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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Et Tu, Hulk Hogan?

In the wake of his idol’s downfall, all my little brother posted today was, “Hulk Hogan, Say it ain’t so.”

I heard the news this morning while brushing my teeth. My heart sank, but only briefly. Of all my siblings, I thought of this brother first.

I had hoped for only a minute that it was all blown out of proportion. I had hoped that Hulk Hogan had just participated in the very modern back-and-forth that is tentatively allowing some non-African-Americans to use the “N-word” in the way that some have controversially appropriated it, with the stinger pulled and the venom erased.

It was not to be. Hulk Hogan admitted that he used it in the way it was originally intended, all malice and hatred intact.

This little brother of mine is now 30-something years old, married with four beautiful children, honorably discharged from the U.S. Army and a good-spirited hard-working American man. Not a child and not naïve by any measure. Still idealistic like me, but not naïve.

But being his big sister, I still think of his overarching wrestling passion when I think of him, of going with him to the loud and glitzy wrestling matches at the Coliseum in Virginia, of his wrestling trophies won with his baby brother before school was out, of all of the plastic WWE wrestling men he treasured through the years that we had to keep picking up off the bedroom floor, action figures we had to press an airlines to locate one year because they misplaced our luggage. Nobody cared about the clothes.

I still know better than to call him on the phone when there’s a wrestling match going on.

So the fact that one of his WWE “heroes” has been discovered to hold unfounded hatred against us, for no other reason than our skin color is a richer brown (actually, my brother is lighter than Hulk Hogan), even though Hulk Hogan received so much love from Black fans along with white, Asian, native, Hispanic, everyone – this hurts. It’s not surprising anymore, really, but it hurts.

Again, my brother is not a child. He grew up here in this same America that has such a volatile up-and-down history with race relations. With now being one of those lows due to the seeming open season on African Americans, and also to another degree on Hispanics and Native Americans, not much now is surprising. But it doesn’t keep this from being yet another spiritual let-down.

It’s a pain akin to when we were kids and, after starting to adore Elvis Presley movies and telling people about our newfound fandom, we were told that infamous quote that Snopes.com refutes, “All Negroes can do for me is to buy my records and shine my shoes.”

Back then, there weren’t any secretive videos to prove or disprove statements like that. Now there are, and apologies come cheap at the moment.

Oh well. It’s so sad. But we have way more important manifestations of our present state of emergency in race relations than one more felled hero spouting the “N-Word.”

Let’s focus.

[Reprinted from my Sidelines writing.]

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2015 in culture

 

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For Aurora, It’s the Wrong Face.

Today, July 16, 2015, they found James Holmes guilty.

Of shooting, injuring and killing kids we knew, friends we had, sisters and sons here in our Aurora city limits, James Egan Holmes was found guilty.  We already knew he was.

As the verdict was read at around 4:15pm our time, then snaked across time zones through media outlets around the nation, I absentmindedly drove my children along a street a few blocks from the scene of the crime, on my way to run errands.  Actually, not absentmindedly.  Quite focused on the task at hand, I quite forgot about the verdict’s reading until hours later.

To tell the truth, I was at Aurora Town Center two days ago, the mall that anchored Century 16, looking at puppies with my 11-year-old, checking out the new Glow Golf they’d opened on the first floor, strolling around waiting for her orthodontist appointment to roll around.  Normal stuff.

Over a week ago, I even parked about a hundred feet from where the shooting occurred, fresh from a new haircut, just because that parking space was closest to the mall entrance I wanted to use.  I saw quite a few cars parked in the theater lot, wondered a moment about what kind of people were over at that painted building (because we’d vowed never to set foot there again), then went on inside the store to do some quick shopping.  Again, normal stuff.

Actually, I just drove past the building where James Holmes lived, barricaded himself and bombed, what, two days ago on the way home, just to avoid the rush hour traffic in the rain.  I forgot to look in its direction.  Some time ago, I looked every single time I passed.  I don’t anymore.

This has nothing to do with “life going on.” It is definitively NOT going on for Aurora, not the way it was before the shooting.  Yes, of course, pools are open for the summer, weddings and break-ups are happening, babies are being born and celebrated, bills are being paid and arguments had.

