apparently someone stole a package from my doorstep this week. all it contained was a copy of what color is my parachute?, its accompanying workbook, and chris gethard’s a bad idea i’m about to do. they were my christmas presents to myself.
i am sure there was something poetic in the moment the thief opened the box to be confronted with those contents, but i wonder if they realize the significance of what they’ve done.
i am waiting for a meeting at a youth center in east oakland. the room i’m waiting in is called the living room and is a huge space with 8 couches, spread throughout the space. the wall says this room has a capacity of 100. i am the only one in here. in the 20 minutes i have been waiting, four separate young black men have come through the door, seen me sitting here and walked back out. hurray for post-racial america.
tonight i sent out an email that i composed weeks ago and have obsessed over on a daily basis, terrified that my friends would think i have completely lost my mind. my fingers shook as i selected the recipients and pressing “send” required taking that deep breath that you take when the doctor is about to give you a shot.
tonight i asked my friends to believe in a student i work with and to give money to a child they will never know, with a story i can’t fully tell in order to protect his privacy. within 15 minutes i had 3 positive replies with offers far beyond my expectations.
tonight i am so incredibly grateful for the people in my life and for their willingness to give simply because i asked. we are going to give a gift way better than a ps3 this year, and i can’t believe they said “yes”.
i have major issues with a lot of this, so i am going to try and compile them into a tidy list so that i don’t endlessly rant like a crazy person outside the metreon.
1) the choice epithets she/they (white girl mob… seriously?) use. black people get to be offended at the use of the n word, women get to be offended at the use of bitch and ho. and, to be fair, anyone can be offended because we’re all human and should recognize that slurs are wrong regardless of whether or not they apply to your “group”. using these words doesn’t make you hard, it just makes you ignorant.
2) the whole idea that because she just got out of jail she is more legitimately aligned with black culture in oakland… there is nothing more offensive about all of this than the insinuation that violating the law and serving time brings you closer to the black community or makes you part of the “in” group. it perpetuates such ugly stereotypes my brain really does hurt trying to even find a way to express my disgust, so i’ll move on.
3) the author’s assertion that because she grew up in a mostly black neighborhood she doesn’t automatically have white privilege… white privilege begins with what you look like, not where you’re from, how you sound or even what you’ve got. are there varying levels of white privilege? sure. there are rich white folks who have access to more and better than my lower-middle class white-self has access to, but even at my most destitute, the fact that i am white will be an advantage (barring some huge systemic shift in our culture that i don’t anticipate seeing in my lifetime). but she does have privilege- as ise lyfe says, at the very least, she is not followed by cops the way black people in oakland are followed by cops and that IS privilege.
in the end, ise lyfe’s vlog says it all. i just needed to try and explode a little, too.
my fellow oaklanders have been “celebrating america’s independence” for the past three weeks. on thursday night, after a particularly rousing 11pm round, rhys made his thoughts known.
"i’m cool with being gone on the 3rd. it’s only increased in intensity each day."
"i’d like to see june’s spending chart for the residents of oakland: 30 percent rent, 20 percent food, 3 percent cable, 47% fireworks?"
"what do you make ‘em yourselves?!"
"there weren’t this many fireworks on the original fourth."
"china thinks they should cool it with the fireworks."
"the whole city must sound like a giant bowl of rice krispies from above."
"it’s like they have an advent calendar for the fourth of july."
tonight it has sounded like IEDs and artillery since about 8pm. oakland might be home to the next francis scott key.