What Happens When Americans Can Finally Exhale

About this time a year ago, the United States Seemed stuck on a COVID-19 plateau. Although 1,300 Americans were dying from the disease every single day, the states began to reopen in a patchwork fashion, and an anxious nation was looking ahead to an uncertain summer. Twelve months later, the situation is very different. Cases are falling quickly. About half as many people are dying every day. Several vaccines were developed faster than experts had dared to predict, and proved to be more effective than they are dared to hope. Despite a shaky start, the vaccination campaign has been successful, and almost half of the country has received at least one shot, including 85% of people older than 65. As the pandemic rages on elsewhere in the world, the US Is eyeing a summer of reconnection and rejuvenation.

But there is another crucial difference between May 2020 and May 2021: people have now lived through 14 months of pandemic life. Millions have endured a year of grief, anxiety, isolation, and rolling trauma. Some will recover uneventfully, but for others the quiet moments after adrenaline fades and normalcy returns may be unexpectedly punishing. When they finally get a chance to exhale, the breath may emerge as sighs. “People put their heads down and do what they have to do, but suddenly, when there’s an opening, all these feelings come up,” says Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, the founder and director of the Trauma Stewardship Institute. Lipsky has spent decades helping people navigate the consequences of natural disasters, mass shootings, and other crises. “As hard as the initial trauma is,” she said, “it’s the aftermath that destroys people.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a singular disaster — Every turn series of traumatic events that have eroded the very social trust and connections that allow communication to recover from catastrophes. Even now, with COVID-19 cases in the US falling and vaccinations rising, many people whom Lipsky works with are struggling. Things are getting better, so why don’t they feel better? “A lot of them are really confused by it, because they feel like they made it through and 10 see a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

If you’ve been swimming furiously for a year, you don’t expect to finally reach dry land and feel like you’re drowning.

A brief note on the word trauma: psychologists and psychiatrists still debate its definition. Some feel the word is used to loosely. Others argue that the official definition — Which requires actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence — Inappropriately it excludes serious life events such as divorce, unemployment, or some chronic illnesses. Some argue that you cannot be traumatized by watching news coverage of disasters, and others say you can. Jessi Gold, a psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis, thinks in terms of “big-7 trauma” (the officially defined term) and “little -t trauma” (its colloquial cousin). Both meaningfully affect one’s mental health. “We can be too nitpicky about where something ends and something else begins,” she said. “If someone feels bad and it affects their day-to-day life, it’s a mental health problem, and I don’t really care what you call it.”

Even in the more restrictive big-T sense, The pandemic has produced trauma at an enormous scale. Millions of COVID-19 long haulers spent months with debilitating symptoms, and many are still sick. And one study, 30% of people with lab confirmed COVID-19, most of whom have not been hospitalized, We’re still experiencing symptoms after an average of six months. Many are struggling with the boys in town world of disability benefits and long-term diagnoses such as myalgic encephalomyelitis. Many Americans who were hospitalized with COVID-19 will still be affected too. At the height of the winter surge, 132,000 people filled US emergency rooms. Based on evidence from Italy and from the past coronavirus epidemic’s about a third of those people — And the hundreds of thousands more who are hospitalized before and after that moment — will develop PTSD.

At least 580,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and this official tally probably omits hundreds of thousands of Unaccounted deaths. Because each the leaves in average of nine close relatives bereaved, roughly 5,000,000 Americans have been grieving parents, children, siblings, spouses, or grandparents at a time when funerals, bedside goodbyes, and other rituals of mourning and loss have been disrupted. Some may feel guilty about surviving, as the New Yorkers who narrowly missed the 9/11 attacks, Or gay men who were “spared at random” by HIV during the 1980s. Some grievers may not heal for a long time. In normal circumstances about 10% of bereaved people develop prolonged grief, but coming in capacitated by interns all consuming grief that persists for more than a year and flattens their life. About half 1 million Americans will likely feel this way — Which is roughly the population of Atlanta. Grief will germinate across the Sims for sale cracks that the pandemic exploded and widened: indigenous, pacific islanders, Latino and black Americans were men were more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans, And are therefore more likely to have lost loved ones to the disease.

