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Our online relationship had run its course. It came to a final end publicly on Facebook this morning.

He was never my boyfriend, (despite his numerous attempts to woo me). Not my type. His postings always had an aroma of male dominance, a whiff of right wing sauce, and the faint sprinkle of white privilege, lightly steamed in with his “shoulds and woulds.”

I’d question him with, “Explain more about that. I want to be sure I understand you.” We debated our way through Ferguson, Zimmerman, the sexism in football commercials, etc.

Sunday morning, I did the same thing I always do when I first wake up: grab my phone, checked my social media.  His morning status read like this…

“Dudes... if your lady is in a dress with heels and her good purse you gotta do better than your dirty cowboy boots with ratty jeans and a North face jacket. Hoping the latino guy at the end of the bar reads this... your chick is smoking you dude.”

His friends hit the “like” as if it was a morphine drip, and a few responses were collecting, like the crust on the side of the pot when scorching milk.

His friends said, “Maybe she’s a call girl”, and “spends all his money on her and is a hard worker, so we hope!” and “I bet he has a super nice truck though.” From his women friends, things like, “Yeah, he bought her” and “Do his boots curl up?” and the vilest friend of his stated, “Maybe it’s his sister, or cousin, or both.”

Now, for those of you who don’t know me, I have a great sense of humor. Some would categorize me as gregarious. I’m no prude; I can joke with the best of them, make a sailor blush! I believe in free speech, public platforms of expression and intelligent debate, so understand that this post, though meant to be funny, cut deep.

The feminist Latina in me responded with, “Wow! A call girl because she’s “overdressed”? How did this turn in to a chance to insult a woman for how HE is dressed and why was it necessary to mention that the guy at the end of the bar was Latino? Super-nice truck? Incestuous allegations? I’ve seen plenty of non-Latino scrubs at the bar but it’s not mentioned. Epic FAIL.”

The problem with posts like this is that they--wrapped in humor, served with a side of superiority--add to systemic racism.  

I had a choice to scroll past it, and I might have, prior to Michael Brown. I’ve been categorizing my life as of late, as before Michael Brown and after Michael Brown.

His murder changed me. I can no longer look past even the little things.

His friends used me as bait for “reverse discrimination,” for “twisting words” being “too serious” and “seeing things that weren’t there.”  He accused me of making myself suffer, being a “reverse racist,” and being on a “racial crusade.” He also said, “You’ve been pissed off ever since Darin Wilson was found innocent.”

He’s right. Before Michael Brown, I was a peaceful activist. I would debate my brother, “a radical”. I’d ask, “Why are you so angry?” He’d be frustrated with me because his experience growing up brown was different than mine because, “you’re the lighter one.”

I see my little brother now as a crusader, forging new paths in his anger, speaking against injustice, even if it makes him unpopular.

My brother and I are products of parents who were not expected to be successful, told to join the military, take home economics, and know your place. They defied the norms of their families, created a new opportunity for their children, and weren’t even supported by their culture; they were judged. They were not embraced by the white norm either.

After Michael Brown, I recognize that even racism not pointed directly as us, is still racism pointing directly at us. ALL of us.

So my cyber friend and I are kaput. It is for the best, though his debate did lead me to really know my convictions, forced me to do the research.  I am struggling with the de-friending.  I want to keep folks like him on my friend’s list, if for no other reason, than to benefit from their opposing perspective.

Staring at the void where his friendship once took up cyber space, I plan for the coming Monday; the conversations, the protests, the taped mouths as a symbol of the children silenced too soon by gunfire.  Something changed me, post Michael Brown. My students, our relationship, always close, but now, closer. I walk in solidarity with them, preach the importance of student voice, hug them a little tighter, give more class time, less homework, my focus now, is more heart-work.

I realize, they are as young as he was. They make similar mistakes. The road to adulthood is a bumpy lumpy trip. I am reminded of Zora Neale Hurstons words:

“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.”

