Why Do I Keep Getting Back Up?

My confidence comes from learning my greatest ability is the capacity to change. To improve. To learn. To be a better version of me.

I recently read an article with an in comic explanation of why three different heroes keep getting back up – Iron Man, Captain America, and Captain Marvel. The article goes on to analyze why each get back up when knocked down. Iron Man gets back up because he believes in the future. Captain America gets back up because it’s the right thing to do because of his morals. Captain Marvel, though feeling weary of it, gets back up because she’s stubborn.

It made me think about my life, the times I’ve gotten back up, the time I said I only had one last time in me, and even now today, why I keep getting back up. 

I’ve come a long way from where I started out. Some would say I’m fortunate, and I can’t deny there are a lot of things in my life that have looked fortunate from the outside. There is truth and privilege in that. I went through times when I would ask myself why I would be worthy of luck or opportunity while others weren’t. I went through times when I felt misfortune for having persistent health issues, weight management problems, or just being me. The reality is, most of the positive, good things which have happened in my life have happened because I was on my feet and ready for them. I had planted seeds, or been the right person in the right time and place, or I saw something interesting and chased after it. 

I’ve also failed. I’ve felt miserable. I’ve been defeated and broken. So far, thankfully, for each of those times, it wasn’t long before I got back up and into something else. Even now, in the midst of recovery from the initial part of the pandemic, and recovering from leaving my career at Apple, a company I loved, bled, and sacrificed unrelentlessly to for 12 years, I have gotten back up and I’m healing again. This isn’t my worst fall. This wasn’t the one where I said to myself “I got one last one in me”.

This was the one where I’m said “this is part of life, and I may fall again, but this time I’m preparing myself to keep getting back up”. 

Why? 

I believe in the adventure of life. I believe that everything we experience is an opportunity to grow and become the next version of ourselves. I believe in the power of change and transformation. I believe as we pick up and carry ourselves into the new, we bring along the tools and lessons from the past to help carry on in new ways into the new present. Ultimately, and this is with some measure of self-awareness at the amount of confidence it takes to say this, I believe in myself. I believe in my ability to discover and refine the life I want to live, and each version of me, the people around me, and the life I’m living comes a little bit closer to a more authentic, natural, life for me. 

I think this is nuanced from belief in the future, belief in morality, or stubbornly getting back up in spite of the universe. Granted, spite is a huge motivator for me. I know it well, and of the three, I empathize with Captain Marvel the most. The number of people, especially early on, who would have rather seen me not get back up felt staggering. 

My confidence comes from learning my greatest ability is the capacity to change. To improve. To learn. To be a better version of me. It comes from hope that the path I’m on is the right one, and acceptance that even if it isn’t, I can find it again. As I draw closer to being on the outside who I am inside, it gets easier to find fulfillment and deeper happiness.

I’m in uncharted territory now, and have been for the last several years. I’m separated from my birth family who lives along the east coast. I’m seeking out different things than I have in previous iterations of myself. I’ve had heart surgery to correct the major health issue I had the first half of my life, and while I live in the city, I seek out the natural world I was surrounded by but ignored in childhood. I’m a relatively new father, and learning to balance who I am with fatherhood has its own challenges and worries. I’ve become a leader of a small community. There are so many ways my life has changed the last few years, yet I know more are on the way. 

I keep getting back up because I believe in myself. I believe in my story. I believe I am living an incredible adventure. The only way all of that ends is if I stop, so I’m not going to. I will keep getting up. I will keep finding new ways and new paths to follow. I will keep failing and learning. I will keep being optimistic for the things I can do, people I will meet, and life I may live, because I can keep growing to do amazing, incredible things. 

Why do you keep getting back up?

Virginia Election 2021

Yesterday’s Virginia election results were disheartening, but also show the path to build a consistent foundation of liberal victories lies in building across racial divisions, minority and majority. We need to evolve racial perspectives further toward understanding and harmony.

