The Cost of Expecting Justice After Walter Scott’s Murder

If you’ve seen the video of the killing of Walter Scott and you identify with humanity at all, you’ve probably thought, “Yes! Proof!” You’re so excited about video evidence of what really happened.

And yet, remember Eric Garner? There was indisputable truth that Eric Garner was choked to death on a New York street corner. However, there were no charges brought against the officer who squeezed the life out of him, who continued to apply pressure as Garner gasped and wheezed out, “I. Can’t. Breathe.”

Having video that proves an officer murdered a man in cold blood, a man who was fleeing, or who otherwise doesn’t appear to pose an immediate threat, doesn’t mean anyone will be held accountable. Having video that proves more than one officer may have lied about performing CPR on the victim doesn’t mean anyone will be held accountable, charged and convicted.

Oh, but I’m being pessimistic, right?

Video means nothing.

Video doesn’t mean conviction. In Eric Garner’s case, video didn’t even warrant a charge.

Woke White people want us to be glad there’s video, because Black people deserve  to not be shot down in the road like goddamn rabid animals, but gladness leads to complacency. There is NO room for complacency among Black people. Comfort is a luxury.

Comfort is something elusive. It evades you when your husband is out late, just a quick run to the store.

Comfort is something intangible. You grasp at it subconsciously when your son goes out to play, to the park just down the road.

Comfort is something abstract. It’s meaning is definable only in theory.

Comfort is something mysterious. It sneaks into shadows and sits down low, threatening to grab your ankles as you walk by, drag you into the ever-present abyss of belief that you’ll never see your loved one again.

Comfort is something obscure as your body tenses when you ride past a group of Black boys sitting on the curb, handcuffed, their car being rifled through. When you hear the siren before you see the flashing lights and you pray that it is not you they want, because although you’ve done nothing wrong, comfort in it going well seems incomprehensible.

The city of Cleveland suggested Tamir Rice was responsible for his own death for failing “to exercise due care to avoid injury.” He was 12. But, wait; there’s video.

Ramsey Orta, who videotaped Eric Garner’s murder, is in jail on unrelated charges, and refraining from eating since rat poison was found in other inmates’ food.

Feidin Santana fears for his life, and rightfully so. He videotaped Walter Scott’s murder. Mr. Santana was afraid to release the video initially because of the potential backlash.

We can’t expect anything, certainly not justice, not even when there’s video. Video doesn’t mean conviction. Too often Black people are shown that justice for us is  undeserved, so why expect this time to be any different? This time. Do you have any idea how it feels to refer to a man’s death as this time? This time, that time, NEXT TIME.

Next time.

Comfort costs.

I Won’t Be the Parent of the Kid Who Texts an Inappropriate Picture. I Hope.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.

My oldest daughter was 11 when she asked how old she had to be to get her own laptop. I wondered if it was possible she was using drugs and we didn’t know. “For privacy,” she said. Oh. Well, see, there’s no such thing. Not here.

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It was bright outside and she said she couldn’t see the game she was playing.

Our computer for family use is in the dining room. Anyone walking through from the living room or kitchen can easily see what you’re doing online, no matter how stealthily you attempt to click the red X when you’re looking at something you have no business looking at, AND YOU KNOW IT. My light steps will be upon you asking whatcha doin’ before you have a chance to get rid of that inappropriate picture or switch to something else so I won’t know you’ve already watched the movie I said we were going to watch together. Husband. Ahem.

I have a laptop and I do tend to take it to whatever room I’m in, but listen. I’ve earned the right to do this; I buy food instead of shoes which means I’m the one in charge, and because I said so.

When she was in eighth grade and riding the bus alone, we got our daughter her first phone. Although my initial decision was to buy a basic phone that only made and received calls and texts, we wound up with a smartphone because ooooh, gadgets. I thought that with the limits I could place on the phone, and with me being a responsible, um, adult, I would be able to keep track of her use. I didn’t know how easily, how soon, I would forget to check her use. And then the limits agreement/offer with our carrier changed and I hadn’t noticed.  And then we got our first data overage charge.

Things needed to change. I needed something easier.

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It’s never been difficult for us to limit our kids’ use whether it be phones, tablets, iPods, computer, tv. Turn it off because I said turn it off. That’s usually the end of it. And we talk about online safety: what to say, what not to say. What to share, what not to share. Appropriate sites get talked about constantly. They don’t have televisions in their rooms, but I’ve noticed an uptick in the amount of times I’ve caught them with a phone or tablet upstairs and haven’t I said no too many times to count? One night my older daughter had been in the bathroom way longer than usual. Whatever she needed to happen in there wasn’t happening and maybe drink more water. I tapped on the door and asked if she was feeling OK. She opened the door and had her phone in her hand. Oh. Um. Nah, son. This ain’t what we’re gonna do.

