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A powerful message of hope …AND YET….What does it stir up in you?

nanakix

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. Yeah, it was a Dickensian kind of year. Easily one of the worst of my life. And yet….

Starting off the year with a pink slip from my job, followed six weeks later with a pink slip from my husband pretty much ensured it would be a horrible year. Psychological tests put those kind of tragedies in the top ten list of things that rock a person’s world. The kind of tragedies that make one prone to depression, illness, stupid behavior.

And yet…I am still breathing. Still loving God. Still looking for the good in this life and for opportunities to add goodness to the universe. Still surrounded by loving friends and incredible family who lift me up when I cannot stand, who breathe life into my soul when I am bereft.

I pretty much just wanted to curl…

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Photo by Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Imagn Content Services, 4/20/21

Chauvin convicted on three counts of murder! George Floyd and people all over the world exhale. “Today we are able to breathe again,” said George’s brother Philonise. “Justice for George means freedom for all.” After many decades of police murders of African American people, still over 1,000 such cases every year in the US, with police rarely sanctioned, let alone convicted of murder, this jury decision was historic. There is good reason for the city of Minneapolis and the Black Lives Matter Plaza of DC to be filled with hugs, tears and joyous shouts of victory. We can all breathe with relief that justice was done in this clear case of brutal murder.

However, as Rev. Al Sharpton remarked at a press conference yesterday, we are not celebrating another man sent to prison for a possible 40 year sentence. “There’s been enough of that done to us. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.” He urged us to keep demanding fundamental changes in policing in this country, so the people supposedly in our communities to protect us, stop killing us. I was moved by his generosity of spirit, his compassion.

That compassion, human empathy and connection was exactly what was missing on May 25, 2020 in Derek Chauvin’s actions. To see leaders and family members of George Floyd offer compassion to their beloved’s killer is powerful.

I still want to hear Chauvin’s thoughts and feelings when he was kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, hearing his pleas for breath and life. Was he afraid of this shackled dying man? Of teenager Darnella Frazier videotaping his actions? Whatever fear, anger, pride or false notions of his authority were motivating him, Chauvin’s actions were those of a murderer. I hope he receives help in prison, counseling, spiritual guidance. I hope he experiences a transformation.I would rather see him change than suffer the cruelties of the American prison system. He is a human being also. A sick human being, one who needs help, just as George Floyd needed help rather than violence.

The causes of this murder run so deep in American history of slavery, in the racist nature of our police, prison and justice systems, that we can’t rest on this victory. Ten miles from the courtroom, Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and killed by police last Sunday, April 20. Yesterday Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio. These black lives matter too. We must keep speaking out, organizing, changing our white supremacist system until there are NO police killings.

Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images
George Floyd Square in Minneapolis 4/18/21)

Canadian police meditating before duty

Two more young African American men shot dead in the back by someone trained to kill, a Pentagon police officer. He killed them April 7, 2021 in the parking lot of a condo, walking distance from my home. The same killer threatened a homeless woman in his lobby with a shotgun and pepper sprayed her in May 2020. David Hall Dixon has worked at the Pentagon for two years, but has no legal authority in Maryland. He was trained to kill two decades ago in the Air Force, the Army reserve and now the Pentagon. Apparently he thought he had the right to continue killing in our neighborhood. Because he had a gun for his work in Virginia, he assumed he had the right to use it at home.

Murders also happen on a weekly basis in DC, also bordering our home. Another Pentagon employee wounded a16-year-old in DC on March 24!

We train people by the thousands in the US military to shoot to kill. Why are there no programs to “de-train” them when they re-enter civilian life? Rather, they are welcomed into police forces, along with surplus military grade automatic weapons from the Pentagon.

These murders are happening in the midst of the Chauvin trial in Minneapolis for George Floyd’s murder — where yet another police officer killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright last Sunday. The 26-year veteran police woman thought she was firing her taser instead of her gun!

In a recent Washington Post editorial, Michelle Norris says, “We will never escape the infinite loop of death and trauma until we accept the fact that American policing was born out of a system that was established to protect the tenets of white supremacy and control the movements and aspirations of Black and brown communities that might threaten the status quo. This may not be the mandate of police work today, but it is its origin story. Until we admit and remove the vestiges of that history, we are doomed to live inside this tragic spin cycle.” (Washington Post, 4/14/21, A25).

How do we STOP this insanity, this cycle of violence and racism in our country?

