Monday, July 20, 2015


For those of you who keep count of this sort of thing, yesterday (July 19th) was the 5th anniversary of The Wifely Person Speaks. In five years, I’ve not missed a week…well, there were a couple of abbreviated episodes, but that’s still more than 260 of these things that I’ve done….and that many of you have actually read.

In honor of 5 diligent years in the blogosphere, I’ve opted to opine rather bluntly about a subject that is beginning to make me seethe.


I am sick to death of the ridiculous rhetoric coming out of what should be a profoundly serious subject. I am sick to death of people who heckle and interrupt anyone who is trying to talk about lives that matter. I am sick to death of people shouting with nary a constructive word in sight. And I am sick to death of this being a one-group issue.


Wounded Knee - 1890
If anyone should be first in line to take on the egregiously bad behavior of the white man, it must be the native population of this nation. Not only were ALL their lands stolen, they were mass slaughtered again and again and again. When they tried to defend themselves, the women and children were slaughtered. They were herded onto reservations, given smallpox-infested blankets, and treated far worse than the slave population. Their religions, their languages, and the essences of their cultural history were stripped from them and made outlaw. The white man then went on to utterly destroy their food sources with over-hunting and total disrespect for the land the native population didn’t just cherish, but protected and defended. Native Americans of all tribes were sent to die off in remote, hostile portions of this country. Most have not come back.

Red Lake Reservation - MinnPost photo by Steve Date
There has yet to be an emancipation proclamation for those indigenous people still inhabiting “the res.” You wanna talk about second class citizens?  In 1675, the Indian Imprisonment Act was passed making any Native American found within the city limits of Boston subject to incarceration. That law was repealed by then Governor Mitt Romney in 2005. TWO THOUSAND AND FIVE, folks. That means for 330 years it was against the law for a Native American to be in the city of Boston.

[UPDATE: SELLING OFF APACHE HOLY LAND: For those of you who commented about the difference between African Americans and Native Americans, this just happened. This week. Right now. For the indigenous people of the North American continent, the oppression has not stopped. Thought I'd mention that.]

Egregious white behavior did not stop after slavery. Oh, we have whole history books on how the white population of this country treated the Asian immigrants. It wasn’t good enough to import them to work on the railroad in conditions that echoed slavery on the plantation. The whites of this county went one better: the government rounded up most of the Japanese Americans during World War II and stuck them in concentration camps. 62% of those incarcerated were American citizens, their only crime being of Japanese ancestry.

This is nothing new. Whites have also behaved badly towards whites: No Jews or dogs permitted was not an uncommon sign around certain parts of America. There were also NINA signs in Boston: No Irish need apply.

The Draft Riots - 1863
Police brutality was not limited to African Americans. 152 years ago last week, President Lincoln diverted troops right after the Battle at Gettysburg to New York to quell the Draft Riots. The official death toll was 119, but that may or may not be accurate. Most of the rioters were Irish protesting wealthy men being able to hire working class men to stand in for them in the army. There were lots of free black men in the crowd as well.

The history is there. Most people know this, and understand that the under classes are getting a raw deal. But it is not limited to African Americans even today. Yes, we have to acknowledge White Privilege, but in recognizing this issue we take a baby step to changing it. Yelling at people, tossing blame around like confetti, shouting slogans, and interrupting debates and discourse is not getting this fixed. If anything, it’s making white America think that the rest of the country prefers playing the victim to figuring out how to fix what is wrong.

So everyone needs to shut up and sit down. We, the People, in order to form a more perfect union, had better start by getting everyone to the table. Kinda like Iran. You don’t have to like ‘em, trust ‘em, or have ‘em over to dinner, but the conversation has to start someplace.

We watch out for each other. ALL OF EACH OTHER. The faster we can convince cops we are ALL watching, the faster we can start to get police brutality reined in. The faster we begin listening instead or talking/shouting over each other, the faster we are going to make some progress. We need to talk about WHAT to do that will change the status quo. Shouting is not the answer. It doesn't even ask the right question.

There is no easy fix, no shortcut. But somewhere someone has to say, “Okay, we get the message. Now let’s figure out what to do first.”

Black lives matter. Native American lives matter. 
Asian lives matter. White lives matter. 
All lives matter

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If someone invites you to visit their vine hut, go.
Everyone could use a few lovely minutes in fairy land.

Minneapolis watercolor artist Anita White 
in her vine hut. 
It was heaven


  1. Oh so great to read your blog! And thanks for including me and the vine hut!!

  2. Congratulations on five years of speaking truth to power.

    We are all raised with xenophobic messages that our kind is superior, stay with your own kind, etc. Though intended to maintain the strength of the tribe, they sometimes lead to bad behavior. We must recognize that just as we believe in the virtue of our uniqueness, others feel the exact same way about their backgrounds. Respect our differences and allow diversity to flourish.

  3. I enjoyed your article very much! Really excellent. #blackliversmatter- yes, they do! For our country to focus on social ills when we are facing more 'taunting tasks' .... well, we need to pay attn. HUD has introduced new rules (AFFH) that are more forceful than anything we've seen from this arm of gov't. I'd like to see you write about that, Susan. Or deBlasio's new UBER rule for NYC. And for the record, I would like to state that we are currently in a post-constitutional period in America.


    1. Doug, how can you categorize the violence, subtle and actual, perpetrated against Blacks in this country as a "social ill?" Until you understand what it means to have to be wary of every aspect of your life, to the extent that you know your life is one wrong move, one minor traffic stop from being OVER, you will not understand the true meaning of 'taunting tasks.' That the law can be broken or twisted at will against people of color (and poor people of all types) and that these acts are escalating is a perfect example of what is leading us to a "post-constitutional period."

