A Texas Pandemic

The numbers in Texas today for COVID-19 infections are staggering. As of now, Thursday June 11th, 2020, the news out of Austin reports a 41% increase over the past two weeks in cases, with an 11% drop in people getting tested. A lot of us saw it coming. People continued to take it lightly. We watched as restaurants opened, most of them careful to allow only a few people, wear masks, take extra precautions above and beyond the suggested measures. But no one really knew how this would play out, despite the masks, hand washing, social distancing, and limited crowds.

People headed to the beaches, continued to hang out at closer distances on outside patios and parks and art markets, and they became infected.
Everywhere I went I saw very few masks and even then people were wearing them incorrectly, with noses exposed or the entire mask pulled down on the neck. Elderly people weren’t wearing them at all. I felt like an alien.

We’re dealing with an insidious organic microscopic invasion with an agenda all its own. This isn’t ‘just the flu’ and contracting it isn’t preventable in many situations. There is one thing we can all count on, though: People will continue to become infected, and more people will die. Banking on those two standard truths, is it more important to get out and party with friends or is it crucial that we all continue to fully distance ourselves from others unless absolutely necessary? I completely agree that restaurants, movie theaters, music venues, bars and other public businesses need to reopen and do well to stay alive but we desperately need to find a better way of managing this.

After doctors’ offices repopened, I made an appointment for a teeth cleaning. Over the phone I was told exactly what to expect: Once I arrived, call them from my car and an attendant will meet me at my car window wearing a mask. If I didn’t have a mask (I did) they would give me one. Then I was to come inside and wait in the lobby, and WOULD BE THE ONLY ONE THERE. They were VERY careful to only have one person in the lobby at a time. Then a hygienist lead me into the examining room. She had on a mask, gloves, a body apron, and a face shield. I was thinking how incredibly uncomfortable and hot that must be, having to wear it all day. But she was pleasant, conversational, and she put me at ease explaining all that was about to happen.

That was the best teeth cleaning I’d ever had; she was thorough in her presentation and her technique. My feeling of how ‘right’ this experience became was off the charts. Everything was well orchestrated and planned out way ahead of time. The entire staff was thoughtful and gracious. When the dentist came in to talk about the x-rays, he wore a mask and spoke with compassion and professionalism. That became one of the best dental experiences of my life.

If we could just get all the public venues and staff to follow this basic albeit slightly uncomfortable pattern, we might once again flatten the curve. Worldwide, almost half a million people have died. The United States alone is leading by almost THREE TIMES the death rate of the second-top-mortality country, Brazil, carrying the casualties of over 25% of the world’s mortality from COVID-19. THAT’S INSANE. We opened up too soon, those in authority didn’t give a damn about human life – they only wanted the economy to gear back up. The economy will be fine; it always is. Dead people cannot come back to life.

We have to care about each other as deeply as we care for our families. It’ll take an entire nation to quell the abject ignorance we are seeing with this pandemic. It’s the only way we’ll save lives and begin a new Age of Reason.

Black Lives Matter ~ Anti-Racist Resources for Understanding

There’s a love/hate relationship with Facebook that I adore, one that has educated me and pissed me the hell off.
Many times.
But during this pandemic- racial episode- world-on-fire- murder hornet- asteroid-on-its-way- season of the bitch, my friends on Facebook have helped me understand what it means to be oppressed and forgotten. I’ve seen it, read on it extensively, and have occasionally experienced it firsthand. But nothing – and I mean NOTHING – comes close to being shown what African Americans have experienced their entire lives… for centuries. Right here in the United States of America. I’m white and white-privileged and I am wanting to know empathy like I’ve never known it before.

These are just a few resources that I’ve collected to help me have a better understanding. My hope is that everyone reading this will reach a little further to uncover the reality faced each day by those whose skin happens to be a different color. This could be are our Saving Grace, the one Truth we need to understand, and our way out of this horrendously wrecked system that has pushed us to the brink of extinction as a collective entity.

Donate

Southern Poverty Law Center
https://donate.splcenter.org/

Black Lives Matter
https://blacklivesmatter.com/

Justice for Breonna Taylor
https://www.change.org/p/andy-beshear-justice-for-breonna-taylor

Donate for Bailout Funds for Protesters
https://www.dsa-la.org/support_floyd_protests_nationwide

NAACP
https://www.naacp.org/

Register to Vote

https://www.whenweallvote.org/voting-resources/

Trevor Noah on George Floyd, Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper (this changed the way I thought about rioting)

EDUCATE YOURSELF

FREE CLASSES that fight social justice and racial inequality
through Coursera

Race and Cultural Diversity in American Life and History
https://www.coursera.org/learn/race-cultural-diversity-american-life
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Revolutionary Ideas: Utility, Justice, Equality, Freedom
https://www.coursera.org/learn/revolutionary-ideas-utility-justice-equality-freedom
Rutgers the State University of New Jersey

Love as a Force for Social Justice
https://www.coursera.org/learn/love-social-justice
Stanford University

From Freedom Rides to Ferguson: Narratives of Nonviolence in the American Civil Rights Movement
https://www.coursera.org/learn/nonviolence
Emory University

Human Rights for Open Societies
https://www.coursera.org/learn/humanrights
Utrecht University

Feminism and Social Justice
https://www.coursera.org/learn/feminism-social-justice
University of California, Santa Cruz

Social Norms, Social Change I
https://www.coursera.org/learn/norms
University of Pennsylvania and UNICEF

