conflict: part one, “there was no trigger warning”
something I found and it’s beautiful
love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
it is mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky
E.E. Cummings, [love is more thicker than forget]
where I see this in the bible: 1 corinthians 13:4
Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind. It refuses to be jealous. It does not inflate its own importance. Love—God’s love in us—does not insist on its own rights or its own way. It is not self-seeking.
Paul, Letter to the Corinthians
how it relates to the conversation
I was 19 when I met my first husband. Poor guy. Though the demise of our marriage wasn’t completely mine-all-mine, it took me years of retrospection to see my part in it’s ending.
We met when I was 19 and in a desperate need to fix all that I felt was wrong with me, my past, and the state of world. I thought maybe if I could fuse myself to a “better, perhaps more stable” human being, he could save me from myself and all the things that could possibly go wrong in this life. His fault was that he wanted someone to save. Few marriages can withstand the weight of two empty people frantically trying to fix each other by spackling each other’s holes with demands and expectations. Those were some long and treacherous days, y’all.
I was 38 when I met my beloved, my Moses-Boaz, my last and only. I’d been a divorced, single mother going on 5 years. I’d decided 2 years prior to meeting Simon that I was through chasing relationships. Parenting when you’re dating and constantly on the brink of heartbreak is like attempting to strut like a stripper with a baby Bjorn slung across your breasts while waiting to find out whether a lump is cancerous or benign. It was ridiculous at its best, and also at its worst. I couldn’t do it anymore.
In the middle of my most anxious nights in my cold, roachy, one-bedroom Chicago apartment, I whispered into the darkness, “Jesus, do you love me?” Slowly, tenderly, He answered me. So softly, He wooed me. I began to sleep with my Bible, falling asleep mid-sentence, praying, “Show me…”
Little did I know how much those prayers could change me. I no longer shouted and lost my sh*@# on my sweet baby girl. I no longer hated my ex. I stopped emailing him about all the ways that he could be a better father. I stopped leaving messages listing all the ways that he could be a better man. I stopped blaming my mother. I smiled when he picked up our daughter—genuinely smiled. I thanked him. I forgave myself when I lost my keys or only had $10 bucks to feed us for the week. I went to church. I wept. I listened. I prayed. I waited in the dark.
Simon lived in Austin and I lived in Chicago. We met at a barbecue in a friend’s backyard. He was visiting his sister. I was smitten the minute I saw him. A long-shanks, English and boyish—we talked about classic movies. He’d just watched Citizen Kane. I suggested The Thin Man.
Of course it was complicated, but eventually we began writing to each other via Facebook—and no, I don’t recommend it. This was a fluke. A blessing? Rare. He wrote me that skinny jeans would be the only option eventually. I insisted they’d never fly. Grown people would never buy them. I wrote him that a nice Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with a turkey sandwich. He asked me on a phone date to see if that was true. It took some convincing because I didn’t want to be labeled a Cougar. He wrote me the definition of a Cougar assuring me that my four years on him made me exempt of that label. We both got a bottle of Pinot Noir and told each other absolutely everything—everything for seven hours straight. He texted me first thing the next morning. There was still so much more to say.
It’s going on 9 years. We’re still telling each other everything. There’s still so much more to say.
Surely, Jesus loves me.
the conflict, part 1: “there was no trigger warning”
So, you and I were watching one of our favorite shows, American Pickers. You and I have had a lot of conversations about this show, like that we never see black people—or any person of color on the show.
There may have been one or two.
I remember only one black woman and she was the girlfriend of the white guy that they were visiting. I’ve never seen them go on a pick to a black person’s home, who owned a bunch of memorabilia. And, we’ve always questioned that.
So, would you argue—and I don’t know if we’ve ever talked about this—but would you argue that it’s a cultural thing and it’s not that they’re excluding people of color, it’s that those people of color simply aren’t….
Oh no. No, no, no. Collecting is not a cultural thing. I grew up going to West Virginia to visit family members who had yards full of “collectibles” or with yards like the ones they visit on the show. My mother and grandmother kept everything.
