I did my own Covid research

“Do your own research” they keep saying. So, I decided to do just that. Naturally, the research has to be more than just sitting around and talking to like minded people. Objective thinking doesn’t happen in an echo chamber. With so many people doing their own research, how hard can it be? Do the research, question sources, get the results. Easy money. Don’t worry, I don’t expect to change any minds. Most people have invested so heavily on one side that they will never admit to be wrong.

Do the actual research

Obviously, I am not an expert in infectious diseases or immunology. Unless your “research” ends in a peer reviewed paper in a credible, medical journal, your research is not your own. None of the people that have said they were doing their own research actually conducted research that ended in approved clinical trials so we are all, essentially, taking the results of others. If you are a layperson and have done your research, please show your methodology and records for review. Otherwise, you have to cite your sources for your “research.”

Question sources

Critical thinking is absolutely essential at this stage. For my personal research, I discounted any hypocritical sources, like anyone on Fox news that was recommending avoiding getting vaccinated when they were, in fact, vaccinated. I ignored any elected official that caught Covid themselves. Infectious disease specialists and institutions were considered, with greater weight put on independent and international sources. Any person or organization that could have political motives for their results or reporting would have their finding scrutinized or verified with another source.

In addition, any source used will be examined past the first post that comes up on a google search. No rando blogs, no websites that are really a mouthpiece for a religious or political organization. Only considering information that agrees with you and discounting any counter information is not good research. I am well aware that my guidelines for trusted sources would eliminate the information from a lot of self-researchers, but if your sources do not hold up to critical thinking, how can you trust your information?

In the end, I spent a few days going over different sources and different scenarios. I used both generic and specific searches so I would get different results. Even if a source agreed with my previously held worldview, I discounted it if it didn’t fit my credible source criteria. One source that aligned with my thoughts was discounted because it was not a scientific institution and was instead affiliated with an international religious organization.

My results

After my research, I rejected the claim that the flu was worse than the coronavirus. The number of deaths from Covid was over 10 times that of the pre-Covid flu reported numbers. In addition, in the 2020-2021 flu season, when people were still mostly social distancing, wearing masks, and there was no Covid vaccine, there were only 700 reported flu deaths. If the flu was indeed worse than Covid, those numbers would have been much higher.

New Zealand, with their swift response to the pandemic, virtually eliminated Covid from their shores. Many people claim it was easy for them because they are an island. So, I looked at the rates of other islands. Hawaii and Guam were not able to have the same success as New Zealand. I could not confirm that is because those are American territories and Americans are stupid. However, when people are traveling with fake vaccine cards, and those are the people that think not wearing a mask and social distancing is “freedom” there is no wonder those islands can’t get the virus under control.

I also looked at other island nations. Iceland is also not Covid free. They were doing well on getting the country vaccinated, but there was an uptick in cases. Not surprisingly, it occurred shortly after the government lived all domestic restrictions. It is as if masks and social distancing worked.

Notice no blue on the map?

I then looked at the claim that the vaccine is worse than the virus. The FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after Covid vaccines, even if it is unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. So, the number of deaths from the vaccine could be inflated. But even if we take it at face value, it still puts vaccine deaths at 0.002%. Two to five people per million suffered an allergic reaction. More than 14.7 million doses of the J&J vaccine were administrated and the CDC and FDA identified 47 confirmed cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. More than 386 million Covid-19 vaccines have been administrated in the U.S. and the reported deaths were 7,899.

Comparing the over 675,000 Covid deaths, it is clear that the virus is worse than the vaccine. One insightful statistic was the breakdown by state of how much of the population had died from Covid. The Florida numbers were 1 out of ever 440 people have died from the virus. I learned of that number before watching a football game and I did the math. If Florida was represented by the crowd in attendance, 163 people would have died from Covid. Using that same chart, Florida deaths, where they are resisting mask and vaccination mandates, is three times the rate of states where Covid restrictions are in place.

As diligent as my research was, I was not able to confirm any of the popular conspiracy theories. I was, however, able to dismiss most with simple critical thinking and a basic understanding of science and the universe.

In conclusion, my research reveals that the threat of Covid is real, it is worse than the flu, the vaccine works, masks and social distancing works. I know a lot of people are hesitant or outright refusing to be vaccinated. I am sure they would like to be seen as strong, freedom loving patriots. But their reasons seem to boil down to “I don’t like being told what to do” which is more of an entitled child’s response than George Washington, who actually made his troops get vaccinated.