His death awakened a racial crusader in me- I raise my sword, and shield the children with rainbows.

In the aftermath of losing so many people of color to violence, I ask you:

How has your life changed after Michael Brown?

This blog appears as part of the work of CTQ-CO's culturally responsive team. Learn more about their projects here.

18 Comments

Bill Ivey commented on January 28, 2015 at 7:35pm:

Rainbows

First, please know that I immediately shared this on Twitter. Then I reread it. Honestly, I hesitate to add anything because what you say and how you say it is so powerful.

But I find myself wanting to honour you by answering your question. And in point of fact, that week that led with the decision not to bring charges in the death of Michael Brown, that reminded us Marissa Alexander was still in prison, and that ended with the decision not to bring charges in the death of Eric Garner, shook me to the core. In the aftermath, I feel a even greater sense of urgency than before. I think I've become more outspoken, and I think I speak out more frequently. I still try to read my audience and push and stretch as close to the limit as I dare, as I continue to believe we accomplish more in the end by appealing to the best in human nature. But I'm less worried than I was about occasionally crossing the line. If people are so offended as to cut me out of their lives, so be it. And if people push back, I'll happily engage in conversation.

I still work hard not to use white privilege to co-opt voices of colour, preferring to share these voices and then add my own in afterwards if and when I genuinely have something to add. But I also believe silence on my part would be read as acquiescence, and I can't live with that.

I continue to be passionate about gender activism, and everything I have written about race applies to how I think, feel, and act regarding the full diversity of gender and sexuality. I'm trying to be as intersectional as I can and pay attention to class and abledness as well.

As for shielding children with rainbows, I do try to protect, encourage, and develop that inner sense of wanting to bring about fairness and justice that characterizes so many middle school kids. And my new Facebook and Twitter avatars are in fact a photo of a rainbow I took near my home town last year. A rainbow, to honour the full diversity of gender and sexuality. And a rainbow, too, because Martin Luther King Jr. talked of bending the arc of the moral universe ever toward justice.

Jozette Martinez Jozette Martinez commented on January 29, 2015 at 10:55am:

And justice for ALL...

Bill, you say so well, what is in my heart. These discussions are vital if we as a species want to continue to progress and our conversations need to encompass ALL people of the rainbow, of abilities, gender identification and more. Thank you for spreading my message. It's an honor to crusade with you!

Leslie Mess, Jr. commented on January 29, 2015 at 12:37am:

I can never be what I ought to be until...

"I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be."  For me, Dr. King spoke no words more powerful than these.  One might wonder what they have to do with your well written blog; and I hope that the following answer will satisfy your inquiry.

For one thing, these words were spoken to white America, to those who directly opposed Dr. King not only as a civil rights leader; but as a fellow human being as well.  I see within your words not only an explaination and a statement for those who agree with and support you; I also read a calling out for those who do not agree, and more specifically, those who oppose your stance on these issues.

A second reading of Dr. King's words also shows the reason I feel that they were the greatest he ever spoke.  Even though he is addressing white America, the words are crafted in a way that they speak to everyone.  They are not words spoken in hate, but in love.  Because of this, they are words that can give voice and hope to all of humanity willing to speak their message; while at the same time give pause and cause reflection for all of humanity willing to listen to their message.  Within your blog I see not only a message for everyone to agree with and make a stand on; I also find the content to be something that all of your readers should pause and reflect about in regards to their personal lives.

So you see, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.  In order for that to happen, I have to listen (or in this case read) what you have to say.  In order for that to happen, I have to understand why you feel this way.  And finally, in order for that to happen, I have to support you; and doing so starts here by reading your fine blog entry and responding to you.

As a white male, I know all too well these institutionalized conditions of discrimination.  I have grown up having them hammered into me from all directions.  I have been aware, for decades now, of how I have benefited from as well as practiced these things.  Any white male living in this day and age who tells you differently is lying to themselves at best.