Medical traumas were compounded by social stressors including unemployment, isolation, the rigors of full-time parenting Without childcare, and a year of lost opportunities. Against the trauma backdrop, other tragedies unfolded: the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many other Black people by police officers; a record wildfire season; the insurrection at the US Capitol; The Texas power of crisis; and machines in Atlanta and elsewhere. “There’s has been in the ongoing set of test stating collective traumas that Have really not abated,” says UC Irvine’s Roxane Cohen Silver, A psychologist who has studied trauma for decades.

The pandemic itself has not fully abated, either. Even as Americans ponder “post pandemic” life, 600 people are still dying from COVID-19 every day. Do you spite the historic success of the vaccination campaign, the rate of vaccinations is slowing, and is the lowest among the most socially vulnerable communities. COVID-19 is burning with renewed ferocity through India, much of South America, and other countries. Globally the pandemic is set to kill more people in 2021 than in 2020.

A sweeping and continuous process produces to almost paradoxical phenomena. First, people become inured and apathetic from suffering at a mass scale, experience with psychologist Paul Slovic, of the University of Oregon has called psychic numbing. But people are also becoming sensitized to further traumas in their own life. Silver has repeatedly found this pattern among people who experience successive disasters, such as 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and the Boston Marathon bombings. Many didn’t habituate: each new blow brought more stress, not less. “Around the one-year anniversary of COVID, a number of journalist asked me, ‘It’s been a year; why are we adjusted to this?'” Silver said. “I found that question very unusual.”

The pandemic hasn’t been a one off disaster but “a slow, recurrent onslaught of worsening things,” adds Tamar Rodney, From the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, who studies trauma. “We can’t expect people to go through that and for everyone to come out the other side being fine. People have suffered in between, and those affects must be addressed, even if we’re walking around maskless.”

In 1969, the psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote that people with terminal illnesses go through five emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. This influential model H did self into the public consciousness and has been applied to every flavor of grief and loss, including that of COVID-19. But it is deeply misleading, and always has been. Grief is unpredictable. It doesn’t involve clearly defined stages. It doesn’t unfold linearly. It doesn’t necessarily and an acceptance. And grief takes long meandering and varied paths that popular myths do little to prepare us for.

People who endure long bouts of stress often collapse when they get a chance to be calm. Soldiers who returned to the every day world “describe it as boring, which gives him more time to think about what happened in the theater of war,” Steven Taylor, a psychiatrist at the University of British Columbia said. Similarly he predicts that in the quiet moments after COVID-19 infections Wayne, healthcare workers may remember the patients they lost, or the Morley challenging decisions I had to made about appropriating care. That if they did quiet moments between dealing with surgeries that were rescheduled during surges and patients who are coming in sick or than usual because they deferred care. “You’re just frayed but you have to do everything that didn’t get done,” Saskia Popescu, an infection preventionist at George Mason University, said last summer. “You don’t get a mental break.”

Even Americans who were spared the big-T traumas of the emergency room still experienced a year of fear, uncertainty, and disruption. They too might experience during moments of unexpected reflection, even as the national outlook begins to brighten. “When you get a chance to realize that your safety or your family safety is no longer at rest, you think, What was that experience like for me?” Said gold, the Washington University psychiatrist. “Your answer could be I haven’t slept in months, or I feel miserable, or My kid is really angry and upset all the time. I think the curve [of mental health problems] is likely to go up exponentially once people have time to even realize that mental health is part of the equation.”

Such problems can be especially disquieting at times when people are expecting to feel renewed. Lipsky, the trauma specialist, said she has worked with many people who are “struggling with the struggle.” They might be nurses, doctors, judges, activists, or parents — hypercompetent individuals who are used to handling a constant baseline of stress, and you act as bad rocks and caregivers for their teams, communities, and families. The added burdens of the pandemic to overwhelmed them, and rocked their identities. “People don’t recognize themselves,” Lipsky said. “They say, ‘Are used to be the person who dealt with really hard things.’ I had parents questioning whether they were even meant to be a parent.”

