Heather L. Barmore
No Pasa Nada Heather Barmore Elsewhere About
Heather L. Barmore
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Heather Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices


    #BlackLivesMatter but What Comes Next?


    I marched twice this weekend. The first day was Friday at a faith-based event protesting the killing of young black men. New York City on a Friday evening in December. The cold quickly set in and I walked back and forth, taking steps to keep myself warm in front of City Hall. The small group then walked a few blocks to One Police Plaza and proceeded to circle around NYPD headquarters not once but seven times. On the Saturday, a much milder day, my friend Kristen and I managed to catch up to the 50,000+ crowd as they moved with fluidity down Broadway. Further downtown until, once again, getting to One Police Plaza before they moved onto the Brooklyn Bridge.

    What happens next? I thought as we left downtown for midtown Manhattan. Not once the crowd crosses into Brooklyn but where does this movement, this protest, this pervasive anger go after the weekend? So, we marched until our feet grew tired and we chanted until our throats were sore but then what? We cannot simply rest because it’s no longer a trending topic but…what? Jamelle Bouie made this point in Slate. My exact line - but far better written -  of thinking over the past four days:

    “With protests across the country and endorsements from major figures in American society, “Black Lives Matter” might be the most significant youth movement in recent history. But right now—and not unlike its contemporary, Occupy Wall Street—it reads as just an exercise in catharsis, a declaration of dignity and a plea for humanity. This isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t a strategy. Not only could “Black Lives Matter” shift attitudes on criminal justice and force a needed conversation about police culture and police violence, it could create political space for changes to law and policy.”

    Non-violent protest isn’t enough nor is simply acknowledging the systemic and long-standing issues between communities of color and the police. We know that these issues exist and while we join hands to say, ‘enough is enough’, there needs to be that push towards engagement. A shift in policy. A mention in a party platform. I wish that true change simply came from feet on the streets. I truly do. I managed to miss that both houses of Congress passed a bill to address police killings but that isn’t enough and I hope that upon learning so we - the collective ‘we’ that sees this injustice and knows that there is more to be done - doesn’t stop simply because of one bill. No. This is only the first of many steps that need to be taken.

    Please don’t think that I have anything to suggest even though I think that something more needs to be done. Though, a quick digression; a week or so ago I did a TEDx talk on political engagement and at the end our MC asked me what people can do in order to stay involved and motivated - what makes lobbying effective? I, in all of my anxiety and nervousness answered that lobbying requires the ability to be a pain in the ass. Lobbying is putting that ‘can’t stop, won’t stop’ mentality into practice. It’s showing up even when the legislator thinks that you should give up. It’s knocking on a legislator’s door, making that phone call until you see movement. It’s what I always suggest, of this I am aware but keep being that thorn in your legislator’s side. Phone calls, letters, just saying ‘hello’ at a community event; these acts make a difference. They show the person you are trying to convince that someone does care.

    I’ll end with this - and I am scattered today, for which I apologize - a quick word on Grand Juries. Though I have never been to law school I do know that Grand Juries are a cross section of the communities where they serve. If a lack of education or social standards in these communities leads to inexplicable outcomes then that is on society. It’s on us. It goes back to the old ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink’.

    We are part of the problem. Until we hold ourselves and our respective communities to a higher standard then this will go on and on. We’ll still be marching come summer.


    Sick and Tired 

    “I can never have a son”, I told a friend recently.

    “Why not?”

    “He’ll be black…”

    “Well, chances are that if you do have a son he will be black…but I understand what you are saying”

    This conversation was minutes after the grand jury non-indictment of Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. It was a sentiment stated in the heat of the moment only to be exacerbated by the events surrounding the another non-indictment in the death of Eric Garner.

    Now, more than ever, I have contemplated what it would mean for me to have a boy, a son. All hypothetical, of course, but the fear remains very real. I would have to have The Conversation with him. I would have to tell him to be extra careful with his movements even in front of those who have sworn to protect and serve him. I have to tell him of a history that I thought was just that; in the past. Any parent is terrified when their child walks out the front door but it’s heightened for parents who have sons of color. How do I explain all of what has happened in the many years - decades - prior to his birth? I am a thoughtful, deliberate person, often wary of my actions; how do I explain to my son - my beautiful boy - that people will often be suspicious of his simply for the color of this skin?


