A Native Daughter Grieves

I am grieving for my home state. I feel no anger or fear. Just grief.

I have two thoughts:

1. People who think one person can’t make a difference haven’t seen the image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on a panicked George Floyd’s neck. One person can make a difference…for better or for worse. This is why I’m a teacher, because the next generations needs to understand that the way they move through the world as individuals matters so incredibly much.

2. To the rioters of Minneapolis: fighting fire with fire is never constructive. Why are you decimating the city? Such a beautiful, artsy, unique, lake filled city? There is no other Minneapolis out there. You are destroying a place that is uniquely Minnesota, and I grieve for that.

— — —

Unfortunately, George Floyd’s story isn’t new. It hits close to home, because it’s happening in my home state. I think the fact that the incident was recorded, that there is physical evidence of it happening, brings the incident to life, makes it seem more real. I also find the nature of the crime itself very unsettling: how can one human kneel on another human’s neck for a number of minutes, knowing full well that the other person is in pain? This is behavior that is sadistic in nature, and I find it hard to swallow that such behavior happened in a city I know and love. Yet, I know well enough that this isn’t an isolated incident. At the end of the day, whether a black man is shot or choked to death by American law enforcement, it’s all wrong, and it shouldn’t be happening. We need more faith and trust in our black men in America. Part of me fears for the black boys I’ve taught–that I’ve had the pleasure of teaching and knowing. This is the society we’re going to spit them out into?

They deserve better. We all deserve better. Senseless violence helps no one.

Change needs to happen. Why isn’t it happening? I’ve been thinking about the race riots of 1968 and wonder–is this 1968 all over again? We need to turn our collective anger and grief into something constructive, because how we’re responding now isn’t constructive. I wonder, is the Coronavirus making us lose our wits? In the words of a good friend, after over two months of staying at home and sheltering in place, “George Floyd is the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The mayor of Washington, DC, a city 1,100 miles away from Minneapolis, Minnesota, issued a city-wide curfew last night due to a growing concern about violent protests. Many other states and cities have issued similar curfews and/or states of emergency. We are a nation that is broken. Coronavirus or not, systemic racism is destroying this country, chipping away at any dignity it holds. This is not okay.

— — —

Minneapolis,

I know that you are angry and grieving. I know that the whole nation is angry and grieving, but George Floyd died at the hands of a police officer in your backyard–it’s so devastatingly close to home. Know that I’m thinking of you, and that I hope you can heal in time. Don’t forget all that you are made of, all the reasons you are a city to love and believe in. This too shall pass. We cannot change what happened to George Floyd, but I do hope we as a nation can move into a better future where black men aren’t murdered on the streets in cold blood by the police officers who are supposed to ensure the safety of all citizens.

Much love,

A Native Daughter from Afar

Lake Harriet with Downtown Minneapolis visible in the background

Comic Relief

IT IS SNOWING FEATHERS!

White, airy, whimsical, some a bit lackadaisical–all feathers, slowly making their way to the ground.

Our high maintenance, high ego president was riding in Air Force Once when he decided he absolutely could not stand the goose feather pillows on board. Instead of doing the rational thing by swallowing his pride and sucking it up, in a fit of anger, he ordered the pillows to be destroyed and dumped out over Washington City–right above my house!

Now POTUS has no pillows, and my neighborhood is covered in a white dusting of feathers!

(In true POTUS fashion, there was a corresponding Tweet five seconds later.)

— — — —

I’m sharing this from a book of writing prompts that I utilize on occassion. The prompt that warranted this response reads, “You look outside: Ah, it’s snowing! But look closer. Those are not snowflakes falling from the sky! What is snowing at your house?”

This ridiculous scenario doesn’t seem quite too far fetched these days…do you agree?

America in 2017: A Highly Senstive Perspective

According to psychologist Elaine Aaron, an estimated twenty percent of the population is highly sensitive. An actual biological trait (as opposed to a psychological disorder), highly sensitive people are generally more in tune with their environments, process information more deeply, and are more easily overstimulated by loud or busy environments than their non-sensitive counterparts.

Highly Sensititive people can be both introverts (individuals who are more internally focused) and extroverts (individuals who are more externally focused). While 70% of HSP’s are introverts, 30% are extroverted.

Western society is notoriously extroverted, on-the-go, and extremely out-of-sync with the strengths that sensitivity can and do bring to the table (empathy and intution, for example). Sensitivity is more often than not seen as a weakness because it has become so closely associated with vulnerability. So many people are afraid to show their vulnerable side (which, everyone has by the way) out of fear that other people will see them as weak.

As a highly sensitive individual, I am going to call bullshit on that.

Most highly sensitive individuals have gotten a lot of flack in life. Highly sensitive people tend to be more naturally empathetic and compassionate (I once had a coworker ask me in frustration, gosh Britta, why are you so nice?). Highly sensitive people tend to be more aware of and distressed by large groups and loud noises (When I was really young, I used to start crying when a large number of family members surrounded me to sing happy birthday). Highly sensitive people tend to absorb emotions (when you’re sad, I feel your sadness; when you’re angry, I feel your anger–and that unconsciously affects my emotions). Highly sensitive people tend to have extreme reactions to hunger and pain (in college, it was a running joke amongst my close friends and me that I would always be the first person to say, “I’m hungry”). Highly sensitive people tend to avoid conflict and strongly favor empathetic, constructive criticism rather than harsh words (ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s positive delivery that matters). Highly sensitive people’s tendency towards over stimulation can lead to perceptions of laziness or a lack of drive (I find I am very easily emotionally overstimulated, but really busy environments or days where I can’t seem to Continue reading “America in 2017: A Highly Senstive Perspective”

Post-Election Thoughts: A Metaphor

“Being in your twenties is hard,” I told one of my housemates the other day. “It’s lonely and isolating and it’s this weird time where we’re coming into ourselves so much more and sometimes that sucks.”

“I do not like it. I do not like it all,” she replied.

— — —

Yet, how can we possibly move forward if we refuse to rise above the things we do not like?

The Power of a Symbol…Or, Will Intolerance Ever End?

I’m not the type of person you’ll find at a protest. You’ll be hard pressed to find me at a rally of any sort. I went to the 2014 Pride Parade in Washington D.C. last summer because my roommates went…but I never would have thought to go on my own.

It’s not that I don’t care about Black Lives or LGBTQ issues or the environment, what have you.

It’s not that I don’t believe we should strive for a better planet, a better human race.

It’s not any of that.

I’m considering a career in genocide education for heavens sakes. I care a lot.

I’m just very reserved. I don’t like to draw attention to myself in public places like a protest or a rally. I abhor arguing unless it’s with someone I’m very close to and trust. I’m pretty non-confrontational and generally speaking, would much rather express my urgency for a better world, a better human race through writing or a small group or one on one conversation. Humanity frustrates me a lot. For all the beauty and grace and good there is out there, there is also a lot to be concerned about. Humanity scares me. Humanity makes me wonder how much we as a collective really value this life at all.

But I would feel no satisfaction in marching in a protest, holding a sign up at a rally. In fact, I’d feel unnecessarily in the spot light. And I’d want to go and hide.

So, when I saw the first Confederate flag waving proudly(?) in the front lawn of a private family home in a small Midwestern town, I said nothing. I later texted a friend my disgust, but in the moment, I said nothing.

When I saw the second Confederate flag waving across town on the lawn of a different private family home, I again said nothing. I texted two friends this time as my distress over the two Continue reading “The Power of a Symbol…Or, Will Intolerance Ever End?”