Maryland made a leap forward toward sanity on April 10 to limit police officers’ use of force, restrict the use of no-knock warrants and repeal the nation’s first Bill of Rights for law enforcement.(https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/08/29/police-bill-of-rights-officers-discipline-maryland/), taking action to address police violence after nationwide demonstrations following the death of George Floyd.

Over our Republican governor’s veto, the legislature also repealed Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, the nation’s first such law when it was enacted in the 1970s. The new law also requires police to use body cameras and allow citizens to record their actions. (Maryland Passes Sweeping Police Reform legislationhttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/10/us/maryland-police-reform.html).

I would urge us to go further, to envision communities with services offered without delivery by people loaded with forty pounds of weaponry.

  1. Get rid of the guns, the assault weapons — in the hands of police and regular people! There are nineteen countries where police do not carry guns. (https://time.com/5854986/police-reform-defund-unarmed-guns). Forty percent of the guns in the world are in the US. These are weapons designed to kill people, many people at once. Why are they even allowed to exist and be sold?

2. RETRAIN military and police to STOP shooting to kill. They don’t have the right! Armed violence doesn’t solve conflicts caused by poverty, disease, hunger and war. We need to deal with the root causes of violence in our communities and in the world, not increase the problems with more violence. In many countries, training for police work involves three years of education, not five weeks of boot camp weapons training.

3. TEACH PEACE, meditation, methods to calm violence, de-escalate conflict. Train children in non-violence, teach them to appreciate our multicultural society. Non-violence training is tough, more rigorous and demanding than the training to kill. It empowers people with life skills to stop the violence in ourselves first, then to help stop it among others. Non-violence is powerful, courageous, more transformative than cowardly training with guns.

4. CHANGE our paradigm, our thinking about needing all this violence. We’re reacting to great suffering in our universe (climate change, pandemic, war, poverty, racism, sexism, drug addiction, alcoholism). External trauma affects our amygdala brain, telling us we are always in danger, fearing that others are out to get us, kill us if we don’t kill first. More violence and fear result. Neuro-plasticity tells us that our brains can change, can be re-wired.

5. Offer healing and counseling to people who have been trained to kill and who have tried to serve country and home while facing danger every day. (See Resmaa Menakem’s My Grandmother’s Hands with these options for police and military personnel.) Teach police and soldiers to meditate.

6. LOVE is the answer — unity, community, taking care of the illness in us that is racism, sexism, violence and fear. We need healing, listening, trust, services that nourish happiness and celebrate strength in diversity.

Ok, so I sound like a dreamer, but I’m not the only one! Without visions of the society we aim to become, we will never take a step in the direction of change. I hope to echo the voice of reason, the voice of my family demanding a future for our newest member, born last Sunday, a tiny, beautiful baby who deserves a LIFE, freedom, happiness, fun, all the opportunities possible in our world if we do the hard work of building peaceful communities. I don’t want this beautiful child killed because of the color of his skin.

See my new book AWAKE to Racism for more insights from African American authors, leaders, teachers and artists.(Available on Amazon and Indiebooks).

Posted in Racism

Posted by u/holladollameatballa Black Lives Matter, me, watercolor, colored pencils, gouache on paper 2020

“Mama, I can’t breathe.
Officer, sir, you’re killing me.
I can’t breathe!”

George Floyd’s voice, the voices of witnesses to his murder, voices of those who tried to intervene, to stop Derek Chauvin from crushing out his life…all are being heard again in the courtroom, amplified, repeated through articles, videos reaching the world.

18 year old Darnella Frazier feeling guilty for not being able to stop the murder — “It could have been my father, brother, cousin…I’ve been up nights praying, apologizing to George for not doing more, not saving his life.” She couldn’t physically intervene last year, yet her video sent the voice of George Floyd to millions around the world.

Several children witnessed the murder, testifying in nervous voices what it was like to see a man killed in front of them as they went to a store to buy snacks.

Charles McMillan who tried to persuade Floyd to surrender, “Oh, my God” his body shaking with sobs, “I felt so helpless.”

Donald Williams who calmly reminded Chauvin that his blood hold would kill Floyd, restraining his anger in the courtroom to avoid being stereotyped as the “dangerous Black man.” Williams was very careful not to display anger, maintaining that he stayed in his body, focused on saving a life.

Genevieve Hansen, the off-duty firefighter, in tears on the stand, who urged Chauvin to allow her to take Floyd’s pulse, wondering if she could have saved his life.