We have a large number of people we have vilified, who have also vilified us. We can’t expect to win elections unless we give them a better story than what they’re getting from right wing media, or even our own media!

What I’m saying is, and this is going to be the hot take that seems controversial, while at the same time for our democracy, and even for liberal ideas, is necessary – we have to get better at reaching out to white people with our message. Even Trumpers. Even “deplorables”.

The values of liberal ideas, open ethical government, and a social safety net should be made accessible to all because they are beneficial to all. UBI, Universal Healthcare, Public Education, and other programs don’t just benefit minorities, they benefit everyone.

I think that messaging gets lost. I think demanding everyone to fully check and understand their privilege before stepping to the left makes the chasm too wide. We first have to reach out to people where they are, then we can bring them with us. Process, not revelation.

To build a party open to all is to figure out how to stand with those who have been hostile to us. Who have hurt us in some way. We have to protect ourselves, but we also have to heal ourselves, then others. We have to live and model a better way.

A rebrand, with more new stuff coming…

I have lived many stories. I have done many things. Through all of them, I’ve never had something I’ve had interest to write so much as to write a book about it.

Writing has been a near life-long interest, hobby, and benefit to my career. I started reading at 4, with spelling and writing coming along shortly after. Until the joy of literature and creative writing was beaten out of me by uninspired and end of career teachers, and one specific very likely racist English teacher, I might have taken a more active, professional interest.

Instead, writing was left to personal notebooks until I realized my reports as a police officer were well regarded. As I left law enforcement and went into business, my professional style developed with a shift toward business writing. Eventually, I became a technical communicator as an intrinsic part of my roles, which brought new methods and skills to my writing.

Through storytelling, social media, and other blogs, I have received continuous, healthy feedback from friends and family. At work, I have been encouraged by prior managers and coworkers. Finally, throughout my life, I’ve heard a repeated, mostly serious, and occasionally pejorative phrase…

“You should write a book.”

I have lived many stories. I have done many things. Through all of them, I’ve never had something I’ve had interest to write so much as to write a book about it.

Yet privately, some things changed…

The last few years I have explored inspiration and creativity again, revisiting the joy of my younger years, and healing some of the wounds I had from childhood teachers. I have been properly diagnosed with ADHD, and I’ve developed tools to help me beyond the personal tools I had through the first part of my career. Through a renewed spiritual interest, I have explored literature, poetry, and committing emotion and artistic meaning to writing. Essentially, many of the things which would be necessary for me to even consider writing a book have now happened, but there was one final problem.

I needed an idea.

Among my reading, among the stories, among everything I have explored the last few years, I have found something unexplored which uniquely aligns with me, and is a story I am very well inspired to develop and tell. Part of me is deathly afraid that someone out there is in the process or already has a head start on writing it, but another part of me comforts and assures that even if they did, they could not and would not have the unique take for this story I do. The other part of me fears that in the uniqueness of this story, I may not gain either readers or following for more, but that is a problem for another time.

The important thing, at least right here, right now, is that I now have at least a book to write, with ideas for storytelling, art, and other mediums for a long time to come. They have come through like a fissure suddenly opening from green land, erupting lava, forever changing the landscape of my mind.

So now I do have a book to write, or at least an idea supporting one. For some people the ideas come easy, and while for me this is true, finding an idea worthy of taking action on the scale of writing a book has been new. Here’s the catch…

I don’t know how to write a book, or at least, I don’t assume I know how to write a good one.

So as with all things, the decision to write a book also begins with learning how to do it. I could assume I could start right now, write a few stories as chapters, mash them all together between a prologue and epilogue and call it done. I imagine especially in the beginning this process won’t be too far off that. I also have the benefit of this coming about two weeks before November, when the annual NanoWriMo competition (?) begins. I’ll be working on the book through the month of November, provided I get some of what I need to do done before Nov 1. I don’t want to rush my work, but I do want to do it well and get it done.

