Telling Queer History
I talked about economic justice at the Telling Queer History nonprofit in Minneapolis in the Summer of 2022.
These are writing by Lisa Albrecht.
I talked about economic justice at the Telling Queer History nonprofit in Minneapolis in the Summer of 2022.
It’s LGBTQ Month…Hurray?
In the U.S., “we” (the government/people in power/elected officials…many of whom often buy their victories) pick certain months of the year to “celebrate” the peoples who don’t have much power in this country. There’s a month for just about every group of color and/or ethnicity. (Though to my knowledge, there’s no month for Arab peoples or Muslims. No surprise there.) I’m an Askenazi Jew (translation: a white Jew whose roots are Eastern European; specifically, my maternal grandparents were from Odessa, Russia, and my paternal grandparents were from Yassi, Romania). Right now, with Russia staging a war in the Ukraine, when I see news stories and pictures of Elder women with babushkas on their heads, I wonder if some of these women are my relatives. I guess I’ll never know.
I digress…back to Pride month…
June is officially designated by the U.S. government as LGBTQ month. “We” get to have our own month! Cool! Right? I don’t know. I’m not convinced. Though most white LGBTQ people have relatively “good lives,” what does this mean? If you are a queer white poor person, you don’t necessarily have a great life. If you are poor in the U.S., you might be homeless or live in a place where your landlord doesn’t give a shit about your ”home.”
If you are a young queer person, especially a young queer person of color, as a group, you are more likely to think about suicide than “heterosexual” young people.
If you identify as “transgender,” especially as a person of color, you often have huge barriers to face. You are more likely to have less access to a safe home. Perhaps you face rejection within your circle of family. Ru Paul (whom I love!) is famous and “successful,” but they are a rarity.
I just looked at my email on line and learned that June is also ”Brain Health Awareness Month.” Interesting, I have something called vascular dementia, which means I don’t have a ‘normal’ blood flow to my brain, so I forget stuff. If I don’t take careful notes about everything, I might forget to attend a meeting. When I do attend meetings, I work incredibly hard to be “present.” I use up my energy in public to sound smart, say the right things, smile appropriately, etc. After a meeting, I often collapse, and am exhausted. When I write, it’s equally challenging. Can I stay on track? Say what I want to say? Be clear?
Sorry, I keep digressing. Back to LGBTQ Month. I’ve been watching on TV, on the National Geographic channel, a history of LGBTQ life in the U.S. (the show is called PRIDE). Each show focuses on a decade, and shows footage of various demonstrations, and has interviews with LGBTQ writers and activists, and some footage of right-wing nut jobs who have worked hard to eradicate our lives (e.g. Anita Bryant). I’ve enjoyed these shows because I’ve lived through many of these decades. I been lucky enough to have taken long bus rides from Buffalo, New York (where I came out in the 70’s) to Washington, D.C. to attend many of the historic marches and demonstrations shown on these shows. I saw the AIDS Quilt unfolded in Washington, D.C. I lost too many gay brothers during the AIDS pandemic (though it was not called a pandemic then…just an epidemic). I shed too many tears as I watched young gay men die from a disease that could have been treatable much earlier than it was. This country did not want to deal HIV/AIDS…until straight people started to get sick. (But that’s another story…for another blog.)
Are LGBTQ people safe today in the U.S.? If we live in large urban areas, we are more likely to be safe, though as a woman, and visibly not very feminine, if I am walking alone at night, I’m always vigilant. If I were a queer woman of color, I’d be facing both racist and homophobic abuse. And if I were a visibly transgender person, multiply the possibilities.
In the Twin Cities, we have a large, visible and quite vocal queer population, most of whom are white (as well as queer elected officials & many elected officials who support “us,” so they can get our vote—though we do have a POC trans woman who is a member of the Minneapolis City Council). The result of having this large population is that we have MANY queer events during the month of June. I’ve lost count of how many events I’ve seen posted online. I’m not sure that I will attend many of these events. Why? Pride month and these events and the parade originated as marches for GAY LIBERATION. We certainly celebrated, but we were pissed and we were fighting for liberation, not just for “us,” but for all people. As Audre Lorde said, (and I paraphrase), WE ARE NOT FREE UNTIL ALL OF US ARE FREE. And all of us ain’t free. If you are a person of color anywhere, police are not necessarily there to “protect” you. I think about Mr. Floyd who was killed by a white cop in my old neighborhood in South Minneapolis. White cops still kill people of color.
So, I don’t think about partying during LGBTQ Month. When I’ve gone to Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis where the “celebration” happens, it’s one big party. I don’t feel the power of the early years, where we were fighting for justice and liberation. I might go to some events here but I don’t want to just party. There’s an Elder Brunch for Pride; I might do that’s because I am an Elder. If I do attend any events, it will depend on simple things, like will there be parking available? I use a cane and can’t walk a mile. And again, Pride Month is about liberation for me, not about partying. Don’t get me wrong…I’m proud to be an out dyke for over half my 71 years on the planet. The closet? That’s where I hang my clothes.
