Writing in a Time of Peril: 7.4.2020

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 2.20 million U.S. cases and 118,695 deaths as of 12:30 pm on June 19, 2020 – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 2.64 million U.S. cases and 127,485 deaths as of 11:30 pm on July 1. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

“By the river of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! We wept when we returned to Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave the roof of my mouth.” –Psalm 13

In my night and day dreamings, I’m never sure who is speaking or what is being revealed or hidden or known.

The voices of my enslavers, the people who ceaselessly attempt to free me, my own agitated voice or the stars who do not care?

Is my conscious unencumbered by the whirl of the ceiling fan, the cooing of the mourning doves in the eaves, the whispering of the trees or the song playing on Spotify?

When I read the page I have written, I often wonder who wrote it, was it me or some other?

When I lean into the writing or laugh or weep or feel the creep of sadness or weariness of our journeys here or sudden flights of joy, I often ask again, to whom have I been writing, who will be receiving it, shared or not shared, sent or unsent, unpublished published or released for the stars?

And yet I am not afraid of inattentive stars, the encumbrances of otherings, grief’s wells of loneliness and death, my own laughter and tears, my own ditherings, procrastinations. 

There is something in me that requires that I remember, re-remember, speak and speak, tell and tell the harrowing sufferings, the gruesome deaths we have witnessed and borne, the savage oppressions we labor beneath, the grotesque lies of the nation’s founding, building, and profit-taking, and the simple appalling truths of white supremacy, then and now. 

And yet, what I hold dear is this place of my birth, the sky, the hills, the rivers and seas, the soils of my ancestor’s sweat, tears, and blood fertilized and grown into a nation, a nation cycling and surging toward being awestruck in my splendid countenances, my majestic being, in my footsteps on pathways of more perfect unions and reunions. 

What I remember, what I re_remember, what I know, what I hold dear, can heal a world.

I read the speech Frederick Douglas gave on July 5, 1852. , The Meaning of July 4 for the Negro by Frederick Douglass 

I watched a video linking Douglas’ speech to our current confluences of viral and racial pandemics.

 Daveed Diggs asks: “What to My People is the Fourth of July … 

I read Opinion | ‘My Body Is a Confederate Monument’: Slavery …

I watched a Video of Ta-Nehisi Coats.

  Ta-Nehisi Coates Testifies About Reparations: Politics Daily …

Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose 2014 article “The Case for Reparations” in The Atlantic rekindled the debate over reparations for slavery and its legacy, testified on Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee.

I go down my to-do list of self-care: avoid contact with police, meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home–except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less T.V., but stay informed. Laugh a lot. Channel fear, grief, rage, remembering, honoring, and loving compassion into expression, action, and art. 

I continue to chronicle these times.

In Joy,

A

© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA

andreacanaan@gmail.com

https://andracanaan.blog

https://www.facebook.com/Andrea-Canaan-Author-456010704809232/

 

Writing in a Time of Peril: 7.3.2020

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 2.20 million U.S. cases and 118,695 deaths as of 12:30 pm on June 19, 2020 – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 2.64 million US cases and 127,485 deaths as of 11:30pm on July 1.– From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration

Located on the site of a former warehouse where black people were enslaved in Montgomery, Alabama, this narrative museum uses interactive media, sculpture, videography and exhibits to immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of the domestic slave trade, racial terrorism, the Jim Crow South, and the world’s largest prison system. – from the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) website.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice 

More than 4400 African American children, women, and men were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned, and beaten to death by white mobs between 1877 and 1950. Millions more fled the South as refugees from racial terrorism, profoundly impacting the entire nation. Until now, there has been no national acknowledging the victims of racial terror lynchings. On a six acre-acre site atop a rise overlooking Montgomery, the national lynching memorial is a sacred space for truth-telling and reflection about racial terror in America and its legacy. –from the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) website.

A Lynching Memorial Is Opening. The Country Has Never Seen

My daughter, Leslie Ebonne, and I traveled the few hours from Atlanta to Montgomery,

Alabama during the summer of 2018. We were on a pilgrimage to a museum and memorial that traced the histories of our foremothers and forefathers’. It was a heart, body, mind, and soul’s journey from our theft from Africa to solemn prayerful remembering and re-remembering of their journeys, our daughter–mother journey, of all Americans of African heritage and survivors of the savage and immoral enslavement of human beings in modern history.  Two African American women, mother and daughter, lesbian and straight, experiencing and re-remembering the hyper-violent and killing racist, misogynist, and homophobic terror times that our foremothers and fathers lived through and died during. Two African American women who live daily lives of the threats of police, military, and judicial oppression and erasure, along with domestic terrorism. This systemic preservation of white supremacy requires constant ruthless attempts to re-enslave, disenfranchise, overpower, disadvantage, underprivilege and dis-remember. 

My family told the stories of enslaved and freedmen of African descent of resistance, defiance and patriotism. They told us about the burning of whole towns and neighborhoods, and the internal immigration of millions of the formerly enslaved and freedmen west and north. One of the stories was the Thibodeaux massacre. The story is the formerly enslaved and freedmen working along poor whites to get better wages and work conditions in the cane fields. They decided to strike and marched toward the sugar mill. The mayor called the governor. The governor sent the state militia. The Knights of the White Camelia and surrounding parish sheriffs and deputies, along with civilians, arrived and fired upon the strikers and surrounded the Colored section of Thibodeaux and slaughtered the inhabitants and burned the neighborhood. The Thibodeaux massacre captured my imagination massacre because it happened about thirty miles from the home and lands of my maternal grandmother, Martha England Ransom’s home near Houma, Louisiana, along Bayou Black. I read everything I could find about this massacre. My reading validated my family’s account except for the number of dead, thirty-sixty in most documents accounts, but hundreds by my family’s account of hunting and killing labor organizers and looting farms owned by black and poor white farms. 

It was a hot summer day. After we visited the Legacy Museum, we drove to the Peace and Justice Memorial. On a six-acre site, a large shed without walls. Within the shed has 805 six-foot Corten steel rectangular boxes that hang from steel poles. On the front and back of each steel plate is engraved the state, parish or county, the name or unknown if the name is not known, the date, and if known, the circumstance of the lynching. Individual children, women and men. Son and mother. Mother and son. Families. Small groups. Large groups. Lynched. Burned. Shot Dismembered. Mutilated. 

