A Bonus Tater Friday Rant

I have subscribed to my neighborhood’s NextDoor feed. I knew this was a mistake when I did it. I figured out from the email list that we have for the area that I don’t really like a lot of my neighbors(neighbors meaning people in the entire Piney Orchard community, not the people on my street). I subscribed anyway thinking I would use it for informational purposes and not engage. I’ve been pretty good about it. I rarely click-through to read a full discussion and when I do, I never get involved. If the thread annoys me, I just stop reading. I’ve been so good. This week, I’ve fallen off the wagon.

It started with reading too many messages on the thread complaining about people driving too fast on the road behind my house(and blaming it on “others” who re cutting through our precious neighborhood). I read them. I complained about them. I didn’t respond.

Last night comes the real topic of my rant. I was up late watching my Ravens look terrible on Thursday Night Football.. I get an email from NextDoor. The basics of the post are – a woman was walking home from the grocery store and was going to use the path behind the store. Saw someone else on the path who came from the area of the bushes. The person did not approach her, talk to her, do anything suspicious. In fact, it seemed they walked away from her. She still said she planned to call the police to report it and then described the “suspect” as a slender black male in a hoodie. So, basically, she saw a black guy in a hoodie on a public path, got scared, called it suspicious and planned to call the police. I thought my faith in my community would be restored when a couple of people joined in to tell her that calling the police was dumb and could possibly be dangerous to someone who had done nothing wrong. My only contribution was to reply “So you’re going to all the police to report someone for walking while black? Seriously?” I’ve very eloquent.

This morning there have been several more posts telling her there was no need to call the police or offer a description of someone who was walking on a public path. There have also been people thanking her and saying that it is always good to be vigilant and post suspicious activity even if it seems silly. THERE WAS NO SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY! Someone was walking on a public path. They did not approach her. They did not talk to her. They did nothing but exist. The existence of a black make in a hoodie is not a crime. Would we be discussing this at all had the “suspect” been  blonde, teenage girl(the scariest of all humans)? I doubt it. The existence of white people is not generally considered suspicious. I walk a lot on trails in the area while wearing a hoodie. No one calls me suspicious because I’m an old white guy. We have to stop calling the police to report people of color for living their lives. I don’t want to live in a neighborhood where this is considered a good idea. Stop!

Is it good to be vigilant? Yes. Be aware of your surroundings. If you are on a trail and are uncomfortable with someone else on the trail, leave the trail.  If someone actually breaks the law, call the police.

End Rant.

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A Short Rant

The Youth Media Awards were announced this week. The book Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly won the Newbery Award. I saw one person on Facebook comment that the one review of the book mentioned that the r word is used a lot in the book. I don’t now what review that was, but I found one on Amazon with the same complaint. Is the r word used in the book? Yes, but you have to look at context. It is used multiple times by the bully against a kid who goes to the resource room for special help. I know that we would rather not see the word, but if you are writing realistic fiction you have to be realistic. I guarantee you kids are still calling other kids retarded no matter how many times we tell them the word is hurtful. It is real for the bully to use the word. Nothing about the book makes it seem this is OK.

In the fall there was a big controversy over the book The Black Witch. There was a review online that pulled several racist comments out and used them to say the book was hurtful and should never have been published. People piled on and posted negative reviews on Goodreads without ever reading the book. I read the book. What they fail to comprehend is that those racist statements in the book were said by racist characters. Some were said by the main character, but the entire point of the book was to see the growth in a character who was raised to believe her race was superior only to realize how wrong that was once she goes to school with other races. Context matters. It was a very good book.

I keep seeing over and over again how books are being pulled from schools because parents complained about language or other content without thinking that this language and content is what makes the book real. Why do you want your kids to read sugar-coated realities? Why are we judging books on a few words instead of on the entire content of the book? Why can’t we read challenging and difficult stories anymore?

Also – there was another school shooting today. We seem to be more active in removing “dangerous” books from schools than we are in keeping actual danger out. Maybe we could fix that?

A Monday Morning Rant

I can’t remember the actual thing that got me started complaining to my family about people in general yesterday.   I was in the car, so I’m assuming it was yet another stupid traffic move by another driver.  I decided to post a list of things that people do and have done recently that drive me crazy. Disclaimer: I’m fully aware that it’s possible that things I do are on other people’s lists.

People who stop walking in the middle of an aisle or in the doorway. I get that something caught your eye as you walked in the door, but move to the side to gawk at it. There are other people trying to walk here.

People who have conversations in food lines or in front of a communal coffee pot.  The coffee one is especially bad. People are trying to get their caffeine fix and you are blocking them because you are completely oblivious that your group conversation in front of the pot mean no one can get coffee. That could be dangerous.

People who don’t understand how a four-way stop works. They either sit there and don’t move when it is their turn or they almost cause a collision because they go when it is someone else’s turn. It’s really not that difficult. If you are there before me, you go. If I’m there for you, you go. Also, if you are incoming traffic in a place where incoming traffic does not stop, DON’T STOP.

The woman who was turning right on red when I had a green left turn arrow. If you are going to turn anyway, don’t wait until I’m almost in the lane before you decide to whip in to it.

If there is a road with a left turn only and a straight lane if you are trying to turn on to the road but going left don’t inch out to block the other lane until you have room to turn Now you’ve blocked all of the people trying to go through the intersection and paralyzed the entire area.

Generally, don’t go through life oblivious to how your actions are affecting others. Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of the people around you. When in doubt, err on the side of courtesy.

Currently Reading:
Final Girls: A Novel

You know what I hate?

Well, a lot of stuff, but today I will focus on euphemisms for death. Passed on, passed away, passed, went home and any form of lost. I’ve felt this way since listening to a family friend call people from our house to tell them my dad had died and noticing her use every expression she could think of to replace the word death. I’m not sure why we feel this is necessary. Avoiding the d word did not make me feel any better about the situation and it doesn’t make the person any less dead.

Some of them annoy me more than others. When the news tells me Hollywood lost another actor I want to ask Hollywood if they checked under the couch or if they have retraced their steps. That’s how I usually find things I lost. If you just use the word passed it makes me think they did well on a test.

I guess it makes other people feel better to not say the word. I prefer to just be direct and use the big bad d word.