December 18, 2014

What if I'M The Grinch

The premise of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is simple enough: furry, green man-beast has a heart that’s two sizes too small. The lack of room therein leaves no room for it/him to love Christmas. So much so that he hates the holiday and steals an entire town’s Christmas presents and decorations, lies about his identity to a toddler all in an effort to ruin an entire town’s Christmas celebration.
Photo credit: emmytvlegends.com
However, once he has a spirit of Christmas Aha Moment, he realizes the season isn't about all the packages, ribbons and bows. He repents and is forgiven of all aforesaid badness, and ends up loving Christmas and carving the Roast Beast himself in celebration.

Photo credit: magazine.uc.edu

I love that story. I think a lot of us do.

Here's the thing: after honest soul searching, I think I love it because it affords me the high road, especially this year. This year has been The Year of Being an Adult with Adult Challenges. I can easily identify the Grinchly areas of, and Grinchly people in, my life that/who are associated with these Adult Challenges (said with a condescending, pious gaze) all who are working to stop me from enjoying Christmas as I know it. (or so it seems if I think on it too much.)

Seriously. All I need are big red arrows like those styrofoam We’re Number One fingers and I can stick ‘em on those Grinchly areas in my life and Grinchly people, even as I piously (and sincerely) give credit and all kinds of love to my husband for carrying my emotions and me throughout this tough year.

But, tonight as I found myself fighting against my brain’s interrupting, nagging, nudging and complaints about the Grinchly areas and peoples all while the children’s choir innocently sang Away in a Manger at the Christmas program, the most worrisome thought intruded (because the truth is always worrisome):

What if I’M The Grinch in all this?

Crap. What if I am?

But, Rochelle, you say That's impossible. You love Christmas. You know the songs, you love the spirit, you love the carols, dressing the tree and the whole house. You don't hate Christmas. You’re not a Grinch. All you want is peace on earth. Just like the songs and the scriptures -- THE SCRIPTURES -- for Heaven’s sake, say.

And I’d say you’re right. But is it possible I’ve let the aforementioned Adult Challenges shrink my heart's capacity to hold Christmas spirit and grow my brain's capacity to worry about:...

...the unknowns and situations I can’t control
even as I want  and desperately need to reconnect with the reality of parents from long ago who faced an unplanned pregnancy of the most unplanned kind there has ever been, but had everything work out in the end.

...that no one really ever really sees the ruse of “the man behind the curtain” while the “little people” struggle daily
even as I want and desperately need to reconnect with the reality that the best news ever known to mankind was first shared with illiterate, blue-collar workers. Not the top fat.

...when will things be easy, and why can’t we ever catch a break, for the love of pete
even as I want and desperately need to reconnect with the reality that the Kid whose birth I’m so excited about in the first place never had it easy, was poor (although we’d call it economically disadvantaged in nonprofit-speak), was always misunderstood and treated pretty crappy but still found a way to love everything and everybody and have peace within.

Yeah. All of that. 

Guess I wanted that Christmas feeling, but was so busy blaming the Grinches for not feeling the feeling, that I forgot about the reality of Christmas in all it’s hopefulness and ugliness.

I forgot that it isn't always about the Grinches, the Christmas Haters or even the supposed War on Christmas.

Sometimes it’s about the Grinch in the Mirror. He’s not always a green, furry man-beast. Sometimes he’s a forty-something-year-old mom who believes she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Time to grow my heart and shrink my brain, because this isn't a Dr. Suess story, after all.

This is life, and no one's promised another day or Christmas to get it right.



November 19, 2014

And The Old Will Dream Dreams

“...and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” Acts 2:17

Did you get the blood transfusion? I ask.
He incredulously responds. WHAT?
The blood. Did you get it?
My husband condescendingly laughs and says
Um…yeah.
Frustrated by his condescension,
I roll over,
resume sleeping
and
dreaming the blood transfusion dream.
It’s 4:30am.

I’m not an old man, but...

August 15, 2014

Monsters Are Real

The more I think about it, the more I think we’re all on that plane with William Shatner flying through the Twilight Zone, seeing a monster on the wing that no one else does.

