artwork by Arlyn via IG @hanifaofficial

I don’t know how Breonna Taylor’s mama hasn’t set the whole damn world on fire.

Not with matches, or a molotov cocktail. Just from pure, raw, explosive pain and rage. Not just at the police who kicked in the door to Breonna’s home and murdered her in the middle of the night. Not just at their resulting report, four pages of nearly blank injustice, a shrug almost three months later that flipped “no forced entry” after a battering ram was used, and declared eight bullet holes “no injuries.” Not just that no charges have been filed, four months later, and two of the three officers involved are currently on tax payer-paid leave (the third is appealing being fired). No, not at all that.

I don’t know how Tamika Palmer, the mother of a radiant woman a few weeks shy of her 27th birthday, doesn’t make the world burn simply because of the Christian Trolls.

I have been told, by people who proudly and loudly declare themselves Christian, that Breonna Taylor is solely responsible for her death because she chose to date a drug dealer.

Now, I pick my online battles quite carefully these days [I read a draft to my husband and he burst out laughing and reminded me of yesterday’s online rant against the local laundromat]. I took personal offense to this line of reasoning, because I have dated a drug dealer. I now refer to him as my ‘Evil Ex,’ for good reason. And so to know that, if I had died as a result of having had the bad fortune/poor taste to date this joker by way of association — even after we’d broken up, as in Breonna’s case — someone, anyone, on this good green Earth would have the balls to say I brought it on myself… oh my.

If I was dead, of course, I wouldn’t personally be able to take any direct action against the trolls. But Lord help anyone dumb enough to say anything that would get back to my mama.

My mother is my biggest fan, sometimes to a fault [I love you, mama]. She is ridiculously biased, and I can recall occasions when I’ve had to explicitly tell her yes, I can be an asshole, believe it or not! because she’s so duped by me, her daughter. She unequivocally wants the best for me and wants anyone who doesn’t out of my way. She would breathe fire if I was murdered and the blame was placed on me.

I don’t understand the need to share a single word, besides condolences. Why do the police require your defense, Christian Troll? How exactly does your faith elevate you to a position to judge someone you’ve never met, in a situation you, directly, know nothing about? What Jesus did you read about in your Bible? Because the one I’ve studied spoke quite explicitly about casting the first stone.

I don’t understand.

Jesus was a threat to the Romans, and so the Romans killed him. But their plan backfired. In killing him, they made Him. In similar fashion, a brilliant young woman has been elevated in death by the very thing that destroyed her life on Earth.

Breonna was doing everything “right,” in spite of having the bad fortune to be born a Black woman in America, and she still was somehow found at fault for the end result of her birth rite. All the Christian Trolls are doing is proving how fucked the whole thing is. They are making her a martyr.

I wish the power bestowed Breonna in her afterlife could bring her mama comfort. But Tamika Parker has said herself there is none to be found for her, only for others who might avoid such pain in the future. Wanda Cooper Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, knew this when she reached out to Tamika on what would have been Breonna’s 27th birthday, back in June. In lieu of “words of comfort… from mother to mother,” the best she could express was that she knew the grief of the first birthday of a gone child.

Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley knew there was no comfort for her when she demanded the body of her 14-year-old son, Emmett, snatched from a family home and murdered by white men after allegedly whistling at a white woman, displayed in an open casket for all the world to see what was done to her baby. “Lord, take my soul,” she reportedly cried upon seeing her child’s body, mangled and bloated after being tortured, shot, and weighted to the bottom of the Tallahatchie River. Perhaps He did, and in its place returned the fortitude to make her only child the horrible, unnecessary face of the civil rights movement of last century.

What an insult to her that Emmett wasn’t enough.

What a horror that there are mothers aplenty who know the pain Tamika Palmer and Wanda Cooper Jones must live with, that Mamie Till lived with. What a privilege to only rhetorically ask my own mother if it’s fair to say she’d breathe fire if I was murdered and the blame placed on me. [“I would be beyond outraged. Breathing fire is a good picture” was her response.]

The closest I can come to understanding the Christian Trolls is to assume they must need to dehumanize Breonna [and all the too many others murdered by police] to be able to deny their own complicity in white supremacy. They are the figurative Buffalo Bill, telling Breonna to “put the lotion on its skin” [or rather smearing it on her corpse themselves] and be thus reduced to a disposable, debatable talking point under the comments section of their favorite Christian artist’s Instagram post.

In the same interview where Tamika Palmer said there was no comfort for her, she made a promise. “I’m new here but I’m ready, and I’m here, and I’m not leaving because I have another daughter… and this cannot happen again.” Ms Palmer, me and my mama are right behind you.

The Ol’ Berate and Switch

TW: sexuality, bisexual erasure

Happy Pride!

I have dreamt of having an outdoor shower since the age of 12, when I took my first while on a family camping trip to Death Valley.

Now that I have your attention (boobies!!) I would like to share why I believe celebrating and fighting for diversity and inclusion are so very important. 

I am today in an amazing, monogamous partnership with the husband of my wildest dreams (he built me an outdoor shower, and took that photo!). I have only ever had relationships with cisgender men. And yet, after decades of varying levels of confusion, manipulation, exploitation, and homophobia, both external and internal, I have come to accept a) I’m about as straight as a paper clip and b) I’ll never be able to totally detangle my true feelings and attractions from the ingrained rubbish that taught me to fear my sexuality. 

My household supplied the standard 1980s Southern California progressive suburban dose of “we’ll love you no matter what” to my younger brother and I. It wasn’t okay to say it wasn’t okay to be gay, but no one had to. It was my best friend (who ironically went on to date women)’s mom telling us you could tell a girl was gay by the way she looked at her nails, or the high school drama teacher who warned me to not cut my hair so short people thought me a lesbian. It was the varyingly and often harshly negative experiences of my openly gay or bisexual friends, and those presumed to be. It was the men who “helped” me explore my attraction to women by coercing me into unsafe and counterproductive situations. 

I take responsibility for my decisions and am at peace with myself and my life. I don’t want to be with anyone besides my husband; I have no regrets. I’m okay, and I’m fortunate to have always had support and a bounty of privileges to ease my journey. But we can do better. We must do better, for ourselves and future generations. 

How boring, to limit ourselves to stale notions of what the world, and we as individuals, can be! I celebrate the disruptive change that makes (in part) this a Pride unlike any other. The old, dialectical ways of thinking no longer serve us, if they ever did. Life is too fabulously complicated to limit ourselves to simply Black or All, straight or gay, male or female, Democrat or Republican. How droll! I fight for a better future for everyone. Representation and normalization matters. Talking about it matters. We are ALL stronger and safer when we work to understand and support each other, openly and unapologetically. Never forget the first Pride was started by a Black Trans woman who threw a brick at a cop (I don’t care whether it’s literally true, it’s damn poetic). 

Happy Pride. I’m gonna go on a motorcycle ride with my husband to celebrate. He surprised me with a Honda Nighthawk yesterday, just like my first-ever moto, to help me get comfortable riding again after the last time we rode together (I tore my knee on a dirtbike). I won’t get too mushy on the internet because that’s not his style. But he changed my life. He lets me be myself in a way I’ve never known, and my capacity for dreaming and scheming has grown exponentially since meeting him. He’s my person.

I’m happy.