In the beginning, the steel memorial boxes hung at eye level. The memorial floor sloped downward until the memorial boxes hang about the visitor’s head. I searched for the counties and parishes that my family lived in from slavery to the present. Escambia County, Alabama, Adams County, Mississippi, Jackson County Mississippi, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, Lafourche Parish, Louisiana and Terrebonne, Parish, Louisiana. When I reached Terrebonne Parish, I look up and see the date with thirty names, all listed as unknown. Mercifully there was a place to sit along a hip level downward curving wall. I sat in shock and bone marrow horror and grief. My family had not said they had been lynched. Lynched. Lynched while still living? Lynched after they were shot or burned or mutilated? 

Why had all the accounts I was told or read only said killed, not lynched as well? 

I wept and prayed. I imagined the organizing meetings and marching after moving the young and the old into town for safety. I imagined the guns shooting them down, their depraved mutilation of the dead, hunting down survivors, burning the Colored part of town, hurriedly burying those they didn’t lynch in shallow graves to hide some of their evil rampages. 

In the near past. Recently. Now. Maybe. Probably. Actually. Lynching a white pastime again. 

Remembering and re-remembering is the awful salve we seek in honor of our ancestors’ resistance, defiance and insistence on the freedom of full and equal U.S. citizenship. Our duty, our joy, is to actualize the miraculous promise of our lives earned by their example and sacrifice. There was no closure there. There was no rest there. There was no peace there–only the promise of peace. There is only remembering and remembering, weeping and weeping, grieving and grieving, honoring and honoring, commitment and re-commitment toward liberty and justice for the living and the dead.  

We pilgrimage again.

The antidotes to despair, internalized oppression, and self-annihilation–what saves:

Books

I choose two books to re-read: Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler: 9781583226902 …

And Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis …

Music

Holly Near: I am Open https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=holly+near+i+am+open&fr=iphone&.tsrc=apple&pcarrier=Verizon&pmcc=311&pmnc=480

Regina Carter: Southern Comfort: https://open.spotify.com/album/4KpbU96UTx4DB0ukuTE5vu?si=_nwqTiSTQ32wv-Nv0U6nna

Mickey Guyton – Black Like Me (Official Audio) – YouTube

Spoken Word

Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman Fourth of July Boston Pops 2019

Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman … – YouTube

Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman June 26, 2020 
https://www.cbs.com/shows/cbs_this_morning/video/lFygof12gE3hjeJ8OgOdYf7UGi9sy8NL/youth-poet-laureate-amanda-gorman-on-race-injustice-and-protest/

I go down my to-do list of self-care: avoid contact with police, meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home–except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less T.V., but stay informed. Laugh a lot. Channel fear, grief, rage, remembering, honoring, and loving compassion into expression, action and art.

I continue to chronicle these times.

In Joy,

A

© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA

andreacanaan@gmail.com

https://andracanaan.blog

https://www.facebook.com/Andrea-Canaan-Author-456010704809232/

Writing in a Time of Peril: 6.26.2020

Mars Near Opposition –Hubble Telescope

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 2.20 million US cases and 118,695 deaths as of 12:30 pm on June 19, 2020 – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The New York Times reports 2.4 million U.S. cases and 124, 770 U.S. deaths on Thursday, a record for the second day in a row – From the New York Times Covid–19 update, June 26, 2020. 

The U.S. reported more than 40,000 new cases on Thursday, a record for the second day in a row  (Johns Hopkins Update Not Available) 

From gestation to birth, our paths are chosen or directed by biology, physiology, geography, ecology, history, our time, and our choices. For all of us, we are suffused with incalculable variables and uncertainties, except for one invariable–calculable–constant, our deaths.

I was coming out, a black woman in a majority-black southern city, New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1979. I knew no out black lesbians in New Orleans then. I still don’t. I decided to live an out lesbian life, a different choice than that of all of the black women in my family and community. Other black lesbians chose to live on the ‘down low. My mother and her friends helped black lesbian and gay men hide and pretend that the women and men they claimed to be their dates and fiancés, even husbands and wives, were, in fact, not the center of their love and sexual lives. 

Living on the ‘down low was an acceptable choice. My mother told me that since I had a good education, a master’s degree, I could do and be anything I wanted; the black community, even the church, would support me, but only if I was silent about being a lesbian. The acceptable choices were to be silent, completely repress my affectional preference and sexuality, to pretend to be heterosexual, to convince myself I was heterosexual, or to forget I was lesbian. The consequences were to borne silently and alone. Similar choices and their consequences were made about loving across color lines.

I understood these choices and the underlying beliefs, along with the deeply embedded homophobia. Being an out black lesbian was perceived as a threat, an additional target on all black backs, another shame to bear, and a distraction from activists’ stated priority: the liberation of black men first, black women second, and black children last. I carry the perceptions of these choices and beliefs in the marrow of my bones. I know the consequences of these choices, no matter their religious, social, economic, and political underpinnings. I would cause my family and community shame. I would make my family and community targets for added white hate. I would cancel my value as a representative of our community. 

I understood, however, the most serious consequence of living on the ‘down low, of suppressing, denying, and leaving unexamined essential parts of myself, my affectional preference, my sexuality, and my historic familial and personal loads of racial, physical, emotional, economic, and sexual trauma.  

Madness 

My deepest fear 

Becoming mad 

Becoming involuntarily committed to an insane asylum

My great-aunt and great-uncle told me the story after Thanksgiving dinner the year my grandmother died. 

In 1916 near Houma, Louisiana, on Bayou Black, my grandmother witnessed her grandfather’s death. Her father and her paternal grandfather had been arguing when he fell off a raised porch without rails. An inquest ruled the fall an accident death. The crucial consequence of my great-great-grandfather’s death, however, was the wrongful commitment of was his son, my great-grandfather, to a notorious insane asylum in Jackson, Louisiana. Louisiana law gives the coroner the power and authority to pronounce my great- grandfather insane. The police, the coroner, the insane asylum administrators, and the insane asylum personnel knew that my great-great-grandfather was sane. There was no recourse for him at that time. 

Not long after he was committed, he was offered a job as a  groundskeeper. In 1935 he was offered a release from Jackson, but he wouldn’t leave. “Why?’ was always the question when this part of the story was told after holiday dinners. The answer was always the same. 

His words quoted, 

“Because if I leave here, I will become a murder or go mad.”

He continued to work as a groundskeeper. He was paid a small wage that he sent home to my great–grandmother. Benjamin England, my maternal great–grandfather, died while living on the grounds of the Louisiana Stare Insane Asylum in 1943, twenty-seven years after he was wrongly committed. 

