Lunatics Keep Giving Us A Bad Name, Say Casual Racists

Another senseless atrocity transpired on American soil this week, and the national conversation has turned once again to the complicated issues of racism, gun policy, and troubled young men. In all the hot takes and punditry surrounding such events, one group is frequently overlooked: Casual Racists. It’s time we as a nation let their voices be heard.

“I don’t consider myself a racist,” notes a C.R. we interviewed. “Sure I might clasp my purse a little tighter as I’m passing a minority on the sidewalk. But that’s just how I was raised. I can’t take responsibility for that. Or won’t? Either way. Not my fault.”

As many social norms and attitudes feel ingrained to these individuals, Casual Racists view the subtlety of such beliefs and actions as harmless, isolated incidents.

“I wouldn’t want to hurt anybody,” said another C.R. “I just want the right to quietly hate people who are different than I am, from the privacy of my own home—a practice my family has upheld for generations.” For many, these racist beliefs are simply a matter of tradition, and not seen as a condemnation of the inherent qualities of another human being.

Recent events have also drawn attention to the state-sanctioned display of the Confederate flag in South Carolina. Says one C.R. supporter, “Confederate flag? Come on. That’s not racist. The stars and bars represent my southern heritage. It’s unfortunate that there are literally no other symbols of the South to be found and celebrated in popular culture, art, literature, music, food, architecture, history, or folklore. This is the card I’ve been dealt. Guess I’m stuck with this one-and-only way to showcase pride and tradition.”

He went on to point out how it’s unfair to discriminate against some Confederate flags, just because other flags are offensive to an entire segment of the population.

Some Casual Racists have attempted to reach out and offer support in the aftermath of this week’s events. One noted, “I think I must know how they’re feeling. This was an attack on religion, and it’s another example of how we as Christians need to take our country back! …Granted, I’ve never been to a black church, or for that matter occupied any space in which I wasn’t the racial majority. But I imagine I can understand what their exact experience is. I go to my church all the time!”

At press time, it remains unclear whether Casual Racists will continue to feel marginalized by media attention shown toward extremists, with whom they do not wish to affiliate. One C.R. had this to say: “It’s just a shame that people judge us by the jokes we tell, or our secret fears and misconceptions, our vulnerabilities when faced with Otherness in all its many forms. That’s just a part of who I am. If you got to know me, I think you’d come to discover that I’m a person just like you, and that I deserve the same basic level of respect “

Enough is Enough with “Enough”

A common “motivational” sentiment for creative people, that shows up in writing books and how-to lists and pinterest boards, is something along the lines of: “If you care enough about doing something, you’ll make time for it.” The converse would imply that if you don’t make time for something, you just don’t care enough.

(Ain’t that some shit?!)

Just what a big-dreams-having, maybe-struggling, still-trying, but-not-quite-enough-though creative person needs: More guilt!

I’ve been feeling it a lot lately: the itchy, persistent anxiety of wanting to write (off-the-clock), but not writing.

Being too busy (or at least feeling like I am), or too tired or too distracted. Putting a lot of my energy into things that fall into the Urgent/Unimportant section of my priorities matrix. So much immediacy; so little substance. It’s no wonder it’s often hard to invest in the Non-urgent/Important.

Here’s some permission I’m giving to myself, today. You can have some too, if you need it: Make time. Even a little time.

Not making time doesn’t mean you don’t care. (That was a triple negative, for those playing along at home.) But you probably do feel shitty about it. Taking even a little time to work toward something you want to do, but never do do, (doo doo), will make you feel less shitty. And feeling less shitty is always better than feeling shitty. (So eloquently put. I better write that in ink somewhere before somebody else thinks of it.)

Here’s to trying to write a little, a little more each day.

Also: Enough is one of those words that, if you look at it enough (ha), quickly loses its meaning. What’s that “gh” doing over there? Making an “f” sound? Sure. SINCE WHEN. You’ve got some nerve, for a phoneme. Some nerve.

What we talk about when we talk about family

November 22 is National Adoption Day. Did you know that? Before this time last year, I wouldn’t have.

But life,  I continue to learn, is full of surprises. No plot twist is too farfetched to be true. The story of my nephew, Waylon (aka “Spud,” as we affectionately called him in his potato-faced pre-adoption days, when we couldn’t use his real name), is one of those farfetched-but-true ones.

November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013

The folklore has been repeated over and over again the last two years, usually ending in a response of disbelief and declaration that he is a “miracle baby.” I first met Spud on Christmas Eve 2012. At that point he was barely past his due date, though he’d already been alive since August. Weighing just 19 ounces, born to a family who couldn’t take care of him (a lot of those details have to remain vague—but this is the Ozarks; you can probably venture a guess), he spent his first four months in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit—this acronym another bit of trivia I didn’t know until I had to) at Mercy Hospital, where my sister-in-law is a nurse.

Baby's first Christmas Eve

Baby’s first Christmas Eve

Daniel and Lindsey had only been engaged since September at this point—another kind of too-perfect story, ps: My brother proposed in Central Park, one year to the day after they met…at a wedding. (I won’t cut it out! I won’t!) They had discussed the possibility of this kind of adoption, maybe years and years down the road, since stories like Spud’s are sadly more common than they ought to be. But none of us anticipated this sort of timeline.

Our family was fast-forwarding at an unheard-of speed, but still the whole process felt unbelievably normal. It felt normal to accept this little guy into our lives. It felt normal just a few months later, when we found out they were having a baby of their own (Spud’s “Big Brother” onesie temporarily stumping Mom & Dad: “Like the TV show?!”).



It felt normal when I officiated their wedding that June, outside on the farm where my mom grew up, on my brother’s birthday, on an abnormally mild and perfectly sunny June day. And it felt normal one year ago today, when I sat in the courtroom and heard the name “Waylon Lee Jenkins” spoken for the first time. (Daniel Lee and Lindsey Lee and Wayon Lee, ps—I won’t cut it out!) I remember the judge said something about being pleased to witness such a happy ending—I imagine his days are too often filled with kids who aren’t so lucky.

Aunt Sarah

Aunt Sarah, willfully holding a baby. Do not adjust your screens.

So here we are, a year later. Waylon and his sister, Jolene (yep. We’re well on our way to a honky-tonk Brady Bunch at this point), are healthy, happy, dare-I-say just unreasonably adorable kids.  They bring joy to so many people just by being alive…and they both still poop in diapers. Imagine what they’ll be capable of once they’re potty trained, y’all!

Too often, life’s unpredictability adds up to more curse than blessing. But then sometimes it all makes sense.