Regardless Of Chauvin’s Guilty Verdict We Need More Dramatic Changes

As I am writing this, Derek Chauvin, an ex- cop was found guilty on all three charges against him for murdering George Floyd, in May of 2020. Had he not been found guilty on any of the three charges against him there would have been some serious riots happening across the United States. But he has been found guilty.

But let’s hypothetically say he was found not guilty or received a mistrial, the outrage would be A TIDAL WAVE. Our justice system would have demonstrated YET again that a cop can kill a black man with impunity, even if there were witnesses on the scene and conclusive video evidence seen by lens of millions.

I felt in my gut that Chauvin would be convicted. Chauvin is to simply put it a sacrificial lamb, the cost of doing business. Chauvin will be regarded as someone who dug his own grave, unnecessarily kneeling on the neck of George Floyd in front of witnesses he could see were recording his vicious act of murder.

In the eyes of too many police and political leaders, Chauvin’s actions were NOT a moral failure, but a failure of optics. Even in 2020, when we had seen numerous police shootings captured on cell phone video and posted to YouTube or Facebook where they went viral, this was extreme. It went on for a long, long time; eight minutes and forty-six seconds to be exact. It sparked protests and uprisings not only across the country but across the world.

So Derek Chauvin may be sacrificed for the benefit of a white surpremacist policing system not because he abused his authority but becausee he displayed utter contempt for Black life too brazenly, in front of too many eyes.

What does his conviction change?

In the three months after George Floyd’s murder, cops killed about 288 people in the US, and there was a slight uptick in the already disproportionate number of those killed who were Black and/or Latino. As of April 18, cops had killed 319 people in 2021.

George Floyd’s murder changed nothing.

There has been a lot of work done by Black and Brown people, Black and Brown-led coalitions, and anti-racist allies to finally change our barbaric system of policing and imprisonment.

But in the end, we have seen a hashtag, a whole slew of platitudes, and some words. But change has been meager at best.

Maryland recently passed what many termed “sweeping police reform.” But despite the kicking and screaming of police associations and Maryland’s own backward governor, Larry Hogan, the changes did very little. Penalties were increased and civilian review strengthened, but fundamentally, nothing has changed.

Yet, Maryland is FAR ahead of the rest of the country. Some police departments have seen small reductions of budgets. In Congress, bills meant to stop the sale or transfer of military-grade equipment to civilian police forces have been facing tough challenges. In some cases, there have been responses that diverted some resources from police to social services, along with some of the responsibilities that police should have had in the first place. But these have been isolated instances, and the pushback has been strong.

There have certainly been discussions about the deep, inextricable relationship between racism and policing. This focus has been built on a deep and rich body of work that has demonstrated the roots of policing as a means of maintaining the power of the ruling classes, using both police violence and racism as tools.

Yet now, after we watched the police murder one person after another, and then witnessed the overwhelming violence cops have employed against protesters, often unprovoked, we cannot help but conclude that nothing has changed.

Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo made headlines in just the past few days. But since the testimony in the trial for George Floyd’s murder began, police have killed an average of three people a day.

And with Derek Chauvin convicted, and sentenced to life in prison, what will change?

Cops will continue to kill people. Those people will come from all races, but they will be disproportionately Black and Brown. They will be overwhelmingly poor and worki-class people.

Still, it is important — especially so for me as a white woman — to understand that many people, particularly people of color, need to see Derek Chauvin thrown in jail. It matters to many that Chauvin be convicted, that retribution meted out.

People feel that way not only because of George Floyd but because of the constant, interminable pressure of being Black or Brown in America. Living with police harassment, or the fear of it, feeling a shivers of fear when you drive past a cop car, the feeling of danger if you see it behind you and the terror of actually being pulled over is a terrible thing to live with. Walking down the street is NO different. Breonna Taylor and Botham Jean, among too many others, show that you can’t even leave that fear outside your own home.

So, yes, the burning desire to see George Floyd’s murderer go to jail is perfectly justified and understandable. And, given the system we live in, it’s also the only kind of Justice that can be offered — the retributive kind.

But in the end, it will change nothing, and it can even make things worse. Politicians and pundits will use Chauvin’s conviction as proof that the “system works.It will be a tool used to shut down calls to Defund the Police and to end political pressure for all but mildest police reform.

And George Floyd will still be dead. As will Duante Wright, Adam Toledo, Laquan McDonald, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and so, so many more.

The justice their memories need is the justice we all need: a society that respects all life, that recognizes that violence does NOT solve our problems, but treating all of our communities and every individual within those communities, with respect could.

Police, it should be obvious by now, do not prevent crime. Incarceration is expensive, it is inhumane, and worst of all it is NOT only ineffective, it actually reinforces people’s disenfranchisement and lack of connection to each other, thereby bolstering, or in many cases, creating, the very conditions that lead to violence.

We can honor the murderered many, we can honor their memory and, yes, we can bring at least some justice to this country. We do that NOT by taking vengeance, although accountability and a reckoning are going to be necessary to heal wounds. But we bring that justice by building a better world.

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and all the othersdeserve better than vengeance. They deserve to be the symbols of a country, of a world, reborn. One where we live up to our promises of dignity, decency, and respect for all.

We can do that. But it will NOT come out of the trial of Chauvin, no matter how the trial ends.

Making Changes

Warning there is use of vulgar language because I use it to show examples and set premise.

love structure. As much as I try to be hip and flexible, to just go with the goddamn flow, I’m wired differently. I like routines, schedules, and knowing what’s coming down the pipeline. I get the same thrill from new planners that I do from old books. 


