Posted in Seeing Race and Racism

Seeing Race and Racism #3 “Look Up”

So HR (Husband Robert—you should know that by now!) and I ventured up to Atlanta this past weekend to see, believe it or not, the Atlanta Opera‘s rendition of “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.” Beyond fascinating, the opera focused not only on Jobs’ incredible technological accomplishments but even more on his nature as a flawed human, similar to all tragic heroes. And like each of us, I suppose.

Near the opera’s end, at Steve’s memorial service (you may remember that he died of pancreatic cancer), wife Laureen sang a cautionary song about the advice an evolved Jobs would perhaps give to the world: “Version 2.0 of Steve might say: ‘Look up (from your phones), look out, look around. Look at the stars. Look at the sky. Take in the light.’”

Of course, walking out of the Cobb Energy Center after the performance, many in the departing crowd were multitasking by seamlessly looking down at their “One Device” (including me, I must confess), while walking without falling.

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While in Atlanta Robert and I stayed at the incredibly beautiful Georgian Terrace Hotel on famous Peachtree Street.

The Georgian Terrace Hotel

The grand old hotel, completed in 1911, has hosted Presidents and other luminaries over the decades. (Btw, we got a good deal, and an upgrade—we always request them everywhere we go. Try it.) And one morning we learned, after grabbing our morning coffee and chocolate croissants on the hotel’s terrace, that the stars of “Gone With The Wind”lodged at the Georgian Terrace for the 1939 World Premier of the iconic movie.

Historical marker just off the hotel’s massive terrace

But hold on just a second. Our history lesson was about to take a somber turn. See the last sentence in the historical marker’s second paragraph? “Clark Cable, Vivian Leigh, and most of the ‘Gone with the Wind’ cast stayed here ….” Interpretation: the white actors stayed at the Georgian Terrace, not the black actors. The black professional actors did not stay at the Georgian Terrace because they were not allowed to attend the world premiere at nearby Loew’s Grand Theatre. The Grand was a segregated theatre in 1939.

Butterfly McQueen (“Prissy”) did not attend. Hattie McDaniel (“Mammy”) did not attend, even though she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Butterfly McQueen and Hattie McDaniel on the set of Gone with the Wind

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Here’s Robert, in front of the hotel’s very cool multi-level marble staircase, which Clark Gable, “Rhett,” probably traversed.

And here’s Robert on the 17th story rooftop (we bypassed the fancy stairs for the elevator), beside the pool.

Do you see that little bump in the distance, to the left of HR’s head?

To the far left in the photo below.

It’s Stone Mountain.

(travel channel.com)

Ever heard of it? Well, Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock (okay, that’s a mouthful). “The mountain is the world’s largest single piece of exposed granite. It weighs over a trillion pounds and covers 583 acres. Only about a third of it is visible above ground. It was formed completely underground and has been uncovered over millions of years of erosion.” (stonemountainguide.com)

It is also the home of Stone Mountain Park.

From the “Explore Georgia” website … “Stone Mountain Park is Georgia’s most visited attraction. With more than 3,200 acres, the park is a unique destination where guests can experience an exciting variety of attractions, entertainment, and recreation. Check out Sky Hike, the nation’s largest family adventure course in the treetops … The Lasershow Spectacular at Stone Mountain Park is the world’s longest-running laser show. Other attractions include Summit Skyride, Dinosaur Explore, Dinotorium, Historic Square, Farmyard, Camp Highland Outpost, Scenic Railroad, Great Locomotive Chase Adventure, Geyser Towers, golf, and museums.”

But there’s something else at Stone Mountain, something that’s kept pretty low in the advertising. “The largest high-relief sculpture in the world depicts hand-chiseled figures of the Civil War. At Memorial Hall, visitors can see the carving’s original designs, scale models, and an 11-minute feature film.”

The carving depicts three Confederate leaders: Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy), Robert E. Lee (a general and overall commander of the Confederate States Army) and Stonewall Jackson (another Confederate general and one of the best known commanders after Lee).

But that’s all in the past, right? Old history.

Climbing up, 2021. ABC News

I SO agree with The Stone Mountain Action Coalition about the problem TODAY with the carving …

“Stone Mountain Park, a public park owned by the State of Georgia, is the world’s largest Confederate memorial and shrine to white supremacy. The Park is the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan and was established as an official Confederate memorial by the State in resistance to desegregation and the civil rights movement. To this day, the Park’s prominent hateful symbols continue to cause pain and attract hate groups and violence.” (stone mountain coalition.com)

And with ideas about what could be done …

“The Stone Mountain Action Coalition wants to reclaim Stone Mountain Park from the state-sponsored Confederacy. We are calling for immediate changes including removing Confederate flags, renaming Park streets and features currently honoring Confederate and Ku Klux Klan figures, and advocating for new legislation to address the restrictive Georgia laws that require the Park to serve as a Confederate memorial.”

