November 25, 2014

Broken


Last night, I couldn't sleep.

I tossed and turned, listening to the wind.

It was bitter outside, and the wind rattled my windows.

I kept thinking about the other places that wind was going. That same wind, chasing the storm that left my city frozen and wet and frosted.

I knew that same wind must be chilling the streets in Ferguson, which isn't far from here. I thought of the wind whipping through Ferguson, and how it would feel to be standing on the street in that wind.

It would be cold, bone chilling cold. Soul chilling. It would bite at exposed skin. It would howl.

I thought about how I might howl with it, in rage and confusion and pure hopelessness.

I thought about how in Ferguson, no amount of scarves or coats would make your skin feel less exposed.

Yesterday, a grand jury failed to charge the killer of Michael Brown with any charges whatsoever. There is no question that he killed Michael Brown. There is no question that Michael Brown was unarmed. That he was a teenaged boy, enjoying his last summer before heading off to college. That if he were still alive, he would be counting down the seconds until his first real break from the rigors of the semester ended, and he could go be with his family and enjoy the warmth of food and love despite the raging winds outside.

There is no question that Michael Brown was an unarmed teenaged boy.

A police officer shot him and killed him, and never has to answer to that again.

And here is why- white America is so frightened of brown skin that, whether or not it is reasonable or fair or realistic or humane, a white officer can claim that when a brown skinned person moves in their direction, it is a legitimate threat to their life.

THAT is the law. The law is that a police officer can use deadly force if they believe their life is in danger. And in this case, a police officer believed that an unarmed teenaged kid would and could have killed him.

That is a bad law.

More than that, it is a bad, broken way to live. We live in an environment where to have brown skin is to be a perceived threat. All the time.

We have criminalized brownness.

THAT is the law.

Of course there is no justice for the people in Ferguson. There is a broken law that protects bigoted ideas at the expense of real, human lives.

Michael Brown was a human being. It doesn't matter that he was black, or that he was male, or that he was large. What matters is that he was a human being, killed in the street, and that his killer did, according to the law, NOTHING WRONG.

It doesn't matter if he DID attempt to assault an officer. It doesn't matter if he DID rob a store. None of that matters. Because if they were true, Michael Brown should have been given the same protection as Darren Wilson. The benefit of the doubt. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

He will never be proven guilty, because he was dead before he could be charged with a crime.

Darren Wilson will never be proven guilty, because a grand jury determined there was no crime with which to charge him.

THAT is the law.

There is so much anger and resentment built up in this country. So much frustration and fatigue. Nobody expected Darren Wilson to go to jail. Nobody. But the least we could have done, as a community, was hold him accountable.

I understand the urge to break something, anything, when everything around you already feels so broken.

I understand the urge to watch something burn.

I understand the need to embrace the warmth of your fury when the wind is so cold, and with your hood over your ears you can hardly hear that there is somebody near by, offering to hold your hand.

This is not justice. It is not the law. But because the law is so broken, there is no justice. And if there is no justice, what's the point?

What's the point of obeying a law when by the default of your skin you're already guilty?

It's not right. It's not right to stand back and watch the world burn. But it's also not right to stand back and do nothing.

On Thursday, Michael Brown's family will have their first Thanksgiving without him. And every year, they will be forced to find a way to feel grateful, despite carrying the reminder that three days earlier, the man who killed him was cleared of any wrongdoing.

From NBC
This is our country. These are our values.

This Thanksgiving, all of us should mourn.

November 20, 2014

Your New Favorite Store

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
I am a year round shopper. In general, when I find that perfect thing that I just know somebody on my list is going to love, I just go ahead and buy it. At any given time, I have half a dozen birthday/Christmas/Channukah/Anniversary gifts hiding in my home, waiting for the day I give them to somebody who I know is going to love them.

That said, my days of year-round shopping may be behind me. Because I've found the world's best shop for awesome things for everybody that I know.

UncommonGoods.

As you may recall, I am a big fan of giving kids activities, rather than toys.

UncommonGoods has an amazing selection of toys and activities for kids. My two favorites, without a doubt, are the Make Your Own Ukelele Kit and the Make Your Own Snowglobe Kit,


If M and I hadn't gotten the twins guitars for their birthday, we'd be getting them this kit. How cool is that? Build, decorate, and learn to play your own ukelele?! I want one of those!!!

Other great toys from UncommonGoods are their language blocks. They have alphabet blocks in ChineseBrailleHebrew, and Hieroglyphs.

Something the twins are getting from UncommonGoods this Channukah is the Gummy Bear Lights. These things are so much better than they even looked on the website. They're flexible silicone, and really easy to use. They produce what is pretty much exactly the right amount of light to let them curl up with a gummy bear and a book in bed, and not produce enough light to disturb the two year old sleeping on the other end of the room.



My favorite feature of this toy is that it has a timer- it automatically turns off after an hour. So when one of my favorite five year olds falls asleep reading, I don't have to sneak in and turn it off.

Of course, just having an awesome, snuggleable night light isn't enough- you've got to have something to read by it, right?

UncommonGoods has a most beautiful personally curated collection of picture books. We got a copy of Lineup for Yesterday, Ogden Nash's alphabetic ode to Baseball with some of the most wonderful illustrations I've seen in a long time.

It's a ridiculously beautiful book.
 In addition to the poem, which is a really fun way to talk baseball with the kids, every few stanzas there's a page of brief biographies of the baseball players in the poem, including the teams they played for and the years they played. It's a gorgeous piece of baseball history.

I would tell you to go check out every single item individually, but there's no point. EVERY SINGLE ITEM is carefully selected, and they're all sort of magical. If you check out the selection of gifts for women, you'll find it's so much more than the usual gendered assortment of scarves and tea towels. Although those are gorgeous too.

There's a selection of steampunk light switch plates I would LOVE to get for half of my friends.

There's a selection of the world's cleverest hot cocoa and marshmallow delivery systems.

There's a set of mix tape tumblers. MIX TAPE GLASSWARE!!!!

I mean- seriously.

The diversity of the stuff in their gifts for dudes section is pretty epic, too. And best of all, they know that these items can and SHOULD overlap. There's no sense that "Shot glasses are for men and throw cushions are for women." It's a philosophy of, "Awesome stuff is for everybody."

But the icing on this cake of fabulous is without a doubt the people running UncommonGoods. Based out of Brooklyn, NY, they are dedicated to products that don't harm animals, the environment, or people. Half of their products are hand made, and the majority are made in the USA. About a third are recycled or upcycled materials, and even that isn't the best part.

Every time somebody makes a purchase at UncommonGoods, the owners donate $1 to charity. Not just any charity, four in particular. Including the one nearest and dearest to my heart, RAINN.

Get thee hence to UncommonGoods and finish up your holiday shopping. Support small businesses instead of giving all your money to Amazon and Walmart. Get something made with love, sold with love, and then given with love.

And add UncommonGoods to your bookmarks, because when you need to buy somebody something awesome, it's the first place you should look.

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