Fair warning, gentle readers. There will be language.
I crochet when I get stressed. Or anxious. Or angry. Or bored. I crochet a lot because I enjoy it and it keeps my hands busy. I can’t scroll through social media for hours. I can’t get sucked into some game on my phone. It is my Zen hobby, one I rely on to detox and rejuvenate myself. It has the benefit of being time consuming as well as productive. I may not have gotten the laundry folded by I did finish that purse I’ve been working on, so there. Since March, I have made a cardigan, 3 tops, a shawl, a purse, a that needs a lining, child’s shirt and several dozen button bands that still need buttons. You could say I’ve been unusually stressed.
I used to be able to write out my feelings. I have a 2 whole blog categories for those (Rants and Ramblings). I could sit down with a vague idea of the philosophical quandary I needed to parse and by the end I would more or less have figured out how I felt about it. And that worked for a long time. I got out of the habit when I finished school. I didn’t have much to discuss besides life in retail, and who even cares besides the people you work with? But every few weeks or months something would make me come out of my yarn cave to see what was pissing me off and how I could reconcile my thoughts and feelings. I hate feeling conflicted about subjects. Nothing is black and white and so I try to find that area in the middle where all my friends and family have some part but not all of the truth. Then I put the truths together into a whole and say LOOK! I FIGURED IT OUT. YOU’RE ALL WRONG BUT YOU’RE ALSO A LITTLE RIGHT AND IF YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT MAYBE YOU WON’T KEEP SNIPING AT EACH OTHER ON FACEBOOK. But lately, I’ve just been too fucking angry and my writing just made me feel worse. Tonight, I am so unbelievably incensed that my arms are tingling with adrenaline, so let’s do this, eh?
I don’t believe that people are evil. Misguided, miseducated, brainwashed, biased, egotistical, selfish, narcissistic, immature, deliberately obtuse, thoughtless, vain, greedy, prideful, slothful, on and on and on and on. Even white supremacists and Nazis and fascists and politicians. Not evil. Still people, still capable of complex emotions, still made in the image of God. Still assholes, but not evil. I hold to that even with the world burning. People commit evil. It is rare that they become it.
So anyway, the world is burning and I am crocheting a lot. I am also doing a lot of writing on Facebook because I told myself I would engage with people when their views radically clash with my own, in peaceful, non-aggressive ways. Because my heart can’t take losing people because I wasn’t in on the meme that has all my conservative friends chortling and my liberal friends blowing a fuse (and vice versa). That was my last blog, where I tried to find that place where memes can be hilarious and abominations at the same time and it all came down to whether you’re in on the joke or not. Now, if I don’t get it (it offends me to the point where I wonder how I could be your friend), I ask for clarification. Because sometimes when people have to explain why something is funny, they start realizing how it could really not be.
What’s convenient is that a lot of people have done the rebuttal work for me. Non-violent MLK quote or meme that shakes it’s finger at people for getting violent at protests? “And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.” (“The Other America” Mar 14, 1966) I have a much longer quote from that speech on a picture of MLK looking thoroughly tired of your nonsense.
My brother did a marvelous blog about MLK and how his non-violent movement made progress during the Civil Rights Movement because all the other movements were violent. (https://puppettron.wordpress.com/2020/05/31/we-have-a-leadership-problem/?fbclid=IwAR2hkDHyiPLqaxgnSI_MEkyKHh632sqfk-Dh6ckzLrXWd4_EUCatshhOrTo)
His pacifism was only possible because of the riots of the unheard. He still faced loads of contemporary criticism in his time because he wasn’t protesting correctly, btw. His peaceful protests were still met with dogs and hoses and lynchings. His people had to be trained to resist provocation from people wanting to escalate into violence. I’m not talking name-calling either. Remember what they did to people for sitting at a diner counter and marvel that no one fought back. Oh, and the FBI harassed him and his people. And then someone still shot him in the head. Does that mean pacifism is the right way to go? Well, here’s the thing. MLK and his people got the vote for black people, largely due to the fact that behind his movement was an army of armed, angry black people. And since then, politicians, lobbyists, and white supremacists have been actively, systematically disenfranchising black people. Have you heard of Poll Taxes? Or literacy tests? Or any of the hundreds of other ways white people kept blacks (and brown and yellow and red) from voting? Well now we have Voter Fraud laws. You have to get a valid government ID to vote, but you need a birth certificate (something a lot of older black Americans never had). Oh and you need a DMV to get it from, but we closed all the offices within 50 miles of your home. And there’s no public transportation, we don’t have the money for those, don’t you have a car? Make sure you vote when you do get your ID. At one of the 2 voting sites we set up for a few thousand people, with very limited working machines. Make sure you take the day off work to get here because we can’t be here all night. Did you see how even in a pandemic people were willing to wait 7 hrs to vote because it was that important?
