The significance perspective has on our lives is an understated knowledge, only fully realized by those who take the time to truly consider the perspectives of others. Moreover, it can only be realized when a person applies those considerations to the way they interact with others. We all know that culture, race, religion, social status, economic status, prejudices, abuses, addiction, mental health, and physical health are just a few of the factors that contribute to a person’s viewpoint. What many people fail to comprehend is the longevity of these experiences and the significance they have on our lives. Perspective is malleable. Every experience a person has (good or bad) continuously molds their perspective. A person has no choice but to apply new experiences to their existing perspectives and adjust accordingly. This means that every experience we have is indelibly linked to our social, political, and religious beliefs. However, it also means we all have an inalienable right to change our perspectives, to adjust to this life as we see fit. While we can agree or disagree with others, we are humanly incapable of viewing a situation with the same perspective as someone else. This means we must learn to accept the fact that there is no correct answer; there is no single truth – we each have our own truth.

The perspective within this blog is mine. It is the result of my 38 years of challenges and triumphs. However, I reserve the right to learn and change these views as I grow as a person.

Racism in the United States

For better or worse, I am usually more vocal about sociopolitical events than I should be. In the face of the recent atrocity (i.e. the outrageous murder of George Floyd by white police officers), I have been less vocal simply because I am overwhelmed with pandemic life and I’ve been focused on my own problems. But, after seeing so many disturbing things on Facebook, I cannot refrain from saying something any longer.

I am utterly disgusted on so many fronts. Racism is embedded in our culture and it absolutely sickens me. Admittedly, I have not always understood this plague within our culture. As a white person in a society dominated by white people, I grew up just like other whites: unaware of the injustices toward black people and dismissive of the need to acknowledge it. I was a poor white person who had a shitty life; so, as a young adult I could not see how the lives of poor, oppressed minorities were any worse than mine. But, as I aged and (more importantly) became educated, the blinders my white privilege caused me to be raised with faded away and allowed me to see the shameful state of racism and classism within our culture. In my opinion, the classism initially generated by slavery is largely what keeps racism alive today. I do not claim to know the plight of African Americans because I cannot fully comprehend an oppression I have not lived. However, I see and acknowledge the injustice they suffer; the consequences of classism they suffer; the racism embedded in our culture; the despicable acts of the handful of truly racists people in this country; and most importantly, the need for it to change. The truth is, racism is not a simple problem and there is no simple “cure.” Ignorance and hatred are also not limited to one skin tone. Similarly, a person can be outraged by the murder of a black man and agree with anti-racism protests but also be upset about the violent riots that stem from the murder. Forgive the phrase, but, it is not all black and white. As I see it, the way we change society is by changing the beliefs, views, and habits of cultural racism in future generations. This can only be accomplished with the acknowledgement that American culture is set-up to create cultural racism and change those defining parts of “the system” (a.k.a. government and social norms). For instance, most English classes teach books with white, suburban characters, offering little to no opportunity for non-white youth to relate to what they are reading. Inherently, this causes America’s white youth (even if unconsciously) to develop superiority complexes. The world consists of nothing but stories of them and they (white people) are prevalent in every aspect of their world, so, why wouldn’t they develop a complex? Non-white students also develop this complex, sadly identifying white as good and anything else as less-than. Because of this, when America’s white youth are made to read a story based in any other culture, they become uncomfortable and ignorantly argue against the embedded lessons through the lens of their white privilege (regardless of whether they realize it). The same can be said for LGBTQ, Native American youth, Latin youth, etc. The lack of anything for them to relate to in school (and society) adds to this cultural separation . . . to cultural racism. I would argue that cultural appropriation also plays a role in America’s cultural racism. Regardless of what is being appropriated, it is one thing to adopt an aspect of someone else’s culture if you understand the importance of what you are taking and you use it respectfully. However, it is another thing to adopt something you do not understand, do not respect, and do not use appropriately. A good example of something that irks me is the use of Whitney Houston’s song “Greatest Love of All” at elementary and middle school promotion ceremonies. White people have adopted this song simply because they believe it is a song about children; however, an understanding of the song’s history should make one cringe at this misappropriated use and understand that it is far more appropriate for the African American community to claim the song as an anthem for racial pride and strength. Let’s be real, most white American youth do not have anything taken from them, especially their dignity. (For those who don’t know, the song was written for a movie about Muhammad Ali. While he was a famous boxer, he also played a hand in the civil rights movement). The same can be said of other music, clothing, hairdo’s, and even decorations for one’s home. Cultural racism is heightened when one culture appropriates aspects of a culture they do not respect. Anyway, I’ve gotten a little off track so, I digress . . .