About the eighth month of the lockdown, I started looking at the other side of my personality pendulum and things started looking really intriguing. I was an introvert who would avoid groups, a secluded bookworm who wanted group movie nights, and a homebody who wanted to be a wild child. The ‘as-long-as-everyone’s-happy’ person and the ‘never-say-no-to-an-authority-figure’ child didn’t live here in the eighth month of lockdown (Sidenote: she has still not returned) Brutal honesty all the way.

Being out of practice with standing up for my needs, it wasn’t pretty. Picture if you will for a moment a toddler who just overheard a parent say “motherfucker” and is now jovially repeating it everywhere. Burned bridges barely held together due to my complacency. Blew up foundations. Exposed creepy-crawlies under the rocks then sat in the mud muttering to myself ‘who cares? the world is on fire.’ Family, friends, acquaintances, internet peeps, didn’t matter: they all got the most wishy-washy, wobbliest version of myself I’ve ever been.

Sometimes change can be a fickle visitor blowing in and out like an ocean breeze. 2020 was NOT one of those times.

About two weeks ago I decided to look back and re-read some of my older pieces and I couldn’t connect with what I had written. I remembered writing the words, thinking those opinions, but they weren’t me… at least they weren’t me anymore. As I read these pieces I felt a confused fondness like I’d feel for a stranger. As if the lockdown illuminated the-whole-and-real-person and showed that I’d been suppressing far too much of her. Reading back through them and comparing my writings from 2020 was like have a weird conversation between two people who remembered the same events very differently/

On and on it went. Without my writings, I don’t think that I’d have realized how drastically my worldview and perspective have changed while living through Groundhog Day (good movie, imo) monotony. The big hearted compassion is still there. The grace is still there. The feistiness of going to bat for the underdog is still there. I’ve simply learned to extend and demand those things for myself as well.

The world is still on fire. Life as I know it is still short and fleeting. I am still struggling with some of the same apprehensions. I’ve still got a few of the same longings. There’s no wrong way through feeling trapped in a rut you didn’t even make. No shame here if you’re burnt out, sick and tired, stretching for a small amount of “pandemic normalcy” with warmer weather.

Some days, you find all the beauty you can carry in your hands and hoard the happiness in your pockets. You hit all your goals, get a speck of novelty, or make your own adventure. Other days, you’ll ding through another day of fatigue and self doubt, thinking that “nothing’s changed.”

Yet, you have. You’ve changed.

You learned that you are not as strong as you think and stronger than you ever imagined. You’ve learned to cherish the people you needed during a certain version of yourself and let them go when they wanted to leave. You’ve learned that love comes in multiple ways, and you’ll miss it under your nose if you’re constantly chasing the horizon.

You’ve imagined and daydreamed countless worlds and acted to make your corner of this beat up country a little bit better than you found it. You’ve imagined the possibilities of everyone feeling safe enough to relax their fists. You’ve daydreamed about a country where every person is safe, seen, and loved.

2020 was a barefooted-untouched luggage-unfilled yearning-slow soil growth-waiting wanderlust year. 2021 might be a little different but don’t lose the stillness. The good bits of the various versions of yourself. That human ability to mourn huge losses and celebrate small wins. The recognition that the lights will come back on, and the lows won’t stick around forever.

Nothing’s permanent.

You’ve marveled at the creative problem solving of your neighbors. You’ve mourned countless dead and those who are dying. You’ve made so much progress just by accepting that personal progress isn’t linear and hustle culture progress isn’t an urgent priority.

Everything changes eventually. Even and especially you change. Believe it or not, change may be a crazy chick, but she has the best of intentions.

7 Months Later

It’s been seven very long months without you here. It still doesn’t seem real to me that you are gone. I keep picking up the phone wanting to dial your number just to hear you on the other end say “Hey squirt, how are you?” The past few times I have gone to see Nana I am always looking forward to one of your hugs.

They say it gets easier… but when does it?

It hurts so much not to have you here. There have been too many nights where I cannot sleep, and I lay in bed thinking about you and how I miss you at family gatherings, especially the family camping trip every summer. Or when I lay there and wind up crying because it still really hurts ALOT

With the holidays behind us I wish I could say that it’s gotten easier but that would be a lie. I missed you stopping by around midday on Thanksgiving Day. I miss your smile and most of all I miss your hugs.

If anything I wish I could give you one more hug, tell you how much I love you, hear one more story about you growing up, and your south Troy days. Missing you has been the hardest thing I have ever done. When you left this world behind you took a big piece of my heart with you.

You may be gone, but I will make sure the memory of the amazing man you have and always will be will never die.

It hurts knowing there will be no more hugs from you, there be no more watching you make your pizzas claiming to be the original Poppa John, or watching you prepare your oatmeal with the strawberries, blueberries, and bananas all in a perfect circle, no more being mesmerized by you spreading cream cheese so perfectly on your bagel, and the hardest one is no more seeing your beautiful smile.

You will always be in my heart forever, whenever the day comes that we shall meet again just know that I love and I can’t wait for one of your hugs.

I love you now, I love you forever, I love you always you will forever be in my heart.

Irish Queen

20/20/20 Rule of Productive Mornings

How to not waste the first hour of the day

You lose when you snooze because sleep fragmentation hurts your body’s ability to recuperate.