And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Civil Rights Movement didn’t end in 1964 when racism was magically abolished forever. It was followed by the Vietnam War where black Americans were shunted off to die in jungles. And the introduction of crack into black neighborhoods so there could be a War on Drugs that created the largest prison population in the world made up of a lot of non-whites who suddenly can’t vote any more even if they serve their time and are released on good behavior. MLK’s movement didn’t work. It was a start. 2 steps forward. 1 step back. For nearly 60 years.
I have seen graphs showing that cops kill more white people than black people every year. Not per capita, obviously. That’s how you skew statistics to prove your point. You change the chart to show the deaths per million and the graph looks way different. But anyway, cops kill a lot more than just black people so why all this complaining?!? Weeeell, are you sure you don’t want to talk about police brutality after giving me proof that cops straight up murder people all the damn time? Justifiable or not, those numbers just scream lack of accountability to me. Of course if we want to talk about murder numbers, can anyone explain to me how we still let cis white males in their 20s walk around all namby pamby when nearly every instance of domestic terror in this country was perpetrated by a cis white male in their 20s? Like, I don’t mean to be racist or anything, but it’s pretty obvious that those people are dangerous and we need them out of this country. (I’m being facetious, just so we’re clear. I know there’s no sarcasm font to make it obvious.)
I’ve heard (vaguely, not by anyone I know but in comment threads) the age old counter “what about black on black crime.” Guys. When black people kill each other, it isn’t because the other guy is black. It’s because of proximity. It is tragic. It is not a counter argument to systemic racism and police brutality against minority communities.
I have heard that rioting and looting negate your message. I’ve already discussed rioting. And if you need reminding about the type of people who resort to property damage when they aren’t being heard, ask yourself who it was who flipped tables and beat money changers with whips because they desecrated the Temple. (Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-16)
So. Looting. Arson. Whether it comes from opportunists or accelerationists (white supremacist/anarchist groups trying to start a race war), it’s ugly. People are greedy and selfish. Should these people be shot on sight? Um, no. A majority of these people treating the protests like it’s Black Friday are petty thieves. You know, felonies, misdemeanors? We don’t execute people for petty theft. I get it, it’s scary to think that societal rules have crumbled so much that you realize the only thing protecting your stuff is the general agreement from the rest of society that it isn’t nice to steal things. I don’t break into houses and steal stuff. Not because I’m scared of the repercussions (jail time, criminal record, etc) and certainly not because I’m afraid you’re packing heat. It’s common courtesy, that set of unwritten rules that separate us from the animals. It’s a thin veneer and it varies significantly from one person/culture/religion/country to the next, but it’s there. When society fails to maintain basic courtesy (don’t take things that aren’t yours), suddenly we all feel pretty vulnerable. Some people respond to that with braggadocio. That’s fine, I understand. If you act on that impulse, if you kill someone to protect your stuff, that just makes you a looter, too. When we value stuff above people, we lose our humanity. You decide that the public execution of a man is the perfect excuse for you to get that flat screen you always wanted, you are trash. You decide you’re going to kill a 22yo kid because he looks to be the right color to be a looter and you need to protect your closed bar? You. Are. Trash. You decide that looters and protestors are the same people and it’s all an excuse to steal your stuff, you need to get out of your house and actually talk to these people.
