Friday, June 4, 2021

A Letter About Pronouns

To the teacher who believes that using preferred pronouns "will defile the holy image of God":

Dear Mr. Cross,

You state in your lawsuit against your school system that “[you] will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it is against [your] religion.” I am assuming by “your religion” you mean Christianity, and as a Christian, I gotta call a big steaming pile of BS on you.

You might not be comfortable with it. You might believe that gender dysphoria is nothing more than a problem that can be solved with prayer. You may think it’s disgusting and wrong. But let’s be clear. There is NOTHING in the bible that says gender dysphoria is a sin. But there are lots of things written in the bible that tell us that God made us to be exactly who we are.

Take Psalm 139, for example. The psalmist says “you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Do you think that you get to choose who is excluded from being wonderfully made? 

And what about the beginning of Ephesians 2:10 (my favorite verse in all of scripture)? “For we are God’s workmanship…” Are we not all God’s workmanship? Are some people excluded because they were made differently than you? Does God create a piece of art and then discard it because it’s not good enough? I certainly don’t think so.

God made me a straight woman – I’m guessing you’re okay with that because it fits into your view of what is “right.” But God made trans and gay and all LBGTQ women and men as well. God doesn’t make mistakes. All of us are wonderfully made, indescribably magnificent in our own way, created by a God that cherishes us no matter our sexual preference or preferred pronoun. I for one am thankful that we live in a time where people can live the lives that they were born to live, not one that is censored by two thousand years of (mostly) men who thought they were the only ones who get to decide what God wants.

In the end, I hope we all remember that Jesus gave us only two rules: love God and love others. Loving others includes accepting those who are different than you and not assuming that their differences make them wrong in God’s eyes. You don’t have God’s eyes, so you don’t get to speak for Him. 

Tell your own truth for what it is—bias and fear. Don’t disguise it as Christian thinking because it isn’t. 

I wish you no ill will, but I hope you lose your lawsuit. 

Sincerely,
Maryann Lozano


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Unconscious Bias Revisited

June 2, 2021 

I wrote this blog post last year around this time. I have worked to recognize my own unconscious bias but I still have much to do. It isn’t enough to work silently. At a minimum, one needs to be an ally — better yet a partner in change.


June 1, 2020

Man. Just what we need, right? I mean, we already have this stupid virus cramping our style – and now we have to deal with riots and looting? Why can't people understand that violence and destruction won't change anything?

Real talk. It has been too easy for me to ask questions like this. I’m not saying that the question isn’t valid, but it’s not the right question for me - a white, privileged, employed, healthy, woman who lives in a safe neighborhood, has health insurance, and can walk in the park without being accused of threatening another person because of the color of my skin – to ask.

As I watched the events unfold in Atlanta on Friday, my emotions, like so many other people’s, went from pride to dismay as the sun dropped below the horizon. Early Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and news stories all celebrated the peaceful rally. “This is how Atlanta does it,” they said. “We have a history of peaceful protest,” they said. We were all so proud.

Then things changed. There are all sorts of theories about why: police who were too aggressive, rioters who were only intent on destruction, outside extremists working to further destabilize our country. I have no idea what happened. But I watched the destruction unfold through my white eyes and asked the question, “why can’t people understand that the violence and destruction won’t change anything?”

That evening, my daughter, Hannah, sent me a blog post titled Why Do They Riot? Rioting and the Overflow of Racial Trauma. I don’t know anything more about the author, Kyle J. Howard, than what is on his website, but his post hit me right in the center of my white privilege and white guilt.

“Generally speaking, white people tend to care more about the rioting itself than the overflow of trauma/pain that leads to such destruction… When black people have rioted, historically speaking, it has always been due to the overflow of trauma & the reactionary rage that occurs when a community has been squeezed too hard for too long.”

Howard goes on to say that “White America does not listen to the laments of Black people unless it’s forced to,” and that “power is rarely ever willfully relinquished.”

I was brought up in a household that was actively, vehemently, anti-racism. If I'm honest, I've always been kind of proud of myself in that regard. And yet…I know I am plagued with unconscious bias. Friday night, as I read Howard’s post, some of my biases were brought to the forefront – unconscious no more and insisting that I own them and face them head-on. 

Let’s take a look back. “We were all so proud.”

What was I proud of, really? What did I even have a right to be proud of? Should the sentence have read, “We were all so proud of how peaceful our black people can be?” Ouch. Maybe. Maybe at least a teeny, teeny bit. And only for a nanosecond. But crap, even that is shameful. Unconscious bias brought to the forefront.

"Why can't people understand that violence and destruction won't change anything?"

