an unexpected nugget from Pretty


Yesterday I was in the unfortunate position of needing postage to mail my cousin Melissa’s birthday card – the card I already know will be late – when, alas, the postage stamps I’d ordered from the usps hadn’t arrived in the mail. At various times during the past 20 years Pretty has offered her stamps in the unlikely event I should ever run out. I routinely rejected her offer but I was in a bind yesterday and had forgotten why I refused her generosity in the past so last night Pretty found her stamp collection in a small retail shop bag she had carefully kept in the bowels of her office.

I rummaged through the bag and a flashback hit me. Pretty doesn’t buy forever stamps because that would be too easy. Instead I found an assortment of stamps ranging from 2 cents to 33 cents. Seriously, Pretty? I couldn’t call this a stamp “collection” but it was a collection of stamps. I managed to come up with enough postage to mail Melissa’s card; usps now says a card from South Carolina to Texas could take until her next birthday to get there. Regardless, thanks to Pretty for saving the day.

But greater thanks to her for this nugget of writing that was copied on a sheet of regular 8 x 11 white paper, folded in half and oddly mixed in with the stamps. I felt these words about racism from the American author and poet Scott Woods speaking directly to me – I wish I had written them.

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know /like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

Sometimes I’m a storyteller. Sometimes I’m a word collector much like Pretty’s stamp “collection” which saved those words for me, for all of us.

****************

Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Nana to her granddaughter Ella James born 10-01-2019. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to an unexpected nugget from Pretty

  1. cindy knoke says:

    Scott Woods words are profound.
    Re: ‘Pretty Stamps.’
    ” Pretty doesn’t buy forever stamps because that would be too easy. Instead I found an assortment of stamps ranging from 2 cents to 33 cents. Seriously, Pretty? I couldn’t call this a stamp “collection”
    She is just like Jim. He keeps all these meaningless to me stamps, 2 cents, 3 cents, etc.,….. but the forever ones, are buried in the bottom, so I have to tread through my impatient wastefulness, before I find the one forever stamp I don’t have to knit together to mail a letter.
    The thing about me though, is I am far too lazy to even buy stamps. When I need them? There is Jim and his stamp collection, saving my ass.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Worth having to trawl through the ‘stamp’ collection to find those wonderful words.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda Ketner says:

    An importance reminder!

    On Tue, Oct 19, 2021 at 10:26 PM I’ll Call It Like I See It wrote:

    > Sheila Morris posted: ” Yesterday I was in the unfortunate position of > needing postage to mail my cousin Melissa’s birthday card – the card I > already know will be late – when, alas, the postage stamps I’d ordered from > the usps hadn’t arrived in the mail. At various times during” >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing quote…and Pretty is a fun gal!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wayside Artist says:

    “It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”
    I keep at it everyday and still find muck. Imagine if you just ride on Privilege’s coat tails?! Well done Pretty for seeing this as important to save. Well done you, Sheila, for sharing the words.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.