Unfollow me, unfriend me.


Just three days ago, a friend asked me why I stopped writing my blog. One of the reasons, I told him, was that I just didn’t believe in talking unless I had something to say. I told him that I had run out of things to say, and that I just couldn’t bore my friends for the sake of maintaining a blog. Besides, I wanted to turn my energy toward my second book. That was three days ago. That was before my ancestors came into my consciousness and nudged me in their ever-so-gentle way. The way spirits do.   


I have never expressed my personal political views on this blog or any public media outlet because I saw no value in it. My position was that people will believe what they want to believe, and that my political views, no matter what they were, would attract anonymous, angry people with nothing better to do than to sling mud from behind the safety of their darkened rooms and backlit computer screens.  I don’t enjoy conflict, online or off, and so I kept my views to myself. But now, I’m done. I’m done, because I am here, alive in my body, in this country, on this tortured night, representing my ancestors.


Let me introduce them: My maternal grandmother: Her name was Sarah. Her father was German, her mother African American. Her husband’s mother, my great grandmother: Her name was Elizabeth, and she came to this country from Syria. I’m sure that wasn’t her name when she stepped up to the immigration official to be registered. Then, there is my paternal grandfather. His name was Edward and he was all or part Native American. Cherokee. His wife, Helen, came from a family of Irish indentured slaves. My parents were the “mixed blood” children of those I have named. They lived in South Carolina before and at the turn of the last century. In this country, they were all either indentured whites (in our case dis-owned by their families), or Negroes. I’ve seen the census reports.


I cannot imagine the bravery, courage, or the depth and breadth of love it must have taken for them to raise families of seven, eight children. Or just to stay alive. I also represent their children, uncles who fought in both World Wars, my father, who wore a policeman’s badge in Philadelphia for 35 years, a man of color who could not rise in the ranks but who nevertheless served and protected all the citizens of that city, my mother, who broke ranks with her family to come North with my father so that I and my brothers could live a life that was free of harassment, degradation, fear, and sorrow. Or so they thought.


When a black man was elected President of the United States, my husband and I sat before the television set and watched Barack Obama and his family write a chapter in history unlike any before it, except, perhaps, the one written by Abraham Lincoln.  At last, I told my husband, the tears running down my face, our country has become what it said it would. It has marched steadily toward its own ideals. It has kept its promise. My husband, who was Irish American, nodded, tears blinding his own eyes. We were proud of our country. We were proud that the idea of freedom, that the experiment in equality, the stumbling, difficult climb into a true democracy, and the repudiation of all things indecent, had made us the most powerful, important nation on the planet. We were not to know, on that night, that it was only a moment in time.


We have taken a step backward to a place my ancestors would recognize. My tears tonight are ones of grief. I am not proud. I am ashamed. I am ashamed that I must accept sympathy from my friends around the world. I am ashamed that our doors are slamming shut against people like my ancestors, and that all sense of generosity, compassion, and conscience seem to be absent from the hearts of those who could make it different. I am ashamed that once again, my ancestors are the subjects of hate and derision. No wonder they won’t let me alone.


And now, I’m done. I can no longer be quiet. I speak for those who came before me, those who gave me life, and for my children and my grandchildren. Today and ever after, I disavow the indecent, hateful bigotry that is despoiling my country and the man who is the face and the voice of it.


And I say to you, whoever may be reading this blog – if, after what has happened in the past two days, indeed in the past year, you can still support the man in the White House, his ideas, his language, and behavior, you support everything I, as an American, as an African American, as an Irish American, as a German American, as the great granddaughter of a Syrian woman, and the granddaughter of a Native American man, abhor, and I ask you to unfollow me. If you are a “friend” on Facebook, I ask you to unfriend me now.  


This is the time to take a stand. It is time to speak clearly. No more excuses, no more mealy-mouthed explanations.  No more burying heads in the sand. It’s over. The President of the United States is a racist. I repudiate that hateful concept, and I repudiate him.  


Matthew said it: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Choose your camp.






24 thoughts on “Unfollow me, unfriend me.

  1. Helen – you have articulated so well how so many of us are feeling. I am in Cape Town now where there is a new center of power after the horrible years of Zuma. I feel that if SA can recover there will be hope for the US but I just don’t know – the damage is extraordinary and gets worse every day. You are absolutely right – choose your camp. Sending all my love and thanking you for speaking truth.


  2. Helen – thank you so much for articulating so well what many of us are feeling. I am currently in South Africa watching a shift in power after 8 years of Zuma. My hope is that if SA can recover from his tenure that the US can too – however the damage gets greater each day and I am not sure if it will be possible. You are absolutely correct; the time is now and everyone must choose their camp. Sending you all my love.


  3. You have said what Roger and I have been saying for months. Your family history is exactly the immigrant diversity we want and need in our country. We, too, thought there was a sea change when Obama was elected. We also wept with joy at what we thought was a healing in out country. Our current president has given permission for hate and bigotry and we are saddened that there are still many who embrace those darker angels of our nature.


  4. Helen, You say it so beautifully. Your life, your parents’ lives, your ancestors are what is good about our country. This should be published by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Breitbart News. Thank you dearest woman.


  5. I am with you Helen, right to your very last word. A great essay, a tragic time in our American history. And a very dangerous time.
    God help us all😔


  6. Brilliant! I stay quiet too. I don’t think I can change a lot of minds given my limited arena. And I find it amazing how so many of those working with him and around him seem unfazed. I will not be unfriending you. Donna

    Sent from my Otter-protected, Terrapin Pottery-funded SmartAsHell iPhone.



  7. I’m done too, Helen. My heritage is almost totally northern European–except for an African who made a contribution centuries ago. My people found homes and a future here and the story of our country has been touching as people from across the world joined us. And now our country is being shamed before the world. I am also shocked by the number of people who support this man who is doing such treachery to our country. Our voter turnout is too often disappointing and this time must be different. We must sweep these people who despoil our country from office.


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  10. Thanks Helen, a lovely piece. Yes, it’s essential that we don’t sit on the sidelines when we see injustice in front of us. One has to make a stand. These are extraordinary and troubling times we live in. We must use our voices ….


  11. Well said, dear Helen. A gentle voice seeking truth. An ancient melody we all know, singing above the shrieks of a terrified ego out there. Let us teach only love for that is what we are. Including those who are mistaken and know not their own origin. Our last President has laid before us the the truth about our mistakes for the world to learn once again. That’s why he brought tears of joy to our eyes. Now in the light, we are being asked to have our will be done here as it is in Heaven, truth be known. Thanks for your return, Helen. I missed your splendid tales of personal discovery as a blessed message to all of us.


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