Dine with a ‘heartland’ racist?

So, I read this article:

Heartland Democrats to Washington: You’re Killing Us

In the parking lot, Goodin ran into a man wearing a well-worn cap with a well-known slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Delmis Burns, I would learn later, drives a truck for a living and has known Goodin for more than 40 years and votes for him every time he runs because Burns, despite his preference in the presidential race, is in fact a Democrat. The two men fell into easy banter, and it didn’t take long for Trump to come up. Burns is still pleased with his choice. “They give ’im hell,” he said, “and he gives it back.” At some point, Burns began talking about the time he was asked at work to train a new driver who was Muslim. He refused. “They’re taught to be nice to you,” he told Goodin, “and then they blow you up.” The comment floated uncomfortably between the two men, although maybe it was just me who felt like that — and the gregarious Burns soon was talking instead about his hat, and some guff he had gotten from somebody who wanted to “knock that off your head,” he said. “I told him, ‘Everybody’s gotta be doing somethin’ when the good Lord calls.’” That got a laugh out of Goodin, and before saying goodbye to Burns, Goodin asked about his “grandbabies.”

Here in this not even 10-minute interaction, I thought, was the nub of the Bustos report — and the challenge it presents to party leaders who will be asked to grapple with its primary recommendation that Democrats focus on economic matters and steer clear of confrontation on contentious social issues.

Well, shit. This guy is afraid of being blown up by the Muslim driver he was supposed to train, and just loves him some trump. If I sat down in a diner in his ‘heartland’, what honest message would he have for dark chocolate me?

What would he say about me when I leave the diner?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I am tired of hearing about the frickin ‘heartland’ — land of Fox true believers — and the identity politics nonsense. All politics have always been identity politics. It’s just that conservatives are in their happy place when that identity is white. Preferably vehemently Christian and Fox watching.

You know what? I could watch Fox for a thousand years, and it would cause me to recoil, and fight even harder to take political power out of their hands.

I am a New Yorker, born and bred in the city. We have our ‘heartlands’ on Long Island, and Staten Island, and upstate New York, and so many other areas where fear of the other rules the political process. Even so, my family’s basic approach to people, and NYC public schools, gave me an admirably diverse upbringing. So I am angry at the heartland people whose casual racism makes them comfortable with trump. Daily, they insist I should indict my culture — hence their continued inane bleating about ‘Chicago’. When do they take responsibility for their own communities?

I intend to do the whole letter writing thing this year, to do my part to reach out to folks around the country to help the likely Democratic leaners to register and to vote. Just like I have been for years as an expat, I’ll use https://www.votefromabroad.org/vote/home.htm

As for the Democratic Party, I think Gov. Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy is a great idea. We should support folks like this Goodin fellow if the people in his district are so blindly conservative that this is the only way to get a Democrat into office. We need the votes on key issues to undo trump and the republicans’ monstrosities.

But make no mistake — I want a reckoning for the heartland. I want a public admission that trickle down is errant reaganite nonsense. I want a clear confession that trump has always been a racist, two-bit scam artist who makes those people comfortable in their racism.

I want people like Delmis to face consequences for his blind, corrosive hatred, whether it comes to that Muslim driver trainee, or proudly chocolate me.

writing prompt: Before I was born

writing prompt: Before I was born

I was borne on winds of change
April showers comedy on a couple of
beautiful churchgoing souls
Bold, my father was
grey his eyes, red brown his hair
skin in chocolate-drenched sunlight
He opened eyes wide at the wide
delicate smile of my delicate mother before
she was my mother.

She stood straight upright, unbowed,
despite her father beating her mother
despite my unknown and beloved aunt, her sister
dying too soon, despite the iron lung
Despite South Bronx tenement living and
raucousness all around her
My mother was not loud, was proud
was never allowed to
be her dream, the one with needle and thread
in her head, she stood tall with her paper all in order
business like water
flowing into empty rooms
it would behoove
Daddy to work as hard as butchers
must, but he just
didn’t get that money
was fuel for more than
So it took Mom and jars of pennies and
empty pockets and
hidden envelopes and brown
bank books and
Daddy’s hurt looks and
at the end of the week, the
Finance people who lied about being
Superficially before I was born
my moneymind was set in the bone
But that alone will not
stop my march to the dream that seemed to
drive my mother, with Daddy at
her side
Somehow they ride my shoulders
and steer to the very best stars

Terri MacMillan
The Tokyo Writers Salon May 2017


Making arrangements to be a badass old

Making arrangements to be a badass old

I just had my first getting to know you session with Mitch, my new online fitness trainer. He’s here:

We did a nice long Skype session about my goals, challenges, etc. Some things I learned about myself:

Number 1 reason to get fit? To avoid pain. Pain of hospital tests and treatments, pain of falling because I’m not strong or balanced enough, pain of breaking something, pain of being sick etc.

