The Lydster: an American patriot

making the signs

The article in Nation of Change explains Why the George Floyd Protesters are American patriots. My daughter has been one of them. I am pleased.

We have always talked about societal issues with her, pretty much since she started watching the news about seven years ago. I wondered at the time whether she was too young to take on such difficult conversations. The trouble is that the issues were out there whether or not we talked about it.

She and most of her friends were at least aware of the shootings of 20 first-graders and six adults in Newtown, CT in December 2012. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when she and some of her classmates walked out of school shortly after the killing of 17 mostly high school students in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day 2018.

And they were bitterly disappointed when there was another school mass shooting with double-digit deaths and wounded in Sante Fe, TX two months later. I know from long experience that the demonstrations don’t always seem to work.

A grounding

The former youth director of the church, Christy, had helped ground the youth in issues about gun control, violence, racism, and a number of other hot-button issues. This was usually done in a musical theater setting.

My daughter has not only help organize peaceful protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, but she’s also made many of the signs. She was a bit distraught when she turned her ankle, which swelled up and hurt greatly for three or four days. But she’s now back in the fray. In fact, when a group of protesters hijacked her group’s event, she and a friend went to some of the local restaurants the next day to distance their actions from those of the other group.

Naturally, I, and especially her mother, are a bit nervous about her activities. But I’d be a hypocrite to complain. When I was her age, I was protesting against racism and a far-off war.

She’s also been keeping track of which businesses we should boycott – e.g., Home Depot, whose co-founder backs IMPOTUS. But she also suggests which ones to support, such as Lowe’s, because of its $25 million in minority small business grants.

Some friends suggest that we must have raised her right. We’d like to think so, but, like most parents, we still have no idea what we’re doing.

They are telling the truth. Full stop.

more furious

Here are a couple interesting pieces from guys who identify as white. The first is some guy on Facebook but forget who. “If you are skeptical of how a Black person describes the reality of their interactions with people around them and the world at large, it’s time to do some soul-searching. Believe me, I’ve been there…”

The other is from my blogger buddy Greg, who wrote a lengthy post onFacebook. “I have tried to listen to people who speak of their experiences, and I have tried not to say condescending things like ‘Well, I never see it’ or ‘I’m sure you just misinterpreted things.’ I have said this a lot, but I hope not in a condescending way – I rarely see or hear obviously racist things. I’m not attuned to it, and people are far more subtle about it these days.”

They don’t always announce their bigotry

That’s true that the bigots can be subtle. It reminds me of the time I posted this story in 2011 about not getting served at a Holiday Inn bar near Fenway Park in Boston on June 14, 1991. This despite waiting at least 10 minutes and other people who came to the bar after I did getting their drinks.

When I posted this on Facebook, I got pushback. “Maybe he didn’t see you.” He SAW me; he acknowledged me pointing at me with his index finger. He just didn’t serve me. And he had plausible deniability at a crowded bar. As I noted at the time, “I became so incensed that, had I access to a baseball bat, I am afraid I might have started smashing the drinking glasses that hung over the barkeep’s head.”

Though I was angry with the original incident in Boston, I was far more furious at not being believed. I’ve told this story – the part about not being believed – to a number of black people, mostly from church. They all sighed knowingly.

I stole this from that first white person cited because it was so succinctly written. “I’ve doubted things my black friends have said about others I’ve known for a long time in my quest to always see the best in everyone. But I’ve learned the hard way (and, sadly, made it harder on my black friends in the process) that they know their own reality far better than I ever will. Trust black people when they tell you what their lives are like. They are telling the truth. Full stop.”



a good German word

Stelae, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany
Vergangenheitsbew?ltigung. There’s usually a good German word for everything, even if I can’t pronounce it. It means the “struggle to overcome the [negatives of the] past” or “working through the past”). The term describes “processes that, since the later 20th century, have become key in the study of post-1945 German literature, society, and culture.”

In other words, vergangenheitsbew?ltigung explains How Berlin Has Faced Its Nazi Past. And now, about 30 months after this article was written, vergangenheitsbew?ltigung has come to America. And it’s damn messy.

The United States should have decided, thoughtfully and systematically, how to dismantle the symbols of its racist past. But no. The years-long clamor to remove Confederate statues was met with the need to establish committees to discuss it. Post George Floyd, they’re coming down swiftly.

Other vestiges of our imperfect history are being torn down. Sometimes, it’s the government, but at least as often, it’s being done by protesters. Likewise, symbols that some have perceived as offensive have been pre-emptively been removed by companies, who suddenly recognize the “problem” with that logo.

What is the procedure?

Inevitably, there are people complaining, “We should have a system to address these things!” And naturally, they were correct. But right now, we have a tsunami of reformers, removing or changing items, some of which weren’t bugging you. Or me. (They’re reviewing the Cream of Wheat guy? I LOVE that dude. Not every logo with a black person is offensive.)