Floyd’s girlfriend and family members in the courtroom reliving their beloved’s death — “No one knows the love you had for him and you’re affected on a different level. The magnitude of pain you see in the courtroom, it’s overwhelming. And then you see him dying every day. He’s there with you every day, but he’s dying every day.” (Philonise Floyd).

Several white police officers testified for the prosecution that kneeling on a man handcuffed was unnecessary force. White people in the courtroom, around the country finally, perhaps, hearing the voices of Black people testifying, seeing themselves not only from the viewpoint of the white cop but from the last moments of George Floyd’s sight.

We hear the opposite viewpoint from the defense, the view of a white officer who considered Floyd’s “I can’t breathe” a form of resisting arrest! A policeman assured that he was above the law, protected, meant to control and exercise power over Black people, doing his job, guiltless of murder, innocent of any crime. His is the voice of white supremacy, the continuation of over 400 years of a slave system that dehumanizes African Americans.

Between 2005 and 2015, according to Philip M. Stinson, a Bowling Green criminologist, more than 1400 officers were arrested for a violent crime committed on duty. (WP, A1). Even the murder cases among them are usually not prosecuted and only a handful resulted in conviction. It’s this systemic violence and murder on the part of police — with the majority of their victims African Americans — that must STOP!
Whatever perceptions of police as guardians of the law that keep them from being convicted of murder must STOP!

It is critical for the healing of centuries of slavery and oppression of African American people that Chauvin be convicted of this murder.

Amplifying the voices of African American people, including the living and those silenced by police and FBI is a goal of my new book AWAKE to Racism.

Photo by Michael Von

“Mama, I can’t breathe.
Officer, sir, you’re killing me.
I can’t breathe!”

George Floyd’s voice, the voices of witnesses to his murder, voices of those who tried to intervene, to stop Chauvin from crushing out his life…all being heard again in the courtroom, amplified, repeated through articles, videos reaching the world.

18 year old Darnella Frazier feeling guilty for not being able to stop the murder – “It could have been my father, brother, cousin…I’ve been up nights praying, apologizing to George for not doing more, not saving his life.” She couldn’t physically intervene last year, yet her video sent the voice of George Floyd to millions around the world.

Several children witnessed the murder, testifying in nervous voices what it was like to see a man murdered as they went to a store to buy snacks.

Charles McMillan who tried to persuade Floyd to surrender, “Oh, my God” his body shaking with sobs, “I felt so helpless.”

Donald Williams who calmly reminded Chauvin that his “blood hold” would kill Floyd, restraining his anger in the courtroom to avoid being stereotyped as the “dangerous Black man” whom Chauvin must have seen beneath his knee and in the people pleading for Floyd’s life.

Genevieve Hansen, the off-duty firefighter, in tears on the stand, who urged Chauvin to allow her to take Floyd’s pulse, wondering if she could have saved his life.

Floyd’s girlfriend and family members in the courtroom reliving their beloved’s death -“No one knows the love you had for him and you’re affected in a different level. The magnitude of pain you see in the courtroom, it’s overwhelming. And then you see him dying every day. He’s there with you every day, but he’s dying every day.” (Philonise Floyd).

White police officers testified for the prosecution that kneeling on a man handcuffed was unnecessary force. White people in the courtroom, around the country finally, perhaps, hearing the voices of Black people testifying, seeing themselves perhaps not only from the viewpoint of the white cop but from the last moments of George Floyd’s sight.

We will, as always in such a trial, hear the opposite viewpoint, the view of a white officer of the law kneeling on a Black man’s neck for almost nine minutes, assured that he was above the law, protected, meant to control and exercise power over Black people, doing his job, guiltless of murder, innocent of any crime. The voice of white supremacy, the continuation of over 400 years of a slave system that dehumanizes African Americans.

Let us all keep our ears, eyes and hearts open to the voices of truth, of immeasurable pain that affected not only George Floyd but the millions connected to his voice, his body, his cry for breath.

These voices cry out for recognition of injustice, for openness, for empathy and compassion. For CHANGE! May we listen, see, and act to be part of healthy change, to move toward a truly diverse, just, equal society where all voices matter, all lives matter.

