A Tale of Two Drug Dealers

fruitvale station cops

When I went last night with a friend to see the award-winning film Fruitvale Station, depicting the final day’s events of police murder victim Oscar Grant, I naturally expected to get angry about racism.  And I did get angry — though, owing to the film’s complex, relatable approach, deftly shifting between heartbreak, horror, and humor, I felt many other things, too.  (You should really see it, if you get a chance.)

But one of the most striking reminders of U.S. white supremacy glared across the screen even before Fruitvale’s opening credits.

Meet the Millers is, according to the trailer, a zany comedy about a white dude sent on a mission to Mexico to smuggle in a ridiculous amount of weed.  Knowing he’ll be more conspicuous at the border if he’s alone, he assembles a team of white working-class ne’er-do-wells to act as his hetero nuclear clan, faking wholesomeness (synonymous with whiteness) to deflect any law-enforcement suspicion.

This, just before a film whose main character, a Black man, struggles to stay out of prison, wrestling with whether or not to keep selling trees to pay rent for his family.

And whose racist criminalization makes his last encounter with the law anything but a joke.

Black Americans were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates, according to new federal data.


Telling [people of color] they’re obsessed with racism is like telling a drowning person they’re obsessed with swimming.

—Hari Kondabolu

Jerk of All Trades

                                   jerk of all trades - Plain


School. (Masters.)

Political Organizing.

Being a Tidy, Responsible, Sociable Human.


Spiritual Study.

Can I be real for a minute?  There is just no way.  AND YET NONE OF THEM CAN BE DROPPED.

Well, at least school’s about to be over.  But you’ll also notice some areas I haven’t listed (let alone included in the chart — can you even make a real Venn diagram with more than three or four categories?).

Romance? Nope.

Babies? Sorry.

Family? Barely.

Death and/or Major Disasters?  Oh I’m sure they’ll come, but knock-on-wood not yet.

Do you see what I’m getting at?  How is somebody supposed to be a well-rounded, compassionate, stable, vibrant, rhapsodic  jewel in the Indra’s Net of the universe, and ALSO ACTUALLY GET GOOD AT SOME THINGS THAT MATTER?  There are too many things that matter.

And speaking of which, I lied: there is romance.  But who has time to give it the care and attention it deserves?  While also, you, know, exercising and reading fiction sometimes?  And watching Krissy Chula youtube videos?

I’m not saying it’s impossible to do many important things at once.  (see: Immigrant Hustle. Even the 2nd Gen in my family gets super serious.) Plenty of people manage much more than I have to, with even fewer resources.  I’m lucky.

But goodness, can I just find a team and specialize as one of its Power Rangers?  Hone my green or blue or pink abilities, whatever it is Power Rangers do, and feel effective and helpful in the world?

And here’s the other problem: contentment.  Not that contentment is a problem — in my experience, it’s wonderful.  But it also comes at a cost.  Because in the periods when I’ve experienced deep contentment, I’ve simplified.  I’ve covered just two or three basic areas, and that’s it.  Working at a bookstore, cooking my meals, and writing letters to friends.  Great.  Living and working at a meditation center, trying to pick up kitchen Spanish.  Fantastic.

But eventually (and I suppose if it were Total Contentment this wouldn’t occur), eventually: something feels missing.

At the bookstore, wisdom.

At the meditation center, politics.

In politics, love.

In love, friends.  Or work.

In work, deep meaning and purpose.

Maybe this stage is like the first planting: all the seeds close together, until you see which ones sprout strongest, and remove the others.  (Isn’t that what they do?  I probably shouldn’t attempt too many farming metaphors.  See?  Half-knowledge.)

I’m guessing within the next couple years, or maybe months, some of these seedlings will be plucked out — whether I like it or not.

Morning Marching Song

After a night dreaming of Trayvon demos, I woke up with a new chant-song in my head.  Lyrics below, chock-full of links.

stand up to Zimmermans
stand up to Minutemen
stop-and-frisk you ain’t caught shit
the white and rich you always miss
“terrorist threat” on plane get stripped
American drones KeepKillingKids
billions more for border biz
but whose land do you think this is?
justice for the black & brown
holler if you’re down

Empty for Trayvon

buddhist monk meditating

At this morning’s meditation, the still-fresh news crawls my skin like a tiny spider — down the neck, the right arm, until it drops, gently threading down from the tip of a finger.

Departure of imaginary spider creates a ghost imaginary spider.  Her double-absence haunts the mind more.

Trayvon’s killer has gone free.  Black lives again mean nothing.  9am morning meditation, I sit powerless.  Fatigued.  Trying to get free, be nothing.  I know I am doing it wrong.

I can’t

he can’t

we can’t

we can’t

we can’t…

…powerless for now.

Throw Like A Girl


For months now, I’ve been wanting to teach the neighbor-girls across the street how to throw a football, like my dad taught me.  They’re always hanging out on the porch inventing games, waving to me out of boredom, friendliness and mischief as I walk to my car.  I even got a junior-size ball so they could hold it easier, but the very same day I bought it, it wound up waylaid at a friend’s BBQ birthday party.  (Hard to resist a game of catch, you know?)  Finally recovered this week, the mini pigskin enjoyed its debut on the block.

Once I showed the girls how to arrange their fingers on the laces, it only took about three tries before one of them (maybe 8 or 9 years old) could throw a solid spiral.  The older one (12 or so) didn’t throw so hot but could catch just about anything she touched.  The youngest (7?), too shy to try, sat on the roof of the blue car, playing music she downloaded to her smartphone. (!!!).  We all sang along to Alicia Keys and Nicki Minaj.