Monday, December 4, 2017

Protecting The Children When It Cannot Be Done

Yesterday on the bridge a car pulled over and motioned me to approach. I was carrying a sign my husband made that says NO ROOM FOR RACISM while the rest of us held various messages opposing war and promoting peace.

A young white man with two children in the car greeted me with a big, friendly grin (in retrospect I'm pretty sure this was because I, too, am white).

Him: What is your sign about? What racism is it about?
Me: Um, white supremacy.
Him: You've got it all wrong. The racism is all on the other side. I can prove it! I have tons of videos I can show you.
Me: Is that what you're teaching your kids? I am going to cry. I've got to go.

Then, I walked away. Yes, I bailed on the chance to engage in some racial justice dialogue with kids as part of the audience. Why would I do that?

I was already struggling with very low spirits and I really did think I might cry. Or, fail to listen with an open heart and without betraying my disgust.

A student of mine watched his only parent get busted for heroin/fentanyl and put in handcuffs before school last week. The student was traumatized and so was I. Another family member whisked him away before the day ended. It was reported that some of the drugs were found in my student's bureau drawers. I doubt that we will see him again.

This is a common occurrence with children at risk: they disappear suddenly from your classroom community, and you mourn their absence. I am reminded of indigenous groups believing that the loss of a person creates a gap which weakens the group.

I have been mourning all weekend, and today is the day I will find ways to help the other seven year olds process why a member of our community has vanished.

There are children in my family that have alcoholic or otherwise drug addicted parents. 

Some of their parents won't speak to me anymore after I've objected to their being staggering drunk while "caring" for their children, driving them around in a car. My late brother's ex-wife sent me a diatribe claiming I am the most judgmental person on the planet and I live to judge to others.

Not being able to protect children from the ill effects of their parents' diseases of despair is a major theme of my life. I was the oldest child in a family with an alcoholic parent. Alcoholism has plagued both sides of my family for generations. Heroin, cocaine and other substances have crept in there, too. As there's little I can do about that, I speak up against racism and the empire's racist wars.

These days many people are willing to speak out against racism while few are willing to speak out against our many, many wars.

It doesn't matter to me if the majority or some guy in a passing car disagree with my point of view. How many times have I gotten yelled for being wrong when it turned out in the end I was right about what was really going on? More times than I can count. I didn't write this essay on following your own lights by Caitlin Johnstone, but I wish I had: "It Is Your Human Duty To Stand Unapologetically In Your Own Authority."

In the end, the tax heist performed in the dark hours before dawn last week will come home to roost. And so will the chickens of our chicken shit wars.

In five years I may not be able to afford the gas money to drive into town and stand on the bridge each Sunday. I may be physically attacked for daring to stand up to white supremacists. I may be jailed for saying that Muslims pose no threat to our safety, that billionaires don't need more tax breaks or that kleptocracy will be the undoing of civil society.

I just hope I'm not too discouraged by then to not go quietly.

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