Wednesday, June 28, 2023


Fifty-one years ago today, at 1:20 am, six police officers arrived at the double doors of Stonewall Inn and announced, "Police!  We're taking the place!"  There had been a rumor that a raid would take place, but it was much later than any raid in the past.  There were 205 people in the bar that night, including two undercover police officers already there.  The lights were turned on, the music stopped, and the police called for backup.

The raid did not go as planned.  Both police and patrons would recall a sense of discomfort setting in very quickly.  Within minutes 100 to 150 people had gathered outside, either from being kicked out of the bar by the police or from seeing the commotion and deciding to observe.  When the first patrol wagon arrived, the crowd had grown to ten times the size of those being arrested.  Before the second would arrive, the situation would explode.

Pennies and beer bottles were thrown at the patrol wagons.  One woman being escorted in handcuffs would get in a scuffle with four police officers, fighting them off for ten minutes and inciting the crowd to act up.  "Why don't you guys do something?"  Marsha P. Johnson, a Black drag queen, sex worker, and activist, is credited with having thrown a shot glass at a mirror at the onset of the fighting.  "The shot glass heard round the world."

The police tried to restrain the crowd, leading the crowd to react further.  The commotion attracted more people, coming to fight for the cause.  The police ended up being outnumbered by some 500 to 600 people, leading ten of the officers to barricade themselves along with several detainees in the Stonewall Inn.   The Tactical Patrol Force was sent in to aid the trapped officers, leading to a standoff with the crowd.  Night sticks on one side, and I kid you not, a kick line on the other.  

The TPF cleared the street by 4:00 am; thirteen people were arrested, several were hospitalized, four police officers were injured.  The battle had just started.  The next night there would be over a thousand people gathered and protesting, with a similar battle to take place.

And that was just the start.  The ensuing riot inspired more riots the following nights as well as civil disobedience and marches across the country.  The first Pride parade would take place in New York, exactly one year from the Stonewall Inn rebellion.  The parade would cover 51 blocks from Christopher Street, to Central park.  Similar events would be organized in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.  And in the subsequent years, it would continue to spread.  "The Stonewall Rebellion was crucial because it sounded the rally for that movement. It became an emblem of gay and lesbian power. By calling on the dramatic tactic of violent protest that was being used by other oppressed groups, the events at the Stonewall implied that homosexuals had as much reason to be disaffected as they."

The bar was raided that night simply because people in the bar loved people of the same sex.  Or they dressed like the other sex.  Or they refused to be identified by a gender, or recognized that the sex they were born into did not match the sex of their soul.

Homosexuality was a crime.   At the time, it would also still be listed as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.  It would remain there until 1974.  Being dressed in drag was a likewise a crime.  Patrons of the bar were arrested if they were not found in the "appropriate" attire for their sex.

It's easy to look at all of this as a relic of the past, something we've outgrown.  And we have made progress in this respect, but it's important to remember how long it has taken.  Anti-sodomy laws were not declared unconstitutional until 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas.  This was the case that finally recognized sexual privacy, the ability for two consenting adults to make their own decisions about what happens in the bedroom, without the state's intrusion.   LGBTQ+ were not included in hate crimes protection until 2009.  "Don't ask, don't tell" was only removed in 2011, allowing LGBTQ+ officers to serve openly.  Committed homosexual couples were allowed to have their unions recognized just four years ago, with Obergefell v. Hodges.   It took to this year, for discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community to be prohibited.  

We have come along way.  And in this season of America's history, it's important to remember that this only happened through sweat, through tears, through protest, through violence.  Pride has its roots in a violent opposition to the police.  In violent opposition to a system that was set up to marginalize a segment of the population.  

Sometimes, this is what forces us to acknowledge the issue.

Because there is still a long way to go.  To end housing discrimination against the LGBTQ+ population.  To restore health care to the transgender community that has been taken away by the current administration.

In the meantime, to any LGBTQ+ readers, stay proud.  Keep up the good fight!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

First Day of Summer 2023

Today marks midsummer, the first day of summer, the summer or estival solstice.  This is our longest day of the year, where in the states, depending on your location, you can have 13 to 16 hours of daylight today.

It's that day marking summer magic, the time of enjoying the outdoors, when it's not scorching hot.  Of relaxing on a back porch.  Kids playing in the yard.  Pick up games, camps, and camping.  Of travel.  Of barbecues and cookouts.  Of pools and lakes, rivers and streams.

While I will be indoors most of today, I thought I would celebrate with an appropriate poem.

Hope you get to enjoy the day!

Shine on, O moon of summer. 
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak, 
All silver under your rain to-night. 

An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion. 
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month; 
    to-night they are throwing you kisses. 

