Tag Archives: DungeonPrompts

Police Brutality and Fear

Howard University students protesting police brutality in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri
A conversation is taking place at Dungeon Prompts regarding whether, and how, race colors our perceptions of police brutality.

My perception of police brutality is colored by my personal experiences, which are colored by my racial status.

The Context

A couple of weeks ago, Michael Brown — an unarmed black young man — was shot to death by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Witnesses say that Mike’s hands were in the air when he was shot.

My Personal Experiences

As a white woman, I was raised to present myself effectively in a non-threatening way, and people perceived me as respectable and trustworthy. They didn’t read my mind. I was fantasizing about using my advantage to become a professional criminal when I grew up. (My desire to continue to be trusted, and to feel free from the haunting paranoia that I stifled after each incident, deterred me from following such a plan when I was still a teenager.)

As I was deciding to be a criminal, someone very close and dear to me married a man who became a police officer. As he took on the responsibilities of being a rookie, he had to walk the beat in the most dangerous areas of New York City during the most dangerous times. Their relationship became explosive. One day, while he felt enraged during an argument, he took out his gun and pointed it at her. Eventually, she discovered that this was not acceptable behavior in our culture, and she filed for divorce.

Years later, I was in a similar situation in which I no longer felt safe with my husband. Eventually, I, too, discovered that this was not acceptable behavior in our culture, and escaped to safety, with the help of supportive friends.

Around the same time, someone very dear to me found police waiting for him at his home. They strategically persuaded him that he met the description of someone who had committed a violent crime. The long and aggressive interrogation ended with, “We know that you did this. We’re going to get you.”

Conclusion

In these three cases, each aggressive man — who was a highly valued member of his community — felt fear, and misdirected it toward someone whom he identified as a threat, like in Ferguson, Missouri. How can such behavior ever be considered acceptable?

I want to feel safe. Even though my race and socioeconomic status assure me that I am not a likely target, events of police brutality hinder my trust, and feed any paranoia that has a chance to dwell in me.

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Strike Forward to Let Go

I LOVE THE PHILOSOPHIES OF
 response-ability.
 learning by exploration.

I SAY THAT I
 strike forward with optimistic expectations.
 do all that I can do.

person approaching a goal sign, but the path to get there is broken

I AIM TO BE A
 high achiever.
 model of kindness.

I AM INSPIRED TO
 reach further.
 dream bigger.

I WANT MY LIFE PATH TO BE
 cohesive.
 shared.

Do I really live by these goals? What do I actually do?

a calm ocean at night

I actually let go of all that I want and expect: I summon each desire and dread, gaze upon it, savor the hope that I tied to it, explore the contours, and let it go. I cry over the loss of each one until I feel empty: my hands, mind and soul seem bare.

Then I am floating, flat on my back on a calm ocean at night. When I open my “eyes,” all I see is the stars of infinity. When I look at the horizon, I see shadowy trees overhanging a distant beach, and darkness beyond that. I hear slip-slaps of the dlippling water. I relax on the rippling cushion of the water’s surface. My breath and the salt water keep me afloat. My heels settle down a little as I breathe in, and level out as I breathe out. I am here, now. I enjoy this time of peace, however long it lasts, in this timeless place. This place just is.

Eventually a wave comes along that energizes me and aligns me with opportunities. I ride the wave for as long as I can, usually exhausting it. It beaches me at a distant land, to explore and gather wants and expectations.

Some time later, the tide rolls in, and the ocean reclaims me.

.

“Goal” image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
modified by Grace Buchanan.

“Ocean Night” image is a composite of “Under the Stars” by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes,
“Two Planet-hunters Snapped at La Silla” by European Southern Observatory / Alexandre Santerne, via Wikimedia Commons, and
“Untitled” by cuisy for openphoto.net.
“Ocean Night” is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 by Grace Buchanan.

Jode Gray: Toruses, Magnetic Fields, and feasts of links

Dungeon Prompts inspired me to introduce you to Jode Gray. I think the world of her, and am surprised that she has few conspicuous visitors.

Jode Gray’s Ivy might lead you to think that her blog is a stroll in a park. However, her headers on each page can tip you off that this blogger is an unusual artist.

I have read very few of Jode’s posts. I wandered into her mysterious world when I clicked on her Articles link on her homepage. Most of what she wrote was over my head, until she conversed with me in the comments section. She is completely awesome because she is a great teacher. For example, she introduced me to Toruses, and explained how they, and one of her sketches, resemble magnetic fields.

a Torus

depiction of a magnetic field

a sketch by Jode Gray

Then, she taught me how to draw Toruses. I have been studying her Toruses page for over a month. It is fascinating.

Each of her pages includes videos and/or a feast of links for more information.

She is like the umbrella in a picture that she drew years ago:

From Jode Gray's childhood artwork

She guides us as we venture from a familiar, plain white page to places where new experiences are like colorful drops of rain: bewildering and enticing.

Jode Gray: “Like” her and leave her (comments). 🙂

Rough SeaRough Sea With Wreckage,
J. M. W. Turner [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s take Mark Twain’s challenge:
“throw off the bowlines,
sail away from safe harbor,
catch the trade winds” in our sails… 

The air is fresh.
Our lungs swell
with the wind that fills the sails of our boat.

The sky is bright.
Our vision is sharp.
We look ahead at the cleared way.
The wind is pushing us further
from the safety of the shore,

out to a calm sea.
Our feet are firm on the floor
of our steady boat.

We are so alone,
we can hear our own breathing.
The air clears out our memories for this fresh re-start.

Now that we are out at sea,
the salt water mist in the air lands on our lips.
Salty sweet,
it tastes of all the foods we enjoy,
in one symphony
of satisfying ecstasy.

Along comes the inevitable storm.
Who doesn’t like a roaring storm?
This is our daydream,
so we stand tall

in the mountainous waves,
among bolts of lightning,
and even get struck numerous times.
We revel in the electric energy,
enjoying each moment of being charged.
Rain
scrubs our bodies
with invigorating massage.
We enjoy the feel of each muscle fiber
balancing us on this rough sea.

Now all is calm again.
We can only see the horizon
though we look all around.

We’re here now,
one with all,
and all is nothing.

We take the paddles that we just found, and sweep away the water to where life is.
We feel hunger
and thirst
and yearning.
We immerse ourselves in the hustle and bustle of the flashing lights
and crossing paths
as we seek satiation.
The rhythm of life beats in our hearts.
What we see and hear fills our veins.
We mentally record what we now have:
wisdom that we carry from having been at sea,
and thus
we are now immigrants
in this place called Life.

But
to present one’s self as an immigrant to life
is to put on

a pretentious mask.
We are all immigrants
in this place called Life.
We rip off any mask and breastplate
that we find on each other,
and expose each others soft underbellies.
There, we reveal thoughts we have been harboring,
which we must now bare and share,
because keeping them covered robs us of
life,
and robs everyone of our gifts.