Finally, it will not be my only writing. It can’t be. To keep the skill of writing sharp, you have to keep writing to hone it. So that’s how I’m using this space, apart from my other notebooks. Here I will write about what I’m doing, my process, and from time to time I might drop other writings about other things. Maybe even some poetry as I encounter it in myself.

So I come back around to you as a newly aspiring book writer, what are your tips, tricks, and tools which you use for writing novels? What are your pains, your gotchas, and your watch-outs? I’m also interested in any groups or workshops which might be a good fit, and I’m looking out for those separately.

Finally, I want to thank anyone who has told me, at least halfway seriously, that I should write a book. I’ve usually either responded with extreme humility or absolute certainty I will, but I have never been sure the day would come where I would be inspired for it. Here we are, and here it is. Thank you. I would not be doing this if it weren’t for the encouragement I’ve received, and the support of friends, family, and loved ones.

Peace, Harmony, and Balance,

Alex

Fixing divisions

Today is my 44th birthday.

Hearing the sound of my 4 year old singing Happy Birthday first thing in the morning is one of the blessings I’m happy I’ve lived to receive. There are many others the last few years particularly I’ve been blessed with. Travel. People. Given the circumstances, even survival.

This year I lost my father, although really it was last year because of politics and disagreement. The things that tend to divide people right now are important yet dumb things to be divided about. Common ground is found easily enough when you stop a moment. Most of us want a peaceful life, a warm home, a full belly, and to be surrounded by others important to us. We get lost in the details of how we get there, and how much we acknowledge and ascribe these same concepts to others.

Don’t get me wrong, my views and my politics are still there. I got opinions. Lots of them. I think there is space to have them while acknowledging commonality. That’s the only way we find our way to some sort of harmony.

It’s easy to point fingers at another person or group. “We could live good lives if not for those people over there.” “Why can’t those people stop doing whatever shit they’re doing that is pissing us off?” Barring active harm to others, that’s what most of this squaring off is about, manufactured by others still to further division, discord, or maybe just to get views.

Our world, our media, our platforms and services and ways we share haven’t been working for us. Not in ways that bring us together. I know the irony and even hypocrisy in me writing this, as I’ve had my own part, and carry my own culpability in where we are now.

A few months ago I started trying something different. I stopped the direct confrontation about views. I stopped posting out of anger and frustration. I stopped showing anger or contempt online for whatever my feed or my news sources had been showing me that day.

I started engaging people without judgement of them. In discussions, I started just stating where I stood without frustration with others. I started treating others with a little more space and care for where they are, because another thing we all have in common is we’re all tired and frustrated and angry and sad and confused, and just trying to figure out the best way to get through this life with the people we love.

It doesn’t stop the anger. It doesn’t stop the discord. It doesn’t change the daily messages coming in that the world isn’t going the way we want it to.

Giving people more space does change our conversations. It changes the way we connect with people. It changes the burden we carry of people we alienate or feeling of otherness from saying “things would be fine if not for those people over there”. We don’t have to share opinions to talk about them. We don’t have to be on the same side of the political, economic, social, religious, or ethnic view to get along with each other. We only need to recognize our common humanity, dignity, and needs. That’s universal. We can all still be heard. We can all still be listened to. We can’t expect it to start with our leaders, or the media, or our apps or platforms or employers or anyone else but ourselves, and how we conduct our own lives.

I started. I’ve given it a shot. I’ve still talked about my opinions. I’ve still listened to others who have disagreed. I still get angry and frustrated and upset, but I’m walking away from more conversations feeling better about how they go, and feeling we actually listened to each other a little better than before. 

If I had learned this lesson a few months earlier, my father may not have died alone in a hospital room in Philadelphia with us never reconciling. So if I can use this pain, this weight, this thing I’m carrying from that for any good, it’s to encourage any of you or all of you who have read this far to start thinking about how you defy the messages of division from wherever you are, stop saying “but for them” and figure out how you can start changing the conversations around you. Wars have been fought for the worst of reasons. The worst reason is to fight one when ultimately you want the same thing.