Every time you fall asleep, your body starts going through a 5-stage sleep cycle. The later the stage, the deeper the sleep — and the more restorative it becomes.

When you wake up at 7 AM after 7 hours of sleep, you’ll be closer to the end of the cycle and in a state where your body is already preparing to wake up.

If you hit the snooze button, however, your body starts going back in the opposite direction. It’ll gear up to sleep more — and it really won’t like being rattled 9 minutes later. As a result, you’ll feel more tired than before, even though, technically, you slept longer.

When it comes to good sleep, getting up after one consistent stretch is more important than how long that stretch was. This is counterintuitive, but it’s true.

Similarly, if you “take excellent care of the front end of your day, the rest of your day will take care of itself.” That’s Robin Sharma’s thesis in The 5 AM Club, a book he wrote to share his morning routine of 20 years.

The idea is that if you invest the first hour of the day in yourself, that hour will pay returns for the remaining 23. “Own your morning, elevate your life,” Sharma says.

The book teaches via metaphor — a fictitious billionaire helps a struggling artist and a young entrepreneur. Here are 3 lessons from the story that’ll help you wake up earlier, start most mornings productively, and get as much as you can out of every single day.

1. Your brain has a creative edge early in the day.

In a classic student-teacher move, the billionaire tells his two disciples that he holds the key to their success — and in order to receive it, they must meet him very early the following morning.

When his students arrive, the master explains: “You have already received the key by waking up at 5 AM, because in doing so, you’ve given your brain an advantage in succeeding throughout the day.”

The scientific concept behind this edge is called transient hypo-frontality. When in this state, your brain is more likely to go into “flow.” You’ll be less prone to worry and over-analysis, more daring in your choices and ideas, and better able to focus.

You can trigger transient hypo-frontality in different ways, for example by taking a walk or exercising, but the early morning environment is also conducive to it. You brain is just “booting up,” and the extra dopamine and serotonin from daybreak tranquility will make you feel energized and peaceful at the same time.

2. Balance your mind, health, heart, and soul.

After explaining the mindset advantage of waking up early, the billionaire explains there are three other “interior empires” the students need to master.

Your “health-set” is your physical health. Use the emptiness of early mornings to get in a little exercise to reduce stress, gain energy, and be happier, all of which will, in turn, help you live longer.

Your “heartset” is your emotional wellbeing. Journaling in the morning can be a space to express feelings you can’t share elsewhere — the insights of which you can later use to communicate better with others.

Finally, your “soulset” is your spiritual balance. We all believe different things, but whatever we do have faith in allows us to connect with ourselves and the world at large. Writing down your values and briefly looking at them each morning will help you remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.

For a balanced, successful life, ground yourself in mindset, healthset, heartset, and soulset every day.

3. Productive days begin with the 20/20/20 formula.

When the students ask him what exactly to do at 5 AM, the billionaire shares his formula: The 20/20/20 rule divides your first hour of the day into three equal blocks of exercise, reflection, and learning.

Exercising for 20 minutes will not just get your blood flowing, it’ll also make you sweat. Sweating decreases cortisol, a hormone related to stress and fear. It also releases BDNF, which helps create new neural pathways faster and repairs brain cells.

20 minutes of reflection will plant your feet firmly on the ground, no matter what the day ahead brings. You can use them to meditate, visualize your big goals and to-dos for the day, or journal and write down any ideas or inspiring thoughts. Quiet in the morning makes for patience later in the day.

Lastly, 20 minutes of real, interested learning go further than hours of social media, news, and mindless entertainment. Read a book, study someone you admire, or take a free online course. Whatever you learn, make sure it’s something you’re really interested in, something that’ll make your brain shoot sparks rather than go numb.

20 minutes of exercise, 20 minutes of reflection, and 20 minutes of learning. The 20/20/20 rule will maximize your chances of having a productive day, every day.

Summary

The 5 AM Club will motivate you to get up earlier, build a morning routine, and prioritize the internal work that’ll lead to external success.

Here are 3 lessons worth remembering:

  1. Waking up early gives your brain a competitive edge because it makes it easier for you to get into a flow state.
  1. Balance your mind, health, heart, and soul for true self-mastery.
  1. To not waste the first hour of the day, use the 20/20/20 rule; dedicate 20 minutes to exercise, reflection, and learning each for productive days.

Recommended Reads

TitleAuthor
The 5 AM ClubRobin Sharma

Sources & Links For This Post

TitleLink
Does sleep fragmentation impact recuperation? A review and re-analysishttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2869.1999.00161.x
The Transient Hypofrontality Edgehttps://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-edge-peak-performance-psychology/201703/the-transient-hypofrontality-edge
Flow Summaryhttps://fourminutebooks.com/flow-summary/
The Way You’re Communicating Might Be Messing Up Your Relationshipshttps://forge.medium.com/the-4-ears-model-of-good-communication-bf46c39cdf50
How My Values Give Me Direction in Lifehttps://medium.com/mind-cafe/the-12-values-i-live-by-aba9e7d5cb73
Brain-derived neurotrophic factorhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain-derived_neurotrophic_factor
Learn Proper Meditation in 2 Minuteshttps://medium.com/@ngoeke/learn-proper-meditation-in-2-minutes-e7d1b63bfb14

Life As We Know It Will Forever Be Changed

Here’s a tiny question. What is the lesson COVID is trying to teach us? As much of the world now enters the second wave of lockdowns, thanks to the second wave of the virus –– or, in America, faces the grim situation where the first wave never really crested, and became a tsunami of death –– what should we be learning?

