The Privilege Of Being Entitled Yet Feeling Aggrieved

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

What must it feel like to feel white?

I’ve visited the Capitol. My invitation didn’t quite require an act of Congress however it did require an act from a Congressman. How exciting it was for my family to leave our house in Atlanta to tour everyone’s house in DC.

As I recently turned on my TV and watched Trump’s repugnant traitors tour everyone’s House, I did so not so much with shock as I did so with awe. I can only imagine their exuberance. I can only imagine their freedom. They stormed the US Capitol…in broad daylight…while defacing and taking property…while facing cameras and taking pictures? …


If Black Lives, Reproductive Freedom And Voter Suppression Matter, Don’t Just Vote Biden and Harris To The White House, Vote Democrats To The Georgia State House

Image for post
Image for post
Black Lives Matter March in May

Marches, I’ve missed a few, but this November feels like a march to me.

I missed the Black Lives Matter marches in May but I won’t miss the one in November. Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the white woman who may or may not have been named Karen who falsely accused the black bird watcher, awakened the collective consciousness of quarantined communities across the country and the world.

Black lives matter, they shouted because Black lives didn’t, they realized. …


When I see Kamala Harris, I see my daughters.

Image for post
Image for post
My Daughters 20 Or So Years Ago

I remember that big November night in ’08 when I had a house full of crying guests.

It was indeed festive. We had gumbo and chicken and cake and wine. We killed time by making small talk while awaiting the moment. And then it happened. A Black guy, it didn’t really matter his name, became president. But not just America’s president, OUR president of America.

At the time, I didn’t even know most of my guests. It didn’t really matter their names, either. Relatively new to my suburban neighborhood, I invited everyone nearby who I thought would share my pride. Not just any pride, Black pride. …


For a single day, I needed that sense of security

A multiple exposure photo of a Black man.
A multiple exposure photo of a Black man.
Photo: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

I’m Black and 6'4" every day, and I’m 210 pounds most days.

Today I awoke with the single objective. Today I would not be Black. As proud as I am and as ironic as it may be, I needed, if only for this day, to be free of the burden I wear that can often be damn near enslaving.

I woke up in the comfort of my safe bed, and I worked in the comfort of my safe home. I exercised in the comfort of my garage and cooked in the comfort of my kitchen. I ate in the comfort of my own chair. …


Despite Our Distance, That Day My Dad Taught Me A Lesson I’ll Never Forget

Image for post
Image for post
Me

Yesterday would have been my dad’s birthday. I know because my mom told me so. I didn’t forget. I didn’t remember. I simply didn’t know. I’ve simply never known. I’ve never cared enough to know.

He died several years ago. Before he died, he met my children. He met my wife. “That man is daddy’s daddy,” I remember hearing my older daughter whisper to my younger daughter. They never really knew him.

Neither did I, really.

I heard the stories about him. Of which most of them I’m not too fond. Many of them paint him as someone who was fun, someone who was the life of any party. Too many of them paint him as someone who was irresponsible, someone who failed to live up to his promise. …


White privilege isn’t only the caramel and chocolate and cream and cherry on top, it’s also the vanilla underneath.

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Skeeze from Pixabay

I can’t wait Till sundae.

I’ve been waiting for many a lifetime. I’d rather not wait for mine. It’s not that I don’t want the whole sundae. It sure looks tasty from afar. But for now, after Emmitt and Trayvon and Jordan and Tamir. After Botham and Atatiana. After Renisha and Jonathan and after the other one or ten thousand prior to and subsequent of, a scoop of vanilla will do.

Sure, the toppings of white privilege would be nice. Sometimes they are big, like greater inherited wealth and greater job prospects and greater healthcare. And sometimes they are little, like sharing a park without challenging someone’s sense of serenity and sharing an elevator without challenging someone’s sense of security and sharing a neighborhood without challenging someone’s sense of sanctity. …


Will she grow up to be an angry black woman? God, I hope so!

Image for post
Image for post
Your mom and me

I have three to 48 hours to write you a love letter.

I better think fast, write fast and edit a little because my daughter, your mother, is in labor. I’m going to be a grandfather — -your grandfather. And if the doctors are correct, Ava, you’ll be here in 3 to 48 hours.

