Refusing to Be Erased

(Note: Every Tuesday I write a piece for what I call “Tuesday Meditations” and send them out to those who want to receive them. In light of the brilliant performance of poet Amanda Gorman today at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, I thought I would share this meditation on my blog because it was an interview of Gorman I heard a couple of days ago that inspired this meditation. I hope you enjoy it.)

 Poet Amanda Gorman, national youth poet laureate who will read one of her poems at the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, remembers that Thomas Jefferson wrote in Notes on the State of Virginia that black people could not be poets. Miffed that Phillis Wheatley, a Black woman, was earning high praise for her poems, Jefferson expanded his beliefs about the capabilities of Black people, writing,”Misery is often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry. Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar oestrum of the poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not the imagination. Religion, indeed, has produced a Phillis Wheatley [sic]; but it could not produce a poet” (p. 44).

 Gorman’s description of how Jefferson tried to erase Wheatley as both a poet and a woman, hit a nerve. Is that what Black people and other oppressed people have been fighting? Their being erased as human beings, first, and secondly as human beings with worth, talent, and gifts?

 If one feels erased long enough, one begins to buy into the narrative. Little Black children, who are as excited as is any white child to start school, learn quickly, in far too many schools, that their school buildings are in bad shape, with broken windows which go unfixed, no heat in the winter, and no air conditioning in the summer. They see torn and tattered books and too often have teachers who do not believe in them and who are in fact their teachers only because someone assigned them to this building and to these children as a sort of punishment.

 Do the children feel…erased?

 I was working in Texas when I decided to go to divinity school. When I got accepted, I told the publisher, as well as the editor of the paper and the city/metropolitan editor, because my acceptance meant I would be leaving the newspaper in a month.

 A little later that day, the publisher came out of his office and asked me, as I sat at my desk in the newsroom, to what school would I be going. When I told him Yale Divinity School, he laughed out loud and said out loud, “Oh come on! You’re not smart enough to go to Yale! What was your GPA?

 While I was taken with his reaction, I was not surprised. I was troubled. I was angry at his arrogance. And I think I was embarrassed. It seemed like all of the reporters stopped writing for a moment, in spite of us all having to meet the deadline for our articles. They stopped. Some turned around to look at me. Others acted like they didn’t know what was going on or what had been said. But they knew.

 I felt a number of different emotions that I can remember. I realized that my worth as a writer was obviously not much to this man (though my work won high praise from my readers). Likewise, I realized that my worth as a woman, as a Black woman, and as a Black woman with talent and intelligence was very low. I was a body that wrote articles that helped get information to people. Period. I was an object.

 But as I look back, maybe I felt erased as well. I had been a fearless reporter for that paper, walking the streets at night in the city’s red district to talk to prostitutes and find out why they ended up on the streets and walking those same streets during the day with Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, to find out why he did what he did. I interviewed Mikhail Baryshnikov and was allowed to cover sports because I loved sports so much. I managed to get interviews with Doug Williams and did the first interview (I was told) of Patrick Ewing.

 I thought I had worth – until this man erased me like I was a word spelled wrong on a chalkboard. I could not put a name on that emotion until I heard Amanda Gorman’s words and read her poem.

 In spite of getting erased through discrimination on the job, at school, or in life in general, Black people seem to have an ever-ready piece of chalk, something, that is taken out to redraw and reclaim ourselves. We refuse to be silenced, and we fight being erased, but as long as white supremacy exists, that fight will continue.

 The psalmist wrote in Psalm 73 “Truly God is good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.” We fight our feet slipping from under us as we are erased on so many levels, in so many ways. We are, however, aligned with and connected to a God who is able to keep us from falling, or, when we do fall, is able to stand us back up and demand that we redraw the lines of our beings, once again claiming who it is God made us to be.

 When we know who we are and Whose we are, we refuse to be erased,or to remain erased, no matter how many times it is done.

 And we will continue to keep the chalk of mercy, grace, and truth in our pockets. We cannot and will not let anyone have that kind of power over us.

A candid observation …

The Domestic Violence and Assault of America by the GOP

            It is said that rape is not an act of love, but is, rather, an act of power.

            And it is also known that domestic abuse is learned behavior; it occurs for a number of different reasons, including one having a sense of entitlement and a belief that one should have control and power over their partner. (

             From the outside, it looks like the United States and its form of government are  being abused and assaulted by men in power who feel like they have the right to do it. Their actions and verbiage are emotionally, politically, and psychologically abusive, and they, like so many abusers who scoff at authority and too often are excused for their behavior, are arrogantly flouting behavior in defiance of the constitution and the law. Their entitlement makes them believe that they can and will get away with what they are doing and they feel like they have the right to do whatever they want with “their” country.