I think of COVID as a message backwards, from the future.

And it says something life as you know it is now over. The future is now going to become a bitter and bruising battle for the basics. The basics. Air, water, food, medicine, and energy. Things that many of us took for granted, would simply be around as if by magic.

That age is now coming to an end. Did you ever think that breathable air would be in short supply? It’s already being marketed as a luxury in (where else) California. The very same California which is on fire, on the one hand, and wracked by COVID, on the other. Result? Air itself has become a luxury in a collapsing America. That is what the future looks like, except for all the basics.

Another way to say that is that a certain way of life is now coming to an end.

To make that point, let me ask the question: why have Eastern countries done better on COVID than the ones in the west? What does this teach us that money, power, and history are no guarantee for success in this battle for basics that the future is now about. Maybe the rich and 1% can buy clean air –– but what about society as a whole? Forget it.

People have to work together to provide one another the basics.

And that is where the western response to COVID has fallen down. Western nations are still fixated on the illusory notions of freedom. But freedom itself is what is going to change radically in this age –– if not by choice then by force of nature’s revenge.

Consider the example, as usual, of America. Americans wouldn’t cooperate with lockdowns. Governors revolted and made it illegal to make people wear masks. Meanwhile the red states–– states that are republican led –– became the world’s worst COVID belt, because people refused to stop… going to bars… having barbecues… eating at restaurants. Their President –– who’s now been hospitalized for COVID –– encouraged them NOT to take it seriously. The result was that COVID exploded, and has probably become a permanent fact of life –– another dystopian one –– in a collapsing America, hence, even air itself will be a luxury for the rich.

Americans in other words, were obsessed with “freedom.”

One certain idea of it.Freedom is an individualistic exercise in consumerism, in status and pleasure seeking. What Americans don’t tend to understand is that the “old” list of American “freedoms” is now badly obsolete.

What good is it carrying around a gun… when a tsunami or megafire is approaching?

What good is it being able to battle over whose God is stronger… when you can’t breathe the air anymore?

Life as the American set of freedoms is over now.

Let me enumerate a few of those. The freedom to waste and squander. The freedom to believe in any old malarkey you like, no matter how ignorant. The freedom to abuse and exploit. The freedom to make the point of your life as shallow, foolish, and stupid as you may want to, like just making more money. None of these this were ever really “freedom.”

What such freedoms really were and are is the toxic hangover of centuries of brutality.

Americans think they should be free to waste –– while half the world still goes without decent food, water, or sanitation. They imagine they should be free to carry guns to Starbucks – while much of the world has been enslaved to pick those coffee beans. I’m not trying to moralize, just making a point. The world largely thinks of the American idea of freedom as a folly and a bewildering form of self-destruction.

COVID is trying to teach us, in no uncertain terms, that we are not really free in these old ways – and never were.

They’re just paths to self destruction. When we waste and squander, we pollute the skies, and the planet heats up. When we abuse the natural world, it bites back in the form of everything from pandemics to wildfires to floods.

Let me summarize what I am trying to say here. The economist in me will put it this way. The global economy has been predicated on one simple transaction. The west and north –– and particularly America –– overconsumes, and the east and south is who and what is exploited to make that possible. That transaction is now over. The age of western overconsumption is now at an end. Even the west is starting to suffer shortages of the basics –– beginning with air. By the next decade, water, food, and energy will be in shortage, there, too.

The west can continue to pretend it can overconsume –– by which I mean spend too much on consumerist toys which cost the reefs, rivers, forests, animals, skies, not to mention the potential of people in the east who are mostly stuck in assembly lines making stuff for it. Since that stuff is artificially cheap, those in the east are exploited –– never fighting climate change, mass extinction, ecological collapse themselves –– or even to give themselves decent food, water, sanitation, and medicine, which means pandemics that then affect the globe erupt at an increasing pace now.

That is why the whole world is coming to a standstill.

This fatal bargain is now coming to an end. One great economic age is ending –– the age of western overconsumption. In hard terms, that means the west is consuming more than the entire planet can provide sustainably. Which is precisely why catastrophes from climate change to mass extinction to pandemics are now ripping our lives apart.

So where do we go from here?

Well, we must ask the question: how did that age come to be, the age of western overconsumption? If we want to fix it, that is. The answer, though, is ugly and difficult, and many people don’t want to hear it, much less understand it.

The age of western overconsumption is really a consequence of a simple, brutal, dismal truth: 20% of the world is rich and white, the other 80% is poor and not white. The 20% of the world that is rich and white is precisely that portion which enslaved, brutalized, and colonized the part that is 80% poor and not white.

Those centuries of abuse and exploitation led the rich and white societies to enjoy a generous surplus.

You can think of that as everything from gold in bank vaults to all those hundreds of kinds of coffee, tea, and sugar that you can find today in the aisles at Walmart. The age of western overconsumption is the product of the previous age of western slavery, colonialism, and empire. That age allowed the west to get rich –– and the west then spent its riches on consumption.

Economists once upon a time argued all this was a good thing. That buying stuff from poor countries would allow those countries to prosper, too. And that has been the case to a minor degree –– there have been some successes, like South Korea and Japan, and some half-successes, like China and Malaysia. But “externalities” dominated even this effect. What that means in plain English is that while the rich westerners buying stuff from poor easterners might have balanced back the scales of empire and slavery –– hey, at least they were being paid now, right? –– nobody much noticed the effects on the planet.