Stacey Abrams says it best …

“Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor across our state. Paid for by founders of the 2nd KKK, the monument had no purpose other than celebration of racism, terror & division.” (Fox 5 Atlanta)

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I’m married to a black man.

And even though we talk about all of this, I can’t truly understand his feelings and responses to it all. The horror goes back, way back, to the founding of our nation, built on the backs of slave labor. When all men were created equal.

Well, except for black folks. And indigenous folks.

States (including my own) are now passing laws making it illegal to tell what truly happened in our past, “Gone with the Winding” our racist legacy. “Protecting our children” from … truth. Here in Georgia, less than a month ago, misguided Governor Brian Kemp signed into law House Bill 1084, unconstitutionally banning free-speech discussions of “divisive concepts.”

cnn.com

Note #1: The celebratory revelers are overwhelmingly lily white.

Note #2: The location of the signing is Cumming, Georgia. Here’s another historical marker, this one in downtown Cumming, remembering the city’s and Forsyth County’s incredibly violent and racist past.

Question #1: Brazen insensitivity or purposeful symbolism?

Question #2: Why are So Many So Afraid of recognizing the significance of the year 1619? The year 20-30 enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia?

hampton.gov
In my old faithful study chair. With our newest read.

Question #3: Why keep the stone mountain hidden, obscured underground? Some things need to be uncovered, exposed.

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Maybe 2.0 Steve Jobs was right. We might be better off looking up, looking out, looking around, away from denial of what was, and in many ways, what still is.

Away from the racist carving near the base of the mountain. And up to the yellow daisies that occasionally appear on the summit.

Letting in the light.

New Georgia Encyclopedia
Martin Luther King Jr.
Posted in Monday Moaning or Monday Marveling?

Monday Moaning or Monday Marveling?

Marveling at getting to see and hear Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams here in Savannah on Saturday, making her case for why she should become Georgia’s next governor.

Getting out of her car and being greeted by Savannah Mayor Van Johnson
Such an inspiring speaker.

“I come here because I know Coastal Georgia, Savannah, you all face different challenges. We’re all in need of Medicaid expansion, we need health care in the state of Georgia fully funded so our children aren’t fighting for resources, we all need good jobs in the State of Georgia that pay a living wage, a livable wage.”

And about our recently signed-into-law insane “constitutional carry” bill which allows the carrying of concealed weapons WITHOUT A PERMIT in our state. (It should be called “criminal carry.”)

“In Georgia right now, we have a governor who is making Georgia the wild west. He is not respecting public safety,” Abrams said.

And look! Orange-flowered HR made the news …

Posted in Challenges

Bad Advice? No, Insane Advice: “Stay Outta Girls’ Bathrooms, Pete Buttigieg!”

If you have followed my blog for a while, you may remember that I have a recurring humorous blog category called “Bad Advice.”But for this post, I feel compelled to change the name to “INSANE ADVICE!”

You may have seen in the news that former President Trump was here in Georgia this past weekend for another one of his “rallies.” House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene was a “warm up act” for him.

Here are a couple of sentences from her opening act.

CNN

I didn’t realize that our Secretary of Transportation and his husband Chasten were hanging out in girls’ bathrooms!

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We need a Marjorie Taylor Greene Vaccine. She is beyond ignorant. She’s dangerously ignorant. And an embarrassment to my wonderful state.

Posted in Beautiful Savannah

I Can’t Help It …

… I know I’ve already posted my Five Friday Happy Bringers today, but I just got back from a late afternoon walk in my neighborhood here in Historic District Savannah, and I MUST show you what I saw …

The azaleas are just glorious this spring late winter.

The church spires kept urging me to look heavenward.

But there is just so much beauty here below!

Posted in Monday Moaning or Monday Marveling?

Monday Moaning or Monday Marveling?

On this Monday after Christmas, I’m still Christmas-ing (and marveling) a bit. Here’s Savannah’s Troup Square near us, all decked out.

Savannah has twenty-two beautifully unique squares in our Historic District, where Robert and I live.

Troup Square is known as “The Jingle Bell Square.”

They even decorate their trash cans.

And benches.

Here’s to Troup!

Posted in Countdown to Christmas

12/24/21 Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks

For this blog category, “Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks,” each day between December 1 and 25, I take a pic of a state park ornament on our Travel Tree and briefly highlight that park.

Mistletoe State Park (isn’t that a cool Christmasy name?) is located north of Augusta on the southern shore of Lake Thurman. The park gets its name from Mistletoe Corners, a nearby unincorporated township where people used to gather (maybe still do) to gather mistletoe during the winter holiday season. (I wonder if there’s a bunch of smooching going on at these gatherings. I’m trying to picture it.)