My great aunts and uncle and the Bayou Black community believed this malicious and sadistic punishment was meted out because both father and son were labor organizers and leaders of cane workers. The death of the father made neutralizing the son possible. Prosecution for murder would have been inciting, maybe giving him an outlet to continue organizing. But pronouncing him insane was diabolically silencing and terrorizing for all black cane workers and their families. 

My grandmother was never the same. “Teched,” they called her, the colloquial word for crazy. My mother’s early life was shattered by my grandmother’s mental illness. My childhood was lived in a soup of my grandmother and mother’s untreated and unhealed emotional, psychic, sexual, and spiritual wounds. All my life, I have been making sense of what I have come to believe is their “adaptive lifesaving madness,” a way for black women and girls to navigate life in hyper-misogynist and racist landscapes.

*

It was 1979. I had pain in my back. Right side. Below the shoulder blade. Lung? Diaphragm? It was excruciating, hard to breathe, to speak, to move, and to walk.

Diana was–is a masseur. She was–is beloved to me, extended family, my daughter’s co-mother. We had graduated from the Tulane University School of Social Work together in 1975.  While in graduate school, Diana studied massage and became an internationally recognized practitioner and teacher of relational-somatic connective tissue work, which is especially useful to heal survivors of trauma.  I agreed to a massage, only because I loved her and trusted her with my life, my family, my daughter, my body, my heart, and I knew she loved me. Despite all of that, I still thought the only reason to take off your clothes and let someone touch you was to be sexual. I thought ignorantly and hilariously that the naked touching thing must be a white thing or a Yankee thing since Diana was white and a northerner. 

In the sunny room off her kitchen that served as her massage room, she supported me onto the table and began to work. Kali Ma, a full skeleton, hung from a stand, a sage witness to her care. The room was scented with arnica and almond oil. 

The sound of her hands rubbing gently together.

Her warm touch on my skin

Her pause 

Her hands hovering above

Heat deepened touch.

When I tensed up and held my breath in the pain’s overwhelming presence, Diana told me to relax and breathe. That did not make any sense to me. When somebody is hurting you, you don’t relax! You don’t think about breathing! 

Patiently she guided me into breathing and relaxing with her breath and touch. 

The deeper her hands moved into me, the more it hurt.

I cried out.

“You’re hurting me.”

“Ann,” she said, using my family nickname.

“The pain is here, in you. I am moving into it.” 

I heard and felt her patience and love moving into me, through me. 

“What you are feeling is the pain leaving,” she said. “Relax, breathe into the pain. It will abate.

I still have pain in that same spot. I can feel it now as I write. It is always there. It has contracted and twisted and squeezed in agony in times of catastrophic change. A death. A lost possibility of home. A lost opportunity. A breach in a relationship. Intense unhappiness. When beloved ones suffer.

I live within its abatement.

When I write, I tend to that pain. I imagine. I remember. I re-remember. I study and research the stories that comprise the pain. I live within its abatement while the writing breathes, relaxes, warms, and allows its continual lessening.

The gifts and the beauties are in the lessening.

Death’s transformations are what we are here for 

The beauty is what lies between the brilliances of our adaptive and resilient insistence on lives of joy while we reduce the transmission of othering to future generations.

I listen to Nina Simone.  https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DX8OYzU0lx5hL?si=EKmgbzSvSouoa9COuVxbFg

And I add a song I need today: I Wish I knew How It Would Feel to be Free. https://open.spotify.com/track/5CKHhg31HcYYhwUeeGqvhq?si=MJUjFAJDRMSV2ypoLjt2mw

I add another song I want today: Aretha Franklin and Mary J Blige sing: “Never Gonna Break My Faith” from Bobby’s motion picture soundtrack. https://open.spotify.com/track/1oZ1SqJrCNokYRw5nvhoOd?si=pPKZ3p-ESESakFdQe1M7KQ

I go down my to-do list of self-care: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home–except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot—Channel fear, grief, and rage into expression, action, and art.

I continue to chronicle these times.

In Joy,

A

© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA

andreacanaan@gmail.com

https://andracanaan.blog

https://www.facebook.com/Andrea-Canaan-Author-456010704809232/

Writing in a Time of Peril: Friday June 19, 2020

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 2.20 million US cases and 118,695 deaths as of 12:30pm on June 19, 2020.

 Remembering the 100000 Lives Lost to Coronavirus in America

I read each of the thousand names in the pages of the May 24, 2020 edition of the New York Times. It takes me almost an hour I read each entry. Since there are no Johns Hopkins updates on the weekends, the updated Covid-19 numbers appeared the Friday before on May 22, 2020: The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 1.59 million US cases and 95,276 deaths. 

The New York Times features one thousand deaths out of nine hundred twenty–five thousand, two hundred and seventy–six dead. To read the names of all those who have been documented as dying from Covid 19 by May 22, 2020, it would take me take nearly forty hours. I would gladly read them out loud were they available. I would gladly mourn their passing in honor and respect.  

Meanwhile, U. S. police kill nearly one thousand people each year. Most of the people killed are children, women and men of color. This is a pandemic of violence. 

Police kill about 3 men per day in the US, according to new …

Covid–19 has burrowed into the DNA of the U. S. It is exploiting the European founding fissures of colonization. The genocide and removals of indigenous people and the enslavement of African people has created a health pandemic, a miseducation pandemic, a food insecurity pandemic, a housing pandemic, an unemployment–under employment–non–livable wage pandemic, a domestic terrorism pandemic, a denial of civil– human–constitutional rights pandemic, and an ecological pandemic. A toxic capitalism pandemic overarches all. The valuing white power, white caste, white property and white profit while devaluing, exploiting, segregating, over policing and imprisoning indigenous, black and brown children, women and men who make up nearly forty percent of U.S. citizens. The intersectionality is clear, glaring.  

 George Floyd tested positive for Covid-19. His life and death are still being honored. His remains have been interred. His daughter believes her father has changed the world. His brother testified on Capitol Hill. The course of justice, to hold those most immediately for his death accountable, is in the making, and protests continue in our nation, our world. 

Brionna Taylor was grieved, celebrated and interred with the suppression of the circumstances of her death. Two months later the nation knows of her sweet life and horrific death only because of the insistence of her family and their lawyer. This natation and we, as a people, struggle to remember the lives of black women and children murdered, assaulted, raped, and injured by police and other authorities of the state, and civilian vigilantes. 

