Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Talk: Understanding the Fear after the Elections

Election night blues
Election day was a rollercoaster of emotions for me. But the day after, the emotions were crystal clear. Anger, disappointment and sadness hung over my head like a cloud. For many of us, this wasn’t an election about Republicans vs. Democrats, big government vs. small government or rural strife vs. inner city problems. It was about right vs. wrong. And to wake up to the fact that half of America (who bothered to vote) voted for someone who lit up the campaign trail with insidious rhetoric aimed at anyone who wasn’t white was like a punch to the gut.  

So, to all of my Caucasian counterparts who are wondering why I’m a little stand-offish and clearly not my jovial self in polite company these days, let’s talk.

Most of my Republican friends will say they voted for Trump because of what he said about bringing jobs back to Middle America. Others will say they voted for Trump because he is going to cut taxes and be more fiscally responsible. All of those reasons are fine. But let's talk about the other things he said, the things that people are so quick to overlook, the things you turned a blind eye and ear to during the election and since. He has flung about horribly insensitive and racially-charged rhetoric that has set the tone for people to do things like push a girl off the sidewalk at Baylor University and call her a Nigger, or tell our Hispanic elementary school students that they need to go back to where they came from.

Are those examples too far removed from your daily life? I kind of thought so too, until a parent at my son’s school called saying she was upset because there were boys passing out donuts to Trump supporters but not Hillary supporters. I’m sure it was all fun and games, but not funny and it wasn’t a game. Or how about when my nine-year-old daughter came home and said one of her nine-year-old classmates said she was glad Trump was elected so he can keep the Mexicans from killing us.

What?!!!  This is an absolute shock! Or is it?

You see, the rhetoric on the campaign trail and now in the White House has energized and given a louder voice to this awful behavior in our society. In many cases around the country, it’s not just talk anymore. It has turned into action. Swastikas and Confederate flags aren’t necessarily new, but they are being flown high with new confidence and pride. I don’t feel safe in a neighborhood that I have live in for the last five years and a country that I was born in. I’m worried about letting my children walk the dog. People are entirely too comfortable with being confrontational and violent. Where does it stop? Who is going to stand up for me and my family, if it comes down to that? I used to think the people of this country would. Now, I'm not so sure.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think all of my conservative friends who voted for Trump are racists. But you co-signed for someone who is…or who clearly has racist, sexist tendencies. You can’t say you care about my family, but then vote for someone who wouldn’t give my son a job solely based on the color of his skin. You can’t say you think my daughter is great, but then vote for someone who thinks that a woman’s looks determine her value. You can’t care about me, but then vote for someone who would do me harm.

So yeah, I feel slightly betrayed. We have normalized crazy, and crazy is taking full advantage.

Some are saying, “Give him a chance.” I did. Every day of the campaign, Trump had the chance to turn the corner toward reconciliation, but he never did.

Some are saying, “Let’s come together.”  You can’t degrade and demean me for 18 months and expect me to get over it in 8 days.

Some are saying, “Get over it.” I would if the President-elect would not constantly dismiss my concerns by appointing a known alt-right sympathizer to the highest post in the White House.

I am truly hoping that this President will prove me wrong. Yet, I have a sneaky suspicion that he is who he has said he is.

Real Talk. I can understand if you voted for Trump because of what he said about NAFTA, taxes and jobs. But, I can’t understand wearing blinders when it comes to who he is and what he stands for. You can't pick and chose the parts you like. You have to realize that a person’s integrity stems from the totality of their life and works. After 70 years, I don’t like the picture that Trump's life has painted. More importantly, after 70 years, I don’t see it changing.

P. S. for those of you who didn’t vote at all, I can’t with you…

Monday, June 27, 2016

Forgiveness: Rebuilding a Family


Most people who know me know that I have been divorced from my children’s father for about five years now. Most who know me also know that we have been back together, working on picking up the pieces, for the last two.  And the truth is, sometimes I don’t know which is harder.

It would be easy to say that infidelity tore my family apart. That’s the obvious answer. But it’s the not-so-obvious things that probably started the tear. Nothing big or unique, but small rocks being thrown at our glass house. Ask any married woman and, if they’re honest, they will tell you that raising a family, being a wife, working and continuing to be the woman their husband fell in love with is nearly impossible.

In my case, we had three children under the age of six. All of my time was spent taking care of them. Not complaining. That’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m a parent and chose to have each one of them. Well, the last one may have been the result of a little too much wine and not enough hobbies, but loved and wanted nonetheless.