It’s one of the creepiest Twilight Zone episodes, not because the special effects were extraordinary, but because the episode tapped into our most primal fear and our most basic need: to be heard -- or at the very least acknowledged -- and the fear we won’t.

Shatner’s character sees a creature on the plane's wing. At first he tries to convince himself it’s only a manifestation of nerves, and his fellow passenger and flight attendant assure him that’s the case. And he desperately wants it to be the case.

Because he’d rather think he’s crazy then deal with the reality of the monster on the wing.

The events playing out in Ferguson, Missouri on the heels of an unarmed black teen’s killing by a police officer convince me that in some way, all of us are riding along with Shatner on his Twilight Zone bound flight.

All of us see monsters we think are real. Some of us try to convince our fellow passengers those monsters are anything but.

As a black person, I can tell you about the monsters I see from my window seat: a family history dating not only back to slavery, but lynchings on my maternal and paternal sides. I found out about the maternal side's tragedies through some jarring research only a few years back. On my paternal side, it was only in my thirties that my dad told me quite matter-of-factly, that
They killed your uncle. Shot him. Said he was a crazy nigger.

The menacing figure tapping on my window reminds me of a friend who really and truly believed someone on the job was committing acts of racial microaggression, only to have it fanned off by the higher-ups who said my friend just wasn't being a team player. Like Shatner’s character, my friend felt crazy and second-guessed what they saw, heard and felt.

 I suppose my friend’s higher-ups had a different window seat, or at least a different view.

Photo Credit: SciFi Channel

 
The other monster on my wing is even more sinister. It’s simply the understanding of what my mom meant when she'd warn my brother who’s big enough to blot out the sun that “You have a target on your back. You are BLACK and you are BIG.”

And I got it: the world thinks black men are scary. BIG black men are even scarier. They should be careful, watchful. They could end up dead...like that Missouri teen.

All while I’m seeing my wing-flying monster and hearing what it’s saying, I’m married to a white guy. He’s my protector, our daughter’s knight in shining armor, the guy who makes me crazy and who would fight for me. He’s the guy who spirits me away to Taco Bell to lift my sagging spirits and then tells me I still look good when my spirits have sagged too long after it’s been one too many trips to Taco Bell.

But yet, I know he sees something different from his window seat.

The gremlin he can see is one where news of the day seems to crucify white men for being white men.

The monster he sees hisses that people are judged only by what they do, and that color isn’t a factor when it comes to scuffles -- even those resulting in death -- with the police.

The same menacing figure reminds him that people don’t get stopped for driving in certain parts of the city. Like Shatner’s co-passenger, I tell him he’s seeing things wrong; there’s no monster on the wing: I get stopped all the time.

But from where my husband sits, it’s crazy-making. Because it is crazy.

While he believes me, it’s hard for him to believe me because he knows what he sees -- what he’s lived, from his window seat.

Until the day we’re riding in one of those places. He driving. I’m riding. A squad sidles up to my side of the car and the driver sees me. I say: We’re gonna get pulled over. My husband listens to the monster, and he waves me off…
...until the squad’s lights flash and the sirens sound.

He gets off with a warning, and he never doubts Driving While Black Syndrome again. And, of course, we talked about it.

And that’s the bottom line: we see different monsters, and we feel like crazy people telling the other person about the monsters we see. But we talk about them, and understand each of us is seeing something instead of telling the other person they don’t see anything at all.

And to me, that's the first step in getting anywhere in this racial thing we’re juggling in America right now -- in Ferguson, in Milwaukee, and in its posh suburbs: realizing that the monster a white/black person sees may be a different monster than a black/white person sees.

But if we stay on the route of arguing to the extreme, blaming, name calling, sullen silence, or denying that monsters exist at all, we’re all gonna go spinning off-axis and off-kilter into the Twilight Zone...each of our spirits killed by our own personal monsters.

Photo Credit: backtothecerealbox.com

July 18, 2014

The 6 Things I Remember Forgetting

Hey, I know it’s summer and everything, but it’s getting late. Bedtime, kiddo. Georgia and I were watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. She had seen it before, so it wasn’t like she was missing out. We said bedtime prayers, and I kissed her goodnight.

