Tag Archives: family

I Am Not a Protester: I am a parent

I am not a protester. That has never been my “thing”. But that was before a news report made my daughter cry.

I am not opposed to protesting, or protesters per-se, I just generally think my time and skills are better suited elsewhere. I have a fundamental, even primal, understanding of how those who are normally being protested against, react to protests, and it is almost never in a way that moves the observer closer to the ideal the protesters are pushing. Even if message confusion and ideology conflation are set aside, I simply think other tactics are more effective. At least for the goals I would like to see the greater “us” achieve.

But yesterday was different. I didn’t change, but my needs did.

When my 13 year old heard the radio reporting the “unite the right” march in Charlottesville, including one participant driving his car into a crowd of anti-racists, she began to cry. I asked her why and she said it was because she was afraid.

Afraid for her own safety.

Because she is black.

I often complain that everyone in the suburbs, which now includes us, are too afraid of everything. We think anyone and everything is prowling just out of sight ready to rape pillage and plunder us individually. We build walls, fences, gates, and make everything private in the name of safety. “We” advocate concealed carry for our own protection, are willing to cede rights to police for “our” protection, and prioritize national defense over humanitarian aid for “our protection”. And here was my daughter hearing about some events off on the other side of the country and she was crying out of fear that this meant she was not safe. My first instinct was to roll my eyes.

Because I’m white.

I am also a grown man. I am by experience and by design the most inherently safe of all. She is 13 and aware enough to see the world around her and think about what she sees. She is old enough to consider motivations, and power dynamics, and historical context. She is aware enough to know that not everyone is one way or the other, but at 13, the thing she is struggling the hardest to understand, is herself.

I do my best to help her respect Police officers and authority in general, but when shots are fired far too often the character to which she can most closely identify with, is the black person being shot. No matter who it is that shot them. When she hears our president speak out about what is dangerous in the world or wrong with the country, more often than not she identifies with the one being called dangerous and not the man behind the podium. And when she sees and hears about a crowd of white men rallying against black people- where I see the guys who look like me and easily dismiss their absurdity- she sees herself in the woman killed by their car.

Why wouldn’t she be afraid?

Who, or what, or where, is she getting messages to counteract all those others? Every parent knows the danger of their own incessant droning being drowned out or dismissed. She hears us at home, but where else? Who else is saying to a young black girl, “I see you and you are safe.”? I thought about this sincerely and I didn’t like the answer.

So we went to a rally.

We went so my daughters could see other people, friends or strangers, who were willing to publicly say that white supremacy is wrong. We went so my daughters could hear people honk their horns to show support. We went so my daughter could be a little black girl, and people would show out loud, that they see her. I wanted her to be surrounded by these people and feel safe.

So no, I am not a protester. I do not think my presence there changed the mind of anyone in opposition. I do not think the waving flags and catchy signs swayed anyone who previously disagreed. I still think my skills are better suited to something akin to lobbying not rallying, but no matter my skill set or political stance, what I most need to be- is a parent.

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Legacy Admissions: a handout to the already haves.

Legacy admissions are not a leg up, they are a hand out to the already haves.

Data shows that the number one predictor of the likely education level a child will receive is the level of education the parents have already attained. This is not due to some sort of amniotic intelligence transfer but rather the tendency of most teachers (parents) to teach others, to simply do what they did.IMG_9436

People who have gone to elite colleges are more likely to know the application process, understand the school’s expectations, and better yet, they often know the people making the admissions decisions.IMG_9508

If you look at those who attend elite schools you will find that most of them had parents who went to elite schools, or at least good schools, and as one might guess, these parents also have a good amount of money. Whether the schooling or the money came first doesn’t really matter, but there is surely a solid correlation. In addition, you will find that most of those who are accepted into elite schools had tutors and took test prep classes during grade and high school. These kids being tutored are the A students, not the ones at risk of athletic ineligibility. On top of that, you will also find that most who gain entry into elite colleges attended high schools that have previously sent other students to elite colleges. Turns out that following well-traveled paths is more likely to get you there than forging new trails.

There are few, if any, immaculately conceived scholars who rise from nowhere with potential so obvious that Harvard can see it.crew guys

Most people who haven’t been to Harvard don’t know many others who have. Most who never attended Princeton, don’t really know what Princeton is looking for in an applicant. Most at mediocre high schools, are unaware that most at great high schools are taking extra SAT prep classes. Some, who never went to Yale but still managed to accumulate wealth, spend some of that wealth to send their kids to schools where the children of Yale grads go.IMG_9500

That is how people get in.

If you want to investigate potential unfairness in admissions to elite schools, maybe we should look first, I repeat first (not as an afterthought), at the practice of giving preference to those who are already advantaged in the application process.