Easy question for me to ask because I've never been suppressed, pulled out of a car and tazed for no reason, or followed in a store to make sure I’m not going to steal anything because of the color of my skin or the hoodie I’m wearing.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "…a riot is the language of the unheard." Well, I've never been unheard. I haven't lived in a pressure cooker my entire life—I have nothing to boil over. I don’t have any “overflow of pain/trauma” that would cause me to explode.

The question I should have asked is, "What can I do to help keep this from happening again." Or maybe, "Why didn't I do it sooner?" 

I need to shut up and listen. I need to support and learn. I need to act.

I still have a lot of work to do. I didn't know it, but I do. Honestly, I am ashamed of myself. I have many black and brown friends who I love dearly. I'm asking them to call me out when my unconscious bias is showing. Tell me how I can help and tell me when I am not helping. Be my cultural informant.

I realize that this post is all about me. But maybe some reader will recognize themselves in my struggle and start the hard process of admitting weakness and working to change.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Karens Anonymous



Hi…my name is Maryann… I mean Karen. I mean apparently, my name is Karen… I mean…

God. This is hard. I think I might be a Karen – maybe? I guess that’s what I’m here to find out. And I’d like to apologize to my friends who are named Karen (or Keren, Caren, or Karin). I don’t know who decided that Karen is the bad one but know that you are wonderful.

First of all, I’m not one of those “hey you kids get off my lawn!” types. And I don’t compose Nextdoor posts about people of color driving through my neighborhood looking suspicious because they are people of color. And I don’t write snarky responses to the people who DO post these things, starting a neighborhood war over the likelihood that the person driving down your street is your neighbor’s grandnephew coming for brunch. Frankly, the worst people driving through my neighborhood are my own neighbors DRIVING OVER THE SPEED LIMIT!

Oh, wait. See? There she goes. My inner Karen just showed her ugly, grey roots. (She seriously needs to get a box of color – and soon!). Breathe, Maryann. 

Okay, I’m better now.

I will admit that I am likely to give someone not wearing a mask at the Kroger the stink-eye, but that’s not so bad, is it? All I’m asking is that my fellow shoppers GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM FOR ONCE IN THEIR LIVES!

Crap. There she is again. It seems as though she’s been breaking through more easily in the past few months. I’ll ignore the fact that the timing lines up perfectly with me cutting my meds in half, blame it on the pandemic, and do some more deep belly breathing.

I did notice the other day that the neighbor down the street – you know the one with the mid-century modern house - they need to mow their lawn, don’t you think? Thank God we don’t have any houses for sale on the street right now! I’d hate for a prospective buyer to see that. And I know that my lawn is a little bit overgrown, but I’ve been really, really busy and just haven’t gotten to it.

Oh. Yeah. I see it now. That’s kind of a pot and kettle situation, isn’t it? Shut up, Karen, and mow your own lawn.

Oh fine. I see on everyone’s faces that you think I need to mind my own business, avoid being a b-word on social media, and maybe up my meds again. I promise I will try. I will try really, really hard. And I’ll attempt to not fly off the handle the next time my neighbor complains about how many trees someone has taken down in their yard and whether or not they got approval from the county tree department. I mean, seriously. IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Oh well. I guess I’ll see you again tomorrow. 


Thursday, March 4, 2021

Eulogy for a Friend

 


We said goodbye to a friend today via a Livestream of his funeral. (That is one positive thing that this pandemic has given us - the ability to "be there" when we can't be there.) He died unexpectedly, in his sleep, leaving a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren to figure out how to live without him.

We had known Jason for over 30 years; he worked with Rick for a while and then after he changed jobs, he would stay with us when he was in town - both in Baltimore and here in Atlanta. Our visits were filled with good food, good wine, and gut-busting laughter. There is not one memory I have of our time together that doesn't make me smile. Things like him telling me "a lesser driver would have missed that one" when I ran over a pothole on the highway. Things like watching South Park and laughing so loudly that Rick had to remind us, more than once, that our very young kids were asleep. I will never again hear the phrase "Katie, bar the door!" without thinking of him with a chuckle. There were so many great conversations about every possible subject and it seemed like we would never run out of things to say.

But time happens, doesn't it? His territory changed with a new job, and there was no reason for him to travel to the Southeast anymore. Rick would sometimes run into him at trade shows and they would always call me so I could say hello. Jason was never a social media guy - no Facebook or Instagram - so communication trickled down to emails on birthdays, or congratulations on career news shared on LinkedIn. He did email me to tell me he was going to be a grandfather - something he was very excited about.