The movie had sucked me in by that time and I wanted to know how everything would get sewed up in a tidy bow, so I went back to watching. It didn’t disappoint. I was entertained and nearly clapped as the credits rolled.

The next morning, I told Georgia what a clever movie it was. You watched the rest of it? Seriously, mom? Now I felt stupid. Well, yeah. I got hooked and wanted to see how it ended. She and Jamie exchanged looks.

Um, mom...you saw that movie already. At the movie theater. Don’t you remember?

Listen, my brain’s memory chip has been deleting a ton of low-priority information lately. But an entire movie? Like, a swath of time and place that I completely blanked out on? Between you and me, I still contend I did not see this movie before and will cling to that until my dying day; but really.

Truly.

There are more than a few things I can remember forgetting.

1. That meeting.
All my colleagues’ offices were empty. Then a colleague dressed in “meeting” clothes appeared in a rush out of nowhere and greeted me with Just so you know: we’ll be meeting in Suite A instead of Suite B.
There was a meeting?

2. The hot dogs
As the Chef-in-Chief, I declared We’re gonna have Chicago Dog Night! and headed to the store for Chicago Dog Night stuff. Came home, unpacked the bags: potato salad, chips, bright green relish, old fashioned yellow mustard, cucumbers, sport peppers, pickle spears, poppyseed buns...
..but no hot dogs.

3. The dog’s leash
Charley-the-Shih-Tzu-Poo quizzically stared at me as I left for the day. Momma gave you your treat already. That’s all I can do, honey. I’ll be back soon...okay? Georgia and I piled in the car and I tossed my stuff in the passenger seat -- purse, phone, charger, lunch and…
the dog’s leash.

4. Deodorant
Did I put some on today? I think I did...but did I? Welp...can’t be too careful.
*leaves house wearing ten layers of Secret*

5. Any password
‘nuf said.

6. The name, drive and folder of any file saved and accessed more than four weeks ago.
And someone always needs it printed and copied in triplicate for the do or die meeting that’s happening in ten minutes.

...and I’m sure there are many, numerous other things that could be added to this list, but I just can’t, um...remember them right now.

July 7, 2014

Delayed Gratification


Call it a case of the Meandering Mondays or just go ahead and say I'm trying to kick a case of Writer's Block. Whatever you wanna call it, somehow I got stuck on banks. If you're old enough, you remember there was a time when people actually visited the lobby and talked to tellers. It usually happened Saturdays since banks closed at 5:00 weekdays, and most people were working and couldn't make it to the bank by that time. The banks were open on Saturdays, but only until noon; so everyone had to make it there before closing...and heaven forbid you had a kid in tow:

Through tall glass double doors and into the lobby, traffic’s noise gives way to The Most Beautiful Girl or some other muzak. Everything there soaks up sunshine – from the navy blue carpet, to personal banker desks flanking each wall, to the velvet ropes and signs that instruct Wait Here for the next available teller.

An intimidatingly tall oblongish table dominates the lobby’s center. On it are slips of neatly stacked paper resting next to pens that are attached by silver chains to the big table. One by one, customers approach the table, take a slip and pen, and scribble some kind of financial hieroglyph, crumple it up, take another and begin scribbling again.

The line of tellers stretches from wall to wall. Clad in polyester outfits matching the carpet’s navy blue, they count out loud…and that’s five, ten, fifteen, twenty… and each counted bill snaps against veneered countertops in rhythm to Knock Three Times.

Photo: Creative Commons Fly, Flickr
The velvet ropes where people obediently heed the instruction to Wait Here are heavy. Their metal ends clang a little when accidently shaken by nervous adult or purposely by a bored child. An anemic rendition of Afternoon Delight whines against the scribbling and the clanging.

Somewhere in the long line of customers fidgets a kid whose spine and legs threaten to wet noodle and drop them to the floor in fit of sheer boredom.

An available teller’s Next Please saves that kid (and parent too) from wet noodle fate. After the business transaction is transacted, the kid receives a sucker from the teller.

