A few years ago, in response to another Black person being killed by the police, I said we had a responsibility to bear witness, a duty to not look away.

A year ago, in response to another Black person being killed by the police, I said we can all only bear so much and we have to take turns carrying that burden.

A few moments ago, in response to another Black person being killed by the police, it occurred to me that there are not enough people and there is not enough space to hold all of Black pain and…


December 23, 2020

I read an article today in The Cut about an incident that happened in our neighboring town this summer — https://www.thecut.com/article/montclair-new-jersey-permit-karen.html?fbclid=IwAR09Hxqe2CykyE0N17_a9R-selpo0neCcCvBsiXaTXkHNLvRZvq2YlRly8k#_ga=2.253345728.893237782.1608499225-92040880.1608499225.

It reminded me of a story I’ve never written down.

I’ve long thought of Alabama as my personal 9th circle of hell — a place where I faced a racial crucible and emerged forever changed.

But that’s only part of the story.

I always loved New York City. I had a cousin who lived there when I was a child and we visited frequently. I was taken with the bright lights, the hordes of people, the…


July 4, 2018

The morning after the 2016 election, I told my crying son that as long as we’re here America can’t be all bad.

In our disgust and fear over what some Americans are currently doing, I think we lose sight of the fact that we’re America too.

I love America.

I love it for its hope and its promise.

I love it for my mom who was a public school teacher (and principal) for 40 years.

I love it for my dad who fought for her in World War II and then fought for her in the courtroom…


Linked fate, bearing witness, and self care

June 1, 2020

“I was twelve going on thirteen first time I saw a dead human being.” Stephen King, The Body

I was the same age — twelve — the first time I saw a dead human being too. It was at my grandfather’s funeral. I don’t know how old I was when I saw a human being not just dead, but actually die. What I do know is that it was a black man. And the next was a black man. And the next. And I know precisely how old I was the last time I saw a human…


November 9, 2016 (morning after the election)

My son cried this morning and said he didn’t want a war with ISIS. And Trump will appoint crazy people to the Supreme Court. And what will other countries think about us. And Trump won’t let Muslims come or Hispanics.

Q — Did we retake the Senate, mom?

No, they took it all.

What do we say to our children?

Here’s what I said to mine.

I’m not going to lie to you. There is no good here. The republicans control all branches of government. …


Oct 11, 2019

Remiss doesn’t begin to cover my neglect of my favorite hobby. So to make up for it, here are 5 mini-reviews of horror and horror-lite films just in time for Halloween.

Hellboy (2019)

No, just No.

This is a retelling of the comic book tale of a demon child with a stone hand, brought to earth by occultists but raised by a kindly professor. He fights paranormal baddies while he struggles with his own demonic nature.

While we can all only mourn what could have been if Guillermo del Toro had completed his original Hellboy trilogy, this…


Feb 4, 2020

How can I represent those people?

I can because my clients are people. I can because they deserve compassion. I can because the world is cruel. It’s cruel to those who have erred. But it’s cruel to those who are poor, those who are other and especially those who are mentally ill.

I have a client who has struggled for years with his mental health. Recently he was jumped in the homeless shelter where he was living. And they put him out. With no where to go and no family to help, he started sleeping in a…


April 3, 2020

I love words. They help me understand things. They give me comfort. They give me hope.

On the morning after the 2016 election, I wrote about the words I used to console my crying son. I told him that hate is real, but so is love and compassion and that if we want to make our country better, we’re going to have to do it. And I told him that as long as there are people here who think this way then America can never be all bad.

Two years ago, I pepped myself up with the…


July 8, 2016 (need to update data)

I’ve been conflicted all day about my response to last nights’ murders in Dallas. Not conflicted about my personal feelings which are that the shooting of officers Thompson, Zamarripa, Krol, Smith and Ahrens was awful and tragic and sad. But conflicted about the response to the shootings. I’ve seen many posts calling for peace and prayers and equating the deaths of Mr. Sterling, Mr. Castile and the five officers. Posts touting the fact that the officers were killed because of their profession just as Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile were killed because of their race or saying things along the…


Dear White friends,

You can not conceive of how exhausting and frightening it is to raise a black child in America.

Yesterday I got a frantic call from Q who was walking home from school with a friend.

Q is 12 and in 6th grade.

Some older teens (also walking home, but not with Q) stole a shopping cart and were throwing it around the street.

Stupid, juvenile and not the end of the world.

But these were black kids.

And then police came.

The older kids were about a block and a half behind Q.

He wanted to let…

Jennifer Willis

Defender of constitutional rights, opponent of tyranny, wrangler of children, movie watcher

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