What Happened to You, What Happened to U.S.

The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step; it also ends with one. So many people have been taking single steps on a journey, but they don’t know the distance traveled. You have to look back to see how far you have gone, and if you have gone too far.

When someone kills a protestor by running them over with a car, the response is not supposed to be “they shouldn’t have been in the road.” Personally, I don’t agree with protests that block freeways. I don’t think the message is effective and I doubt it makes them many friends. However, I don’t think they should be hurt or killed for it. What has happened to you to put such a low value on human life? Recently, a driver ran over some right wing protestors, do you blame them for being in the road too?

This man had plenty of options of where to go. He was not blocked off, but chose to drive through a protest march anyway. He shot the young man who tried to stop him from hurting others and got out of his car. This was not a justifiable or defensible action. If you do not denounce him, you are not on the right side.

I see the posts of veterans, patriots all of them, talking about how their “oath never expired” and yet they are actively violating that oath. Specifically, the part about upholding the constitution. Any efforts to affect or influence an election should be staunchly opposed. No matter who it is by. If you believe in this country and the values it represents, you should fight for the People to choose their leaders, not the leaders you most agree with.

It isn’t just that Trump isn’t a king, it is that no president is a king. Our fight for independence was literally against that kind of thing. When your side starts to look like tyranny, you are supposed to stop supporting it. You should help correct it if you can or fight it if you can’t.

The same people who say “Trump is your president, deal with it” are the same ones gearing up to fight if he loses. That isn’t the thought process of a rational mind. I know there were right wing extremists and white supremacists long before Trump ran for office, but I’m not talking about them. I am talking about the rational, reasonable people who have been on this journey of single steps for the past four years and don’t see how far they have come.

When you are on a journey and you catch up with white supremacists, and the Nazis are within sight, you should rethink the path you are on. Because it is too late to rethink your position when you are being fitted for a guard uniform at New Auschwitz. You are not on the right side, and will be on the wrong side of history. When the president starts talking about eugenics at a rally, you are supposed to stop and consider the path he is on, not cheer.

I worry for some of you. You have lost your way, and I don’t think it is intentional. I don’t know if it is pride or something else that won’t let you admit that you have gone astray. I don’t think you are stupid, or weak, which is why I am so confused. You should be standing up to your peers when they talk about violence against protestors. You should be correcting your president and remind him that he is not a king. I am not saying give up on your political beliefs, but stand up for what is right, not what is right for you.

Germany in the ’30s and 40’s was full of people who prospered, not because of their own hard work, but because the system worked for them. Do you think that when people were taken in the middle of the night that no one took over their homes and businesses? No one took that as a opportunity to improve their own life? If you, right now, are befitting from the misery of another, knowing how this has played out in history, and are not actively fighting it, you are on the wrong side.

If you see a Nazi flag at your protest/rally, either he is at the wrong event, or you are. Our grandfathers didn’t liberate Europe so they could come here. If you find yourself agreeing with their rhetoric, you have lost your way.

You should be against voter fraud AND ballot tampering. You should want the decision of who leads our country and communities in the hands of the People, and you should support and defend that choice. That is how our republic is supposed to work. You should be looking for the truth, not the words that supports your world view. Just because you don’t like the information, doesn’t make it fake news.

You are on a journey of 1,000 miles, and each step takes you further away from who you were and what you believed. You are heading in the same direction as Hitler, you haven’t caught up to him yet, but he is within sight. The truly scary thing, is that the height of Nazi Germany was not at mile 1,000 on the journey of evil. Please don’t let us catch up and surpass them. Uphold your oath, defend the constitution, and get back to the person you used to be.

To be clear, so there can be no doubt. I support free and fair elections. I am against any efforts to manipulate or influence the outcome of any election in any form. I condemn violence against protestors and BY protestors. This includes people infiltrating protests with the intent to cause damage, confusion, or chaos. I think it is up to protest leaders to ensure that their protest message is not subverted by another and to enforce a peaceful protest and to cooperate with police to detain anyone that subverts their attempts at peace. I reject any message of supremacy by any group and disagree with anyone that suggests their oppression will end with the oppression of another. I believe that equality will be achieved by lifting everyone to the same level, not bringing anyone down. I believe that elected officials are to serve the people, and if their policies hurt or oppress another group, I will not support them just because it benefits me. If I am in position of privilege, I will use that privilege to help those disadvantaged and not use it to my advantage. Any questions?

