The ‘Not All…’ Rebuttal Debate Continues

How about saying “Not all protesters are looters?” That’s the snarky response I’ve gotten the most as a rebuttal to my recent op-ed titled “Not the time for ‘not all’ rebuttals to racism.” I even received the bellow email from a reader that I’ve decided to share my response to with the encouragement from Enquirer Opinion Editor Kevin Aldridge. Here’s the reader email:

Dear Ms. Feldkamp:

Please consider the following challenge. Try to look at it as an invitation to exercise your skills at listening to and understanding others’ perspectives.

Challenge:
Write another version of your opinion article in the June 7, 2020, Enquirer, this time using the headline “Not the time for ‘not all’ rebuttals to rioting, looting, destroying property, and injuring innocent people.” Try to structure it the same way you structured your article. Then submit it to the Enquirer for publication.

Are you game to take this challenge? Being in your position as [communications] director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, it will make me really wonder if you’re not.”

MY RESPONSE:
Dear Sir,

Thank you for reading and taking the time to write a response.

My mom died when I was seven. I couldn’t fully process its effect on me until years later and through my adolescence I raged, I destroyed property, and I hurt innocent people. In middle school, I was arrested for destroying a wooden fence behind what was then a fast-food restaurant. When the police officer showed up, he didn’t believe I was the one who’d done it. My group of friends included two male friends who were with me when it happened. I told the cop I had done it. He still didn’t believe me until after he compared my bloody fists to those of my male friends. They were innocent.

When I went to court, my punishment was to write an essay about ten positive ways I could deal with my anger. The result was I did not end up with vandalism on my record. I can’t help but wonder now if being a white girl played into my light sentence.

I was angry, I was grief-stricken, and unable to process such a great loss. This may not seem relevant but hang in there with me and I’ll explain.

I have a hard time labeling looters or even differentiating looting from other forms of protest. I was certainly protesting when I destroyed that fence. I was also forcing my father to deal with me while he was having a hard time processing his own troubles.

I had lost one invaluable person – my mother.

What we are experiencing in the aftermath of George Floyd and Breona Taylor’s murders are examples of open, active grieving from the community.

The black community has not lost one person. They have lost generations of family members. They have lost family names, lineage, languages, traditions, dignity, and still continue on with no opportunity to grieve what they’ve already lost, because they just keep losing.

I recently interviewed Mark McConville, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist and author of the book Failure to Launch. We talked about some of the reasons adolescents struggle in their transition to adulthood. McConville says many people struggle to achieve the three skills of adulthood, which are to become Responsible, Relational, and Relevant. And the more you layer on trauma, the harder it becomes.

I shared my story of rebellion and destruction with Dr. McConville, and also told him how, following my destructive teens, I ended up homeless for two years – floundering until I found my footing as an adult.

Dr. McConville told me, “If you think of the alternative as being deeply bereft and depressed… or becoming void of any emotional expression, then what you did is far preferable.” What rebellion and protest says is “I am not going to succumb to this loss, I’m going to do everything I can to recruit adults so like-it-or-not they’re going to have to be involved in my life. I tend to think of that as heroic.”

Protesters. Looters. Those destroying property. All are protesting. Standing up and acting out, and forcing a system built on inequities to like-it-or-not be involved in community change that addresses its failures.

Even as a homeless person, which was not easy for me, I know that my privilege gave me an advantage to make it through. So, while it’s not the time for “Not All…” rebuttals of any kind, maybe it’s also not the time to get caught up in semantics with tit-for-tat conversations. We are an adolescent nation under trauma looking to take that leap into maturity which requires us as a nation to become Responsible, Relational, and Relevant into a better future.


This was the op-ed that spurred the retorts

For more articles on social justice go to my Articles and Clips page.

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Quarantine Cooking

Paratha for quarantine cooking

It was my husband’s insight that helped me plan for “quarantine cooking.” I tend to draw from my parenting experience when I write so it was nice to start with Felipe this time. 😊 While Frozen Pizza and Mac-n-Cheese flew off the grocery store shelves my husband steered us towards the international isle to load up on rice, beans, and bouillon cubes. My husband’s mother is Mexican born and knows how to cook delicious meals from scratch using basic dry stock goods.

