Businesswoman & Daughter of White Privilege Compelled to Quote James Baldwin on Race
“You cannot lynch me and keep me in ghettos without becoming something monstrous yourselves.” — James Baldwin
Mary C. Loveless, a Memphis-raised daughter of privilege loves quoting essayist and activist James Baldwin. LA-based Loveless is a passionate activist, herself, who participated in the Women’s March, a worldwide protest the day after the inauguration of President Trump. She is also a small business operator (Glaze Fire), who’s been dramatically affected by the pandemic of a disease, shutting down her artistically inspiring pottery studio in Los Feliz — and, also by the pandemic of racism that scars her heart.
First of all, she’s been incited to speak up by being horrified by the “second degree murder” of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And by the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, that have expanded worldwide, and also by the violence that continues to smash up against the earnest desire for much needed change in the ways that policing is conducted in America.
Furthermore, with the protests continuing, and talk increasing about trimming police budgets and redistributing the money to social programs, Loveless has been compelled to come up with a bold 15-point plan to ratchet up the conversation about truly changing outdated police practices.
However, she was additionally inspired this past weekend by watching “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism” a Town Hall meeting hosted by CNN with some of the wonderful characters of Sesame Street — the award-winning educational children’s television series, which premiered on PBS (public television) in 1969. The sweet fairy-in-training character Abby Cadabby talked about bullying, saying, “My friend Big Bird was bullied because of his yellow feathers and because of how big he is and, well, it wasn’t kind and it wasn’t fair. I wouldn’t want to be treated like that so I understand how Big Bird was upset.”
So, what did Abby do to support Big Bird? Abby continued, “Well I just told him the yellow color of his feathers and his big size is what makes him so special. And that he should be proud of who he is. And that those other birds were wrong. And then well I went and told a grown up what was happening.”
Loveless, who mockingly sees herself as a privileged “trash monster” kind of like the lovable character, Oscar the Grouch, who lives in a trash can — saying, “I love trash” — was touched by the CNN meeting and Abby’s response. Loveless explains, “I was scared to speak/post because I’m so genetically lucky. But if I didn’t speak it would be worse. Thank you PBS for educating me from Sesame Street and Frontline, to American Masters, its award-winning biography series. I am a better citizen because of PBS.”
As a result, Loveless outlines her 15-step plan, as a starting point. But whimsically also quips about a line from The Wizard of Oz: “If I was the king of the forest. Not queen, not duke, not prince… I would show compash/For every underling! If I. If I were King!”
1. Defund the police. Fire them all. It’s a lost cause and LA needs to lead the change.
2. Give the boys in blue at the post office who live and work in LA county a free CPR/First Responder course and a bounty/incentive to give first care and call in and document emergencies without causing any further harm. A red cross armband can be added to their sleeve at their choice.
3. Hire 2,000+ mental health professionals to beat patrols in teams of two therapists. They wear a bulletproof red cross vest, but carry no gun instead supplies like water and long shelf life sack lunches. They take over all the police stations and convert them to city services help desks with playgrounds and lending libraries where space allows. If the stations are large and have space to be converted to shelters do so. These therapists do not make arrests, but can make emergency psych holds and CPS removals and cases. They may also take reports of abuse and rape.
4. Hire 400 armed response bodyguards to assist the therapists. Any former police officer with so much as one complaint against them is dq’ed from consideration. They are headquartered, one in every fire station in LA (106), and one in every new Citizens Help Desk (21 former police stations). They do not make arrests. Their only job is to protect the therapists. They should be like the Buckingham Palace guards who stand still despite being baited.
5. Hire 500 new EMTs and emergency nurses and lab technicians to support the therapists and process rape kits.
6. Tell the ‘nimbys’ that times up we’re all gonna be homeless soon and build the SRO and Section 8 housing shelters immediately. Plus several new looney bin-mental health retreat-psych wards — these people don’t belong in jail.
7. Hire or divert 1,000+ brute force men to be construction workers on the roads, and new shelters. First consideration to be diverted to the Dept. of Public works goes to former cops without complaints.
8. Create the new police: 2,000+PEACE Officers. These officers are the only armed response force able to make arrests in Los Angeles. They are HQ’ed in fire stations. They do not drive around on patrol but are only deployed when the life of a citizen or the public is put in mortal danger. This department also covers investigations on murders, robberies, etc. plus arrests generated from reports therapists take — rape etc. Maybe a set number, like in the movie 300. And if/when one of them is killed in the line of duty, a therapist bodyguard, who’s done the best, gets promoted.
9. Create a new watchdog department that maintains and downloads and compiles evidence from body cams of all therapists, bodyguards, paramedics, and peace officers. Approximately 500 techies.
10. Retrain all the 911 operators as to how to divert calls to the right department.
11. New laws to punish citizens who harm the therapists or bodyguards more severely.
12. New laws to punish therapists, bodyguards, or peace officers who abuse their power or disobey peaceful de-escalating processes and restraining practices more severely.
13. Huge public ad campaign to let us know how the new system works.
14. Release all non-violent drug offenders.
15. And, finally, decriminalize all drugs.
Most noteworthy, another part of Loveless’ anger and bold plan to action is also inspired by her reading of and watching James Baldwin on PBS. Baldwin was a Harlem-born Black novelist, essayist, poet, and activist, and one of his eloquent quotes cuts right to bone: “You cannot lynch me and keep me in ghettos without becoming something monstrous yourselves. And furthermore, you give me a terrifying advantage. You never had to look at me. I had to look at you. I know more about you than you know about me.”
Finally, Loveless adds another Baldwin quote: “It is not a racial problem. It’s a problem of whether you are willing to look at your life and be responsible for it. And then begin to change it. That great Western house I come from is one house. And I am one of the children of that house. Certainly I am the most despised child of that house. And it is because the American people are unable to face the fact that in fact I am flesh of their flesh, bone of their bone, created by them; My blood, my father’s blood is in that soil.’”
What do you think of trimming Police budgets, spending more on social services, and creating a new system of public safety? If you feel strongly, comment below. And, if you’d like to CLAP for this article, check out Medium’s instructions.
[News update: Minneapolis City Council has pledged to dismantle the city’s Police Department, promising to create a new system of public safety in a city where law enforcement has long been accused of racism. And, who knew that when former NFL star Colin Kaepernick took a knee “for people that are oppressed,” he accelerated a movement that just resulted in the monolithic, mostly white male-owned National Football League, now supporting “Black Lives Matter” protesters following the murder of George Floyd.]
If you’re in Los Angeles, Mary Loveless’ Glaze Fire paint-your-own-pottery studio is offering curbside service until the lockdown lifts. Check out Glaze Fire on Instagram and Facebook. And, author/blogger Ashley Jude Collie’s new sci-fi, dystopian novel, REJEX, is available on Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK), and Amazon worldwide.