Today’s Read: Say Her Name, Michelle Cusseaux

This is a summary of the police murder of Michelle Cusseaux. CW: Gun violence, murder

A few months ago, I watched this Ted Talk on intersectionality from the woman who coined the term, Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw. She opened my eyes to #SayHerName and the total silence about Black women who’ve been murdered by law enforcement. We know George Floyd. We know Tamir Rice. We know Philando Castile. But can we name any Black women who’ve died so unjustly?

I want to note the importance of knowing, saying, and sharing their names. This isn’t about Black trauma porn (i.e. think about why you’re watching and sharing videos of seeing Black folks die violent deaths). This is simply knowing that Black women die at the hands of law enforcement as well.

This is merely one woman’s name. This is merely one example of the abuse of power toward Black women (and the examples are all triggering as fuck). This is merely one case of so many ways in which the stigma against mental illness leads to unnecessary death.

There are more. Take the time to learn and say her name.

Incivility and Attention Whores

Bowling shoes. Food. Beer pitchers.

Those are the items people have thrown at other people or windows at two businesses in the Des Moines area. Why? Because adults aren’t getting what they want, so they’re throwing adult tantrums, which aren’t a thing. A tantrum is a tantrum. If you’re throwing one, you’re an adult in numbers only.

I remember throwing a tantrum as a kid in the middle of the meat department at Dahl’s (R.I.P.). My mother leaned over to me & whispered that I would NEVER do that to her again. It was terrifying. She was right. I didn’t.

Maybe the person who threw bowling shoes didn’t have a mom who was scary when she got quiet. Maybe folks got away with throwing food when they were kids & were never told it’s wrong. But I doubt that. I suspect these folks know exactly what they’re doing. They know they’re immature & cruel. They just don’t care.

I say that because, this past Sunday, My family & I attended my niece’s graduation. It was held outdoors with no restrictions, no social distancing, & no mask mandates because our governor banned such mandates schools & local governments. The graduating class had over 500 students, which meant there were literally thousands of people in attendance at this one function. I’m confident there were less than 200 masks among the crowd.

In other news, it’s considered “divisive” & an incivility to teach, talk about, & call out racism. Political leaders called for “civility” in protests. And so on & so forth with the standard nonsense that is White supremacy.

None of this should surprise me, but I have this flaw in thinking people will do the right thing. Strangely, it’s the same flaw Iowa’s governor has. Except mine is believing people will care about other people.

It leaves me asking the same question time & time again: Why isn’t everyone talking about this? Why do we let the people in the wrong have the say, make the rules, & control the narrative? This is why we need to talk about it.

The derision of calling people of color “uncivilized” is not new in America. It was encoded in one of our country’s founding documents. In our Declaration of Independence, among the complaints listed against King George III is this: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” Ironically, the Founding Fathers (a.k.a. European Colonizers) considered this to be “oppression” and “tyranny.”

(I’ll leave the phrase “domestic insurrections” for another post.)

So, there it is, right? Written into our nation’s history is the belief that the colonizer is the one being oppressed, the ones bringing harm think they are the victims, the ones throwing the food think they are in the right.

But they know full well they aren’t because they have to disparage the so-called uncivilized “savage” in order to look like the victim. And they couldn’t easily defeat the Natives, so they . . . threw a tantrum.

I return to this question too: Why do you think people throw food at those in the service industry? Why do you think a misnomer like “wage slave” exists? Why do you think people get so mad when minimum wage workers don’t bend to the whims of the customer? Why do you think people continue to throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want, then try to disparage anyone who tries to say, “Hey, you’re in the wrong”?

It’s because of the innate right to attention from others, one of the most important factors in feeling whole.

The desire to be a victim, to get sympathy, to get attention is what we aren’t talking about here. It is the cause of so many social symptoms. We shame people who seek attention as attention whores, as if attention is a bad thing, but it is the thing we all crave from birth. We literally need food, sleep, and attention to survive.

And when people don’t get attention in a loving, nurturing way, they will ALWAYS seek it where they can get it. Some will seek it in healthy ways, but others–especially if they’ve not had healthy behaviors modeled for them–will do things like throw food, hurl beer pitchers at windows, harm others, and . . . well, colonize whole countries. It might seem like an exaggeration, but the behavior doesn’t change, only the scale of the person’s impact does.