I’m not sure I have more to say, so I’ll stop here. Please think about this month, but connect it to LIBERATION. Thanks.
26 May 2022
Mr. Floyd was murdered by a white cop two years ago. This week is the “anniversary” of that murder. It happened in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I live in Minneapolis, and Mr. Floyd was murdered about 4 blocks from where I once lived.
This past week, people were murdered by a white supremacist in Buffalo, New York. Most of the people were people of color. I went to college in Buffalo, New York. When I lived in Buffalo,. New York (from the late 70’s until the mid 80’s), it was a working class town, racially segregated, with a big Black community and a big Italian community. I loved living there and still am in contact with some of my friends from those days. i checked with one friend whose kids still live in Buffalo in the African American neighborhood where the people were killed. Thank God, no one in her family was killed.
Several days ago, 20 plus people (mostly children) were murdered in a small town in Texas. Most of the children were children of color. More violence.
When will this violence stop?
Too many parents worry that when they kiss their children goodbye as they head off to school, they fear for their children’s lives. “Will my child be alive at the end of the day?” And unfortunately, it is often people of color who die. And sometimes, it is people of color who commit these atrocities. I am not saying that racism is THE cause for violence in the United States today in 2022. Nor am I saying that the life of any one person is more valuable or less valuable than another. I am saying that there are, indeed, two systems of justice/injustice that operate in the U.S. These systems of justice/injustice have been created predominantly by white people because we are the folks who have most of the institutional power. We are the people who get elected and make the laws. We have the power to buy election victories. Those of us in power DO know the history of this country because we have intentionally built the justice system that perpetuates such violence. I say, “we,” because I am a white person. No, I am not an elected official nor am I rich enough to buy an election. But I absolutely benefit from this justice system every minute of every day. No one follows me around in a store to see if I might “steal” something. If I am stopped by a cop because I am speeding, I will most likely not get a ticket. I’m an old white lady, age 71 with gray hair and I use a cane. A cop will most likely tell me that if I was speeding, I should slow down and be more careful. He will not pull me out of the driver’s seat and push me spread eagle onto the hood of my car. I’m a little old white lady, right? (The cop doesn’t know by looking at me that I might be a “good troublemaker,” to quote the brilliant and late Congressional leader of color, John Lewis. I hope I will be a “good troublemaker” for as long as I live.)
It is a quiet Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis. I have been watching a film that I taped last night on TV, “The Murder of Fred Hampton.” Mr. Hampton, a Black man, was murdered by white cops in Chicago, Illinois several decades ago. The film shows footage of Mr. Hampton giving speeches. My memory isn’t great (I have vascular dementia), but one thing he said…and I paraphrase…”you can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill a revolution.” No, I am NOT a revolutionary by any means. I’m just an old white lady who still believes (after decades of challenging the system of injustice in the U.S.) that maybe, we might be able to change some of the institutional structures here that continue to perpetuate injustices in this country. Watching the film reminds me of how little things have changed. Yes, there has been change, but not nearly enough.
Am I a fool for believing that perhaps we will make the changes necessary to end white supremacy? Maybe. I sometimes believe that we will not be able to make these changes. After the past week of murders, I wonder if it is possible to change the system that is cemented in place. Can I take a hammer to make this system crumble? Certainly, not alone. I believe in the collective power of people. However, many of us in the U.S. have been duped into believing that we cannot change the system. I see it every day. And, in the U.S., we’ve been drilled to live as “individuals,” and not work collectively. I was in the grocery store yesterday, and there was an African American man walking down the aisle next to me and he was singing. And I smiled at him and said, “Great voice, way to go.” He looked at me and said, “Fuck you.”
I did not respond. Many people of color cannot tolerate white people…for good reason. We have created these horrendous systems of power from which we benefit. By virtue of being white, I do “represent” all the assholes in this country who screw people of color. I look just like the cop who might have pulled over the African American man in the store. I did not respond because it would not have changed anything. If I said, “I’m not an asshole…I’m a “good” white person,” I probably would have made the man even more angry. So what do we do, as white people, when we think to ourselves…”oh, it’s not me…I’m a good white person…”. WHAT DO WE DO?????