Normalize ‘This is Where You Lost Me’

No one will deny that things are pretty polarized in this country. There is an inherent need to be right and no one wants to admit to being on the wrong side of history. Because of that, some people are “ride or die” with their candidate or philosophy. What we need to do is allow for the phrase “this is where you lost me.”

This is very simple, it allows for someone to have a belief, even a strong one, but not take it too far. It will support a good belief system, but not take it to the point where defending it makes you evil. I’ll start you off easy.

  1. Pizza is good.
  2. Pizza is a great meal.
  3. Pineapple is an acceptable pizza topping.
  4. Hawaiian is the best pizza.
  5. No other pizza than Hawaiian should be served.
  6. People should be punished for eating any other topping on their pizza.

So, the question is; where did I lose you?

Some people might not like pizza and are not on board from the start. There is a huge debate about pineapple on pizza, so some people are out at number three. There may be a handful of people out there that stick it out until the end and really believe that all other pizza toppings should be banned. I think we can all agree that hose people are not reasonable.

For me, I agreed with the first point, even the second. I like pizza and at times it really hits the spot. While pineapple isn’t something I would put on my pizza, I don’t have a problem with other people eating it. I disagree with the fourth point, but I’m all about viewpoint diversity, so if you love Hawaiian pizza, you do you. But you lost me at the fifth point. And number six is going too far.

This guy had a plan to bring peace to Afghanistan, or so he said.

Let’s kick it up a notch. The Russians pull out of Afghanistan left a huge power vacuum. Tribal leaders who had weapons and fighters started fighting among themselves for power and control. Mujaheddin quickly went from freedom fighters to warlords. A scrappy holy man said that they were all students of Islam and should not be fighting so if you supported him, he would put an end to it so everyone could go back to farming. A lot of people supported that rhetoric and supported him and his movement. His name; Mullah Omar and his group was called the Taliban. Talib, in Arabic, means “student” so the plural form of student is Taliban.

When I was in Afghanistan, I spoke with a man who said he was Taliban. The operative word is “was.” He was no longer Taliban. For him, he liked the message or no more fighting, and supported the Taliban in that. But once Omar took Kabul, they instituted a bunch of new laws. Women had to wear burkhas and stay in the home, girls couldn’t go to school and could only learn the Quran at home. Music and dancing were considered useless indulgences and the only thing you could yell at a soccer game was “God is great.” There were men walking around enforcing these rules by whipping offenders.

You can be a good person and support the early Taliban messaging, but if you are still on bard at this point, you so far over the line into evil that you need a passport to get back.

The man I talked to was on board with the fledgling Taliban when they said they were going to stop the fighting. He was all in for going back to farming and living a life of peace. Everything else is where the Taliban lost him. Maybe he didn’t have hard feelings on the burkha, but he supported education for all children. He for sure was against Afghanistan becoming a heaven for terrorist. In the end, instead of putting down his rifle for good, he had to use it to fight the Taliban. The group that he had been convinced was good for the country, turned out to be the worst for it. He was actually happy to see American soldiers because it meant he could go back to farming again.

You can support a person, organization, or cause and still question it. Being all in doesn’t have to mean all in for life. You aren’t a bad person for supporting a person that turns out to be evil, you are a bad person for continuing to support them because you don’t want to admit you were wrong.

Some men never told Mullah Omar “this is where you lost me.”

This is another advantage of the phrase “this is where you lost me.” It makes you on the right side again. It means you can be critical of the side you once supported. Like the former Taliban, he was all for peace in the country, but they lost him with their extreme views and he stopped from going down the wrong path with them and got to be on the right side again. “This is where you lost me” means you can be a good person for supporting values, but not the actions of a person or group.

You can say, “I wholeheartedly support the police, but when an individual shoots an unarmed kid in the back, that is where they lose me. Not the entire industry, but that individual.”

Or try, “I support the First Amendment and the right to protest, but when protestors start destroying property, that is where they lose me.”

“I support the Second Amendment and the right of a person to defend themselves, but they lost me at a bunch of randos in body armor, or a handing a child an AR-15 and letting him wander around alone after curfew fitting the definition of a well-regulated militia.”

