On hope

The “South Bend man” referred to in this headline is a former student. He was a bright, inquisitive, funny and honest student when I had him in 6th and again in 7th grade; his older brother was one of my DC kids and was a member of my single favorite class of students I’ve ever had. There are still pictures of both of them on my phone.

He was just sentenced to 45 years in jail because he and a high school student planned to steal another man’s gun and then beat him up. The “plan”– and I strongly suspect I do not have anything even close to the full story– went badly sideways for them, and the man killed the high school student and shot Makyi “at least” eight times. Somehow, another person’s decision to kill a child and attempt to kill a second person rather than be robbed of a gun has led to the person who was shot being convicted of murder and sentenced to jail for 45 years, more than twice as long as he has been alive.

I am not interested in you attempting to justify the existence of “felony murder” charges, and I can guarantee you that attempting to do so will be the last thing you ever say around here. I don’t care if you think this is okay or justified. You can keep that shit to yourself. I loved this kid. He was smart. He had a chance. He should be in fucking college right now. And instead he’s 20 years old and somehow has been convicted of a murder that everyone involved in his sentencing knows that he absolutely did not commit in an incident that led to he, himself, being shot eight + times, and will be in jail until he’s 65.

I hate it here.

On silence

At some point during the school day yesterday, some young-dumb-full-of-cum dipshit (or, hell, maybe it was a girl, so just young and dumb) decided that it would be a good idea to scrawl an unspecified (as in I don’t know details, and frankly wouldn’t share them) “threat” against the building in one of the bathrooms. Whatever the threat was, it was apparently going to happen today. A letter went out to all the parents and, unsurprisingly, attendance was abysmal today.

Did I take it seriously? Not really. School shooters and teenage bombmakers (and, again, I have no idea what the details of the threat are) are wealthy white boys whose parents don’t secure their guns, and that’s not the demographics of my building. My wife asked why they didn’t simply switch to e-learning for the day, and the answer is frankly that if we were to do that we’d start seeing these things weekly, and that’s not a thing anyone is interested in. I remember when I was in high school a neighboring district that did quite nicely match the “we have school shootings” demographic went through a similar thing– their kids learned that bomb threats meant they got to go home, and they were averaging a couple a week for a while there.

At any rate, nothing happened. If they know who made the threat (and they probably have a good idea, as there are cameras near every bathroom entrance in the building) I haven’t heard about it yet, but nothing happened. No real surprise.

I have to say, I could get used to the idea that my classes are only nine or ten kids. One of my students commented to me on my second day back that he thought I must hate him, and when I asked him why he said that he was so squirrelly and talking all the time and had such a hard time focusing. And, like, first of all, no, I’m not even remotely close to “hate” for any of my current students and I think there’s only maybe three or four in my entire career that I’d apply that word to, and second of all: dude, yeah, you’re a handful, but there’s only one of you. The rest of the kids in that class are fine, and I can deal with one kid bouncing off the walls if he’s not one of half a dozen. That’s no problem at all.

(Truth be told, I genuinely like all of my kids this year, or at least the ones I know. That doesn’t happen terribly often, but I can manage a kid I just don’t click with just fine.)

At any rate, I didn’t get the impression that the kids today were especially scared or nervous, although I did send an email to the boss before school started suggesting that maybe they think about rescheduling the planned fire drill to next week sometime, a piece of advice that was followed. What I got was six class periods of silence. Maybe not the entire period, but definitely once they got settled down, each of my classes today had at least 10-15 minutes of complete and utter quiet. Which would make most teachers happy. Not me. I actually really don’t like quiet from kids that are working, although I need it during instruction. I prefer a low buzz, where I can keep half an ear open at all times and have an idea what everyone’s doing. It was too quiet today, spooky-quiet, and it’s interesting to think that this year might be the last time I have in my career where something like that happening again is likely.

And now, having dodged spoilers all day successfully, I’m off to watch The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. See y’all tomorrow.

Second verse, same as the first

Ten Republicans.

This man incited a mob to storm the Capitol, where they called for his own Vice President to be hung. There’s no doubt about this. There’s no alternate explanation. This is a thing that happened. And only ten Republicans in the House thought that was reason to remove him from office.

Not included among the ten: Greg Pence, Mike Pence’s brother. That crowd was seeking to murder his own brother and he still can’t turn on the worst president America has ever had. Hell, Mike Pence can’t bring himself to impose any consequences.

I do not understand these people. I’m still trying to play this game over here where I’m doing my damnedest to understand them, to treat them like they’re people, and I just can’t do it. I can’t.

I am terrified that they’re all going to end up just … skating. I mean, sure, only president to be impeached twice and all, and honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if they did end up convicting him in the Senate, because I think McConnell is done with him and that’s all that really matters. It won’t be done soon enough to matter, though.

But there’s a whole lot of people in office who need to not be in office any longer. A whole lot of people. Lay aside, for the moment, the notion that these people saw all this happen, had to run and hide and barricade themselves inside secure rooms as people outside bayed for their blood and murdered police officers, that these same people then came out of hiding and still voted to overturn the election. Let’s actually forget about that for a moment.

Today, several House members were deliberately evading metal detectors so that they could bring who the fuck knows what onto the House floor, at least two of them have claimed that they have brought guns onto the House floor, and three of them may have literally escorted some of the seditionists through the halls of the Capitol building to make sure they knew where to go during the riot. One of them tweeted out the location of the Speaker during the riot. And we’ve heard today of House members who didn’t secure themselves with certain Republican members because they didn’t think they could be trusted.

These people have got to be expelled from our legislature. And if some of these allegations are true they’ve got to be jailed for a long, long time.

And in the longer term, the Republican Party absolutely must be torn up by the roots and left to rot. They’ve done nothing for my entire lifetime but get worse. This has got to stop.