I believe that good questions are as important as answers. I do not have a magical answer. All I can say is that we do not give up. We push to make change every minute of every day. I used to be a college professor. I retired six years ago. I don’t have the opportunity to work with young adults on a daily basis anymore. I miss being around young people since I now live in a senior cooperative. I believe that in my 35 years as a professor, I learned more from my students than I ever taught them. Today, all my neighbors are old farts, just like me. Some talk about the “good old radical days in the 60’s….” I honestly do not know many of my neighbors intimately. I don’t know all their stories, where they worked, what they did, etc. To live here at Becketwood, you need money, which means most of us here are white people because we are more likely to have accumulated some degree of wealth in our lifetime, or we have access to “borrow” money from banks.. l want Becketwood to look more like the rest of the world. I have worked really hard in my lifetime to live in a world that includes intimate friendships with people of color, poor people, young people, Elders, people of various religious backgrounds, people with various abilities. As a lesbian for over half of my lifetime, I have always had heterosexual friends who did not merely “tolerate” me. I’ve always challenged people who simply “tolerate” people who are not just like them. It’s not enough to “tolerate” people.
I just got off yet another zoom call. I seem to live on zoom all the time, especially during this pandemic. Yes, it’s great to not be totally isolated, but you can’t touch or hug someone on zoom.
The zoom call was with Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC). I was a panelist on a program called: ”What did I forget?” Enough said. OLOC is a great organization. As a dyke who is basically single, it was lovely to see the faces of other dykes for the past 90 minutes. I did not feel as isolated as I sometimes feel. I love my kitties, but they can’t answer any questions i have, and i don’t speak kitty language to understand what they might be asking me, though one of my kitties loves to sit on my lap when i’m on a zoom call. He must like hearing voices besides my voice.
I’m going to stop now because I’m tired. Tired of the pandemic. Tired of having vascular dementia. Tired of being alone most of the time. Tired of all the fucking violence in this world. Everyone, be safe.
9 feb 2022, an occasional blog – Practicing Praxis
What is a recipe for disaster? Using chili powder instead of paprika? For sure. But there are other kinds of recipes. When I have high expectations of beloveds in my life and they don’t come through for me…that’s another kind of recipe for disaster. I live alone and struggle with loneliness every day. I’m lucky because I live in a senior cooperative, there are great people living here, and I have food in my frig and i can afford to live here. I know how blessed I am not to be homeless or hungry. I do not take that for granted. My neighbors are great and I’ve gotten to know many people, though I’ve only lived here during this never-ending pandemic. But you know what? I still live a solitary and alone life. My closest companions? Sadie, my 19 year old kitty with thyroid problems, and Ketzel, my 13 year old diabetic kitty. I love them very much, and I do talk with them all the time. Sometimes I dance in my bedroom and they look at me weirdly. Sometimes I sing and they really look at me weirdly, since I do not have a good voice. My kitties love me back…Sadie wakes up and yelps for her food every morning. And Ketzel walks all over me when I sleep. They are wonderful companions but they don’t engage in conversation with me. There are limitations when your closest companions are four-legged beings.
Living alone during this freaking pandemic is really hard. I want to have a companion who I can talk with at the end of each day. You know….stuff like, “how was your day honey?” not someone on zoom. A real human being I can hug and touch (and maybe a little more….i’ll leave that to your imagination, readers). During this pandemic, how do you find people who you can call your beloveds? People you love, you trust, you want to hang out with. I’m “old” now so I don’t run around as much as I used to. I met beloveds in my lifetime through doing political work. But it’s the damn pandemic. I’m not going out to protests, going to meetings, doing what I used to do. I’m “retired,” and 70 years old, and currently recovering from outpatient hernia repair surgery. I’m ok and my neighbors are here for me, but I don’t have “beloveds” living here. I speak on the phone to many of the beloveds in my life. Many do not live in Minnesota so it’s hard. And I’m not planning on jumping on a plane during this pandemic to visit some of my beloveds who don’t live nearby.
Getting old ain’t a picnic folks.
I love living here in this senior cooperative, but I do miss more intergenerational living. I wish there were more people here who were younger and also more people here who don’t look like me…it’s expensive to live here, and we do not have a racially diverse population. You gotta have money to live in this community. I’m used to living in a more diverse world. So it can be a challenge here.
What do I wish for? I do not do new year’s resolutions but this year I’ve been saying…I long for the day when we can make a HUGE bonfire and burn all our freaking masks. I wonder if that will happen or if we will keep seeing variants of covid. We just don’t know. It’s hard to see who you are when you are wearing a mask.
It’s hard to entertain yourself when you live alone. Lately, I’ve been watching the Olympics, especially watching many of the women compete. They are amazing. I’m not a fan of all the hyper-patriotism and the “USA, USA” chanting. I love it when three women get medals from three different countries and they embrace each other because they are friends! It’s not about what country you are from or the medal count. Sometimes I feel sad watching the events. It’s the pinnacle of their lives as these athletes compete…and they are doing it in huge arenas that are empty and they have to wear masks. But they are smiling and embracing each other and there is a community in the Olympics. And it’s not about the flag on their jackets. It’s about being comrades as athletes.