“I think it is great that a 17-year-old kid supports law enforcement. It is awesome that he is community minded and wants to help clean up graffiti after protests. But when an adult committed a felony by handing him, a minor, a loaded rifle, that is where you lost me. You really lost me when they let a child wander off on his own, illegally carrying a rifle. You completely lost me when the unsupervised child was in a position to shoot and kill people.”

See how easy that is?

What boggles my mind is how far people let the president go without questioning it. Remember, it isn’t about not liking a position, it is about not letting it get too far. You can support strong borders, but be against locking up children for long periods of time. You want money for your wall? I’ll bet sending those kids home and closing the facility will free up a bunch of cash.

These are not the words of a rational person.

You can be pro-life, but you should question it when the president says they are executing babies after they are born. That is not the thought of a rational mind. I am going to back up because a lot of people skim read and or are feeling attacked so they are on the defensive. The President. Said that babies and being executed. After they are born. AFTER THEY ARE BORN! Even if you believe in a media conspiracy, there is no way that story would not be told. Baby executions! Even if every retweet and quote of his tweet is countering that lie, still more people “liked” it.

You can support your president, but when he openly talks about circumventing the election process, and therefore the Constitution, that is where he should lose you. When a person in power starts speaking like a king, you, as an American, are supposed to question it. It is literally what the founding fathers would want you to do and exactly why the Second Amendment was written. Not to fight people exercising their First Amendment rights, but the only trying to take them away.

It is one thing to be a soldier, fighting for your country on Omaha Beach, it is another thing to be the one turning on the gas chamber in Auschwitz. There is a point where you can say this is where he lost me and you can be on the right side. But if you stay on the bandwagon long enough, it is going to take you to a place where you can’t come back from. ‘This is where he lost me” is your out.

When someone calls you a racist for voting for Trump the first time, you can counter with, “I supported strong borders and draining the swamp, but he lost me at burning the Constitution and using his position to pad his family’s pockets” or something along those lines. If you vote for him in November, you won’t have that out.

You Patriots and Moto Vets Are Dishonoring Your Oath

A lot of the people that are upset about athletes kneeling are also the ones who think the Pledge of Allegiance should stay in schools. If that person is also a veteran, they usually say “my oath never expired.” I am here to say, between protestors and patriots, the patriots are the least honorable.  

If you are patriotic, you have said the Pledge of Allegiance more times than you have sung the National Anthem. In it, you swear loyalty to the United States as one nation. ONE NATION; UNDER GOD. Not the nation you want it to be, not a white nation, not a nation of the same religion, not the citizens within the border you agree with, but ONE NATION!

Remember this?

You pledge liberty and justice for all. I’m going to slow it down for your skim readers.

WITH

LIBERTY.

AND.

JUSTICE.

FOR.

ALL.

Justice for all. Justice, not vengeance, not a financial settlement, but fucking justice. If you are the target of a crime, or an injustice, you deserve justice. If you commit a crime, you should have justice leveled upon you. That is what Justice for all mean.

You should not be able to claim that you are free from justice because your cause is righteous. So, people starting fires at police stations should be prosecuted. A badge should not shield a person from justice when they violate their oath and cross the line into criminal activity. And lumping all people at a protest or all police officers together and judging them based on the worst in their group is not justice for the peaceful protestor or the good cop faithfully protecting his or her community.

The children being held in ICE facilities for so long are experiencing neither liberty nor justice. If you think they should not be allowed in the country, you should at least believe that they should be allowed to be free somewhere else. The people in ICE facilities deserve justice for the crimes being committed against them. Not some tree hugger idea of a crime against their chakras, but actual; on the books; fitting the legal definition of crimes; being committed by individuals employed by the U.S. government.

Note; I did not say by the U.S. government, but by individuals employed by the government. Those people decided to commit an illegal action. Individuals who deserve justice.

If you don’t think she deserves justice, you are not faithful to your oath.

So, if you are not fighting for justice for Breonna Taylor, you are not supporting your oath. Justice would have been George Floyd being given his day in court. Justice was not kneeling on him after he had stopped moving. Justice was not continuing to “restrain” him after he lost consciousness. Justice would be investigating not just what happened to Vanessa Guillén, but what is wrong with the culture and leadership climate that it happened and why the truth was not a priority for the base. It shouldn’t have taken national outrage and a viral video for steps to be taken for Ahmaud Arbery to maybe get justice.

