Dear White People, We Need to Do Better

“Ain’t got any of them black boyfriends, do ya?”

“You got a boyfriend?”  “No.”  “Ok, well as long as it’s not any of them black boys.”

“These afros & dreadlocks are so gross & disrespectful looking.  How do they expect anyone to take them seriously looking like that?  Especially with all those tattoos too!”

“Why do we need Juneteenth as a holiday?  This is silly.”

“This rioting is out of hand.  Why can’t they [black people] just be happy they aren’t still slaves?”

“Slavery has been over for 150 years.  Why are they [black people] still complaining?”

“The Civil War wasn’t actually about slavery.  It was about states’ rights.”

“You know they’re all on Welfare” [referring to black people, particularly black women].

“Police aren’t actually racist & never use excessive force.  These thugs just don’t listen & do what they’re told.”

“Those statues are our history!  I can’t see why anyone wants to tear them down” [referring to the removal of Confederate monuments].

“I’d prefer you stick to white boys but an Asian or a Hispanic boyfriend wouldn’t be as bad as a black one.”

“My granddaughter has a black friend. One isn’t so bad but the trouble is once you’ve got one, the whole lot of them wants to invite themselves over.”

“My parents told me I could be friends with black kids but I couldn’t spend the night at their houses & they couldn’t spend the night at mine.”

Does any of this sound familiar to you?  I hope not, but I suspect for some of you these kinds of conversations are all too familiar.  All of these are quotes that I remember from my own childhood or adolescence (NOT necessarily by my parents, to be clear) or that friends of mine have shared with me from their experiences growing up.  Or lastly they are things that I have seen posted on social media by family or acquaintances from my hometown or from other similar small towns. For the purposes of this post I will be writing everything in the first person to help the post flow better & to better preserve anonymity but do remember some of these are not actually MY OWN experiences, though some are. Furthermore, I am concentrating on white racism against black people because I am white & because I am confronting these mostly offhand remarks that I (& others) experienced during my (our) formative years that were mainly aimed at black people. However, I am well aware that other races struggle with their own share of racism & that even white people can be victims of racism. I even experienced a handful of unkind remarks because of being white as a child, but that isn’t the point of today’s post at all. Simply put, racism isn’t just a black issue or just a white issue, but as a white person I feel I am best suited to speak out about the racism I see being perpetuated against others from my own community.

Let me preface this by saying that if you’re reading this & recognize yourself in any of these quotes (even if they’re just things you’ve thought to yourself but never actually said out loud), I still love you. This post isn’t about shaming or embarrassing anyone. I can love people even when we disagree on things. But I do not love the attitudes these quotes reflect. And I have black friends, neighbors (literally next door & across the street), & coworkers who deserve so much better- which is why I can’t remain silent any longer. I regret my silence on this matter far too much already.

The past year in particular has forced me to recognize just how many racist attitudes unfortunately still persist in this country, particularly in small town America, even among people I know & love. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am by no means perfect, & I make no claims to be.  However, over the past 10 years or so, particularly the past 5 years, I have made conscious efforts to confront my own internal bias & find ways to erase it or at least navigate around it.  Yes, the U.S. (& the world at large) has made great strides in the area of civil rights compared to decades ago, but even so, there is still work to be done.  And you know where that work starts?  It starts with you & it starts with me.  What the past year has made me realize is that the burden of erasing (or at least minimizing) anti-black racism cannot fall on black people. (I say anti-black racism because all races can be racist against any other race, as previously mentioned.)  After all, would women ever have achieved the right to vote & other such basic rights in society without at least some men standing up & fighting for those rights too?  Undoubtedly the answer is no. Those who are experiencing discrimination & racism cannot alone be responsible for ending it. If that were the case, don’t you think these issues would have been erased ages ago? It’s as completely backwards as saying that the onus for preventing rape falls only- or mostly- on women (oh wait, we all too often DO send that message in our society, but that’s a post for another day).

Again, this post is not about naming names or calling out anyone in particular.  It’s not even about sending anyone on a guilt trip.  This post is about me saying I refuse to be part of the problem. And that means I refuse to remain quiet & accept the “casual” racism that I all too often see & hear from some folks I know & love- folks who I know are in many ways truly wonderful, loving people. I’ll also be completely honest & admit that this post is largely intended simply to clear my own brain & to try to atone for some of the guilt I feel for not confronting this issue earlier. I’ll also confess that I’m a typical product of my generation & I find it easier to call out these attitudes online than I do in real life. What can I say? I’m an introvert, a born writer, & a work in progess…

I am also well aware that most of the people making these comments do not consider themselves racist & most would not DREAM of being actively rude to a black person to their face. But that doesn’t make these comments any less dangerous. As I stated in my previous blog post, sometimes it’s our most casual, offhand comments that reveal our true, underlying feelings & prejudices. Now- it’s time to examine each of the quotes from the beginning of this post & explore exactly why these things are problematic. I will group a few of them together since they’re on the same or similar subjects.

