On Processing the Events in Ferguson

NaBloPoMo prompt: As part of the healing process, please talk about how you processed the events of Ferguson.

Continuing the theme from yesterday, and talk about how I processed my feelings around the murder of Mike Brown and the protests that followed. I admit I was a couple days late in finding out about the shooting of Mike Brown and the protests. When I heard about it I was immediately outraged. I believe the police did act excessively and I believe that the death of Mike Brown was in fact, a murder.

I follow a lot of the news around race and racism in this country and part of the reason I was outraged was because I already knew that this shooting was nothing new. I already knew that black men around the country were being treated unfairly by police and the justice system. I was outraged because nothing was changing!

I have heard so many white people tell me that racism is a thing of the past and that black people were the ones still holding on to it. I don’t understand how they can ignore events like this and claim that it isn’t about race. I got so angry reading the comments and tweets of people who were so obviously racist and yet they believed they were not racist. The ignorance I read was incredible!

I got angry reading about how the police handled the case as well. They filed nothing in their reports. They claimed that Mike Brown had been involved in a robbery. They allowed the cop who shot him to go free. They did everything except the things they should have done, apologize and investigate. When the protests started up they did everything wrong in response. Instead of listening and trying to heal the community they were charged with protecting, they showed up in full force to point guns at them and shoot tear gas canisters. The same things these people were protesting were the same things these officers continued to do.

The images I saw were heart breaking. Family and friends of Mike brown crying, tear gas victims screaming out in pain. I could not believe these were pictures taken in my own country! I could not believe we were still dealing with this. I was angry and I wanted so much to be with those people in Missouri. I wanted to stand up with them and fight back. Here in my own state in in my own circle of friends I did what I could to raise awareness. I am around a lot of white people all day and I noticed that none of them even mentioned Mike Brown or the protests. I took it upon myself to start the conversation.

Most of the white people I know are not really racist, mostly they are just ignorant of what black people experience. I think they think these events do not concern them. I also think they are afraid to talk about it. They are afraid to say something that might sound racist, either that or they are afraid of being exposed as racists. I let them know it is okay to talk about race. I want to hear what they think. Part of having a conversation on race is allowing white people some time to talk as well. Hearing how they really feel helps me clear up any misconceptions they might have.

People do not normally go out of their way to learn about people’s experiences if it does not directly affect them. The white people around me do not feel the need to learn about or examine their own personal prejudices. I force the people around me to look inside themselves and admit these prejudices and examine why they feel that way. I also call them out when I hear them say things I think are wrong or racist. I hope that I am helping them and maybe they will do the same for the other people they know.

Maybe they won’t though but this helps me process what is happening around the world to black men and women. I share their stories and I share my own. I want to do more, I should be doing more, but I never know where to start. As a mixed race person I also feel like my help may not always be welcomed. Throughout my life being half white has often made talking about racism with other black people hard. I try not to get defensive and just listen but I feel sometimes like a person with out a home. I plan to talk more about that in future posts. The point is, processing events like what happened in Ferguson can be difficult and complicated for me.

I am trying to find my place in the world and in the conversations about race. I think about it a lot and I want to be a part of it because my entire childhood centered around race. I know that racism is something that many people of color deal with on a daily basis. I think it is time this country got it together and stopped being so damn ignorant and petty. The color of someone’s skin is important. The country they came from is important. The cultures they are a part of are important. They color our experiences of the world and they connect us to our pasts. These things are part of our identities. These things should not invoke negative feelings. They should not be reasons for discrimination, exclusion, or violence.

I think we should all be saying positive things about people who look or act different from us. We should be helping each other, showing each other the utmost respect, and above all listening and learning from each other. That is how we all can process events like these. This is how we can all move forward. This is how we can all heal!

NaBloPoMo September 2014


The Conversation on Race and Why it is So Difficult

NaBloPoMo prompt: Why do you think it is so difficult for people to talk about race?

Part of the reason I joined NaBloPoMo this month was because the theme centered around “Healing”. Specifically, healing after the death of Mike Brown and the protests, and excessive police presence, in Ferguson, MO. I wanted to write about my thoughts on race and racism anyway. I even wrote a draft about it from the perspective of a biracial person. The piece ended up being very long and will have to be edited and posted in a three part series. Today I just want to touch on the conversation we are all having as a whole country.

