The length of our faces is five eyes. So…I have a patient at work whom I have sort of despised. She gets on my nerves and under my skin each time she comes. She’s in her late 60’s, cantankerous – a curmudgeon. The first time she came at the front desk she told me she wore hearing aids, so I spoke more loudly to her. Then she told me I didn’t have to yell at her. I lowered my voice and repeated myself. She told me to raise it. Sigh. She complained about everything. Today she came to pick up her eyeglasses and I said a brief prayer before dispensing them to her. I did and she fussed, then told me that I was special. I looked at her expressionless. I wanted her to take her eyeglasses and leave already. She told me she was a retired mortician but her license was still active…just in case. She told me about growing up and her parents dying when her age was in single digits. An aunt cared for she and her siblings & kicked them each out when they turned 18. That’s the age the government cut off the checks. She explained to me the dimensions of the face & how they re-built faces if the deceased died from a facial gunshot wound or some other affliction which distorted their face. Unsolicited. I sat and listened, intrigued. When we were done, she handed me ten bucks for lunch, and ordered me not to give it back. Apparently she felt I would. She was right. She elbow bumped me instead of a hug because of COVID-19. Now I like her a lot, and hopefully this anecdote will end up in a story I’ll write. I also learned that people are more complex than their surfaces. Always be kind. Always know that there’s more. I swear I never have to go looking for story prompts or inspiration. They find me.
It is of course my prayer that all of you are well on this Labor Day holiday. I will be writing of course, and enjoying time with my family later. I’ll just get right into this post. I’ve been critical of conservative commentator Mrs. Candace Owens-Farmer many times, because she says some of the most controversial outrageous things, which I will not detail here. If you are unfamiliar with her and her antics, google it. Today is also one of those rare days when I also feel the need to speak up about a very, disgusting comment made by Cardi B in this social media battle between she and Owens. I’m not going to repeat Cardi B’s below the belt retort, but you can see it for yourself here. My issue? Leave the kids out of it. Even the unborn ones.
Moving on, Candace Owens’ recent declaration of her “full” pro-life position as a result of her current pregnancy is confusing. She says she used to be pro-choice and I don’t doubt that, (especially prior to 2016 when she was writing things like this), but after learning that she was pregnant (she’s 6 months pregnant), she became “fully” pro-life (There’s no such thing as a partial pro-life position btw. Either you are or you aren’t).
Well..there’s a video of her on You Tube from 6-10-19 declaring that “Murder is not a reproductive right” and “Abortion is not healthcare” – abortion is murder basically. So, if her pregnancy made her “fully” pro-life, was she lying about her staunch, anti-abortion stance in 2019, well before she became pregnant? Or is she lying now for attention, or something else? That “something else” is her politicizing her own pregnancy for attention, and she doesn’t even have the common sense to align…her timeline. She also knows that she doesn’t have to for her far, right-wing, mostly white audience. They don’t fact check their own. Her timeline is as shady as the big tree in my front yard. Folks listen, I have no problem with her evolution when it comes to her abortion stance, I just have a problem with her changing it when it suits her for political gain.
I decided to go outside and get some fresh air today during my lunch. I stood there peacefully for about 12 minutes, then I looked up at one of the white columns of the building and noticed a very intricate, large hornet’s nest. It was a “beige” series of tunnels that they flew in and out of. I panicked. Then I realized that although I hadn’t noticed them until now, they knew I was there the whole time and went about their own affairs above me. Then I calmed down and marveled at their engineering. As long as I minded my business, and didn’t agitate them, we could co-exist. That’s what the Karens & Kevins of the world need to learn.
I’m very introspective and today in one such moment, I realized a harsh reality about being black in America. We have to have multiple civil rights movements in order to be all the way free. This time, and in this current such movement, it’s manifesting in all of the rage of the last one held back, so they could maintain the non-violent stance. The irony of it all pulls at my heartstrings today.
During this Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve had a lot more time to write, but I’ve devoted my spare time to almost exclusively fictional writing efforts. I haven’t been affected much financially because I’m considered an essential worker in healthcare. Today during my very early morning writing ritual, I thought I’d take a quick break from that to share a brief bit born out of my introspection. I pray all of you are well. Here goes:
The “weight for the facts” crew in every high profile criminal case should know, that despite the logic of doing so, today’s junk journalism makes that almost impossible. This is especially true with interracial crimes the media selectively chooses for their journalistic activism. I’ve preached that gospel myself plenty of times, and I don’t mind owning that. You live you learn. The “truth”, and therefore the “facts” change daily in the news cycle. Sometimes within hours as corporate media outlets fight to be first in line. How will we know when it has fully arrived? At some point common sense has to knock on the door of veracity and agree to agree. That means there’ll be plenty of times when we’ll have to keep that handshake to ourselves, but we’ll be better a nation and individually for it. My prayers go out to Ahmaud Arbery’s family who are also waiting for the truth and they deserve it more than anyone else.