For some reason or other, which I didn’t have sense enough to really understand, Mistletoe’s Lake Thurman is one of the best bass fishing spots in the entire nation.

The only fishing which I’ve ever done is at those little carnivals or fairs or church basement fund raisers where a bed sheet is carelessly thrown over a makeshift clothesline, and an embarrassed adult stands behind the sheet with some cheap prizes. When the “fisherperson” throws her or his or they—it’s 2020!— fishing line over the sheet, back comes flying a little crackerjack-type prize clothes-pinned to your fishing line! I just LOVE fishing! TMI?

Now be honest, do we look like fishermen? Well, maybe Robert does, a tiny bit. I look like Forest Gump on a pier …

But the hiking was terrific at Mistletoe.

And we found little painted rocks scattered all around!

They excited me as much as anything has in years!

Oops …

The beauty of Mistletoe State Park …

Happy CHRISTMAS EVE!

Go kiss somebody!

Posted in Countdown to Christmas

12/23/21 Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks

For this blog category, “Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks,” each day between December 1 and 25, I take a pic of a state park ornament on our Travel Tree and briefly highlight that park.

Smithgall Woods State Park, near Helen in North Georgia, was acquired by the state in 1994 as a gift-purchase ((for half its value) from Charles A. Smithgall, Jr., a noted conservationist, publisher and philanthropist.

Such beautiful vistas.

“The history of Smithgall Woods speaks of ruin and a new beginning. When first located by gold miners back in 1829, the area was full of wildlife and lush forest. Along Dukes Creek, small towns were crafted to house the miners. For the next few years, the miners feverishly panned for gold. Then, in the 1850s, the gold miners introduced the use of hydraulic mining. With this new technique, the landscape soon transformed from bountiful to desert-like. Due to its destructive nature, hydraulic mining was finally halted.

In the 1940s, a local radio station owner by the name of Charles Smithgall became interested in the land. With the profits from the sale of his media properties, he purchased 5,500 acres and spent over $20 million of his money to help with the restoration. Later, in 1994 he donated the land to the state of Georgia. Since then, the State has concentrated their efforts to preserve and protect the property. This land is known today as the Smithgall Woods Conservation Area.” (Cedar Creek Cabins website)

Pic from Smithgall’s obituary, The Atlanta Constitution

We really do love hiking our terrific Georgia State Parks. Nature is indeed a joyful medicine.

See you tomorrow. Our countdown hike to Christmas is nearly there.

Posted in Countdown to Christmas

12/20/21 Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks

For this blog category, “Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks,” each day between December 1 and 25, I take a pic of a state park ornament on our Travel Tree and briefly highlight that park.

Hard Labor Creek State Park near Rutledge east of Atlanta is a 5,804 acre park named after Hard Labor Creek, a small stream that meanders through the park. There is uncertainty about the derivation of the creek’s name—either from enslaved people who tilled the summer fields, or from Native Americans who found the area around the creek difficult to ford.

Hubby Robert took almost all of the pictures in this post. Do you seriously think I could have created the shots below?

Guess which one I took.

In addition to hiking trails, Hard Labor Creek has two youth group camps, Camp Rutledge and Camp Daniel Morgan, both on Lake Rutledge. Another small lake, Lake Brantley, was named for the Brantley family killed by Native Americans in 1813. (On a scale of 1 to 10, how incredibly ironic is that? One white family gets killed by Native Americans … and get a lake named after them!)

Both the camps and the lakes were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Why didn’t those hardworking boys get a lake named after them? Let’s you and me rename Lake Brantley as Lake CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).

A couple of other eerily interesting tidbits:

1. Camp Daniel Morgan was the site for the filming of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

2. Camp Rutledge was examined by the TAPS Ghost Hunters show team to see if the camp and the surrounding forest are haunted by ghosts. The episode’s title? “Camp Fear.”

Finally, here’s Robert on a Hard Labor hike lecturing me and rambling on and on about something or other. If I remember correctly, it concerned the very best strategy to meticulously step over large exposed tree roots (and of course he should know, growing up in inner-city Baltimore) in order to avoid forestation, or something like that. (I often stop listening by telling him I really need to pause for a bit and “meditate.” He knows I have issues with anxiety, so he usually buys it.)

Anyway, when I finished “meditating,” I reeled back in terror at the blood recklessly splattered on the tree behind Robert (see it in the pic above?!) —and started running, expertly jumping over exposed tree roots.

A bad ghost at work perhaps? Jason?

I’m not complaining, but going to that state park was pure, hard labor.