Monday, July 11, 2016

Let There Be Peace

     To be honest, this could probably go into the Tough Topics series, but I'm not going to give you a bunch of statistics and research points today. Instead, I'm going to speak directly from the heart and tell you what I think and what I feel about all of the police shootings on black people and the shootings on the police officers in Dallas. It's a long post so you may want to go pee, get a snack, and a drink. But please stay until the end.

     This post will be going live on the fourth anniversary with my boyfriend. On here, he's known as Wolfy because of his obsession with wolves and that was a nickname given to him by his grandpa when he was a little boy. He'll be 30 on September 6th of this year.

     He likes to play video games, specifically story based video games. He buys them when we have extra money or I'll surprise him with a random present sometimes. When he finishes the game, he'll go trade it in to get something else. But he has about a billion games scattered around the house because he'll pick one up, go to play it, and then find another one that he wants to play even more.

     He's extremely creative. We met because we both share a love for writing and creating things. We've even worked on some book type stuff before. It was by doing that, that we became friends. Then one day, I found out somebody in my family was in the hospital and I wasn't up for being creative. So he talked to me all day. He told me stories, he asked how I was feeling, and he just generally supported me in a way I didn't really understand. Because despite having worked together for months, we hadn't really been friends.

     And then he was one of my best friends. We talked all the time. I learned his favorite colors and music and foods and things he's done and things he wants to do. I learned that he was in school to be a veterinarian because of his love for animals, but that he had to put his family and bills over finishing college. I learned that his sister's children are his Godchildren. I learned his favorite phrases. We developed inside jokes. I let him in about my struggle with depression and he talked to me for hours, just wanting to understand me, so that he would be able to help me. We learned everything about each other.

     And then I realized something terrifying.

     Not only had I fallen in love with my best friend. Not only had I fallen in love with a boy 7 years older than me. Not only was I in love with a guy that I technically hadn't even met (despite knowing him for almost two years). But I had fallen in love with a black man.

     Now don't get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against anyone because of race or color or religion or non-religion or sexual preference or gender identity or education or anything like that. I don't care if you're black, brown, white, orange, purple, or polka-dot. I may care if you're green, but that's only because that's the color you turn when you're about to puke.

     But I was terrified because I lived in the southern ghetto and I saw what people of color went through with my own eyes. I saw them being treated differently than I was. I saw the distrust on people's faces. I saw how people would roll up their car windows or lock their doors if a colored person needed to walk by. I heard the way some people talked (especially the older folks, but certainly not all and not limited to).

     And then he asked me to be his girlfriend and I was so ecstatic that I almost forgot to say "yes". And things were perfect. I never saw him for his race. I saw him for him. I saw him for the person he is, underneath the color of his skin. I felt the love he had/still has for me. I could feel happiness just by talking to him, which I have never felt with anyone in my entire life. I finally understood why people were mushy with their partners.

     I came to visit a few months later. And it was perfect. He introduced me to some of his friends, but never for super long times because of my anxiety around strangers. We went grocery shopping purely so I could have food I liked while staying with him. He took me on my first date with him, and ever, and even gave me my first kiss. Every single night, I fell asleep in his arms feeling safe, for the first time in my life. And when it was time to board the plane home, I cried like I was losing him. He cried with me. We held each other and cried like those annoying ass couples in movies that everyone is screaming at, "You'll see him soon! God! Just stop your blubbering!" We decided right then that I needed to move, as soon as I had been working long enough to make it look good on my resume (another six months or so).

     And when I finally moved, I knew that I could see myself spending the rest of my life with this man. That I could see us getting married, having kids, growing old together and chasing each other with canes. And not a single time since moving, has that changed.

     But there's a problem. A new problem, that came to be over the last few months. A problem that has been worldwide news every damn day for far too long.

     I'm terrified every time he walks out the door. I'm terrified every time he drives the car, because what if he accidentally speeds or has a tail light go out. I'm terrified of him walking anywhere, because what if it seems suspicious. I'm scared of him having a box cutter for work, because it could be classified as a weapon. I'm scared if he goes to a friend's birthday party, especially if there's alcohol, despite us being well over the drinking age.

     He has never done anything wrong to deserve jail time or prison time or any sort of charges. To my knowledge, he's never even gotten a traffic ticket.

     And I'm absolutely terrified that if he has a headlight out, he's going to get pulled over and I'll never see him again.

     I'm not bashing cops. I think what happened in Dallas is a tragedy. Innocent people were killed for the crimes that other people committed, for no reason at all. I have the utmost respect for our law enforcement, our fire departments, our paramedics, and all other first respondents. I think anyone who puts their life on the front line to help others is a hero.

     But you can't deny that there is absolute terror. You can't deny that black people are killed at a much larger rate, while in police custody, than white people are. You can't deny that most, if not all, of that people were murdered and did not deserve to be killed or that another method of restraint was out of the question. If you try to deny it, you are wrong and you need to look up the statistics, the video footage, and imagine that the color of the people on video are switched around.

     My boyfriend's sister shouldn't be scared for her children to leave the house to play with friends. My boyfriend shouldn't be scared to go grocery shopping because something might happen to him. I shouldn't have an anxiety attack if my boyfriend is five minutes late. Nobody should be terrified of having a child, because that child will be a few shades darker, because they're watching grieving black mothers bury their innocent black babies on national news every other day.

     What we need is peace. We won't get peace by being angry. People are already saying that we may cause a race war, but I feel like we're in the middle of one already. What needs to happen is for people to open their minds, put their heart on their sleeve, and choose love instead of hate.

