Quiz – What Kind of Man are You?

The Kavanaugh allegations of attempted rape are triggering for so many women, and I know this blog post of mine will be just one in a crowd.  Nevertheless, I feel compelled to tell my story. I would say stories, but it’s the story of what I’ve experienced, in my life so far. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is quoted as saying,

“I ask no favor for my sex; all I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”
(Watch Ruth Bader Ginsburg Talk Sexism, Equality in New Doc Trailer)

The biggest part that is so triggering for me, and so many other women, is that there is debate at all. An incredibly brave woman came forward with a horrifically serious allegation of sexual assault and attempted rape. She was so young when it happened, of course she didn’t feel strong enough to say anything to an authority. I don’t blame her. She was over-powered by extremely privileged white boys, who had money and power. I wouldn’t want to go up against that kind of power, for fear of getting attacked any more than I already had been.

I’m not trying to speak for her. She has every right to speak or not speak, for herself. I am simply empathizing with her experience, and putting all my understanding where it should be; with the person saying they were assaulted.  By virtue of it being established fact, that they knew each other at the time, that makes this a credible enough allegation that there has to be an FBI investigation. If not, our Senate, our President, and our government will be failing one of our citizens, in dismissing the justice Dr. Ford seeks. There is no statute of limitations on this. There is no deadline for vetting a nominee. McConnell reinforced that precedent, with Judge Merrick Garland.

There is a duty, of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to thoroughly and extensively vet any nominee for the Supreme Court. It isn’t supposed to be as incredibly partisan as it is. Republicans are forsaking their duty to remain impartial in this process, and they are acting in bad faith, by not requesting the FBI do a thorough background check, to determine the veracity of this claim.

The hardest part of watching this all happen, is seeing all the men rushing to defend Kavanaugh. They want to discredit Dr. Ford’s claims, by mistaken identity, and suggesting that she should have reported it sooner.  I decided to write this, so that I could stand up and in front of Dr. Ford, even if just in my own small way.  I will recount all the times I have been put upon, by a man. All of the times, I have had a man’s foot on my neck, at least in a sexual way. Where a man treated me as an object, or as a gender he had a right to take ownership of. To touch, feel, grab, push, pull, overpower.

One

When I was 5, I was raped by a family member.  I have not confronted that person, and have little reason to believe he will ever read this post. We don’t keep in touch with that side of the family, and didn’t much back then. That’s likely why he did it. He figured he would get away with it. I had blocked it out, a while after it happened, and it came flooding back to me, one day, when I was at the gym, in my late 20’s. I remember doing sit-ups and all the sudden, all the memories came flooding back.

The dress I was wearing.  It was white and yellow. My mom had made it for me. I remember my underwear, because he had pulled them down. They were white and had frilly lace on the bottoms. I remember the desk he had put me on. I remember when he picked me up, hurriedly sat in the chair, and whisked me onto his lap, because there was a knock at the door.  I remember him whispering in my ear, “If you tell anyone, I will kill your mom, your dad, and and your brother.” I was terrified. I know I tried to tell my mom a few times.

Because I was terrified that he would somehow find out, and would kill my mom, my favorite person, I always chickened out.

Two

By the time I was 12, I had blocked it out, and didn’t really remember what had happened. That doesn’t mean the trauma didn’t affect me. I acted out a lot, and was most certainly being affected by the trauma, but I was blind to why, because I had never been able to process what happened to me. I had buried it, along with my childhood.

When I was 12, I would go with a friend, to help her deliver her paper route after school. We lived in a small town, so we were allowed to hang out in town alone.  The plan was to go to her place after we finished her route, and do our homework.  It started raining, so we ran into the Nice ‘N Easy. My friend told me to wait there, and she would run to drop off a few of the papers, so I wouldn’t get so wet. She knew the store clerk, an older guy.

After she left, he chatted with me. Small talk, really. He then told me, that I could come back behind the counter and see what it was like back there. I was so young and naive, I just thought that was so cool. It was like getting to go backstage in a show.  Once I went back there, he cornered me, and started trying to feel me up. I was so scared and uncomfortable. I hadn’t even hit puberty yet. I was still playing with dolls and didn’t understand what was happening. He had cornered me into an actual corner, between the doorway to leave the behind the counter area, and the rest of the back area. He had his arm up to block me, so I couldn’t get away.

All of the sudden, my friend came back in.  I screamed her name, and he got distracted.  I dodged under his arm, but had to go toward the counter, because I couldn’t risk not being able to get out the door, on the other side. I jumped over the counter, like a hurdle, and we both ran out of there.  I will never forget how terrified I was, and how much I wanted to punch him in the throat, as much as I needed to get away. I was infuriated, but he had all the power.