This central transaction of the global economy, rich westerners buying stuff from poor easterners, was flawed in one central way. It was artificially cheap.

Because it was still OK to exploit poor easterners –– to pay them the least that rich westerners could get away with, instead of enough, say, to have decent water, food, sanitation, medicine, income –– why wouldn’t it then be perfectly OK to abuse and exploit nature too?

The east lost wars, and ended up enslaved. Nature has never really fought back at all –– until now. And finally we are seeing how terrible its fury can be. Even the west can’t outrun an age of catastrophe like the one we face now –– like I said, it’s already doing worse than the east when it comes to COVID.

So how do we fix all this? Well, the truth is that “we” probably can’t.

I can tell you how but westerners by and large aren’t interested. What they seem to be interested in is never changing. In ways to be able to go on living in wasteful, harmful, toxic, abusive, exploitative ways, like Americans are –– if you tell them how to do that, they will admire and respect you. Gentle and wise Europe has made some progress, it’s true. But mostly when you tell people like Americans that they must change NOW, and change fast, they give you the look: their eyes go dead and their jaws tighten. They’re holding in the anger of having to hear something that they don’t want to, aren’t equipped to, can’t handle.

“We” aren’t going to fix the age of western overconsumption.

What it would take is something like this: the rich west agreeing to pay nature. After all, nature works hard for us –– it provides us everything from water to air to food to medicine. If the rich west were ready to agree to pay nature for the work it does –– instead of exploit and abuse it –– then treaties could be made to compensate eastern countries and their people. To pay them living wages for doing things like caring for rivers, reefs, forests, oceans, animals, and so forth, instead of just toiling away on assembly lines to make cheap junk for rich westerners.

But that is not going to happen, probably. I say that for a simple reason.

One topic nobody much in the west wants to hear about is fixing the future. They say they want to hear about it. They are constantly asking what to do about the state of things but when people talk or write about it, only a handful truly listen. Not even a handful. So what I think the majority of westerners mean when they ask what to do is: “tell me a way to never have to change. I want to live the old way –– the wasteful, exploitative, abusive way.”

Having a serious discussion with westerners, especially with Americans in particular, about fixing the future has become impossible.

That should be self-evident, though. They are not willing to change their lives even when a lethal pandemic is ripping through their societies.

And yet the rich west is the only part of the world with the money to really allow the future to be fixed. What does that tell you? It tells me it won’t be. And so what will happen probably is this. The world will go on spiraling headlong into the new Dark Age its entered. The fools and fanatics and extremists will go on rising to power, because the average person is incapable of change, but the old way of life is collapsing, and in that vacuum is where EVERY fascism is really born.

Life as you know it really is coming to and end, my friend.

The problem? Not enough of us can face that simple fact with courage, grace, truth, kindness, love and goodness. And so what do you expect to happen? If change can’t, then only collapse is left.

My Grandpa, John “Poppa” Tracey

Grandpa & Me

Yesterday, was a very difficult day for me as I said goodbye to my grandfather, my Poppa, John Tracey. He lived 84 beautiful years and raised 6 incredible children, including my own father. His nicknames for me were Carrot Top- I was his first redheaded grandchild, or Squirt- because I was short as child.

We developed a bond that is really hard to explain, as a child when I would sit on his lap I would just trace his panther/jaguar tattoo – and I did the same as I said I love you to him for the last time I saw him I chose not to say goodbye to him because it was too hard for me. He has always called me Squirt– all the way to the end I will always be his Squirt.

I remember him telling me stories of his days growing up, we shared a love of westerns– African Queen, we loved doing the crossword puzzle together, and when attending family parties- inside or in the backyard I always kept my eyes out for Poppa because I loved his hugs they were always warm, tight (not too tight), and full of love; he always gave the perfect hug. I could go for one of those right now.

He loved family, fishing, golfing, New York Yankees, and talking about his Troy days. I loved watching him tinker, every summer he and Nana would come visit us during the Tracey Family Camporee, our annual 3 day camping trip on Saturday they would bring fresh bread and the clams for our big cookout that evening, and when I moved into the place I live now he brought over some stuff to seal up my driveway its still sitting in my basement. Poppa always loved to help out.

Seeing him at my college graduation in 2013 with a smile on his face I could tell that he was proud that through my disability I succeeded – he always had a smile on his face, that is what I loved about him is even when he was hurting or not feeling well – he was smiling.

He was a soldier for the US Army, in the Korean War came home and married my beautiful grandma, and raised 6 incredible children and 13 grandchildren.

It is the hardest to lose those who loved and nurtured us, and who we loved and cared for most. I have a treasure trove of memories that I will hold on to forever, that will make me laugh and smile. I will miss him so much but I will never forget his beautiful smile. I keep hearing his voice. I miss him terribly, I miss his hugs and will love him and miss him for a long time.

RIP Poppa 1936–2020

From left to right: Uncle Matt, Uncle Jay, Aunt Jude, John (Poppa), JoAnn (Nana), my father, Aunt Kris, Uncle Mark

Letter to A Younger Me

Dear 6 Year Old Me,

Right now life might not make any sense and you might be thinking that you are crazy reading a letter from yourself when you turn 30 years old, but I am about to drop some knowledge on you. You have soo much life left to live… enjoy it.

You are 6 years old –– so the year is 1996 your going have a new baby in the house– a little sister in a few months time. You have a little brother– he’s 3 and cute as a button. Your mom and brother walk you down the street to school

You still live in the house that you were brought home from the hospital to. Your bedroom is Barney- purple and you love to read –– EVERYTHING… which is a good thing, never stop reading– ever.