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Sundays

1pm on a Sunday 

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Mixed Remixed Festival Tomorrow

I’m goingmixed

http://www.mixedremixed.org/2017-mixed-remixed-festival-schedule/

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Above All, People.

I love people.

A lot. They are my favorite.

1This love leads to heartbreak, disappointment, fulfillment, and joy. Parents nurture and cripple. Siblings support and undermine. Friends enhance, detract, come, go; some endure. Enemies.  Allies. Strangers. Acquaintances.2 People are horrible. People are wonderful. People with all of our yin and yang are by far, and I mean this with every bit of bombastic verbosity I can muster, the most important thing in existence.Period!

I believe in this human preeminence, past the point of feeling, over into the realm of knowing. It is at the heart of my narcissistic self-centeredness. Because I am a person I love me, but it also feeds my selflessness, because you are a person too. I am an I, as well as a we. With people lies the power to create, destroy, uplift and oppress.  Humans are the creators and curators of art, music, architecture, civilization, and war. It is and will always be above all else, us.3

Nature does not grow out of itself and mechanize, then choose to return to itself. People do, have, and will. Animals with all of their anthropomorphic wonder, for better or worse, often consume each other but do not commoditize or domesticate each other. They express and communicate but there is no literature. Wind, fire, water, and earth often destroy mankind, but none of those things consider themselves. Some of us do.

I believe we should consider each other more often and deeper.

4I see people over there and sometimes I wonder but more often I move on. But they are still over there and whether or not I want it, they matter. They, you, we, affect each other all the time. Humans do not exist in vacuums metaphorically or in reality. We humans are capable of pretending and often do so when considering ourselves and the roles we play in society when we would be better served to embrace each other.5But embracing is risky and hurt is real and regular. We are in fact dangerous.

So is gravity.

Let’s get to know each other.  Please? All of us.7

Let’s be in each other’s homes, eat together, live, share, and grow. All of us. If we do, some of us may be hurt- in every way possible. That possibility is inherent.

But if we ignore each other that possibility moves on to likely and then becomes inevitable.8 91011121413151618192021232425262728293031323334img_7001img_6998

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Tis’ the Season for Festive Foolishness

I advocate for leading a life of sophistication and collected calm. Anything rowdy or without deeper meaning is to be avoided. As the kids might say, I keep it classy.sammytree

For example, I support the attendance of dinner parties where one can commune with thought leaders and sophisticates. Mingling with those who elevate thought and decorum is the best use of one’s evenings.img_2419

There may be occasions where physical exertion is appropriate, but dignity should predominate. If an outing is to happen, one need not lower one’s self. img_2985

Music is an important part of creating an atmosphere of celebratory sophistication. Many of the great symphonies and orchestras perform the classics during this holiday season as a service toward the elevation of humanity.img_3341

When dining one should not overindulge. Moderation takes a back seat only to presentation. Please remember that seating arrangements and plating are what truly makes a dining experience “fine”.tghl2098

There is at this time of year a tradition of gift giving. I reservedly participate but remind us all that the appropriate response should always be quiet reserve and calm.kujg1621

I like to think of myself as an example of intellectualism and decorum. The world needs more of this. There is far too much noise and irreverence. I am above such things and would that this were true for us all.img_3490

Yes. A paragon of elevation am I. And as such, I bid you all a happy new year.xqcy1470

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Just Because You Don’t See it Doesn’t Mean it Isn’t There: racism

Growing up I thought racism was dead and gone. I’m not sure anyone taught me that directly, but the civil rights movement was in my history book and things only get in there if they are passed. It was clear in that book that MLK won the fight. Back then Michael Jordan was hands down the biggest star on the Earth , followed closely by Bill Cosby. It wasn’t hard to see that things were great.onthewall

But Since those days I have seen some things I was blind to before. I saw most of them by happenstance or by stumbling down a road less traveled, rather than by having gained some superior third eye. No, I’m still the same guy I was then, no smarter or better, I just learned some stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise. Many, I might guess most, of those I grew up with haven’t been down those roads and could easily still see things the same way I did when I was one of them. For the most part, when I write, I have them, and me, in mind.IMG_1542 (8)

Racism still exists and has existed all throughout that gap between MLK and now. It has existed and continues to exist all this time in large part because so many white people can’t see it. There are those who won’t see it, but I think it mostly persists not because of those willfully ignorant, but more due to the innocently ignorant. White people, like myself and the ones I grew up with, normally can’t see it because so many of us are white people living around so many other white people. Almost every black person I know can, and has, seen it.

Why the discrepancy?