Three

When I was a teenager (about 14), I was in and out of trouble with my parents. Because my dad was a psychologist and my mom was a nurse, they were well versed in the importance of mental health, and wanted me to go to counseling. For a brief while, I saw a psychologist. I didn’t get a great feeling from him. He made me uncomfortable. During one session, he got up from his seat, and sat next to me. He was trying to get me to open up. He put his hand on my thigh. I shot up off the couch and sprang to the other side of the room. I was still fresh from the experience in the convenient store. I was so done with men being gropey with me, that I told my mom, and she let me get a new counselor. This time, I got to pick a woman.

Four

When I was a senior in high school, I worked full-time at McDonald’s. I met a lot of great friends there, and ended up moving in with one.  My parents were divorced, both in a battle over child support money that they both needed, because we didn’t have a lot of money. I was caught in the middle, and since I worked full time, I really just waned to not be involved in the drama.  The friend I moved in with, lived in a double-wide trailer, about a town and a half away from my town and school.

She lived with her boyfriend, and 2 other guys, who were crashing with them.  One of the guys apparently liked me a lot. He constantly remarked at how pretty I was, to the point that it got incredibly uncomfortable.  When my friend gave me the choice of the spare bed, couch or recliner chair to sleep in, I chose the chair. It really was comfy, but also made it way harder for that guy to try anything. Anytime we would be hanging out, he would poke me, and try to be handsy with me, and I cringed every time. It got so bad my friend finally told him to leave me the hell alone. He knocked it off after that, but it wasn’t until my friend told him to respect my boundaries, to be left alone, that he was finally called out to a level that made him stop.

Five

I was raped, when I was in college. Yeah, I know. Why does this keep happening to me? This was before I had unblocked being raped as a child. This wasn’t a violent rape. It was the type of “acquaintance” rape, we are talking more and more about. I had had way too much to drink, which many might blame me for. It’s certainly why I never reported it. I knew I would be told I drank too much, and it was my fault.  I was hanging out in front of the off campus apartment, where I was living, during my senior year. I met this cute guy, hanging out at my neighbor’s.

He invited me to walk back with him, to his place, to hang out.  I said sure. It was the weekend, and like I said, he was cute. On the way, we took shortcuts through yards and over brick walls, because they were just shortcuts he knew. I sprained my ankle at one point, and he was a complete gentleman.  We got back to his place, hung out for a while, and then got on the top bunk of his bed, to make out. Once it started to go too far, I told him to stop. I said the word “stop” and “no” multiple times, while trying to push his body off me, but he was too heavy for me to over-power him, and I was too drunk.

I did the proverbial walk of shame, later that next morning. I had to go to the health center to get crutches, the morning after pill, and the doctor told me I would need to wait about 3 months to be tested for HIV, and then I would want to keep getting tested every 6 months, for the next year or so.   I saw him out at a bar a week or so later, when my friends encouraged me to at least come out to have a drink with them.  He apologized profusely and said there was no excuse, not even him being drunk, but he really didn’t even remember what had happened, until one of my friends told him. I’ll never forget, since that was the moment I thought I lost my virginity, in the last way I ever hoped to lose it.

Years later, when I finally remembered the childhood trauma that I had blocked out, I eventually realized that my virginity had never really been mine. It had been taken from me long before I ever even thought of giving it away.

Now

Seeing what the men in the Republican party are doing to Dr. Ford now, disgusts me. It also confirms my suspicions, that if I had ever come forward with any of these allegations, toward any of the men who had put themselves upon me, I would have invited myself to be attacked by more men. Not sexually, but it would result in me reliving those horrible experiences again and again. That’s why so many women are exulting her bravery. It is not to be understated. It is no small thing, to come forward with a claim of sexual assault, attempted rape, rape, or molestation. You will 100% be told you are lying, don’t remember details correctly, should have reported sooner, and are making it a bigger deal than it is.

Dr. Ford has no reason to lie, and nothing to gain by this, other than justice. What I can’t stomach, is that I see so many women standing up for Dr. Ford and so many men standing up for Kavanaugh. Senator Grassley and Senator McConnell should be shamed from the Senate, for not taking this seriously. This is not Democrats trying to discredit their nominee. They didn’t do this. Kavanaugh did this, when he put himself upon Dr. Ford, when they were teenagers. It doesn’t matter that it has been 35 years. It does matter, that he has never accepted responsibility for his actions, and it matters a lot that the Republicans backing his nomination to the Supreme Court are more concerned with confirming him, than they are at fully vetting him.