Jason was a man who loved deeply, without holding anything back. He loved his children so fiercely that he fought the Texas Family Court system - a bureaucracy that seemed to believe that children are always better off with their mother, regardless of circumstances - to win custody of his son and then his daughter as well. I imagine that when death came, had he had the option, he would have fought against it in order to stay with his children, for whom he had fought so fiercely when they were young. And his grandchildren. But for whatever reason, it was Jason's time to go. I hope that it was peaceful and that if there is a heaven, he is there.

Reading the guest book entries on the funeral home website and hearing the stories from the people who spoke at his funeral, I am happy to know that Jason seems to have been loved by everyone who knew him. He was warm, funny, quick with a hug, easy to talk to, and ever so kind. He will be missed by so many people whose lives were made better by their time with him.

If you get nothing else from this post, please take the time to reach out to the people who matter. Trust me, you will regret not having jumped at the chance for one more conversation while you could. I certainly do.

RIP, Jason. I will miss you, my friend. 

"I've been one poor correspondent
And I've been too, too hard to find.
But it doesn't mean you ain't been on my mind."
"Sister Golden Hair" - Gerry Beckley, songwriter

Friday, August 28, 2020

Loss in the 2020s

I lost an old friend today. No, she didn’t die. But she’s definitely gone and I’m really sad about it. We had been friends for about 30 years.

 

I lost her in that quintessential 2020’s way—she unfriended me on Facebook.

 

I’ll take some of the blame— I posted something last night after watching the only three minutes of Trump’s speech that I could stomach and knew that would be the end of our friendship. Full disclosure: I used the word “vermin.” And I added an #unfriendmeifyouwant hashtag. And she took me up on it.

 

I have strong political beliefs that have gotten stronger during the past four years. I make no secret of my dislike of the current administration. My grown children and my husband also have strong political beliefs (fortunately for our family we are on the same side of the spectrum). My daughters might choose different words than I would, but I unequivocally support their sentiments and am incredibly proud of the outspoken, caring women they have become.

 

My friend made a dismissive, nasty remark about “culling the herd” and “we’ll just look at each other’s pretty pictures on Instagram.” I knew she was talking about my daughter (her Goddaughter, who happens to be an excellent professional photographer), and I confirmed that she had indeed unfriended Hannah. And sure—go ahead and unfriend someone if you can’t stand their posts or politics. That’s your right. I’ve done it. Rarely, but I’ve done it.

 

But why be so blatantly mean when she had to have known I would see the post? I guess thirty years of close friendship doesn’t mean much. Or maybe it wasn’t that close after all. Maybe the last four years created a bigger divide than I thought.

 

But why? Just because we disagree? I didn’t attack her. I didn’t attack her politics. I’ve never attacked her or her politics. We’ve had many opportunities to disagree about the current administration and we’ve always been respectful of each other’s opinions—or I thought we had.

 

In the end, her being crappy to/about my kid in a forum she knew I’d see told me pretty much all I need to know about how much she cares about me or our past.

 

But it’s a past that was important to me. Shared inside jokes. Long, important conversations. Crying together at the end of movies. Supporting one another through difficult times. Laughing until we cried. I wish that had mattered to her.

 

I goaded her; I know. But the problem is so much deeper than snarky hashtags. And it’s a problem that so many of us are dealing with right now. We have no capacity to have discourse on things about which we disagree. I’m as guilty as the next person as far as that is concerned. I know what I believe but am mostly incapable of explaining why I believe it. And as much as I can’t understand how people can believe a thing, they can’t understand how I don’t believe that same thing. And around and around we go.


I know some of my tens of readers (lol) are going through the same thing. I have no solution, of course. I just needed to write it out because that’s how I process.

 

I do know that it’s a hard world out there right now.

 

Be nice. Be patient. Maybe don’t use the word “vermin” to describe the political side you disagree with.

 

And post lots and lots of pictures of puppies and kittens. Those are generally pretty safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, June 1, 2020

Unconscious Bias

Man. Just what we need, right? I mean, we already have this stupid virus cramping our style – and now we have to deal with riots and looting? Why can't people understand that violence and destruction won't change anything?

Real talk. It has been too easy for me to ask questions like this. I’m not saying that the question isn’t valid, but it’s not the right question for me - a white, privileged, employed, healthy, woman who lives in a safe neighborhood, has health insurance, and can walk in the park without being accused of threatening another person because of the color of my skin – to ask.

As I watched the events unfold in Atlanta on Friday, my emotions, like so many other people’s, went from pride to dismay as the sun dropped below the horizon. Early Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and news stories all celebrated the peaceful rally. “This is how Atlanta does it,” they said. “We have a history of peaceful protest,” they said. We were all so proud.