Not everyone will feel this way perhaps most Americans won’t. In past work, Silver, the UC Irvine psychologist found that even communities that go through extreme traumas, such as Years of daily rotted fire, can show low levels of PTSD. Three factors seem to protect them: confidence in authorities, isn’t a belonging, and community solidarity. In the US, the pandemic wrote it all three. It reduce trust in institutions, separated people from their loved ones, And why didn’t political divisions. It was something of a self reinforcing disaster, exacerbated by the conditions that make recovery harder.

“I don’t feel that we’re doomed,” Silver said. “I do still believe that we will get through this.” She and other experts I’ve heard speak noted that people are resilient, and often more so than they realize. But they also agree that the rhetoric of individual resilience can often do you use to plaster over institutional failures: the shortage of mental health care providers, the labyrinth of insurance system, The lack of support from employers, the stigma around seeking care at all, and the societal tendency to bottle up grief. “I don’t know anyone who looks to the US as a model for grieving and mourning,” Lipsky said. “We don’t talk about loss. By and large, it’s all about consumption to help numb you out.”

Lori Peek, a sociologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said that recovery from disasters is usually gaged in terms of dollars regained, jobs restored, and infrastructure rebuilt. Mental health is harder to measure, and so easier to ignore. She is worried that the understandable societal desire to move past the pandemic will further alienate people who are still dealing with grief or symptoms. “What if someone is truly suffering and reaches out for help six months from now, and is told, ‘What are you talking about? The pandemic was ages ago?'” Peek said.

Loss can linger longer than expected. The time frame for recovering from disasters “is measured not in months, but in years or decades,” Peek said. In many cases last been on the lifespan of human compassion. In late 2005, the people who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina initially found an outpouring of support, including meals, clothes, furniture, money, and music. But by early 2006, goodwill Dave way to watch disaster relief workers called Katrina fatigue and what the evacuees just called discrimination. “People were like, ‘Aren’t these people going home?'” Peek said. “And they had no homes.”

Similar tendencies are a parent now, as commentators wonder why many Americans are still anxious and risk averse, even as the US begins to wake from its pandemic nightmare. “I think some people believe we pressed ‘pause,’ and we’ll go back to the way things were before, as if we didn’t have all the intervening experiences, as if 2020 didn’t happen, as if getting a vaccine erases your memory,” Gold said.

Consider the latest phase of the ceaseless discourse around masks. The SARS-CoV-2 Virus spreads primarily through shared indoor air, the vaccines are extremely effective, and breakthrough infections among vaccinated people are rare. It’s reasonable, then, for the CDC to advise fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks outdoors. (The agency’s surprising move to extend those guidelines indoors is more debatable.)

But it is also reasonable for people to want to continue wearing masks, to feel anxious that others might now decide not to, or be dubious that strangers will be honest about their vaccination status. People don’t make decisions about the present in a temporal vacuum. They integrate across their past experiences. They learn. Some have learned that the CDC can be slow in its assessment of evidence, or confusing and it’s proclamations. They watch their fellow citizens rail against steps that would protect one another from infection study time in the US had already weather deadlines of a road in social trust. They internalize the lessons of a year in which they had to fend for them selves, absent support from a government that repeatedly downplayed a crisis that was evidently unfolding. “We had no other protections all year,” gold said. “We had masks. No one else protected us. It’s understandable that the people would be hesitant about taking them off.”

For some people, taking of a masterful mean just exposing the bottom half of their face. But for others, it signifies that they must reevaluate their understanding of versed in danger yet again, with fewer emotional reserves at hand. “I feel more cleaning towards the routines I’ve established,” Whitney Robinson, a social epidemiologists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said. “Summer feels like an unknown, and kind of exhausting. [It means]’s navigating new situations, reestablishing relationships, and deciding on COVID norms. It feels tiring.”