If you think liberty and justice is only for some people, and not for people you don’t like, you are violating your oath to loyalty to the country and the promise of liberty and justice for all.

Help Me Understand: How is My Life Better as a Black Man?

How is my life, as a black man, better than it was two months ago, and are current efforts working towards the goal of a safer life for black people?

Photo by: Wouter Engler

I’m trying a new approach. I think that often we approach debates from the position of being right and having to convince the other side they are wrong. It means we aren’t really listening for understanding, but for points to counter. What this often leads to is people yelling their best arguments at each other and making no progress.

So, I won’t be making an argument for or against, I will be stating my sticking points. This is not an opportunity to lecture me, but more like be a tutor to guide me to the right answer. If you can explain these issues, I am on your side. If not, I’m not going to tell you to reevaluate your side that is on you. I am seeking understanding, not trying to change minds.

Are protests working?

First, I support protests as a way that Americans have addressed social change. When done right, and for the right reasons, I’m a big fan. We are far past the “raise awareness” stage, so what are the protests currently accomplishing? Police across the nation are still using choke-holds, Breonna Taylor’s killer are still free, and there has been no cultural shift in police department and guilds. So, how are the protests currently making my life safer?

Will defunding the police make black lives safer?

I fully support police reform and reorganization. I like the idea of having other services show up in stressful situations where a person with a gun will only make things worse.  Situations with someone with mental health issues or dealing with the homeless. Times when someone can offer services and not handcuffs. Programs like this in other cities shows a lot of promise and I would love to see something like that implemented in my area. So, my question isn’t is it a good idea, my question is will it make black lives safer? The distinction is important.

Now look at the list of names when we talk about Black Lives Matter. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, the list goes on, none of them were homeless or facing a mental health crisis. All were killed after police were responding to a crime or a traffic infraction. Something those other services would not be doing.

As much as I want someone else to take over these duties for the police, none of the defund the police solutions are changing the issue of black people being killed by the police because none of them would have been used in the deaths of these black people.

I’m going to say that again and put it in bold and underline it for the people that skim articles. None of the solutions proposed in defunding the police would have saved the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and many more. Defund the police = good, but does not solve the problem we need solved.

Banning tear gas and non-lethal measures

Avoiding the discussion of what “non-lethal” means, I am using it in the context of how law enforcement categorizes it. I know city of Seattle banned them, and at the time of this writing, a federal judge blocked the ban. But here is why it is a sticking point for me. I’m not worried about being pepper sprayed by the police, I am worried about being shot by them. I will take a mild irritant over dying any day. I want the police to have as many steps between verbal warning and shooting as possible.

In fact, can we make up new tools for the police? Can someone invent a combination Taser, pepper spray, Spiderman web shooter, tranquilizer gun? Let’s give them a lot of options before they bring the steel.

How is my life as a black man safer?

I need this question answered. Because, to me, it seems like we have not solved the issues that would demonstrate that black lives, do indeed, matter. It seems to me that this is about white safety. All of this started because of excessive force, inflicted by white police officer, on black citizens. Many who did not commit an arrestable offense, and none committing an offense where the death penalty is a possible punishment. None were having a mental health crisis or in a situation where the police would not be involved if we successfully defunded the police into other programs.

I don’t want to argue semantics, and you should think about your response before touching the keyboard. But please, help me understand; how is my life, as a black man, safer than it was two months ago and how are the current efforts getting us towards that goal? If it isn’t better, should we be doing things different?

Better to be a Sheep Than a Lemming

Lately, as a joke, when someone makes a point or an argument that is supported by science, research or solid evidence I say, “well you didn’t say ‘don’t be a sheep’ so I don’t believe you.” Today, as I was posting that as a comment on a Facebook thread, I started to think more about that saying.

It is a derogatory term for someone that goes where they are led. To a certain extent, that is true and is true for everyone. We are all influenced by the information we receive. Most recently, it is being used against people that are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic by wearing masks and requiring masks in their place of business.

In these instances, the “sheep” are being led by shepherds who are experts in the medical field, especially infectious diseases, or are government officials who are taking the information provided by those experts. In that case, I am indeed a sheep. I listen to top experts and consume my information through credible, objective media sources. Note: I did not say “trusted” media. Just because you trust someone, doesn’t mean they don’t mislead you.