She likes to joke that if there’s ever an emergency at school she won’t be able to call for help. “I can’t do anything until after 4:00.” Aw. I’m sorry. That must be embarrassing in your daydream of a hypothetical need for fire, police, or an ambulance. But take heart. You can always dial 911. Always.

I’m no tyrant, but I am aware. The limits on her phone are there as protection, not to be overbearing. Remember, I don’t believe in privacy in that regard. But I do believe in being safe online and that all kids have the capacity to make mistakes even if their mom has repeatedly yelled DON’T EMBARRASS ME. I help her achieve my desired perception of parenting perfection by placing limits on what sites she can visit, what times of day she has access to the internet, even who she can accept calls/texts from. I recall a time when she was seven or so when I truly believed having a phone was so far away. We can’t run away from technology, though. We can reminisce about Atari, cassette tapes, and winding a phone cord around ourselves as we whisper to Marc Brown, “No, you hang up first.” But we have to remember that what’s important to and used by kids today isn’t going to look like our childhood looked. (I still have a box of tapes.)

It’s all about a balance. There are controls on her phone, sure, but there are also times when I relax them. Maybe it’s spring break and there’s no homework which means there’s probably a homework packet and we’re simply ignoring it. Maybe it’s after dinner and we all play the same game (the kids win racing, I win words, my husband wins trivia). The limits don’t hurt; they provide help teaching our kids responsibility.

What have you learned about responsible technology use from the young people in your life? Visit OurPact online to find out more about how it “empowers parents to guide their children through the balanced use of technology.” Download the FREE app here.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.

Fire Them All — What Needs to Happen Immediately at Rolling Stone

Verify. It’s a constant statement in college and even high schools that have student run newspapers. Verify is drilled into your mind just as much as the perils of plagiarism. We’re taught to verify our sources, their stories, to make sure our words are our own and that they are accurate. We’re taught this on the basis of journalistic integrity, whether we intend to become professional journalists, writers, reporters, bloggers, or not. The Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) code of ethics reads, in part, “Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.”

With points like “minimize harm” and “be accountable and transparent,” as part of SPJ’s code of ethics, one has to wonder how Sabrina Rubin Erdely is still employed as a journalist at Rolling Stone, how the editors who let this story, with all its flaws, be published, also remain on the staff. Erdely’s scathing cover of an alleged rape on the University of Virginia campus was retracted this past weekend, its allegations found, after a three-person investigation by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, to be untrue. Yet, Erdely remains at Rolling Stone, potentially poised for her next assignment. This does nothing but solidify the foothold in falseness that “legitimate rape” lobbyists have.

Erdely issued an apology, sure, but it rings indifferent.

The apology mentions first how Erdely herself has been affected: “The past few months, since my Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus” was first called into question, have been among the most painful of my life.” Her life. She doesn’t mention how her lack of verification of the damning accusations has affected the alleged fraternity members as well as rape victims who now may not want to come forward because the likelihood of belief in the crime has been discredited. Erdely goes on to say, “Reading the Columbia account of the mistakes and misjudgments in my reporting was a brutal and humbling experience.” Really? None of the mistakes and misjudgments were known to her before they were put into a report? This apology smacks of someone who has the privilege to make a half-hearted apology, mention how she has been affected by her own journalistic ineptitude, say oops, then show up to work on Monday asking for her next assignment. Since when did “my bad” become acceptable in journalism as a defense for shoddy reporting?

While Erdely apologies to the U.Va community, it’s too little to bring back potential students now scared away. Even with this report determining the article’s falsehood, the school is tainted, period. Her apology mentions the hope that her mistakes–let’s stop here a minute. This article was not a mistake. It was a blatant piece of fiction–“do not silence the voices of victims that need to be heard.” Society tends to shun rape victims anyway, making them feel like reporting isn’t something they can do and be taken seriously and not be asked what he/she was doing/wearing/saying. The article essentially does the same, telling rape victims their accusations will likely be discredited.

Where is the apology to the students of U.Va, to their parents, to journalists who fight for more than the next big story? Cyril Connolly, literary critic and writer, is quoted as saying, “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” Determined to compete with headlines about other recent college rapes, Erdely has rendered herself utterly unbelievable and Rolling Stone’s managerial and editorial staff, at best, questionable.