I have followed much of the news from Twitter and Tumblr. I read first hand accounts from people who were there and looked at evidence from both sides. In my opinion, regardless of whether or not Brown was innocent of any crimes, I think the police did act excessively. We all agree he was unarmed and shooting him 6 times, twice in the head, was a cruel and unnecessary.

My biggest issue with the conversation has been the insistence on discussing Browns past and alleged crimes. To me that has nothing to do with whether or not he should have been killed. The simple fact is he shouldn’t have been. The second issue I have with the conversation is people ignoring the fact that this IS about race. Not just because Mike Brown was killed but because police killing unarmed black men is an almost daily occurrence. Not all cases make national news the way the events in Ferguson did but a simple Google search will turn up new stories everyday of cops killing young black men. I think black men are profiled and I think cops do not value their lives and so are quick to shoot a black man who looks like he could be a threat.

Cases like this bring out the most racist people in this country. Those people’s statements often begin with the phrase “not to sound racist”, or “I’m not racist or anything, but”, and they proceed to say something very racist. Most of these people are white. I know that not all white people are racist BUT a lot of them are. Some white people, and I know this from experience, will say they are not racist when they are in public. In more private, comfortable settings, they will say things that reveal their true feelings about black people, or any people of color.

On the whole I am glad the conversation is taking place but I think the way we are having the conversation needs to change. The original question was why is it so difficult for people to talk about race? Apart from the people who are clearly and blatantly racist, the people who really do still believe that black people are less than human, the people who still use the n-word, apart from those people, there are three reasons I believe that talking about race in this country is difficult.

The first reason is because so many people are defensive. White people are afraid of being labeled a racist, even when they hold racist views. They will claim that black people are quick to label them just because they disagree but this is simply not true. Getting defensive and claiming that the other person is the one to blame for the fact that there is talk of racism erases black experiences. When someone has told you that something you have said or done is racist try to hear them out. Don’t get defensive listen to them and apologize, nobody is saying you are a bad person. They are only trying to help you see that some of the views you hold may be based on prejudice or ignorant perceptions.

Which brings me to the second reason, people are ignorant of what racism actually is. When we believe something is true about a race of people we believe that saying so is not racism, it is only speaking the truth. For example, saying the all Asians are bad drivers, or that all black people are lazy, or that all Mexicans are illegal immigrants. People believe these things to be true or they believe they have experienced them first hand so they think it is not racism. These people need to understand that these statements ARE RACIST! You do not know every person who is a part of that race and so you cannot know if all of them fit into the stereotypes you believe to be true.

The final reason I believe people have such a hard time discussing race is because it makes us uncomfortable and we want it to be over already. Again, I think it is mostly white people who feel this way. I think white people do not experience racism the way black people do and so they believe it cannot be true and are tired of hearing it. I also think that white people have a lot of guilt about the past and the way some of their ancestors may have behaved. They want to stop talking about it because they don’t want to feel bad. I was told by a white person once that black people should “get over slavery”. Many younger white people do not realized that while slavery was abolished in 1865, only about 150 years ago, that was not the end of the crimes committed against black people.

Getting into what happened after slavery is more than I can tackled in this post but keep in mind that the last of the Jim Crow laws were ablolished as recently as 1965! That means racism was LEGAL just 50 years ago! Many people are still alive who lived during those times, including many of my own family members and they are still angry. And who can blame them? For a long time black people were seen as less than human, by their own government! White people need to understand that this nation has not healed from the violence and cruelty that took place aginst black people for much of its history. This country cannot heal until the descendance of those same people are allowed to speak out and voice their needs and have their expieriences validated.

Again I am happy the conversation is being had. I hope that real change can happen now. I hope that we all learn to listen to each other and look inside ourselves. Each of us needs to be aware of our own prejudices and make efforts to educate ourselves and change. I hope that talking about race gets easier. I hope this for the future of this country, and it’s people.


Writing or Speaking? How Do You Communicate Best?

NaBloPoMo Prompt: How do you communicate best? Speaking or writing?

