There is no coherence to this soapbox, nor is there meant to be any. It’s late Monday on MLK day and I’m already way past my self-imposed deadline for when this should have been written and recorded…in other words, I’m having a 2021 day.
I’ve taken great schadenfreude over the past year watching moron after moron believe that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
The pandemic and our related troubles would end with Memorial Day…then Independence Day…then Labor Day…then Election Day…and certainly when 2020 was over.
This was always lunacy. There was never any reason to believe that we were going to get our lives back at any of those times, or any time in the near future. We’re less than a month into 2021 and we’d all be wise to call it a second wasted year. Here’s to 2022.
So, it comes as no surprise to me that I’ve emotionally melted down this weekend. The endless amount of shit we all have to deal with, piled on top of actual life, is more than enough to break all of us at times; and that’s the key…making sure it’s temporary. We’ve been talking a lot on the show the past few weeks about self-care and self-love, which is more important now than ever and this is one form of my self-care…writing; so, indulge me, if you will.
My weekend began with an amazing date night with my wife at a locally owned restaurant that happens to be run by an African American family which will become a salient point later; bear with me.
From there…family issues that will remain private; a grave injustice foisted upon my wife via law school, and then getting caught up on “Your Honor” on Showtime (an amazing show starring Brian Cranston) followed by the HBO documentary on Tiger Woods…and I just lost it emotionally.
For those that don’t already know…I’m married to a black woman. She’s extraordinary and beyond any of my childhood dreams…which is important to the point of this rambling because as a result of the emotions stirred inside of me this weekend, I started to seek out my favorite teen music; Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Sade, and Anita Baker. All Black women. I remembered, as I watched their music videos, being so stupidly infatuated with every one of them. All of them incredibly talented and, to me, so beautiful in ways I didn’t understand. I’ve always been drawn to and infatuated with women of color and yet only recently have had the opportunity to truly explore and indulge in it.
Believe it or not, I grew up in a time when America was only beginning to come to grips with the proper equal role of African Americans. I was 17 when the first black quarterback led his team to a Super Bowl victory…because, prior to Doug Williams (no relation) doing so, it was common knowledge that black men were too stupid to run an NFL offense…something I heard repeated well into the 21st century by now former friends of mine.
I get it…this is all very personal. And it’s easy to dismiss my emotions by saying or asserting that I am only feeling them because I’m married to a black woman…and you’d be right; and that’s what has made me so emotional. I’m trying to figure out my role in this mess that we’ve created.
It’s 2021…and yet, people are still protesting and, worse, rioting over racial injustice. Many of them are nothing more than opportunists and anarchists, but that doesn’t take away from the legitimacy of their grievances. I live it…and have…every day for 6 years. I see how my wife is treated differently. I see how she’s suddenly treated better when I, a white man, am beside her. It’s real and it’s despicable…and I have to slap myself sometimes to remember that it’s actually 2021. Jesus.
Without getting specific, my wife was denied an exemption by her law school that has been granted to other students with identical experience, grades, attendance, and credentials…all of whom were white. Christina and I are the last look for and/or ever play the “race card,” but how do you not go there when something like that happens?
The Tiger Woods Documentary on HBO highlighted the extraordinary levels of racism he grew up with…and he’s younger than me for god’s sake! He was kicked off of golf courses because of the color of his skin…in my lifetime. We all reach our breaking points; now more than ever, and I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I remember Kevin…literally the only black kid at my high school of 1200 students in Pleasanton, California. I met Kevin years before high school in the park near my childhood home. He pulled a knife on me when I was about 12. I have no recollection of why, I just remember being scared out of my mind and putting my hands in the air hoping the knife wasn’t going to be plunged into my gut. For whatever reason, it ended peacefully and I ran home. In 1983, it would have been so easy to call the police and have Kevin sent to Juvenile Hall.
White boy says what? That’s all it would have taken…especially in Pleasanton in 1983.
My father…in all of his amazing wisdom suggested a different tact…he told me to go to Kevin’s house (a few streets away) and talk to him. Alone. Not the ‘ol parent on parent meeting, but rather a 12-year-old man to man meeting. Kevin and I ultimately became best friends; he went on to become the star running back for our championship high school football team and as editor of the school newspaper I loved covering every step he took. Kevin taught me that growing up under a microscope can lead even the best people to respond in aggressive ways and that sometimes all they need is acceptance and understanding. Kevin wasn’t a bad kid…in fact, he was an amazing young man who deserved a more nurturing environment. Shitheads want to claim that it’s because of his skin color that he pulled a knife on me as if random violence and weaponry is unique to people of color. I laugh at such assertions remembering the same year that I got sucker punched by a white kid because I looked him in the eye and told him that “no, you can’t join our baseball game.” He decked me. I crawled home and my father told me the same thing…go confront him man to man. That jerk also became one of my best friends through college age.
As an adult, I can say with unqualified certainty, that I am more comfortable with and surrounded by black people; whether they be family or not. If that’s racist, so be it…the African Americans I know are one thing above everything; real. Honesty and truth seems to define their journey and I can’t express in any way how much I appreciate it.
As an escape through all of this I started listening to music as a way to self soothe which brings us back to the beginning; Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Sade, Mariah Carey…just listening to their talent and remembering how amazing they are/were…and then the final dagger of my 2021 meltdown…many of their videos were concert videos… I want to be in a stadium, auditorium, or amphitheater with my wife on one arm and a total random stranger right next to me dancing and spewing their droplets all over me. This has to end. All of it. My wife matters…our marriage matters…and all of our lives matter…and it’s time to get them back.