So what’s my message here? Surviving the pandemic as best as we can. Finding beloveds wherever we live. Yes. I wish I had better answers. I wish life were easier. Sometimes I wish I were younger and I felt more able-bodied. But you have to live with the cards you’ve been given…some things you just cannot change. I can wish for more intimate relationships in my life these days, but I just don’t see that happening. Who knows? (“The answers my friend are blowing in the wind….”)
Anybody know any nice Elder lesbians who are single and don’t have a lot of drama in their life, and want to hang out with me? Let me know, please.
December 17-18, 2021
I haven’t done a blog in a LONG time. It’s nearly x-mas…and I’m a Jew, so x-mas isn’t my favorite time. Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing x-mas trees. But the capitalism of x-mas is way too much for me. Too many commercials with stuff to buy. And Chanukah is NOT the jewish x-mas. Here where I live (in a mostly non-Jewish community) we did celebrate Chanukah and it was lovely. We lit candles in our lobby and many of my neighbors (mostly non-Jews) came down to participate because there’s not much else to do these days with the pandemic. We did the blessing, then had to blow out the candles in the lobby and off we all went back to our apartments. I came back upstairs and lit my own Chanukah candles and did the blessing, and even made latkes one night. It was nice, but doing it alone isn’t really great fun.
X-mas is supposed to be spiritual, not about stuff. Right? You could have fooled me. I have a few neighbors who are spiritual human beings, and I know that they do x-mas not as a capitalist endeavor. I have TV on too much these days, and all I see are commercials for x-mas presents. BUY STUFF. Non-stop. With this new omicron variant alive and well…I’m indoors too much. To throw out the garbage about 20 feet away in my apartment building, I put on my damn mask. There’s covid where I live…too close to home. As my newsletter says, I’ve been boostered…but that might not be enough these days.
I remain a lonely single dyke. It’s harder at holidays. Pat is alive, and surviving at 82. I’ll probably see her around x-mas. Not to celebrate, just to see her. She still smiles when she sees me, so I’m not complaining. When my mother died, she had alzheimer’s and she was one nasty old lady. I think she drove my father off the deep end. He died first, and she followed soon after. Both lived to almost 90, so I guess it’s in the cards that I’ll live for quite a while yet…hopefully without alzheimer’s. I have vascular dementia…not good blood flow to my brain, so I am forgetful. I hope I don’t become a nasty old lady. (I hope that’s not going to happen to me.) I take incredible notes on everything, so I don’t forget. You should see my date book. It’s really hard to read. But I haven’t forgotten anything major. I saw my family doctor (Dr Pam) last week. She read the report done by a neuro doc recently about my memory. He said I’m not losing a ton more memory. That’s good news, even though I feel like I am always losing more memory. Dr Pam said I was the only healthy patient she saw last week that was “healthy.”
I’m writing this blog on the day that my new Chef for Seniors, Adi, is here cooking me my meals. Sadie old lady cat is hanging out hoping for leftovers. I’ll have some good meals soon for the next two weeks.
It’s hard writing these days because I don’t have a publisher for my memoir. Hard to keep writing. I’ll keep trying, but it is hard. bell hooks just died, the wonderful feminist writer, at 69. I sure would like to finish my book before I kick the bucket. Not as a legacy, but as something I want/need to write before I’m done. Losing bell hooks (AKA Gloria Watkins) was hard. Like losing Gloria Anzaldua several years ago. Yes, we have their words, but we don’t have them anymore.
I guess that’s why I haven’t done a blog in forever. It’s hard writing. Period.
So, the lonely dyke thing. I really want to have some more intimacy in my life. More than the many good friends I do have (and love) in my life, both where I live and long distance. Zoom doesn’t quite cut it. Disembodied people on the screen isn’t intimate. You can’t touch someone on the damn screen. And I have too many damn zoom talks. I’m still young enough to think about sex. Amazing at age 70. I don’t want a wife. But I’d love a once-in-awhile dyke to “play” with. The dykes where I live all have partners. They are lovely women but they have girlfriends. Socializing? Ha! I used to meet women doing political work, but anything I do political now is on zoom. I haven’t gone to any demonstrations in forever. It’s not like I don’t want to do that, but it’s a little scary when you are 70. I don’t want to be arrested by cops or pushed around. I don’t want to become another Mr. George Floyd. I lived in Minneapolis near where Mr. Floyd was killed by the cops, so I’m familiar with police and violence. Yes, there are good cops. They are not all bad, I know that. I’m white so it is less likely that a cop would hurt me, but cops aren’t the most gentle people, even if you are white. I miss going to demos, but I just don’t want to risk it.
I wish I had more “stuff” to do in my life. But it’s winter here and the snow is scary for me. I’m a person with “three legs” – two actual legs and my cane. I have lots of new body parts – two knees, two shoulders and one hip that I wasn’t born with – bionic Lisa. I hope I don’t have to get any other new parts. So far, I’m holding up. I’m really careful on the ice and snow. I have a one cane just for the winter – I can flip a piece on the bottom, and VOILA, it has a part that digs into the ice, so I’m a little safer.