And if you don’t believe me, look at Donald J. Trump. How many times do you think his parents told him they loved him?

4/17/21: DSM Food Database Updates!

Last week, I had no updates for the DSM Food Database, but this week . . . whoa! I did some digging on Facebook, and I found a bunch of stuff I didn’t know existed. Several new places came across from my friends and family as well. So, here you are. HUGE updates in the graphic below!

Two notes though: Steve McFadden owns Tipsy Crow Tavern, Sambetti’s, Grumpy Goat, and several other places in the area. If you don’t know, he’s not our peeps. Well, he also owns 50th Street Tap, which is now Boomer’s Bicycle Lounge, which means I won’t be trying TäKō.

But the sad part for me is I learned his wife, Trisha, owns Early Bird Brunch, which is opening in West Des Moines. I was looking forward to that one because we have such a shortage of breakfast and brunch places here, but so much for that.

It would help if The Breakfast Club that just opened wasn’t owned by the Gusto Pizza/El Guapo dudes because I don’t like them either. Could we please get a Black-woman owned breakfast place in this fucking city?! OH WAIT. I forgot we live in hell now.

And if you’re the odd racist dickwad hate-reading this, you’re welcome. Lots of places for you to spend your money. Enjoy eating with people who all shit in the the same gene pool. Makes you wonder how many times they coughed on your food. Oh! I guess it would’ve helped if y’all were pro-mask, huh?

Black Worry

My nephews got the family mouth.

The oldest will not hesitate to tell you what he thinks, just like his mom, like me, like his grandfather. He lives and works in Minneapolis with his dad. He’s an adult now with his fro and his snarky smile. He is a sensitive soul. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t hurt anyone unless they hurt the people he loves.

The youngest looks just like his White dad. He’s always trying to outwit everyone. As a toddler, he had the biggest head on the tiniest body. Watching him literally toddle down the hall was one of the last times I saw my grandmother laugh. He probably won’t remember her. He probably doesn’t know how much closer to our abducted ancestors she made us.

The middle nephew struggles because, far too often, he’s been told he isn’t wanted. He’s incredibly smart, witty as fuck, philosophical, funny, and determined. He’s also argumentative and a typical teenaged boy who doesn’t realize how much he’s suffered. He likes shoes, looking good, cars, and driving too fast.

Every night, I check a local Twitter account that reports what’s said on the police scanner. I’ve accepted that one of those tweets will be about my middle nephew. He’s already been pulled over at least once. He’s not even eighteen yet. Will he make it? Will the next officer know the difference between a taser and a gun? Will the next officer recognize him as the grandchild of a retired policeman? Will it make a difference?

Every day, I read the news. I worry one of the stories out of Minnesota will end up being my eldest nephew who knows he’s “the Blackest looking of the family.” My dad, the retired officer, taught us to comply. We’ve also been taught not to take any shit. What will my eldest nephew pick when he’s pulled over? What thing will the officer say to piss off my nephew? Will that kid able to keep his mouth shut? Will he fight for what’s right and for himself? Will either save his life?

12/10/2020: Resource of the Day (RoD), Redlining

The United Way of Central Iowa* did a 21-Day Equity Challenge this fall. I’m still working through the materials because there is a ton.

Many of you learned about redlining this summer thanks to an educational exhibit in Des Moines. This, however, is the most remarkable resource on redlining I’ve seen so far. It’s called Mapping Inequality, and it’s an interactive map that allows you to view the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation’s (HOLC) reports on neighborhoods throughout the country.

As if the data itself weren’t eye-opening in itself, the reports were damning. The HOLC often referred to the number of ethnic minority populations living in certain areas as “infiltration.” They directly stated and had data referring to the population numbers of “Negros” in each district.

Screenshot of Chicago neighborhood HOLC report from Mapping Inequality

If anyone in this country continues to insist racism wasn’t that bad, these federal reports make it otherwise blatantly clear. It is upsetting, gross, but not surprising if you know anything about the history of white supremacy in the United States.

If you want to do the Equity Challenge, I believe you can still join. It’s worthwhile, but I recommend giving yourself several weeks to complete it.

* Full disclosure: I have family employed with United Way.