Monday, May 18, 2015

Sick Day Reflections

Here are a few moments of gratitude resulting from my child's recent (minor) illness.

1) Thank goodness for my husband

My dear husband fetched Gatorade.  He got me two hours to myself outside the house when my cabin fever set in.  He got up at 2 am to dose the child.  He got me naps.  He entertained Mr. Cranky McFeverpants.  MVP right here.

2) Thank goodness for the DVR and YouTube and smartphones

Those screentime limits go out the window when the thermometer hits 103.  Yay for having hours of cartoons stored away and/or available on the internet.  Chromecast for the win.

3) Thank goodness for pharmaceuticals

Motrin and Tylenol: two great tastes that taste great together.

4) Thank goodness for plumbing and running water

Stomach bug.  Enough said.

5) Thank goodness for the Target dollar section

That last day, when they're mostly better but can't go to school yet, those cheap art projects and activity books are lifesavers.  Yay for stickers and coloring and card games.

6) Thank goodness for snuggles

Snuggles are the best medicine, for caregiver and sick one alike.

Of course, all of these things I'm grateful for have something in common: they rely on my husband's employment.  He has the kind of job that allows him to run by Rite Aid during lunch or go into work a little late without getting in trouble.  He has the kind of job where he makes enough money that I can run to get him from school the moment a virus rears its ugly head, stay home and snuggle with him as much as he wants, and keep him home as many days as necessary.  My husband makes enough money that I can grab some fun stuff from the store just because and not worry.  He has the kind of job that has good family health insurance.  And I am beyond grateful.

I am acutely aware of the fact that this is not most people's reality.  That's why we need things like paid sick days (shout out to my cousin at PathwaysPA), the Affordable Care Act, and a decent minimum wage.  Being able to care for your sick children shouldn't be a luxury of the few.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Baltimore Uprising: True and False Conclusions Drawn from this Week

People are drawing a lot of conclusions from recent events in Baltimore.  Let's examine a few, shall we?

True Conclusions

Decriminalize drug possession already

A huge amount of police harassment occurs over checking people for drugs.  The drug war destroys lives and does nothing to actually help people not do drugs.  It makes money for police departments and private prisons and serves no other useful purpose.  It gives police a reason to harass people who live in low income neighborhoods.  And I'm pretty sure being a police officer would be safer and more rewarding if we ended the war on drugs and they could spend their time helping people instead of effing people up over an ounce of weed.

Our justice system is fucked up beyond belief

Literally.  White people and people with money don't believe how fucked up it is.  Police and prosecutors are incentivised to make as many arrests and get as many convictions as possible no matter how penny ante they are, no matter whether or not it makes people safer.  Private prisons make a mint off of small time drug offenders.  Black people are more likely to be charged with resisting arrest for the same behavior as white people who aren't charged, more likely to be prosecuted for the same crimes than white people. Cities balance their budgets with exorbitant fines extracted from the poor rather than raising taxes on people who can afford it.  Protesters are held for two days without charge, in crowded cells, with no access to food or water or lawyers.  It is a right mess, and police and local governments need some real oversight.

The people of Baltimore care about their city

They care enough to protest, and they care enough to clean up the mess when it gets out of hand.  They care enough to try to find ways to feed and care for their children when the city cancels school for a bunch of kids on free breakfast and lunch.  They care enough to speak truth to power when the cable news tried to peddle bullshit.  They care enough to try to prevent violence between police and protesters.  

The people who run Baltimore are bad decision makers

I know, let's shut down public transit right when kids get out of school and meet a bunch of teenagers with cops in riot gear.  That can only end well.  Oooh, and let's let drunken sports fans mix with protesters.  Sounds fun.  And I sure am glad we didn't buy body cameras for our police a while back.  Jesus Christ.

Half the people (at least) on Facebook are hypocrites

Why don't the looters take personal responsibility for their own neighborhoods?  Well, why don't the cops take personal responsibility for killing someone for the crime of pissing them off?  Why don't they take responsibility for breaking someone's neck and failing to call the paramedics?  

But, looting isn't the right way to protest!  Oh, did you miss the week of peaceful protests before the riots started? Of course you did. Before they started breaking stuff, you didn't even know who Freddie Gray was because the media figured they couldn't make enough money off of telling you about it until there were sirens and fires and ghettos to make fun of.  I'm not pro destruction.  I'm not pro lost jobs and pro grandma not getting her pills because the CVS burned down.  I don't like it, but I sure as hell can understand it.  If you don't understand it, it's because you don't want to.