My childhood was filled with long, taxing lessons in delayed gratification like the weekly Saturday trip to the bank. I guess this generation’s kids of twenty-four-hour banking and ATM cards will have to learn the same lessons another way.

June 13, 2014

Thinking About Loving




Sometimes I think about it.

Sometimes it's a fleeting thought in the seconds before I drift off to sleep and glance at his arm around my middle and my brown hand resting on his not so brown arm. It always looks like a painting to me.
Simple and beautiful.

Sometimes it's the rare occasion when all three of us are captured in a candid picture. Our daughter between the two of us, making the picture look as if we're posing in graduating skin colors, from lightest (his), to medium (hers), to darkest (mine).
Her face, her skin a blend of both his and mine.

Sometimes he thinks about it when I'm oblivious. Like when I give him a little extra room at a checkout counter, but am still within his personal space, and the clerk helping him asks if she can help me. He lets her know that "uh...that's my wife" in a stern, sharp voice before I can answer.
He's my protector, a sensitive set of second eyes.

But most of the time, I don't think about it -- him being white, me being black and our daughter being both. 

What I do think about is the stuff that an average married with kids person thinks about: what am I gonna make for dinner, is the kid on the computer too much, when is that doctor's appointment, are we ever gonna get a date night, he could make dinner for once, and why for the love of pete are there towels all over the bathroom? I mean, REALLY?

See? Normal stuff. Normal. Married with kids. Stuff.

However, I will be thinking about our skin differences on purpose, albeit in a different way.

Today is Loving Day, so I'll be thinking about the Loving Verdict, handed down by the Supreme Court forty-seven years ago, which made it possible for couples who are of different skin colors to be couples. Just couples. Normal married with kids couples who can appreciate their differences, see themselves in their kids, and stand up for each other when they need to. Whether they ever figure out why towels are all over the bathroom is an entirely different blog post.

Thank you Mildred and Richard Loving.
Your verdict started a ripple effect that couples still feel today, even if they aren't thinking about it.

Happy Loving Day

June 7, 2014

Growing to "Dad"

Percy.

I only called him “Dad” selectively, usually when I needed something. My friends marveled that I had the balls to call my dad by his first name. But it wasn’t an act of rebellion, my mom called him Percy and we just parroted what she said. He never seemed to mind.

It’s taken years to piece together who Percy really was – and how that same Percy intersected with Dad -- a title I instinctively started using only after the picture of who he was as a man, as a father, became clearer as I grew older.

***

“Shell-LEE!” I hear the smile in his voice as he bellows his pet name for me up the stairs on my birthday morning. I race from my bedroom to the top of the stairs. He’s standing at the base, a shadow pitched against sunlight behind him and balancing a faded blue Huffy 3-speed that was my ninth birthday present – a surprise.

It’s easy to hear his smile and see his broad white grin, a sharp contrast to his dark chocolate skin because Percy didn’t smile a lot. But I guess that day called for a smile.

***

My eyes blink away the crud of a hard sleep, and they open to see Percy sitting in the visitor’s chair stationed at the foot of the hospital bed. He’s dressed in an outdated brown polyester suit with an oversized collar and too short tie. It’s the uniform he dons for visiting the sick and shut-in – one of his duties as our church’s assistant pastor.

Technically, I’m a “sick” seventeen year-old, just a few weeks past high school graduation, and recuperating from the prior day’s breast reduction surgery.

I’m sure Percy knows about the surgery itself, but he’s old school at sixty-four years of age. You don’t talk about such things in mixed company. So we sit, making awkward small talk. We sit in silence until he opens his Bible, standard equipment for visiting the sick and shut in, and he asks me to read a passage from Psalms before he leaves. I finish reading. “Alright girl” he says as he kisses my cheek goodbye.

***

Rich greens meld together in a wide stripe through the car window as we whir down the interstate on our way to Selma, Alabama. My first road trip with Percy, and it’ll be my first time meeting his side of the family.

Even though it’s been years since his last visit, he knows the way. This is home, familiar ground, and soon the usually silent Percy gives way to an unfamiliar, reminiscing one. A remembrance here, a long pause there, punctuated by a laugh tinged with sadness and longing.