Number 2 reason to get fit? To be completely able to do whatever I want to do with my body, as I am trying to do with my mind (i.e., learning keyboard and guitar, forcing myself to learn Japanese, etc)

Number 3 reason to get fit? So my body matches my face – people often say I look in my thirties or forties not my actual age of 58. I know it has more to do with my spirit and my face than with the way my body looks. And that’s fixable.

I showed him my little treasure trove of weights, my mighty bicycle, and my tiny apartment floor. Later I’ll take pics of the many supplements and shake things that I have but don’t use, hardly at all. Good time to throw expired things out, actually. I’ve accumulated so many of them over the years, and only a few actually recommended by my docs. So, clean up time.

And I’ll send pics of what I eat. don’t need to worry about macros for now. He’s coming up with a plan based on ‘where I am right now’ – which is exactly what I want.

He’s very easy to talk with, which feels like more of a fit for my personality.

I talked a bit about the fact that, while I am certainly inspired by the fantastic Black moms who are getting fit and taking care of themselves, lots of whom are rather religion-based, I realise that there should be a place on the internet where a blissfully child-free agnostic can work some Black woman magic and perhaps inspire a few other like-bodied, like-minded folks.

Okay, time to move.

refined sugar, banished

refined sugar, banished

On Thursday January 7, I just said no to refined sugar. No cookies, candies, etc. Soft drinks aren’t a problem for me. Sugar addiction and emotional eating are.

I was feeling sick and awful. Bloated, in pain. Rampant asthma. Out of control. Stupid and sad. Not the good kind of older.

My asthma (should say ‘the asthma’-I don’t want to own it) was bad enough that I took off from work.

When I made the decision last Friday, there was no blinding light. I always know what’s best for my body, because I live with the results. It’s doing the right thing that has been so hard.

I haven’t precluded all processed foods; I allow myself honey in my Greek yogurt, maple syrup in my morning Nutrbullet shake. But that’s it.

The Nutribullet breakfast has been hard to arrange every morning, but I’m getting there. Thanks to the crockpot, rice cooker  and convection oven, lunch and dinner are super easy: quinoa in the rice cooker, chicken breasts with veggies in the crockpot , and roast veggies in the oven. I’m working on packaging up all the lunches at once, so it’s grab and go.

Now to better incorporate yoga/Pilates and weights into my schedule.

I also started using RescueTime  and Chronos to help track my time.

Speaking of which, time to head out into the day and get things done. My kind of snow day 🙂

Shit. An avocado.

Shit. An avocado.

What the hell am I supposed to do with this thing? It’s a round green brown ball of guilt. I have thrown away so many.

I approach them piled in the cheap supermarket. I am hopeful. I am discreet. I sidle past. I am filled with stupid shame that I didn’t grow up with them. I don’t find them familiar.

Yeah, yeah, of course I’ve had it in salads. Sliced, duh. Prepared. I didn’t have to do it.

It’s not the shape, either. Hell, I can rock an egg. Boil that sucker up, and just eat the yoke, because, boiled egg white, ugh.

Above my meaningless avocado discomfort, I remember being hungry.

Growing up hungry. Kids are starving elsewhere so you better eat your thing hungry.

And apparently this thing is good for me, for all my inflammation-prone cells. I am trying not to die. So, yeah.



the war of stars

the war of stars

I was around 20 when Star Wars came out…in the same decade this photo was taken (I think). Certainly, as a science fiction fantasy lover, I loved the epic story, the handsome humans, the idea that we could follow a long term story: in the Star Wars universe, I could see myself  – even though I actually couldn’t.

I saw ‘The Phantom Menace’ in a theater in the East Village. Thought the acting was wooden, Jar Jar Binks made me cringe because he felt like such a racially-tinged parody, and the audience reaction mirrored mine: disappointment. The subsequent episodes didn’t raise my estimation of the series. By 2005, when ‘Revenge of the Sith’ came out, I dutifully went to see it, and my low expectations were met, once again.

So, my love of the experience of Star Wars has been in stasis. Like the enjoyment was very far in the past: which actually, it was.

So I’m happy to report that ‘The Force Awakens’ reignited my love of the series. I highly recommend it. I was able to suspend disbelief, I’m interested in the characters, And I’m looking forward to seeing the story unfold.