Race, Buddhism, & broken hearts ~

Race, Buddhism, & broken hearts ~

In my hometown, many of us — I hope thousands of us — are grieving. We’re grieving for a murdered father of four. For a man returning from a music appreciation class, who had car trouble. Who was shot FOR NO GOOD REASON (although that’s not the story the accused cop is telling, of course), after he was tased.

Did mention he was tased FIRST? Oh: and he was black. That’s the REAL important fact these days…

I’m linking to two other pieces — one the heart-breaking post of a teacher at Mr. Crutcher’s daughter’s school. Please read it. Imagine how to explain that this little girl’s daddy won’t be coming home because a cop killed him. If you can, imagine the faces of the black children to whom the teacher is speaking: sons & daughters of black men. Black boys who will grow up to be big black guys who may look scary. And tell me it’s going to be fine. Because I don’t believe it.Buddhism and grief

The 2nd piece is one I wrote, for my other blog — a more Buddhist one — at Beliefnet. In it, I spent more time than my breaking heart will allow today exploring what happened. And how it’s part of a tragic historical trajectory. America is not interested in justice, when it comes to black men. It’s more afraid of them than for them.

The Buddhist in me has no idea what to do. I’m writing and writing and writing more, wondering how to help. I’m tackling family who believe that an unarmed man is a threat. I’m railing at a system where black is the wrong colour, at least in any tense situation. I’m caught in a kind of death spiral of anger & pain and more anger, and rage that this keeps happening.

And I don’t have a clue — not a single Buddhist text — to help me figure out. All I can do is breathe in, breathe out. Breathe through the heartbreak and anger. And try, HARD, to remember that the pain I feel is not a drop compared to the tsunami of sorrow Terence Crutcher’s four children feel…

racial profiling, & Bettas ~

racial profiling, & Bettas ~

I have a new betta fish: Beowulf 2. Beowulf the Original disappeared in a gullywasher of a derecho last week. We received more than an inch of rain overnight, and the next morning? No Beowulf. He seems to have been washed out of his home in the deck water feature… 🙁

If you’re careful, bettas are quite happy outside. My beloved epoxied an antique copper pot (about 2.5 gallons capacity), and we filled it w/ dechlorinated water, hornwort, & anachris (2 kinds of water plants for cover & shade). I bought a yellow snail to keep down the slime, and because I like snails. We put Beowulf in, and he seemed happy, learning to come when I leaned over the pot to feed him, or just when I leaned over (hopeful, that fish was). He was tame, and would follow my finger through the water plants. In case you hadn’t figured it out, I got pretty attached to him.

But after the rains, he was gone. I had a very sad vision of him being washed out of his pot, onto the deck, and then off the deck (a story up) into the yard below… 🙁 Very unhappy image.

So we bought Beowulf 2. He’s a little more iridescent than Beowulf 1, who was a bit whiter. So he’s equally pretty. But he wasn’t — at least not at first — nearly as tame. He hid under the water plants, and I’d have to move them to drop the food in front of him. In other words, he wasn’t a whole lot like Beowulf 1. Pretty much, except for both being fish, they weren’t pretty different.

But we continue to do this, America. We continue to lump all black Americans into a category that (apparently) says dangerous: kill. And we put all Muslims into a box that says terrorists: deport and/or kill. We look at tattoos and ‘deduce’ trashy person: harass and/or arrest. A colleague visiting my alma mater recently was stopped by campus security & harassed by three (yep, THREE) cop cars. It was a hot day; he’d taken off his shirt. And he has a LOT of (lovely) tattoos. Plus, he didn’t have his wallet with him. Now, security COULD have followed him nicely to the classroom where he was teaching. But nooooo. They were so sure he was a ‘bad guy’ that they interrogated him aggressively. And now? He’s in the totally justified process of bringing a LOT of negative attention to the university.

Two betta fish. A series of wrongful deaths at the hands of profiling police. A sad interrogation of a PhD who works for UNESCO, ironically on issues of social justice. Can you figure out how to fix this problem? With a betta, you let it show you who it is. And it gradually will come to trust you. At least B2 has. Now? He comes to the water just like B1. But note: that doesn’t make me think they’re the same…