My point is – racism exists and change is necessary. The question becomes, how do we make this change happen?

First, I believe expeditious punishment for race-based hate crimes is essential. The officer who killed George Floyd needs to be charged with murder, and swiftly. I am not a lawyer, but second degree murder seems appropriate. The other officers who allowed it to happen need to be charged as well, perhaps with manslaughter (or whatever charge is appropriate for their crime). Racial hate crimes cannot be tolerated. Period.

Second, the so-called melting pot that is America needs to embrace its status as a melting pot and teach its youth to honor different cultures equally (all cultures). This means equalizing the exposure of other cultures to American youth, especially in schools. Similarly, we need to find a way to dispel stereotypes based on classism and teach our youth how to correct the classism. We do this by making them delve more into politics and make them consider ways they might affect change rather than simply allowing them to accept existing stereotypes, classes, and segregation. Yes people, segregation still exists! If you don’t believe this, spend some time looking closely at different cities on the racial dot map (http://racialdotmap.demographics.coopercenter.org/). I came across this map during my studies several years ago but it is a wonderful tool for understanding how the United States self-segregates. I believe this is largely due to where different cultures fall in the U.S. class structure. In this country, culture = class and that must change. Everyone needs the opportunity to break through the class they were born into so we can truly become the melting pot we claim to be.

On the flip side of this, I think it’s important to understand that white people have been raised in a society that makes them inherently dismissive to racism. It is not an excuse or a cop-out to say that they can’t help it, they can’t. Most of the time, non-racist whites do not even realize they are being racist because their heart and mind tell them they are not (and they don’t want to be), but the phrases or actions they’ve been brain-washed with are inherently racist. For those who sincerely are not racist – their hearts truly guide them to be all-caring and all-loving – in the event they make a racist comment, they deserve the opportunity to be reminded that it is a racist view. Then, they need to be given the chance to acknowledge and correct that piece racism ingrained in them before they’re written off as a racist. Everyone – regardless of color – has a right to learn, grow, and change their views. We must allow people the right to realize it and change before we condemn them. Similarly, we need to understand that a white person can be empathetic, agree with the fight against racism, be willing to affect change however they can (through their vote or how they raise their kids, etc.) but not actively hold a picket sign and protest if it is not in them to do that (especially during a pandemic where going into large crowds is not feasible for everyone).

Also, protesters need to continue protesting and looters/rioters need to be arrested. These are two different groups of people with two different agendas. Neither protesters or rioters are confined to one skin tone (or one nationality).

As for me, I am one of the people who agrees with change and will support ending racism in any way I can, but, I am not a picketer. Yes, BlackLivesMatter; but no, I cannot demonstrate and picket. I will use my vote; I can write letters to various branches of the government; I can support my friends who do picket; and, if I am ever able to teach, I will teach all races and all perspectives, not just the white perspective for whites. Beyond that, the best way I know to affect change is to teach my children to be kind, loving people who reject racism. I will teach them the history behind racism and make sure they grow up understanding that racism is real, and most importantly, that it needs to be extinguished. To the best of my ability, I will give them the tools to grow up and affect change, not be a part of the problem.


They say “home is where your heart is,” or, “home is where your family is.” While I understand the sentiment behind these statements, I believe the truth falls more along the lines of your heart is where your family is; home is where community becomes a part of your family.”

My family and I found ourselves moving between 3/7/2020 and 3/9/2020, just 4 days before the COVID-19 school closures in California. The back story to our move is complicated. Deciding to leave our neighborhood was a struggle; my husband and I were torn between not wanting to leave and the inability to afford a single story home in the neighborhood we loved so much. After many arguments, we decided to purchase a home outside our neighborhood. It was the perfect decision on paper but an impossible emotional decision to have made. Unfortunately, some negative actions on the part of the sellers enveloped the move in a cloud of frustration which lingered into our attitudes about purchasing the house in the first place. Then, four short days after we moved we were confined inside. Today marks the 30th day since the girls and I have left the premises. Yet, regardless of the amount of time we’ve spent here – this house still doesn’t feel like home.

