It Isn’t Over Yet

Overwhelmed. That’s the word for the month, overwhelmed. There’s much in my head, as usual, but more of it that I don’t know what to do with than is common. It’s taking over. I did manage to go out with my camera last weekend, and it was my intention to post those photos on Saturday, or even Sunday, but the weekend got away from me. Three day weekend, the import wasn’t lost on me. In fact it made it more difficult to figure out what I wanted to write. For those of you not from the US, it was Martin Luther King Jr. day last Monday, a Federal holiday in honor of his birthday (January 15th). I was off since I work for a company that recognizes it. It’s a day when Federal offices are closed. For others, it’s a floating holiday, a day they can take on the day itself, or save to extend a vacation. For others still, it’s not observed at all. Recognized around the country, in some cases grudgingly so, it’s a day to remember where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and how much farther we’ve yet to go. Unlike Memorial Day, it’s not often warm enough for a barbeque, so…

Monday, I went to the movies. I’d wanted to see Selma in theaters, but since I usually go to the movies alone, the draw isn’t all that strong. This, though, I asked my father if he would like to join. An account of the period leading up to the march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama, I thought it might be tough to watch. I didn’t realize how much. Showing a couple of the reasons for the march at the outset – voting rights for all citizens, not just the white ones, and the general violence toward blacks just for being black – provided an interesting beginning. Perhaps shocking for those of us who weren’t there, who only heard about these things in history class, or from our parents or grandparents. I’ve seen videos from demonstrations, and the videos from the brutality at the hands of police against people trying to exercise their right to assemble, so that they can exercise their right to vote, their right to the same service as the white citizens. There are inaccuracies, of course, imagined and dramatized moments, just as there are in other historical dramas; it’s not a documentary. It does, however, use real events to enhance the plot. It does use historical figures to explain the feelings of the time.

There were other controversies with the movie, particularly the Oscar snub of the director and actors, but it has been nominated for Best Picture. It was a good movie. The audience was relatively diverse; not necessarily representing the racial makeup of the area – predominantly white suburb of Cincinnati – but it did represent a fairly wide age range, from those who remember to those who heard the stories from their parents, from their grandparents, and even the tales of their great-grandparents. It was at several theaters around the area, some fairly large ones. The one we were in was popular, but not especially large. Not for around here, anyway. Throughout most of the movie, you could hear a pin drop. There were times when you couldn’t be sure anyone else was in there. Even the crying – and yes, of course there was crying – was fairly silent. The ticket taker had noted that the show had been sold out all day.

After, when the credits began in earnest, after the initial credits showing the stars, and the historical facts about them, I saw only four people move – one was a woman and her companion. She had a walker and needed a bit of help getting in and out. Another was a young man and his date. He’d gotten to the bottom of the stairs just as the woman was getting her walker set up. Silent, he held his phone to the steps so that they were better lit for her. The lights came up after the Oscar-nominated song Glory ended.* Some applauded, all rose, continuing the silent contemplation. Kindness – silent – and respect – silent – was shown to all. There was a camaraderie with the audience that I found intriguing. Elders – and somehow I got lumped into that group; that wasn’t depressing or anything – were accorded deference from the younger members. There were nods between audience members, particularly the older ones, the ones who lived through it. “Intense” doesn’t begin to cover it.

It’s better, we’ve come far, but it isn’t over yet.

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A moment of sun in the middle of January. Alms Park. I wonder, sometimes, if I’d have had such easy access fifty years ago.


*Regarding the lyrics – there are people who are upset over the mention of Rosa Parks and Ferguson, MO in the same sentence. They’re missing the point, IMO. It’s not about Michael Brown.  It’s about the fact that this is even a conversation we’re having, still, that there is a divide between the way white and black suspects are treated. It’s about Eric Garner, about the young man and little boy here in Ohio who were killed by police, about vigilantes tackling citizens lawfully carrying a gun, about how Stand Your Ground is inconsistently applied based on the color of skin, about a man breaking into his own home because he got locked out, showing his ID to police, and still being arrested. It’s not about Michael Brown.



Not feeling well today. I really need to get back in bed. I might be better tomorrow, but I’m not holding my breath. So, some old photos, since I haven’t been out for fun in over a month.

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Sunny fall day. Almost any time the sun is out, people come out too.
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One of my favorites from a November 2013 Workshop session.
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Same fall day, same park as the first photo.
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I need to get up in the morning; the moon is in a perfect spot for me before 8 right now.
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Downtown from Mt Echo this past May

I didn’t want to leave you hanging. See you next week.

Coming Soon – Jaws 19

Jaws 19: This time it's really, REALLY personal.
Jaws 19: This time it’s really, REALLY personal.