Your mom is awesome and she will always help you don’t be afraid to ask for it no matter what and if she asks you to go do something go it will be fun because when you get older you will be more like her than you will ever know.

Ask your dad if you can go with him to the grocery store –– whenever you can because he loves you, wants to spend time with you and cares about you. He believes in you more than you will ever know. Take time to help your parents, you may be a kid but you are awesome.

When your sister arrives you to will eventually become the best of friends be there for her, she will be there for you too.

Love,

30 year old you

February By the Numbers

This is a new monthly series that I have been planning out for a while so here we go let’s see how it goes. This is where I will add some number facts about the month of February or the date of the post ie. February 4. Let me know what you think. This was a tough one to find information on.

About the Month Of February

  • The Name of The Month: Februa was a Roman purification ritual and was considered as early Rome Spring Cleaning Festival. Februs, the Roman god was named after this festival.
  • The original 10 month, 304-day Roman calendar didn’t work for long because it didn’t align with the seasons. King Numa Pompilius reformed the calendar around 713 BC by adding the months of January (Ianuarius) and February (Februarius) to the original 10 months, which increased the year’s length to 354 or 355 days.
  • February is of the most commonly misspelt words in the English language. People seem to forget the first “r”.

February is known as…

  • American Heart Month
  • Bird-Feeding Month
  • Black History Month
  • Canned Food Month
  • Cherry Month
  • National Children’s Dental Health Month
  • Chocolate Lovers Month
  • Creative Romance Month
  • Grapefruit Month
  • Hot Breakfast Month
  • Potato Lovers Month
  • Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
  • Snack Food Month

Things You Don’t Know About Me

Today I will be giving you a list of things you don’t know about me. I am not sure how this is going to go but lets see where this goes. And this is going to be all fun and good times. So here we go

Number 1- Genealogy

I am fascinated with my family’s genealogy and have been working on it for sometime now. I find that as I go further back it becomes more interesting. My family members dispute some of the stuff I find but that is because it is like a puzzle you just have to start putting the puzzle pieces together to figure out what is true and I start with what I know has been proven by multiple sources.

Number 2- History

I love learning about history. I love thinking about what would happen if the opposite of what had happened occurred or if the chain of events occurred differently and so on. It is fun to think back and learn about the time long ago. I also like looking at old photos.

Number 3- Crocheting

I learned how to crochet a long time ago and ever since then i have loved crocheting ever since.

Number 4- Music

I love listening to music all the time anything and everything.

Number 5- Favorite Things to Watch

I love watching documentaries and movies based on history.

Honoring Martin L. King Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a day where we honor the memory and legacy of MLK. Who was ahead of his time. Today I am going honor him here and talk about him and how he impacted me. I will be using some different events, quotes, and sayings as reference and commenting below. My comments will be italicized… here we go!


Portrait of King
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.

Even though Martin Luther King was a Christian minister he believe in Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings of using your voice to send a message… and avoiding violence. Which I thought was very wise of him.

He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963.

Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech is one of my favorite speeches of all time.

On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.

MLK recieving the Nobel Peace Prize was much deserved because he wanted to send a message that racial inequality existed then and the African American race was tired (and 56 years after his I Have A Dream speech still exists) and knowing that bothers me.

In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War.

I want to say that his war on poverty is still ongoing. Martin Luther King wanted to have a world of peace and find diplomatic solutions until all diplomatic options have been exhausted.

He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”. J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO (syllabic abbreviation derived from COunter INTELligence PROgram) FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital liaisons and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.

His “Beyond Vietnam” speech was about his anti war stance. As a result this speech rubbed some of his allies the wrong way, also the FBI started investigating him as a threat to the country. That is crazy that they would deem a man who is using peaceful protests as a message a threat. I understand that times were different then.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington was rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.

We have Martin Luther King Day exists because of another Republican president.

In March 1955, Claudette Colvin—a fifteen-year-old black schoolgirl in Montgomery—refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in violation of Jim Crow laws, local laws in the Southern United States that enforced racial segregation. King was on the committee from the Birmingham African-American community that looked into the case; E. D. Nixon and Clifford Durr decided to wait for a better case to pursue because the incident involved a minor.

Rosa Parks

Nine months later on December 1, 1955, a similar incident occurred when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus. The two incidents led to the Montgomery bus boycott, which was urged and planned by Nixon and led by King. The boycott lasted for 385 days, and the situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed. King was arrested during this campaign, which concluded with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. King’s role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement.

I am happy that MLK organized the bus boycott that resulted it the Browder v. Gayle ruling that helped to end segregation on all Montgomery, Ala. buses. King’s role in the bus boycott made him a national name and spokesman of the civil rights movement.

King believed that organized, nonviolent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow laws would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights. Journalistic accounts and televised footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by Southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights workers and marchers, produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion that convinced the majority of Americans that the civil rights movement was the most important issue in American politics in the early 1960s.

MLK wanted to use peaceful protests to send a message that was loud and clear that would cause the press to take notice.

King organized and led marches for blacks’ right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into the law of the United States with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.


