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E.M. Monroe

"I knew, not from memory, but from hope, that there were other models by which to live." Weems

Reckless Eyeballing

I had no idea that reckless eyeballing, once a crime black men who stared at white women could die for, now actually extends to police officers. I’m just happy John Felton was only given a warning for this Neo-Jim Crow offense.

Thankfully, Felton used his camera phone to record the episode. Here’s some of the transcription:

After a bit of back and forth, Felton tells the officer he’s using his cell phone to record the conversation and insists he had used his turn signal.

“You did signal,” the officer clarifies. “You just didn’t do it 100 feet prior to your turn.”

“You just needed a reason to pull me over, sir,” Felton responds, handing over his license and registration. “Is there a reason you pulled me over other than that?”

“Jesus Christ, this is so childish,” he adds, speaking to himself.

The officer walks away, then returns a short time later with a written warning for the infraction.

“No disrespect, I don’t have anything against police officers,” Felton tells the officer, “but all the shit that’s going on now, that’s some scary shit to have a police officer just trailing you. … Why were you trailing me?”

“Because you made direct eye contact with me and held onto it while I was passing you,” he replies. “If you want to keep talking about it, I’ll just give you a citation for the violation and we can take it to court. I’m not going to argue about it anymore.”

Talk about an abuse of power…

Purpose?

“Everything must have a purpose?” asked God.

“Certainly,” said man.

“Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God.

Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

Exist.

“A flower doesn’t love you or hate you, it just exists.”

-Mike White

Eternal Recurrence by Jim Campbell

Visiting Elgin Park

Danny Yourd’s short film highlights the eloquence of simple ideas through Michael Paul Smith’s imagined, miniature world, Elgin Park. The relentless bullying Smith endured as a child continues to haunt him and influenced his effort to build a model community where “everyone is welcome.”

Models Monday: Family Talk about Race is a Good Idea

If you are raising a black children in America, it’s best to hip them to the warrant that gets attached to their birth certificates.

An American Anniversary: Killing Michael Brown

Models Monday: Mental Illness and Us

Since last Monday, I have encountered at least three tragic stories of youth suicide. Heidi Swapp, the talented scrapbooker, shared that she had accompanied her son Cory to visit his therapist not knowing that it would be her last activity with him before he died. Swapp blogged the experience so as to thank supporters for their condolences and to detail how she was using her skills as a scrapbooker to record shared memories of her son’s life and death.

Another story of a child’s suicide comes from a story a read in the Washington Post about a father writing his daughter’s obituary on Facebook. In the obit, Tom Parks writes honestly about his daughter Molly’s addiction to heroin. Though Molly had appeared to be gaining control over “her demons,” she suffered in private. The family’s hope is that Molly’s death can have an impact on our urgency to help our own loved ones in their efforts to beat addiction.

The final story that I happened upon was featured on “Web of Lies,” a program carried by the ID Network. The episode details the online relationship that 13-year-old Megan Meier thought she had with a boy named Josh Evans. After weeks of friendly correspondence with Josh, his messages turned cruel. Soon thereafter, Megan Meier hanged herself. Eventually, her family learned that Josh Evans was not a real person, but a fiction created by a classmate’s mother to punish Megan for ostensibly being mean to her daughter.

My cousin and I were discussing some of these cases and thought that Health would be a good place for addressing mental illness in schools. Then we wondered whether Health remained a graduation requirement. There was a time when health classes made for public discussion because they included sex education. The debate usually centered on what a responsible curriculum looked like, with some arguing for abstinence being at the center of instruction while others argued for contraception’s centrality. I rarely read about this debate anymore. Today, mental illness serves as one of the most prominent subjects of public discussion. In addition to the stories of suicide discussed earlier, mental illness has been a prism for discussing the actions of mass murderers: Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Dylan Roof, and Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez. In many of these accounts, experts often caution against an entangling mental health and extreme acts of violence; nonetheless, the association remains. In order to be responsible in the way that psychiatrists suggest and in the way that survivors of suicide urge, we need better tools for tuning our witness. As it stands, many of us are limited in our ability to offer meaningful support to those living with mental illness, and the consequences of such ignorance are far too grave to ignore.

Models Monday: Yellow, Blue, Green…

During these trying times, I have decided to follow the example of Baby Suggs, a character in Toni Morrison’s Beloved who offers a brilliant response to the absurdity of racism and white supremacy. Like Baby, my plan going forward is to concentrate on whatever has been disarmed. As Baby explains to Stamp Paid, “[w]hat I have to do is get in my bed and lay down. I want to fix on something harmless in this world.” Stamp stands confused, “ain’t nothing harmless down here.” Baby disagrees, “[y]es it is. Blue. That don’t hurt nobody. Yellow neither.” Still befuddled, Stamp asks, “[y]ou getting in the bed to think about yellow?” Without hesitation Baby answers, “I like yellow.”

Like her, I like yellow; especially a nice, light, buttery shade of the color. At a time when it is seemingly harder to find racists in the United States than it is to find terrorists (as if there’s a difference), I need to nuzzle up to harmlessness so that I might recover from the madness of Hempstead, Texas and Chicago, Illinois. With Rahm Emanuel banning rapper Chief Keef from performing as a hologram in Chicago and with The State Department of Public Safety in Hempstead only beginning an “inquiry” into the legality of Trooper Brian T. Enciania’s arrest of Sandra Bland, I’m finding it harder than ever to keep my cool.

Offensive Language?!

“Warning: This video contains offensive language.” Dashcam video relating to the egregiously foul arrest of Sandra Bland

Me: Why isn’t the entire scene offensive? What right does this world have to a pretence of coyness?

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