But people of color would have to approach the American Picker people to be on the show.
But they do a lot of free styling when they just show up at someone’s door. Yet, they never seem to roll up on the door of anything except white America every single time. Still, you’re right. I don’t know if black people have contacted them to be on the show. Honestly, I don’t know.
And that’s the thing if you’re watching the show, if you’re not thinking about it hard enough, you’ll be led to believe that this is simply a white person’s playground—that this is something that white people do and others don’t.
And, we also have rolled our eyes when the host says, “This is a piece of America. This is who we are.” We have that back-cringe thing happen. But then you think, “They don’t seem like those kind of people.” Now the people who they visit and pick their collections, many of them seem like those kinds of people.
Many are them seem like people that you don’t want to meet on a dark country road in the middle of nowhere.
It’s very much Deliverance. You don’t want your car breaking down on that lonely, country, long, dusty road. There are people on the show that even freak out the hosts.
You and I love antiquing and we love vintage things. And, I’ve said out loud while watching the show, “Wow, it must be something to be white and to know that you can go anywhere. To know that you can roll up on someone’s property and knock on their door and ask to buy their personal belongings. I know that I cannot as an African American woman do that.
Not in the places that they’re doing it.
Not in the places that they’re doing it. I cannot imagine myself doing that—ever. But, we honestly had never seen anything—anything on the show in any of the collections—that was questionable. We never saw any kind of blackface, confederate flags, Nazi stuff, nothing.
Or Klan memorabilia. I’ve been to antique shops and seen Klan memorabilia. You know it’s out there. It’s not uncommon.
Me too. I’ve seen that too. But we’ve never seen anything on this show until the last episode that we watched. It was a guy that collected military memorabilia and when I say military memorabilia—tanks, huge equipment on many acres. Then, they went inside his house. I don’t know if he lived there, but it was overflowing with a horde that only a Neo-Nazi could love. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before in my life. I’d never seen so many Nazi flags. There were so many Nazi flags!
And confederate flags.
So many confederate flags.
Not a single American flag…
Well no, there was a couple. But they were not prized. They were kinda just thrown around. Then, the thing that sealed it for me was there were two or three pictures of Hitler framed on a wall, and I was just stunned.
I only saw the one.
There were two or three.
Because they went through several rooms and there was one in every room. But, just the fact that there was one!
And you know what, as a person of color, when you are in a situation when you feel threatened, that feeling is so overwhelming that I will admit that maybe there was only one. But that one feels like a million. That feels like a million when you are a person of color surrounded by that kind of thing even on a TV screen. It’s a thousand times a thousand.
In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine—let’s say that they had a black friend with them because sometimes one of them can’t make it and they take a friend—let’s say they had a black friend with them and they showed up to that house, it’s hard to imagine that it wouldn’t have been an issue.
But they’ve never had a black friend on the show—ever.
There has never been a black person on the show that I’ve ever seen expect for that one black woman who was not their friend.
And, if that’s not true and there was one black friend, that’s not enough. You now what I mean?
Yeah, I know. They’ve been in every state. Think about this—they’ve been in every state and overseas, for crying out loud, and we can’t recall seeing black people on this show.
There is a debate out there about if that show is racist. I don’t know. I’m not one to sit and say what it is. But, I will tell you that in that moment of sitting and watching that particular episode, I was very disappointed because I had always felt that the producers had been protecting the viewers from those sorts of things. I thought for certain that they had always seen those sorts of things along their journeys because they go through so much of the Deep South.
Yeah. So it has to show up.
You’d think that it would show up. But I always thought that they edited that out so as not to offend viewers. So, when they were showing this collection, I felt really betrayed as a viewer. I felt, “Okay, I thought I knew these two guys. But clearly I don’t. I just don’t.”
So, you and I had a rough night because I was highly pissed off about it—pissed off, upset, scared—just the knowledge that that’s in the world and in my country bothered me. Even though I’ve always known it. This is why I have the blog, for crying out loud. I know it exists.
But, there was no trigger warning for this episode.