Rev. Sharon Risher’s mother was murdered in the Charleston Massacre, a mass shooting on June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine African Americans were killed during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Killed were Clementa C. Pinckney, 41; Cynthia Graham Hurd, 54; Susie J. Jackson, 87; DePayne Vontrease Middleton-Doctor, 49; Tywanza Kibwe Diop Sanders, 26; Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., 74; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, and Myra Singleton Quarles Thompson, 59, and her mother, Ethel Lee Lance, 70. Three others survived: Felicia Sanders, her granddaughter, and Polly Sheppard.

Rev. Risher reminds us in her book, For Such a Time as This, that shooter Dylann Roof was convicted on federal hate crimes, for which he was sentenced to death, and also pleaded guilty to state murder charges. Before the Emanuel massacre he had posted a racist manifesto online saying he was “awakened” by the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin — the 17-year old African American shot to death by neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, in Florida. Roof had posed for photos with Confederate flags.

In an article on the editorial page of the Washington Post today, Sharon Risher calls for action on gun violence. She states that “…if the Confederate flag is the primary symbol of white-supremacist hate, the gun is its deadliest weapon.”

Hopefully the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, with vandals waving the confederate flag, armed and threatening the lives of Congresspeople, is another “wake up” call that racism is a threat to all Americans and to democracy itself.

Foot tentatively touching to test
For leverage, traction,
Finding only slick thick ice.
Overnight rain fell freezing
On top of three inches of snow
Outdoors
No way to venture

Out;
Now time to journey within

Posted byJoannPosted inUncategorizedTags:Qi Gong

When is a good time to practice Qi Gong?  Daily, early in the morning, outdoors, especially at the beach is our favorite time and place.  But the best answer is ANYTIME, ANYPLACE, every day – especially NOW.  

In these last few months, and increasingly in the last two weeks, our country has experienced intense health, economic, political and social upheaval.  We are all affected by these crises at a physical and psychic level.  If you have been feeling more agitation, anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, isolation or despair, you are not alone.  Each of us, consciously or unconsciously is affected on some level by the pandemic, racism and attacks on democracy.

Qi Gong is a practice that will help us to touch our energy, release negative energy that blocks us from free movement, and nourish positive, healing, hopeful energy in our bodies, minds and spirits.

Join us every Tuesday until March 2 from 7:00-7:30pm on zoom to practice Five Animal Play Qi Gong.  Enjoy becoming more rooted on earth, solid and powerful with Bear energy, more peaceful, confident and majestic with Deer energy.  Become an alert, agile, focused Monkey, and a graceful, flexible, concentrated Crane.  Feel the strength, power and courage of the Tiger in your arms, legs and torso.

FREE!!!! on zoom! Register today at https://apm.activecommunities.com/takomaparkrecreation/Activity_Search/more-five-animal-play-qi-gong/6997.

September 9, 2020

Reflection:  It has been since June that I’ve posted here on Power of Love, but I’ve been posting in a writing workshop every day since June 10 writing yet another book – “Waking up to RACISM.”  I decided to test out sharing this post more widely.  Let me know what you think, feel, are doing about this.

Police Lynching of Women! 250 deaths 2015-2020

The main reason I’m writing this book, to help others remember, notice, feel and understand the reality of white supremacy in this country and DO something to stop it from harming people of color.

Therefore, I can’t move to the next piece in my chronological story without paying special attention to an important article in the Washington Post yesterday – “Taylor Case Led to Rare Spotlight: Police Kill Dozens of Women Yearly” by Marisa Iati, Jennifer Jenkinds and Sommer Brugal.

Breonna Taylor was murdered in her bed in a ‘no knock’ nighttime raid by Louisville, KY police on March 13, 2020. No officers have been formally charged with her death. The authors note that her brutal killing “brought into focus an often over looked but consistent subset of people fatally shot by police – women.” Of the 247 women known to be killed in this way in the last five years, 48 were Black. At least 89 of them were killed in their homes. There were 1,274 Black men killed by police in the same time period.

The shooting with circumstances most similar to Breonna Taylor’s murder was that of Alteria Woods, 21, who was killed March 19,2017 in Gifford, FL. In both cases, the women were in bed and were not the subject of the police presence. No officers have been charged in her murder.

India Kager, 27, was also killed when police were ‘looking for someone else. On September 2015 in Virginia Beach, VA, officers threw a ‘flash bang’ grenade at their parked car, and fired 30 rounds into India and her boyfriend Angelo Perry, killing both. Their 4-month old son in the back seat was uninjured – physically. I wonder how the story of his parents death might affect the rest of his life. The Commonwealth’s attorney ruled the shooting justified.

