On Justice, Cleaning Our Own Houses, and Unlearning

June 10, 2020

Content warning: You might find some of the issues I raise troubling or disturbing.

I believe this is the first time in over twenty years of writing I’ve used a content warning.

My brain is saturated. I felt tired today and a few minutes ago, I realized I forgot to take my autoimmune meds this morning. Writing always helps to clear my mind, so here goes. This will go everywhere.

The journal entries I penned over the past two weeks are filled with anguish, outrage, fear, and dismay. I found it very difficult to harness hope that meaningful, life-altering changes would finally happen in this country in regard to racism, police brutality, hate crimes, our government, our laws, and racial disparity. And the pandemic plays on. Businesses continue to shutter their doors. People lost their jobs, their life savings, and loved ones keep succumbing to the novel coronavirus. People are being evicted from their homes, children are hungry. In despair, many have taken their lives.

woman wearing eyeglasses in grayscale photography
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I wept for George Perry Floyd, Jr. and his family members during the memorial services held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in Raeford, North Carolina, and finally, in Houston, Texas. The memory of George calling for his mother before he died broke my mother heart all over again despite the powerful memorial messages of hope, courage, fortitude, righteous anger, and faith. By the end of the third memorial service, I found hope again.

Changes are taking place. I feel a shift taking form. Chokeholds are now banned in one state. Arrests were made and charges filed against the former police officers, who murdered George Floyd. The men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery were arrested and charged. Now, we await charges in the murders of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot in her home by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, and Tony McDade, who was shot and killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida. Their families demand justice, we demand justice. I realize it could be a long road to conviction. #BlackLivesMatter

Holding police accountable for violence and using excessive force against protestors took form with the suspension of the officer who viciously assaulted Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old man from Buffalo, New York. The New York City police officer who brutally shoved Dounya Zayer to the pavement, turned himself in and faces criminal charges. They should lose all their jobs. And shame on the Florida police union for stating they are willing to employ all cops who are fired or resign from their jobs over charges of police misconduct.

During the past 18 months in Puerto Rico, ten LGBTQ people were murdered. This year, 19-year-old Alexa Negron Luciano, 31-year-old Penélope Díaz Ramírez, 21-year-old, Layla Peláez, and 32-year-old Serena Angelique Velázquez were among the trans women who were murdered. The cases are ongoing. As far as I know, only two arrests have been made. The cases of domestic violence on the island and in the US are through the roof. The violence continued in the US with the brutal beating by a group of black men of a trans woman named Iyonna Dior. I watched Billy Porter’s powerful, impassioned message on Instagram, where he spoke about the incident. Here’s an excerpt from that video,

“The tragic reality here is that black trans, as well as gender non-conforming, women and men are being killed in the United States by cis black men to such a degree that it is nearly the worst emergency for trans women on the planet.”

In Mexico, according to government data, nine hundred eighty seven women and girls were murdered in the first four months of 2020. The first four months. Many more are missing.

What’s the solution, what’s the answer? Which issue do we tackle first? And then? And then what? I don’t know, but I like what Billy Porter said in that same Instagram video, “…get your f*cking houses in order.” He’s right, each of us must get our own houses in order and change must happen. The violence, systematic racism, misogyny, and hate crimes must stop. America needs to get its house in order and so must we as individuals.

Rest in peace, George, Breonna, Ahmaud, Tony, and Iyonna, and all those who’ve lost their lives in the US, in Puerto Rico, and around the world to hate crimes, systematic racism, and abuse. I’m thinking of the crimes committed against Natives Americans throughout US history and during their protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, on land that we stole. I continue to pray for incarcerated immigrant children, who live in fear, are still being separated from their parents, and still suffer from abuse. I pray the killing of innocent women around the world, who are murdered in the thousands every single day, ends. And the novel coronavirus, well, the deadly virus continues to infect and kill with no vaccine in sight.

My neighbor believes we are living the biblical End of Times. I must admit news of the returning “plague” of cicadas this year had me wondering. No, I believe we are birthing a new nation, and birthing is messy, wondrous, delicate, and hard, hard work that results in new life and hope for the future. We must think of reparations.