Nicolette Louissaint, Is the executive director of Healthcare Ready, and non-for profit that works to prepare for disasters by strengthening medical supply chains. She and her team started working full tilt in January 2020, well before most of the US to COVID-19 seriously. The world has taken a toll, and isn’t over. “Our personal lives are stabilizing, but there is still this fatigue from our professional lives,” she said. “And we are less than a month from hurricane and wildfire season.”

Those who work in emergency preparedness talk about panic neglect cycles, where people and politicians lose interest in a crisis once it abates, With drawing attention and resources that are needed to prevent the next one. Louissaint Where is that the US is set to go through that cycle again. “There is a sense the political world and energy is now there, and might not be in a year,” she said. “At some point, no one’s going to want to hear about this anymore, so will be fighting for infrastructure and investment, and we’ll be right back here to where we are. Even now, when we do our normal trainings to get communities prepared for natural disasters, the feed that we often get is ‘Oh my God, I can’t even think about that right now,'” Louissaint said. “So what happens when we have to face it?”

Louissaint was asked what she says to people who have just had enough, who feel they’ve maxed out on their quota of catastrophe, who just want to move on from the pandemic, or who equate tired of preparedness with fearmongering. “I think there’s a difference between sitting around fearing that the worst will come and actually understanding the things we must be prepared for,” she said. “If we are more prepared, we wouldn’t have to worry as much.”

“If you don’t want to have this conversation anymore, I understand. I don’t either,” she added. “My challenge is: how do we get to a position where we can afford not to?”

The Battle for New York– Cuomo vs. Giuliani

New York is looking at a possible dream match of the ages for the governor’s race in 2022 – has an almost Ali vs. Frasier feel to it. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the 3x New York governor, son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo vs. Andrew Giuliani, son of Rudy Giuliani, 2x mayor of New York and later Trump lawyer.

I watched a part of Andrew Giuliani’s announcement on TV and almost immediately felt sorry for him. He sounded just like his father who since leaving office in 2001 has become a caricature of his former self.

Before you come at me hear me out.

The Rudy Giuliani I remember best was the MOST feared prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. He took on the Mafia leaders using the RICO act… and won. He also convicted both Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken, who were guilty of insider trading in two of the biggest trials of the 80’s.

Giuliani was elected as New York’s mayor in the 90’s and rose to fame (or infamy depending on how you look at it) for his “broken windows” approach to law enforcement. The NYPD were encouraged to crack down on minor violations ie: turnstile jumping and graffiti to send a message about crime not being tolerated in the city.

Most people know Giuliani Senior as “America’s Mayor” in the aftermath of September 11. He was a voice of calm and strength during the time of a national tragedy.

Thanks to term limits, he was not able to run for mayor again in 2001. Because of this, Giuliani just became lost because he didn’t have a purpose.

He ran for Senate in 2000 but lost to Hillary Clinton, he tried to run for president in 2008 and dropped out due to a poor showing in Florida, his adopted home state. He became Trump’s personal attorney in 2018 and, well we all know how that turned out.

The point that I am trying to make is Rudy Giuliani now is NOT the Rudy Giuliani of the 80s and 90s when he was in his prime. That is a big problem for his son, Andrew, who came of age when his father was losing relevance and gained a drinking problem.

Kids learn and imitate their parents. Even aa adults, we find ourselves saying and doing things just like our parents. Think of growing up with a father like Rudy and he spiraled down.

Andrew has the mannerisms and speaks like his poor broken father. Seriously though, the next time you see him speak on TV, close your eyes. You’ll swear that it’s his father speaking.

It’s a little eerie, and not that new. There is a video of Giuliani Sr. at his first swearing in as mayor in 1989 featuring his young son Andrew imitating him.

Then there is another problem, Andrew’s only “political” experience is in the Trump administration. In 2017, his father got him a job as Associate Director in the Office of Public Liaison. In 2019, he was promoted to Special Assistant to the President in charge of arranging sports teams’ visits to the White House.