How to Change the World
https://www.coursera.org/learn/world-change
Wesleyan University

Economic Growth and Distributive Justice Part I -The Role of the State
https://www.coursera.org/learn/economic-growth-part-1
Tel Aviv University

Economic Growth and Distributive Justice Part II – Maximize Social Wellbeing
https://www.coursera.org/learn/economic-growth-part-2
Tel Aviv University

Moral Foundations of Politics
https://www.coursera.org/learn/moral-politics
Yale University

Movies

13th by director Ava DuVernay
When They See Us (the story of the ‘Central Park Five’) by director Ava DuVernay
Dear White People
Just Mercy – currently free ‘rental’ on Amazon Prime
America to Me
The Rape of Recy Taylor
Out of Omaha
Emanuel
I Am Not Your Negro
Harriet Tubman: They Called Her Moses
The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till

Black History in America is More Tragic Than You Think

Over the weekend and in the coming weeks, I’m immersing myself in the movies, documentaries, and TV shows that depict a closer rendition to the experience of blacks in America. I’m a white female who has privilege simply from being white. I’m not immune to the suffering of others but have seen a wide chasm between reality and the stories I’ve been told. My two excellent history professors, the first semester covering American history leading up to the Civil War, the second being ‘modern’ history, from the civil war until the 60s, did their best to disseminate all the information they could in just a few weeks’ time.

It wasn’t enough. It was never enough. It created in me this deep desire to discover more about the past and its true reality. These recent events have pulled back the thick curtain of bullshit that covered up so much of what really went down, that I have a lot of catching up to do. Those two highly educated and deeply passionate history professors I had the honor to learn from couldn’t even begin the story of the black experience because they knew it was far too complex and faceted to cover in the time they had with their students. For what they gave me, I am extremely grateful. They’d sown the seed and only now, 3 decades later, am I finally seeing that seed break the surface.

Friday night and Saturday I watched a great movie in two chunks because it was so hard to take at once: “Just Mercy”
I’m told it’s being streamed for free on all streaming platforms; check your listings if you do streaming media (ie: Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc.) It was profoundly moving and extreme in that it not only told the story of one black man’s incarceration, it touched on the stories of men with whom he shared Death Row in an Alabama prison. After the movie ended and the updates appeared on the screen showing photos of the real people who’d been portrayed by actors, I lost it. These were incarcerated men whose cases hadn’t been defended the way they could’ve been. This happens to blacks so often that the statistics are staggering. It’s been this way throughout all of America’s history. Get the tissues ready.

After that I watched “Harriet Tubman: The Called Her Moses”

This documentary depicts her passage from birth through her own childhood slavery, to her eventual marriage, and her inevitable escape to freedom. Late in life she was honored for her heroic efforts to save slaves as she worked tirelessly in the Underground Railroad. It was a well-deserved honor and I will never forget her work to help others. We’d all do well to take a page from her book.

The films I intend to watch over the next few weeks, and this only scratches the surface:

Prime: “I Am Not Your Negro” | “Moonlight” | “Fences” | “Crown Heights” (Amazon Original) | “Freedom Summer” | “4 Little Girls”

Netflix: “Malcolm X” | “13th” | “For Colored Girls” | “Django Unchained” | “The Black Godfather” | “The Two Killings of Sam Cooke” | “Burning Sands”

and there are so many more. After yesterday’s two films, I am changed. I’ve never been overtly racist but I can see my failings in a comparatively tunnel-visioned world, and I am desperate to do better. It’s simplest to say ~ I’m woke and I want to stay that way.

TEN THINGS I LEARNED FROM LIVING INSIDE A PANDEMIC

There are many things I learned but these are the Top Ten…

1. Cars were made to be driven

2. There are people who hate following ‘rules’ or being told what to do, me being one of them, but I do it anyway and celebrate with champagne

3. It’s too easy to be a hoarder (which I’m not but I came damn close)

4. Wheeled coolers with tight lids make GREAT bulk storage for pet food

5. People can tolerate a lot more isolation than they think… before they go insane

6. I’m great at sewing masks. Who knew!? Hell, if you had told me in January I’d be holed up creating cool masks for my friends and acquaintances in a couple of months, I’d have said you need to get off the drugs

7. People need people …but I wouldn’t call them the luckiest people in the world

8. So many people all over the world will do what they’d previously believed impossible just to save the lives of people they’ll never meet.

9. Cats can still nurse even after being fixed only a week after they give birth (big oopsie on not knowing she had domino’d, but all is well and we have 3 ridiculously cute baby kittens) which has nothing to do with the pandemic but it happened during one so #9 counts, especially with cats

10. Having worked from home nearly 20 years, I thought nothing would change… then everything changed

WTF Just Happened?

My how things have changed in such a short time.

I’m staying in, hunkering down with my fur kids, waiting… waiting… just like the rest of the world.
I spend my ‘free time’ educating myself on business and marketing while working on several sites (including this one) and individual pages for my day gig. It’s good to be extremely busy but I wish I hadn’t been so distracted recently, when I thought everything was wonderful. Suddenly it felt like the world caved in on me and I fell down a deep, dark well.

Now I feel incredibly sad and abandoned. I wonder if others feel this way. I’m sure busy will help ease me into the Light again. It’s all we have right now: Time.

Stay well, stay tuned, don’t touch your face, and I will be back to make something of this website again.

First: work; then: school; then: building a massively huge garden; then: a house to live in; then: my life.

Here’s some beautiful Norah Jones to medicate the soul…

Photo by ak n cakiner