An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a 
    cherry tree in his back yard. 

The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch 
    white thoughts you rain down. 

    Shine on, O moon, 
Shake out more and more silver changes. 
Back Yard, Carl Sandburg, The Chicago Poems, 1916

Monday, June 19, 2023

Juneteenth 2023

 "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, 'all slaves are free.'"

June 19, 1865

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued Proclamation 95, an executive order intended to go into effect on January 1, 1863.  The Proclamation would become known as the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing some 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in Confederate states.  

Though the proclamation would be mailed and telegraphed across the country, there would be parts of the Confederacy that would refuse manumission, that is, they would refuse to free their enslaved people despite the order.  Texas was one such state.  The enslaved would not be freed until over two years later, when the Union army reached Galveston.  Union Army General Gordon Granger would announce the proclamation above, informing Texas that all enslaved were free.  

Though all enslaved African Americans would not be freed until the passing of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865, June 19 became a day of celebration in Texas.  Juneteenth.  Emancipation Day.  Jubilee Day.  Celebrations started as early as 1866 and spread across the South.  Though the celebrations became quiet during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era, they experienced a resurgence in the 1970s and in many states the day has become a state holiday.  There is a push now for the day to be a federal holiday.

Though Texans of all stripes probably know about Juneteenth, they may not know why it is celebrated or what it celebrates.  Americans, in general are learning as well.  Congress has made Juneteenth a federal holiday just this year, with President Biden signing the law into effect on June 17, 2021.

If anything, for a large portion of particularly white America, today highlights how badly history has been taught to us.  And we are seeing across several states attempts to keep our ignorance in this area high.

About Emmitt Till.

Or the Tulsa massacre of Black Wall Street, where white rioters tore through the Greenwood district of Tulsa following a misunderstood altercation between a black male shoeshiner and a white female elevator operator.  The riots led to the National Guard being called in.  Estimates of include up to 300 dead, 800 people admitted to hospitals, 6,000 black residents interned at large facilities for several days.  10,000 black people were left homeless and property damage amounted to more than $1.5 million in real estate.  

The Tuskegee Experiments in which African American sharecroppers were used as experiments in order to observe syphilis in African American men.  The program started 1932 and involved 600 participants.  Of the participants, 399 had latent syphilis.  The other 201 were used as a control group.  Those with syphilis were not told they had the disease, only that they were being treated for bad blood.  They were only given placebos, so that the scientists could explore the full range of effects on syphilis on the patients.  The experiments continued until 1972.

About COINTELPRO, the covert and illegal projects conducted by the FBI to discredit political organizations like the Black Power movement, leading to the assassination of Fred Hampton.

About Redlining.

About the Lost Year in Arkansas education, where the governor of Arkansas closed all the white schools following the integration of Little Rock Central High School.   With the view that it would be better for white children to get no education that to share the classroom with a Black child.

The police bombing the MOVE house in a residential neighborhood in Philadelphia in 1985.

And so, so much more.  

Or even learning about more positive points in history.  

Like Madam CJ Walker, the first self-made millionaire in America, an African American woman who ran a successful cosmetic and healthcare company for black women from 1888 to 1919.  

Katherine Johnson, whose orbital mechanics calculations were critical to the success of the United States' crewed spaceflights.  

Robert Smalls, the first Black American in the United States to hold the title of Captain, in 1863.  

Gloria Richardson, who negotiated the Treaty of Cambridge with Attorney General Robert Kennedy.  

Claudette Colvin, who at the age of 15 preceded Rosa Parks in giving up her seat on the bus by a few months.  

Ralph Bunche, the first African American and the first individual of non-European ethnicity or race to be awarded as a Nobel laureate.

This just scratches the surface.  We've segregated history such that we've forgotten that Black history is American history.  And to that end, we've done us all a great disservice.  Much of what we are seeing today is because a large percentage of the population has no idea about the truth of our past.

Further, we are actively engaging in steps to keep the hard parts of our history from being taught.  From teaching about the history of racism in our country.  To ignore the reality of racism in our country today.

Hopefully, today can be the starting point.  Use today to educate yourself on the true, complicated history we have in our past.  And to educate yourself on the problematic systems that we still have in place today.

A good place to start is the Emancipation Proclamation and the history of emancipation.  I've included the full text of the proclamation below and have also linked to an excellent audible version produced by NPR, where their African American correspondents read the proclamation, as mirror to NPR's tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence on July 4.

One part in particular that has always stood out to me in the celebration of Juneteenth, is its recognition as Jubilee Day.  The Jubilee here refers to the Biblical principle of Jubilee, or the Year of Release.  From Leviticus 25:8-12 -

You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years.  Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month.  On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land.  And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.  That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines.  For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field."