But it won’t.

On not being “political”

A quick recap: In the now-five weekends since school started, I have had two (2) weekends where students in my building lost younger siblings to gun violence– one who was playing with (or at least near someone who was playing with) a loaded weapon that went off, and another killed in a drive-by shooting at a birthday party. Last weekend, one of my former students apparently fired a shot or two at someone she had gotten into an altercation with at a bar, and then her gun went off while she was in the back seat of what was effectively their getaway car, going through the front passenger seat and killing her best friend, another former student.

Today’s horror involves a killing this afternoon at my local mall. I came across this Facebook post just now; one of those where you don’t know the person but someone you know interacted with them and so the post makes its way onto your feed. I would like you to direct your attention to the first two sentences, in particular:

Now, I don’t know this dude, which is why I didn’t respond to him on FB, and is why I’m cutting his name out here. He’s going through some shit I’ve never had to go through right now and I feel for him.

But God damn it, this impulse toward oh don’t make this political, when the problem is, oh, gun violence is completely the fuck out of control, is part of the god damned problem. This comes from the same impulse that occasionally leads to ignant shit like this:

And … nah.

You cannot “make” gun violence political. Gun violence is inherently fucking political. You cannot take politics out of gun violence. When we have a political party in this country that is literally encouraging its followers to stockpile as many guns as they can and the fucking person masquerading as our nation’s President is actively calling for gun violence in response to the results of our upcoming election, you can not take politics out of gun violence.

America has decided that it does not matter how many people die; their guns are more important than the lives of children, the lives of their friends, the lives of their families, whatever. That is a political decision. These folks literally don’t care who dies so long as they get to keep their toys and people with darker skin than them don’t. And the “be like Bob and Sally” bullshittery exists to obscure that, to hide the fact that for a whole god damn lot of people politics is literally a life and death matter and it is not only perfectly fucking okay but frankly the only sane decision to cut people out of their lives who have made the political decision that you are not human and your life does not matter. My white skin and manly cishet genitals are going to protect me from this to a certain extent but sooner or later these fuckers are going to get around to the atheists. This is not fucking theoretical to me. Not at all.

We are at the point where one of our two major political parties is actively courting fascists and white supremacists. Where actual fucking Nazis not only support the party holding the White House but hold positions of power within that party and are not actively shunned by those individuals who don’t yet identify specifically with them.

When you have one Nazi sitting at a table with eleven people who don’t mind that the Nazi is there, you don’t have one Nazi and eleven “adults” who don’t want to rock the boat. You’ve got twelve Nazis sitting at a table.

America is the world’s largest source of gun violence because America has made the political decision to be the world’s largest source of gun violence and Americans who disagree have not managed to summon the political will to stop them. If you are trying to skate around that to avoid fights and losing friends, you are part of the problem.

In which I have no patience for white nonsense

So it’s happened again, another unarmed young Black man who posed no threat whatsoever shot in the back multiple times by police officers. Amazingly, as of right now Jacob Blake is still alive, despite being shot seven times at point-blank range by someone who was attempting to murder him.

I just had a student lose a younger brother– a nine-year-old– to a gunshot. And neither of these things will ever stop, because America loves guns more than it loves children or Black people combined, and white people in this country will put up with absolutely anything so long as they can see people of color nearby who have it worse than they do.

I finished up with my classes today and decided to do something I don’t do very often, which is go take a swim in the pool by myself. Before I did, I spent a moment randomly scrolling through TikTok and found a video by a Black woman who was clearly reacting to Blake’s shooting. I duetted the video– which, for those of you who don’t do TikTok, is basically that app’s version of Twitter’s comment-RT, but did mine over a black background and just put “Nothing I need to add here; BLACK LIVES MATTER” in my side of the screen. I was basically just doing a signal boost.

(Which turned out utterly unnecessary, as the account I was duetting was MUCH bigger than mine, but whatever.)

Well an hour later I got out of the pool and discovered that my most famous TikTok video is now one that I don’t actually appear in. It’s gone very mildly viral (very mildly; I only have about 40 followers and don’t have much reach there) but for some reason it was getting a lot more commentary and Likes than usual, especially compared to the number of views.

And, man, y’all, there’s a whole lot of racists on TikTok. I am desperately tired of white people who somehow in August of 2020 still want to pretend that any of the following are true:

  • That “All Lives Matter.” No, they don’t, and this has been explained to you repeatedly, and I assume at this point anyone who says this is either a racist or too stupid to live.
  • That “Blue Lives Matter.” There is no such thing as Blue Lives, and you are a racist— and an asshole– if you try this one. Cops choose to be cops. This is not a thing.
  • Oh if you just follow instructions you’ll be fine. Not true, not at all. Especially when there’s five different cops all barking different sets of instructions at you. Also: Tamir Rice. Also: Philando Castile. Also: Charles Kinsey.
  • If they weren’t doing anything wrong, they’d have been fine. Also not true! See: Tamir Rice again. See: Breanna Taylor. See: Botham Jean. See: Atatiana Jefferson.

Cops kill Black people because cops in this country are racist and overfunded and overarmed and utterly fucking out of control. The police are a street gang with no accountability whatsoever. I also had to contend with this piece of risible horse shit today:

Oh, I absolutely do want to do these things, and frankly I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t. And I am far from the only fucking one. Shut the fuck up, Joy Behar, and take your idiot bullshit with you. I’m not in the mood.

At any rate, I’ve discovered that you can’t delete comments on TikTok once they’re made, but you can block commenters, and I’ve been making sure that no one gets a chance to be dumb twice. Because unless I actually do get paid to educate you, I don’t get paid to educate you, especially for something that by this point in this year of all times you should bloody fucking already know.

Enough of this bullshit. Be better, white people.