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The False Liberation of Swearing

Originally posted on Red's Wrap: Swearing is liberating. Cursing, using foul language, whatever you want to call it can make a person feel tougher, more powerful. A woman cursing says she could give a s**t about what other people think, she’s unaware or uncaring about what’s ladylike and what’s not. She can go to…

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Back Up

Originally posted on Red's Wrap: Once in the mountains of Colorado after nearly two weeks of traveling in our ’48 Ford, after days of my mother’s infamous silent treatment, and after an hour of trying to get his notoriously temperamental light meter to work so he could take a decent picture of Pike’s Peak, my father tossed the light meter in the roadside trashcan and told us all to get back in the car because “We’re going home now.” Earlier in this ill-fated trip, my brother, who was 14 at the time, dropped a rock from a cliff aimed squarely for my 11-year old sister’s blond head twenty feet…

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The textbook for my class came yesterday in the mail. It’s a little chilling, especially the bars on the eyes. I haven’t been a student for a long time but it was really my favorite thing. Oh, not when I was in grade school or high school. Then school was a dread festival in all…

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5 Reasons White People Can’t Talk about Race

Originally posted on Red's Wrap: Say, you gathered a group of five of your White friends and five of Your Black friends and asked them to have a no-holds barred discussion about race. My prediction echoes Major Strasser in Casablana, “You would find the conversation a trifle one-sided.” Your Black friends would be ready, their ideas formed, their sentences flowing like legal arguments pitched by Harvard-trained attorneys in front of the Supreme Court. Your White friends would nod. It’s true. I know of which I speak. I’ve been one of the mute, nodding White people. I think there are a lot of reasons why White people are so tongue-tied when…

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Curfew in Milwaukee

Tell the kids to come home It’s dark out there There are cars driving fast And people with guns Tell the kids to come home Sit still on the couch Listen for the army And hold their breath Tell the kids to come home Put on their pajamas Draw pictures with markers And pretend they are small Tell the kids to come home Remind them what happened Say the whole long story And give them hope  

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Virginia’s Voyagers

I’ve written about my mother many times. She was an enigma, the entire time I knew her. She was cool, gathered, quiet and definite. She was tailored and streamlined, her blouse always pressed and her seams straight. She was careful and spare. Her entire presence was like a cool cloth on a fevered brow. I…

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The Eventual Freedom of Not Belonging

The first time I ate dinner alone in a restaurant I had fettuccine in cream sauce with peas. There’s a name for that dish but I don’t remember it. I do remember holding a biography of Princess Diana on my lap, a hardcover book, one of a dozen I’d bought at the Harvard bookstore where…

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