Monday, September 30, 2013

Ask a Slave with Lizzie Mae



Oh my. Every now and again, something comes along that gives me the smallest glimmer of hope. For years, I used to read the Wikipedia entry about Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent's Dinner back in 2006 as my favorite bedtime story.

Right now the gleam of light in the darkness is the web series, Ask a Slave with Lizzie Mae.

This is the kind of witty satire that keeps me from being a serial nut puncher. So many conservatives I'd like to punch in the nuts, so little time.

In the meantime, it's stuff like Ask a Slave that keeps me from going to federal prison. At the time of this writing, there are six episodes. I hope they make more. They are golden.

If I'm not mistaken, I think I actually had the pleasure of seeing Miss Dungey perform in person when I went to the Smithsonian. I was visiting DC for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Rally to Restore Sanity. I spent the day before at the American History Museum at the Smithsonian. I fell in love with DC that day. It was lovely fall weather, my traveling plans went off without a hitch and I felt steeped in history just being in our nation's capitol.

Of course some people don't like the series. Some black people are offended by anyone making light of slavery. Some white people feel that harping on that slavery thing after all this time is just beating a dead slave, I mean horse.

And there are those of every shade, like me, who get and think it's funny as hell. Because it is. It's funny....because truthiness can also be a whistle in the dark that keeps the fear and hellishness of racism at bay.

Go Lizzie.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

And Baby Makes Three

My daughter is in her senior year of college. Ye Olde Matey and I broke up for good and he moved out a year ago and has since moved to another state.

My mother and I enjoyed a quiet idyll for a couple of months until a friend of mine went to jail for reasons best not discussed - the result is that I'm taking care of her baby.

He was 7 months old when he got here. He's 9 months old now. It's been 21 years since I took care of an infant. I am the proverbial fish riding a bicycle. I have been raising this kid on fragmented memory and frantic Google searches.

Pretty much how I lived my life before he came anyhow, but the stakes are a bit higher.

After two months, we have some semblance of a schedule now. At first I adjusted to his sleep schedule. Now he's slowly adapting to mine. Which means I may be able to steal a few moments in the early hours of the day to write again. I have never, and never will be a true morning person, but there is something about writing before the sun has risen to meet the day that is truly satisfying. Or in the wee hours of the night when clarity is at it's finest, sharpest point.

I digress.

He's a charmer, this baby. He is so stinking cute it's almost annoying, especially as I can't make it through a single grocery trip without a hundred old ladies pinching his cheeks.

But to the lady at Fricker's who outright asked me, "Is he mixed raced?" fuck you, you racist bitch. I don't care how many mixed race grand-children you have that made you feel entitled to ask. Just fuck off.

I live my life in this weird balance between grace and anger. I have very little patience with white people and their ignorance these days and I can't even put my usual quantifier of "some" on this sentiment.

Because we have to be oh so careful not to generalize, don't we? Some white people, most white people, a subset of white people, ignorant white people. Never ALL white people.

Even when it's pretty much every damned white person I've ever come across. There are so few white people that I've ever known or encountered who haven't made me feel uncomfortable for daring to be black in their presence or just outright said something so stupidly racist as to leave me biting my tongue to bleeding in repressed anger (no black person over the age of 12 cries over racism)...

But it goes deeper than even these personal slights...it's the constant parade of black faces on the news - morning, noon and night. No crime is to slight to make the evening news if you're black. They must have at least two black faces or it's just not a news day. And no matter where I travel it's the same.

To see white murders and street car racers given respectful, even reverent coverage, while the average black shoplifter is treated to a perp walk, mug shot, shots of their home and community and one last snapshot of them grinning (grabbed from Facebook no doubt and I suppose there's a special white bonus if they have a gold tooth) just in case the white watchers did not get the message....black people, they're dangerous don't you know.

So I'm raising this mixed race kid who will always, no matter how light his skin is, be black in this world we live in - and I can't help but wonder...how do I make a difference so maybe by the time he grows up it won't even matter.

And I realize that this is the hope of black mothers through a millenia of raising black and white and mixed race children.

Times up. The baby is awake and crying.