So back to my writing. I did a holiday newsletter last year. When Pat was my healthy partner, she was a graphic designer, and she made us a beautiful newsletter. I’m not so skilled graphically, so now I’m on Volume 2 of my holiday newsletter. It’s a long letter to all my Beloveds here and long distance…as far away as Chile and England. It would be much more fun if I didn’t write my newsletter as this lonely single dyke. Such is life. I’m looking…but no luck. And as I say to everyone…find me a nice dyke without a lot of drama in her life. I don’t want to live with her or marry her…I just want a little more intimacy in my life. I’ve tried some of these lesbian dating sites. They are not fun. You write a profile about yourself, and I’ve said clearly that I’m “old,” wanting to meet someone my age, not wanting to jump into bed ASAP, etc. etc. I get responses from these young dykes who want to have sex with me…even though in my profile, I say that’s not what I want. I am not going to educate some young dykes about being an old dyke. Where do you find dykes your age locally? HELP!!!! Having a fantasy life is not real.
I’ve taken on projects that keep me going. I’ve been doing an intergenerational GLBTQ puppet camp! It’s lovely. But it’s ending soon. I’m also in a cohort of “caregivers,” for people with Alzheimer’s. We zoom regularly and are working on doing political advocacy for people with memory loss. It is through Caregiving Across Generations.
Zoom is another story. Of course, it’s how we live in the world now, given we have access, which not everyone has. I hate talking to disembodied beings online. I miss human touch. Period. If there’s a theme to this blog…it’s living alone as a 70 year old single lesbian during a never-ending pandemic. Enough for now. Blessings to the people who read this.
10 july 2021
I’ve been thinking about Death
I’m seventy and I’ve been to several funerals lately and some old friends have died.
Deborah’s dad died at age 96 from alzheimer’s. I never met him but felt like I was on the Alzheimer’s journey with Deborah. I went to Minnetonka (someone drove me to the funeral. I’m glad I was there for Deborah and kate and I got to see their daughter.
Alix dobkin…famous lesbian activist, writer, musician. She died too. I didn’t know her but heard her many times at the Michigan womyn’s music festival and here in mpls at an OLOC, old lesbians organizing for change conference. Pat worked on that conference. Her music was kind of “folk” music but really important in the lesbian music world.
Ramona, my old and dear friend here in Minneapolis just texted me several days ago. Her former partner, trish, just died. She lived down south, had a stroke and went quickly. When I moved to mpls with my former parter, Bev…trish and ramona were our best friends. They introduced us to all the dykes here. We lived around the corner from them in south minneapolis. Now, trish is gone.
Rick cardenas, a long time disabled rights activist died. I was lucky enough to know him. He did amazing work. I used lots of his materials in my classes. He was a social justice activist for EVERY issue. Plus, his sister, joann, was my TA in general college years ago. She was great. I really wanted to see her at rick’s memorial. But I found out that she had died several years ago. Another death. Rick’s memorial was at a city park in st paul. It was hot. I didn’t know anyone there but I went and I’m glad I was there to honor him.
My childhood best friend, Susan, found a wonderful guy when she was in her 40’s, and married him. He died. Had a heart attack. Age 62., They had a unique relationship. she kept her rent controlled apartment in NYC and they had a house in the Catskills where he lived. They talked every day, and she rode the bus to their house maybe twice a month. He cooked and cleaned for her. Now he is gone. I went to their wedding in Vegas and wore a tux. I really liked Vince. He adored Sue. Now she is…a widow. She went to an on-line jewish dating service and is dating a guy and enjoying herself now. I’m happy for her.
Several years ago, I went on line briefly and “joined” a lesbian dating service. I had to pay. All the women I met “on-line” just wanted to have sex. Period. I got off that service. About a week ago, I tried again. I filled out a questionnaire about “me.” But I decided I didn’t want to do that again so I didn’t pay and that’s done.
So all these deaths are hard for someone who is 70. I’m relatively healthy. I function. I’m writing. I see people. I garden. I have many friends. But my memory is bad because I have vascular dementia. If I don’t write everything down, and I mean everything…I forget stuff. I hate it. I’m trying to write this memoir and it scares me to think I might not remember my own
The other thing about dying that I think about…is being alone, without a life partner. I am lonely. Sometimes it’s ok. I’m independent. I’m pretty smart. I move very slowly so I don’t fall. I drive carefully only in daylight and I use google maps. Yeah, I’m so smart. And I’m not afraid to ask for help. And I have many wonderful people in my life who help me regularly.
But at age seventy, I would like to share this time in my life with a partner, and I don’t have one. Where the hell does a 70 year old lesbian find a girlfriend? I don’t do bars. I’ve never done “casual” dating/sex. At becketwood, where I live, there are lesbians, but they are all
It is hard thinking about dying alone. Alone without a beloved. I have beloveds in my life, but that is not the same. I want a beloved to care for me in this time…the sunset of my life. Maybe I’ll live another 20 years. Who knows? I don’t want to get morbid so I think I’ll stop now.