It is not unusual for my family and I to find ourselves in the car for long periods of time. We live outside of LA and out here any time you get in a car you will likely be in it for a long period of time. Any time you are in a car for a long time it is likely that your children in the back seat will get thirsty and probably throw a tantrum. This is normal, nay, inevitable, for us and we have learned to always have water bottles in the car. On one occasion as kid number two started to melt down in the backseat, my responsible wife responded appropriately by grabbing the water bottle from her cup holder and passing it to the child in the back. Good job.quan

What my wife did not realize was that when she was passing the metal bottle to the back she unintentionally smacked me in the side of the head. It hurt. I wasn’t injured, but it hurt enough to be really unpleasant and it affected my mood. This has happened more than once. It isn’t always a water bottle, sometimes I am hit in the face with snacks, I have gotten crayon stripes across my shoulder, chocolate on my lapels, all sorts of collateral damage of front seat trying to pacify back seat. None of these small injuries are independently consequential and almost none of them are intentional. In fact most of them would be completely unnoticed by my wife if I didn’t point them out. Better yet, none of these small injuries even happen when I am not in the car.

But that is me and my family in a car. That isn’t really American race relations.

I rarely hear anyone say the N-word or anything negative about us when my wife and I are together in public. I have however heard several people use the n word when my black wife isn’t around. Those who choose to apologize don’t apologize for using the word but rather offer that they would never have said that “if they had known”. As if I should only be offended because of my relationship rather than the idea being inherently offensive.familystoop

I have never had the n word spray painted on my door. It doesn’t usually work that way these days. No, it works more like the white lady out trick-or-treating with her little girl who refused to take candy from my wife. She took candy from the door right before us, and candy from the door right after us, but while looking right at my wife she steered her child away. My little daughter was confused by the slight and wanted us to explain. My parents never found themselves in such a situation.

There was that other time when my wife had to stop her car in the middle of the road because some guy was just standing there. It was a four lane throughway and this guy was just standing there looking the other way not going anywhere. After waiting for more than a reasonable amount of time she honked the horn. The guy turned around and yelled “Get outta the car N—er!” He walked over to the passenger door and started kicking it yelling over and over “Get out of the car N—er!” He was obviously angry, probably crazy, potentially drunk. But crazy mad drunk people can use a lot of angry words, yet in this instance, when faced with my wife, he used that word. That is the one he chose. My wife got home angry and crying with dents in the side of the car demanding I do something. She hadn’t waited to ask his name, she didn’t sit there idle waiting for him to get the door open, she got away. And once danger wasn’t immediate she was hurt, scared, and angry and demanded action. We got in the car and went to the location together. She tried to describe what he looked like and where he was and back there in that place we realized there were a lot of people here matching that description and none of them were going to point out the perpetrator or even admit that he existed. There wasn’t anything we could do. Nothing at all. But there were still very real dents in the passenger side door and very real impressions on my wife.ridin bike

There was that one really hot day where we sat on our stoop eating a box of popsicles.  A neighborhood boy was pedaling his bike back and forth and upon seeing us hand a popsicle to some other kid, he stopped and asked for one too. My wife gave him one. He stood straddling his bike eating the popsicle and we talked. My wife said it was hot and he agreed. My wife commented something about it being too hot to be out running around and that perhaps swimming would be a good option. He agreed and said he goes swimming all the time. There was at this time a public pool no more than 100 yards from our home, same as this boy’s home, and my wife asked if this was where he swam. He replied with surprising comfort that his mother wouldn’t let him swim there, because there were too many black people. My wife calmly asked the boy what he thought of this prohibition. He shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t agree with it, then pedaled on down the street eating the black woman’s popsicle.IMG_8005

None of these things are a burning cross or even all that big in the grand scheme of things, but they happened and none of my white peers from youth ever see such things in their day to day lives. They do not see or experience such things and consequentially find it hard to believe that there is a racial component when I also tell of how a police officer pulled over my wife due to a burned out taillight. It was in fact burned out, but when I uncrumpled the ticket that the officer had scrunched up and tossed in the window, I saw we had been cited for two broken taillights not one. A police officer has never thrown a ticket at me. They doubt the racial component of me getting pulled over in the black part of town after picking up my black friend. The cop said I hadn’t stopped at a stop sign (not true) and then launched quickly into a list of questions about me, my destination, my intentions, and my legitimacy. Many of my peers from youth do not see why I would be bothered by this since I wasn’t given a ticket. They think I won.IMG_5721

So many of my white peers, people I love, go about their lives watching the news, interpreting politics, listening to commentators, and form opinions. So many of these people, and sometimes myself, go about forming allegiances, joining parties, and venting frustrations, without realizing that they are hitting people in the head with water bottles. Or more often, they are passing water bottles safely to the back seat not appreciating that they are doing so because the passenger seat is empty. All the while my wife, my children, and so many people like them, are getting smacked in the head every day.

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