  • Ain’t got any of them black boyfriends, do ya?”  “You got a boyfriend?” “No.” “Ok, well as long as it’s not any of them black boys.”  “I’d prefer you stick to white boys but an Asian or a Hispanic boyfriend wouldn’t be as bad as a black one.”
    • Ah, yes, interracial dating/relationships.  This is a topic that the older I get, the more I truly cannot understand why anyone has a problem with this.  Now these quotes, I will confess, do come from some of my own family members (though I certainly know plenty of other white girls who were told the same things).  Not trying to throw anyone under the bus here, but yes, a few people in my family did in fact say these things to me (& probably to my sister too).  I was always so flabbergasted as to why anyone would say this nonsense that I never really responded much, partly because often it was asked when I was too young to have had a boyfriend at all, regardless of skin color.  Furthermore, my parents never made these kind of remarks so it didn’t make sense to me why others would say this- or even care.  Plus as a child I was too naïve to understand why anyone would ever feel this way.  Of course as I got older, I understood it a bit more but it always bothered me.  After all, the people who say this stuff almost always identify as Christians, & I can’t wrap my head around how they could think that God wouldn’t want his creatures to love whoever they love.  Don’t these people believe we all trace back to Adam & Eve anyway?  I actually asked a loved one once to explain how an Asian or a Hispanic boyfriend would be less problematic than a black one, & needless to say I didn’t get any kind of logical answer. Again, I promise I am not trying to make anyone look bad here.  But the truth of the matter is this kind of thinking is just gross. And if you persevere in this kind of thinking, frankly, you deserve to be called out on it. (This is the stuff that literally keeps me awake at night, trying to figure out how some people I love so much who are generally so kind can hold such antiquated, hateful attitudes.)
  • “These afros & dreadlocks are so gross & disrespectful looking. How do they expect anyone to take them seriously looking like that? Especially with all those tattoos too!”
    • I honestly think this comment stems from pure ignorance, from truly not understanding that black hair is in fact quite different from white (or Asian or Native American) hair.  I cannot believe it took me 30 years to truly grasp the fact that an afro is one the natural forms of black hair if left to grow & brushed out a bit.  Please forgive me for my ignorance, y’all, but I truly didn’t know that!  I suspected it but I just wasn’t sure & I was always too afraid to ask for fear of offending someone or looking stupid. Once I realized this I became so angry that anyone would ever discriminate against someone for a hairstyle that is quite literally 100% natural. Again, the people saying this stuff almost always identify as Christian, so I beg of you, if you think like this, please explain to me why black people wearing their hair in the natural way God made it is wrong?  Also, did you know that having black hair relaxed (to basically look “more white”) is not only expensive & time consuming but also damaging to the hair? As for the dreads, all human hair can naturally form dreads. So again, why is that gross or wrong? As for the tattoos- well, all I have to say is some of the nicest people I’ve ever known, some of the hardest working people I’ve ever known- of all races- have had tattoos. If you don’t like them, don’t get them. But let others do as they please & remember that physical appearance has zero impact on someone’s intelligence or ability to do their job well- OR their overall character.  End of story. P.S. If you think black people aren’t actually discriminated against based on their hair, then explain to me why we need to pass ordinances like this:
  • “Why do we need Juneteenth as a holiday? This is silly.
    • First of all, who in their right mind complains about getting an extra holiday?!  Especially if it’s paid!  But on a more serious note, the ending of slavery WAS a big deal.  It is most definitely something to celebrate.  Imagine if YOUR ancestors were slaves.  Wouldn’t you want to celebrate the fact that that ended & that you’re free now?  See, that’s what I thought.
  • “This rioting is out of hand. Why can’t they [black people] just be happy they aren’t still slaves?”  “Slavery has been over for 150 years. What are they [black people] still complaining?”
    • Sometimes I have heard these things word for word. More often though these messages are very clearly implied by the memes & posts shared by certain people. I am going to be brutally honest & even admit that these thoughts have crossed my own mind a few times in the past.  But what I have realized is that these kinds of statements send a very clear message- one that I absolutely cannot condone. That message is: “Black people aren’t really human. They’re not like everyone else. They should just be happy we aren’t treating them like total animals.” Again, if you say or think things like this & call yourself a Christian, please explain to me slowly how some of God’s creatures are better or more deserving than others.  Whether you’re religious or not, this kind of thinking is just absurd.  Put yourself in someone else’s shoes for two minutes & consider that not everyone has experienced the world the way you have.  And then extend some grace to your fellow man.  Let me be clear & say that I do not condone rioting or destruction of property, especially private property/businesses that have nothing to do with the subject of a protest. BUT if you’re more upset by rioting than you are by police brutality that leads to MURDERS, then please ask yourself why that is, & furthermore, would you feel the same way if the rioters or the victims of police brutality were white?  If the only thing you ever discuss in regards to racial justice is how bad rioting is, you’re sending a very clear message that racial justice doesn’t actually matter to you. 
  • “The Civil War wasn’t actually about slavery. It was about states’ rights.
    • This one came from a teacher of mine in high school, one of my favorites actually.  I hadn’t thought about this quote in YEARS but I suddenly remembered it recently & was appalled to think that a teacher had actually said this- especially knowing black students heard this too.  First of all, even though it wasn’t a history class, this statement is just factually inaccurate.  There’s just no way around that.  Sure, states’ right was part of it.  But what state right were they principally fighting over?  That’s right- the right to own slaves!  So, yes, like it or not, the Civil War was in fact about slavery.  Frankly, I think white people just say this to make themselves feel less guilty, particularly if they know they actually had ancestors who fought for the South.  My response to that is- so what?  Everyone has ancestors who did bad things.  No one is responsible for what their ancestors did, especially when it goes back generations.  Just admit it & move on.  That’s what we expect black people to do with slavery, right?
  • “You know they’re all on Welfare” [referring to black people, particularly black women].
    • Ok, first of all this is one is just plain false.  There are actually more white people on Welfare than black people.  Now of course there are also a lot MORE white people in the country than there are black people.  Is the percentage of black people receiving Welfare higher than the percentage of white people receiving Welfare?  Maybe.  But stereotyping like this isn’t helping anyone.  Furthermore, have you considered that these programs were designed & put into place largely by white politicians who may or may not have had the best interests of minorities at heart?  No one likes discussing this, but since the inception of mass welfare programs the percentage of single parent (almost always single mom) households has risen DRAMATICALLY in both black AND white communities.  And along with that we’ve seen many other negative societal outcomes.  It’s almost like maybe the nuclear family (however it’s composed) is actually important!  But that’s a post for another day.  The point is saying things like this doesn’t help anyone.  And if black children hear this kind of thing, it just further reinforces to them that they aren’t “meant” to be doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, scientists, engineers, etc.  So, please, just stop this nonsense.