One of the greatest things that I’ve always loved about my late father Leroy “Lee” Mceachin – I admired him throughout my life for it, was/is his very deep humility, and his commitment to memorizing scriptures. That’s a huge part of his legacy. I’ve spoken several times about him online over the years since he transitioned. I spoke recently about how I felt that some kind of way that he was praying for me from Heaven, but I don’t have the theological knowledge or expertise to know if this could happen. It’s a feeling, which could be the result of my emotional state lately & since he transitioned. Feelings can be fleeting. I’m knowledgeable about many things, but I’m ignant’ on this. Totally. The one thing that has kept me going though, is my remembrance, love & respect for his humility. And he knew a whole lot more than me…even about me. So does Mom on a huge level too. So much so, that I’ve had to not necessarily stop pumping myself up each day w/affirmations, positive “vibes” & memes…things that lead me to believe that everything painful that has happened to me has occurred for some great purpose, but to realize that the great things that God has chosen to manifest through any one of us, could occur…through ANY one of us. That’s the meme that should spread like wildfire. It’s the height of human arrogance to assess that it “had to be you”. No it didn’t. God is still omnipotent. Christ is still Lord. There is nothing any of us sinners can do or not do to alter anything divine. He spoke & light shone – gave us night & day! I think about that most sunrises & sunsets. He spoke more & the world as we know it was created. We cannot thwart HIS plans & destiny for a sinful world full of us all. I’ve said it before, and I’m gonna say it again – so many of us have been chosen throughout the span of history & time, but none of us are “needed”. Humble yourself. I’ve had to eat that whole pie multiple times by myself…and it was good for me. Until next musing – T
Months ago, an old boyfriend from long ago painstakingly revealed to me when we met for coffee after running into each other randomly that he was HIV +. I detected a deep sorrow, fear and regret in him that despite his best efforts to hide, forced his face and other body language into tattle-telling. It was my birthday. Something was very wrong yet I knew it had nothing to do with me. He had remembered my kindness and trustworthy nature and concluded that I was the best person outside of his family most likely to solicit & receive empathy from. I hadn’t seen him in at least 5 years, and it’s been much, much longer since we were intimate. He knew I was the one unaffected by this whom he could trust. I didn’t disappoint him. I wasn’t afraid of this revelation at all – I had only protected sex w/him years back & had myself been tested multiple reasons in the span of years for whatever reason.
I had donated blood & plasma as recently as the month of his revelation. It wasn’t the first time. A few years earlier I did it to obtain life insurance. Again when I switched policies last year, and once voluntarily at a health fair I participated in on behalf of my employer at the time. A hospital rep I had quickly bonded with that day asked me if I’d take a test to “unfrighten” (made up word as far as I know – feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but my spell check is screaming red-no time to check, this is important). The problem? The bulk of women and men in attendance would rather not know their status to avoid discovery of a devastating disease with potentially a lifetime of secrets and lying. It ain’t lying if you remain ignorant for too many. This was probably certain death in their minds. They had no desire to experience something so devastating and life-altering. Truth. They knew the risks they took with their own lives. They knew they had engaged in Russian Roulette. I was unafraid & just as confident as they were. Willful, self-imposed ignorance can be deadly.
She asked me to make public everything relevant. I said “sure” without hesitation. In doing this I know I reached into the depths of at least one person. As it turns out, we reached 34 out of 200. I don’t know how many were HIV+. That wasn’t disclosed to me for obvious reasons. Many others were so confident they were negative so that they ignored us. Atlanta has extremely high rates of new HIV cases. So many are under age 25. We’re talking third world numbers in the black community here. Some of those who passed by shouldn’t have. They’ve probably infected others by now. Those others have likely infected others, and so on. *Sigh*. I know so much about this disease. I can’t claim ignorance, but even I hesitated to touch him that day. How could I do that armed with so much detailed knowledge? What the heck? This isn’t right. T!!!!!!! God help me. Forgive me. Enlighten me. Enable me to share when the time comes. I realized later, that it was a knee-jerk reaction to the reality, that had I not protected myself so much over the years, I’d could’ve been a statistic just as he was. Yeah……..
I had a rough day today. I work for an eye surgeon, and we get our fair share of indigent patients. Today a homeless man came in as recommended by the ER of the hospital down the street where my doctor is on call as a trauma eye surgeon. This older, white gentleman w/sunken & “cloudy”’eyes came in & his sight was so poor I had to fill out his paperwork for him & lead him to the exam room. We had to lead him everywhere because he was running into walls. I tied his shoe for him because he couldn’t see well enough to tie them himself. He had no insurance but said he was a veteran. He stank. No one wanted to sit next to him. We see patients referred by the VA all the time. ￼He was off mentally but knew his SSN, an old address & his sister’s name & phone number. Long story long, we pulled up his records from the ER but the info there was limited too. I got his sister on the phone & she confirmed that he was in the military (USMC) & homeless. She hadn’t seen him since 2015 & lives out of state. She informed me that whenever they came to check on him, he was normally under a bridge down the street. We knew he couldn’t pay for his visit, but the doctor I work for never cares about that and was not going to turn him away.