    Growing up I was not black enough for the black kids. I "talked white”. I wasn’t “really black’. I was referred to as an “Oreo”. I laughed it all off and tried to make myself different, you know? I wanted for them to like me afterall. I had to be ‘more’ black as if there is such a thing. As such, I never spoke about race, specifically, my race, because if others didn’t think that I was black enough then what could I possibly say? It took me a decade or so but it seems that I have a lot to say about race and why we, as a whole, are so reluctant to discuss what is often the elephant in the room.

    I wound up writing two posts in the wake of Ferguson but nothing in response to Eric Garner. Not because I don’t care but because there comes a point when your heart becomes heavy. That heaviness permeates, leaving you exhausted and unable to write anything coherent. It would just be anger and ranting and wondering if this pervasive racism and violence towards protestors is going to be our new normal. I’m just sad. And that sadness has left me silent.

    Anyway…here are the posts I have been reading (ok, two were written by yours truly) and thinking about over the last two weeks:

    What white people need to know, and do, after Ferguson

    Being a cop showed me just how racist and violent the police are. There’s only one fix.

    Why Don’t My White Friends Talk About Race? Here’s What They Told Me

    #CrimingWhileWhite is exactly what’s wrong with white privilege

    Status update: Dear white people, it’s OK to talk about Ferguson. Isn’t it on your mind?



    About Last Night

    United States Senate in legos via Mashable

    In the wee hours of November 4, 2004 after being almost certain of John Kerry’s loss in his presidential bid against George W. Bush, I returned to my hotel room and threw would could only be described as a temper tantrum. I, a freshly 21 year old girl, full of idealism and naiveté, could not comprehend that the American people would re-elect a man who had spent the year prior lying to the public about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I was distraught and with tears in my eyes I mumbled at the television and slammed drawers and doors. 2004 was not only my first presidential campaign in which I had worked but also my first time casting a vote. and been eligible to vote. My first time voting had brought on the end of the world. My first loss in politics wasn’t just about a politician but a campaign in which I had put my all. I was devastated and convinced of irreparable harm to the United States. How would the country come back from such a mistake?

    Fast forward a decade to last night after the announcement that Mitch McConnell had not only been re-elected to the Senate but would also become the new Majority Leader. I mean, sure it was sad*, but I wasn’t excepting locusts and for the earth to swallow me whole. Ten years later a loss in politics is at once gutting and a learning experience. A conclusion I have come to not only after working in this business for a decade but also a huge personal accomplishment as I have never been one to take bad news in stride. My party - the one I have not only loved but worked for -  lost and instead of throwing myself on the floor, I realize that A) This happens literally every two years, B) Change in leadership can be a good thing and C) The world will not actually end.

    Sips wine.

    Don’t get me wrong; I am unhappy and spent the afternoon giving attitude to the poor employees of the Coach outlet at Woodbury Commons. I AM SORRY. I know that I cannot become so engrossed in my anger that I find politics pointless. I cannot become apathetic and I hope that others feel the same. I remain fearful that after this election people will care even less than they did before. There will be the inevitable questions as to whether or not participation is really necessary. The answer is yes. The answer is always yes. The anger that my fellow Democrats are feeling should fuel the fire not douse any hope there is for the future of this country. Instead of questioning democracy as a whole question your part. Question why 2/3 of Americans decided not to vote, a fact which is even more upsetting than Harry Reid’s demotion. In the years between the 2012 and 2014 elections the airwaves have been full of the news of people around the world - Syria, Egypt - dying for democracy. Yet in America 2/3 of the population cannot be bothered to take 12 minutes out of their day to vote.

    I am angry but I am hopeful. I look a the smiling faces of Mitch McConnell, Reince Priebus and John Boehner, I read the words of the Republicans in my timeline, taunting me and full of smug. The left needs to be livid. When you lose an election you don’t mope and cower, which is why President Obama walked out today with his head held high. The losing party is tasked with figuring out what happened in the days prior and find which buttons to push in the ensuing two years. The next two years which are going to be…they will be an experience that anyone reading this has lived through in their lives. We’ve all managed to survive. What I want to know is how the leadership of the Democratic party will use this devastating loss to get our act together. You don’t lose and walk away. You lose, take that fire in your belly - I know you feel it too -  and fight back.

    Elections sometimes suck. Someone has to lose. No one on the other side cares that we’re pissed off because, guess what? THEY WON. It’s what we - the collective we -  do with that all consuming rage that will force the other side to pause and pay attention. On the day after the 2008 election I said that we hoped and then we changed. Today I will say that we lost and got angry then used that anger for the better.

    *An hour later I heard that Tim Bishop had lost. That one hurt.