I live in a gated community or people over fifty–five in Rio Vista, California. Gay friendly and diverse, this community is mostly middle class retirees. On the other side of the wall of my back yard is Airline Road. Cherish Thomas, a black woman, was pulled over for an expired registration with three passengers on Airline Road with three other young family member occupants. One of the occupants called a relative for help when the police decided to impound the car rather than give the driver a warning or a ticket. When Thomas’ mother arrived, she began filming her daughter’s encounter with police. While she filmed, a police officer body slammed her daughter, Cherish to the ground. 

Rio Vista Police Officer Body-Slams Woman to Ground After …

How many times have black women and girls be intimidated, assaulted, falsely imprisoned, raped, and killed by police and civilian vigilantes? Do we, black and brown women, report these incidents, and if we do, what are the police and court responses? And when we don’t, why don’t we? Who keeps the statistics? Why don’t we include gender and age disparities in our conversations about police and vigilante violence, and the school to prison pipeline?

From Preschool to Prison: The Criminalization of Black Girls …

The school-to-prison pipeline is getting worse for black and …

I turn to the blues this morning. Bessie Smith sang to me on Pandora. When she began singing Careless Love, inexplicably, I began to cry. I puzzled over why I was crying. I pushed a button and placed Careless Love on repeat. I listened to Bessie Smith sing this song three more times. The piano holding the melodic line and swinging the pace along lulled me close to this altar of sound. The trombone growling low and keeping syncopated time with the high sound of the trumpet repeating and embellishing Bessie Smith’s voice, opened and washed through me. 

I’ve heard this song in the background of my life growing up in New Orleans. I listened on thirty–eight records, albums, blues and jazz radio stations, instrumental jazz versions played during jazz funerals and street parades, and in blues and jazz night clubs. 

Love, oh love, oh careless love.

You fly through my head like wine.

You’ve wrecked the life of many a poor girl

And nearly spoiled this life of mine.

My throat and chest kept tightening and swelling. Tears kept spilling and dripping to the edge of my grief and rage. I knew this song. I knew the places the sounds and emotions came from. The song of was of betrayal, but worse, self– betrayal. 

Love, oh love, oh careless love.

In your clutches of desire

You’ve made break a many true vow,

Then set my very soul on fire.

I have been betrayed by my country. But much–more elementally, I feel, like my ancestors, African slaves and free people of color, and my generation have allowed ourselves to be seduced and duped by the ideas and promises of the United States Constitution all of its amendments, declarations, and pledges, its justice system, along with all its Judeo-Christian morality. 

Bessie Smith’s voice, the wail of the trumpet, the moan of the trombone, and the melodic swing of the piano uncovered layer upon layer of the consequences of the United States of America’s carelessness within me. Promises of acceptance and equality coated in beguiling lies and inducements that were wrapped in forced dependence, self–exploitation, and unspeakable violence waiting at the ends of billy clubs, fire hoses, and ropes. I imagine generations of slaves and former slaves laying twisted and shattered or hung while smiling faces spoke to the terrified bereaved of boot straps, resilience, the healing power of forgiveness, and the faults and responsibilities of the vanquished for their degradations and deaths, those never fully human, those never white. 

Bessie Smith sings songs of lost love in ways that remind me of the ways that black women have preserved our union while being enslaved, abused, and marginalized by men, white and black, with little recognition of our worth or our fragility. Yet, while we have never had the value, respect and rights of full citizenship, we have hoped, lived and worked to constantly create a more just and equal society and world. And miraculously, we have insisted on justice and freedom instead of revenge.  

Bessie Smith on Spotify

I go down my to-do list of self-care: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home-except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot. I drive the speed limit, I keep to all social norms. I avoid all contact with the police. I Channel fear, grief, and rage into expression, action and art. 

I continue to chronicle these times.

Still, In Joy,

A

© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA

andreacanaan@gmail.com

https://andracanaan.blog

https://www.facebook.com/Andrea-Canaan-Author-456010704809232/

Writing in a Time of Peril: June 12, 2020

The US CDC reported 1.84 million total cases (14,676 new) and 107,029 deaths (827 new) – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The US CDC reported 1.99 million total cases (20,486 new) and 112,967 deaths (834 new). The United States will likely surpass 2 million cases in today’s update – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

When Will the Crepe Myrtle Tree Bloom?

I am waiting for the crepe myrtle tree outside my window to bloom. It leafed later than the ornamental pear and maple trees. The clustered buds at the end of the slender limb are dry looking and rust-colored. I am worried that a deep pink frilly blossom will not emerge. The sweet peas, crocus, tulips, and azaleas have bloomed in their finest glory and burned out in the heat. Roses, geraniums, bougainvillea, and night-blooming jasmine are flowering and thriving, but not the crepe myrtle.  I have been looking forward to its coloring and constant flowering in the summer heat. I’m afraid it will not bloom.

The mourning doves begin to coo at precisely six-thirty in the morning. They perch on my shaded garage roof. After singing, they flirt and dance and flutter from branch to branch until they mate. I worry that the crepe myrtle tree is waiting for their courtship to be over, that maybe its blossoms might compete with their passion. But I hope that their singing and fluttering and mating will coax out the timid blooms. 

I am not hopeful, no matter how many people of color and white and people protest, run from pepper spray police advancing with weapons of war, and then return again to protest with their signs, singing, dancing, praying, teaching, learning, speaking up and out.

I am not hopeful even though politicians, police departments, media, clergy, former military generals, and high-level Pentagon officials support protestors and condemn the current administration.

I am not hopeful no matter how many photographs of our dead children, women, and men are named and shown and grieved again and again. Emmett Till, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carol Robertson, Denise Mc Nair, Travon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd.

All those before. All those between. All those coming.

I am not hopeful no matter how few Republicans whisper their tiny apologies.

I am not hopeful no matter what Nike, McDonald’s, Netflix, Amazon, Uber Eats, U Tube, and–and–and donate to Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Defense Fund, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and put out statements of support and new ads.

I am not hopeful when the U.S. Attorney General, the FBI, the DHS, the DEA, the Bureau of Prisons, the Pentagon, the Republican-led Senate, and the rest of the federal government are functioning in swamps of incompetence, corruption, silence, white profiteering, white dominance, and white nationalism.

I am not hopeful when voting access is closed, downsized, defunded, or blocked by dysfunctional voting machines, and it takes U. S. citizens six to eight hours to vote in the sweltering heat in Atlanta during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

I am not hopeful when a global pandemic is being incompetently and ineffectually managed while people of color are dying in punishingly disproportionate numbers compared to white people.

I am not hopeful that the killing of black and brown people and their allies will stop.

I am not hopeful when the head of our state dog whistles –law and order–very fine people–when the looting starts the shooting starts–don’t be so nice. 