After I got off the phone w/his sister I called TriWest (military insurance) & they didn’t see him in their system. I called the VA. Same thing initially, but when they transferred me to another department the 2nd person I spoke to found him, but much to my dismay he was dishonorably discharged in 76’ & had no benefits. Huge sigh. I was expecting a totally different outcome. I wanted to go above & beyond for this man. I wanted to be a hero to him & couldn’t. My hands haven’t been tied like that in a long time. It hurt. He so desperately needs cataract surgery & seeing him fumble around broke my heart. I don’t care that he was dishonorably discharged. He served – something some Americans lack the courage to do despite all the patriotism some claim. Whatever he did, to get kicked out of the Marine corps seems so unimportant to me right now. He’s much older & I’m sure a shell of his former self. He’s paid in full for that infraction w/his life. We recommended that he seek assistance at the local public hospital here smack in the middle of downtown Atlanta. Locals on my page know of it all to well.
A person he was engaging in panhandling with sprayed him in the eyes w/mace & told him to get lost. Wow. That’s what sent him to the ER & ultimately our clinic. Some of us can be so cruel. Why couldn’t this person simply give a “no thanks’” & keep it moving? Ignoring him completely would’ve been much more humane. I happen to believe, that if every one of us on the planet stepped into the shoes of the indigent & homeless – the “least” of society, our empathy would shoot up higher than the tallest building we’ve managed to erect. We cannot grow as a nation if we cannot take care of the “least” of us. I made a split second decision to go and get him something to eat at least. Then I had to tell him painfully direct & tactfully near closing, that he didn’t have to go home but…..on the bright side your sister is coming as soon as she can, and you now have the money for a round trip on the bus. I gave him that too. I’ll never forget the flood of empathy he solicited from within me. I’ll never forget his face. I’ll never forget his name – it’s Richard.
I hope you all thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s solar eclipse! I did, but my mind was also churning with what I wanted to share this week. Let’s get right into it:
Wealth & Consumerism
Anytime someone brings up consumerism in a economic discussion, as evidence of black wealth, and/or to disprove the so-called “myth of racial wealth gap”, you’re wasting your time with someone who is fiscally illiterate. If you think the ability to buy expensive stuff proves wealth in and of itself, you’re probably a person who is either wealthy & out of touch, or poor and living way beyond your means. My patience is growing thin in either scenario. This is why entertainers paid to endorse & peddle products to the poor shouldn’t be revered for doing so. As part of the problem, they have no business telling you which liquor you should drink, pre-paid Visa to get, or which headphones to buy. You can’t claim to be about empowering the masses of black folks to “do for self,” if you’re the spokesperson of excessive consumerism. Nope. Not gonna let them off that easy. It’s the blind leading the blind, and insisting that they can see. Ironically, the claims from such celebrities are false anyway. These aren’t products they created themselves, they are paid endorsers if I’m polite, pimps if I’m not. Ridiculous. I’ll take “stop insulting my intelligence” for $200 Alex…
Black America Needs To Get Over Slavery
I wanted to share a point made by a FB friend. Whenever someone tells me black people need to “get over it” (slavery), I’m still taken aback by their profound, ignorant deflection. It’s a way of ignoring the century (and beyond) of legal discrimination, murders/lynchings, the destruction of black wealth that kept it from being passed down to future generations, and horrific medical experiments/cruelty (Tuskegee, Henrietta Lacks & J. Marion Marion Sims – the latter during slavery) that followed. The Civil Rights Bill was signed just 50 years ago. What do some of you mean, “that was long ago”? Stop that. I’m embarrassed for you:
“The value in the protests and removal of these monuments is not in the removal …but rather the awareness raised that these events took place
Too many people want to make the discussion about slavery because that’s intellectually easy. Very few are willing to discuss 1865-1965″
Yep. He’s absolutely right. Former slaves and their descendants didn’t gain sudden equality when the ink on the Emancipation Proclamation dried. Leaping over this fact is intellectually dishonest. It’s also hypocritical, but what can anyone expect, from folks who are telling black Americans to get over slavery, when they can’t seem to get over the Civil War.
After someone shared these facts with me privately on Facebook, I did a bit of research and was astonished to uncover this truth, which I never knew. It adds a tremendous amount of irony in the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Va riots, where racist, white nationalists protested the removal of symbols of the Confederacy:
It's so ironic that some folks are fighting to keep the Confederate flag flying on government property, when two huge, iconic figures from the Confederacy clearly did not want the flag flown after the war. Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, respectively, said:
"I think it wisest not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered." – Letter to the Gettysburg Identification Committee, 1865
"My pride is that that flag shall not set between contending brothers; and that, when it shall no longer be the common flag of the country, it shall be folded up and laid away like a vesture no longer used." – The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, 1881
So, a general in the Confederate military, and the PRESIDENT of the Confederacy, did NOT think it was a good idea to fly the flag anymore after the war, yet some folks are kicking, screaming, protesting (which is their right as long as it's peaceful), and resorting to violence to keep it flying. What exacerbates this is that anyone can fly whatever flag they want on their private property. Removal efforts concern government property. It's still in museums (as it should be, it IS a part of American history) but folks are going nuts over a flag that both of these men felt should be retired. Hmm. Ain't that something?