Waking Up White (A letter to Bob)
Well, I woke up this morning. And I was still white. Call me a Caucasian if that makes you feel better. There is a connection between waking up again and remaining white, or a honkey if you prefer, I lean toward that as a descriptive word, as it not only signifies color but there is something about that word which implies a smidge of “less than”, not all the way to ‘stupid motherfucker’, but on that path. Clearly being white does not guarantee a life of infinity because the grim reaper don’t give a rat’s ass about the way you be looking in the mirror, Holmes. On the other hand, being white does offer something of an invisibility and cloak of comfort and ease versus people primed with other color. And, here this Sunday morning with the country I live in on fire and very quickly falling apart, it is the color black and someone of that color making up the more remarkable magic trick of just waking up again.
Yeah, I didn’t say that particularly clearly, so let me shift gears and do what I intended when the beginning bell sounded, which is to write a letter – it’s to a private party but I’m pretty confident he will not mind me sharing it with the world, meaning the four or five people likely to see it on my Blog or somewhere else in the planet of social media. So, this here is a letter to my old pal Bob Zimmerman. Now, the fact is that one of the reasons Bob will care not a whit regarding my publicizing personal details and shares is that he passed away in 2010, on the Christmas holiday (a little less of a celebratory time for his Jewish self, though he was for sure a giver of gifts the year round). But, even if Bob was still walking and joking and doing his help-the-planet things among us today he wouldn’t mind either. Not if I explained the goal, and also just because it was me doing it and more often than not he trusted my judgement. (You can make of that what you will, I’d say it’s because he was way brighter than most people, but that’s just me.) His wife and son continue to fight the good fight up here above ground, and should either chance upon this unedited letter to husband or dad, well I hope you remember the love I had for him and also I wouldn’t do it without a good reason.
So, there’s that, and – Hey Bob – long time no talking and I own that, been kind of busy being idle as much as possible and working on an increasing level of attention as I crawl out of the bed in the morning all the way through ‘til when I fall back in at night. So, this is a Sunday morning and I was up early for the usual meditation, coffee and reading. This morning’s mediation, which lasted 22 minutes, a longer than usual time for me, was disturbed a number of times by images of a news cast I watched a while last night, that being through the streaming ROKU device and focused in its entirety on the country burning down. The country was burning down last night because the police in Minneapolis killed a black guy for nothing last week. If he was white, like me, and was doing nothing, I’d be writing a very different letter. But he was black and they crushed the life out of him and it has happened a bunch of times since you have been gone, a crazy sickening big bunch of times and we have chants now of “I can’t breathe” and chants now of “Say his name” or “Say her name” and it is part of daily conversation to hear someone use the phrase “Driving while black”, and while you no doubt get all this, I mean you were a year or two older than me and grew up in New York City and were always someone who cared about their fellow humans and a fighter for justice and decency and the humanity we are all born with the absolute duty to share with each other – and just like the reaper who’ll be coming for us all one day, not giving a rodent’s butt about anyone’s color, it would still shock and sicken you.
So I guess the way it is here this morning, which also includes major violence on the part of police forces around the country and that is all live and in color on cell phones and news cameras everywhere – oh yeah, pretty soon we may have a new saying of “Driving while a journalist” because Trump – who I know you couldn’t possibly believe I’m telling you the truth when I say he got elected President back six years after you moved on, anyway he has managed to turn reporting of the news and all that bill of right stuff inherent with it into some kind of plot by forces working against the greatness of America, so yesterday all kinds of journalists were being shot at and gassed and arrested and menaced and the cops barely giving a care to the other badge of “Press”, and Bob, I only have like six minutes left here and there is so much more to say, the black quarterback who pretty much got “black-balled” out of football because he had the guts to take a knee during the anthem (and remember when Jefferson Airplane sang “Point that flag somewhere else” which we for sure got then and that was back in the late 60s even before you and me started running together), well Colin the QB was taking a knee to bring into sharper focus, mostly for us white folks, that it was ongoing-ly scary and dangerous and life-threatening to wake up black in the country, and people who weren’t chickenshits knew he was right back then and way more would have to admit it now, and a sports writer in the Washington Post yesterday wrote a very powerful story about which knee – the one protesting racism or the one choking the life out of an innocent black human –which knee would you rather have, and I posted it to my Facebook page, and by the way Facebook is crap and Russian-influenced and that movie ‘The Social Network’ didn’t do justice to what a punk and piece of shit Zuckerberg is, but I now see the clock is winding down on me,
And Bob, I haven’t even got to the freaking coronavirus yet, which is worldwide and also lethal and so bad and now people are going out together to protest the ongoing injustice purely color related and risking getting the virus, which we’ve all been in our shelters for just about forever, and man, I remember I was visiting you in El Cerrito – me out of Massachusetts on a brief couch surfing journey – and it was the day Arnold Schwarzenegger got elected Governor of your state (’03) and you were filled with sadness and dismay for the future, and man, you will hardly believe it when I tell you he turns out to be one of the good guys and caring about the planet and especially when comparing him to the truly despicable excuses for humans running the show in this country these days.
And I miss you, man, every day, and our times. But, so you know Bob, these times up here are not so hot waking up this Sunday. Even waking up white.