Martin Luther King’s Views

Religion

As a Christian minister, King’s main influence was Jesus Christ and the Christian gospels, which he would almost always quote in his religious meetings, speeches at church, and in public discourses. King’s faith was strongly based in Jesus’ commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself, loving God above all, and loving your enemies, praying for them and blessing them. His nonviolent thought was also based in the injunction to turn the other cheek in the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus’ teaching of putting the sword back into its place (Matthew 26:52). In his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, King urged action consistent with what he describes as Jesus’ “extremist” love, and also quoted numerous other Christian pacifist authors, which was very usual for him. In another sermon, he stated:

Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the Gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment.

You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry.

I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry.

I don’t plan to run for any political office. I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher.

And what I’m doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man.

MLK’s Birmingham Jail Letter

King’s private writings show that he rejected biblical literalism; he described the Bible as “mythological,” doubted that Jesus was born of a virgin and did not believe that the story of Jonah and the whale was true.


Nonviolence

A close-up of Rustin
Bayard Rustin

Veteran African-American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin was King’s first regular advisor on nonviolence. King was also advised by the white activists Harris Wofford and Glenn Smiley. Rustin and Smiley came from the Christian pacifist tradition, and Wofford and Rustin both studied Gandhi’s teachings. Rustin had applied nonviolence with the Journey of Reconciliation campaign in the 1940s, and Wofford had been promoting Gandhism to Southern blacks since the early 1950s.

King had initially known little about Gandhi and rarely used the term “nonviolence” during his early years of activism in the early 1950s. King initially believed in and practiced self-defense, even obtaining guns in his household as a means of defense against possible attackers. The pacifists guided King by showing him the alternative of nonviolent resistance, arguing that this would be a better means to accomplish his goals of civil rights than self-defense. King then vowed to no longer personally use arms.

In the aftermath of the boycott, King wrote Stride Toward Freedom, which included the chapter Pilgrimage to Nonviolence. King outlined his understanding of nonviolence, which seeks to win an opponent to friendship, rather than to humiliate or defeat him. The chapter draws from an address by Wofford, with Rustin and Stanley Levison also providing guidance and ghostwriting.

King was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his success with nonviolent activism, and as a theology student, King described Gandhi as being one of the “individuals who greatly reveal the working of the Spirit of God”. King had “for a long time … wanted to take a trip to India.” With assistance from Harris Wofford, the American Friends Service Committee, and other supporters, he was able to fund the journey in April 1959. The trip to India affected King, deepening his understanding of nonviolent resistance and his commitment to America’s struggle for civil rights. In a radio address made during his final evening in India, King reflected, “Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity.”

King’s admiration of Gandhi’s nonviolence did not diminish in later years. He went so far as to hold up his example when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, hailing the “successful precedent” of using nonviolence “in a magnificent way by Mohandas K. Gandhi to challenge the might of the British Empire … He struggled only with the weapons of truth, soul force, non-injury and courage.”

World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable.

All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew.

Nonviolence is a good starting point.

Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion.

We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.

Martin Luther King

Another influence for King’s nonviolent method was Henry David Thoreau’s essay On Civil Disobedience and its theme of refusing to cooperate with an evil system. He also was greatly influenced by the works of Protestant theologians Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, and said that Walter Rauschenbusch’s Christianity and the Social Crisis left an “indelible imprint” on his thinking by giving him a theological grounding for his social concerns.

King was moved by Rauschenbusch’s vision of Christians spreading social unrest in “perpetual but friendly conflict” with the state, simultaneously critiquing it and calling it to act as an instrument of justice. He was apparently unaware of the American tradition of Christian pacifism exemplified by Adin Ballou and William Lloyd Garrison King frequently referred to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as central for his work. King also sometimes used the concept of “agape” (brotherly Christian love). However, after 1960, he ceased employing it in his writings.

Even after renouncing his personal use of guns, King had a complex relationship with the phenomenon of self-defense in the movement. He publicly discouraged it as a widespread practice, but acknowledged that it was sometimes necessary. Throughout his career King was frequently protected by other civil rights activists who carried arms, such as Colonel Stone Johnson, Robert Hayling, and the Deacons for Defense and Justice.


Activism and Involvement with Native Americans

King was an avid supporter of Native American rights. Native Americans were also active supporters of King’s civil rights movement which included the active participation of Native Americans. In fact, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) was patterned after the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund. The National Indian Youth Council (NIYC) was especially supportive in King’s campaigns especially the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968. In King’s book “Why We Can’t Wait” he writes:

Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race.

Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society.

From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy.

We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population.

Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade.

Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorse for this shameful episode.

Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it.

Martin Luther King, Why We Can’t Wait

King assisted Native American people in south Alabama in the late 1950s. At that time the remaining Creek in Alabama were trying to completely desegregate schools in their area. The South had many egregious racial problems: In this case, light-complexioned Native children were allowed to ride school buses to previously all white schools, while dark-skinned Native children from the same band were barred from riding the same buses. Tribal leaders, upon hearing of King’s desegregation campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, contacted him for assistance. He promptly responded and through his intervention the problem was quickly resolved.

In September 1959, King flew from Los Angeles, California, to Tucson, Arizona. After giving a speech at the University of Arizona on the ideals of using nonviolent methods in creating social change. He put into words his belief that one must not use force in this struggle “but match the violence of his opponents with his suffering.” King then went to Southside Presbyterian, a predominantly Native American church, and was fascinated by their photos.

On the spur of the moment Dr. King wanted to go to an Indian Reservation to meet the people so Reverend Casper Glenn took King to the Papago Indian Reservation. At the reservation King met with all the tribal leaders, and others on the reservation then ate with them. King then visited another Presbyterian church near the reservation, and preached there attracting a Native American crowd.