So what began the change for me?  Two things:  Education; and love.  The education I am speaking of is something that cannot be taught through books alone.  Only after being discriminated against could I really begin to understand discrimination.  Only after discovering that discrimination is something that is practiced worldwide, as well as throughout the history of humanity, was I able to see that it was not just a sickness but a human trait.  It was then possible to see that discrimination wasn't just a racial thing; it was something applied to all aspects of personhood by all of humanity (race, gender, nationality, religion, age, sexuality, economic standing, level of education, etc..).

This education alone was not sufficient.  While I became aware of discrimination and how I was inculcated with it, practiced it, and received it; it wasn't until I became a father that I discovered the love necessary to fight against it!  My love for my children saved me.  It gave me direction, empathy, and hope.  These things gave me the desire to begin changing the things that I knew were wrong.  That change had to begin with me.  And I can tell you now, as a middle aged father whose children are older, that change is a daily process that will continue until the day that I die.

So I say keep blogging Jozette Martinez; your struggles give strength not only to yourself, but to others such as me.  Only through making others aware will you be able to educate.  This education, if guided by love of self and others, will help to bring change in your life and those around you.  And that is a powerful gift to yourself and to all of us!

I would like to end with another quote from Dr. King:  "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal."  I chose this quote, but perhaps not for the reason you think.  By saying that "all men are created equal" he left out half of humanity:  Women.  So you see; even someone as saintly as Martin Luther King, Jr. has room to grow!  THAT should give you as much hope on your journey as it does mine!  Take care Jo Zi.  :-)

Jozette Martinez Jozette Martinez commented on March 18, 2015 at 4:04pm:

White men, aware of privilege...

...and that use it as a platform to speak out and stand up for others, are equally important change agents as we have these delicate, important, and uncomfortable conversations. You are valued, not just as a fellow crusader, but as a trusted thought partner and advocate. Much thanks, friend.

Cathryn Bay-Fowler commented on January 29, 2015 at 9:16am:

Wow!

This is eloquence! Rock on sister!

Jozette Martinez Jozette Martinez commented on January 29, 2015 at 11:03am:

Esteemed Colleague,

Cathryn, hoping this introduction to the CTQ collaboratory sparks the writer within you, as we need more beyond common core teachers here in this space, sharing their hearts, painting their pictures with words. You are that artist.

Kris Giere commented on January 29, 2015 at 4:59pm:

A worthwhile crusade!

I've read this and shared this article multiple times since you've posted it.  The message you share is important, powerful, and one that needs to be heard.  Thank you, Jozette.  I appreciate you and your voice, and I hope to help amplify it in the spaces that I occupy.  If enough people listen, empathize, and understand, we might see the type of change necessary to alleviate and hopefully rid our culture of such thoughtless wielding of -isms.

Jozette Martinez Jozette Martinez commented on January 29, 2015 at 5:22pm:

The wielding of -isms...

I love this concept Kris, and I feel fortunate to hear how my piece moved you to the point of sharing it. That is the point right? Getting the word out to promote a better space for all! Thank you for your feedback.

Val Brown commented on January 30, 2015 at 12:46pm:

And then...

Jozette dropped the mic. 

I hope that we will continued to be changed by the injustices we see and experience. It will only stop if people like you continue to stand up and speak out. 

Great post! 

Jozette Martinez Jozette Martinez commented on January 30, 2015 at 12:53pm:

I takes one to know one...

Knowing our conversations, and pouring over your writings and stories, I know I am speaking to a fellow change agent with a wealth of heart to share with us all too. Together, we stand my friend.

Sandy Merz commented on February 1, 2015 at 2:35pm:

Jozette,

Jozette,

Thanks for this post. During the three cases  - Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Erik Garner, I’ve most been paying attention to the state of public debate, which I written about in other contexts here and here

Beginning with Trayvon Martin - when he was killed by George Zimmerman, I wasn’t too rattled by President Obama’s remark that a hypothetical son would have looked like Trayvon. I saw the resemblance myself. But as the case played out, I started thinking something else.