            They are advocating violence if the president and his friends are not successful in overturning the election. They are, in fact, practicing voter suppression and voting fraud in plain sight. Members of the Congress and the Senate, cabinet members including the Chief of Staff, and a former military officer are all pushing the president to declare martial law.

            Like toxic abusers – be they male or female – who beat, scream and yell and, and oftentimes rape – these men in power are strutting around like peacocks, daring anyone to stop them.

            And nobody is.

            One of the greatest disappointments is that there are so many people in elected office who apparently do not like democracy. While they say “the Democrats” will make this country a socialist nation, they are, in fact, working to make fascism an American reality. They are not interested in the masses of people having rights – and neither are over 70 million people who support them. They make a mockery of the law while saying they supportive of “law and order.” It is like a law enforcement officer beating his wife, even while in uniform. Law enforcement officers are supposed to uphold the law, not blatantly break it.

            It feels like American democracy is on the ropes, doing very little to fight back. Like an abused spouse, America is taking the abuse, save for the courts that have rejected the over 60 lawsuits that have been filed to try to invalidate the election results.

            The men in power, supported, by the way, by a base which includes many who need democracy in order to have quality lives –are bullies, and are proud of it, doing everything but baring their chests and showing their erect genitals. They are walking fearlessly, indicating that they believe in white power, even if that means committing sedition and perhaps treason. They are not afraid of “the law.” Many who abuse others likewise dismiss the law even as they disrespect it. Law enforcement, especially as concerns violence against black people, act in much the same way and have done so historically because abuse of “the law” is built into their very formation. As early as 1740, civilians were required to serve in Slave Patrols, created to keep black people in line by any means necessary. They were trained to abuse laws that gave freedom and dignity to black people; invalidation of and breatking “the law” was what they were supposed to do. 

            The man in the White House is a pitiful sight; though many say they desire his strength, in reality, he – and his friends – are weak to a fault. It is a weak person who believes that the only way to exist is by controlling others; similarly, it is a weak person who cannot see anyone’s needs but his or her own. The weakest people are the ones who commit domestic abuse, who shoot and kill unarmed black people, and who ignore the laws and the constitution of this country, even as they present themselves as “strong.” They simply are not.

            The president and his friends are beating American democracy up, using the fists provided by their status as elected officials. America is showing the effects of the beating.

            My prayer is that the abusers will be stopped, arrested, censured, whatever can be done. The newly elected senators and representatives were sworn into office yesterday, and it was like an abuser being honored and promoted in spite of having engaged in reprehensible behavior. Those sworn in promised to protect the Constitution and this country but their promises were empty and meaningless.

            People who are abused take it until one day they cannot. When they fight back – if they do – the end result is often tragic. The abuse and assault of this nation by these power-grabbing men will only get worse. The question is, what will it look like when those who believe in democracy say “enough!” 

            That is a word which should have been said long before this.

            A candid observation …

What Now?

            For the longest time I have been unable to write. I have seen so much happening in this country – our country – and it has been mind-boggling, scary, and maddening. We have had a president who has been intent on destroying this democracy – flawed as it is. We have had a president who has stoked racism in the most vile ways, and who has turned his head when white nationalists have perpetrated violence while calling peaceful protesters “thugs.”

            We have had a president who has had his finger in every aspect, every institution, every level of government. Nothing happened without his face and his voice. We watched him dismantle regulatory laws aimed at protecting the environment ( We watched him minimize the coronavirus as it began to rear its ugly head in this country, falsely assuring people that the hoopla swirling around it was overdone and that claims of the virus being of pandemic proportions were no more than a hoax. ( He dissuaded people to wear masks, politicizing the call for mask-wearing to such an extent that mass gatherings were called, it seemed, primarily to give a finger to those who were saying masks were necessary. ( He got on national television and frequently upended the advice and direction given to the American public by the Centers for Disease Control and public health officials who were giving instructions to Americans that, if followed, would have curtailed much of the death and suffering this nation has suffered. Who can ever forget his suggestion that putting bleach in one’s body might help kill the virus – nodding toward Dr. Deborah Birx to show people her approval of the suggestion, and also pushing hydroxychloroquine as a sure cure? (

            There is so much that I watched and listened to, things that he said and did and the reaction and support of the same by his over 70 million followers. In spite of many reports that said his supporters were primarily white and uneducated, the facts belied those hypotheses. (

            When President-elect Joe Biden won the election in November, I thought the craziness would die down, that “we the people” would get a chance to breathe and inhale hope for the first time in four years, but instead, the president threw us into yet more turmoil, claiming that the election had been stolen and working to undo the results of the election – over and over again. I cringed as I realized that his racism was driving his determination to undo what legitimately registered voters had done – voted. I cringed as I saw his appointee to head the United States Post Office work to delegitimize post offices all over the country in an attempt to thwart mail-in voting, resorted to because of COVID-19. (