Most of these women murdered by police are in their mid-30s or younger, but 72-year-old Geraldine Townsend was shot and killed in Bartlesville, OK on January 17, 2018, as her son Michael screamed, “That’s my mother! It’s a BB gun! You killed my mother.”

Many of the women killed since 2015, about 30% had mental health challenges, compared with 22% of the 5,362 men killed by police. The family of DeCynthia Clements, a 34 year-old woman with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was fatally shot in Elgin, IL. Her family says that police should have recognized that she was in the throes of a crisis and “taken steps to de-escalate the situation.”

Why are police allowed to kill so many innocent people, without consequences? Why are so many people with mental illness not receiving treatment? Are police trained to deal with mental illness? Domestic abuse? Why not use conflict resolution skills rather than guns and assault weapons and grenades? Why shoot to “kill”? Why do we allow “no-knock laws” to exist?

WHY DO WE ALLOW THESE MURDERS TO CONTINUE?
ARE THEY NOT A 21st CENTURY FORM OF LYNCHING?

I wouldn’t know about most of these murders if not for good journalism like this article, the increase in citizens video-taping instances of police brutality, awareness due to #Black Lives Matter, #Say the Names, #cantwait, protests, civil suits, investigation and the day to day pressure we must bring to change policies that allow police to kill with impunity.

My granddaughter wrote to me about police reform – “It is impossible to reform a police state. The system is not broken. It was designed to oppress and has doing that perfectly. The police, since their inception (as slave catchers), have always upheld white supremacy as an institution. There is an uninterrupted continuum of anti-Black violence throughout the history of the American police force.”

If this view seems too radical, you might feel moved to at least investigate your local police department and ask questions. Ask for a list of weapons they have, ask what their policies are on choke-holds, warnings, ‘no-knock’ entry, exhausting all alternatives before shooting, learning to shoot to maim rather than kill. Are police given training in alternatives to violence, diversity, conflict resolution, meditation? Join local organizations who ask these questions, investigate, conduct trainings, assist with the underlying problems that cause violence.

When we read articles like this, when we see a video of George Floyd’s brutal murder, most of us are moved, but often feel that “it could never happen to me.” Are you sure? The majority of police killings of women happened to white women! And when such brutal murders of women who are not even suspects in a crime happen without consequences for their killers, are we affected? Are we not part of this system we live in? Benefit from? Do we become ‘by-standers’ when allies are needed?

Remember “First they came…” by Martin Neimoller

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Or better yet – this great film version I showed often in my high school classrooms:

Brookside

Police have arrested over 2500 in protests over the death of George Floyd, firing tear gas into the cars of reporters, shooting them and others with rubber bullets, the National Guard called out in 26 cities. Our hearts are torn open by the cruelty of the murder, this last among the thousands by police against African American sisters, brothers, friends, mothers, fathers, children.  Too many unpunished by law.  A man in the White House who stokes the flames of racial hatred and violence!  Enough!

When there is a fire, we must first put it out.  First the fire in my own heart.  So, I took a mindful walk in Brookside Garden this morning, doing gentle Qi Gong, meditating on the beauty of the flowers, the blue sky and sunshine.  I was happy to see a number of African Americans there, also walking, enjoying the beautiful morning.  It calmed my anger and despair, helped me see what I need to write to you. 

From my experience violence doesn’t not stop violence; only increases it – within me, in society.  I had a sick man harassing me in sexually demeaning ways in the last few weeks. It hurt my heart, roused anger, self-defense, desires to tell the details, to expose, retaliate.  It helped me feel a small fraction of what the family of George Floyd, what all people of color must feel at this injustice.

The fires of fear, anger, retribution and violence within me are a danger not only to myself.  Because I have no separate self.  I am – in every cell of my body – also George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Fanny Lou Hamer, Thich Nhat Hanh.  I am in them and they are in me.  I am in every suffering being on the planet and they are in me.  So, I take mindful steps, calming my heart and theirs.  I can, in this body, in my steps, in the here and now, bring healing of racial injustice to myself, to my ancestors, to those who died so unjustly, to all broken hearts.  I walk until the courage and wisdom of Martin Luther King’s non-violence and Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness become mine.  Whatever else I choose to do with my community to express my outrage at this injustice and the feeding of violence by the White House, I will bring peace and justice only when my own heart is calm and loving