My sons are Spanish-speaking half-Mexicans with white skin and a German last name. In other words, August and Seth could be George Zimmerman. I posted this observation on Facebook and wondered how they would be treated and that we never know what’s in the heart of a stranger.

The post got a lot of likes. Several friends said they were sure my kids would never behave like Zimmerman. But that’s a lot to be sure of, particularly since most have never met my kids. And in a high-profile news story my friends wouldn’t rush to judgement but plenty of strangers would.

I read the conservative National Review Online every morning while I listen to NPR (National Partisan Radio? - Hey, you said you can take a joke!) During the Trayvon Martin case, NRO’s authors wrote a lot about the media coverage - how they first labeled Zimmerman as White, and when that turned out not to be accurate changed it to White Hispanic. (This is the same media that would never refer to President Obama as a White African American.) They also wrote about how NBC edited out the 911 operator asking Zimmerman what race Martin was. How likely do you think it is that the edit was based on time considerations, like the network claimed? 

The Right also went on and on about how if activists were so concerned about black lives they’d focus some of their rage on Black on Black murders. 

The Left primarily wrote about the epidemic of Whites killing Blacks and the injustice of the legal system.

During the Michael Brown case, the same conservative authors criticized the Fergeson authorities for much of their behavior. They were appalled at how much military equipment police forces use these days - to the point of making the US into a police state. For the specifics of the case they pointed to minority witnesses who contradicted the original “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” testimony, the disavowal and internal contradictions of previous testimony by many the HU!DS! witnesses, and forensic testimony that eventually convinced the grand jury, and later Erik Holder’s Justice Department, that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Darren Wilson. 

The Right again went on and on about the epidemic of Black on Black murders. A favorite tool their’s is to write something like, “While Al Sharpton was in Fergeson last weekend, 5 Black teenagers in Chicago were killed by other Black teenagers.” 

The Left primary wrote about the epidemic of Whites killing Blacks and the injustice of the legal system.

During the Erik Garner case, the Right was bewildered by how the grand jury could not charge Daniel Pantaleo. Everyone I read criticized the obvious excessive use of force. The Right also attacked the over-regulated State, commenting that regulations mean enforcement, the root word of enforcement is force, and that sooner or later force will end up being lethal. So if you’re going to regulate selling single cigarettes, you better be willing to kill for it.

The Left primarily wrote about the epidemic of Whites killing Blacks and the injustice of the legal system.

Where do I stand on all of this? There is plenty of injustice (racial and otherwise) in the legal system and I applaud and support anyone who roots it out and exposes it - and if anyone thinks the Right is against that, they should spend some time reading NRO. 

And I support you and your activist voice and your efforts to teach your students to stand against injustice.

Here are two final thoughts. First, every police involved shooting should be offically investigated to exacting standards by skeptical authorities whose only stake in the outcome is a fair and correct judgment. But I always wonder about something. If today in one of our cities a citizen is killed by a police officer, isn’t it better for everyone that the deceased really were putting someone, including the police officer, in mortal danger, than if the cop were murdering a citizen? Exonerating an officer should not be a goal of investigators, but the fewer bad shootings the better. 

Second, what would it take in a future case for all parties to be critical of the media when it misleads, be prepared to protest a disreputable decision together if it’s made, and to be willing to say, “Every dead Black youth grieves me, but I have to admint that this time, the officer was justified"?

 

Jozette Martinez Jozette Martinez commented on March 18, 2015 at 4:17pm:

You ask...

 "But I always wonder about something. If today in one of our cities a citizen is killed by a police officer, isn’t it better for everyone that the deceased really were putting someone, including the police officer, in mortal danger, than if the cop were murdering a citizen? Exonerating an officer should not be a goal of investigators, but the fewer bad shootings the better."

