Requiem: for a better world

I’ve lived in the Southern US my entire life. I grew up in a white, conservative Baptist home and my family went to (and still goes to) a mostly white, conservative Baptist church.

For my family and church, the world was better for us than the reality of many. I learned racial and homophobic slurs before I knew what racism and homophobia were. Mostly from my father and grandfather who used them occasionally and never in a good way.

I learned more or less through osmosis and white culture that there were black people who were the “good ones” and black people who were “thugs,” “hoodlums,” etc. But my public elementary school thankfully taught me history as it was in America not just for white people. I learned much about civil rights and recognized that the slurs my family would use were wrong, but didn’t see racism beyond that people said “racist” things.

My church was never explicitly racist or homophobic. But the subtleties were always there. Now more blatantly expressed especially in the wake of legalization of same-sex marriage, the Orlando shootings, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Dallas shooting.

The first time I even heard the word gay was in second grade and it was used to describe a girl who was more “butch” than the rest. My Sunday school teacher around this same time surmised that perhaps the curse of Ham was in making people black/resulted in the continent of Africa.

In my family, while slavery was condemned as bad, they argued that black people should just “get over it” as if systemic racism was over when the Emancipation Proclamation happened or when schools were desegregated during the 60s. But it’s not over. And white people need to open their eyes and hearts to where we need to change.

Donald Trump wants to “make America great again.” What he really means is maintaining the status quo of Whiteness as being privileged and in power. And no one else. We like to pretend it’s not our problem that our founding fathers as a whole did virtually nothing to stop slavery and oppression. As a matter of fact, racism, oppression, and violence against black people and Native Americans is woven into the fabric of this nation’s history. Anyone who is Other or not like what we perceive as beautiful, normal, worthy of value in this country ends up being marginalized and made invisible. This is our history.

When I was growing up, I saw the world as full of potential, ready to fulfill my dreams and if I worked hard, I could achieve those dreams. If I was good enough, kind enough, loving enough, my life would be easy.

And actually, the world I live in is set up that way. Because I, as a white woman, have so much privilege. Not as much as a white, straight, cisgender man. But still. A lot more than I ever realized. It is incumbent upon me to say that being gay and a woman in this country does indeed make my life hard. And yet, I can hide behind my race even though my gender and orientation are often things that people use to discriminate against me.

The world is not as I had hoped for everyone. My concept of the world as mostly filled with good, kind people who treated each other with respect and dignity.

That idealistic, ignorant view of life has died. And I mourn for a better world for all those who have been severely mistreated. I mourn for this world–this dark, sinister, scary world. I long for it to be better and brighter for everyone. I long for a world where everyone really does matter and has the same opportunities to succeed. Where black people aren’t shot at traffic stops just for reaching for their wallets. Where people aren’t shot at a nightclub just for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

I long for a better world. It is not the world that we have. But it’s the world we should strive to have. The dignity of human beings is not up for debate. And it’s not a matter of opinion when we do not value everyone in a society based on race, gender, orientation, or physical ability.

Today…and for several months now…today I woke up angry. So angry at all that has happened. So angry at the loss of life and bloodshed we are so accustomed to in America. It seems we never get a chance to take a breath and grieve before something else happens causing us to grieve more. I want it to stop. I just want it all to stop. but I know I have no control over stopping the world from destroying itself. It feels like I have no control over how this nation is tearing itself apart from the inside out by snuffing out the lives of the most vulnerable.

I also know that giving into despair isn’t the answer. It’s not an option to quit–to give up hope. And I want to focus on what I do have control over. What WE have control over is standing up against in justice. We can say Black Lives Matter and not just say it but really truly mean it with our words and actions.

I can stand with my queer brothers and sisters and fight for no more hate. (’cause sorry Peter Thiel but the bathroom issue IS a big deal for trans people. they deserve better.) I will not give in to hate. I will not let fear and hate win. I hope that all of the violence that has happened these past few weeks and the past centuries in our country becomes less and less. That we take a stand for love, kindness, justice.

This is my requiem for a better world. It isn’t the world any of us asked for, but it’s the world we have. Let us make it a better place than it is now.

the color of thunder

The color of thunder.

lightning splitting the sky asunder

and then, thunder

The sound of lightning and yet its own thing

The color of thunder:

dark clouds descending on a sunny day–

bringing beautiful destruction–

bleak, gray, unsettling.

the color of thunder–

my troubled soul–

sinking into chaos

as the storm rages on inside me,

bringing wind and heavy raindrops.

the color of thunder:

that deep rumbling that is

the encore to bright electric streaks across the sky…

my world, my heart.

the color of thunder is me.

I flinch at the sound, and it leaves me trembling.

I cannot take another shot in the dark.

it will break me.

I do not know who I am yet.

only bits and pieces of me,

like a frantic puzzle coming together

and then being shattered apart again like a broken mirror.

I used to see my reflection

but it’s only a shadow of who I really am:

silent yet screaming

awake yet still screaming

that the world is better than it is.

world on fire

Last week was one of the worst weeks that I can remember in a long time in America. And tomorrow it will be a month since the Orlando Pulse shooting. I don’t have the words to describe how I’m feeling really except the poem I sat down to write Friday night as a summary of what’s going on. So, for now, I’ll share that again. The world seems so chaotic right now, and I wish I could make it all stop. It’s probably best though, that I listen in the midst of the chaos and try to stand together with those who are hurting so much more than I am and are more deeply affected by the tragedies of the past week.


seeing the world is on fire

and as the flames climb

higher and higher

we pretend we can’t even smell the smoke

the world is on fire

and we’ve built a funeral pyre

we sit atop it and watch the world burn

the world is on fire

and we assume because we have power

we can fan the flames of fear

the world is on fire

and it burns and burns and burns

we’re all on fire

and we yearn and yearn and yearn

for someone to quench the flames

to stay the hand of violence

but yet we choose to sit in silence

and watch the world ablaze with injustice

we’re all on fire

and we still haven’t learned

that we’re the ones that struck the match

we’re the ones who warm our hands over the fire

as others die because of our privilege— and our hate

maybe it’s not to late

but shots were fired

in the name of whiteness

we pronounced ourselves just

that those whose lives ended at the barrel of a gun

are not our son, daughter, father, mother

so, we take cover with our bullet proof supremacy

our lives aren’t in danger, you see,

every day, every hour someone dies because of our power

and we say it had nothing to do with us

it’s us vs. them

and until it’s all of us together as one

until we undo what we’ve constantly undone

because if it’s not justice and liberty for all

then it won’t be for anyone

we will continue to say black lives matter

because right now all lives don’t matter

until we can walk hand in hand, side by side

no one is free from the tyranny

tyranny caused by walking on the backs of those

who don’t look like us

#AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile #TrayvonMartin #EricGarner #SandraBland #MichaelBrown #EmmettTill #SayTheirNames #BlackLivesMatter