A person is smart.  A person is moral and kind.  Mobs are destructive.  They have been ever since there were enough people on the planet to make one.  Take a group of people with nothing to lose and do something that fills them with anger, and had things happen.  That isn't due to race.  That's just human nature.  Maybe our society should make sure even the poorest of us have something to lose and something to live for.

But white people don't do this kind of thing.  The Black community needs to condemn the violence.  Oh, like the white community condemns the violence when white kids riot after they lose and/or win a basketball and/or football and/or baseball game?  Or when one of us shoots up a school or movie theater?   Oh, I forgot, only Black people represent the entirety of their race when they break the law.  Our criminals are crazy, and theirs are symptoms of social pathology.  And the French and Russian revolutions don't count.

Some police need to learn better coping skills

We cannot continue to give police a pass on brutality, a pass on killing unarmed people who pose no threat to them.  I realize being a cop is dangerous and difficult, but they need to be held to a higher standard.  There are a lot of jobs more dangerous than being a policeman, and we don't give the people who do them a get-out-of-jail-free card.  Donny killed somebody?  Oh, but he's a crab fisherman, so it's cool. Mark ran a guy over with his garbage truck in a fit of road rage?  Well, shit happens.  That guy should have stayed on the sidewalk.

You know who manages to deal with mouthy, uncooperative young people in large groups all day long without laying a finger on them?  Teachers.  Somehow we manage without a gun or a taser.  Some of those kids even smell like weed and swear at us and have criminal records, but by some miracle, we all get through the day alive.  And we get paid a hell of a lot less than cops.
If you can't deal with assholes all day without losing your temper, don't become a cop.  That's the job.  

False Conclusions

Protesters are anti-police and want cops to get hurt

Most proteseors don't want police to get hurt on the job.  Most people know there are good police and appreciate what they do for society.  What people are against is a culture in many police departments of dehumanizing the very people they are supposed to protect and serve.  What people are against is the refusal to address the biases that permeate our society, implicit racism that teaches all of us, cops included, to be terrified of young Black men to the point of killing them even when they don't pose an actual threat.  Being anti police brutality doesn't make you anti police officer.

Black moms need to beat their kids more

Oh, yeah, if those looters had been smacked around some more, there wouldn't have been any riots.  Riiight.  More violence, that's the ticket.  You know what else would prevent riots?  The police not killing people for no reason and then doing their best to evade responsibility for it.  

And all those people in prison? It's totes because their moms only gave them timeouts or took away their toys or their allowance when they acted up.  If only they had beaten their children.  Oh, my bad, almost everyone in prison received corporal punishment as kids.

And let's not even bring up how much slavery and Jim Crow play into corporal punishment in the Black community.

If you don't run and don't fight, you'll be fine.

Running from the cops is not a capital offense.  Neither is resisting arrest.  Neither is mouthing off to the cops.  It's foolish, sure.  You know who tends to make foolish decisions?  Young people and frightened people.  People with mental health issues and people in altered states.  You know who should have better judgment?  Adult, professional police officers trained to deal with stressful situations.

Also, there are plenty of dead people who neither ran nor resisted arrest and were killed by police anyway.  I love how we're apparently supposed to treat the police with the level of caution usually reserved for wild dogs, but it's the protestors who are called animals.

This will never happen to your Black son, because you are raising him right (unlike all those Black parents)

I am raising him right.  He's smiling and friendly and kind.  He yes sirs and no sirs and pleases and thank yous with the best of them.  He never gets in trouble at school.  He already has a college fund.  He already knows not to take his hands off the wheel.  He knows to wear his hood down.  He knows not to run from the police.  He knows not to break the law.  He is 5 years old, and everyone loves him.  Am I reducing the odds something bad will happen to him?  I certainly hope so.  Is it foolproof?  Hell no.

When he gets old enough to go somewhere by himself, my white privilege isn't going to cover him anymore.  And when he's a teenager, he may go through a rebellious stage, like a lot of kids.  He may go through times of looking like an angry black kid instead of a happy one.  White kids get to go through phases like that.  They get to make mistakes of youth.  They get to swear and smoke weed and dress poorly and put stupid pictures on Facebook and act generally like idiots and still be "good kids with a bright future ahead of them."  Black kids should be able to do the same without having to worry about getting shot for it.

And the implication that I am necessarily a better parent because I'm white and married someone with earning power is racist and classist, and I don't want to hear it.