It doesn’t really matter whether I’m speaking or writing, I have trouble communicating either way. I am always trying to express myself but I have never feel like I have explained things well. I never walk away feeling like I have communicated exactly what I wanted to.

When I am talking I over explain. I talk too much and by the end of it the person listening doesn’t have any idea what I am trying to say. I get so frustrated and I often have to start my explanations all over again and try my best to keep it simple. When I keep it simple I feel like the other person hasn’t really seen things from my perspective. I want so much to be understood by other people. I think that’s why I over explain the way I do. I have to everyone everything about me and about how I feel and about why I feel the way I feel. It hurts that no one really wants to hear all that all the time. I think that’s why I write now. At least this way I can get it all out and I’m not hurt when people don’t read it. It feels good just to get it out.

When I write I communicate better but I am not a very good writer, not yet anyway. I write draft after draft and edit, edit, edit. My thoughts wander and by the end of any piece I am talking about something completely different from what I meant to talk about. I get more of my feelings out though and that feels good. I go back and rewrite it but I leave the free writing intact. The free writing is how I express myself, this blog and the edited posts are how I make myself understood to other people, bit by bit.

So I guess I need both. I need to talk to those closest to me, my girlfriend, my mother, my sisters, my few friends. They are the ones who will get me and give me the reassurance and comfort I often need. I need to write too so that I can see myself in comparison to the rest of the world. Blogging makes me feel like I’m not alone, like there are people out in the world who more than sympathize with me, they empathize. There are people who understand me in one way or another. I need that too.

So how about you? Writing or speaking, how do you communicate best?

NaBloPoMo September 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters That Would be Sitting at My Lunch Table

Another Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday! This week is back to school themed, which characters would we want sitting at our lunch table?

Charles Wallace Murry, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

“Thinking I’m a moron gives people something to feel smug about,” Charles Wallace said. “Why should I disillusion them?”

― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

A five-year-old boy, whom everyone thinks is stupid but is actually a genius. He can read people like books, their thoughts and feelings. He is brave and caring and he got to travel through space and time!

Clarisse McClellan, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

“You’re not like the others. I’ve seen a few; I know. When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The others would never do that.”

― Clarisse McClellan

Clarisse is a girl who who likes to take walks at night and observe the world. She is a thinker and a reader in a time when thinking and reading are against the law. She is different from everyone else. She is a free spirt. I would love to meet her.

Tyler Durden, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

“Only after disaster can we be resurrected. It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything. Nothing is static, everything is evolving, everything is falling apart.”

― Tyler Durden

I don’t even know where to start. Tyler Durden’s ideas on consumerism, death, and our place in the grand scheme of the universe are very interesting to me. I would also like to know how he feels about women joining Project Mayhem.

Jonas, The Giver by Lois Lowery

“Things could change, Gabe,” Jonas went on. “Things could be different. I don’t know how, but there must be some way for things to be different. There could be colors. And grandparents,” he added, staring through the dimness toward the ceiling of his sleepingroom. “And everybody would have the memories.”

“You know the memories,” he whispered, turning toward the crib.


“There could be love,” Jonas whispered.”

― Lois Lowry, The Giver

Jonas to me seemed like such a little sweetheart. He was only 11 years old but he caring and thoughtful. He wanted his friends and family to be happy. He cared for his whole community even though there were rules he didn’t agree with. When he learned more about the past and about feelings from the Giver before him he realized that there had been a price they all had paid for being so organized. He though maybe things could be different. Maybe they could have love too.

Winston Smith, 1984 by George Orwell

“Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

― Winston Smith, 1984

It’s been awhile since I’ve read 1984 but it as always been one of my favorites. Like most of the other characters I would sit down to lunch with Winston lives in a world where thinking is bad, where being different is bad, and where love does not exist. he wants things to be different though and sets out to find out why things are the way the are. It might sound weird but I would love to sit down with Winston the way he was at the end of the book. I would love to talk to him and comfort him. My heart breaks for him.

Simon, Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Simon, walking in front of Ralph, felt a flicker of incredulity—a beast with claws that scratched, that sat on a mountain-top, that left no tracks and yet was not fast enough to catch Samneric. However Simon thought of the beast, there rose before his inward sight the picture of a human, at once heroic and sick.