Sahibzada Farhana Quarantine Cooking
Sahibzada Farhana

Chef Farhana Sahibzada has the impulse – to return to traditional food cooked from dry stock goods that have a long shelf life. She says her quarantine cooking habits start with lentils and homemade paratha. Her recipe she was gracious enough to share with me for the article. It’s from her cookbook Flavorful Shortcuts to Indian/Pakistani Cooking for families to try at home. She also has YouTube Tutorials for some of her recipes that are helpful.

“Most families have only so much freezer space. Instead of stocking up on ready-made mac-n-cheese or frozen pizza, save that space for perishables like meat, dairy, and vegetables. Then stock your pantry with basic dry ingredients that have a long shelf life. This pandemic has given many families the gift of time, so why not use some of that time for cooking meals from scratch, together?”

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp

Read more about Chef Farhana and get that Paratha recipe at the link below.

If you like this article about Quarantine Cooking check out a few of my other links about #QuarantineLife:

CDC Guidelines: 10 Quarantine Do’s and Don’ts for Teenagers
Asymptomatic Teens and Mental Health Concerns
Grow Flowers and Foster Mental Health: The Benefits of Gardening

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp Essay Included in New Anthology

I am thrilled to be one of the writers Gina Barreca has invited to contribute to a new Woodhall Press anthology and can not wait to read the full table of contents. I am, no doubt, in good company!

Gina has invited dozens of the smartest, funniest, and best women writers to submit pieces that have the shimmer of humor, and also the deep shine of significant ideas. This will be a landmark collection in the world of women’s humor and women’s stories.


Louis CK made #MeToo Hit Closer to Home

#MeToo

#MeTooThe Louie CK story is one familiar to me. His statement bubbled up a story of something similar that happened to me when I was 31 years old. I was watching my daughter play with her cousins in the backyard.

It was a hot sunny day and I decided to lie out on a towel and get some sun. In a two piece bathing suit, this mom was suddenly aware that the older neighbor man was excited by this. When I glanced his way, he showed me his erection.

What do I do?

This man muttered breathy things about “that puss” as he gratified himself.

The kids were oblivious and playing. I chose to ignore this creepy neighbor guy. He never touched me. He never asked me for anything, but he masturbated and he wanted me to know that I had prompted his excitement. He knew I would maintain normalcy for the sake of the kids.

I could have done more.

I could have made a stink.

I could have told him off.

My silence was not consent.

But I do feel guilt about it. I wonder if the man thought my consent was implied with my decision to do nothing but wish it to be finished soon.

I hadn’t told anyone that story until yesterday.

After reading Louis CK’s statement, I told my husband.

This one hurts.

Louis CK was a guy who in our eyes “got it.”

We quoted him daily.

We bought his shows. His movies. His stand up. Even the stuff for $5 from his website.

We watched him with our daughters.

We were fans.

I’m reading articles from people saying they could’ve done more – they should’ve done more. Because they knew the rumors were plentiful enough that they knew something was up.

I think we can all pinpoint a time in our lives where we could have done more. And we can “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” all day long.

I remind myself that as we raise badass kids who speak up and speak out, we also have to remind them that sometimes it is okay to get through the situation and survive. Especially when you are the victim.

Whatever choice a person makes it will, no doubt, riddle them with guilt.

The neighbor guy does not haunt me (other horrors hold that honor).

Did he make my skin crawl? Yes.

Did it gross me out? Of course.

But he did not wreck my life. I did not have to work with him. He was not my mentor or boss. I wrote him off as a creep, kept my distance and a close eye on my kids.

I’ll likely treat Louis CK in the same manner. Distance myself from his work I once loved. I’ll catch myself remembering something he quipped and replace it with something more meaningful to me now.

It’s too bad. I really thought he was one of the good guys.

Ricky Gervais, don’t fail me now.

It is not my fault as a fan and it is not anyone else’s fault as a comic or co-writer or production company that believed in his work.

The fault lies squarely with Louis CK as it also does with the creepy neighbor.

***

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer, wife, and mom of three kids whose ages span two decades. Her work has appeared in the New York Times; Brain, Child Magazine; Scary Mommy and more. Her Cincinnati Family mom blog earned Best Overall Blog in the 2017 Ohio Society of Professional Journalists Awards. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @WriterBonnie or on her website at WriterBonnie.com.