He is calling to arms and to harm the Alt Right, Holocaust Denies, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and white nationalists. I believed Dylann Roof, who murdered nine members of a prayer circle, and announced he was hoping to spark a race war. I believe that’s this is the plan, before, during and after national elections, win or lose. 

I am not hopeful when hundreds of thousands are making the decision to risk the death of from Covid–19 rather than continue to die from police brutality, poverty, mis-education, preventable illnesses, suffering toxic living and work conditions or fear death walking or jogging or driving or riding or birding, or grilling.  

But I am hopeful that the doves will sing and flirt and mate and coax the myrtle tree into bloom.

*

I receive the Covid–19 case and death count from Johns Hopkins each morning. I play the music that allows me to sink down into grief and lifts me again. I curious. What ethnic, cultural, and generational rituals and music allows anger, fear, and sadness, along with, promise’s ambitions, and joy’s wells of tears, to tell the victory stories of our beloved departed, and celebrates the precious lives of those of us left behind?

I surround myself with the music of Donny Hathaway, Angela Boefil and Sweet Honey in the Rock

Spotify Play List: 

I go down my to-do list of self-care: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home–except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot. Channel fear, grief, and rage into expression, action, and art.

I continue to chronicle these times.

A

Writing in a Time of Peril: May 22, 2020

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard is reporting 1.42 million US cases, and 85,974 deaths as of 10:30 am on Friday, May 15, 2020. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 1.59 million US cases and 95,276 deaths as of 12:30pm on Friday, May 22, 2020.– From Johns Hopkins daily update.

“Art invites us to know beauty and to solicit it, summon it, from even the most tragic of circumstances.” ― Toni Morrison

In the middle of a double pandemic, amidst the cacophonous drumbeat of rising hate and division and Covid-19’s raging wildfires, wild rabbits lay sunning beneath ornamental pear trees. While I chronicle, immigrant children are being deported in the middle of the night without protection or representation into more certain danger, the sun shines in sparkling–clear air, and cottony clouds make giant rabbits and dragons in the sky. As I sort through the strangling, drowning, skin, and hair on fire–feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and hopefulness, honey bees and hummingbirds visit each bridal veil and morning glory bloom in my back garden. While I struggle to make use of my feelings, how to make them of use, save my life, the lives of those I love, rather than ineffectual ranting or going silent or still or all of those, Charlie Hayden’s Beyond the Missouri Sky plays on Spotify. As I struggle to lead a writing life, I am relatively privileged, resourced, and safe; yet, I am assaulted daily by the incompetent–double-bind–death assuring responses to Covid–19 by our current leader and his government. I awaken to the voices of my mother and father, aunts and uncles, blood kin and named kin, all gone before me and never gone, insisting that I remember what  I was taught by my grandmothers and grandfathers’ great and grandmothers and fathers. They insist on action and service to ensure the protection of all life as sparkling–peach sunlight rises over the garden wall. I am afraid, angry, humbled, and in constant mourning as delta breezes carry the scents of night-blooming jasmine and the sounds of morning birds calls filled with the healing treasures of the day.

I receive the Covid–19 case and death count from Johns Hopkins each morning. I play the music that allows me to sink down into grief and lifts me again. I curious. What ethnic, cultural, and generational rituals and music allows anger, fear, and sadness, along with, promise’s ambitions, and joy’s wells of tears, to tell the victory stories of our beloved departed, and celebrates the precious lives of those of us left behind?

In the middle of a double pandemic, amidst the cacophonous drumbeat of rising hate and division and Covid-19’s raging wildfires, wild rabbits lay sunning beneath ornamental pear trees. While I chronicle, immigrant children are being deported in the middle of the night without protection or representation into more certain danger, 

the sun shines in sparkling–clear air, and cottony clouds make giant rabbits and dragons in the sky. As I sort through the strangling, drowning, skin, and hair on fire–feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and hopefulness, honey bees and hummingbirds visit each bridal veil and morning glory bloom in my back garden. While I struggle to make use of my feelings, how to make them of use, save my life, the lives of those I love, rather than ineffectual ranting or going silent or still or all of those, Charlie Hayden’s Beyond the Missouri Sky plays on Spotify. As I struggle to lead a writing life, I am relatively privileged, resourced, and safe; yet, I am assaulted daily by the incompetent–double-bind–death assuring responses to Covid–19 by our current leader and his government. I awaken to the voices of my mother and father, aunts and uncles, blood kin and named kin, all gone before me and never gone, insisting that I remember what  I was taught by my grandmothers and grandfathers’ great and grandmothers and fathers. They insist on action and service to ensure the protection of all life as sparkling–peach sunlight rises over the garden wall. I am afraid, angry, humbled, and in constant mourning as delta breezes carry the scents of night-blooming jasmine and the sounds of morning birds calls filled with the healing treasures of the day.

I receive the Covid–19 case and death count from Johns Hopkins each morning. I play the music that allows me to sink down into grief and lifts me again. I curious. What ethnic, cultural, and generational rituals and music allows anger, fear, and sadness, along with, promise’s ambitions, and joy’s wells of tears, to tell the victory stories of our beloved departed, and celebrates the precious lives of those of us left behind?

Spotify PlayList: Beyond the Missouri Sky 

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7qgb9gAlUfW0URVECeirkk?si=GXz98yApR-ex-IP6djDL8g

I go down my to-do list of self-care: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home–except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot. I channel fear, grief, and rage into expression, action, and art.

I continue to chronicle these times.

A

© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA

andreacanaan@gmail.com

Writing in a Time of Peril: 5.1.2020

April 1, 2020:The US CDC reported 186,101 cases (22,562 new) and 3,603 deaths (743 new) on April 1. The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard is reporting 217,263 US cases and 5,151 deaths as of 11:00am on April 2, 2020 – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

May 1, 2020: The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard is reporting 1.07 million US cases and 63,019 deaths as of 8:30am on May 1. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

May 11, 2020: The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard is reporting 1.33 million US cases and 79,825 deaths as of 1:30pm on May 11.

Covid Mourning

There are no national Native American honorings of Covid dead. There are no national Jewish mourning observances for the dead each Friday. No national services for Seventh Day Adventist or Church of God or Jehovah Witness dead on Saturday. No national Protestant or Catholic or Mormon observances for the dead-on Sunday. There are no national observances for Buddhist or Hindu or Sikh dead. Nor ecumenical or atheist or agnostic dead. No national observances of American dead.

Church leaders, ecumenical councils, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the president have not called for national daily, weekly, monthly mourning observances for all our dead. 