― William Golding, Lord of the Flies

Simon was the only really good one on that island! He is the one who sees that the beast is really just all the bad part of ourselves. This book makes me so angry sometimes but it’s only because Simon is right. We are the evil in the world and it is because of that that things can never just be good and peaceful.

Piscine Patel, Life of Pi by Yann Martel

“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways.”

― Yan Martel

A character with the nickname Pi! A character who want to explore all religions, even Atheism, a lack of religion! He grew up in a zoo, as the son of the zoo keeper, and survives being lost at sea, with a tiger! Of course I want to have lunch with him!

Mr. Wednesday, American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I told you I would tell you my names. This is what they call me. I’m called Glad-of-War, Grim, Raider, and Third. I am One-Eyed. I am called Highest, and True-Guesser. I am Grimnir, and I am the Hooded One. I am All-Father, and I am Gondlir Wand-Bearer. I have as many names as there are winds, as many titles as there are ways to die. My ravens are Huginn and Muninn, Thought and Memory; my wolves are Freki and Geri; my horse is the gallows.
<p style="text-align:right"Mr. Wednesday

This book was amazing but it left me with so many questions. Questions i think Mr. Wednesday has all the answers too. I would love to sit with him and talk about the history of the world and of the gods. Maybe I would ask him to bring along Mr. Nancy, the trickster and storyteller, to make lunch a bit more interesting.

Roland Deschain, The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

“There was a boy…
There was no boy.”

— Roland

The last gunslinger, how awesome is that! Roland is a very serious man but I would have loved to meet him when he was young. When he was innocent and still training to become a gunslinger. Before his world came crashing down Roland seemed to care about his family, friends, and community. He just wanted to be a hero.

Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

After inviting all those serious characters to the table, I think I should invite along Calvin and his adorable stuffed tiger Hobbes to lighten the mood. I would love to hear them playing and wrestling. Calvin would be complaining about the food and the school work for sure. I would ask them for about their philosophies on the world and current events. They are very preceptive you know, for a five year old and a stuffed toy tiger.

So those are my invites. There were many more and it was difficult to narrow it down just to ten. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go re-read every one of these books. :)

Patience Is the Goal

NaBloPoMo Day 1: Do you find it more helpful to talk things out or to let things quietly rest?

I immediately thought of me and Chardonnay. The way we argue, they way we try to work through our issues is completely different. I like to talk about things but I also like to talk too much. I get emotional quickly and cry and all I want is for what is wrong to be fixed. I think talking it out and trying to understand each other is the best way to work anything out. Chardonnay is the type to let it go and work out her feeling within herself. The more she is made to talk the more frustrated she gets. It’s not that she never wants to talk about anything it’s just that she needs to do it in her own time. Sometimes all she wants is to say she was upset about something and have it NOT turn into a conversation.

It’s hard for us to communicate effectively sometimes. I think it is remarkable that we are able to work anything out at all considering we deal with problems completely differently. We work hard to get past our differences and find some kind of common ground. She has to try to talk and I have to listen when she says she needs a break. If she doesn’t talk then she puts up a wall between us and that affects our relationship negatively. If I don’t give her a break then I don’t make her feel comfortable to talk to me and she won’t try harder to do so.

Most of our arguments seems to be about petty things. I often wonder if most of our fights have to do with much bigger issues than what we think we are arguing about. I read a post on Zen Habits awhile back titled “How To Make a Marriage Work“. In the post Leo talks about how “most disputes and other conversations are about two things: do you care about me, and can I trust you.”. I think this is true for me and Chardonnay. Everything is about those two things. Having accepted that I have tried harder to let her know that whatever it is she is upset about, she can trust me and I do care. I try my best to let her know that that is what I need too.

I used to think that my way was the right way. I used to think that talking everything out right away was what everyone should be doing. I admit I judged Chardonnay harshly for not being able to communicate the way I did. One day I realized I had been wrong. Everyone deals with things in their own way and Chardonnay needs to time to process her feelings. When she is ready to talk she can tell me exactly how she feels and what she needs from me. I may talk about my feelings right away but often times I am so mixed up and emotional I may not know exactly how I feel or what I need.