Andrew is also an avid golfer and has played golf with Trump since he was a teenager. Do you see the problem here? In Andrew’s eyes, the dysfunction of Trump and Trump’s administration is “normal.” It’s all he knows. Now he thinks that he has enough political experience to run for governor of New York, not to mention he is counting his dear old dad, Rudy’s experience in government, as his very own.

Seriously though.

As much as I would love to see Cuomo and Giuliani clash, especially in a debate setting, it might not happen. Cuomo hasn’t yet announced that he is running for a fourth term. Quite frankly I would be surprised if he did. Currently, he is under investigation for under-reporting nursing home deaths during the pandemic and has been accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault by eleven women.

Yes, you read that right. Eleven women have come forward with accusations of both sexual harassment and sexual assault against Cuomo. Of course, he is denying everything.

For years. there have been rumors circulating that Cuomo has presidential ambitions, but I feel that at this point those dreams are out the window. Because, you know, eleven women.

Still, wouldn’t you love to see Cuomo and Giuliani Jr. go head to head in a campaign for governor?

Cuomo, who has served in both the federal and state government and was known as the enforcer during his father’s gubernatorial administrations.


Giuliani who has never held an elected office and thinks that his father and Trump are prime examples of how to run a government.

As scared as I am for another Republican to hold public office, still, I would pay good money to see that fight happen – even if it is a fight of words.

Toxic Myths About Success

Everyone KNOWS the game of Monopoly, right?

About ten years ago, The University of California ran an experiment on wealth and privilege. They rigged a popular board game in favor of one person. They gave these privileged players:

  • 2x more start up money
  • extra dice
  • extra bonus cash each time they went around the board.

They recorded the games to see how the players with advantages treated everyone else. The theory was that the advantaged players might admit their luck and try to help their opponents.

Well, that didn’t happen…

Instead what wound up happening was the players who had the advantage:

  • Got louder
  • Taunted the other players
  • Body language became more exaggerated
  • Started moving other players pieces for them
  • Within minutes, every trace of empathy and respect vanished.
  • Some of these players even started explaining their “strategies for success.”

Sound familiar?

We see this behavior everywhere now. As wealth consolidates among the top 10% of the world’s population, they are getting more and more aggressive towards the rest of us. They’re pushing for laws that strip away that last bit of opportunity we’ve got to act more like them.

At best, this advice is worthless. It had NOTHING to do with their success. At worst, it sets people up for failure, and encourages them to punish themselves for factors beyond their control.

It’s time to debunk. Let’s go.

You have to wake up at 4 or 5 am

The super wealthy & their guru army have been selling this bad advice for years now. It’s time to drive a stake through this advice. Waking up that early works for some people. For others, it won’t.

It can actually hurt.

There’s no science behind the myth that waking up before sunrise makes anyone more likely to succeed. In fact, psychology has found the opposite. The human population falls into different chronotypes and sleep patterns. Some of us are wired to wake up early. Others are wired to stay up late. Some of us reach peak productivity and creativity before lunch. Others hit their stride later. You can force yourself into a dominant chronotype in order to please your bosses – but usually at your expense.

So, let’s be blunt. When Rachel Hollis or someone brags about waking up at 4 am and then tells you to do that, she doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about. She hasn’t done any research on chronotypes or circadian rhythms. She doesn’t even know what those are.

She’s simply a Monopoly player who started out with extra cash and dice, and now she’s made a fortune off advice she thinks worked for her, because she read it in a pamphlet.

Obviously, she’s not the only one. There’s hundreds of influencers and gurus out there promoting the 4 am myth. It’s worthless advice. You’re better off doing some research and experimenting to discover your chronotype. Do what you can to build a career around it. Advocate for yourself. You might have to conform to other peoples work hours at times, but you don’t have to beat yourself up about it.

You need self discipline or grit to succeed

Psychologists are finding out the ugly truth behind success. It doesn’t have nearly as much to do with hard work as we thought. That is jagged pill to swallow, because it’s hard to keep going if you except that life is entirely rigged and you’re doomed to indentured servitude.