What’s not normal anymore is that we don’t get to add what happened here to an abstract list of random shootings that happened “somewhere else.”

My older children remember their high school classmate who died that day.  I remember the black and white tiles on the floor at the entrance and around the concessions, where we quickly bought our popcorn before The Smurfs started for Daddy and the little ones, while I took the older ones to see the last installment of the Harry Potter series.  I remember reading a book while I waited in the parking lot one day while my then 13-year-old daughter went to the movies with her friends, in that very same theater.  We all remember the long lines of cars who snaked around the parking lot the first week after the horror, holding up mall traffic just to witness the police vans and network TV satellite dishes that surrounded the building, forever it seemed.  And then one day that all went away.

Each person who died or was injured that day has a name, a background, a story, and a spirit.  All that any of each one of them had, was more than anything we could hear about James Holmes.  I’d rather hear their stories blasted across the nation.  Not his.  Not see his face, but each one of theirs.

[Reprinted from my Sidelines post at http://sidelinesapp.com/item/for-aurora-its-the-wrong-face/ ]

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2015 in culture, news

 

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Aging & The sweetest thing said to me this week.

Lately, I’ve been taking time to exercise more, and I have lost over 15 pounds in a little over a month (conspicuously, I guess, because my family keeps remarking on it.) It’s Summertime, and being a teacher, I’m soaking up all of this time away from the classroom to catch up on family and improving “Me.”

I also last week took just an hour away from my errand run and, after dropping my eldest daughter at work, diverted my path to a neighborhood salon and had my hair cut, radically by my family’s standards. It was just an hour’s diversion, but it’s notable that my family commented on my being late getting back to the house. I downloaded a handful of images off the internet, walked into an unfamiliar Supercuts, said a prayer, and got a cute, asymmetrical cut that my mother says takes years off my appearance, and which matches my upbeat attitude and go-go lifestyle.

On top of everything, one month ago today my second grandson was born, a beautiful bundle of long fingers and toes, pink cheeks and jet-black hair, and pictures of him dot Facebook posing with his elder brother, his sundry doting aunts, some still in elementary school, and his 12-year-old uncle. I am officially, proudly and loudly a “Grandmother.” And one who by all accounts still looks like she’s in her 30s evidently, since I’m told that all the time, although I generally don’t care about that. Much.

Oh! And my 49th birthday was this past week, kicking off my one year countdown (count-up!) to my Big 50th, which I’m plotting to spend on some far-away beach with people I love and who love me. Plans are underfoot.

Which brings me back to the first two paragraphs – about my body improvements and snazzy haircut:

My young son – the 12-year-old uncle of my grandsons who towers over me now and gives off the shadow of a man these days when he passes in the kitchen – my son was riding shotgun with me a few days ago, and as we waited leisurely in the parking lot for my daughter to get off work, I leaned out of the driver’s side window into the sun and looked at my hair in the side-view mirror, remarking absently, “Look at all this silver that’s popped up in my hair.”

To which my son replied quietly, “You know, Mom, it’s OK to get old.”

I gasped, a little shocked, and then got the sweetest feeling, whereby I asked him, “Why do you think I’m worried about getting old?”

“Well, you’ve lost all this weight, you’ve cut your hair, and now you’re talking about the silver in it.”

I smiled broadly, thinking that was the sweetest thing I had heard lately, feeling all warm inside that my son would try to reassure and comfort me.

Then I reassured him, saying I LOVE my new silver and especially the white, wanting it to be as white as Storm’s in X-Men, and that I was eating healthier and losing weight because, in our family, we often live into our 90s and 100s, and I wanted to be as active as I could, avoiding wheelchairs and hospital beds and continuing to make myself a cup of tea, and being that I had only just turned 49, I have a long ways to go, God willing. I can do some preventative work. Forty-Nine is barely out of our youth in my family. I said so with a laugh, and a glance at him in the rear-view mirror.

Well, he said, “Oh!” and was again content, and we continued to blast music and wait in the sunshine for my eldest daughter to be done with the day.

I thought that was the sweetest thing: Comforting me because he knew some people have a hard time “getting old.”

Do you?

 

[Re-printed from my Sidelines writing.]

 

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