THOUGHTS, RAMBLINGS, WHATEVS
So, before I get into this post, I’m going to celebrate The Given’s sixth week on Amazon’s top 100 Free New Adult & College list. (Yay!) I wanted to mention that again because it looks like this might be its last week up there, so gotta flaunt it while I got it!
That, and this post is going to be a bit sober, and I’m sure you already know why. But this post is also about love (romantic and platonic), friendship, justice, and hope. So I’ll hope you hang in there.
So for those of you who somehow don’t know, literally the day after Independence Day, our country began to systematically fall apart at the seams.
On Tuesday, July 5th , Alto Sterling, an unarmed Black male who was selling CDs outside of a convenience store, was shot five times in the chest after being subdued by police. He was carrying no weapons on him. Sterling died at the scene.
Only 24 hours later, on Wednesday, July 6th, Philando Castile, another unarmed Black male was shot four times in his car by a police officer. In front of a 4-year-old baby. When the officer told him to take out his license and registration, Castile (and Castile’s then girlfriend who was in the car) revealed that he had a firearm with him but that he was licensed to carry. Castile reached for his license and registration in his back pocket, and the cop started firing. Castile died at the scene.
Black Lives Matter protests exploded across the United States. But one protest in Dallas was apparently ill-fated.
Just the very next day, late at night on Thursday, July 7th, five Dallas police officers who were standing vigil at a #BlackLivesMatter protest were ambushed and murdered by Micah X Johnson, a 25-year-old Army reserve veteran.
So disgusting, horrific, and heartbreaking. ALL of it.
Afterwards, the country struggled to remain united, and many people fell victim to their own prejudice and hate. A ex-Congressman threatened not only President Obama, but also all supporters of the #BlackLivesMatters movement. He declared open war and warned us that “Real” America will be “coming for us”. Three countries– the Bahamas, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates– have since issues travel advisories and warning for the U.S. (for the first time in decades).
This has been the most heartbreaking week I’ve had in a long, long time. I was truly terrified to be Black. I felt everyone around me in Tucson hated me, and for whatever reason, wanted to hurt me (even though I love it here, and I’ve met only ONE mean person since I’ve been here, and she was mean to pretty much everyone equally). In all corners of the country and the world, my friends and allies were really struggling as well. The victims’ families and friends were struggling. The entire country was in deep mourning, both for those Black lifeless bodies, taken by hate, and for the equally hateful Dallas-5 aftermath.
For me, personally, this week was slow. My writing and my general happiness was at an all time low. I’ll even admit that I fell into an acute depression just thinking about it all; it’s as if our own country turned to people of color and said, “You? You will never be free.”
I cried. And cried. And cried. It was bad. I definitely needed to be held, or something, but I just stayed inside a dark apartment, trying to make sense of it all.
I’m better this week, thankfully. But as I mourned, I did do a lot of thinking about one particular individual. He was the one who showed me– through his kindness, wit, compassion, and intelligence– that not all cops were buttholes. As a Black female, I’ve grown up with a very insidious fear of police officers. Not hatred, or disdain necessarily, but just a sort of “I’m going to avoid you as much as humanly possible and hope to live to 50” sort of attitude.
That is, until I’d started dating one, lol. And a Southern White one, at that. Holy hell balls.
::Colby runs as the crowd brings out the pitchforks::
A little over three years ago now, to my memory. It wasn’t planned at all; it just happened. (I was perfectly content in my life before he charmed his way into it.) He actually didn’t even mention he was a cop until I was already totally smitten (as smitten as an OKC veteran could be, that is). And our relationship was, for lack of a better word, pretty goddamned beautiful to my memory. Once we met and got involved, I fell pretty hard. I remember the moment it happened, too. And now you’re going to understand why it happened.
As far as Southern White boys went, he was pretty much the farthest thing from any stereotype you could conjure about his background. Racist? Nope. Conservative? Nuh uh. Super religious? Don’t make me laugh, lol. But in addition to all that, he was just an amazing person. Funny, sharp, witty, hilarious, kind, gentle, compassionate, worldly, open-minded, intelligent, sophisticated, liberal, and thoroughly educated and aware of the issues affecting Black and Brown people.
Not just aware. But an advocate. Had a great moral fabric and a very clear, historically informed and socially informed understanding of right and wrong. Willing to challenge his own privilege without prodding and actually stood up to other people in positions of authority for what was right. Injustice affected him deeply, and he understood that Black lives and Blue lives were not diametrically opposed. He was able to truly grieve for (the) Trayvon Martin(s), curse (the) Zimmerman(s), rail at the asymmetry of the law, hold his counterparts accountable, but also maintain pride and fraternity with the profession he truly believed in. He showed me time and again that it’s not easy being a good cop. Not easy being responsible for upholding laws that are not in the favor of the poor, disenfranchised, the Brown and Black, and all combinations in between. Not easy to stand up against the blue shield of silence and complicity. Not easy to watch your (then) girlfriend mourn and fear the ills of society and to watch your work brothers (sometimes) contribute to those ills.
But he did it all, and with pinache.
And the reason I’m mentioning him today is NOT to take my focus off of the horrors experienced by myself and by other Black and Brown people. I mention him NOT to diminish the crimes perpetrated on Black men by White officers. I’m not even trying to convince you that all cops are good (they’re not), or that even most of them are (who knows), and that we should easily trust (hard to do).