“…and I had to give my puppy away. That was my puppy.”

He’s in mid-conversation with himself, I guess, and I ask to be in on this conversation in progress. He explains that his mother, my grandmother, was a domestic for a family. He and a boy from that family grew up as best buddies. 

One day, Percy’s family dog had puppies and he picked one to raise all by himself and he did just that. He was proud of this one accomplishment, this one meager thing he could call his own. Months later, his friend – who he now called “Sir” because they had both turned thirteen - wanted that puppy.

It was the Jim Crow South. He gave the puppy to his friend.

There’s no smile or tinged laugh in his voice as he tells the story.

He’s seventy-five. I’m twenty-eight.

***

Oversized lucite glasses comfortably rest on my nose, protecting eyebrows to cheekbones. A few steps through a fluorescent-lit hallway, through another doorway and then to the left is darkness. My eyes adjust to the darkness and cauldrons of red embers brimming with a bubbling, boiling sulfur smelling something situated five or six feet apart from each other are revealed.

I’m on a foundry tour for a work-related thing. I’m thirty.

It is a least ninety degrees in this space where the cauldrons’ glow reveal high, blackened ceilings. Every now and then, a gust of Wisconsin winter air cuts through the open door and hot blackness, providing relief from the heat even as it blasts minute bits of slag onto my cheek. The men tending each cauldron move mechanically, indistinguishable and interchangeable, one from the other.

Another gust. More slag dust. I wince and think This is hell.” Then I’m caught by a wave of awe and sympathy for the interchangeable, indistinguishable guys for whom this is a work-until-you-retire job.

“Percy did this. Dad did this. Every day. Every day for thirty years” my mind whispers. I remember the inside of his forearms, paler than the rest of his chocolate colored skin because the only light they got was the gleam from factory cauldrons.

I remember asking him about those freckles flecking each forearm. Smile in his voice, he’d explain they weren’t freckles: they were bits of molten iron he poured in a different factory that had splashed up and embedded there. Forever.

I catch the lump in my throat as I remember and wonder if I ever said thank you for spending thirty years in hell. Deep down, I know I didn’t.

***

“Hey Girl!” Percy greets me with a good-natured cackle. The familiar smile is in his voice. “Hi Dad” I say and introduce him to the guy that is now my husband. I ask how he’s doing and he kvetches about the hospital food. My future husband and I sit in the visitors’ chairs stationed at the foot of his bed. He asks about my BFF and I tell him she’s married with kids. He grins that same grin from my ninth birthday.

He asks how two of the deacons from church are doing, and I gently remind him that he remembers they died – one five years ago and one two years ago. He nods and sighs an embarrassed smile.

Dementia. He’s a few months shy of seventy-nine. I’m thirty-one.

***

Percy comes to me in a dream a few weeks after he dies, and he’s got that same broad grin. I ask “Dad…what’s it like in Heaven?” Taking both of my hands in his and smiling, Percy says “I cannot tell you that.” His laugh borders on a giggle now – something I’d never seen him do in this life – like he knows about a surprise party and is bursting to spill the news.

A few weeks later, I find out that I’m carrying his grandchild.

***

I don’t know if Percy knew our daughter was on the way. I’ll never know if he knew that I was grateful for all his sacrifices and I still don’t know what it’s like in Heaven. The only thing of which I’m sure of is that Percy – my Dad – was a good guy with a beautiful smile that you could hear when he called you by name.




May 27, 2014

Maybe It's in the Counting

Troops.
Numbers.
Percentiles.

The more I consider the units of weights and measures, the more I'm convinced, it must be related to the counting. The "It" being the shootings, injuries by firearms and deaths.

That "It."

There's been yet another mass shooting, and a few days before that, a shooting that's left a little girl who's around Georgia's age clinging onto life by a thread. Both are tragic, as are other incidents around the country which didn't make national or local headlines.

But this isn't a rant about gun regulation or about video games' influence or a culture of violence or services for the mentally ill or unemployment or any of the usual suspects. This isn't about beating our swords into plowshares, or the NRA or even gun regulation or communities taking back their communities.

