Coin Toss

He has a name. Arnaldo Eliud Rios Soto is the name of the autistic young man who wandered away from the group home last week in Miami–and the world watched his African-American behavioral therapist get shot attempting to help him.

Ok, technically, the shooting is NOT on the video. What we see is the African-American therapist laying on the ground with his hands in the air, while Rios sits cross-legged next to him. They are in the middle of the street. Rios is holding a toy truck. Charles Kinsey, the therapist, can be heard yelling that he is a behavioral therapist and that Rios is his patient.

It didn’t F******* matter. The SWAT team member shot Kinsey in the leg. He had a report that Rios was suicidal and had a gun. He was actually aiming for Rios. (Because it makes sense to kill a man that might be suicidal instead of actually helping him…No, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s bullshit.)

I have been sick to my stomach for days over this.

Two of my children are African. One of my four children, my twenty year old son, is autistic. Imagine the scenario someday where my two boys are together and my autistic son becomes agitated–possibly aggressive. My African son is with him. What if a bystander calls the police?

A couple of years ago I stopped by my local police department to inquire as to their autism training and intervention plans. The officer I talked to was, well, a total jerk. He took one look at my arms, bruised from a previous bad day with my son. It happens. The officer was ready to press charges and wanted me to sign a form IMMEDIATELY.

WHAT. THE. F***.

I had come there for help. I wanted to know that if I needed assistance with my son, I could count on them showing up and not shooting him; not tasering him; not hurting him in any way. Instead, I realized that this fellow had no idea about cognitive delays, mental health, and autism.

Last week’s shooting was my worst nightmare come true. I understand that not all police officers are incompetent, racist asshats. I do. But shooting Kinsey was completely UNNECESSARY. The thought that the officer actually meant to shoot Rios sickens me.

So again, I pose the question: What if my two sons are in public. Which one are the police going to aim for? The thought sickens me. Both are innocent. Both were born with a set of genes that determined their individual destinies. One: tall, caucasian, cognitively impaired, autistic. One: shorter, strong, African, bright.

Black Lives Do Matter. Deal with it.

Autism exists. Learn about it and deal with it.

Try and show compassion and kindness towards each other.

Peace people.

 

A little kindness. Please.

I was going to write this week about my youngest son’s last two weeks. He has had a rough time of it..getting into trouble at school. I asked him what he thought might be the source of all this turmoil…he suggested his race. I countered his jerkish behavior.

And then Paris happened.

It seems that I will be writing about racism after all.

We do deal with some racism in this family. When we go out to eat, my African daughter is asked if she would like a separate check, if she and my son’s leftovers are going in a different bag. I understand this…sort of. They are darker…we are whiter.

I have friends that swear they aren’t racist, and yet make racist comments when we go out to very mixed clubs, joking that all they saw were “teeth” on the way back from the bathroom. These friends would swear that they are not racist–they have close friends that are African American!

I was dismayed to see a comment by a friend on Facebook today that said something along the lines of how this friend went out to dinner this weekend and saw a Muslim person and now feels they must worry.

Stop.

I have many close Muslim friends. I have never felt unsafe in their presence. I have felt love, acceptance, kindness–qualities I look for in a friend.

I knew when the attacks happened that people would have a knee jerk reaction and blame a religion, and not radical jihadists. The people that did this were assholes.

They want us to react with hate and fear. If we do this, then we also become assholes.

Can we stop being racists? Can we stop the xenophobia? Can we stop judging people by their religion? By their sexual orientation? By their anything??

Can we instead choose kindness and love, compromise and acceptance?

Let’s fight darkness with light.

Let’s stop the assholes.

Peace people.

 

 

 

A dog lover by day..and semi racist by night

So I have this dog. Ok, well, I have two dogs. One is an eleven year old Cavalier King Charles, named Scrappy (as in Scrappy Doo). He is a tri color, just so you know. Then, in November, I got suckered into rescuing a Rottweiler mix. Her name is Harley (as in Harley Quinn, from Batman). She is about a year old, cute as hell, and obnoxious as all get out. I’m trying to train her. Wish me luck. She keeps escaping out of our yard, into the neighbor’s yard, to romp with their dog, a little fluff ball of a mutt…and when I go over to retrieve her, Harley laughs at me. She streaks past me, fire shooting out from her paws, daring me to try and catch her..she will stop..look at me, laughing, and then, just as I go to grab her collar, lurch out of my grasp and run in circles around me. Much cursing is heard, as my sailor vocabulary comes out, as well, I’m in the neighbor’s yard, and I’m pretty sure they aren’t too happy with the fact that my dog is tearing up their yard and chewing on their dog’s toys. And don’t even go into any bathroom issues. I’m gonna have to send over a clean up crew later. Sigh.

Suffice it to say that Invisible Fence is getting a STAT CALL later. And I want our fence put on MAXIMUM STUN. Hey, don’t hate me. I don’t want my dog hit by a car or terrorizing any neighbors. DON’T JUDGE ME PEOPLE.

Anyway. Today some men were in my yard, doing some spring clean up stuff for the neighbor behind me..they had to point their leaf blowers thru my fence. Miss Harley was out, but I was smart enough to put her out on a lead, so she wouldn’t be four miles away, at the local brewhouse, the minute I put her out. The guy in my backyard came up to play with her…and in an effort to make her less afraid of him, took off his leaf blower gear and laid down on the ground. Harley began sniffing him, then licking him a bit, and they wrestled a bit. Wow, I thought, that’s sort of cool…what  nice guy.

He explained that he had Bull Mastiff’s and that they were good to him but not to strangers..and we talked about our dogs..a nice conversation…and then he said it.

He said, “You know, I live in a neighborhood with lots of blacks in it, so I need my dogs. You just never know.” I was speechless. Me, the wordsmith, the person whose big mouth get’s her into trouble all the damn time–at a loss for words.

He said some more shit about how great his dogs were and then moved on with his yard gear and I went back into my house. Stunned.

If you don’t think we live in a racist nation, you’re kidding yourselves. I’m sure he doesn’t consider himself a racist. He was a nice guy. That’s the problem with racism…how hidden, how insidious it is.

I wanted to say…I wanted to say, how would your dogs react to my African children? I wanted to ask “Why does a neighborhood with lots of blacks in it, make it a bad neighborhood??” I wanted to ask “Why do we assume that a black person is bad but a white person is good?”  I knew that all of this would be denied…explained away…I’ve heard it before from my “non racist” racist white friends (no–I have black friends! I’m not a racist!)

This post may not win me any friends. Maybe it will.

All I know is that we need to have a real conversation about race in this country. And our reactions to it. And I could go on here but I won’t.

Right now I’m too busy spending time with my crazy dogs. And my children.