There are no comprehensive lists of the names of the departed in local and national newspapers each Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There are no moving tributes to 75,000 deaths on television or the radio. There are no PSAs about grief’s rage, despair, loneliness and injustice. 

As the number of the dead increase exponentially, so do my shock, disbelief, desperate prayers for a cure, anguished calls for special dispensation from worry, desolation, keening grief, and compound suffering as beloved ones may become sick, become sick, are sick, are dying, die. 

A month before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, my mother, Dora Ester Ransom Bridges, had a small stroke. The only significant complication was she could not swallow. Doctors placed a feeding tube in her stomach to deliver nutrition. My mother entered a skilled nursing facility in Uptown New Orleans in order to restore her ability to swallow and return home. Three days before hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, my mother was informed that safe locations were being prepared for skilled nursing home residents in the path of the hurricane. They could not give her the exact location before she was evacuated. After the hurricane hit, communications were so compromised, it was a full week before we located her at the East Louisianan State Hospital, formerly the State Insane Asylum, simply Jackson to most black people in the region. 

Over the phone, my mother gave me a long list of food and supplies to send to her and for other patients and the staff. She let me know that patients and staff would be returning to The Home that November, because miraculously it had not been damaged during the storm or its aftermath. In addition, my mother explained that she would not be coming to live with me in San Francisco. Instead, she would be returning to New Orleans, because she was not going to leave her friend. Her friend was a woman in her thirties who was rendered paraplegic after an automobile accident. I was sure I would convince my mother otherwise when I arrived in Jackson to see about her. 

I traveled to New Orleans during the first week of October. I drove north on I- 12 along wide grassy medians. The southbound lanes were filled with trucks bumper to bumper traveling sixty-five miles an hour hauling temporary housing units, FEMA trailers. I picked up food and supplies from Winn Dixie and Walgreens. I had also taken orders from my mother for herself, other patients and staff for Popeyes, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut and Burger King. I was greeted like a hero with clapping, smiles, and thanksgiving. The trunk of my rental car and every seat were packed with supplies, food and takeout.  The staff carried all of the supplies to a room to organize them for distribution and the food into the dining room for a feast. I returned home without my mother. 

I made a second trip back to New Orleans to bring my mother to live with me in July of 2006 after my mother’s friend’s home was repaired and she was able to move back in it. The Ransom family celebrated my mother’s eightieth birthday with family who survived Katrina and her aftermath in Natchez, Mississippi. When I arrived at the Home to drive her the nearly three hours to Natchez, I found that my mother was oxygen dependent and not recommended for air travel. My mother complained her doctors had refused to remove her stomach tube even though her ability to swallow had returned. My mother insisted that the stinking opening that needed constant cleaning and care be closed. 

I spoke with the doctors who believed that the surgery, while minor, was not minor for my mother. My mother insisted and surgery was scheduled for January 2007. I scheduled a flight based on the date of the surgery. I decided to visit my paternal aunts that Christmas, instead of going to New Orleans as usual, since I would be with her for her surgery. Just before Christmas my mother’s surgery was changed to Thursday, December 21, 2006. I didn’t change my plans. I didn’t go home to be with my mother. I didn’t. 

On Wednesday, December 27, 2006. I received a call from my mother’s longest and best friend. She said my mother was failing and for me to come home. I scrambled to get an earlier flight home. My mother died on Thursday December 28, 2006 alone because I didn’t change my plans. I didn’t go home to be with her.

I wasn’t there when my mother died, but my mother didn’t die alone. I spoke with her nurses and her doctor. The choked up as they described her last hours. They had held her hand, sang to her, prayed with her. They had stayed with her until her last breath. When I went to the hospital to retrieve my mother’s belongings, I brought flowers and food to the hospital staff. While I wept with unrelenting guilt and shame, they held me without judgement with tears spilling down their faces as well.  

I wait for the John Hopkins Covid–19. Update each morning. I feel my mother’s death every day. Only now, I count along with my own regret and loss, the Covid reported deaths. 79,825 deaths as of 1:30pm on May 11, Monday , May 11, 2020.

I shatter when I think that their family members would have given most anything for the choice to hold, sing, to pray with, to say goodbye in person with their loved ones, what I could have given to my mother and myself. I weep knowing how much hospital, nursing home, and congregate living staffs wish for more time, fewer patients, to have all the material, equipment and gear they need, to save more, not have the additional responsibility to do hospice and familial substitute care as their patients died alone, as well as, being in constant fear for their own lives and the lives of their families.

There is no national mourning. I will mourn anyway. In my intense sorrow I will ruminate over the loss of beloved ones. I may focus on little else but our loved one’s deaths. I long to have them back with us. I struggle accepting their deaths. Yet, I become deadened sometimes and shutdown. Sometimes I lose the ability to feel anything but sadness and loss. Sometimes I’m angry, bitter even. Sometimes I feel hopeless and helpless as Covid deaths increase exponentially. 

I receive the Covid–19 case and death count from Johns Hopkins each morning and play the Spotify Playlist I made of the music that allows me to sink down to my knees in grief and lifts me up again. I wonder about what music others would select. What cultural and generational rituals and music that allows grief’s well of tears, tell the victory stories of our departed, and celebrates precious lives left behind. 

Covid Mourning Spotify Play List

I go down my to-do list of self-care: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home–except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot. Channel fear, grief, and rage into expression, action and art. 

I continue to chronicle these times.

© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA

andreacanaan@gmail.com

https://andracanaan.blog

https://www.facebook.com/Andrea-Canaan-Author-456010704809232/

Writing in a Time of Peril: 4.21.2020 Sacrifice The Weak-Re-Open TN

Texas Lt. Governor: Old People Should Volunteer to Die to … 

Anti-lockdown protester wields vile ‘Sacrifice the weak’ poster …

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard* is reporting 672,303 US cases and 33,898 deaths as of 12:45pm on April 17. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard* is reporting 762k US cases and 40.7k deaths as of 11:30am on April 20. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard** is reporting 788,920 US 

cases and 42,458 deaths as of 10:30am on April 21. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

It was on television. A newswoman is in the foreground looking directly into the camera. All around are men and women standing quite close to each other. The sun is bright. Three men and a woman are standing behind the newswoman. A sign is being held by an unseen person. One of the men is holding and American flag. The unseen person is holding up a sign. Three lines.  Sacrifice The Weak   Re-Open   TN.