Then things changed. There are all sorts of theories about why: police who were too aggressive, rioters who were only intent on destruction, outside extremists working to further destabilize our country. I have no idea what happened. But I watched the destruction unfold through my white eyes and asked the question, “why can’t people understand that the violence and destruction won’t change anything?”

That evening, my daughter, Hannah, sent me a blog post titled Why Do They Riot? Rioting and the Overflow of Racial Trauma. I don’t know anything more about the author, Kyle J. Howard, than what is on his website, but his post hit me right in the center of my white privilege and white guilt.

“Generally speaking, white people tend to care more about the rioting itself than the overflow of trauma/pain that leads to such destruction… When black people have rioted, historically speaking, it has always been due to the overflow of trauma & the reactionary rage that occurs when a community has been squeezed too hard for too long.”

Howard goes on to say that “White America does not listen to the laments of Black people unless it’s forced to,” and that “power is rarely ever willfully relinquished.”

I was brought up in a household that was actively, vehemently, anti-racism. If I'm honest, I've always been kind of proud of myself in that regard. And yet…I know I am plagued with unconscious bias. Friday night, as I read Howard’s post, some of my biases were brought to the forefront – unconscious no more and insisting that I own them and face them head-on. 

Let’s take a look back. “We were all so proud.”

What was I proud of, really? What did I even have a right to be proud of? Should the sentence have read, “We were all so proud of how peaceful our black people can be?” Ouch. Maybe. Maybe at least a teeny, teeny bit. And only for a nanosecond. But crap, even that is shameful. Unconscious bias brought to the forefront.

"Why can't people understand that violence and destruction won't change anything?"

Easy question for me to ask because I've never been suppressed, pulled out of a car and tazed for no reason, or followed in a store to make sure I’m not going to steal anything because of the color of my skin or the hoodie I’m wearing.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "…a riot is the language of the unheard." Well, I've never been unheard. I haven't lived in a pressure cooker my entire life—I have nothing to boil over. I don’t have any “overflow of pain/trauma” that would cause me to explode.

The question I should have asked is, "What can I do to help keep this from happening again." Or maybe, "Why didn't I do it sooner?" 

I need to shut up and listen. I need to support and learn. I need to act.

I still have a lot of work to do. I didn't know it, but I do. Honestly, I am ashamed of myself. I have many black and brown friends who I love dearly. I'm asking them to call me out when my unconscious bias is showing. Tell me how I can help and tell me when I am not helping. Be my cultural informant.

I realize that this post is all about me. But maybe some reader will recognize themselves in my struggle and start the hard process of admitting weakness and working to change.







Monday, February 17, 2020

American Pickers/Fun with Mom


We moved Mom into a new Assisted Living community last August. We liked the old one, but the company that owns it decided to change the way they determine the cost for care, and Mom's fees more than doubled*, so we had to find somewhere new. I used a service that helps families find facilities, visited several around town, took Mom to visit two, and she chose where she wanted to move.

The process was easier this time because she was a willing participant (until the day of the move when she had second thoughts, but we got through that). Unfortunately, the new place was at the end of a renovation process, and the elevator was to be out of service for a few weeks. Instead of moving directly into her 3rd floor 2-room apartment with a balcony, she ended up in a 1-room efficiency for 3 weeks.

Her biggest complaint was that she could only watch one channel on the television (The History Channel). This was my fault – I didn’t want to have to mess with Comcast more than once, so I figured I’d get it hooked up once she moved into her real apartment. When we plugged the cable that was in the wall into her old cable box, THC was magically on her television but, without a proper remote (that she wouldn’t know how to use anyway), she had no way to change the channel. So, for three weeks, I heard daily complaints that all she could watch was The History Channel, and why did I think she wanted to watch American Pickers and shows about alien landings all of the time.

We finally got her moved upstairs, and basic cable installed. But guess what? The basic package from Comcast does NOT include The History Channel. Then all I heard was daily complaints that she couldn't watch American Pickers, and that was the only show worth watching in all of tv-dom. We upgraded her, and now she has access to pretty much whatever she wants to watch, which consists solely of American Pickers, Ancient Aliens, and a Soundscapes music channel that plays wallpaper for your mind music and shows pretty pictures.

Now—if only she could figure out the remote.

*Interestingly, Mom has far less care at the new place and is much healthier than she was at the old one. She’s more independent, happier, physically stronger, and less likely to fight with her caregivers. I know that with dementia things tend to slide along on a plane until a decline happens—and when it does, it’s usually not a steady drop but a precipitous one. For now, I’m going to enjoy this time of relative calm.