Let's take for instance Jessica Hernandez. As the investigation continues to unfold right here in Denver CO we know that the original claims of the police said shooting Hernandez was justified because she was "trying to run them over with the stolen car." We now know that this has been deemed false. She was shot at far range. Far enough to be considered murder.

My question is this- what ever happened to Judge and Jury? The right is always quick to support upholding the constitution and the rights of Americans. I guess that only applies to 'some' Americans?

Jozette Martinez Jozette Martinez commented on March 18, 2015 at 4:17pm:

You ask...

 "But I always wonder about something. If today in one of our cities a citizen is killed by a police officer, isn’t it better for everyone that the deceased really were putting someone, including the police officer, in mortal danger, than if the cop were murdering a citizen? Exonerating an officer should not be a goal of investigators, but the fewer bad shootings the better."

Let's take for instance Jessica Hernandez. As the investigation continues to unfold right here in Denver CO we know that the original claims of the police said shooting Hernandez was justified because she was "trying to run them over with the stolen car." We now know that this has been deemed false. She was shot at far range. Far enough to be considered murder.

My question is this- what ever happened to Judge and Jury? The right is always quick to support upholding the constitution and the rights of Americans. I guess that only applies to 'some' Americans?

Jessica Cuthbertson commented on March 20, 2015 at 11:07am:

Angrier & More Aware

Thank you for this amazing post that was also joyful to read from a craft perspective -- you tackled serious issues with grace and beauty.

How has my life changed? 

1. Awareness: I'm a lot more aware. I see injustice everywhere and I know it was there before, has always been there, but I was blinded by white privilege and I feel I am beginning now to see more clearly, think more deeply, listen more intently. I haven't thought and reflected on inequities in education and in our world this much since my undergrad days in sociology classes at Regis. And this awareness is a good thing if I think about our collective awareness -- first we must see before we can be a part of the solution. This leads me to #2...

2.) Anger: I'm a lot angrier. You mention your pacifist past and I too see myself as a pacifist. I believe in the power of nonviolent protest and using pens as swords. But life post-Ferguson, find me much less patient and much more angry. I feel an ethical responsibility to call out my white colleagues, argue with my husband, tweet my truth, in a way that I would have done in my own head and heart in the past. Three years ago, I worry that I would have missed this profiling incident entirely, but I know that even if I witnessed it then, I would have internally stewed about it but never had the courage to write about it and call it out. 

I am angrier and I am more aware. I stand with you friend, in solidarity, and applaud you for this crusade. Can you imagine if we all felt this strongly how powerfully we could stamp out hate, prejudice, bias and injustice? Imagine...

John Hager commented on August 22, 2016 at 7:34pm:

Great share

I still work hard not to use white privilege to co-opt voices of colour, preferring to share these voices and then add my own in afterwards if and when I genuinely have something to add. But I also believe silence on my part would be read as acquiescence, and I can't live with that.

Taya Tayler Taya Tayler commented on September 3, 2016 at 9:25am:

It was then possible to see

It was then possible to see that discrimination wasn't just a racial thing; it was something applied to all aspects of personhood by all of humanity race, gender, nationality, religion, age, sexuality, economic standing, level of education, etc... If people start taking help from http://write-my-paper-for-me.blogspot.com/2015/12/paper-writing-service.html they will probably know more about these subject matters. This education alone was not sufficient.

micheal le commented on December 20, 2016 at 5:29am:

thanks

thuốc kéo dài quan hệ chứa các vị thuốc đông y giúp bạn kéo dài thơi gian quan hệ một cách lâu nhất và sung sức nhất dành cho nam gi
ới

Edward Winston commented on December 26, 2016 at 10:49am:

“As you grow older, you’ll

“As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it—whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash” 
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird


It has been two years and the deaths don’t stop, though. Now Trump is the new president. I tell my students stories about racism, encourage them to stop it, encourage them to share their love to other people. I set my hope in our future generations

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