Writing in a Time of Peril: 4.21.2020

Sacrifice

The

Weak

Re–Open

TN

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard* is reporting 672,303 US cases and 33,898 deaths as of 12:45pm on April 17. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard* is reporting 762k US cases and 40.7k deaths as of 11:30am on April 20. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard** is reporting 788,920 US 

cases and 42,458 deaths as of 10:30am on April 21. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

It was on television. A newswoman is in the foreground looking directly into the camera. All around are men and women standing quite close to each other. The sun is bright. Three men and a woman are standing behind the newswoman. A sign is being held by an unseen person. One of the men is holding and American flag. The unseen person is holding up a sign. Three lines.  Sacrifice The Weak   Re-Open   TN.                  

I Am the One

I am the sick

I am the dead

I and the buried

I am the unburied

I am the cremated

I am the unclaimed

I am invisible

Erasable.

I am the nurse assistant

I am the porter

I am the physician’s assistant

I am the security guard

I am the janitor

I am the cafeteria worker

I am the hospice care worker

I am the coroner assistant.

I am the postal worker

I am cannon fodder

I serve and die on Covid-19 battle fields

Without armor or weapons

I am the mortuary assistant

I place the precious remains of the departed into coffins

I transport the precious remains of the departed to places of burial and 

Crematoriums

I return with ashes. 

I am exploitable

I serve and live and die

Without armor or weapons

On U. S. soil

During the times of

The Covid battlefields 

Where is the 

Marshall Plan the 

A Manhattan Project the 

Total mobilization of 

America’s resources and geniuses.

I am expendable

I am the medical provider

I am the nursing home aid

I am the prison guard

I am the mental hospital attendant

I am the detained

I am the cook

I am the visitor

I am the just released. 

I am invisible

I am the transportation workers

I am the grocery clerk

I am the pharmacist

I am the fast food worker

I am the agriculture worker

I am the produce processor

I am the meat packer.

I am the ones named

Weak

Erasable

Cannon fodder

Exploitable

Expendable

Invisible

Untested

Untreated

I am the ones sacrificed

I am the ones to be sacrificed

I am the one who finds the way

I am the one who makes the way

I am the one who shares the way

We always do.

I turn to Sweet Honey in the Rock, Donny Hathaway, and Roberta Flack.

I Remember, I Believe performed by Sweet Honey … – YouTube

Donny Hathaway – Someday We’ll All Be Free – YouTube

You’ve Got a Friend

I go down my to-do list of self-care: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home–except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot. Channel fear and rage into expression, action and art. 

I continue to chronicle these times.

© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA

andreacanaan@gmail.com

https://andracanaan.bloghttps://www.facebook.com/Andrea-Canaan-Author-456010704809232/

Writing in a Time of Peril: 4.16.2020

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard* is reporting 610,774 US cases and 26,119 deaths as of 12:00pm on April 15. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard* is reporting 640,291 US cases and 31,015 deaths as of 11:45am on April 16. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

I began this writing listening to Abdulla Ibrahim’s, “Water from an Ancient Well.”

Ibrahim’s music was prayerful and calming. I played it as an attempted antidote for my anger, dismay and memories that are rising above the constant boil of our country’s criminally negligent and homicidal response to Covid–19. 

I ‘m witnessing the increasing lethality of the toxic abandonment and neglect of the vast majority of Americans in the behind–our–backs, and the in–our–faces actions and inactions of the current republican administration. It is statistically clear that people who are most at risk of having extreme cases of Covid–19 and dying are; people who people who were already poor before Covid–19, people being made poor by Covid-19,  peoples of color, elders, and people housed in congregate living housing and prisons. It is also abundantly clear these are also the same people living with medical conditions that can be directly traced to the historic and current ravages of systemic and institutionalized racism, classism, and misogyny. The co-combinations of the ravages of systemic and institutionalized racism, classism, and misogyny, and the toxic abandonment and neglect of major american populations are being directly connected to comorbidities with Covid-19. 

2.127.2020            President said Covid-19ncould disappear like a miracle.

3.2.2020                President call Covid-19 a hoax.

3.13.2020              President takes no responsibility for his disastrous lack of response to Covid-10. Blames President Obama.  

3.14.2020              President announced total authority over reversing state  governors stay at home orders. 

3.19.2020              Encourages the use of an unstudied or approved drug for Covid-19 with clear indications that the drug has lethal side effects. 

3.26.2020              President praised the blamed China for Covid-19. Pressured WHO to use racial language to name the virus. Was very upset with WHO when it refused to so. Eventually led to breach between president and WHO leaders.

3.27.2020              President suggests that the Covid-19 threat would be over by Easter.                   

4.10.2020              President said he would be looking at Easter services on the television.

4.14.2929              Threatened to shut down both houses of Congress in order to make recess appointments without congressional  oversight.

4.14.2020              Threatened to defund the U. S. portion of WHO funding.

4.17.2020              Released vague plan for reopening the country without coordinated governmental departmental supports or funding, and further, while making states responsible for testing, his administration has intercepted and confiscated vital testing other critical medical supplies. 

Trump can’t decide whether to blame China for the … – Politico

Donald Trump Archives – FactCheck.org

A Trump Pattern—Claiming ‘Total Authority,’ Then Backing …

I took a break. I went for a bike ride in the sunny and windy clear day. 

My neighborhood had little traffic. Everyone is practicing physical distancing. There were more turkeys and rabbits relaxing in the sun. Mating birds made hot pursuit sex noises. The bees were very busy sampling evening primrose and the ornamental strawberry.  When I returned home I put on Wynton Marsalis’ Standard Time Volume 3 The Resolution of Romance. When it came to, “Never Let Me Go,” I hit repeat each time.

The Resolution of Romance – Standard Time, Vol. 3 – Wynton …

Growing up in New Orleans, I often heard a saying, “Lord, please don’t let me make my move too soon.” In a blues song, B.B. King sings about a woman who didn’t appreciate a man who was down on his luck. It is about the loss the woman endured when she left him before his ship came in. I listened to B.B. King’s song to remind me of the meanings of other similar proverbs; “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” 

The current administration delivered two-faced, whiplash inducing, pseudo public health messages. Follow the federal guidelines and resist public health orders, science, common sense, and one’s own self-preservation. 

Is he is making his move too soon?

The current administration is gambling that we will not be able to metabolize the horrific number of the dead. We will become numb and repress our co-responsibility and grief. 

The current government is banking on Americans not remembering how many were delivered up as cannon fodder on Covid-19 battlefields in hospitals, nursing home, congregate living facilities, jails and prisons without the most basic public health interventions with full armor and weapons for all who served infected Covid–19 people.