Two words I’ve seen bandied about a lot since March: Virtue Signaling. From the dictionary, “the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.” We all hate those people who go on and on about the charities they donate to or all the volunteering they do or all the orphans they’re sponsoring, right? Oh and all those people wearing masks during a pandemic. Who are they kidding? I only wear mine because I’ve had a cold on and off since January and it’s finally socially acceptable to wear one in public so I’m not spreading my nasty germs everywhere I breathe (also, it’s kind of the law here now). But all those other people are just sheep. Imagine taking the barest minimum precaution to slow the spread of a highly virulent and potentially deadly disease just because some internationally respected experts told them to? Ridiculous right? I mean, as long as you stay 6 feet away from everyone, and every surface someone else might touch, and not touch anything especially yourself, it’s perfectly safe! Oh, gads did I slip into sarcasm again? And hyperbole to boot. Shame. There are definitely people who do the right thing for the look of it. Say, holding up a Bible in front of a church so people can take pictures or creating huge charities (which may or may not have been funneled into your campaign funds). And on a large scale, that can be insulting and dangerous and illegal. Now, on a small scale, deriding people for doing the right thing when it has absolutely no impact on you is a dick move. And it’s unjust. It’s a callous way to dismiss the genuine decency of people because of your pessimism. People have gotten sick of how supportive we are of George Floyd and his family. Companies, businesses and individuals that have posted their support of the black community are immediately dismissed because they’re just jumping on the band wagon. And they probably are. But you don’t actually know that, do you. It just makes you feel superior to assume that everyone is as weak-spirited and hypocritical as you. We aren’t showing off how “woke” we are. We are genuinely horrified by a video that was taken by a 17yo while people begged for the guy’s life. Fuck you and your “woke metric,” you callous, self-aggrandizing shart smoothie.
I’m sorry, that was harsh. But I scroll through so many flowery Biblical quotes and “share if you love Jesus” and inspirational mantras and “I bet you won’t post this” – all day every day. I don’t accuse anyone of virtue signaling because as shallow as some of it is, I know it’s also genuine for them. If your first instinct is to call bull shit when someone agonizes over the words to encapsulate how it feels to see yet another man murdered for no reason at all, you need to ask yourself where that instinct comes from.
And last, but not least, All Lives Matter. I am not going to explain how asinine it is as a default response. (That’s the best you can do, white folk? Really?) I am going to explain why the phrase Black Lives Matter makes you give that knee-jerk reaction. (We have tried and tried and tried to point out that nowhere does it say “only,” to no avail.)
Being offended comes from feeling attacked. Karens all over the world know what I mean. A negative stereotype is flouted about and suddenly women named Karen are in the spotlight. Most laugh it off because it’s pretty obvious that the name is just a handy moniker for entitled middle class, middle-aged women who want to see your manager. But some people got super upset and they weren’t even named Karen! It’s almost as if they saw some part of the stereotype that applied to them personally. And it turns out that not everyone appreciates how you scolded that cashier into tears because she wouldn’t accept your coupons. No one thinks you’re a hero for calling the cops on black family having a BBQ. And so we’re clear, this is not a slur for women who won’t be silenced. It’s a designation for grown ass adults who use their privilege to bully people who can’t fight back.
Anyway, Black Lives Matters does something that no other movement has managed to do, as far as I know. It. Erases. White People. Erases, excludes, takes them out of the equation entirely. That’s why All Lives is the natural response. When you are used to being the default race, it is anathema to be left out of narrative. (You’re not, btw, it’s more like being reminded that you aren’t the only narrator.) So CONGRATULATIONS, THAT’S HOW BLACK PEOPLE FEEL. Left out. Excluded. Expendable. That is an awful feeling. It’s dehumanizing for someone to disregard you as a thinking, feeling creature. Dehumanizing. Like having someone kneel on your neck until you die and not even having the common courtesy to look like they aren’t bored by the whole thing. Like having your murder highly publicized and then openly mocked less than a week later.
Bottom line, THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. Don’t come at me with All Lives Matter because that is obviously not true. Looters’ lives don’t matter. Protestors’ lives don’t matter. Muslim lives don’t matter. Refugee lives don’t matter. And human lives don’t matter if they get in the way of the economy. Homeless lives. Disabled lives. Sex worker lives. Women’s lives. Veterans’ lives. Trans lives. LGBTQIA+ lives. And yes, Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, ALL OF THEM are being murdered every day so White Lives Can Matter Most. If you can sit and watch 8:46 min of a man getting murdered for a not-actually-counterfeit $20 and still claim All Lives Matter, I have nothing else to say to you. Except I am a PISSED OFF WHITE WOMAN AND I DEMAND TO SEE YOUR MANAGER. Also, get fucked.