The Jackson trio
Looking back, there was a lot going on. Who has time to be crazy, sexy, cool? The attire of the day, or everyday for that matter, was sweat pants? And if they were clean, it was a really good day. I had one nursing, one still on the bottle and I usually couldn’t find the other one. Needless to say, it wasn’t a glamorous time in the Jackson household. There wasn’t time for anything, especially my spouse.

I know what you’re thinking…. that I’m making an excuse for my ex’s bad behavior.  I’m not. I still think he was an idiot and, most days, he would agree. But that doesn’t detract from the truth. We didn’t spend the time needed to nurture our relationship. I didn’t spend the time needed to nurture him.

When we first separated and subsequently divorced, things were pretty rocky. There was a lot of crying, cussing and arguing. Every time we got together, the tension could have killed an elephant. But after the initial pain subsided, we both decided that we wanted our kids to grow up with both of their parents…mainly because we didn’t. Both of us were raised by family members, not our parents, and neither of our fathers were integral parts of our lives. It was important to us that our kids had a relationship with both of us.

That led to us indirectly spending a lot of time together at their various functions. I think I saw more of him then, being divorced, than I did when we were married. The familiarity of our relationship and the demise of his “extracurricular activities” got the better of us. He said he wanted to work it out. I told him to take a lap. He persisted.

So, we decided to fight for it. I use the term fight because that’s what it is. Every day, we make a conscious decision to fight off the doubt, the naysayers, and the not-so-fond memories to make things work for our family.

The gang's all here. Back
together again
And why not? Isn’t family worth fighting for? We have no trouble fighting for a promotion. Hell, some of us will fight anyone who cracks a mean “yo-mama” joke. Why is there so much scorn and judgment for people wanting to save their families…especially in the face of infidelity? Wouldn’t you work to save an investment? We’ve invested years in this relationship, building a family and a life together. After going back and forth with others and with myself, I came to realize that I wanted this. Despite what it looked like to others, I wanted my family to work. That began with forgiveness. 

I’m not going lie. Forgiveness is hard, on both of our parts… me forgiving him and him forgiving himself. He’s had to not only reconcile with me, but with everyone he’s hurt and disappointed. It can’t feel good, but he’s doing it for us. We’re doing it for us.

There are days when we both say that quitting and going our separate ways would be so much easier. Yet, reconciliation is where the real reward lies. Working to restore a marriage should never be considered a waste of time. It’s to be applauded. Anyone can run. It takes real strength and courage to fight for your family… even if it’s against seemingly impossible odds.

Friday, February 26, 2016

America: One Nation, Clearly Divisible

The nation scares me right now.

I find myself in shock a lot these days…shocked at what people say,
shocked at what people do, shocked at what people wear or don’t wear, shocked at what is considered acceptable. Just shocked!

It’s as if I am living in the Twilight Zone.

Everywhere I turn, there seems to be a great divide. And the racial divide is what’s most disheartening. Things that I thought would have only been said or done during the height of the Civil Rights Movement are happening today… and within “popular” culture. When is it acceptable in the U.S. to shoot unarmed African-American men? When is it acceptable for the presidential candidate to promote banning a group of people from the U.S. or tweeting derogatory statements about colleagues?When is it acceptable to have little or no disregard for common decency or courtesy? 

Today, that’s when. I almost wish for the Civil Rights era. The 60’s look like a keg party compared to today’s climate. Bigotry, hatred, degradation…and that’s just on a Tuesday.

And I’m not frightened for me, but my children. How am I supposed to preach to them to not judge a book by its cover when I know they will be judge that way? How do I encourage them to speak their truths and not be afraid to let their little African- American lights shine when I know they will be ridiculed for it? I can’t let them walk down the streets with hoodies. They can’t sit in bible study without having the doors locked for safety. Hell, I took my daughter to see The Sound of Music not too long and made sure to take note of the emergency exits should anything go down. Did you hear that? Should anything go down? At the Sound of Music?!

There is certainly a climate change issue going on, but it has nothing to do with weather. It’s the climate of intolerance in our country. I sometimes feel as if the people in this country hate people of color. I know that’s a very broad stroke, but I see it everywhere I turn. Police beatings, and that’s if you’re lucky, disproportionate incarceration and economic disparity run rampant in minority communities. And who calls the president a liar in the middle of a televised speech? Seems perfectly acceptable when the President is African American, right? Honestly, it makes me look at people a little differently. Political affiliation has never really bothered me. To each his own. Now I think, “If you can support him, what must you think of me?”

I hope for our country’s sake, our children’s sake, the waves of discord and hate soon calm. If not, we may tip over and find ourselves unable to right the ship.