I mention him because he gives me hope.
I mention him because my saying #BlackLivesMatter wouldn’t ruffle a single of his feathers.
I mention him because true allies like him do not live in the deliberate darkness of their own privilege, and they believe, as he believes, that Black lives are precious too.
I mention him because he’s the epitome of what love and justice looks like when it slams up against adversity and microcosmic tyranny.
I mention him because I know he sheds tears (at least on the inside) for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five Dallas officers, all of whom were murdered out of hate. Because he values all life equally.
I mention him because he put on the uniform and did his best to live up to its principles and expectations.
I mention him because he opened my eyes to what a police officer SHOULD be and because he raised my standards.
I mention him because I KNOW there are others like him out there, even if they are afraid to speak up.
I mention him because whenever tragedies like this happen, just the involuntary thought of him keeps me from falling over the precipice of hate and prejudice.
I mention him because I need to thank him. For staying true to himself as the world around us collapses, for doing so as he’s pushed to pick sides and chooses the side of good. For being not just a light and an amazing human being (and smoking hot, lol), but for standing as an exemplary of what all law enforcement officers should be. For merely existing.
I have no idea how you got here, boo. But I sure as hell am glad you’re here, in this world, in this time where we need you and others like you the most.
There IS hope, y’all. People like this man exist, and many of them DO wear the uniform. As we mourn and despair and hate and heal, as we keep striving towards justice and visibility and equality, keep the ones you love and admire in the forefront of your mind. See them as a light of hope and as a promise of a better tomorrow.
I do. It helps. #BlackLivesMatter #loveeachother #healtheworld #loveWINS
LAST WEEK’S HAUL (7/4/16 – 7/10/16)
What I wrote: As mentioned above, my writing word count is the worst it’s been in months. A whopping 134 words for The Iron Maiden. And 158 words for Blood & Ink (book #4 in the series). Amazing how world events can pretty much destroy your creativity at times.
What I read / watched / listened to: definitely caught up with Season 2 of The Blacklist, and I’m halfway through; I LOVE this show. And James Spader is super sexy (stop hatin’)!
What I researched / developed: a lot of plotweaving for The Iron Maiden (book #3), Blood & Ink (book #4), and Chase the Devil (book #6)
What I learned: I caught up on my usual podcasts, but my learning this week mostly focused on MYSELF. I enrolled in a free class at Mama Gena’s School of the Womanly Arts, and it’s been life-changing. (I wasn’t going to reveal what exactly what I was doing, but I think if someone is reading this and wants to go on a similar journey, she should have the opportunity and information!)
I have to say, I LOVE this class. It’s really helping me to develop myself more fully as a three-dimensional woman, rather than as just a mom. (And no offense to women who love motherhood. I realize that we all engage in the identities that feel closest to our hearts. For me, I need to be more than just a mom, but if that’s all you require, then that’s ok, too!)
Somewhere in the beginning of 2014, pretty much the moment I found out I was pregnant, my entire world shifted, and I lost myself. Since having my daughter, I had become very accustomed to putting myself last and NOT honoring my mind, body, and spirit. Her needs always come first. In more recent months, as she’s gotten a little older and a bit more independent, I’ve been able to breathe again. And I’ve tackled the monumental task of forging an identity for myself (again) outside of motherhood. It’s been a long hike back up to my other identities, and I’ll admit that going on this personal journey has been a little scary. But it is also soooo necessary.
I didn’t realize just how much of my identity had been meshed with motherhood in the past two years. To the point where I’m, like, attached to it, lol. It’s not a part of myself that I want to bury, especially because I am so in love with my little one, and I love spending time with her. Still, I realized that rediscovering the woman buried in the folds of mommyhood is scary… like jumping into an icy lake to get to a warm, beautiful island. But then it’s also AWESOME when I’m actually taking time to do stuff like relax, pamper, style my hair, dance aroundmy apartment, do something creative and fulfilling, wear some darn lip gloss.
I’m bringing sexy back, y’all, lol!
THIS WEEK’S HUSTLE (7/11/16 – 7/17/16)
What I’m writing: More of The Iron Maiden, and it’s already going EXTREMELY well (clocking about 2,000 words a day)!
What I’m reading / watching / listening to: catching up on The Blacklist right now, and I’m LOOVING it! I’m still wanting to watch “Belle”, though. We’ll see. This week is going to be a busy week.
What I’m researching / developing: Honestly, I have no idea what fiction research and development I’ll be doing. However, I AM preparing to give my first joint Bohemian Badass writing webinar this Saturday, and so I’m in a mad dash to get all my materials together!! SO excited!
What I’m learning: Hmm! This week is going to be psycho cray cray, so I may not get to do an actual course. Though, arguably, putting together a writing class is pretty much a course unto itself! If anything, I’ll probably be studying and working through By Regina’s Killer Mini Course Challenge (which rocks harder than Woodstock, y’all).
Soo… yeah, a lot of that was heavy. Some of it beautiful, happy, and reminiscent. But I hope that overall, it felt hopeful. We fall, fumble, and fail as human beings, but we always rise again. Much love to you guys. Go out into the world and practice loving each other just a bit more. All comments, thoughts, feels, and hugs are totally welcome here, so drop some if the mood strikes you. Much love and many blessings.
Writing on, rocking on, and forever journeying towards creative badassery,