, I wanted the other black girl, with the different nose!”

It is horrible. It is insensitive. It is true.

Slaves could be shot for trying to run away. Apparently this is still true when it comes to white police masters. And those police will not be indicted, because after all, they were just trying to subdue their property. They know what those black skins are like. You can’t reason with them. Just gotta bring ’em down, bloodshed be damned. It was their own damn fault for running away and resisting anyway.

Please excuse me while I go vomit. Alternatively while I go chop off my fingers, because they hate themselves for ever having to write those words.

White people, this is who we are. Maybe not you, individually. But as a people, this is what we have filled history with stories of. This is the name we have made for ourselves.

And I really don’t fucking like it.

We try to make a difference. We volunteer. We tweet. We write fucking blog posts. But none of these are going to pry the arms off the neck of a dead black man. And in the end, that’s really what we needed to do. Before the suffocation even happened.

I am a thin, white female. If a man tried to touch me and I screamed at him not to, but he persisted anyway, it would be the police’s job to come and save me, because in my case, that man’s actions would have been labelled assault. The police damn well know there are other ways to arrest a noncompliant but nonviolent person. And no way in hell do they want the upper-middle class parents of a white girl coming after them and saying one of their male officers assaulted me. Noooo way in hell would they let that come even close to happening.

Change me into a black man and apparently none of that matters anymore.

If a man held me down and suffocated me after I’d screamed and screamed that I couldn’t breathe, and the coroner fucking ruled it a homicide, there would indictments and apologies from the police department and a mass outcry at the unthinkable wretchedness of it all. I would be a martyr, not an example. That police officer wouldn’t even get to be a mall cop. He’d be in jail. Twenty-five years to life.

Change the color of my skin and my genitalia, and apparently this all isn’t even worth a trial.

This is not justice. This is bias, prejudice, flat out hatred in our goddamn justice system.

What do you do when the laws are broken?

What do you do when we are broken?

And what do you do when that brokenness causes us to break other people?

Kill them, even.

I don’t know what to do. I wish I did. Apologies stopped cutting it about twenty black-victim homicides ago. But… I don’t know how to make us better. I as an individual am trying to do the damn best I can to check my privilege and help as appropriate. I know there are others, hordes of others, who are doing the same. But apparently these hordes are not in the justice system. Or if they are, apparently they decided that the tougher incidences like these are when they should sit down and shut up and pretend like suffocating a black man who uses words like “please,” “officer,” and “sir” is a perfectly reasonable things to do.

I don’t know how to prod us all in the back, to fucking wake us up any time we’re being idiots or accomplices to murder. We’ve lost all the sticks because we made our slaves bundle them up and throw them into our hearth fires a long time ago. We, the collective we, white people, have made this a country of white people first, everyone else be damned if you haven’t made yourself as otherwise white as possible. And it’s not okay. This is so fucking not okay.

We said we were founding this country on equality and justice. We’ve got about two hundred and thirty eight years that say that’s not what we did. White people, we have failed.

Maybe it’s time we got the fuck out. Literally, metaphorically… I don’t know. But nobody else seems to either, because we’ve got a two hundred and thirty-eight year old problem here.

And when everything is white and shiny, it’s hard to see through the glare and notice that.

Old and Greats

11 Oct

Old and Greats

They tell you to just bleed on the page,

all those old and greats,

as if we still had the time to dig at our wrists

with their sharp-cut fountain pens,

as if we still had ink like that.

But we don’t patch our trousers anymore

or wear scuffed shoes

because our shoes aren’t made

of that kind of material anymore;

we hide our wear and tear now.

Rhetoric isn’t an art like it used to be,

and we spend too much time hiding our bruises

to remember how to properly wrap a wound

once we have let it bleed

and bleed

and bleed

all over that godforsaken fucking blood-soaked paper

that all those old and greats

told us would be our salvation.

They all went crazy, you know.

Wonder we are too.

The Typewriter Men

20 Sep

typewriter men edited

Today I read writer C. D. Hermelin‘s piece about becoming a hated-hipster-meme because he happened to be photographed while doing something I think is incredibly creative and that I wish I’d thought of first (hmm… Los Angeles is on the completely opposite side of the country from New York… that’s non-compete enough, right?). But I’ll let him tell you the whole story himself – here’s a link the article.

Anyhoo. Hearing about Hermelin’s typewriter busking prompted a bit of flash fiction to bubble up in my mind and coalesce into something decent-ish. I wanted to just email the thing to Hermelin – he spends so much time writing stories for others, thought it might be nice to have somebody write a story explicitly for him for a change – but, likely because of the rude comments he’s gotten from idiots, is no longer easily accessible publicly. So instead, I thought hey, I haven’t given my lovely readers a short story in a while; how about I post it here and tweet the link to Hermelin, and then lots of people can enjoy (hopefully) the writing? Brilliant idea, right?!

Oh god, please agree with me.

Well, that’s probably enough of my jibber-jabbering. Here’s that flash fiction I promised you.

The Typewriter Men

You used to see them roving the parks every so often. But that was years ago. That was back when the men in ragged coats and ladies in tattered clothes roamed the sidewalks with their typewriters, murmuring of their wares to passersby.

“Tales for sale,” they’d coo softly. “Tales for sale.”

They’d write you anything you wanted, the Storymongers. Tales of heroism and tales of hate, tales of love and lust and longing. Tales of fae and fall magic, of winter and the tulips to come. They’d write you tales of infancy and tales of old men, tales of every young woman’s want and tales of what burns beneath a new man’s cheeks. They’d even write you tales of yourself, if you asked them.

Though they’d always frown a little before. Ask if you were sure, really sure.

And always, we’d laugh. Of course I’m sure, we’d say. It’s just a story. What harm could come of that?

That was before I knew.

That was before anyone knew.

That was before the government tried to make us all forget we knew.

You see, the Storymongers did not really write us tales. They wrote us our histories. Because they were the only ones who had never forgotten.

In a time where no one can remember what happened beyond yesterday and your few alone have not lost the memory, perhaps it is best for one’s kind to dress in rags and tatters.

Yes, you are more likely to be abused.

But that’s only if they notice you.

And Storymongers are the ones who did most of the noticing. That’s why their stories were so coveted – even by the fur-and-diamond ranks who pretend to care nothing for those uncanny fruits of ink-smudged fingers. The Storymongers, they could look right at you and know.

It didn’t matter what they knew. Because really, they knew everything.

They knew what story you wanted and why you wanted the one you did. They knew what story you needed to hear and what other story would be the one you’d think you’d need anyway. They knew the story of your parents – how they met, how they fell in love – and, sometimes out of it – and how somewhere in all that chaos they came together and made you. They knew the story of your parents’ parents, and their parents beyond that… All the way back. Forever.

They knew the stories of the wars and bombings, of plows and reaping, of pacts and princes and popes and pills. They knew the stories of everything. All the way back. Forever.

I suppose that’s why, when the government finally found out about them, they were declared to be so dangerous. In a time where people have forgotten what happened before breakfast, it is a tremendous threat to your power for someone to know more than you. Even about yourself.

Especially about yourself.

I suppose that’s why they’re in hiding now, the Storymongers. But they say you can still here the click of their keys in the night, the haunting slide of a changed line feed in a faint howl of wind. And every so often, as I walk through the park, a single page of orderly black type will blow across my path. I will pick it up and tuck it in my coat pocket. I read them all, every day. And that is how I remember.