This Presidency is Killing Relationships—and We’re All Grieving

By JOHN PAVLOVITZ

I’ll never understand it.

As long as I live, it will never really make sense to me.

Yeah, I’ve read all the research, analyzed all the data, digested a thousand think pieces, and watched countless late night cable TV commentaries over the past four years—and all of them together still don’t add up to this.

They don’t explain once rational, otherwise decent, educated people fully taking leave of their senses: people I’ve grown up with, served on mission trips with, families who’ve had my kids over for sleepovers, older relatives I spent decades aspiring to become, ministers I once respected for their compassion—a rapidly growing army of people who I was sure knew better than this.

Nothing adequately explains their complete rejection of Science.
Nothing completely accounts for them instantly embracing the most nonsensical of conspiracies.
Nothing truly prepared me for their social media explosions of racism.
Nothing fully connects the dots between their past goodness and this present ugliness.

I can microscopically parcel out every conceivable contributing factor: white supremacy, the pro-life lie, Fox News propaganda, toxic masculinity, Evangelical indoctrination, intellectual laziness, manipulated nationalism, unchecked capitalism, hatred for Hillary, political fatigue, disenfranchisement, fear of replacement, and celebrity worship:

They fail to adequately explain how I lost people I loved and respected.
They don’t cushion the pain of these separations.
They don’t make it easier for me to grieve the loss of living people.
They don’t comfort me in these relational funerals.

And as much as I am in mourning, I know that these people are likely similarly grieving me right now; that they too are lamenting their own list of ways they imagine I’ve changed or lost the plot or abandoned my convictions or betrayed my religion—and they’re wondering where they lost me.

I think that’s the smaller, more devastating story we’re not telling right now; the one far below the bold type trending news. It isn’t America’s clear compound fractures of  partisan battles, issue differences, loud tribalism, and attention-stealing sideshow press conferences that are doing the greatest damage right now. The real mortal wound to this nation is coming from the relational internal bleeding measured around kitchen tables and in church pews and in neighborhoods. It is the interpersonal separations that we’re all experiencing: hundreds of millions of losses to collectively mourn every day.

We’re not just being pulled apart along political lines, but the fragile, time-woven fabric of our most intimate connections with people are being torn in two right now. Marriages, families, lifelong friendships, faith communities, and social circles that survived every previous assault from within and without—may not survive this presidency.

And the worst part, is that the election results aren’t going to fix this.

They’re going to leave half of us elated and the other half sickened—and that emotional divide is only going to grow and strain to sever the already tenuous ties between us. There will certainly be a massive wave of ghostings and unfriendings, more silent disconnections and explosive middle-finger send-offs, more aborted family gatherings and cold silences with our neighbors. There will be a greater separation in the small and the close spaces where life is truly measured—and I’m not sure how we prevent or repair it.

I imagine some relationships will manage to survive this beyond November—if we invest in them, if we keep listening, if we have willing participants in mutual understanding—but others will not, and that’s probably necessary. Maybe we’ve simply seen too much about the deepest contents of people’s hearts to ever feel safety in their presence again. Maybe we’ll never feel like they are home for us anymore.

Either way, we need to name and reckon with this very specific and metastatic grieving: the accumulating losses of people we love who are still here, the death of our relationships.

It is a national tragedy.

Source: This Presidency is Killing Relationships—and We’re All Grieving

France’s Assa Traore honoured for her anti-racism activism at BET Awards

International activist Assa Traore, whose brother Adama was killed in French police custody four years ago, was given the BET Global Good award on Sunday.

Traore thanked BET, an American television channel dedicated to African-American and minority people, for the award, calling it “an acknowledgment of our fight.”

“It’s an acknowledgment for all the victims, for all the families who keep fighting for truth and justice,” she said in a video message played during the virtual awards ceremony.

The award is “BET International’s recognition of public figures who use their platform for social responsibility and goodness while demonstrating a commitment to the welfare of the global Black community,” according to the channel’s website.

Before her brother’s death, Traore, who has been dubbed the French Angela Davis after the US political activist, had never been someone who campaigned for a cause.

But the 35-year-old mother of three was thrust into the heart of the global fight against police violence and racism by the death in Minneapolis police custody last month of George Floyd.

For four years, she campaigned, organized demonstrations, spoke out publicly and gave numerous interviews after alleging her brother was killed by the police. An investigation is still ongoing.

For a long time, the “Adama fight” remained a local battle unnoticed outside France. But the death of George Floyd has catapulted it into the global consciousness.