He later returned to Old Pueblo in March 1962 where he preached again to a Native American congregation, and then went on to give another speech at the University of Arizona. King would continue to attract the attention of Native Americans throughout the civil rights movement. During the 1963 March on Washington there was a sizable Native American contingent, including many from South Dakota, and many from the Navajo nation. Native Americans were also active participants in the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968.

King was a major inspiration along with the civil rights movement which inspired the Native American rights movement of the 1960s and many of its leaders. John Echohawk a member of the Pawnee tribe and the executive director and one of the founders of the Native American Rights Fund stated:


Inspired by Dr. King, who was advancing the civil rights agenda of equality under the laws of this country, we thought that we could also use the laws to advance our Indianship, to live as tribes in our territories governed by our own laws under the principles of tribal sovereignty that had been with us ever since 1831. We believed that we could fight for a policy of self-determination that was consistent with U.S. law and that we could govern our own affairs, define our own ways and continue to survive in this society

John Echohawk, Executive Director and Founder of the Native American Rights Fund

Politics

As the leader of the SCLC, King maintained a policy of not publicly endorsing a U.S. political party or candidate: “I feel someone must remain in the position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both—not the servant or master of either.”[288] In a 1958 interview, he expressed his view that neither party was perfect, saying, “I don’t think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses … And I’m not inextricably bound to either party.” King did praise Democratic Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois as being the “greatest of all senators” because of his fierce advocacy for civil rights causes over the years.

King critiqued both parties’ performance on promoting racial equality:


Actually, the Negro has been betrayed by both the Republican and the Democratic party. The Democrats have betrayed him by capitulating to the whims and caprices of the Southern Dixiecrats.

The Republicans have betrayed him by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of reactionary right wing northern Republicans. And this coalition of southern Dixiecrats and right wing reactionary northern Republicans defeats every bill and every move towards liberal legislation in the area of civil rights.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Although King never publicly supported a political party or candidate for president, in a letter to a civil rights supporter in October 1956 he said that he had not decided whether he would vote for Adlai Stevenson II or Dwight D. Eisenhower at the 1956 presidential election, but that “In the past I always voted the Democratic ticket.” In his autobiography, King says that in 1960 he privately voted for Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy:


I felt that Kennedy would make the best president. I never came out with an endorsement. My father did, but I never made one.” King adds that he likely would have made an exception to his non-endorsement policy for a second Kennedy term, saying “Had President Kennedy lived, I would probably have endorsed him in 1964.

Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1964, King urged his supporters “and all people of goodwill” to vote against Republican Senator Barry Goldwater for president, saying that his election “would be a tragedy, and certainly suicidal almost, for the nation and the world.”

King supported the ideals of democratic socialism, although he was reluctant to speak directly of this support due to the anti-communist sentiment being projected throughout the United States at the time, and the association of socialism with communism. King believed that capitalism could not adequately provide the basic necessities of many American people, particularly the African-American community.


Compensation

King stated that black Americans, as well as other disadvantaged Americans, should be compensated for historical wrongs. In an interview conducted for Playboy in 1965, he said that granting black Americans only equality could not realistically close the economic gap between them and whites. King said that he did not seek a full restitution of wages lost to slavery, which he believed impossible, but proposed a government compensatory program of $50 billion over ten years to all disadvantaged groups.

He posited that “the money spent would be more than amply justified by the benefits that would accrue to the nation through a spectacular decline in school dropouts, family breakups, crime rates, illegitimacy, swollen relief rolls, rioting and other social evils.” He presented this idea as an application of the common law regarding settlement of unpaid labor, but clarified that he felt that the money should not be spent exclusively on blacks. He stated, “It should benefit the disadvantaged of all races.”


Family Planning

On being awarded the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Margaret Sanger Award on May 5, 1966, King said:

Recently, the press has been filled with reports of sightings of flying saucers. While we need not give credence to these stories, they allow our imagination to speculate on how visitors from outer space would judge us.

I am afraid they would be stupefied at our conduct. They would observe that for death planning we spend billions to create engines and strategies for war. They would also observe that we spend millions to prevent death by disease and other causes.

Finally they would observe that we spend paltry sums for population planning, even though its spontaneous growth is an urgent threat to life on our planet. Our visitors from outer space could be forgiven if they reported home that our planet is inhabited by a race of insane men whose future is bleak and uncertain.

There is no human circumstance more tragic than the persisting existence of a harmful condition for which a remedy is readily available. Family planning, to relate population to world resources, is possible, practical and necessary.

Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess.

What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victims…

Martin Luther King

Television

Actress Nichelle Nichols planned to leave Star Trek in 1967 after its first season, wanting to return to musical theater. She changed her mind after talking to King who was a fan of the show. King explained that her character signified a future of greater racial harmony and cooperation.[303] King told Nichols, “You are our image of where we’re going, you’re 300 years from now, and that means that’s where we are and it takes place now. Keep doing what you’re doing, you are our inspiration.” As Nichols recounted, “Star Trek was one of the only shows that [King] and his wife Coretta would allow their little children to watch. And I thanked him and I told him I was leaving the show. All the smile came off his face. And he said, ‘Don’t you understand for the first time we’re seen as we should be seen. You don’t have a black role. You have an equal role.'”


I honestly could keep going on and on about the incredible icon that is Martin Luther King Jr. Thank you for reading. I will see you soon.

Irish Queen