When you plug up the dam for so damn long, it’s going to be chaotic when it finally ruptures the wall.Or you can see this as a pendulum that had been frozen in place. It’ll have a lot of energy as it swings strongly in the other direction. Eventually, there will be more of an equilibrium. But while white America seems to have ended its centuries-long snooze, one is motivated to address as many issues as possible.

Of course, some of these changes are symbolic. But many have economic incentives. One I particularly love that involves both economic and criminal justice reform, made by the University of Florida. “Ending the use of unpaid inmate labor is a very important step in de-incentivizing our current incarceration system which has been set up to recreate the racist slave labor our country was built on.”

And maybe we ARE having our vergangenheitsbew?ltigung moment. The article ends: “To secure that future for all Americans, we must honestly confront our past.”

Vote twice in June 2020: early, often

long waits at polling places are disruptive and disenfranchising

I got to vote twice in the month of June. Legally. Really! The first time was for the school budget (it passed – yay!), the school board, and the library trustees. That vote was scheduled for the middle of May but postponed because of the coronavirus.

Everyone was supposed to get a ballot by mail by the end of May. The documents were due at the local board of education office by June 9. But because some of the local districts were having trouble printing them out, the deadline was extended to June 16. And the really great thing is that there were 10,700 votes cast in Albany, thrice what the average turnout had been in the past five years.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Presidential primary in New York State was scheduled for the end of April but postponed over COVID-19. Then it was canceled because all of the candidates except Joe Biden had dropped out. However, the Presidential primary, now on June 23 – simultaneous with other ballot initiatives – “should still be held, with all qualifying candidates restored to the ballot, a federal judge ruled.”

I HATED the thought that I was going to be disenfranchised. And, not incidentally, we’ve seen a LOT of difficulties with the franchise in places such as Wisconsin and Georgia. The Brennan Center notes that “long waits at polling places are disruptive, disenfranchising, and all too common. Black and Latino voters are especially likely to endure them.”

With less than five months until Election Day, Is the U.S. ready? Kim Wehle, the author of What You Need to Know About Voting, says no. We should have more options for paper ballots. There are often fewer polling places, because of COVID-19, but also the powers that be are targeting minority communities with polling closures.

Here’s to you, EW

I HAVE to vote. People, especially black people, suffered and DIED for the opportunity to cast their ballot. I decided to vote, by mail, for Elizabeth Warren because that’s who I wanted to win. One could make the strategic case for Bernie, who I voted for four years ago.

But I had never voted for a woman for President in the primary. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm failed to get on the ballot in my Congressional district. Since then, I’ve voted for a bunch of guys who never got the nomination such as Fred Harris and Dennis Kucinich.

In the primary, I vote with my heart. In the general election, I vote with my head.

BTW, I don’t think Warren will be the Vice-Presidential nominee. She turned 71 yesterday. If she weren’t running with a guy who will be turning 78 seventeen days after the general election, I think she’d have a better chance. Also, they are both from the Northeast.

I like Stacie Abrams of Georgia. The reason she’s not currently in elected office is that the former secretary of state, Brian Kemp, now the governor, rigged the system. Someone (a black male) also made me wonder if sizism could play a role in whether to choose her.

Of the folks listed here, I’m guessing Kamala Harris or Val Demings or Tammy Duckworth or maybe Susan Rice. Meanwhile, read How To Read Polls In 2020.

Recipes, rocks? Ask Roger Anything

bread recipe included

Last month, I noted that sometimes it’s difficult to come up with topics here because I’m not going anywhere. Arthur kindly made suggestions.

“Maybe you could try cooking recipes you haven’t before and posting a photo and then talk about it? Or maybe spread some rocks. Apparently, those sorts of things give some people to talk about or they wouldn’t blog at all.”

Hmm. I suppose I could do the cooking thing. Before the pandemic, there was this segment on CBS This Morning Saturday called The Dish. It would have chefs bring out a panoply of delicious-looking items. Often, the items were from their recent books. I’m not sure that I know how to write about food that would be interesting enough for me.

Still, every other person seems to be baking bread. Here’s a recipe for The Best Super Soft and Chewy Hoagie Bread Rolls that one of my wife’s sisters-in-law sent along. I haven’t made it.

I do the rock, myself

Or maybe I can try the tried and true method of having you all Ask Roger Anything. I’ve already shared my favorite recipe. The only thing I’ve ever done with rocks is to skip them across a river. But maybe you want my recipe for stone soup; that topic combines recipes and rocks. I’ll even answer your queries, most likely in the next 30 days.

Per usual, you can leave any of your questions and/or suggestions, in the comments section of this blog or on Facebook or Twitter; for the latter, my name is ersie. Always look for the duck.

If you prefer to remain anonymous, that is allowable. However, you need to STATE THAT specifically. E-mail me at rogerogreen (AT) gmail (DOT) com, or send me an IM on FB and note that you want to be unnamed; otherwise, I’ll assume you want your name emblazed on the rock I’m painting.