It’s hard to change what you’re doing, to look at the same thing one day differently than you did the day before, the week before, or the 43 years before. I’m not asking you to change what you believe, or think, or watch, or identify with… I’m asking you to consider how you move through the world. This wild west of a hyperconnected, brain bending, propaganda laden, fake news, talking heads world that we’re all having trouble navigating. 

If you’re struggling with this, if you’re reading this and you’re feeling hesitant, blocked, challenged, or some other kind of way about it, let’s talk. Even if we haven’t in a while. Even if the last time we did it didn’t go so well. Even if I called so-and-so a something or you just can’t see why this is even a thing to begin with. It’s ok. Things change two people at a time. 

With peace, balance, and harmony;

Alex

This post is public for reshare. Do as you will. 

Where have I been?

I logged into WordPress today to make a comment signing an open letter for the UN’s COP26 conference next month when I realized this blog was still dutifully up and running. The letter is important to me, and from its topic, content, and fellow signees, there’s been notable changes in a few things for me in the years since my last post.

I don’t write here anymore, although I do write quite often, and have started a path of creativity and art I didn’t know or understand the first part of my life. With my family, partners, and others, I’ve navigated the coronavirus pandemic, leaving Apple, and a myriad of other changes which have set the course and tone for the next few decades. Rather than an exhaustive post outlining them all, which is less interesting to read, I’m leaving this post as an end cap, at least until such time is suitable to pick this blog back up, or continue an open journal elsewhere.

Until then…

Balance and Harmony,

Alex

Looping Back Around on President Trump

A few years ago, I wrote a post about then President-Elect Trump, calling out concerns I had about his election. My writing style then was… diplomatic. I’m not so diplomatic anymore, at least I’m emerging from behind the filters I had in previous iterations of myself.

Today, I’d like to get back around to the scorecard of what I wanted to ask of then President-Elect Trump.

I don’t want to build a wall.

Trump failed my expectations while still managing to fail building a wall. I think the designs they’ve put up, hours they’ve spent talking about it, and the massive amount of resources they’ve channeled to try to fund it have all gone to waste. Wall development has been a parade of flag-waving opportunists trying to grab for potentially lucrative contracts while not coming to terms with the fact walls aren’t the solution.

I don’t want to start mass deportations.

Trump failed badly. If you had told me we’d have concentration camps at the border where we split families up, I’d have never believed Trump would have set it up. It’s almost like his sycophants and cronies had plans already drawn up to execute. I use that word about literally, because people are dying down there.

I don’t want to regulate immigration on the basis of religion.

Trump failed. His administration tried to execute it literally through an executive order, then got smacked down because the basis was religion.

I don’t want national stop and frisk.

Trump failed, if not in letter of the law, but definitely spirit, even going so far as to pardon Bernard Kerik, the poster child of stop and frisk policy. The Trump administration hasn’t been able to get far with the Supreme Court on this yet, and there is a massive backlash by Civil Rights and police watchdog groups fighting it, but it’s clear where Trump stands on this.

I don’t want to cut the protection of a free press.

Another failure in spirit that isn’t for lack of trying. He has notoriously attacked the free press, and has screamed about changing slander and libel laws to make it easier to get convictions. Ultimately, you can’t slander someone when what you’re saying is the truth (and you can prove it), so even if he gets these changes, he’ll lose.

I don’t want more involvement in overseas conflict.

So, so, many fails.

I don’t want women, minorities, and LGBTQ people to lose hard fought civil rights protections.

Trump may not be solely responsible for the downfall of the Voting Rights Act Section 4, it happened before his election, but the spirit of trying to block out anyone but Christian white male landowners is evident in his policies. We now have a formal team in our government that is set up to de-naturalize and remove the citizenship of US citizens. It’s heinous. It’s unethical. Yet, here we are. FAIL.

I don’t want people to lose health care insurance.

Failed. Hard. The number of people without health insurance has gone up since under Trump.

I don’t want sexual harassment to be acceptable.

