It’s hard to get to the computer these days, and when I do, I want to write my next book. So I don’t blog as much as I’d like, and stuff happens, and I don’t comment on it, and it piles up. So here’s three things I felt like addressing, but didn’t get around to:
- I got that alert on my phone for Ahmad Khan Rahami (the terrorist who planted bombs in NY and NJ) while I was at work. (For those who don’t know, I am a pediatric nurse who accompanies medicalized children to school). None of the other adults around me got it. That night at dinner, I asked my husband if he’d gotten the alert. Nope. Neither had my son. He says to me, “Of course you got it, mom. You’re the Arab in the family. They probably sent it to all the Arabs, because you all know each other.” He meant it as a joke. (He’s 100% Latino). It’s kind of a running gag about the Arabs in our family. There’s a funny story about a friend who I hadn’t seen in decades, walking into a Lebanese restaurant in another state and saying to the owner, “Hey, my best friend’s father was Lebanese.” “Oh really,” says the owner, “What was his name?” “Salim Chalfoun.” The owner says, “That’s my uncle.” And here’s the kicker–my dad was his uncle. So that’s the joke–all Arabs are cousins or uncles or whatever, as far as non-Arabs are concerned. But of course we aren’t. And I know the alert got sent to lots of non-Arabs. So why do I always have that weird, sinking feeling every time a terrorist has an Arabic name, as if it has something to do with me? Why do I take that on? I bet white people don’t cringe when a white guy makes the news.
- We were eating our typical weekend pancake breakfast, listening to NPR, when the recording of the wife of Keith Scott pleading with the police to not shoot him came on. I turned the radio off. My son asked why, and I explained that I had heard it yesterday, and it was very upsetting. My son said, “I know what to do if I get stopped by the police.” He stood and showed me how he would place his hands behind his back. I said, “Don’t do that–they might think you’re pulling a gun from your waistband.” He said, “I could do this.” And he demonstrated putting his hands on top of his head. He explained that’s what the kids in school say to do. I said, “No, also problematic. Put your hands like this.” And I showed him how to hold his hands in the air, fingers spread, so anyone could see he didn’t have a gun.
- A few days later I worked a dance with my client who goes to their district school. The district is 93% white, and one of the wealthiest in our county. The boys wore button down shirts, and Vineyard Vine web belts, chino shorts, and boat shoes, the girls wore pink and green Lily Pulitzer dresses. They looked like they were ready to go out to dinner in Edgartown. So preppy and clean cut. And they were so well behaved, I thought. Yet they got yelled at by the chaperones, and the lights were turned on so they couldn’t get into any more trouble. My son was fascinated by this. He wanted to know what those preppy kids had done that was so bad. “They were using their phones,” I told him. “They aren’t allowed to have phones at school or at any school functions.” He was incredulous.”Wow. A phone is bad?” “In their school it is,” I said. I didn’t have to point out the difference between their world and ours. My son totally got it.