That’s not the way our Senate is supposed to work. Just as they are supposed to check and balance abuses by our Executive branch, they are supposed to check and balance the Judicial branch. Extensively vetting a nominee for the highest court, is part of that duty. It is a sacred duty, and it is a higher calling. It cannot be all partisan politics. It has to be public service, for the greater good. The greater good absolutely, must include full agency, autonomy, and justice be preserved not just for men, but for women.

Her life was permanently marred, by Kavanaugh’s actions, in high school.  I’m sure he thought he would never be caught or held responsible for pushing himself on her. To quote his own thinking, “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep” (‘What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep’: Kavanaugh remarks in 2015 speech get renewed scrutiny)

I don’t know what other American women see, when they see the pictures of Kavanaugh, in his heyday. To me, he looks like the epitome of rich, entitled, white prep boy. This is a class of boys, who grow up so rich, they have no idea that most of the world has no where near the privilege they have. They aren’t raised to care about others, only about getting what they want, because they are rich and entitled to it. They take what they want. They have the most decked out locker rooms, to talk about any kind of locker room talk, they desire. 

Is this an unfair characterization? If women all women reported all sexual assault, you would be shocked to find how many girls have been raped by boys fitting that description. It’s an epidemic, and the worst part is, grown men in the Senate are perpetuating that culture. They are excusing it any way that they can, and they are doing everything they can to cover it up and sweep it under the rug. If they weren’t. Grassley and McConnell would both be requesting an FBI investigation and they would subpoena Mark Judge, before asking Dr. Ford to testify. They would have sensitivity to what she is saying happened, and they would take her claim as credible, for no other reason than she has no reason to lie. If they cared about the justice of it, they should want to know if it is true, and that would mean a proper investigation, and it would not mean putting the onus on Dr. Ford.

My story and the different things I went through are so commonplace, that they won’t make much noise. That’s because there are so many worse stories out there. That doesn’t make the trauma or the pain less, but it does make you feel the weight of the history of women being oppressed. Yes, this happens to boys and men too. The problem is, that in the history of man-kind, men typically have full agency, autonomy, and power. They have historically over-powered women in a systemic way. It seeps into every part of every culture. We go from being our father’s daughters to our husband’s wives. We go from belonging to one man, to belonging to another man. That used to mean as real property. Women were literally given their hand in marriage, to the best buyer. The dowry was a bribe. Money, livestock, and anything else that made the woman have any value at all, being that she was not endowed with power or worth of her own making.

Yes, we have long since left those days, but that doesn’t mean men have fully gotten the memo, that women don’t owe them anything. If a guy buys a girl a drink at a bar, does she owe him something? If he buys her dinner? Where is the line of demarcation? At what point does a woman lose her autonomy and agency? When she becomes pregnant and loses the right to chose what happens to her body? When she’s walking down the street and a man decides her butt looks good enough to slap? When a guy decides she is sleeping, so she won’t even know?

When Anita Hill showed the world what courage looks like, I was still very young. I was 13, and my parents were in the middle of getting divorced. I remember her raising her hand. I remember the hearings, with mostly old white men starring her down, and thinking how terrified she must have felt.  I didn’t know much, but I remember the feeling in my gut. I knew she was going to get clobbered by those men. I ached with sadness, that she wasn’t better protected at the time. I’m grateful that she is speaking up again now, considering she is certainly well versed in the attacks Dr. Ford is now receiving.

If we are truly going to learn a lesson, from what Anita Hill went through, then I say it’s time we put it to men to stand up and say what kind of man they are. Hence the title of this piece “Quiz – What Kind of Man are You?”. I chose that title, because I keep seeing the same patterns of discourse from men. “Geeze! What are we supposed to do? Can we even say hi to women, without them crying rape? What the hell?” These men need to take a seat, read more stories, like mine, and hear more women. They need to stop putting their “fun” ahead of the full equity and equality of women.

Here is a starting point.  Pick what type of man your are, and then we can work on how to proceed:

It’s Not That Big of a Deal, Man

This type of man will always put all the responsibility, on a woman. If a woman is put upon by a man, she welcomed it, she didn’t do enough to prevent it, and she didn’t report it fast enough. It’s never the fault of the man, and if it was, it was either a long time ago, or she should have done something differently. 

Your remedy: Stop doing that. Sit down and listen to more women. A lot of women don’t report, and your perspective, your rhetoric is the problem. You may not have committed assault against a woman, but your excuses inflict damage, and allow assault to be explained away.

It’s None of My Business, Man

This type of man will always try to say this is a private matter. It’s none of his business, and we shouldn’t talk about it. This type of guy will also encourage girls/women to pretend it never happened. Just don’t talk about it and move on.  