I should have never put this one Trump. Whether that asshole believes it or not, it’s never acceptable. There is part of our culture that resists this level of decency, and it tends to be associated with Trump, or at least his brand of patriarchy, but even all of those assholes can’t make it acceptable.

I don’t want you to try to be a moral compass for me or my family.

This one is admittedly interesting to watch. Trump plays to his different audiences, and while I don’t think he tries to put himself up as a role model, he has a streak of self-aggrandizing behavior with anyone he’s around. If he’s around scientists, he talks about how awesome a scientist he would have been. If he’s around military, he talks about how tough and strong and how much of a leader he is. When he’s around clergy, he acts like the Messiah himself, and even manages to say things directly opposing to Christian theology to a largely Christian audience without getting called out. I have no doubt if someone asked him his thoughts about whether he should be considered a role model, he would exuberantly answer yes. I just could never take him seriously as one even if he tried.

In retrospect, this list was far more optimistic than I would ever make now. Trump is a narcissistic, arrogant, corrupt, and increasingly challenged asshole of the first degree, and we should never have even considered electing him President, but that also says a lot about us and our culture. That’s a topic for another time.

Today it’s enough to look back and see the misery of the last three and a half years. Our swamp is drained and now we have a toxic waste dump.

However, dear reader, there is hope. We have another election coming up. Even if we can’t vote for a candidate who will put in place the policies we want, we can at least vote to get rid of this undeserving wretch. This year, no matter who Democrats put on up on that national stage, of the ones remaining, I’ll give my vote to them over Trump on their worst day and his best. Let’s vote Trump out!

On a nuclear North Korea

I woke up this morning to feed our five month old son and saw the news of North Korea’s hydrogen bomb test. While we have known for some time of North Korea’s nuclear plans, and watched their increase in rhetoric and testing, today’s news will solicit a stronger reaction than before. Today North Korea’s nuclear threat got much more deadly.

My initial response is to think about my family. I am angry I live in a world where I have to consider my family’s safety from the power plays of a far away dictator. My gut reaction is to raise my voice to encourage a harsh, swift, and violent end to the Kim regime in North Korea, and return the country’s technology to an earlier state of human existence. A big part of me wants to see the North Korean nuclear threat eliminated at any cost, turning a blind eye to any consequences but my own family’s safety.

It’s easy to have such a response. We are engineered for survival, and eliminating things which threaten our survival is what we do by nature. The gutteral response to strike first when under imminent danger is a survival mechanism unto itself.

However, this is more than just about me or my family. Across South Korea and Japan are fathers and mothers with similar fears as me today. Maybe they are all having the same response, I don’t know. However, the threat to those in closer proximity has to have a dual edge. It’s easy to think about lobbing nuclear bombs back across an ocean, it’s another to consider the possibility of nuclear war on your own continent. There is no scenario for them where a nuclear first strike against North Korea is a safe bet.

I then think about the other set of mothers, fathers, and children we don’t see — the people of North Korea who have been ground under the heel of the Kim family for decades. They’ve been told we want them dead, that pursuing nuclear enablement was for their own survival against an unfriendly world. Maybe they are being told that if they don’t launch a first strike against their enemies, their children will not be safe. If we (the US) strike first, maybe that just reinforces what they’ve been told all their lives.

So my gut response this morning isn’t the right solution. Yes, it could keep my family safe, but at an ultimate cost to other innocent families. We need something that works for the people of South Korea, Japan, and yes, even North Korea. One despot has endangered millions. We need to be the voices of reason.

The First Signs of my life at Apple

As I approach my 10th chronological and official year with Apple (Sept 2017 and Feb 2018, respectively), I am looking back at what led me here and what the road has been. This is the first post about some of my experiences on this path leading up to next February, when I hope and plan to celebrate that 10th official year. I never take the next day at work or in life for granted, but I’m excited about the next few months.

