Racism excuses murder? Again?

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By , February 16, 2014 10:04 am

Words fail. To those who said the justice system worked when George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin, what say you all now that Michael Dunn’s jury hung on the charge he murdered Jordan Davis?  Will you stand there and tell me that our justice system worked because the jurors didn’t have enough evidence to warrant a conviction?

Or will you, at long last, be honest and acknowledge that in our country, racism is so pervasive and runs so deep that all a white person needs to claim is “I was afraid of that black person” and a jury will relate to that and see reasonable doubt for a murder charge?

Three words. “I was afraid.” That’s all it takes, it seems, to justify deadly force against an unarmed black youth who was just playing music loud.

And if we spend our lives in isolation and perpetuate the myths and racism, we can then use that as an excuse to kill black youth?

I feel sick inside today.

There are many commentaries all over the Internet, but Ta-Nehisi Coates’ column reduces me to tears.

At long last, have we made no progress in this country?  Was electing a black president a sign of progress, or did we just put an “oreo” in the White House so we could tell ourselves and the world that America is not a deeply racist country?

My heart goes out to the families of  black youth who were and will be killed because they are black. I could not and likely would not have said what Jordan Davis’s mother said after the jury verdict yesterday.  Her comments may have prevented riots, but Jordan Davis did not get justice yesterday. And nor will the next black teen unless there is a tectonic shift in our country.



Saying goodbye to a great dog

By , December 11, 2013 12:05 pm

It was more than 14 years ago, and my daughter was in the hospital, gravely ill. She had already been in the hospital for over a month, and I was desperate to motivate her to fight to recover and get better. And so I made her a promise: after she got out of the hospital, I would take her to get a puppy. We already had one dog, but he was clearly my dog, and she had always wanted one of her own.

It took another month, but finally she was able to come home from the hospital. True to my word, off we went to the shelter the next day to find her a puppy. She had had her heart set on a black lab puppy, and they actually had some very young ones there, but I could see by the way she held the puppy and the way the puppy responded to her that it wasn’t the right puppy for her.  And so I wandered around the shelter, looking at all the puppies – including the older puppies who were in a different room.

And that’s where I spotted her – a 4-month old German Shepherd/collie mix. There were other puppies of about the same age in other cages, but there was something about this one…

I went and got my daughter and persuaded her to consider an older puppy. And when we took this puppy out of the cage, the puppy went nuts licking and kissing my daughter. The puppy was overjoyed, and my daughter laughed with joy – for the first time in months. So we sat there for quite  a while while my daughter experienced the kind of unconditional love only your dog can give you.

“I think I’ve picked my dog,” my daughter said.

“No,” I said, smiling. “Your dog has picked you.”

After we got her home, we discovered that while she was affectionate and loving to us, she was fearful and aggressive with most men and all young children.  Something bad must have happened to her in young life before we got her. It took a lot of patience and time, but eventually she lost her fear of men and children. But always, always, she protected “her pack,” and looked out for us – including another dog we adopted when she was 5 years old and depressed after the death of my dog.

For over 14 years, she was part of our family and her tail always wagged happily. It was only a few weeks ago that she first showed signs of illness and we discovered that like my dog before her, she had liver cancer. Even then, her tail wagged happily as we talked to her and comforted her.

As we all gathered around her in her final moments last night, my daughter and I wept openly, remembering the day when this wonderful dog had chosen my daughter. The shelter had thanked us for rescuing her. Little did they know that we didn’t rescue her. She had rescued my daughter.

The house feels too quiet this morning.  I console myself thinking of her on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, reunited at last with my dog, as they run and play together again. And I reach down to console our other dog, and I tell her that one day, we will all be together again.



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By , October 25, 2013 5:43 pm

Seen on a mail list:

A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway outside Washington, DC. Nothing was moving. Suddenly, a man knocks on the window.

The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”

“Terrorists have kidnapped the entire US Congress, and they’re asking for $100 million dollars’ ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. We are going from car to car, collecting donations.”

“How much is everyone giving, on an average?” the driver asks.

The man replies, “Roughly a gallon.”

What do you teach your children?

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By , July 4, 2013 12:34 pm

When my children were younger, I used to read them books for children about American history. I took them to Lexington, Concord, Boston, Gettysburg, and other historical areas. I wanted them to appreciate some of the great things our country had done and the sacrifices made for democracy and equality.

But it’s been too many Fourth of July’s since I have felt any pride in America. What would I teach my children now? What do you teach your children now?

And how will you answer your young children when they grow up and ask, “Why didn’t you do something to stop the government from turning this country into a surveillance state? Why didn’t you do something to stop the government from taking away women’s rights to control their bodies? What kind of country did you leave me?”

It would be too simplistic – and ineffective – to simply say “Oust the Republicans from Congress,” because there are too many Democrats who agree with them.

We need a more fundamental shift in our country to get us back on course. Will you be part of it?

#Restorethe4th is not a total solution, but it’s an important part. Get behind it and take action.

Edward Snowden’s gift

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By , July 4, 2013 12:27 pm

Reading the news these past few weeks, I found myself frequently angry  at our government – all three branches – over the massive domestic surveillance program described in documents leaked by former Booz Allen Hamilton employee Edward Snowden. But when I wasn’t dealing with the negative emotions about our government, I found myself somewhat awed by the gift Edward Snowden has given us all – Americans and EU citizens alike – at enormous personal risk to himself.  He has been willing to give up his future and freedom to give us the gift of sunshine.

As more files are released by The Guardian and Washington Post, the light will only get brighter.  But with that gift comes an enormous responsibility on the recipients.  It is up to us – each of us – to ensure that this doesn’t all get swept under rugs or whitewashed.  It’s up to us to ensure that Congress stops certain practices and restores the Fourth Amendment rights that have been trampled on by a government exploiting Third Party Doctrine while issuing alarmist Chicken Little proclamations about “national security.”

It is up to each and every one of us to speak up and take action to make our country a better place – a place that respects the right to privacy and where we, the people, are not viewed through the lens of terrorism.

How many of us would be willing to give up our freedom for the next four or five decades to expose how our government was misleading us and monitoring us?

Over 40 years ago, a young man named Bruce Mayrock set himself on fire outside the U.N. to raise awareness about the plight of Biafran children. He died hours later. Some said at the time that his sacrifice was a total waste and made no sense. After all, Mayrock had never traveled to Biafra and had no real connection to any Biafrans.  His suicide got some local attention, but did not change the course of history.

On some level, Edward Snowden has set himself on fire.  He has sacrificed himself to make this world a better place. It is up to us to ensure that his sacrifice will not be in vain.


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