A Never Ending Day In LA
4:00 PM — A (Caucasian) friend nudges me to go to a protest in Thousand Oaks. It’s mostly young, white people. She is proactively trying to figure out to be a better ally in her space as an educator. I was planning on cleaning, crying, and cleaning all day. This is better. It’s loosely organized by high school aged Black female twins and their Latina friend. They all live in Westlake Village. Best sign ever is my friend’s daughters: “Yes Karen, Black Lives Matter.”
4:20 PM — A few young participants keep running back and across a high traffic intersection. Through my mask, I scream, “Don’t die at this god damn protest!”
4:40 PM — My friend and I encourage the organizers to remind people to vote. They try to come up with phrases that rhyme. They settle on, “Fuck Trump.”
5:30 PM — Young people roll by in Range Rovers and Teslas with Black Lives Matters signs in their hands. My friend remarks on the irony of the privilege of these kids. I get her larger point. We need structural change and revolution that involves equity and opportunity. Not just a protest here or there. I ask her to think of the alternative. These neighborhood kids watch it real time on social, and don’t give a fuck. Instead, they moved their bodies and drove here to express their rage. Coalition building is hard. My husband keeps commenting on the number of white people at these protests all across the country. He hopes it’s a sign of true change. I am more cynical but I will take what I can get.
5:45 PM — An acquaintance from the Indivisible Activist Group gives me his sign before he leaves. It reads, “I can’t breathe. — George Floyd.” Everyone chants the last words of so many Black men. I can’t bring myself to utter them because I am barely hanging on. As a Black mom, I have been barely hanging on for a while now. I would have melted in a way that would have been distracting to the cause. I would see my dad who was beaten almost to death by the police at a protest before I was even born. I would see my sweet, kind, tall, dark, and handsome husband who’s turning 45 in a few hours. I think of all the conversations about something as banal as tags. “Shauna, if you get pulled over for expired tags, it’s something. But if I get pulled over by the police…” If I chant those words, I would think of my son who is 14 and starting High School in a few months. Instead, I use the sign to cover my whole face and body. I wave it as drivers who honk their horns in support. I use it to shield myself. If this were a mostly Black crowd, I probably would have let myself crumble into some auntie’s bosom, for a minute until I gathered myself. Even though I am lecturing about inclusion, I am feeling a sense of otherness. I realize that I am regulating my Blackness and my pain even at a time like this.
5:30 PM — Reports of looting in Santa Monica and parts of Los Angeles. I live an hour away in Thousand Oaks. But I have many loved ones there. We’re texting often. I recently closed a business in the heart of Black LA. Wondering how that community is doing.
6:20 PM — Social distanced dinner at the only restaurant that’s open because, oh yeah, Covid-19 is still real, and killing my people faster than anyone else.
9:00 PM — Try to stay awake to toast my husband for his birthday.
9:45 PM — Out like a baby.
6:00 AM — Blood gushes out of me. It’s my period. And the rage of a Black mom just trying to keep her family alive and well during Covid-19 and MAGA.
6:30 AM — Finish my Census job application.
7:00 AM — Create home improvement projects to stay away from screens with news. Clean the garage while listening to a comedy podcast, “What What Crappens.”
10:00 AM — Drop off donations to Goodwill.
10:30 AM — Read about brush fire at Channel Islands. It’s an island. Intellectually, I know it can’t reach us. But still…
11:00 AM — Birthday boy watches in horror at the looting in LA. I wish that I could take him to a nice dinner, a sports bar, or a movie. Oh, yeah, Covid-19 ruined it all.
12:00 PM — Blood on my new couch. Scotchguard ain’t shit. Carefully trying to remove the itty bitty stain. Hydrogen peroxide…
3:00 PM — My husband and son are at The Outlets buying USC gear on sale. Stores are closing early due to looting. Camarillo is an hour and a half from LA.
3:20 PM — Use the WGA platform to find open writing opportunities and managers to submit my scripts to because this is LA.
4:15 PM — Our kids ask us logical questions about why this is happening, who marches, who steals, and who sets fires? I have no good answers. I speak sentences but they make no sense.
5:00 PM — My son tells us there’s a Snapchat telling people to go to crash the protest at the mall and steal shit. Social media is a sneaky bitch sometimes.
5:10 PM — One of my stepdaughters said the Westlake Village protest was putting on a show in a perfectly safe space. This daughter doesn’t feel like her life is in danger when she interacts with police officers. She did something that I would never do, watch the video of George Floyd being murdered by uniform officers, and she still isn’t afraid. I am so relieved that she doesn’t carry the same burdens as her dad and me. I silently wonder if I failed as a parent. Does she know she’s a nigga?
5:30 PM — I pick up my husband’s birthday ice cream cake. In the flavors that he likes, they only have a unicorn theme. It’s foam green with… Is that a tierra on top?
5:39 PM — Amber alert sounds from my phone. It’s a curfew for LA County. Part of Westlake Village is in LA County. This is my first time ever getting a text from the man about a curfew.
6:00 PM — Try to escape by watching Bravo’s Married to Medicine in Los Angeles. The cast takes their kids to a museum and explains the “hands up, don’t shoot” art piece, and how sometimes, police officers shoot unarmed Black men. There’s no escaping this. I was born Black. Gonna die Black.
6:45 PM — We sing happy birthday to my husband. The kids call him Princess Weldon and unicorn. We had blood, tears, corona, curfews, brushfire, rebellions, riots, and now, unicorns.
That’s an LA day.