So I guess both ways are right. We are both right, we are just different. We still have arguments, every couple does, but things are getting better. We just have to be patience with each other. That is the goal now, patience.

NaBloPoMo September 2014

100 Followers! Thank You!


Today I hit my first goal of 100 followers! I know it isn’t much but it’s more than I thought I would get so I am proud, and happy, and also very grateful. I appreciate everyone of you coming to my blog and taking the time to read and comment. I haven’t been able to return the favor for each of you but I will take the time this week to check out all of your blogs as well.

Reaching 100 followers has also made me think more about what I plan to do with this blog. I went ahead and purchased the domain zenandpi.com and I plan to do my best to post everyday. I still don’t have much of a focus except to learn to write better. I want to write about everything and as time goes on I might find I like to write about some things more than others and the focus will narrow. Everything I have read has told me to choose a niche but I can’t choose one when I don’t know much about writing at all. So I guess I will be pretty random for awhile, I hope that’s ok.

Thank you all again for choosing to follow me, I hope I don’t disappoint. As always I welcome your comments and critiques. I love hearing from you all, even if it’s just to say hi.

If We Were Having Coffee #2


If we were having coffee I would tell you that today, I feel good. Me and Chardonnay have had a great weekend. Friday we started watching last season of True Blood, we also had margaritas. Saturday we went to brunch with Chardonnay’s parents. We tried out a new place we’ve been wanting to go to called Punch Bowl Social. We were actually thinking about having our wedding reception there and this was a good excuse to go look at the place. We liked it a lot. The food was good and the place looked nice. It’s got the industrial look we love and with the arcade games and bowling lanes would make it perfect. After brunch we went shopping. We were already off of Broadway which means I had to go to my favorite store, Ironwood. We checked out a couple of other stores and bought us each new shirts.

Then we went home and got lazy. We watched more True Blood and I took a nap. I got up and around 7 started getting ready. We went to new a new movie theater that I had heard so many great things about, the Alamo Drafthouse. We watched an old vampire movie called Near Death and we liked it. They gave us free fangs and gooey blood candy and we ordered cocktails and loaded fries and hot wings. It really was a lot of fun. So much so that I think we will make brunch and shopping and movies at the Alamo Drafthouse a monthly thing.

If we were having coffee I would also tell you that I haven’t seen my father for his birthday yet and I feel bad about it. His birthday was on the 15th of August and I told him we would get together but I just haven’t gotten around to it. I have done other things but seeing him I have to admit is not yet a priority for me. I want it to be but doing the work is more than I guess I am willing to do. I feel bad about that but I am just being honest.

I would also tell you that I am enjoying blogging but I have found I have less time for it than I thought I did. I am trying my best to make the time. I even signed up for NaBloPoMo AKA National Blog Posting Month for the month of September. I hope to do it again in November too! This month’s theme is healing and I think I need that. I have a feeling this blog is going to turn out to be a lot more personal than I originally thought and I think healing is a good place to start.

I am taking social media a lot more seriously too now. Twitter is now the first place I go to find out whats going on in the world. The events going on in Ferguson have affected me deeply and Twitter is the only place to get up to the minute news on what is happening there. I wish I could have been there to protest with those brave people. I hope the nation doesn’t forget.

The events in Ferguson have also brought up a lot of complicated feeling I have about race and racism. I am biracial and in my family everything has to do with the fact that I am mixed. I am always too white or too black. I don’t fit in anywhere, accept for with my siblings, all of whom are mixed too. Both on the internet and in the real world though I feel excluded from talks about race. I am told that because I am light-skinned I have privilege and I don’t understand what it is like to be black. I admit in a way they are right, but they are also wrong. Maybe I will write about it some other time, about how my whole life has revolved around being biracial.

If we were having coffee I would also tell you that I am still feeling a little bit down. I would tell you not to worry about me though. I would tell you that I am going to be ok, I just get down sometimes. Depression is just a part of who I am and I fear it always will be but I have learned to cope with it. I know that I have so much to be grateful for and I am luckier than most. I know that I have people who care about me and love me and that is something to keep fighting for. I won’t give up or give in. I will keep pushing toward living a happier and healthier life, and I hope that you are doing the same.