  • “Police aren’t actually racist & never use excessive force. These thugs just don’t listen & do what they’re told.”
    • Really?  Then what do you have to say to U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario who was held at gunpoint, pepper sprayed, & put in handcuffs despite obeying police orders?  What do you say to Philando Castile who was shot & killed by an officer despite following police orders & having committed no crime? What do you say to Elijah McLain who was choked & given way too much of the sedative ketamine just for “acting weird” while walking outside, both of which almost certainly led to his death?  What do you say to the countless black men- many of whom are educated & have professional careers- who have still found themselves in unnecessary traffic stops where threats or intimidation were used?  Are they “thugs” too?  Even those who have broken the law deserve to be treated like human beings, especially when the offenses are non violent.  A traffic stop for anything should not lead to murder, even if the person isn’t 100% an angel the entire time.  When white mass murderers can be brought in without being killed but black men are disproportionately killed by police even over much more minor offenses, we need to ask ourselves what is going on here.  I know, I know- the cops you know are wonderful people who would never do such things.  And for most of them that is probably (hopefully) true.  But the fact of the matter is we have to admit that some of the “good ole boys” in our country’s police force aren’t really all that good.  Otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing a black man with a knee to the neck for 8 minutes till he died.  Furthermore, if all these good cops aren’t standing up against the bad ones, what does that make them?  I for one have called out bad practices when I’ve seen them in my own field.  There is no reason why police shouldn’t be expected to do the same.  (And I am grateful for those who do.)
  • “Those statues are our history! I can’t see why anyone wants to tear them down” [referring to the removal of Confederate monuments].
    • Now this one is a hard topic for many folks & it’s one that I’ll admit I’ve had a hard time with myself.  I love history & because of that of course I hate to see parts of it destroyed.  But what I’ve realized with the Confederate monuments is this: No, taking them down or moving them to museums isn’t going to magically end racism- it’s not that easy- BUT if I were a black person, yes, I do think I would find it both strange & hurtful to see all these monuments to people who quite literally fought a war to keep my ancestors enslaved.  Have you ever thought about it from that angle?  I think at the end of the day these monuments belong in museums or historical parks.  That way we can still learn from them but without making it seem like we’re honoring them as heroes.  Again, if you’re white & you know you have ancestors who owned slaves or fought in the Civil War, that’s ok.  It doesn’t mean that you’re guilty just by association.  I for one do not believe that sons should bear the sins of their fathers. But please consider that most of these monuments were not even erected until the late 1800s through the 1950s. Do you really think this wasn’t at least somewhat intended to intimidate black people & remind them of “their place” in society? That alone should give us pause.
  • “My granddaughter has a black friend. One isn’t so bad but the trouble is once you’ve got one, the whole lot of them want to invite themselves over.”
    • This one was said by a salesman when I was attempting to buy something from him. I’m ashamed to admit that I was too flabbergasted by such a blatantly racist & despicable remark to actually confront him about the subject. I just changed the subject & walked away. Looking back on it though it’s horrifying to realize that he just assumed I would agree with him & that I wouldn’t report him for his obvious racism. The sad thing is that I DIDN’T confront him about it, so in a way he was right. Trust & believe- if this kind of thing happens again, the person at fault will not be left unconfronted.
    • “My parents told me I could be friends with black kids but I couldn’t spend the night at their houses & they couldn’t spend the night at mine.”
    • Just for the record, this one comes from a friend, NOT my own family. But yes, these attitudes do in fact still exist. I don’t really think there is anything else to say here other than- WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU IF YOU FEEL THIS WAY?
  • Let me end this by clarifying a few things. No, I am not some “crazy liberal.” No, I do not feel guilty for being white.  None of us chooses our race after all. No, I do not believe in paying reparations. But yes, I do believe in decriminalization of drugs, especially marijuana, partly because drug laws are disproportionately enforced against minorities. Yes, I do believe in reducing the number of traffic stops for minor offenses & asking police to use more of their time building bridges with communities & focusing on serious, violent crime. Most importantly, I believe in understanding that we all have biases. It’s just human nature- biology if you will. It’s probably only natural that many of us feel most comfortable with or are most attracted to people who look like us (“birds of a feather flock together” type thing). But we need to be cognizant of that & most importantly we need to learn not to treat those who are different badly just because of our own internal misgivings or fears.  That of course goes for all people of all races. However, as a white person, my voice is probably going to resonate most strongly with other white people, for better or worse.  And I for one am saying that we as white people need to do better.  I’ve changed my mind about so many things over the years because of living in different areas, talking to different people, reading various books, etc. I’ve learned that my own first impressions of people can be wildly wrong & that quite often, if given the opportunity, people will surprise you in all kinds of wonderful ways. If I can do that by my early 30s, I truly don’t understand how some people who have lived twice as long as I have haven’t figured this stuff out.
  • If you know me in real life, you know I hate conflict.  I truly do not like arguing with people, hurting anyone’s feelings, or offending people.  But the older I get, the less I care about those things, at least when it comes to really important subjects.  And this is far too important for me to remain silent.  So if this post has offended you- sorry- but I’m not sorry.  You probably need to be offended.  That’s how I’ve learned about some things- sometimes that’s how we all learn.  Furthermore, I know there are plenty of things I’ve said or done, things I believe or don’t believe, that at least some, probably most, of my family would find offensive. And yes, that is hard for me; yes, that keeps me awake at night too sometimes. I hate knowing I’ve disappointed people I love (I’m not talking about drugs or anything at all criminal here, before anyone gets any wild ideas), but I also know that life is way too short to live my life just to please others, even those I love. But believe me, I feel the weight of that judgement too, even if a lot of it is more perceived than real.
  • So why did I write all this? Why did I bother putting myself out there to possibly be hated for saying things that make people uncomfortable? Well, as Edmund Burke said many years ago “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And as the great Martin Luther King, Jr said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And this, my friends & family, definitely matters. So I will reiterate: if you recognize yourself in this post, I still love you. But I have black friends, neighbors, & coworkers I care about too, & frankly they deserve better. So, dear white people, I’m saying it now loud & clear- we need to do better.