This president and this republican administration are dead worn. We will not forget. We will take care of ourselves and each other. We will not forget even one preventable death. We will vote him out. 

Put on B.B. King’s “Never Make Your Move Too Soon.”

I go down my to-do list of self-care: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home–except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot. Channel fear and rage into expression, action and art. 

I continue to chronicle these times.

© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA

andreacanaan@gmail.com

https://andracanaan.blog

https://www.facebook.com/Andrea-Canaan-Author-456010704809232/

Writing in a time of Peril: 4.15.2020

April 14, 2020

The Johns Hopkins US COVID-19 dashboard* is reporting 572,689 US cases and 23,134 deaths as of 11:45am. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

April 15, 2020

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard* is reporting 610,774 US cases and 26,119 deaths as of 12:00pm on April 15. – From Johns Hopkins daily update.

Intimate terrorism, domestic violence is a co-morbidity of Covid-19. 

I sat at a desk in a building on the second floor of the YWCA, overlooking the back-parking lot on Tulane Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana. The six-floor building had once been a residence for young single working and professional women. The Young Women’s Christian Association was founded in England in 1855. The Worldwide YWCA was founded in 1889 with Great Britain, the United States, Norway and Sweden as founding countries. It had been delivering women empowerment services in New Orleans since the turn of the 20th century. 

By the early 1970’s the YWCA was located in the Mid–City neighborhood of New Orleans. The six-floor former residence still housed recreational swims and swimming lessons, child care, sports and summer camp programs. It also served women with various social, educational and empowerment programs, including the New Orleans Rape Crisis Service and the New Orleans Battered Women’s Service.  

In 1977 the YWCA was funded for one paid staff position for a battered women’s counseling and support service, and that person was me. Battered women who called the rape crisis line were counseled that spousal and intimate partner sexual violation was rape, and that physical, emotional and fiscal abuse were forms of violence against women. When women said they wanted to leave but were afraid to leave, they were counseled that they had every reason to be afraid, that they would, in fact, be in increased danger as they planned to leave, when they left, and for an indeterminate time after they left. 

When women left violent domestic situations, whether a planned or unplanned departure, many came to my second-floor office in a separate building in the YWCA property’s parking lot. Shielded from the major intersections of Tulane Avenue and Jefferson Davis Parkway, the location was relatively safe because it was not a governmental office or agency. Facing these women from behind my clunky, military-issue desk, I asked questions and had them fill out paperwork. I filled the paperwork out for them if they could not read or write well or could not stop crying or shaking or constantly looking at the door. When a woman needed medical care, I called an ambulance to take them to an emergency room. I arranged for a volunteer to accompany each woman and continue giving her support. More often, a volunteer escorted her to a woman-friendly medical clinic for confidential services. Remember there was no HIPPA back then, no expectation that seeking these services could be kept from a current or former male partner, father, brother, or son.   

I called a legal advocate when a woman needed to discuss the legal realities of dealing with an abusive male relative or partner.  The advocates explained the possible negative consequences of reporting abuse to the police and the possible legal ramifications and consequences of not reporting abuse to the police. In addition, they informed the woman about the legal ins and outs of child custody for women who were mothers, even in cases in which children were being abused as well. The legal advocate also informed women about the dubious efficacy of restraining orders: often, men didn’t stay away and police didn’t respond when they called. and allowing the abusive person back into the home made the restraining order null and void. When women elected to pursue a restraining order–which was not often on first-time contact–I called for a volunteer to escort and support the woman through the legal process. 

I gave the woman information and  referrals for shelter, housing, education, medical care, child care, transportation, income resources, and food resources. I also directed them to ongoing counseling and a support group. 

When a woman requested shelter, I made an immediate call to the only battered women’s shelter in the Deep South to see if there was an opening. If there was an opening, I made an immediate referral. If there was not an opening, my volunteer team, the woman, and I made an emergency contingency plan to keep her as safe as possible until safe housing was located. This all took four to six hours, depending on the need for medical care or a restraining order and other referrals and supports. I kept drinks and snacks, along with lots of tissues, in my file drawer. We had a limited budget for lunches, bus fare and cab fare. Some days no women came, a rare occurrence.  Some days there were as many five women in my office. 

After more than a of year working with battered women, I started to wonder why more women didn’t kill the men who repeatedly raped and beat them near to death. I began to have an ongoing fantasy that at the end of each counseling session, I would pull out the heavy metal bottom drawer of my desk. I took out a thirty-eight special, a box of bullets, a gun cleaning kit, a snug pouch for the gun and a brown paper bag to carry it all. I took the woman down to the parking lot where a human target was stationed. I taught her basic self-defense, gun safety, gun cleaning, and target practice. I told her that she had the God-given right to protect her children and herself  from rape and assault. 

But that was fantasy.  As my session with each woman ended, I was filled with rational fears about her safety, the strength of the supports we were able to provide, and the faint glimmer of hope that she would become survivor rather than victim. I filed the paperwork, tidied up the office and packed my things to leave for home. 

As I drove to collected my two-year-old daughter from day care, I breathed  in my commitment to anti-violence, the empowerment of women and girls and all of those harmed by intimate terrorism. I breathed out my vivid imagined response to violence. I shook off my invitation to harm another. I looked forward to my daughter’s unconditional love, constant questions, run-on telling about her day, and her zest for life and joy. 

In these times of Covid-19, many children, women and elders find themselves on lockdown with perpetrators of incest, rape, batterment, and emotional and psychic violence with no place to go for respite,  no way to keep the perpetrator at bay and  no one to tell. I recommitted to engage in safe ways to protect, support and preserve the lives of vulnerable children, elders, women and men against domestic violence and terrorism.

It is clear that intimate terrorism, domestic violence and woman slaughter is a co-morbidity of Covid-19. It will become ever clearer during the weeks and months of quarantine to reduce the spread of a deadly virus that another destroyer of minds, bodies and souls flourished in epidemic proportions.          

A New Covid-19 Crisis: Domestic Abuse Rises Worldwide

PROTECTING CHILDEN DURING THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK

I go down my to-do list of self-care: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home–except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there are very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot. Channel fear and rage into expression, action and art. I go to my bookshelf and pull Pat Parker’s book of poetry, Woman Slaughter, from the shelf.  I bring up her reading of the title poem, “Woman Slaughter” on YouTube. I read along with her remembered beloved voice.

Woman Slaughter: Pat Parker: 9780884470168: Amazon.com …

I continue to chronicle these times.

© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA

andreacanaan@gmail.com

https://andracanaan.blog

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