Identifying a problem

August 8, 2005, I wrote:

Mom had bought a new Dell computer, and despite my warnings, actually paid them $100 for home installation. She said the guy wasn’t there long, and after he left, the sound still wasn’t working. I took me about 20 minutes to fix what he didn’t do right (the sound and he even used the wrong I/O monitor connections), and then spent the rest of the evening installing necessary programs and getting her Outlook set up. It almost disgusts me that so much work has to be put into a new computer to get it up and ready for the individual person. I’m about to go to a CompUSA, so I think I may go by and check out the Macs.

Discovering an old archive

I recently downloaded and logged into SpiderOak, an encrypted backup service I trialed many years ago, to give it an updated look. I thought everything had been deleted from the service when I stopped using it, but I was surprised to see it had about 3GB of data in use. I found the 3GB in the trash file, and the data was recoverable!

I was impressed the service had kept 3GB of data for years in a Trash bin without so much as a login on my part. I downloaded the data to find it was an old version of my Documents folder, complete with a backup archive of my old blog. It has posts from May 2005 through January 2006, covering the separation from my first marriage and subsequent decision to leave law enforcement and my hometown!

Perusing an old blog archive

I spent time today reading through the posts. It has been almost twelve years since that place and time. In my writing I see the sparks of the person I was to become. Early signs of the growth I was to experience in leaving my first career and hometown in search of something different.

In twelve years, I have changed religious beliefs and political parties. I have lived in four different states, including moving across the country to the west coast. I have remarried and had a son with my second wife. I have had a life-altering surgery to correct a heart condition which had not been properly diagnosed at the time. I have built a second career in Information Technology, and I have worked for [what I believe is] the best computer and personal device company in the world for almost the last ten years.

Many things have changed since I was the person writing that blog. Yet, among the differences, I see the foundations which would become the life altering events the last twelve years.

Getting a solution

Before I was in tech, I was a cop. My interest in tech blossomed during that time, and I began learning what I consider now to be the basics. By the time I had written the quote above, I had become the “tech guy” in my family and occasionally at work. 

When I wrote the first quote, I was outlining a problem. I didn’t know that problem would lead me to recommend an iPod to my stepfather early the next year.

January 30, 2006:

Ok, something has been on my mind since my trip to Charlotte last weekend. I set up my stepfather’s new iPod Shuffle 1 gig, basically from scratch. This included downloading and installing iTunes, ripping about 15 of his favorite cds to the computer, and adding them all to the new shuffle. Having not used iTunes since version 1, I figured it would take me a bit to figure it all out and that it would involve reading instructions, directions, or maybe even a call to tech support (those of you that know me KNOW it is an absolute last resort). I was wrong, and that is my problem. It was all so simple and easy to learn. The interface was so intuitive and user friendly. My beloved podcasts are integrated into the program, without a need for a separate program like iPodder that I use with Windows Media Player 10. Transferring files to the new iPod was fast and simple, unlike the complex world of syncing with WMP. Somewhere in the simplicity, I was hooked. I thought of the ease of conversion of my current music library from the unprotected WMA I use now to the AAC format of iTunes. I even came to accept that the files that did not transfer well could easily be purchased through iTunes, having never given myself over to the confusing cacophony of various music stores available through WMP (fear of obsolescence, I guess). Having received an offer from a coworker just last week to purchase my current RCA Lyra, I have found myself perusing the Apple store online, searching and deciding whether to jump on the iPod bandwagon.

I didn’t know that recommendation would lead me to buy one myself, or that it would lead me into an Apple store. I couldn’t have imagined those early trips to an Apple store would influence me to apply to work at one in 2007.

Ending up on the right path

I’ve been asked many times why I left law enforcement and how I ended up in tech. The months of the archive I read today cover the answer I’ve always given: I had a choice between staying where I was and looking for something different. I took the bold choice, the one of a dreamer, the one that didn’t make sense, and it eventually worked out. It wasn’t all roses. It was far from it. Tech wasn’t the first career I tried. Apple wasn’t my first employer.

Before that decision, I was never the risk taker. Making that decision was the single pivotal choice between the life I knew before and the life I have now. It was the first decision that challenged me to think differently than before.