Thousands of people demonstrated in Paris in early June and hundreds of others took to the streets across France against racism.

“In the name of my brother, I will change everything I can change,” Traore told AFP on Saturday.

Source: France’s Assa Traore honoured for her anti-racism activism at BET Awards

Black Visions of France: the Other Expat Writers You Should be Reading – Frenchly

From James Baldwin to Jake Lamar, there are so many incredible black writers who have made Paris their home.

Langston Hughes

Every white writer who’s been to France has an essay, a memoir, a novel, or a poetry collection about the country. It’s practically a rite of passage. But Paris didn’t cease to exist once Hemingway was done with it. There are countless black writers who expatriated to France and wrote about the country with just as much insight and skill. So if you want to understand or live the expat experience, it’s time you start reading about the other side of it. (Consider also purchasing from a local black-owned bookstore, like Sisters Uptown Bookstore in NYC, Mahogany Books in Washington D.C., or Black Pearl Books in Austin.)

James Baldwin

Where to start, but with James Baldwin? The Harlem-born writer moved to Paris in the middle of the twentieth century, at the age of 24, to escape the racism and prejudice he faced in America. In addition to works like Go Tell It On The Mountain and Notes on a Native Son, one of Baldwin’s must-reads is Giovanni’s Room, a quasi-autobiographical novel about a young black man who takes up with a handsome Italian in Paris, and one of the seminal works of black queer fiction.

Continue reading “Black Visions of France: the Other Expat Writers You Should be Reading – Frenchly”

Police violence: “What Camélia Jordana says is obvious, it is the astonishment she meets which is astonishing”

Invited to France 2 on Saturday May 23, the singer and actress Camélia Jordana denounced the police violence at work in France, arousing a very hostile reaction from the Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner but also from several police unions. Documentary filmmaker and writer David Dufresne, specialist in police violence, returns to the Inrockuptibles on this sequence and what it says about maintaining order today in France.

What did you think of the intervention of Camélia Jordana, who explained on France 2 that “there are thousands of people (including herself) who do not feel safe in the face of a cop”  ?

David Dufresne – I think she expresses the obvious, and what is surprising is the astonishment that her intervention provides: for the past thirty years, we have witnessed a confrontation between the police and part of the population , brutalization of this confrontation. Police violence is today a subject of society and, in a certain way, the sequence of Saturday evening is a bit the coronation of that: that a program as harmless as ONPC addresses this question is all the same the sign that there is a real debate that must open. For years now, Continue reading “Police violence: “What Camélia Jordana says is obvious, it is the astonishment she meets which is astonishing””

Americans In Paris

A weekly public radio program and podcast. Each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme.Many Americans have dreamy and romantic ideas about Paris, notions which probably trace back to the 1920s vision of Paris created by the expatriate Americans there. But what’s it actually like in Paris if you’re an American, without rose-colored glasses?

Listen at THIS AMERICAN LIFE: Americans In Paris

A Paris art exhibit renames paintings to put the focus on their black subjects 

With ‘The Black Model,’ the Musée d’Orsay makes a political statement.

 At the Louvre, the striking painting is identified simply as “Portrait of a black woman.”

The work is widely considered allegorical — the subject’s bare breast and classical dress, in the colors of the French flag, alluding to the French Republic and the figure of Liberty. The painting was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1800, so artist Marie-Guillemine Benoist could have been referring to the just-finished French Revolution or Napoleon Bonaparte’s moves to reinstate slavery — or both.

But the painting hangs under a new title in a groundbreaking show at the Musée d’Orsay directly across the Seine River: “Portrait of Madeleine.” For the first time since the early 19th century, Benoist’s sitter has her own story. As viewers learn, the woman gazing back at them was an emancipated slave from Guadeloupe and a domestic servant who worked in the home of the artist’s brother-in-law.

This is the project of “The Black Model: From Géricault to Matisse,” a major exhibit that opened at the Orsay on Tuesday. The show attempts to restore the identities and perspectives of black figures who were depicted on canvas but largely written out of history.

The exhibit expands on an earlier version that debuted at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery last fall, inspired by the research of American art historian Denise Murrell. But it lands with different impact in France, where the state is officially blind to race, both as statistical category and as lived experience.

“We are tacking political questions, social questions,” said Musée d’Orsay director Laurence des Cars. “We are tackling a very sensitive subject.” [ . . . ]

Continue at WASHINGTON POST: A Paris art exhibit renames paintings to put the focus on their black subjects – The Washington Post