I understand this sounds trivial to some people. I get it, my first-class problem makes me seem shallow and whiny for complaining about a wonderful house when others have no home at all. I can hear it now: we should feel lucky we could afford a home at all; we shouldn’t complain because we still live in a good neighborhood and a wonderful school district; we have nothing to complain about because we made the choice – no one forced us into it. Again, I get it. Believe me – I am grateful for everything we have (including this house). What hurts is that the loss of our community has hit harder than we thought it would. Moreover, the significance of what it means to live in a community you feel a part of is stronger than we ever imagined, and sadly, something I dismissed due to severe pain and a need to have better floors and no stairs.

In the end, what hits me the hardest is looking out the front door and having no connection to the space around me. We cannot go beyond our premises; we have not been able to play at the park or walk the neighborhood; we have not met any neighbors; I’m not driving to and from the house everyday which means this location has not been solidified in my brain as where I live; there is no camaraderie during this tumultuous time – I cannot walk and leave gifts or nice notes for friends on their doorsteps and they cannot do the same for us; I don’t even recognize the sounds – not even the birds are the same in this neighborhood. Beyond my lack of connection to this house, my girls are sad they do not have their friends close; their school is closed indefinitely (unbeknownst at the time, their last day on campus was the last day they would ever see their teachers and most of their friends); and, they have been unable to make new friends in this neighborhood because of the isolation. If we lived in our old community we would be able to take walks around the lake (while social distancing, of course). We would be able to leave notes and drawings on our friends’ porches; we would feel safe and comfortable with the neighborhood we were trapped in; and most of all, everything would be familiar . . . we would feel like we were home. So, to those who say “home is where your heart is,” I say, “move during a pandemic and then tell me whether or not community plays any part of a house feeling like a home.”

Sleep during the pandemic

When someone asks, “how did you sleep?” how are you supposed to respond? Habitually, the answer spewing from my mouth has been “fine.” But let’s be real – that answer is far from the truth. The honest (yet sarcastic) responses might be, “Great! I enjoyed my long night of intense nightmares about suffocating due to pneumonia caused by COVID-19, how about you?” Or, “Fabulous! I dreamed one of my kids died and I divorced my husband for refusing to stop working, blaming the death on him.” Or, “You know . . .  just another nightmare that I died, leaving my kids to grow up without me.” I can’t even begin to choose which one of these has been the most terrifying nightmare. They all cause me to awake in an agonizing terror, uncertain of what the future holds and knowledgeable of the fact that each and every one of my nightmares is a possibility if this virus were to hit our household. Nightmares used to be outrageous fears my unconscious mind fictionalized and turned into a nighttime movie – but now – now they are terrifying possibilities of situations happening all around the world. How does a person cope with that? How do you sleep through a pandemic without waking ten times a night from feasible nightmares? Sleep is essential and I’m essentially getting none.

Let me be clear: I do not have COVID-19 (thank every spiritual being across all beliefs regardless of the fact that I’m an atheist; also, knock on wood and cross my fingers that my family and I never contract the virus). Nevertheless, my 5-year-old daughter and I are both high risk so an intense fear about the possibilities lives deep within me. During the day I have no choice but to control my fears; otherwise, my children would see me do nothing but cry and obsess over it. Obviously I cannot let them see the depth of my fear so I have managed to keep “daytime Jessica” in check. Unfortunately for my sleep cycle, I am unable to control my unconscious mind so these nightmares (and a severe lack of sleep) are the result.

Ironically, despite the feeling of ridiculousness when asking someone, “how did you sleep?” I find myself habitually asking my kids this very question. Perhaps it’s a way to gauge how well I’m sheltering them from the terror I walk through every second of every day. Maybe I take comfort in hearing their tiny voices say, “good mama.” It lets me know they have not yet realized the severity of the danger that faces us . . . especially since their dad is still working. Not only is he still working, he is also: not wearing a mask (which has been mandated); not wearing gloves in stores; has gone to a meeting in another city after the lockdown; and, eats at fast food restaurants daily. But, I digress . . .

So, how should we respond to the question, “did you sleep well?” From here on out, I think I’m going to try the honesty approach. If I’m honest in my response, maybe I’ll see that I’m not alone . . .