    2. Winningham, I can only listen to you and hear you- and I do. I can't wear your shoes. Your struggle is important, I don't mean to demean it at all. I only mean that we are in a much bigger pickle as a country than our social issues. In fact, somehow, we have to come together as Americans - the attack in Tennessee the other day is going to breed further and like attacks. And we will all be looking over our shoulders.

      -doug- (with respect)

    3. Amidst the advantages of the Internet there is the huge disadvantage of how difficult it is to actually have a conversation. I feel that I threw eggshells that you now walk on. Twas not my intent. I was trying to say that our troubles are whole cloth and what at times gets categorized as social actually impacts every aspect of the society. Perhaps I misunderstand your use of the term. Too bad this isn't a lovely little salon for us all to talk together on and on.
      Noreen (with respect)

  4. Congratulations on your anniversary. I read and enjoy your posts. However, I have to take serious exception to this one. I do not object to your citing the ongoing status and horrors perpetuated on Native Americans. But, to boldly state that Native Americans were treated "worse than the slave population" is to present a statement of ignorance and should be retracted. Trying to prioritize levels of systematic genocide is a fool's errand. If all lives matter, why is it necessary to say that lives other than Black lives have suffered? The focus on Black lives comes from Black people who are living the horrors of institutionalized racism. This focus is valid and necessary. Others may focus with us or focus on other groups or other issues, but I find it infuriating that at every turn of Black protest, someone, many someones object because others have issues as well. Why is this the first reaction?

    1. In some ways, far worse. There was no emancipation for them, not even today. Reservations remain, Laws prohibiting free movement of Native Americans still exist on the books. There has been no restitution, no attempt to return stolen property, and no apology for the massacres and attempted genocide directed at those people. Whereas a war was fought to free the slaves, and there is affirmative action in recent years, Native Americans were never afforded that opportunity. Instead, they continue to live in some of the most horrific conditions imaginable in the nation. The poverty level is extreme, the educational opportunities are almost non-existent, and the economic status for most is abysmal…and not by choice. It was only the creation of the casinos that brought relief to the tribes that could pony up the funds to build one. None of that addresses the continued subjugation and marginalization of the people who populated this nation before the white man ever arrived.

      It's all ugly, but for the indigenous population of North America, there has been no relief.

    2. I don't think Black Lives Matter is supposed to imply that any other lives do not. Instead, it is a call for people recognize a specific population who continues to be repeatedly subjected to actions which deny their worth. Black Lives Matter is a POSITIVE movement trying to force people to recognize the institutional racism that many of us would not otherwise recognize. I agree with you that ALL LIVES MATTER and I don't think there are many protesters out there saying Native Lives Don't Matter or Asian Lives Don't Matter. On the other hand, there are some on the far right side of the conservative movement who may echo those statements, if not in words then in action.

    3. My concern is that the other lives get marginalized in the conversation. My ultimate position is that all groups must be at the table, and no one group can take precedence. The concerns everyone who lives in the country. There are no exceptions.

    4. I honestly don't understand what you are saying in this comment. Does standing with the Native American protestors in Minneapolis minimalize the Black Lives Matter activists in Cleveland? Perhaps we all might think of this movement as All Crimes Against Humanity Matter. Perhaps then we might work together to eradicate all such crimes.


    6. Okay, sorry, but I have to say that the end of the civil war did not end slavery. Emancipation did not free slaves to pursue the American Dream. There has been no restitution for African-Americans. The Congressional apology was hardly extended. Affirmative Action did not reverse institutionalized biases any more than the meager reversal of exclusion policies did for Native Americans. Anyone interested in a more in depth look at the history might look at Edward Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told. And, unfortunately, unless Black people yell, no one listens, which is why you never hear about the many quiet, cooperative efforts made every day, some to good effect and others not at all. Like everything, I suppose.

    7. Dear Winningham,

      Your anger is palpable here. And at least in this corner, we are listening to what you say. You're right, the Emancipation Proclamation did not end the injustices, but it was a beginning in the right direction. It was something when there had been nothing. And no, the injustice has not ended. And no, there was restitution.

      Many of us do hear about the quiet acts of desperation along with the quiet acts of resilience and defiance that happen whether they make the news or not.

      My grandmother used to say yelling was pointless, and all the yelling in the world will not change anyone's opinion. She used to tell me if I was unhappy with something, I should figure out how to positively change it for the better. She called it fixing the world. "You start with your corner and clean it up, you make a beginning."

      If everyone starts with their own corner, we would, indeed, have a beginning.

      I am glad you write and express your anger. I hope more people read what you have to say.

  5. Keep on posting! Wish every American would speak out intelligently and thoughtfully like you have for the past 5 years.


  6. Hi Susan,

    I just sent your recent Blog to my grandson tp include in his dissertation about American Indians. Thank you. Lorraine Hertz

  7. I join others in congratulating you on five years of blogging. There are many good blogs out there; but yours, I feel, stands head and shoulders above most of them. You "calls 'em like you sees 'em" in well-written posts full of well-targeted criticism.

    Being of the liberal persuasion, I generally agree with your positions. In a number of cases, I've found you to take positions I don't see elsewhere. This post is an example. Certainly the lives of black people matter, and the recent unwarranted shootings of unarmed black men are unconscionable. The outrage of BlackLivesMatter activists is completely justified. However, those activists are wrong when they claim their issue must be front and center on the political stage, and when they shut down a speech on a different subject in trying to get their message out — as they did this past weekend to Bernie Sanders in Seattle.

    I look forward to many more posts from you.