Time to Get Uncomfortable

Well, you don’t exactly have to be a scholar to know that the world is in a bit of a tumult right now.  Maybe more than a little bit, to be honest.  With the news of the death of George Floyd at the hands of some obviously corrupt & evil police officers last week, Coronavirus has finally taken a backseat.  I’m writing about this today for a variety of reasons & I hope I can be at least somewhat eloquent as I rush to finish this while my daughter is napping.  Here goes . . .riot

First off I want to apologize to the black community for any hand I, as a white person, may have had in racism over the years.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always been as sensitive as maybe I should be.  Furthermore I’ll be the first to admit that there have been times when I was more vocal about my anger over rioting & looting than I was about my anger over police brutality or other injustices wrought against African Americans.

I’ll also freely admit that I’ve always had mixed feelings about Colin Kaepernick & the kneeling protest he started.  On the one hand I’ve always felt like it was their first amendment right to free speech & that the matter they were protesting had merit.  Yet on the other hand I was always taught to respect the national anthem & the military & since so many people saw the kneeling as disrespectful towards them- though in my heart of hearts I’ll admit I’ve never been sure WHY- I confess it left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak.  But the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realized the REAL reason why it left a bad taste in my mouth.  The real reason is that I didn’t want to face the inconvenient truth that our nation is still struggling with systemic racism, particularly in the police force.  I was always taught to respect LEOs but the cold hard truth is that there are some seriously corrupt & evil folks hiding behind a badge, & it’s our responsibility to stand against the injustices wrought by them.  If we don’t- & if good LEOs don’t- we are complicit with the problem.

I want to sincerely apologize for all of this because I realize now how insensitive & wrong I was.  I realize that so much of the time we don’t want to admit that maybe we aren’t as “color blind” as we like to think we are.  As white people, it’s very easy to think “Well, I don’t hate black people, I’ve never been overtly racist, so I’m ok.”  But the truth is that if we don’t examine our own internal prejudices & speak up against police brutality & other racial issues, these injustices will never go away.  And the rioting that follows won’t go away either.  There is a reason people are rioting- it’s because THEY AREN’T BEING HEARD! 