Erdely (and the editors involved) deserves to be fired. Her retention is about deservedness: this story deserved to be further investigated, its importance and conceivable precedence paramount. She does not deserve to keep a job that requires truth, honor, and research, for as these qualities are required in this profession, Erdely exhibited none. Tepid attempts at due diligence simply don’t count when reputations are on the line. While firing Erdely and others will send the message that Rolling Stone is culpable, isn’t that the kind of justice those hurt by this article deserve?

“A Rape on Campus” is nothing more than a willful desecration of ethical journalism.

Watch Out for the Ruche

I own a lot of grey, black, and brown clothes. Oh, the brown. The light brown, dark brown, in between brown, sort of brown so let’s call it tan, brownish, oh shit is that mauve. Chocolate brown, kinda brown, biscuit, semi brown, sandy brown, russet, sepia. I have no burnt sienna, although Crayola has been trying to tell me since childhood that this is a shade of brown. I used to own so much brown and wear it all together (like an ecru shirt with chocolate pants) that my husband would call me neutral woman. I told this to a friend once and we’ve used it to describe drab clothing days since then.

I love color. I love wearing pretty, bold colors, but not lime green because no, that doesn’t look good on even you. I tend to wear color (outside of coats; I can always find an undark coat) mainly in spring and summer though because the Gap will tell you ain’t no color in fall or winter. I own all the grey suits from Banana Republic. Grey stripe, plain grey, light grey, dark grey, Heather grey, what? Why is Heather gray? She’s gray because seasonal affective disorder perpetuated by fashion.

I feel like I’m always on a quest to add more color to my wardrobe when it’s cold. Yet darks are what I always find because it’s not good enough that the sun hates us in winter; we must also dress like Wednesday Addams.

Sometimes I troll the clearance rack in Target. I’m rarely lucky because a. I like stuff to fit, and 26c. I don’t need a swimsuit in December. But one day, Target pleased me.

One day I found a beautiful, perfect for me, just my size, maroony, burgundy, wine colored sweater dress and it was magical. It had a cowl neck, was long sleeved, and had cute ruching on the sides. It was still dark, but at least it wasn’t black, grey, or burnt umber. I saw it, but I was still in the aisle between yoga pants, I mean pajamas, and clothes. I saw a random woman moving through racks so I called to my daughter, DEFENSE, DAMMIT. I don’t know if that means anything. Was it supposed to be offense? Didn’t matter, because she followed my eyes and knew to get the dress because she is my spirit shopper. (Seriously, I can open the doors to any store, say pink, and she’s back in 8.2 seconds with options that are probably not pink, but are what spoke to her as what I needed. I trust her with my get me out of this chestnut quest.)

So there we are, separated by a clearance rack. She grabbed the dress and met me with it and my happiness cannot be described. It was soft. It was pretty. It was mine. IT WAS $8.48!

Two days later I was getting ready for work, deciding on what to wear because no matter how often I say I’m going to prepare the night before, I be drankin’, and I just don’t, shut up. I decided on the dress. I went to take off the tag. Y’all. Cue the record scratch.

Maternity. Liz. Lange. Maternity.

Insert your best THIS SHIT HERE face.

I was upset at first because come on. I wasn’t in the maternity section. This is not the first time I’ve picked up something SO CUTE and then had to smack my lips together because maternity. This time, though, I was pissed. So many thoughts flew through my mind, primarily ones about how I’m not having anymore kids, how this is a slap in the face of my non-decision to not have more kids. I’m never going to need maternity clothes again. I don’t need to be reminded of that. The dress was going back.

So I wore the dress to work. Shut up, I was late.

CLEAN UP FOR WHAT?
CLEAN UP FOR WHAT?

I got so many compliments on the color, and then it happened.

It's cute. And not brown.
It’s cute. And not brown.

Let me stop here and explain something to you. I suffer from a serious medical condition called the food baby. I’ll show you if you want. After I eat, my stomach becomes enlarged and I look four months pregnant for three hours. I was in the bathroom when it happened. I came out and got a smiling, knowing glance from another woman. “Your dress is so cute. When are –” I made the DON’T DO IT face.

Come on. The food baby wasn’t THAT real. It was the dress. It was the ruching. It lies. Moreover, haven’t we been over this? Haven’t we determined that the proper time to ask a woman a question about being pregnant is never? Had she asked a dumb question, I would have given an equally dumb answer, glancing at the toilet, “Two hours.”

The point of it all is this: Liz Lange and Target want women to fight in restrooms.

Beware the ruche.

Listen, Linda. The food baby is real but it ain't ask me when I'm due real.
Listen, Linda. The food baby is real but it ain’t ask me when I’m due real.