What will you look like? What will you sound like? Will you cry a lot like your mother? For the sake of payback, I hope so. Will you be strong-willed like your grandmother? For the sake of future success, I hope so. Will you be nurturing and supportive and encouraging like your great-grandmothers? …


When I see Biden hug those who would rather hang me, I question whether I can hang with him.

Image for post
Image for post
Senator James Eastland (Public Domain)

Appearances matter.

Somehow, after 50 years of public life, Joe Biden seemingly doesn’t understand this. Somehow after 50 years of public life, he seemingly believes he can publicly befriend my enemy and remain my friend. Somehow after 50 years of public life, he continually sees virtue in those whose objectives are diametrically opposed to mine. He sees virtue in the vile, those who see no virtue in me.

Perhaps I’m a fast learner but in my line of work, it didn’t take me 50 years to learn that appearances matter.

I’m a criminal defense attorney. I genuinely like some of the prosecutors with whom I work although our objectives are diametrically opposed. I want the freedom for those I defend. They want their imprisonment, often for long periods of time.

I learned that when those I defend see me laughing and joking and cavorting with the person whose objective is to imprison them, they rightly question my objective. They rightly question whether I’m on their side. They rightly question the one thing that matters most: whether they can trust me.

In my line of work, trust is everything. And when trust is everything, appearances matter.

Whether pathological, whether pragmatic, Joe Biden seemingly cherishes civility over principle. He talks fondly of his dinners and fine times with the likes of Senator James Eastland, my avowed enemy. His objectives were diametrically opposed to mine. I wanted to live a long life of equality and dignity. He wanted me dead. I view that chasm as irreconcilable. Joe Biden seemingly views it as a mere political disagreement that shouldn’t ruin a good meal.

There is a line, not very fine, where one crosses from the political to the personal. There are those who hold views, not very fine, that disallow civil discourse. James Eastland crossed that line. James Eastland held those views. Unlike Joe Biden, I cannot stomach them. I cannot stomach him.

“In every stage of the bus boycott, we have been oppressed and degraded because of the black, slimy, juicy, unbearably stinky niggers…All whites are created equal with certain rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of dead niggers.” …


November 23rd, 2016 as I recovered from November 8, 2016 or so I thought.

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving, the sun will shine again. Tuesday November 8th, 2016 was election morning. Ever since, I’ve been in election mourning. Time to move on. Time to be me again.

Image for post
Image for post
Tim Mossholder/Pexels

America has been around for a while. Surely it’s elected racist presidents before. But I thought that was in America’s racist past. Surely it’s elected sexist presidents before. But I thought that was in America’s sexist past. Surely it’s elected xenophobic presidents before. But I thought that was in America’s xenophobic past. But then November 8th happened. And now the person I used to be is in the past.

I never imagined that I needed to build an ark. I’m a weather junkie. I read all the forecasts. I’d been reading them for months. All the meteorologists said the sun would shine. The Huffington Post’s meteorologist said there was a 99 percent chance of sun. The Princeton Election’s meteorologist said the
same. The meteorologist of all meteorologists, Nate Silver’s prediction hovered around 80 percent chance of sun and bright skies. …


I am crying over the killing of Pamela Turner but why am I crying alone?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Micael Widell from Pexels

I’m tired of crying over killer cops killing unarmed black people but more than that, I’m tired of crying alone.

Before tonight is over, I’ll be crying. Again. Alone. A killer cop killed an unarmed black woman. I’ll look at the video of the Texas killer cop killing Pamela Turner. She said she was pregnant. Her family says she wasn’t pregnant but mentally ill. I’ll think about the the killer cop not knowing about her biological condition but being trained to gauge her mental condition. I’ll think about the unthinkable, me losing one of my daughters. I’ll think about her parents unimaginably losing one of theirs. I’ll cry. I’ll think about America acting as if it’s normal. I’ll remember that it is. …

About

Arnold Mays Ragas

A husband. A father. A former member of the Georgia House of Representatives. A former judge. Now, an indigent defense attorney winning unwinnable trials.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store