It’s 2015; I had to make at least one Back to the Future reference. I just opted for something other than the hoverboards and flying cars. I’m good with cars staying on the ground. Some people have enough trouble controlling them when they have only two axes to worry about; throw in up and down and people will die. In a flying car if you have a fender bender, you still have to land. That’s assuming your car still runs.

Now that that’s out of the way…

It’s a new year, the middle of the decade. Are we were we hoped we’d be? I don’t think so. I think the media needs to take some responsibility for that. I still contend that a 24-hour news cycle has caused more problems than it’s solved. Gotta get viewers, and people don’t watch good news channels. That’s already been proven. So, find news and spin it so  your majority viewership will tune in. That’s not healthy. It’s even worse when you have a network that insists absolutely everyone else is against them, that their viewers can only get their news from a single source. That’s called a cult. There are some very prominent examples which I’m sure people can dredge up fairly easily, and other less-obvious, less-mainstream examples. One resource is not valid, regardless of whether it agrees with your line of thought. Picking another news outlet is great, but not if it uses the same source. I don’t mean the source like public record or a document proven as immutable fact, something along those lines, but the bits and pieces that aren’t known, and the bias with which the story is told. Some of those news sources are less reliable than the office gossip.*

There’s one that’s caught my attention…caught the attention of the world, really – Leelah Alcorn’s suicide.

Let me start by saying that the comments here are monitored. Discussion is fine, intolerance is not. You don’t have to agree, just be civil. Comments that are deemed hateful will be deleted. This isn’t a government page, your right to freedom of speech isn’t being violated.

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Just to be perfectly clear

Leelah’s parents are hurting and confused, as is the truck driver who struck her. I do not condemn her parents, but I do condemn those who would seek to hurt them verbally, mentally, emotionally, physically. They’ve lost a child. Is it their fault? Partly, yes, and I think they know that. Attacking them will only push them farther into their closed world; give them time to grieve, and maybe they will be able to open up. If they’d been willing to listen instead of condemn, this story might have had a different ending. That still doesn’t make them evil. Leave them alone. If they start actively campaigning against trans rights, THEN it’s open season; for now, let them grieve, let them care for the other children in the home, let them deal with what happened in peace. Please.

On December 28, 2014, there was a blurb† about Josh Alcorn getting killed by a semi on I-71, just north of Cincinnati. There wasn’t much information, no immediate connection to anything else, not even a confirmation of suicide, just a teenager struck by a truck on an interstate. It was tragic. There was also a suicide note posted on tumblr by Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl, who felt she had no other options. A connection was made. I didn’t hear the story on the 28th; I didn’t watch the news that day.

I did hear it on the morning of the 30th, though. I only know that because I sent out a tweet commending the newscasters for their choice of pronoun (they referred to the descedent as “Leelah” and “she”). They were defending their choice to cover this story, noting that suicides are generally not covered simply because the families are already going through enough. They provide further explanation for their decision on the 31st.

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Convention center spells Cincinnati in red

Our convention center has the name of the city spelled out in lights on the west-facing wall. Makes for a lovely skyline view that doesn’t require much of a caption. Generally the lights are white, but they do change it up for various reasons. On December 30th, they changed it to rainbow colors for Leelah Alcorn. They weren’t in order, but that is why they did it. That was completely unexpected. For me, anyway. It’s not the same city I left in 2001; even though a lot of the same problems are there, the responses have begun to change. Today, there are vigils in town, as well as around the country; around the world. Will it be enough to change attitudes? Maybe. Meanwhile, people are showing that hate and intolerance is not exclusive to the extreme conservatives; that behavior is not acceptable, any more than killing a cop because a different cop murdered someone. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth only leaves everyone blind and toothless.

Not all local stations have been quite so accepting, although it’s amazing what a little editing can do for your perceived position. I doubt it will be much of a surprise which station – which network affiliate – had the most difficult time accepting Leelah rather than Josh. One of their anchors has already expressed her opinion about others in the LGBT community, forgetting that what she’s reporting is supposed to be news, not an opinion piece. Do I think all of the staff at WCPO agree? No, I don’t; that’s preposterous. They are keeping it professional, though, and that’s the part that matters to me.

To sum up –
Let Leelah’s family grieve in peace.
Remember intolerance can strike anyone, regardless of their politics
Be patient with one another; be kind
Don’t confuse “kind” with “doormat,” those are not the same thing.
Flying cars would be a HUGE mistake.

Happy new year.


*BTW, most of my gossip came from the males in the office. Just saying…

†Why are my links all from the same website? Because that is where I first heard the story, and because they treated it with compassion and respect. Because they continue to report on Leelah and offer information for others who may be going through the same thing. Because they’re about the community and not necessarily about some sound bite that goes viral.