My thoughts, as I lay in bed, went deeper down the sheep metaphor rabbit hole. The shepherd has a vested interest in the sheep. The sheep are the livelihood of the shepherd and as such, cannot be treated callously. Just as sheep provide wool, civilians provide revenue in the form of taxes, sales or income, to the government. There is zero benefit to the government to shut businesses down. A state without a state income tax relies on sales tax for their revenue. The longer businesses stay closed, the less money they make. Sure, they get some sales tax from Amazon sales, but the more businesses that are permanently closing now, the less revenue they will have in the long run.

Businesses are losing money, and not just the small businesses. Think of all the big lobbyist groups. Gun sales are going through the roof, but other than that, and the toilet paper industry which wasn’t going anywhere, corporations are losing money. Even “Big Pharma” is losing because people are going to the doctor less frequently and skipping vaccines because they are worried about getting Covid at the doctor’s office. Oil is taking a hit because people are driving less. The list goes on.

Aside from Amazon and gun shops, this pandemic is bad for everyone. So, our “shepherds” have a vested interest in getting businesses open and people back to work. What state and local governments really want to do is get the virus under control enough so that they can open back up. Better to take a three-week hit to the pocketbook once, than a two-week hit every other month for the next year.

 Shepherds do not want to lead the sheep down a dangerous path. They want as many sheep to survive as possible so they can continue to shear them for years to come. Even sheep used for meat are fed and treated well until it is time for slaughter. A well-fed sheep is worth more at market than a scrawny, malnourished one.

Then I started to think about the people that ignore experts. They are not sheep, as they often proudly proclaim. But what are they? I am sure they think of themselves as wolves, a strong predator. But that isn’t fitting for the whole sheep metaphor. Because a wolf still acts in the best interest of the pack. Those people are lemmings.

Lemmings seem to serve no real purpose. I have never heard of a market for lemming products. I have seen no lemming clothing, or seen them featured as a challenge on a cooking show. Lemmings just congregate with other lemmings and go wherever the group is going, even to their own detriment. I picture lemmings, heading for the cliff, mocking the sheep grazing in a field.

“Covid is a hoax!”

“Vaccines cause autism!”

“If the Earth is round, Australians would fall off!”

The first lemming over the edge is not the leader, just the lemming in front. Sadly, there are lemmings on both sides of the political spectrum, in every industry and virtually every household. When the world burns, it will no be the fault of the sheep, it will be because of lemmings. So yes, I am a sheep, shepherded by reliable information, which is better than being a lemming following the lemming in the front.

Note: Yes, I know that lemmings don’t commit mass suicide, it is a thought I had in bed. If you don’t like being thought of as a lemming, don’t be a fucking lemming.

When it was just smoke

There have been a lot of posts by well-meaning white folks lately. While it is nice, from my perspective it is bringing a smoke detector to a three-alarm fire. The people in the burn ward do not need to be told that while you have never been on fire, you understand that it was hot.

I needed you every time a person said I had a bad attitude. I needed you to ask them why they thought that. I needed you to point out that I wasn’t doing anything different, or responding differently than another coworker.

I needed you when someone said they felt threatened by me. I needed you to ask them why, and what I had done. I needed you to challenge them with their own bias. I needed you to tell them then, that being black isn’t a threat. I needed you to not validate their racist feelings just because they feel them. I needed you to think about how a man that has spent his life defending others would feel being labeled as dangerous.

I needed you to confront your friends when I told you how they treated me. Not tell me, that you don’t see me that way, or that you nave never seen it. I needed you to trust that I wouldn’t say it was a hostile work environment unless it was. I needed you to talk to people that wouldn’t listen to me.

I needed you every time someone said “I don’t see color” and tell them that doesn’t make them enlightened, but it makes the ignorant to the unique experiences of others. I’m not just talking about racism here, if you don’t see color, you miss out on the beauty of a rainbow.

I needed you more times than I can list here. And not just me, so many of us. I don’t need you to tell me when the world is on fire, I needed you when it was just smoke.

Originally posted to my Facebook June 1, 2020.

The Fire Inside

You know that feeling you have? In the face of great injustice, you are angry, scared, tired, frustrated, hurt, anxious, overwhelmed, there are all these feelings and emotions burning through you like a raging fire. This fire consumes you, dominates your day. It impacts how you feel and maybe even your interactions with other people. I want you to know I see you and I understand.