            The nation – some of it – cringed as he called violent white nationals “very fine people;” we cringed as he criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and characterized athletes who chose to protest violence meted out to black people by white police officers as “thugs.” (  (

            Thinking about this president’s name-calling, his attacks on the American political system, his racism and Xenophobia, his mishandling of the pandemic – and so much more – still brings forth painful emotions. This country has been badly damaged – its principles and its institutions, and this president is still pulling a wrecking ball through all that we have ever known. It is not clear – yet – what he and his friends are planning on January 6. He has had too much time to brood and to plan ways to completely destroy American democracy. When people say that he is president only until January 20, I cringe because he is definitely planning to make that statement a lie. He is not concerned with the state of this country – the growing poverty, the numbers of people dying from COVID-19, the numbers of people whose unemployment benefits have run out and the possibility of the government shutting down this week – all because the wealth and the privileged of this wealthy, white man has caused him to be so spiritually sick that he cannot even talk about the plight of the people who live in the country he claims to love.

            I will be glad when he has left office. Physically, he will be gone – but politically, he has blown a cloud of misanthropy, racism, sexism, and so much more – that will take a long time to dissipate, if ever. We have a lot of work to do. People keep saying that what has pushed through American political soil is “not who we are.” They are wrong. What this president has done is exposed is exactly who we are, and that’s why our work is just beginning. This president has shown us what we must do in order for this country to survive as a democracy.

            A candid observation …

What Will They Say Tomorrow?

            I do not know what to think of all that I am seeing.

            I find it difficult to watch people wave American flags, and hear the president say that his followers are patriots, when he is dismantling our democracy, threatening to cut off financial aid to “blue” or “Democrat” states and saying out loud that he wants his political opponents to be arrested, and disregarding and disrespecting one of the freedoms of Americans – the right to protest.

            His racism was apparent from the moment he announced his candidacy for president. People were not aghast; they cheered him on. Mexicans were rapists and “very bad people.” White people who bombed churches were “very good people.” Black Lives Matter protests were reason to send out the National Guard.  ( ( (

And in this nation of Christians, he is being cheered on and encouraged.

            I have the most uncomfortable feeling that he wants people to die from COVID-19., (, and that he does not care how many people get sick.

            I have shivered as he and his partner in government dissolution, Sen. Mitch McConnell, have ushered in a new US Supreme Court justice who may well be the deciding vote to end the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as be a tool, along with other Conservative judges, to use the Court to steal the election from Vice President Biden, should he win.

            He is involved in every part of this government which was created to be independent of the Executive Branch, from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to the FBI, to the Justice Department. Why in the world is the CDC listening to and being driven by this man who has no medical training, and whose decision makers are helping to guarantee that more and more people get COVID-19? 

            He demands loyalty to him, not to the government. He says “our country,” but the “our” is not inclusive. His “our” is in reality a small group of wealthy, primarily white people, but he caters to a sector of this country who he thinks and believe walk in a constant state of woundedness and anger because they think other groups have been treated better than have they.

            His fascination and deference to dictators, including Vladimir Putin but not exclusively him, makes me think that he is getting daily lessons from them on how to dismantle democracy. It is no secret that dictators think very little of democracy. Putin’s ambitions of destroying our democracy is no secret. (

            White Evangelical Christians love him. This group, which in the past has claimed moral superiority over just about everyone, has descended into the mud of injustice and inequality, apparently believing that a Conservative judge on the US Supreme Court is more important than following the Great Commandment. ( (Recently, some evangelicals have been vocal in their opposition to the president, saying they’ve been manipulated.) (

            While he gives horror stories of what will happen to America if Biden wins, the truth of the matter is that the horror is with us now. He has no platform other than fanning the flames of dissension and anger as he works to appeal to the latent racism of many white people, including “white housewives.” ( He is appealing to those who are afraid of black people, and who believe the worst about them. He wants them to remember how things used to be, when “the suburbs” was a euphemism for white people living away from colored people, apparently unaware that “the suburbs” have vastly changed, even as white people invade the space in which black, brown, and poor people have traditionally lived, the so-called “urban” areas. Gentrification is a growing trend. 

            This president is not an honest man, and apparently, his sycophant Republican senators know it but are afraid to say anything out loud. (  They are abandoning the country they swore to protect and defend. And they don’t care.

            It’s troubling to watch. People in this country who lived in dictatorships have sounded the alarm, but those in power are not listening. ( (

            I keep thinking that someone in the ranks of the GOP is going to wake up and speak out, not someone who has already sacrificed their job and has left the Senate, but someone who is there, who sees and hears what is going on. But the brave seem not to exist.

            I am holding my breath as Election Day approaches. If there is not a landslide victory for Joe Biden, it is a sure thing that this president will use the US Justice Department (which does not work for justice for Americans, by the way), the US Supreme Court, rich friends and Twitter to whisk him back into office.