Maybe that's all part of It. But a big part of the It is in the Counting.

The way we count ourselves. The way we count lives because I just don't think we see lives as lives -- as people anymore.

The President announces that he deploys troops.
He doesn't announce that he's sending moms, dads, aunts, uncles and/or somebody's baby to learn to kill and fight, and possibly die in a foreign land. No. They are troops protecting our freedom.

The newspapers report data. Fill in the blank here number of firearm injuries. Fill in the blank here percentage of firearm incidents resulting in death.
It's just data. Data doesn't say that John Doe's mom and dad are torn apart over this kid's death. No. Data says it was a shooting on the north/south/east/west -- or most shockingly -- in the suburbs.

When lives are counted as Troops, Percentiles, Numbers or anything but living, breathing people with drama and happiness and faith and non-faith and successes and failures, it settles somewhere into the conscious and makes the thousands of deaths by Fill in the blank here more palatable and less jarring.

And maybe that same counting -- the Troops, the Percentiles, the Numbers -- make it easier for the Veteran's Administration mess to go on for decades on end. Maybe it makes it easier for those who perpetuate violence to do so because numbers can be ignored, mistreated or erased. Numbers aren't people after all.

But It's different when those numbers are counted, and thought of, as lives.

Maybe a big part of the It is in the counting.

May 10, 2014

Creating Normal

Mothers are the Creators of Normal. It’s a heady, intimidating responsibility, but it’s what moms are and do by simply living, breathing, walking and talking.

The Creators of Normal shape protocol for phone call behavior.
Whatever your urgent news is, if Mom is on the phone you do not interrupt her conversation. Instead, you wait – wait I say – for her to say in this order:
“Mmm, hmmm. (one beat)
Alright…(one beat, two beats)
Uh-uh…(one beat, two beats, three beats)”
You’re almost home free now, don’t interrupt.
“Alright (one beat)…BYE-BYE!” Click.
She might roll her eyes and impatiently ask what you need. Go ahead and tell her. Tell her! This is important stuff.
“I hafta potty.”

The Creators of Normal dictate color. Which is fine, if the Creator isn’t one of the rare cases of a color blind woman.

But if the Creator is color blind, then she may ask you to fetch her brown purse on any given Sunday as she’s prepping you and herself for church. Obediently, you (who haven’t inherited color-blindness), go and fetch the purse that looks brown to you and proudly present it to her.

She looks at the purse, looks at you and you can tell she’s wondering if indeed you aren’t the slow child of family.
"No Baby Girl, Mom’s BROWN purse.”

Confused, you start bringing purses willy-nilly until she gives up and finds for herself the purse she wanted all along.

The gray purse that she wanted all along.

As unintentional as creating normal is, quite often, The Creators of Normal know they are creating normal.
When you screw up royally, I mean screw up even after repeated and repeated and repeated warnings that you are about to screw up royally, the Creator will lay the hammer down. Hard.

Before laying the hammer down, the Creator will say through lips pulled so tight they are on the verge of disappearing, that:

“I’ve tried talking to you. I’ve tried reasoning with you.”
You’ll know she’s serious and that this. Is. The End. Yet, still she’ll go on.

“You see, Mom LOVES you...”
You’ll start wishing you were fetching purses of any color.

“And not everyone out there is going to love you like Mom…”
You’ll question what love really is.

“And not everyone is going to put up with [insert infraction here] and still love you. And ONE DAY…”
You’ll wonder when she got into the prophesying business

“ONE DAY, you’ll run into the wrong person who just might kill you because of [insert infraction here] and before I see that happen, I’ll kill you myself.”
You’ll briefly wonder why she didn’t even so much as blink when she said the “kill you” part and then wish she’d go ahead and kill you right now instead of making you listen to this speech.

Then she’ll lay the hammer down. The look on her face a hybrid of sadness, disappointment and helplessness and love. She’ll hug you and explain that she’ll always love you.

You’ll be upset and somehow know in the deepest part of yourself, that yeah – she does love me and always will. And you never commit the infraction again.