Secondly, I’d like to say that I don’t think rioting & looting is the answer- especially when it’s directed at random people or businesses that have nothing to do with the police.  But let’s be real- most people don’t.  We don’t all need to constantly talk about how appalling this is.  I think most of us can agree on that, regardless of race.  Violence begets violence- it breeds a vicious cycle that never ends & rarely- if ever- causes people to be sympathetic with the “other” side.  But truthfully I think most of us get that.  We just aren’t the ones on the news getting all the attention right now.

Thirdly- & this is really my most important point- what’s more appalling to me than rioting is that so many white people seem more upset by the rioting & looting than they are by the murder of George Floyd.  Or Ahmaud Arbery.  Or Breonna Taylor.  And the list goes on . . .  They are more upset by black people stealing a TV than they are by the fact that police have been caught dispersing tear gas on PEACEFUL protesters.  There have even been white people caught inciting violence & rioting so that black people can then be blamed for it.  Y’all, something is seriously wrong with this entire picture!  Yes, everyone has a right to be upset by the violence that has erupted over the weekend.  But if you’re bothered by that kind of violence, shouldn’t you also be bothered by the unnecessary violence that was wrought against Mr. Floyd & so many other black Americans?  The answer is unequivocally yes.  If you suddenly think that the case against police brutality is completely invalid because of the way SOME people are reacting, then frankly you need to examine yourself.

So before you post about how terrible the riots are, please stop & think about how that comes across to your black friends & neighbors, especially if that’s the ONLY thing you’re posting about in regards to this whole situation.  Please stop & think about WHY people are angry.  Please stop & think about the fact that no matter how black people protest- even something as simple & peaceful as taking a knee- they are always told they’re wrong.  Yes, it’s inconvenient.  Yes, it’s difficult.  Yes, it means admitting that maybe your parents & grandparents were wrong about some things.  And, yes, that is HARD.  But the truth of the matter is there is still systemic racism in our society today- perhaps most notably in the police force- & if we as white people don’t admit that & work on it, the violence & injustice from all “sides” will never end. 

I hope that this has come across as compassionately as I intended it.  I hope that anyone who reads this can see that my heart is bleeding for all of those who are hurting right now for so many different reasons.  Most importantly I hope that we’ll all take a moment to react with love, compassion, & empathy rather than with judgment, hate, or anger.  


Maintaining Peace of Mind in a Violent World

Well, you don’t even need to watch the news or read a newspaper religiously to know that the world has been a violent place this past week or two.  Actually, to be fair, I’m not convinced there has ever been a time in history when the world wasn’t violent.  It just hasn’t always been as well reported as it is now.  But that’s not my point right now.  The point is in times like these, it’s easy to feel like the “world is coming to an end” or society is “going to hell in a hand-basket.”  So how does one maintain one’s sanity, one’s own peace of mind in the midst of all this chaos?  Well, I don’t know how other people manage, but I’ve been surviving largely off of music . . . basically my usual coping mechanism, but an extremely effective one speaks

As an effort to help spread peace & sanity during these turbulent times, today I thought I’d share some of the songs that I have found particularly encouraging lately.  Before I do that, however, I’d just like to make a few simple statements.

First of all, why does it seem like so much of our society cannot comprehend how a person can support both policemen (& women) & black people?  This is just common sense to me.  I don’t know nearly enough about the matter to definitely say if we truly have a problem with police brutality in this country, but I will say that the recent case in Minnesota involving Philando Castile seems to me to be the most suspicious & egregious case to date (that’s gotten media attention, of course).  And I just can’t help but wonder if so many of these other cases would have ended differently if the suspect in question had been white.  Of course the answer is we’ll never know for sure, but nonetheless I can’t erase the thought from my mind.  Regardless, I think those of us who are not black need to remember that those who are have legitimate reasons to be a bit less trusting of cops in general.  It might have been over twenty years ago now, but the Rodney King tragedy is not easily forgotten.  Remember, not only was the man treated unjustly but the police officers responsible for his death were never punished & were in fact found innocent of wrong-doing.  Such things are not easily dismissed from one’s memory.  police brutality

Just like any other profession, I think there are both good cops & bad cops.  Expecting law enforcement officers to be held accountable for their actions in no way means I don’t appreciate their sacrifices & bravery on a daily basis.  It’s the same with any other profession that has the responsibility for making life-altering decisions.  For example, I’m a nurse, & I can say first-hand that most nurses I’ve met are truly wonderful people who are doing a great job serving the patients in their care.  However, I will also be the first to advocate for nurses being held accountable for making reckless or negligent decisions that negatively impact patients.  That in no way means I don’t support nurses.  It just means I want us to use our power & responsibility wisely.  The same goes with police officers.peace quote

Alright, I’ve run out of steam. On to the real purpose of today’s post, the music.