New blog post 21 april 2021
Guilty, Guilty, Guilty on all three counts. I am still in shock and stunned by the verdict to convict the white cop of the murder of Mr. Floyd. Shock. Shock heard around the world, not just in Minneapolis. I got up at 6:30 am this morning and brought in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, wondering if this had really happened yesterday. I felt like I needed more proof. In huge font…”CONVICTED. Jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty of murder.” I am still staring at the newspaper. A white cop finally found guilty of murdering a Black man. Minneapolis will not burn as it did last spring when Mr. Floyd was murdered by this white cop.
We have yet to bury Mr. Wright, also killed by a whit cop last week. A white woman cop who thought she was using her taser, but actually used her gun. Guns are heavier than tasers. I’ve learned that not from experience, but from reading. This white cop had stopped Mr. Wright because he had an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, and then she saw on her computer screen in her police vehicle that his tabs had expired. White cops stopping men of color (and women of color too). They scuffled outside Mr. Wright’s automobile, and then she used her gun, instead of her taser. She was training another cop, and had been on the police force in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota for 25 years. Was this racism at work? An honest error? Or both? I don’t know if we will ever know that truth. This verdict yesterday will not end white police violence against people of color and indigenous people. It is a start, and for that I am grateful as a white woman. I have been stopped and ticketed by police officers. However, I have never feared for my life. This is because I am white. I am absolutely sure of that.
There are three more former Minneapolis police officers going on trial for the murder of Mr. Floyd. They watched as Chauvin had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, and did nothing. They will probably and hopefully be found guilty. When the verdict was read by Judge Cahill, I sat in front of my TV alone, and yelled, YES…three times. Guilty of second-degree unintentional murder. Guilty of third-degree murder. Guilty of second-degree manslaughter. The image of this cop being taken away in handcuffs behind his back will be etched in my mind and heart forever. The world will know in several weeks what kind of sentence this white cop will receive. He will go to prison. We don’t know for how long. Sentencing guidelines suggest he could be put away for up to 40 years, though he has never been convicted before. Remember, he is still white.
President Biden and Vice-President Harris spoke to the Floyd family, and then spoke on national TV. Next steps? Passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It has passed federally in the House, but not in the Senate. We shall see.
I feel a modicum of hope, though this court case will not end white supremacy or white police violence against people of color. Should I have hope today? I want to say yes, but I just don’t know if change will happen. I just don’t know how many white supporters of the former president, also known as “the orange man,” in my own writings, will be changed by this verdict. I want to have hope.
3-7 April 2021
How does one capture what it feels like to turn 70 years old? It’s hard. Today, during this pandemic, I had a “drive by” birthday party.
In the midst of the murder trial because of the death of Mr. George Floyd, an African American man, killed by a white Minneapolis police officer here in Minneapolis last June. In the midst of a car that killed a police man in Washington DC. yesterday. In the midst of a pandemic where a half a million people just in the U.S. have died. In the midst of people in Minneapolis living in tents because they are homeless and/or lost their job. In the midst of so many people starving around the world because they are poor, because where they live isn’t safe, because they are migrants or immigrants. In the midst of rich people getting richer in the U.S. In the midst of people of color in the U.S. not getting access to the vaccines that might help them live longer lives.
And today, I am privileged enough to have had a “drive by” birthday party. No, it wasn’t all white people. Friends came today because they love me (and I am blessed to have so many beloveds). They came because they care about me and wanted to celebrate my 70th birthday. My memory, due to vascular dementia, isn’t great, so I’m writing to remember today. I’m writing so I have a record in my mind about today. All of today. My friend, Leigh Combs, took pictures of everyone to document the day. And I want to remember as much of today as I can. I have written copious notes of who came here today, who called, who sent me an email or a text to say happy birthday. I want to remember all of my friends and say thank you.
This blog will go on my website, and some of this might go into my book, Are We ‘There’ Yet?: Social Justice Journeys in my Lifetime. My literary agent (sounds fancy!) is Grace Freedson. She has her own literary network. We went to high school together, and then lost track of each other for decades. I was a bridesmaid (!) in her wedding when I was 21 years old. Wait until you see that picture! She worked for a publisher and then because she is brilliant, she created her own network. She shops my book to publishers and if someone wants my book (!!!), she will make her money by getting a percentage of my royalties. And we both know that books by white people about social justice ain’t gonna go on the best sellers list. I am blessed to have Grace in my life. So I keep writing.