Despite it all and because of it all, we must keep showing up. Keep protesting, donating, learning, informing others, and unlearning, where necessary. Repeat and don’t give up. We must become and continue to be supportive, active allies for our brown and black brothers and sisters. Everywhere. I’m hopeful. I’m learning. #ChangeForGood

On that note, I’m taking a break from blogging to finish my manuscript, THE LAMENTS, and to work with my new writing critique group. In addition, I’ll continue working with The Great Unlearn, an online course generously shared by Rachel Cargle. I highly recommend it. The link is below.

https://www.patreon.com/thegreatunlearn/posts

Until then, be safe, stay well, protect each other. VOTE BLUE all the way. We can’t live another four years like this.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. The author currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1925 Puerto Rico. Eleanor’s adult children are in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride.

 

 

 

Can You Imagine?

June 1, 2020

hands people friends communication
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“I understand that I will never understand, however, I will stand with you and use my voice to amplify yours.”unknown

The results of the independent autopsy ordered by George Floyd’s family and performed by two pathologists ruled George died due to asphyxia when the neck and back compression led to a lack of blood flow to the brain. The Minneapolis officials said George Floyd didn’t die from asphyxia. He was murdered. I saw it with my own eyes. You probably saw it, too.

Can you imagine feeling anger and seething rage over, and over, and over for decades? For hundreds of years, black men, women, and children have died at the hands of white people, civilians and law enforcement officers alike. Can you imagine what it feels like to have your hands figuratively and physically tied by hatred, violence, fear, and mistrust? Can you imagine being silenced and not heard over a long history of oppression against your community?

“Don’t look away. Look straight at everything, good and bad.” – Henry Miller.

I have experienced racist comments in my life, but the racists didn’t know I was Puerto Rican because of the color of my skin. “But you’re white,” they said. Their comments were offensive and I set them straight.

Despite my understanding of racism and colonial mentality, I was never stopped from getting a job, receiving fair treatment, or being respected by my peers. Have I been repeatedly stopped by police and have I been profiled? Have I lost anyone I love to racist violence or police brutality? No, I haven’t.

I can imagine, but in reality, I can’t possibly begin to understand.

“I understand that I will never understand, however, I will stand with you and use my voice to amplify yours.”unknown

***

June 2, 2020

people at a protest at night
Photo by Vital1na on Pexels.com

I just watched the video of the Bronx police officer who was intentionally struck and run over. George Floyd was murdered right before our eyes. My God. We’ve all watched countless videos of excessive use of force by police and of the dangers police officers face on a daily basis.

Peaceful protestors, who have a right to protest against decades of injustice, failed systems, police brutality, and corrupt politicians are attacked. Looters and provocateurs are violent and disregard human life, the safety of non-violent protestors, and businesses that people put their life savings into. Do not lump looters and protestors together.

Until careless and callous politicians understand how they contribute to and therefore, continue the devastating cycle of poverty in our black communities, this will continue. Until our government addresses the decades-long injustices in this country and treat all Americans, who pay their salaries, with dignity and respect, this will continue. Until the government stops trying to militarize the police in this country, excessive force will continue to be used.

If it’s not safe to protest peacefully, will many of us stay home despite our desire to support and stand up for the black community? The brown community. The immigrant community and children held in ICE facilities. Then what?

If we don’t stand up for what is right, the corrupt politicians in this government win. Then where are we? I am hopeful the governors of this country will stand up to Trump and support and protect their citizens, and work with their communities. I am hopeful more police officers will offer acts of kindness during this traumatic time. But hugs and acts of solidarity aren’t enough if we don’t go to the roots of why we are in the tragic situation we find ourselves in at this time–it’s nothing new–poverty, racism, systematic oppression.

Will Americans be forced into submission like Hong Kong and other countries, who for decades have attempted to protest only to be beaten down mercilessly and forced to live in militarized zones? Will the US military allow themselves to be used in this way?

Will the release or resurgence of more lethal viruses prevent us from leaving our homes to protest, to vote? Is that the plan? The more I see, the more questions form in my mind. I’m still learning.

One thing I know–we must get rid of Trump and his cronies. We must all vote them out or we will continue to live in this present horror for four more years.

Stay safe out there. Resist. Donate. Protest peacefully.

Thank you for your visit.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. The authorcurrently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1925 Puerto Rico. Her adult children are out in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with enormous pride.