I’ll start off with this touching song from Black Stone Cherry.  The band was kind enough to share this on their Facebook page this week which reminded me of just how timely this song really is right now.  Lyrics below:BSC barn

Something about our world today
That makes me wanna cry
There’s too much anger & too much pain
Too much money & too many lies
If I could have one wish tonight
I would beg of us to forget our pride
If we could do just one thing right,
We could help each other to love our lives

All I’m dreamin of is good times, good friends, & somebody to love
All I’m dreamin of is no fears, no tears, & blue skies up above

There’s people around us everywhere
Who need help like you & me
A family was taken by a storm
And we just watched it on TV
If I could have one wish tonight
I would beg of us to forget our pride
If we could do just one thing right
We could help each other to love our lives.


When one thing’s right another is wrong
But in the end love will always keep us strong

All I’m dreamin of is a house on a hill & somebody to love
All I’m dreamin of is the sun to shine & blue skies up abovepoynte band

Next up is great encouraging song from an awesome band out of ATL called Poynte.  Check out Hold On here, lyrics below:

Life Is Racing
Always Fading
We Are Left Standing Here
We Can’t Live With Our Regrets

We’ll Keep Holding
Onto This Dream
We Can Forgive
But We Can Never Forget

You Feel It Now
You Can’t Let Go
It’s In Your Heart
It’s In Your Soul

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way

This Is Our Time
Can’t Push Rewind
We Can’t Hold Back
And Make The Same Mistakes Again

We’ve Been Fed Up
From The Neck Up
We Will Fight For
Another Chance To Make It Right

You Feel It Now
You Can’t Let Go
It’s In Your Heart
It’s In Your Soul

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way

Will You Give All That You Can
Will You Give All That You Can

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Waybrent smith

I’ve posted this Shinedown song before but the message is too good not to share at a time like this.  Check out the inspirational video too.  Lyrics below:

I found a note with your name
And a picture of us
Even though it was framed
And covered in dust
It’s the map in my mind that sends me on my way

They say it’s never too late
To stop being afraid
And there is no one else here
So why should I wait?
And in the blink of an eye the past begins to fade

So have you ever been caught in a sea of despair?
And your moment of truth
Is the day that you say “I’m not scared”

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day & night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time

I’ve seen a million miles
Met a million faces
Took all I knew
To reach all these places
And I’d do it again
If it brings me back to you

So have you ever been caught in a sea of despair?
And your moment of truth
Is the day that you say “I’m not scared”

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day and night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time

Put your hands in the air

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day & night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time
Put your hands in the air one more time

pageant material

Lastly, this song is probably my favorite ever by Kacey Musgraves.  The lyrics, below, are just so perfectly poignant.

We’re all hoping, we’re all hopeless
We’re all thorns & we’re all roses
We’re all looking down our noses at ourselves
We’re all flawed & we’re all perfect
We’re all lost & we’re all hurting
And just searching for somebody to love

We’re all liars, we’re all legends
We’re all tens that want elevens
We’re all trying to get to heaven but not today
We’re all happy, we’re all hatin’
We’re all patiently impatient
And just waiting for somebody to love

We’re all good but we ain’t angels
We all sin but we ain’t devils
We’re all pots & we’re all kettles
But we can’t see it in ourselves
We’re all livin’ ’til we’re dying
We ain’t cool but man, we’re trying
Just thinking we’ll be fixed by someone else
We all wrangle with religion
We all talk, but we don’t listen
We’re all starving for attention, then we’ll run
We’re all paper, we’re all scissors
We’re all fightin’ with our mirrors
Scared we’ll never find somebody to love

We’re all good, but we ain’t angels
We all sin, but we ain’t devils
We’re all pots & we’re all kettles
But we can’t see it in ourselves
We’re all livin’ ’til we’re dying
We ain’t cool but man, we’re trying
Thinking we’ll be fixed by someone else

Just tryin’ to hold it all together
We all wish our best was better
Just hopin’ that forever’s really real
We’ll miss a dime to grab a nickel
Over-complicate the simple
We’re all little kids just looking for love
Yeah, don’t we all just want somebody to love?ghandi quote peace

I hope these songs will bring you some peace of mind amidst the chaos of our world today.  Furthermore, I hope they will encourage each of us to be more loving & understanding to each & every person we meet.  With incidents like the recent shooter in Dallas  & the Orlando nightclub tragedy, I’ve been forced to remember that there are some truly evil people in this world.  Is it possible that such tragedies can be prevented in the future?  I wish I could say yes, but honestly I think humans will continue to find horrific ways to kill each other, regardless of what kind of weapons it requires, as long as we inhabit this planet.  But I also believe that there could be fewer of these tragedies if we as as a society learned to embrace love & understanding more than fear & hate.


A Plea for Logic

I’ve got a lot of frustration & angst coursing through my veins right now, so I will forewarn you that today’s post will not be the most optimistic or warm & fuzzy thing you’ll read today.  Nor will it be particularly organized or coherent (at least at times).  But I do promise that it will be inspirational; it’s just that inspiration sometimes has to come in the form of a swift kick in the rear.frustration 1

In case you should find yourself becoming offended at any point while reading this post, please remember the following things:

  1. These are just my opinions, & no one is under any obligation to agree with me.
  2. I write these posts as much to myself as to anyone else.
  3. I really do care about people, & my goal is to inspire others to achieve their fullest potential in life, but I’m slowly becoming more & more aware of the fact that doing so sometimes means being very blunt & risking offending a few folks.