The Audacity of Youth

An overheard conversation

I live in a high rise building. It’s literally a glass tower. I see the irony of my liberal tendencies contrasted against the perils of gentrification and the increased pressure my presence raises on the people and families who settled here long before I thought of coming to California. Yet, it’s the best place for my family right now, and probably another topic for another time.

We have a viewing deck on the 18th floor. I enjoy sitting on the deck and watching planes come in to land at San Jose airport. One afternoon I took my son up there for the first time to see airplanes land.

While we’re waiting for planes to come, there is a young man and woman standing just a few feet away. I couldn’t help but hear their conversation, and admittedly, I listened.

The young man was explaining the perils of being a young man in society to the young woman:

He spoke of being afraid of what to say for fear of being misunderstood and branded mysogonistic.

He told her it is a common feeling among young men in Silicon Valley that they need to make big salaries before they will get women.

He told her about meeting another woman and starting a relationship, but when she wanted him to meet her parents, he ended the relationship immediately because he did not want her to think he was ready for marriage.

He told her how he came from a traditional family, and how he doesn’t think his parents understand today’s dating and the role of women in modern society, although he would willingly be a stay at home father.

He went on to talk about how feminism is dying, that in ten years feminism will be no more. Then in the same breath, went on to say women are taking over the world, and he just wants to be treated fairly.

This rather one sided conversation took place over ten minutes, about fifteen feet from me as I played with my three month old son.

Meanwhile, the young woman said almost nothing.

I don’t know and don’t want to speculate what she was thinking. She seemed to be a willing participant in the conversation, and I perceived the two to be new acquaintences, so I wasn’t sure what brought the two of them to the rooftop.

To my amazement, the young woman listened. She listened quietly, as I imagine many women around the world do, as men spew self-absorbed garbage about how advanced they are from the rest of their gender. I’m sure I’ve spewed my fair share of it out there – hopefully less today than when I was that young man’s age.

About the “N word”.

I’m going to talk about the “N word” a moment.
 
It’s a word of hate. A word of oppression. A word of separation. It has peers — words used to describe other races, nationalities, ethnic groups, sexualities, and gender identities which should never be used to describe others, yet the word and its ilk live on, and will likely continue to in some form for the duration of language and the differentiation of one person to another.
 
Here’s the thing:
 
Sometimes, among the descendants of its victims, the word is a form of bonding, and a part of the culture resulting from enslavement and segregation. From generations of being told they are lesser. From being told what they can and cannot do. From being told what things are supposed to mean.
 
Many of the comments I’ve read resulting from this video, and a sentiment I’ve seen and heard expressed in some form all of my life, is that the word should never be spoken by anyone. That the word would have died out long ago if black people stopped saying it. That it’s ok for others to say it because black people say it to each other.
 
The irony of this sentiment is: if only for a brief moment, in having the roles switched, in being told there is something non-blacks cannot do that black people can, they are experiencing the smallest slight upon their own self-expression and rights which black people experienced hundred-fold for centuries. The anger in their comments, the sense of injustice felt, should give them a sense of the strain and powerlessness blacks have felt in having their destinies dictated to them.
 
So if you are upset about one word you are told not to say, one word which means something different when you say it than when others do, and you’re demanding to be treated with equality — maybe that’s the lesson. These were people who were ascribed that word and meaning to them by others. Black people had no control over what it meant. Taking back that word is taking back the means to define themselves, or at least dull the memory of its original intent.
 
As I said earlier, the n-word is not alone. It has brethren used to describe anyone different — white, black, man, woman, gay, straight, etc. Socially, the rules are different on what can be said without insult depending on your own group identification. Personally, I acknowledge there are some words which would have a worse meaning coming from me than from others. That’s the nature of these words. For me to try to force the victim of one of these words to never say it is adding insult to the injury.
 
It is best to leave the words which don’t apply to you alone. There are plenty of better words in life to think about.

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