While it has been great to see these fires burn on social media, it is a little disheartening. This fire that has been burning up social media for two weeks, I have felt for 40 years. But not a raging fire, a slow, smoldering burn. It can’t rage because, like all flames, it needs to breathe. My fire was covered years ago. I didn’t do it, you did. Some of you without even knowing it.

The lid is on my fire and I have been choking from the smoke for decades. Because you see my fire as different, it is dangerous. When a man stood up and yelled at me during a work meeting, it was dismissed as passion, when I calmly, quietly sat on my hands, I was the ones that someone felt threatened by. Because his burning fire is seen as a cracking log in a fireplace. Safe; comforting even, but more importantly, contained. While mine would be in a dry forest in summer. A danger to all and should be avoided at all costs. That spark must never be lit.

So, I sit here, still smoldering. Waiting for the allied fires burn away. This will end, as things tend to do. What I hope people will take away is an understanding of the frustrations that people like me have felt for years. To see and experience all the injustices we have known for centuries and have to smother that fire. Understand that this is why some slights are deeply offensive to us. How horrible it has been to see people validate the feelings of someone that we find offensive.

Many people didn’t see the big deal surrounding Rachel Dolezal. There were discussions about what trans-racial was in a world where race is a social construct. I burn with a white-hot rage thinking about if the current situation happened a few years ago and Rachel Dolezal was on TV talking about what it is to be a black person. That is why what she did was so offensive. She almost got to speak for us. A white woman, who sued her college for discriminating against her for being white, who was a leader in her NAACP chapter, could have been given a platform to speak for black people as a black woman.

I’m going to say that again in bold for the people that are just skimming. A white woman. Who sued her college for discrimination because she was white. Who was a leader in her NAACP chapter. Could have been given a platform to speak for black people. As a black woman.

I don’t expect you, the reader, to dismantle systemic racism tomorrow. I am not asking you to change the world. Just do your little part. When you see a person get upset about something you think it minor, give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it isn’t this particular thing, maybe it is just another in a long line of injustices they have had to face. Challenge people when they justify their mistreatment of black people by saying they “have an attitude.” Talk to a person when they say a black man in a professional setting is scary. Really look at how the people around you are treated. Is someone you work with singled out? Do you see it? Are you silent about it? Why?

If you truly want to be an ally, let us freely express ourselves and let our fires burn for a moment. If you stop feeding the fires, they will eventually die out. Don’t be scared of our fire, take the lid off. The smoke is too much and I can’t breathe.

Come on baby

“Come on baby,” I say. “You know you want to.”

She gives me that sideways glance that tells me she does but is trying to size up my intentions.

“It’s okay,” I say hoping to nudge her in the right direction, “everyone else does it.”

She still hesitates.

“I promise I won’t tell anyone,” I lie, “It’ll be our little secret.”

It is a harmless little lie but I know that as soon as this is over, I am going to brag about this to all my friends. I might even sneak a few pictures if I can.

Tentatively, her hand reaches out then quickly retracts.

“I won’t judge you, in fact I think it will bring us closer together.”

Even I know that is B.S. This is only our second date. I might be pushing too hard but I feel I am already committed and I want to get things moving.

She looks me dead in the eye and can recognize my intentions. A smile of resignation plays across her lips and she sighs, “Okay.”

I hide my elation so she doesn’t change her mind at the last second. She is going to do it. She wants to, I want to, we both want this and her giving in feels like a small victory.

With no more hesitation she places two more pieces of bacon on her plate and heads for the omelet bar.

Tempo

Slow it down she said

She talks to me like I don’t know what I’m doing

Try it again she scolds

Clearly she does not understand that her tone isn’t making it better

That isn’t right either

Can’t she see I am trying

No, do it like this

She shows me how she wants me to do it, but it only confuses me more

Your tempo is wrong, you keep doing it too fast

Over and over she says tells me to slow down

That may be how you think it is done, but that isn’t it.

The repetition is maddening, but I dutifully do as she says. 

That’s right, she says with a smile on her face, that is how it is done.

She leans back smiling, pleased with herself, and finally with me. Without another word she turns away from me.

Satisfied with my progress, I take out my pencil and place a check mark in the book. Man, learning the piano is hard.

Background: I needed a two credit class to be considered full time for the GI Bill so I took an elective. This is an accurate depiction of my experiences.