Anyhow, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts & hearing a lot of things lately that just grind my gears to no end.  Everywhere I look I feel like the world is running completely counter to what is logical & sane (at least in my mind).  I like to think of myself as someone who is capable of balancing both logic & emotion to live a fulfilling & enjoyable life; that is certainly one of my greatest goals in life which I seek to pursue daily.  While I learned long ago to stop expecting the world around me to be logical, it still irks me to see how completely illogical so many folks are in our world today.  To be fair, I seriously doubt society in general is any more illogical now than it ever was, but all I know is the world as it is now, so that’s all I can truly address at this time.

logic cartoon

Anyhow, here are some of the things that have been particularly irksome to me lately:

  • College students begging for/demanding free education
    • Ok, I’ll be the first to admit that college tuition has risen drastically in the past few years & is clearly out of control. However, expecting college education to be free is just ludicrous.  Unless you want to pay well over 50% of your income in taxes, expecting to pay zero tuition is just absurd.  There is no such thing as free healthcare or free education anyway.  It’s all paid for in taxes.  Duh!  Is it fair that so many college graduates end up in loads of debt that they can’t afford to pay off because they can’t find a job that pays more than minimum wage?    No!  But life’s not fair, & no one forced you to get that liberal arts degree that you should have known from day one wasn’t worth the paper on which it was printed.  Sorry.  This isn’t the 1950s anymore.  I know when we were kids we were told we’d be sold for life if we just got a college degree, regardless of what the degree was.  That was a lie.  It might have been true 40 or 50 years ago, but it isn’t true now & really hasn’t been for quite some time.  If you aren’t willing to put in the extra years in school to get an advanced degree that actually makes your undergrad years useful, then don’t even bother getting some kind of worthless psych or sociology or women’s studies degree.  Just go to technical school & learn a trade that allows you to actually have a decent career & won’t land you in loads of debt for the rest of your life.  You’ll be far better off in the long run.  Another great way to avoid massive student debt is to work your butt off so you can get a scholarship(s).  You can also strategically apply to schools to which you know you’ll be an outstanding candidate which further increases your odds of obtaining a scholarship.  (P.S. That’s exactly what I did, & it worked.)nothing is free
  • People who either demonize all police officers or worship them all as heroes
    • I don’t see why it’s so difficult to admit that there are plenty of good police officers while there are also plenty of corrupt ones. I think it’s pretty obvious that we do have a problem with police brutality in this country, much of which is directed at minorities.  However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to treat every cop I meet as if he’s some deranged psycho.  Why is it so difficult for people to understand that you can support justice by demanding that police officers be held responsible for the actions they take & prosecuted if they truly act outside the lines of duty without hating all police officers everywhere?  This isn’t a black or white issue, guys.  We need to take each case on a case by case basis, rather than making blanket judgments about all cops everywhere based on one or two sensational cases that wind up in the news.police brutality
  • Our society’s continued acceptance & even promotion of obesity
    • As a nurse I’m continually confronted with the horrible health consequences of obesity, from diabetes to heart disease & so much more, so this is a subject that has a lot of personal value to me. Once again, I don’t see why it’s so difficult for people to understand that I can speak out against obesity without hating or being rude to all obese people I meet.  Would I ever treat an obese patient as somehow less than human just because of their obesity?  Absolutely not.  That should go without saying.  But does that mean I have to support the continued acceptance & even promotion of obesity within our society?  Absolutely not.  While I’ll gladly admit that the average fashion model is scarily skinny & likely unhealthy because of that, I don’t think that means we need to swing the pendulum the other way & demand that current models be replaced with truly plus size models who are easily 50-100 lbs overweight.  I don’t know why moderation is such a difficult concept for Americans (& people in general) to grasp.  To me it seems obvious that men & women can be healthy at various sizes, & some folks are going to be naturally a bit skinnier while others are naturally a bit plumper.  But it all has to be WITHIN REASON.  Trust me, I’m not some paragon of fitness virtue.  I recently got my body fat tested, & it was 26.9%.  That places me squarely within the healthy range for a woman my age, but my goal is to get down to 22%-25% so that I can be even healthier.  I’ve lost 3.5 inches off my waist since August, & my goal is to lose 1-2 more inches in the next few months.  I’m not perfect, but I do hold myself to certain standards, & I take action when I see that I’ve gained a few pounds/inches & don’t look or feel as good as I’d like.  What no one wants to talk about is that no one has ever become obese overnight.  No one has ever gained 50 lbs while they slept!  These things happen gradually.  And, yes, I know that is why some people say it’s so easy not to notice, but that has never made sense to me.  No one goes from a size 8 to a size 14 overnight.  When your clothes get tight or no longer fit & you have to buy new ones, how do you not notice that?  It is always possible that I am just an asshole, but those who know me in real life can attest that my actions speak otherwise . . . My point is I’m really not trying to make anyone feel bad about themselves here.  I’m just trying to be a voice of reason in a world that seems to have lost all sense of logic.  The truth is I really do care about people, & when I see how many of us are quite literally killing ourselves with obesity, I cannot be silent about that.  I want people to be healthy & happy & feel good about themselves.  I certainly don’t expect everyone to be a size 2 or a size 6 or to look like a VS model.  I’m not any of those things myself.  But when I see that 2/3 of Americans are overweight & 1/3 are obese, I know that this is a problem I/we cannot just ignore.