The Jubilee is literally a trumpet blast of freedom, a practice in which every 49th year (or 50th year, depending on how you count) slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven, and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.  It was a year of forgiveness and emancipation.  It was also very practical, as it prevented the over accumulation of wealth and arable land in the hands of a few.

African Americans after the Civil War and with the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment recognized their jubilee.  

Perhaps its time for another?

"January 1, 1863

A Transcription

By the President of the United States of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Father's Day 2023

 A father acts on behalf of his children by working, providing, intervening, struggling, and suffering for them.  In so doing, he really stands in their place.  He is not an isolated individual, but incorporates the selves of several people in his own self."

Dietrich Bonhoffer

I love this picture from Sadie’s wedding. PapaRock wanted a picture with his grandkids, but this little girl wanted in too. So, in she came. Welcomed as if that’s exactly where she belonged. The more the merrier. 

It makes me think of a favorite recent quote. On a prominent wall in our living room, opposite the television, we have a series of framed sayings, quotes, and inspirational messages. A description of a Hobbit’s home. A reminder to create not consume. And a reminder that goes something like this,

“As you get more than you need, build a bigger table, not a higher fence.”

It’s at its simplest a reminder to share. But to me it goes so much further. It’s a direction to create a space where more are welcome. Where they can feel like they belong. 

On this Father’s Day, I thank my dad for fostering that sense of welcome. At the store, in our home, and wherever we went. Where my introvert self would want to turn inward, I’m still impressed by Dad’s ability to never meet a stranger, and to find people he knew wherever we went. It continually reminds me that we are all more connected than we could ever imagine and that, if we look for it, this world can be a pretty small place after all. 

So, PapaRock, I pray you’ve had a great Father’s Day today. Though me and my siblings are scattered across three states, I’m thankful for technology that allows us to remain in better touch and look forward to our get together in a coupes of weeks. I pray today has been a full one, with a lot of great laughs and joy from friends and family alike. 

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  We love you!

Friday, June 16, 2023

Jazzy John Romita Sr.


If you recognize a drawing of Spider-man, it's likely one of two people.  Ross Andru, whose work was often used in licensing.  Or John Romita, Sr.

Romita wasn't the first person to draw Spider-man.  Instead, he would follow Steve Ditko following his abrupt departure after issue #38 of The Amazing Spider-Man.  Romita would take over as the penciler of Amazing with #39, starting a run that would encompass over 50 covers and an unbroken run of story art for 56 issues.  A run which would cover some of the ground-breaking Spider-Man stories, like the death of Gwen Stacy.

Though Romita never felt comfortable on Spider-Man, his art would become incredibly linked with the character.  He served as the primary penciler for the newspaper strip for the first four years of its publication.  He worked on the first intercompany crossover with Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, doing art corrections over Ross Andru's pencils.  He would provide the cover for Spider-Man's wedding issue, and several spot issues to come.

"For me, John's Spidey is a design of such perfection and beauty so as to be simply the greatest-looking character in comics, by his hand."
Alex Ross, painter, illustrator, Marvels, Kingdom Come

Romita's career in comics lasted from 1949 into 2010, long enough for the Sr. designation on his name to become important.  His son John Romita, Sr. would follow in his footsteps, becoming a celebrated comics artist in his own right.  And on Amazing Spider-man, even.

Romita passed away in his sleep on June 12, 2023, at the age of 93.  While his presence will be missed, his art and his heart will live on, inspiring us to be heroic, to be human.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

14 Years



Twice 7. 

Twice perfect. 

And though they aren’t equal, at seven years each, it does seem we’ve had two perfect periods. There was our time in Texas. And our time starting here in Indiana.  Both perfect in their own ways. 

Two periods of laughter, of tears, of joy and surprises. Of  struggle and challenge. Of adventure. 

Of love. 

Gorgeous, you are the greatest partner in this life that I could ever find. You support and challenge me and complete my life in a way that I could never have imagined. We are better together. I am eternally grateful for these past fourteen years and look forward to being triply, quadruply, quintuply perfect and more in the years to come. 

Bigger than Godzilla,
All the way to the moon
To infinity and beyond,
To the ends of the earth.

I love you!

And no, you don’t love me more. 

Monday, June 12, 2023

Loving Day 2023

Today is Loving Day, a holiday commemorating the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in the United States at the time.  At a time such as this, Loving Day is one of many important commemorations that occur in June which need to be reflected on, discussed, and remembered.  

Anti-miscegenation laws banned interracial marriage, particularly banning marriage between non-whites and whites.  These laws had existed in many places since the foundation of the United States of America and had not really started to be repealed until after World War II.  At the time of the Supreme Court's decision, the laws remained on the books in sixteen states.