It is Easter weekend. I’m a Jew and Passover ends tomorrow. I love matzah but I am getting a little tired of it. It will be Ramaden for my Muslim sisters and brothers in another two weeks. They will fast and not eat until the sun goes down for…I’m not sure how long. More than a week. Today, there were (Christian?) grandchildren running around Becketwood on an Easter egg hunt. Again, not my thing.
I remain “single, solo and senior,” in quotes because of the holiday newsletter I sent out to friends. It is hard doing this pandemic with a life partner. I am lonely. I love my kitties, both old and wonderful. They have been my buddies, but I sure would love to have a warm body next to me sometimes. I have a crush on someone. That’s all I will tell here. Do NOT attempt to get his information out of me. She is not available for many reasons, but I do enjoy having a crush. Makes me feel a little more human.
So…who came to my drive-by? I am going to name as best as I can all the beloveds who came today, as well as those who contacted me and could not make it. I am blessed. Many of my beloved social justice students came by. I love them dearly. In no particular order…Jennifer Nguyen Moore and her daughter Luna and husband Kendrick. Jennifer and I go back 16 years to General College days. She does environmental justice as a woman of color and has had to face all the horrible Anti-Asian violence that has been happening in the U.S. It is not new news, but it is worse during this phase of the pandemic. Too many people, mostly white people saying it’s “those Asians” who brought the pandemic to the U.S. Mollie Lacey, a white lesbian, who lived a block from where Mr. Floyd was murdered, but has moved with her partner, to be less in the war zone, and to feel less traumatized. Yes, there are white people who have been traumatized by the murder, though we cannot feel it the way people of color can. Sara Kettering, the white woman who got a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She really wants to do work with people with Alzheimer’s, since she lost her father to the disease. She has had the privilege to do lots of unpaid organizing for quite a while. She’s really done a ton to stay in contact and connected with the many social justice students, so I’ve stayed in contact because of her work. She just got a job finally and is working with a small non-profit collecting prescription drugs that people are not using any longer. Her organization is finding ways to re-circulate meds to those who need it. Then there’s Katie Nordhagen, who has helped me so much over the past years, driving me to doctor appointments and helping me move. She and her partner, Erick stopped by. We have often gone for grilled cheese to the All Square Restaurant locally where formerly incarcerated people work, as they take “classes” from the founder of All Square, to acquire job skills and go on to productive lives, since it is so damn hard for former felons to find work in the U.S. And the grilled cheese is great!
A bunch of former social justice students texted or emailed me…Dana Johnson (doing a PhD in Texas about reproductive justice which she learned about initially in the social justice minor!); Laura Anderson with two kids works in a hospital but her husband has the virus now; Amanda Swarr who lives out west not sure where, has lived and worked in South Africa; Ellen Schneeberger (Schneeee!), not sure what she’s doing but I heard from her; Amanda Stapleton, an Asian adoptee, has done immigrant organizing; Jon Delperdang, a new Dad, not sure where he’s living but he loves being a Dad; Chelsey Perkins, a journalist in Minnesota in a small town, doing great reporting and loving it; Crystal Spring, a radical teacher in the Minneapolis schools teaching drama (Augusto Boal’s theatre) to urban youth; Robyn McGrade, in Minneapolis, I think trying to run her own restaurant during the pandemic, no easy feat; Tori Hong, fabulous artist who started doing art in the social justice minor and now has her own business, and who has a partner, Minh Bui, who created and updates my website: lisaalbrechtsocialjustice.com. There’s more…I’m looking through my notes, but will move on and if I see other people in my notes, I’ll add them back.
I’ve come back to this blog, but don’t feel like I have the energy right now to write more. There’s more to say…just not right now. Gonna get this posted. Thank you as always, Hayden Bui, the brilliant man who designed my website and posts for me.
March 16-22, 2021
It is almost Passover, 2021. I happen to love Matzah with butter, and Matzah Brei for breakfast, and prior to the pandemic, I made all these different kinds of Haroset from all over the world for our sedars. If you don’t know what haroset is…look it up please. It’s part of the ritual foods we eat at Passover. We have big dinners called Sedars on the first two nights of Passover. Passover lasts 8 nights but we only have these big gatherings on the first two nights.
It is hard being a Jew in a Christian world. I live in a Senior Cooperative building in Minneapolis. There’s only a handful of Jews living here as best as I can tell…given that we all wear masks. I don’t know how many people live here, surely between a hundred to two hundred. I moved in at the beginning of the pandemic over six months ago, so I only know faces with masks.
Last December, 2020 about six months after I moved in, I asked the management of the Cooperative if I could place an electric menorah in the lobby of my building since there were multiple x-mas trees in the lobby. It’s not that I’m such a religious Jew; I’ve explained to non-Jewish friends that Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday but it became a big deal because Jewish kids wanted presents at x-mas time, so Chanukah became the “Jewish x-mas.” (I don’t literally this, but you get the point, right?}
Spring has sprung in Minneapolis so it’s lovely to be having some warm weather as Passover approaches. No buds on trees yet, but they are coming soon. And equally important, my birthday is April 3rd…as spring begins to happen here.