      Graph showing world obesity rates by country.

      We’re lying to ourselves if we say we don’t have a problem.

  • People who stereotype all Muslims as terrorists
    • Since I’m being blunt today, I’ll just say it exactly how I see it. ISIS sucks.  They are a true personification of evil.  HOWEVER, just because a small group of radical Muslims has acted in such astoundingly inhumane ways does not mean that all Muslims everywhere are terrorists or potential terrorists.  Throughout history, horrible injustices have been carried out in the name of every major religion.  Fundamentalists & radicals of all religions can become dangerous terrorists.  It just so happens that at this point in history a lot of them are Islamic.  A thousand years ago, it was a different story.  And a thousand years from now (if we haven’t all killed each other off), it will once again probably be a different story.  The point is we need to stop making assumptions about people based solely on race or religion or any such factor.  As I said earlier about police officers, we need to take each individual on a case by case basis.  I don’t know why that is so hard for some folks to grasp.terrorism
  • People who refuse to accept the consequences of their actions
    • I think this is the bottom line of what really annoys me about so much of modern society. So many people refuse to accept the consequences of their actions.  I know it sucks to admit that you might be to blame for certain bad things that have happened in your life (not all bad things because obviously some things are beyond anyone’s control), but until you accept that, you’re not going to have the power to overcome the obstacles you face.  You’ll constantly be stuck playing the victim.  As one of my favorite high school teachers said, “Life’s not fair.  I’m not nice.  Get used to it.”  It sounds harsh, but it’s true.  Life ISN’T fair.  But there’s nothing to be gained by harping about it forever & ever.  This absolutely does not mean we should not work to repair some of the injustices in the world.  Of course not.  But if there is anything I hope to teach my future children, it’s this: you alone are ultimately responsible for the actions you take & thus you must accept any & all consequences of those actions.  If you have unprotected sex, you might get pregnant or contract an STI.  If you do poorly in school, you won’t get accepted to college.  If you choose a worthless major, you probably won’t get a good job out of college & you’ll end up in debt up to your eyeballs.  If you drink & drive, you might get a DUI & worse yet you might injure or kill yourself or others.  If you try cocaine or heroin or any other such drugs, you will probably get addicted & run your life into the ground.  If you choose to hang out with people who have no life goals & generally make bad decisions, you’ll probably end up doing the same crappy things with your life; you’ll still be responsible for those choices, but both positive & negative influences are real & should not be ignored.  The list goes on & on, but I think you get the point.choices

If there’s anything I hope to convey in this post it’s this: stop blaming others for the mistakes you’ve made or for the bad things that have happened in your life.  Own up to your failures & realize the power that lies within you to improve your own life.  To be clear, there’s nothing to be gained in self-flagellation, for none of is perfect & we’ve all had our fair share of screw-ups.  But until we accept that each of us is ultimately responsible for our own lives, we’ll be forever stuck in the cycle of victimhood & we’ll never reach our full potential.  It’s scary to realize how much power we have over our own lives, but it’s also invigorating & exciting & the best thing any of us can ever do for ourselves.lamb of god

I’ll end this post with a link to a song I found last night that helped inspire this post.  My husband is a big fan of the Richmond, VA-based metal band lamb of god.  Thanks to my husband playing their albums over & over in the car, I’ve slowly started to like some of their music as well.  When I came across this song last night, the lyrics struck such a chord that I felt I must share it with y’all today.  Listen, enjoy, & be inspired.

In case heavy metal isn’t your thing, I’ll share my favorite lyrics below which are spoken towards the end of the song:

“Now is the moment when everything can change

You are completely responsible for your own life

And no one is coming to save you from yourself

So stop blaming your problems on any & everything else

It does not matter one tiny f—ing bit

How unfair you think the world is

It’s only what you do right here, right now,

Right this f—ing instant that matters

It’s your choice to sink or swim”randy blythe prison

(Just for some background, Randy Blythe, the vocalist & lyricist of lamb of god, spent over thirty days in prison in the Czech Republic in 2012 for a crime for which he was eventually found innocent & acquitted.  Despite knowing that he could face up to 10 years in prison, he chose to return to that country to stand trial because he felt that it was his responsibility to do so.  He has also overcome a long history of severe alcoholism.  The point is this is a man who definitely has the right to say these words to us because he has lived them out over & over again.)