Years later when you yourself are a mom, you’ll understand the heady, intimidating job in front of you – this creating normal thing.

You’ll realize that, outside of the phone protocol and color blind thing, the normal your mom created was a pretty good normal. One that prepared you for living and working in this world alongside people with whom you agree and those you don’t particularly like and those who don’t particularly like you.

You’ll try to create for a similar normal your own child, minus the speeches and a little bit of the hammer when necessary. You’ll hope the normal you’ve created is one that helps her reach her God given potential. You hope she’ll realize you created the best normal you could for her.
And you hope she’ll be thankful for that normal long after you’re gone.

April 28, 2014

Sterling's Like My Mole

"What's that, mom?" Georgia asked as she pointed at my forearm.

It was a bump, a little mole that appeared when I was carrying her and has lived there since. Thinking about how my body changed during those nine months brought a smile to my face and I explained that it was a "present" she gave me before she even got here.

A year or two later, someone else asked about it and I told the story. Concerned, the person asked if it had gotten bigger, or if it hurt. They suggested it might be worth having a doctor look at just to be sure it wasn't cancerous.

Geez. I hadn't thought of melanoma. The doc checked it out and it was the harmless present as I first suspected. Even so, I began to play it safe and religiously slathered on sunscreen from that day forward.

Now enter Donald Sterling - He of bazillions of dollars who flaunts a girlfriend while married and airs bigoted, heartfelt rhetoric, He who has been sued for housing discrimination - is like my mole.


Just stick with me here...

There's been enough shock, indignation, condemnation and fist-shaking done, and I'm not about to pile on too, partially because I wonder what the endgame of all the shock, indignation, condemnation and fist-shaking is.

What is it all supposed to accomplish?

Rescind Team Ownership Because He's a Bigot? Bigots have rights too.
I don't agree with bigots, in fact a good portion of my ancestors were first enslaved, and then others were lynched by bigots. So I don't like bigots. But as long as they aren't enslaving and/or lynching and/or discriminating -- you know, illegal stuff (which would in fact, make them racists), stupidity like Donald's is just stupid. You can't take someone's stuff away for being stupid.

Make Bigots Feel Bad? Bigots don't feel bad.
Not about how they feel anyway. You'd have to pry their cold dead hands from their convictions. Twisted convictions guide them and help bigots make sense of their place in this world. Be as angry and outraged as you want, bigots will sleep peacefully knowing they are in the right even as your rage bubbles over.

Shame Bigots Into Hiding Underground? Because we certainly can't change their bigoted hearts.
Despite all the strides made in race relations and civil rights, there are still people who don't like -- even hate -- people of ethnicities, religions, races or any combination of the above that are unlike themselves.

I think we forget that sometimes.

Such bigotry is carried close to the vest and usually held in check...until some affluent, high-profile public figure has an outburst of bigoted spillage. And then we remember that, oh yeah, there's still some people lurking around in the shadows thinking those thoughts.

...and here's where the mole comes in.
Remember my harmless mole? I needed to know whether it was cancerous or benign. Now I keep an eye on it and slather on glop that'll give me added protection against something bigger happening. I'm not freaked out about it. Just highly aware of its existence.

Bigots like Donald are the moles on society's hind end. A kind of ugly reminder that that type of stupidity is alive and well. It forces uncomfortable conversations and most of all reminds us how truly twisted bigoted thinking can be.

Shocked and indignant over bigoted sentiments? Don't be. That stuff goes on in words and hearts alike.
Take away property over bigoted thinking? No. Bigotry's stupid thinking, and there aren't any laws against stupid people owning things.
Shame the bigots? They have no shame.

Drive them underground? Please don't.
Give them a megaphone. Let 'em shout what they think from the highest hill. I want to know where and who the bigots are because I want to be aware of where bigotry's ugliness lives and in whom it is living.

I want to know not because I can change bigotry in people, or even so that I can protect my family and myself from them or it, but to also reassure myself that there in fact, are more people who aren't bigoted than who are.

And in of itself, that's kind of a nice little present. Just like my mole.