Well, ask yourself:

Are you any better or excepting the lie that if you work hard and don’t fight the system, then eventually you’ll become a millionaire? That’s been the dominant message for half a century now, and poverty is only getting worse. That is worse. Healthcare is worse. We’re sitter and more miserable than ever. Americans work harder and longer than any other developed country. We have almost nothing to show for it.

Environment plays an enormous role in our success.

Some of us can modify our environment to some extent. Once you scape poor inner-city’s and rural towns, your odds skyrocket. Opportunities rain down on you. Not everyone t can escape their surroundings. Some people succumb to them, and it’s not their fault.

It’s not completely hopeless.

We just need to wait up and start speaking the truth: hard work and self discipline pay off when we also possess the right environment and social conditions, and nobody enjoys extreme advantages.

That’s the entire problem lately. A handful of mediocre players hold most of the monopoly money, and they aren’t sharing.

They’re taunting us.

You just have to believe in yourself

The whole notion of “believe in yourself” is a staple of self-improvement culture. It’s a duh statement, And a cosmetic believe held largely by those who grew up in loving, supportive middle class families.

The truth is much more complicated than that.

Social psychology has shown us poverty breeds an insidious self-esteem problem That’s incredibly Difficult to overcome. Kids who grow up in safe neighborhoods with plenty of food are more likely to “Believe in themselves” than students from poor community’s with tired, overworked parents. They’re also more likely to delay gratification. They appear better at problem-solving. They appear more self-reliant.


Turns out, household were tired and overworked parents did irritated at her kids more often. They say “no” more often instead of using phrases like “not now” or “maybe later”. They’re more likely to say hurtful things by accident, and less likely to spend quality time with them. They’re less patient, and actually more likely to just do things for their kids instead of taking the time and energy to coach and encourage them.

It makes a huge difference.

Even worse, studies have also found the teachers attribute kids from Logan come household with lower ability. In other words: if you’re poor, you get stereotyped is dumb. You get treated as dumb, and punishment you start acting the way you’re treated. You stop trying to solve problems yourself. You don’t even asked for help.

You give up.

We learn to believe in ourselves because other people believe in us first. Not everyone in our lives is going to believe in us, but everyone needs a handful of people in their corner rooting for them.

Some people never get that. Their parents trash Their dreams instead of crafting them into something achievable. At inner-city schools, you can get harassed and even beaten up for doing well in school, or carrying your books home to study. What people don’t believe in themselves, they don’t believe in each other. They teach others down. A feedback loop forms, and it doesn’t help when leaders And politicians keep using bad advice from privileged players to justify their conditions.

Believing in yourself isn’t enough. You need tools and resources. You need allies and support. If you have those signs, then don’t hoard them. Share them. Tell someone you believe in them.

Even better, show it.

Everyone can be exceptional

By definition, exceptional means “not like everyone else.” We need exceptional people, and they deserve rewards.

They just don’t deserve everything.

A tiny handful of people can always work their way up from nothing. They were tired, but they also get lucky. There’s no denying it. The problem is that everyone wants to tell the story of their own exceptionalism to justify their wealth and explain away their advantages. They say they’re the exceptional one, but anyone can do what they did. They come up with endless reasons why most people don’t “succeed,” and then they ramble about what they did to get where they are.

Well the monopoly experiment prove that a bunch of bullshit. We don’t need everyone to be exceptional. Turning everyone into a super human isn’t going to solve our problems. Will wind up with the same inequalities as before. Will have a population of homeless people with IQs above 180 who can lift a train, and it still won’t be enough.

Most of the advice floating around out there won’t help anyone succeed. It’s not backed by research or even genuine reflection it’s a bunch of platitudes people used to explain away their bonuses.

The real answer is pretty simple.

We need to level the board game, by supporting laws that make it actually fair for everyone to succeed again. If we don’t, then it won’t be long before nobody can succeed anymore. In the meantime, those who succeeded can try not to be such spoiled winners. We can stop giving lame advice that sets other people up for failure.

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.

I 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