Category Archives: People & Places

Black Lives Matter leads to Questions about Malden Police

I hope that Black Lives Matter leads to real changes at interpersonal, local, national and international levels. There is a lot of work to be done, especially among us white folks. Uncovering the racist acts of individual police and examining the complex interactions among racism, police, and governing bodies are a good place to start.

Black Lives Matter logo

In 1990, I chose to live in Malden, a city of 60,000, just north of Boston, heralded as “the most diverse in Massachusetts.” Malden is neither the least “white” (about 50%), nor the most black, brown or Asian. Rather, we are a mix of races, cultures, ethnicities, economic classes, religions, etc. We have a plethora of adults who were born in other countries (I believe 37%), and 77 languages spoken at home by students at the high school. Diversity doesn’t mean that racism and white privilege aren’t prevalent: they are. Everywhere.

I wrote to my city councilor on June 12, 2020. Today, I modified it for clarity to post here, and to send to the rest of the city council, the police chief, and the mayor.

The Letter

Dear Malden Officials,

The resurgence of Black Lives Matter has refocused my attention on the systemic racism that surrounds and is within us. I’ve seen many of the connections before, but this round of furor has deepened my thinking and my desire to push for changes.

Brave people with video cameras posting on social media have, once again, exposed police brutality in the killing of George Floyd. I think the Malden police do a good, civil, job without undo force. But then, I’m white and live in the west end of the city. USA Today has made available a database that contains records of police misconduct. I wanted to see if have been any reports made in Malden, but Massachusetts is not one of the 44 states from which they were able to get data. The New York Times has an important article on the role of police unions in covering up misdeeds. I’ve read a lot in the past about the war on drugs (a.k.a. on poor and black people), and about military equipment and grants made to local police to stop terrorism (Timothy McVeigh?). Continue reading Black Lives Matter leads to Questions about Malden Police

Notes from My Trip to the Old Country

G.P.S.

A few weeks ago, I travelled back to Lincoln, Nebraska, my hometown, on what’s left of the prairie. I hadn’t been back since my parents moved 15 years ago and, for 20 years before that, only at Christmas time. Now, in a blink of an eye, it was Lincoln High’s 35th reunion, and the first time I’d been back as someone dropping in from the clouds of the past, as a real stranger.

I’ve lived in Malden, Massachusetts, part of Boston’s urban merging of cities and towns for 26 years. Yet, if you tell me what street a business is on, I’ll have no idea where it is. Instead of street names, you have to describe to me the surrounding area and what you pass on the way from here to there. For me, navigating the Boston area is like finding my way back on poorly marked hiking trails–it’s all about how things look and my general sense of direction.  Continue reading Notes from My Trip to the Old Country

Cousin Peter’s Brother Billy’s House

On Cape Cod, near the end of Wing’s Neck, there is an inauspicious dirt and gravel driveway marked “Scott’s End.” We always park in a small spot that nestles into the trees. The fresh salt air greets us. When it’s dark and clear, the black sky reveals stark constellations normally hidden to us above the bright lights of Boston. Here, behind the house, there is silence. When it’s light out, we count cars to see how many are here already. I check to see which of the resident boats must be in the water, Continue reading Cousin Peter’s Brother Billy’s House

It is what it is

“Heyyy! Hey Maria!”

The two Marias
Maria (left), well-dressed on the field, and off.

I wove through a gaggle of 10 year old girls, trying to get their coach’s attention. Like them, her long hair was tied back in a pony tail. Her running shoes, form-fitting athletic pants, and sporty v-neck were diametrically opposed to my grubby sneakers, baggy shorts, and loose, untucked t-shirt, her ordinary straight woman’s presence a contrast to my bold lack of femininity.

I beckoned Maria away from her team. We didn’t know one another well, but my partner Susan had ovarian cancer and so did one of her best friends. Before I could run my boy’s practice, I needed to calm my mangled emotions and thought she could help. Biting my lip, I told her, Continue reading It is what it is