Loving v. Virginia was brought by Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter Loving, a white man and a black woman, a couple who had met and courted for seven years before their marriage.  They first met when Mildred was 11 and Richard was 17.  He was a family friend and over the years they became close.  They married in Washington, D.C. in 1958, when Mildred was 18.  Reportedly, she did not know that interracial marriage was a crime.  They were arrested a few weeks after they returned to their hometown north of Richmond, Virginia.  They pled guilty to charges of "cohabitating as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the commonwealth," and avoided jail by agreeing to leave Virginia and not return for twenty-five years.  The Lovings then moved to Washington, D.C. and began to pursue their appeal.  They wrote the U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who referred them to the American Civil Liberties Union.  The ACLU was able to appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Chief Justice Warren wrote the majority opinion, finding that "the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides within the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State."

The persistence of the Lovings achieved a landmark decision for civil rights in the United States.  Their steadfast devotion to each other, their steadfast declaration of love achieved what politicians and law-makers could not.  

In recognition of the day, we are called to remember. To remember that anti-miscegenation laws are a part of our past.  To not shy away from discussing them.  How many of us come from families or communities where we recognize interracial marriage is not illegal, but we know we would be punished for dating or marrying outside of our race?  Or live in communities that make interracial couples feel like outsiders?  How many of us would warn our children against dating someone who is black, Hispanic, Asian, etc.?

Though we preach in churches that there is "no longer Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female" or black or white, how many of us live as if we are still to be separate?  Though we are all party of the one body of Christ.  These are still questions we need to expose and explore.

Today is also a day for love.  To honor the Loving's marriage by showing love to our fellow human beings.  To gather and celebrate.  Today should be a day of racial unity.  To demonstrate love and harmony between us.

To learn more about Loving Day, visit the website here.  It contains great resources for continued learning on Loving v. Virginia, anti-miscegenation laws, and other similar stories.  We could all stand to be better educated on the subject.

For while we need to see color, so that we can recognize patterns and correct them, so we can celebrate our diversity, so we can strengthen us all, we must remember that love is colorblind.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Happy 9th, Avalyn!

i will tell you, my daughter
of your worth
not your beauty
everyday.  (your beauty is a given, every being is born
knowing your worth
can save your life.
raising you on beauty alone
you will be starved.
you will be raw.
you will be weak.
an easy stomach.
always in need of someone telling you how beautiful you 

nayyirah waheed

To my toothy-grinned, athletic, brave, compassionate, loving, hyper, now Harry Potter obsessed girl, the happiest of birthdays. It seems like just yesterday we brought you home, and now you’re in your last single-digit year. 

We love you more than you can know. May you continue to grow in grace and love. And may you have many more happy returns. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023


“It was unknowable then, but so much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only 6 miles long and 2 miles wide.”

President Barack Obama, on the 65th Anniversary of D-Day

Today marks seventy-nine years since the Allied Invasion of Normandy, France.  The largest seaborne invasion in history, with a force of over 350,000 troops and naval personnel. It began the liberation of France and laid the foundation for Allied victory in the Western Front. 

It remains a defining battle in U.S. military history and has been a part of the public consciousness for these past seventy-nine years. Rightly so, as the fight those troops engaged in is still raging. 

Though World War II is long over, we’re still fighting fascism. We’re fighting actual Nazis and Neo- Nazis.  We’re fighting against the truth that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Fighting those that would use might to define what is right and to exclude those they disagree with, disapprove of, and simply dislike from equality, justice, and fraternity. 

We honor the sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price those seventy-nine years ago. We will not forget them. And we will continue their fight. 

Friday, June 2, 2023

June's Coming

Now have come the shining days
When field and wood are robed anew,
And o’er the world a silver haze
Mingles the emerald with the blue.
Summer now doth clothe the land
In garments free from spot or stain—
The lustrous leaves, the hills untanned,
The vivid meads, the glaucous grain.
The day looks new, a coin unworn,
Freshly stamped in heavenly mint;
The sky keeps on its look of morn;
Of age and death there is no hint.
How soft the landscape near and far!
A shining veil the trees infold;
The day remembers moon and star;
A silver lining hath its gold.
Again I see the clover bloom,
And wade in grasses lush and sweet;
Again has vanished all my gloom
With daisies smiling at my feet.
Again from out the garden hives
The exodus of frenzied bees;
The humming cyclone onward drives,
Or finds repose amid the trees.
At dawn the river seems a shade—
A liquid shadow deep as space;
But when the sun the mist has laid,
A diamond shower smites its face.
The season’s tide now nears its height,
And gives to earth an aspect new;
Now every shoal is hid from sight,
With current fresh as morning dew.
June's Coming, John Burroughs, Short Poetry Collection 054