Why I Want to See Black Panther, by A White Woman

I was born in 1969. The Civil Rights movement had already radically changed our country and we were a month away from landing on the Moon. The world had made enormous changes for the better.

My father, a career Army man, worked with Black service members. The Army could not be bothered to keep up inefficient, worthless segregation practices in its ranks. So I went to school with Black children and we sometimes played together in our Army neighborhoods.

Dick Gregory and Diana Ross were on my TV. My sister and I watched Good Times and The Jeffersons. Soul Train came on every evening. My mother considered rock music evil, but disco was more or less acceptable.

I had teen crushes on John Oates, Simon LeBon and Michael Jackson. My friends and I danced to Wham and Lionel Richie and Madonna and the Pointer Sisters. We wanted to be Tina Turner when we turned 50. We turned puzzled eyes on people who said Janet Jackson was pretty “for a black girl”. Janet was just pretty.

I still have a nerd crush on LeVar Burton.

Yes, I am a nerd. Science was my favorite school subject. I love geology, meterology and astronomy. Star Wars was my favorite movie, Star Trek was my favorite TV show. When I played make believe, I was some combination of Princess Leia and Lieutenant Uhura.

White boys in the 80’s wore heavy metal t-shirts and treated girls like toys. Black boys in the 80’s wore double-breasted suits to school and smiled when you looked them in the eye.

My college offered a year’s course in the geography of Africa, the largest and most diverse continent on Earth. I eagerly signed up. We learned that elevation changes in the Congo River make it practically unnavigable. The Aswan Dam on the Nile caused an epidemic of snail-borne parasites. The King of Ghana on his way to Mecca, dropped so much gold in Cairo that it took 500 years for the city’s economy to recover. Children in South Africa play marbles with diamonds that wash down from the mountains. Eating real yams (not sweet potatoes) protected people from numerous ailments. Forcing Africans to switch to American maize made a lot of people sick.

Africa is part of my world. Hollywood has neglected this fact, until this month.

The biggest movie studio in the world is releasing Marvel’s Black Panther, with a gorgeous African and African American cast, beautiful costume and brilliant special effects. Photos from the premier alone left me breathless. Trailers of Chadwick flipping thru the air make me jump out of my chair in astonishment. I cannot WAIT for the movie itself.



No Help

Some 60 people died and hundreds were wounded by a shooter in Las Vegas. Reports from Wall Street were really good for gun manufacturers after this story reached headlines.

There is nothing that can be done to prevent this from happening again. We all have guns. Americans will just continue to die from gunshots like we die in auto accidents.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Got to die of something!” after smoking a cigarette, drinking alcohol or eating a pack of cookies? This is the same. We all are subject to the chance that a bullet is what will end us.

Death by gunshot does not make sense; it also does not make sense to do anything towards trying to prevent it. You cannot prevent bullets.

Gun restriction is a lost cause. America is a Capitalist society – money is the both the gears by which our society operates and it is the perceived goal of each citizen to collect as much as possible.

We are helpless against guns – that is the whole purpose of a gun.

Guns are never going away. Death by gunshot is just part of American life. The sooner everyone accepts this, the better.


Granny Grabtree

1990 small town Walmart, the Christmas decorations had been out for a few weeks. (So, probably September.) I picked up one of the little artificial trees and looked it over.

It was about 18 inches tall with an X-shaped foot. The center trunk was a twist of two heavy gauge wires and its branches were smaller wire twists containing dark green and light brown plastic “needles”. The entire shelf’s worth of wee trees were compacted, the branches crushed up against their trunks. They had been shelved straight from the shipping container.

I looked over the tree in my hand and began loosening the branches. Starting at the bottom, I arranged them with some care until the tree looked sprightly and almost genuine. I set the little guy back on the shelf and admired my work. I wondered why no store clerk had done this for a display.

But I didn’t need a little tree, so I turned to leave. At the end of the aisle, an older woman stared at me, agape.

Her open mouth lived among soft, white, crepey skin, below a pointed nose and oversized tortoiseshell glasses. Her hair was white, unkempt curls with a flat spot in the back. She wore an acrylic sweater and jean slacks, similar to the pants I am wearing today. She leaned forward slightly. Her eyes darted back and forth from me to the little tree.

“Weird”, I thought, and moved on with my shopping.

I moved towards the row of cashier stands about half an hour later. The woman who had stared at me was sitting on a bench to the side of the exit doors. She had an extremely smug smile on her upturned face, upper teeth exposed and eyes half-lidded.

In one hand, she held the little tree I had arranged, and she flopped it from side to side over her knees. When she saw me, she froze solid, mouth open again in alarm.

I stared at her for a second or two, mystified. The tree was partly crushed again from her repeated flopping. She had nothing else with her.

She watched me, still frozen in place except her eyes and a slight movement of her head, as I moved thru the line and made my purchases. I glanced back once more as I walked out the door to see her still staring at me and her body beginning to thaw.

Small town life offers little entertainment. I guess she hoped to create her own little drama. I hope I failed her.



Reach Across, People

I am sick of political sniping.
I need real conversations on serious topics. My friends and relatives span the political spectrum. Instead of being able to discuss, most people regurgitate the shite that talking heads present as “facts” or “opinions”.

I see mockery instead of debate. This is tiresome. Reporters pose trick questions to people they disagree with and laugh behind their backs after being given a genuine answer. It gets us nowhere, in fact this sets us back.

I get mad and scream¬†“TRICK QUESTION” at my television, like we used to yell at the teacher in grade school. Yes, I get so mad I forget the pundits on TV can’t hear me. I have to laugh at myself about this, to keep from just feeling defeated.

Americans assume that everyone who opposes them are “idiots”. This is so wrong.

Let me say that again. It is WRONG to assume that people who oppose you are stupid.

Did we learn nothing from school sports? The other team is necessary to play a game. They have their reasons, their talents and strategies, you have yours. And you are competing for the same goal. Coaches and teachers taught us to appreciate the opposing team. Where would we be without each other? Alone, going nowhere, that is where.

This is true of our political game, too. Both sides of politics wants our country do well. We want good things.

Some of those good things are really compatible. For instance, keeping our country secure and going solar. Equality and religious freedom. Individualism and education.

It is SO EASY to fight, split up, disagree. All you need is an unpleasant surprise. Let it grow into shock, disdain and anger, fueled by impatience from having to repeat yourself and failing to listen.

It is not pleasant to find out that your fellow patriots disagree with you. But let’s put some effort into weaving our country out of
both kinds of thread, thread pointing in different directions. That’s really how it works. Each intersection makes the fabric softer.

Because our country does not exist, not without all of us creating it together every day. It will be gone in the blink of an eye unless we work together.

Reach across. Reach up, reach down. Hold on to the people on the other side.