     Please, God, don't take the love of my life from me.

     Please, God, let this hatred end so I never have to have that thought in my head again.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Jamaican Guy

     A couple of weeks ago, I went to the bakery in the food court of the mall so that I could get something to eat before I went to work. From the second I walked out of the house, I had my earphones in playing music at a stupidly loud level. Its the universal sign for, "I would rather not acknowledge your existence and I am perfectly happy with you pretending that you don't notice me either."

     I got my food and sat at my own little table. Music still blaring, zoned off into my own little world. I was already done with my salad and working on my sandwich when the chair in front of me pulled out. I was alarmed and looked up, expecting to see one of the work buddies that I have. Nope. Instead, I saw some strange guy sit himself down without any sort of invitation and proceed to start talking. Which I couldn't hear because I was listening to some loud ass music.

Him: Hello!
Me: Hi... Thinking: WTF do you want bro? Let me eat my food in peace.
Him: Hi! I saw you walking by earlier and I called out to you but I guess you didn't hear me...
Me: No, I'm listening to music... Thinking: I wouldn't have turned around any ways since I'm not a fucking dog...
Him: Oh. Well, I was bored at home so I came to the mall.
Me: Okay.
Him: What are you doing here?
Me: Work. Thinking: Do not ask me where because I will lie out the ass. I don't like lying but you're a complete stranger. GTFO.
Him: Where at?
Me: A shoe store. Thinking: Just be as vague as possible. That's not lying, right?
Him: A jewelry store?
Me: Yeah. Thinking: Okay, fuck it. It won't kill anyone. It'll probably keep him from turning me into a skin dress...
Him: That's cool. Arizona is so hot here. Do you like it?
Me: Yeah.
Him: It's too hot for me. I'm from Jamaica. Are you from here?
Me: No, I moved out here to be with my boyfriend. Thinking: Aha! Now he'll politely thank me for my time and leave! Success!
Him: (seemingly startled) That's cool. I came out here for school. I'm staying with my aunt right now.
Me: Oh. Thinking: This motherfu-
Him: What do you study?
Me: ...How old do you think I am...? Thinking: Please don't be a pedophile. I don't have the time to murder you and still be on time for work.
Him: 24?
Me: Close enough. Thinking: Thank God! At least he guessed over and not under because bro is close to 30...
Him: How old do you think I am?
Me: 20-something. Thinking: F u c k. Shouldn't have initiated conversation. That was stupid. Shame on me.
Him: 27.
Me: Okay.
Him: I study nursing.
Me: Cool.
Him: I changed my major twice.
Me: Oh. Well, it was nice chatting but I have to go to work or I might be late. Bye!
Him: Oh, okay. It was lovely chatting with you. You're very-
Me: Bye!

     Then I ran to a kiosk where I know everyone and he helped me keep a look out to make sure that the guy wasn't anywhere to see which way I would walk. After a couple minutes, when I felt safer, I headed into work.

     I bet you're thinking this is all just a funny story of a guy who couldn't take a hint. Nope!

     You're probably wondering why I didn't just say, "I would rather not talk to you but thank you for your time" or "I'm sorry, I'm taken, I don't wish to engage in this conversation further" or even "Ey, fuck off bro, I'm busy".

     When a woman says "No thank you, I'm not interested", a good portion of the time, they are made out to be the bad guy. They'll be belittled that they should be thankful for the interest, or they'll be told that they're being given a favor, or maybe even called a whore or a slut or ugly.

     When I was 12, I was followed home by a car of screaming teenage boys who told me everything they wanted to do to me, for half a mile because the bus refused to drive up the road to drop me off. When my mom complained to the school, the school said that maybe I shouldn't have worn shorts that day. My mom had to leave work an hour early every single day so that she could pick me up when the bus dropped me off because that same car of kids kept following the bus.

     About a year or two ago, some guys started screaming at me from their car. I screamed right back that they could fuck off because I refused to be treated like a dog. They followed me while I was walking home until I went into a McDonald's and stayed there until the car drove off.

     A few months ago, some guy asked me to send him nudes and when I reminded him that I have a boyfriend and I am not interested, he started sending me abuse online. Name calling, telling me that he was doing me a favor, etc.

     Last week, somebody called into my store and asked about the Now Hiring ad on the mall website. They asked to speak to the manager, to which I said, "I am the manager. How may I help you?" The entire conversation, he kept calling me "baby", "sweetie", "honey", and "dear". I felt sick by the time I was off the phone.

     Two nights ago, I had a nightmare that one of my friends tried to touch me and when I defended myself (which did result in breaking his hand), I was the one everyone turned their backs on. I felt guilty in the dream, despite knowing full well that I was completely in the right.

     How bad is it, that women are basically told that they are not allowed to defend themselves or say "no" because they should be thankful anyone is interested in them? How bad is it, that when women do say "no", they are accused of lying for attention? How bad is it, when women are incapable of saying "no", they are allegedly at fault because they should have been more responsible?

     Now, I'm not saying Jamaican Guy was actually a bad person or even had any intentions beyond a conversation. I'm also not saying that only women are victims. What I am saying is that society is so fucked up that I felt the need to engage in a conversation I didn't want to be a part of and then make sure I wasn't followed, just because some guy kept talking to me. I am a women, this is my point of view, and I truly don't believe all men are sexist. But the ones that are (and the women and non-binary folks that are sexist as well), are yelling so damn loudly that the people who just want equality aren't being heard.

     Raise ya damn voices.