Tag Archives: not pithy

“And justice for all?”

25 Nov

Image Source: https://ionetheurbandaily.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/mike-brown-street.jpg?w=660

Last night I went to bed shortly after learning of the Grand Jury’s decision to not indict the officer who killed Michael Brown. I was sad and outraged.

I’m not saying that the officer should necessarily be convicted (I’d need to see all the evidence to decide), but I can’t understand how – in a case where an unarmed teenager was shot six times – there isn’t enough evidence to at least charge the shooter and move forward to trial. At least, that’s my understanding of what a Grand Jury is supposed to determine.

As I turned off my light for the night, I thought about Michael Brown’s family – and my friends who weren’t born with white skin.

About 45 minutes later, I was awakened by what sounded like screams coming from my alley. I bolted out of bed, grabbing my cell phone, thinking someone was being attacked and I’d need to call 911. Once I got my bearings, however, I realized I was hearing shouting, not screaming, and there were many voices, not one.

I pulled my shades and looked out to see waves of red and blue light, indicating police were already on the scene. Waking up a bit more, I realized that I was hearing a crowd of people protesting the Ferguson verdict. Because my windows don’t face the street, I could only see the police lights and hear the chanting.

My mind raced – was it a peaceful protest or was it teetering on the edge of a riot? I stood at my window, listening, and finally deducing that the voices and lights were moving – presumably marching down 16th Street to the White House.

I sagged back into bed, contemplating my reaction. I’d instinctively grabbed my phone to call the police and had found some reassurance when I realized they were already involved with whatever was happening.


One the whole, police do far more good than bad. And they’ve voluntarily signed up to put themselves in the line of danger to protect and serve their communities. I appreciate their service. But I wonder how different my view would be if I hadn’t been born with pale skin… if I were pulled over because my car looked “too nice” for me to own, if I had to worry that by wearing a hoodie I’d look “suspicious.”

If that were the case, I can’t say my first reaction in a potentially threatening situation would be to call the police. And that’s the conversation I think we need to be having.

Rather simply looking for justice in the conviction of his shooter, wouldn’t Michael Brown’s life be better commemorated by opening a real dialogue about white privilege and racial profiling, so we can begin challenging the thinking that prompts officers to read threats where they don’t exist – and that can prevent minorities from seeing police as their allies?

So let’s keep this conversation going. But let’s also remember that conversations aren’t people. Michael Brown was a “gentle giant,” a student and a son.

While he might not have gotten justice, I hope his legacy brings justice for others.


Why I feel sorry for Sochi.

7 Feb

Image Source: http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/19ennvwskeytrjpg/ku-xlarge.jpg

I’ll admit to laughing at some of the photos in this Buzzfeed collection of journalists’ tweets from Sochi. Mainly because I enjoy bathroom humor and – let’s be honest – who WON’T laugh when viewing “buddy toilets” side by side?

But after laughing, I felt guilty. Because at my core, I feel bad for Sochi. The Olympics have come to represent a moment of national pride for the hosting country, a chance to showcase all that’s great about their land on an international stage. And Sochi’s just plagued with challenges.

According to the coverage, hotels aren’t completed, bricks are still being hastily laid as guests arrive, the snow quality is a icier than desirable, the grass is being spray-painted green, the toilets aren’t installed properly… I mean, I know we’re all angry about the gay rights issue and Putin is a tool, but at some point this seems like a we’re just ganging up on the place.

It makes me think of birthday parties. (Stay with me.)

When I was a kid, a birthday party involved a few of my friends and a cake – maybe a slumber party. These days, birthday parties involve inviting an entire class and doing some expensive group activity – like rock climbing, an arcade outing, etc. And parents seem to struggle to one-up the last party so their kid isn’t teased for being a lame host.

It feels like that’s how the Olympics have become. Maybe I’m romanticizing it, but it seems like back in the day, it was a platform for the best athletes to represent their countries, uniting a world of viewers in the awe that comes from witnessing that kind of talent. And now, the focus has shifted and it’s on the host country to put on a party that tops the previous host. It’s about spending money and opulence and proving a nation’s wealth.

Except in my analogy, Russia is like poor kid in your class, who is being mocked for attempting to compete in a contest that’s a bit out of his depth. When I read things like the #sochiproblems tweets, it feels like a bunch of rich kids are picking on Sochi. And it makes me wonder if – like a kid bullied to the point of dawning a black trench coat – Russia is going to come out of this experience with an axe to grind.

People wonder why Americans get a bad rap internationally. Seems to me that gloating over another country’s failure doesn’t help the cause. Russia may seem backwards by our standards. It may have human rights issues that need to be addressed. But shaming a nation – and the people who were born there – isn’t likely to help those matters.

Instead of rejoicing in Sochi’s failures, why don’t we lead by example and show a little class? After all, the Olympics should provide a lesson in good sportsmanship, if nothing else.

Time flies when you’re…

17 Aug

Caught by the Kiss-Cam at a Wizards Game!

Three years ago today, Alan and I had had our first date.

We didn’t realize it was a date at the time. We were just two friends from college who hadn’t seen each other in almost 15 years. We’d reconnected on Facebook and realized we were in the same city and thought it’d be fun to grab a drink.

So we met for a margarita at a Lauriol Plaza – a Mexican restaurant within walking distance from my place. That was my first experience waiting for someone I hadn’t seen in so long. I stood in front of the restaurant, eyeing every guy who walked up, searching for some trace of the Alan I’d known in school, wondering if 15 years was long enough for him to become unrecognizable.