I am turning 70 years old in a few weeks. That blows my mind. When you are young, you don’t think of yourself as aging. So I never imagined myself turning 70 years old. Damn, I say this aloud and it blows me away. Seventy years old.
As I am turning this momentous corner, I’m working on trying to finish my life story/my memoir. It’s called: Are We ‘There’ Yet?” Social Justice Journeys in my Lifetime. It’s scary working on this book. It just has my name on it. The other books I’ve worked on with Beloveds were collaborative works. This will just have my name on it. Damn.
I’ve never sat down for long periods of time to write without a pressing deadline. It feels great to sit for several hours and just think about putting my words on the page. What a privilege! The more I write, the more I believe that this book will really happen.
I just finished revising a chapter, “My Mother’s Story.” It is about my mother’s journey into alzheiemer’s and what it was like for me. I’ve started to do a podcast, and I also decided to read this chapter at a weekly zoom call for members of the Becketwood community. All this happening as Passover will begin in about ten days.
I’m also doing a podcast. I am planning on reading the chapter about my mother on an upcoming podcast.
Going back to the chapter I am working on…
February 26, 2021
Damn, it has been a while since last I wrote a blog post. And now, I’ve started my own podcast. Look me up and you’ll find me! You’ll find links on this website.
Spring is in the air! It feels wonderful after what feels like a forever winter living during this pandemic. I want to burn my mask! Yesterday, I took off my flannel sheets and put on lovely cotton sheets. I opened my windows to let in some fresh air, though it’s not totally warm yet in Minneapolis. I had to close my windows today! And the weather people are saying we might still have some snow. I hope not.
I live in Becketwood, a senior cooperative here in Minneapolis. I’m on a committee, the “diversity” committee. Most senior living places are VERY white, because of who inherits wealth in this country (mostly white peeps), so as we age, there’s more white people who can afford to live in senior places. Becketwood sees “diversity” as something for the marketing people to work on, and I’ve tried to explain that diversity isn’t about “add and stir.” You can’t just advertise in places where people of color live or hang out. You don’t just add people of color to your community or your workplace and “stir.” Us white people need to build relationships with people of color, and that takes time. And I don’t know a ton of people of color who want to hang out and hook up with us white people so we can count them as our friends. We (white peeps) get nervous around people of color if we haven’t had them in our lives. We have micro-aggressions. Look that up. I don’t want to go into that in this blog. Us white folks aren’t so smart, and we don’t realize that POC (people of color) can “read” our discomfort immediately.
A side note which is related…I’m working on my life story – a memoir. Memoir feels like such a fancy word. But, I’m turning 70 on April 3rd…and that’s a big threshold, and it’s coming up soon. I never imagined myself as an elder, or a person turning 70. I don’t think I’m being ageist. It just still feels like a HUGE threshold to be crossing. My book is called, Are We ‘There’ Yet?: Social Justice Journeys in My Lifetime. I have a literary agent! Look up Grace Freedson. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding when I was 20 years old! We did not keep up with each other. But we re-connected a few years ago through Facebook (thank you Zuckerberg). Grace worked for publishers earlier in her life, but she is brilliant and started her own literary network. Her job? I’ve given her a bunch of information about my book and she tries to “sell” my book to a publisher. When she succeeds, she will claim a percentage of any royalties I might earn. And I’m not planning on having my book appear on the New York Times best seller list. So Grace won’t get rich and neither will I. She’s wonderful and I’m incredibly lucky.
Now…Back to “diversifying” our lives as white people. There’s no formula, I’m afraid. My journey has meant taking back roads, side streets, roads with lots of potholes and roads where you hit a dead end. No super-highways. I don’t have magic answers. In fact, I’m not sure what else I can say right now. In my book, I tell lots of stories about all these back roads. I’m going to read a chapter from my book on a zoom link here at Becketwood in a few weeks. I’m really curious how people will respond. At Becketwood, as I noted, we want to live in a diverse community but it has not happened and our committee is attempting to change who we are.
When I think about change (in the context of talking about diversity), I think about what happened in Washington DC on January 6th, and the trauma of watching the insurrection happen. I think about when Mr. Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis in May. The trial of the police officer will be starting in the next few weeks. Our governor has allocated a huge sum of money to “protect” people from any violence that might happen. But are people of color “protected” from the police in this country? NO. When the violent insurrection happened in Washington, DC, the folks of color in my life immediately knew their lives were at risk, and one friend said to me, “I’ve got to go food shopping, because I don’t want to be out on the streets…”
There is nothing easy about creating a world where people of different racial backgrounds can live together harmoniously. Certainly not here in the United States in 2021. I’m going to go back to my now and work on another chapter. Don’t know if this has been very inciteful. So be it for now.