            He is tearing this country apart. I wonder what his supporters will feel when they see the destruction he has wrought. Even without winning the election, he has run a bulldozer through all that is normal and decent. What will they say when they cannot get health care or find that their pre-existing conditions will not allow them to get health care? What will they say when their gay children have their rights taken away and when openly racist language is forgiven?

            They might be saddened, but it will be too late.

            And as I think about it, I wonder what it was that was worth so many people connecting to a man who does not love “our” country but who is, as corrupt leaders do everywhere, using the people to enhance and increase their own wealth?

            They might cry out; they might want to apologize, but “I’m sorry” is a lame phrase oftentimes, especially when the offense has been great. What will they say? And to whom will they say it?

There will be few, if any, who will have the appetite to listen or to care.

           A candid observation …


Yearning for “Normal”

           The restrictions under which we have all had to live since the outbreak of the coronavirus have been difficult and inconvenient. We took so many things for granted: being able to get together with friends and families at restaurants or at home, visiting our sick loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes, having funerals, going to church, going to movies or concerts or plays…all of that was a part of our normal and daily lives. We didn’t realize how convenient and easy things were for us. 

            “Normal” as far as the way things used to be, however, is gone. Too many lives have been unalterably changed. Businesses have shut down – not only due to the virus but also to natural disasters including hurricanes, floods, and wildfires and other natural disasters. Too many people have lost their jobs. The very wealthy are doing well, but the masses of people are suffering in ways they have not done before.

            Our government, too, has changed. Some people approve of everything this president is doing, but it is safe to say that a larger group of people do not. We have a president who, despite disrespecting and disregarding the law as it pertains to him and his problems, touts that he is the “law and order president,” a gaslight for the practice of police using force against Black people. The phrase was used by Richard Nixon in the 60s, when police force was justified in trying to quell Black people and their white allies protesting for their civil and human rights but was actually originally coined by Lyndon B. Johnson, Nixon’s predecessor, according to historian Elizabeth Hinton. Johnson, says Hinton, used the phrase as he put more money into policing as opposed to social welfare programs, but we seldom hear that story. Regardless of its origins, Nixon, who was corrupt, too, sidestepped the law in his own actions even as he promoted harsh action and prison time for Black people and protesters in general – until his own lawlessness caught up with him. (

            This president has sullied the important relationships this country has had with important allies, including Germany, France, and Canada, while engaging in bodacious courting of authoritarian leaders of countries this country has never claimed as “friends,” including North Korea, Russia, Hungary and China. It’s scary to think of what would happen if this country got into a dangerous threat of our national security, one which would require the support of allies. At this point, it does not seem that they would “be there” because this president has insulted them even as he has pulled this country out of the circle of friends it has had for so long.

            The president has nearly completely dismantled the government as he has worked to put all power in the Executive Branch. When he was elected, aide Steven Miller said in an interview that the president has “total power,” something that the reporter on that day challenged and debunked. But this president has worked consistently, if not so quietly, to make Miller’s statement true. ( People keep saying the president “doesn’t have a plan” when it comes to issues that many are concerned about, but that is not totally accurate. He does, in fact, have a plan. He is, in fact, “draining the swamp” as he promised, filling it with sycophants who will do whatever he says. He is forming an authoritarian regime, and is doing it quite effectively. Things already are not “normal” as we have known them, and will not be.

            And then there is America’s race problem. It has never been addressed or “fixed,” and the world knows it. Nations that have always been considered to be the adversaries of the United States are using the “race problem” and targeting black people to help cause confusion and more division in a country which was already horribly cracked. The president, though he says he is the “least racist person you will ever meet,” has and is openly courting white terrorist groups, including the Proud Boys, stoking their anger and encouraging them to do what they do to “protect” their president and their country. Armed white people who believe that America was made by white people for white people are fighting just as hard against those protesting police brutality as they did when they fought against Black people working to end segregation and to have the right to vote.

            It is sickening to see and to experience. And it is scary.

            There will never be the America that was before the pandemic and before this president. The covers have been thrown off of America’s issues and problems. Even if this president loses the election, what he has birthed will continue to grow; it cannot be put back in the bottle. The courts have been stacked with young white people who believe as he does. I am not quite sure where the money will come from to help the masses who will still be unemployed or underemployed due to his horrific leadership in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, but it is clear that some of the benefits Americans have grown to depend on – from healthcare thanks to the Affordable Care Act, to Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security – are in danger.

            After every major wave of history in our societies, there is change. Some of them are good, others are not. The going belief is that “good” eventually triumphs over evil, that the suffering of the masses will be reversed as the activists continue to push for justice. But sometimes, the change is slow. It is almost always very painful.

            What is birthed after America gets through this time remains to be seen, but clearly, what was “normal” as we all knew it is gone.

            A candid observation …