You’re probably rolling your eyes, saying, “Hey Dumbass, didn’t you just tell us you’d reconnected on Facebook? Which has photos?”

And you’re correct, but your name-calling is a bit insulting. Because, Dumbass, we all know that people tend to put publicity stills of themselves from the thinnest/prettiest/follicliest (<– new word) times of their lives. In other words: Facebook is not to be trusted.

Alas, when he finally did approach, I recognized him immediately. THERE was the same southern gentleman l’d known back in school, holding the door for me so I could enter the restaurant, carrying himself as if he had a board shoved up his back because somewhere along the line he’d been taught proper posture.

And just like that, our friendship was rekindled. And then some.

The years fell away and all that had happened between graduation and that moment seemed like collections of short stories we’d been saving up just to tell each other. And we did. And we have been. For three  years without pausing.

I know, three isn’t much. You’re probably knowingly shaking your head, thinking, “Silly kids. They haven’t even hit the thick of it yet.” And you’re right. But three’s enough to know that I’ve found someone I never run out of words with. And who always has an ear for me.

The way I figure, that has to count for something right?

Happy anniversary, Alan. Here’s to many more…

Warning: Not very pithy, served with a dose of politics. Sorry.

31 Jan

The other weekend I had a quintessential DC moment. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was out for a walk. I’d ventured down to the MLK library and walked back past Franklin Square, where homeless people were huddled around eating food that had been distributed by So Others Might Eat.

This is NOT the S.O.M.E van. But wouldn't it be awesome if it were? "Oh hells yeah! I'm gonna get me some wildlife from this van!"

Whenever I see the white S.O.M.E. van, it reminds me of my first winter in DC, when my college friends Brent and Marcus (my then-roommates on Capitol Hill) volunteered to help deliver food. I remember Marcus’s eyes, wide like saucers, recounting the experience after their first time out.

“It was crazy, man,” he said, and I swear his voice had a slight tremble. “We pulled up and it was like a bank heist – we’d be all organized and spring out and start handing out the food as fast as possible. Someone would stay at the wheel in case things got violent and we needed to leave fast.”

Another casualty of delivering food? “People get sick. If it’s the first thing they’ve eaten for a while, it just doesn’t sit well,” Marcus explained.

Apparently Marcus wasn’t exaggerating, because last weekend when I was walking, just after passing the group of people who were eating their S.O.M.E. meals, I looked up and accidentally locked eyes with a man standing with one hand on sign post, projectile vomiting. If you’ve never made eye contact with a stranger puking, I don’t advise it.

The thing that made this experience weird (other than the eye contact bit) was that he was just very matter of fact about it. So calm that I actually found myself scrutinizing the pile of vomit as I walked past it to make sure my eyes hadn’t deceived me. (Confirmed!)

And once he’d finished tossing his cookies (or – more accurately – clam chowder, by the steamy looks of it), he turned around and successfully hailed a bus and disappeared. HAILED A BUS. I didn’t even know a person could do that.

Dude. Only in Canada. They have KITS for this.

Estimates of DC’s homeless population range from 6,000 – 12,000 people. To put that in perspective: my hometown in Michigan has a population of 5,800.

There’s something wrong with this picture. Even with high unemployment rates, we live in a country where most homes have multiple televisions, cars and an extra bedroom. And yet we leave people to sleep without shelter, to scrounge their next meal, while we argue over tax rates for those of us fortunate enough to have a job.

I swear, I’ll get back to the pith (and vinegar) in my next post. I just figured this might be a good reminder – right when we’re in the throes of filing taxes and acutely feeling how much money we didn’t get to hang onto this year – of exactly what we have.

To quote a friend: Love your neighbor, not your wallet.

UPDATED: Unless your wallet looks like this. In which case, you totally should love it:

I think we’re starting to sound like old ladies.

22 Jan

When I arrived at my friend’s house for dinner this week, she opened the door clutching a remote and looking frazzled. She was trying to get music from their cable provider to play through the stereo without the television being on. “I know it’s ridiculous to let this stress me out,” she said, “But it’s completely annoying. When did it become so difficult to do something simple?”

I looked at her remote and could see the problem: it was like the Ferrari of remotes. “What all does this control?” I asked her, intimidated by its eight bazillion buttons.

“Everything,” she said. “My husband has programmed it so that everything is driven by this one remote. It probably controls me, for all I know!”

I cracked up, imagining a “Power Down Spouse” button. And then realized that most people would probably like a remote like that – something to pause their children or mute their partners.

You know technology has jumped the shark when your friend, an IT professional, is shaking a remote, saying, “When did it all get so complicated?”

HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey

Did you know? The French version of Hal was named Carl.

“I mean,” she continued, “the other day I was thinking about phones. The new iPhone has a feature that will read text messages to you. How crazy is that? We went from leaving voicemails for each other, to sending text messages to each other, to having computers read these text messages to us. It just seems like we’re ADDING steps instead of removing them.”

So true.

That has been kicking around in my head this week as more than one friend has apologized for being slow responding to me because their new year’s resolutions include technology fasts. I like it – the idea of completely unplugging one day a week to regain our power over the devices that increasingly control us.

Otherwise, we might as well start naming our children Hal. Or Carl.