Your remedy: Stop doing that. Period. You cannot sweep this under the rug, and you disservice all women. Imagine every woman you care about, has been raped. I know, it’s a really horrific and uncomfortable feeling, right? Now imagine that she can’t say anything, because she has seen you suggest that we shouldn’t talk about it. You have shown her how you’ll respond. She knows she won’t have your support, which means she will never get the support she needs.


He’s Got a Bright Future, Man

This type of man will excuse what happened, as not as of big a deal as the woman is making it out to be. He was drunk, or it was a long time ago, or it was just horseplay.  Your bottom line is that this guy has a bright future, and you don’t want to see it ruined. To you, the man is more important than the woman. Not just more important. He is the only one, who’s future you seem concerned with. Her justice is never as important to you. Her injury is more an inconvenience to you, than anything else. Her past and future take a back seat to his past and future. 

Your remedy: Stop doing that. Anytime there is an allegation of sexual assault, take it seriously. Spend at least a little time, trying to imagine someone else having power over you. Their breath on you, their hands on you, and their whispers in your ear. You have to remember, that in this reality, you have no power. Now, imagine telling the world, just to have them say the person who did that to you has a bright future. How much does that matter to you? What about your future? Now go walk a mile in high heels, and do that, every time you start to think the man’s future is more important than ensuring justice for the woman. Imagine every woman who comes forward, is the woman you care most about in this world. If that woman is your mom, imagine it was your mom, when she was young. If it is your sister, your wife, or a really close friend, imagine them being handed these excuses. You don’t have to be the father of a daughter. You just have to care about at least 1 woman. Imagine it happened to them, and then consider how much you care about the man’s future.

The real remedy, is for men to condemn other men who perpetuate locker room talk, especially when it includes talk of “she wanted it”, “she was so drunk, she didn’t even know”, and “I just grabbed her by the pussy”. This is a problem, that women have been grappling with, since the dawn of time.  I say grappling, because it is as difficult as rock climbing a treacherous cliff. One slip and we will get seriously hurt. We shouldn’t have to carry pepper spray, adjust our clothing, cover our drinks so they don’t get spiked, walk in groups, pretend we are on the phone with a boyfriend or a man who will protect us, but we do. This is a problem that women have always had, and it won’t stop being our problem, until men make it their own problem to fix.  Women need men to be the men we need them to be. Ones who have our backs, as much as they do their “bros”.

He’s Got My Back, Man

I don’t know Dr. Ford or her family, but from what I’ve read, she spoke about this attack, in therapy with her husband. I’d wager her husband falls in this category.  I have seen many men on social media saying that they have her back. I see a lot of men standing up and saying we should believe her. I see a lot saying that we need an FBI background check done immediately, that Mark Judge should be subpoenaed to testify, and that if the claims have merit, the nomination should be withdrawn. I’ve seen quite a few of these men, recently. I would like to see a whole lot more.  If you aren’t this kind of man, then you are, by default, one of the types described above.

In today’s society, men hold power. If you don’t believe me, check the organizational chart at the company you work for. Just look at the executive board. I doubt 1/2 the companies out there have even 50% of their board led by women. Then look at a map of Congress; House and Senate. Check how many men represent us, and how many women. This country is 51% women, but our government is mostly run by old white men, many of whom came from rich, entitled prep-boy upbringings, where what happens in their rich, secret clubs, stay there. 

In order for society to do right by the women, who keep coming forward in this age of #MeToo, we need the men to stand shoulder to shoulder with us. Either you have our back, or you are just another man, with your foot on our neck.

Instead of Them, Let’s Support Us

Many are reeling from the ever-emerging news that the Trump administration has been turning away people at the border, who are seeking asylum. They force them to cross illegally, so they can detain them instead. This is egregious enough, but that’s not enough for the white supremacists in the White House. They are ripping kids away from their parents arms, and separating them. The parents get detained, and charged. The kids are being sent to detainment camps and agencies all over the country, with no paperwork, to reunite them with their parents, ever. 
 
Some people think it’s not their problem. Some people are wrong.  There are about 65 million displaced people in this world (https://news.sky.com/story/we-must-help-refugees-because-simply-it-could-be-you-11410452). Human beings. More often than not, they are taken in by developing countries, while more developed countries, like the US, shrug their shoulders and prioritize that we have to protect our borders. People need to fill out the proper paper work, is the problem. If only these people fleeing devastation, would ask nicely, get in a line and wait their turn, then we would welcome them in. I highly doubt that is true, but my priority is on all these kids, that the government has effectively kidnapped.
 
The rest of us want to help those who need help the most.  Many of us want to help these people who have had their kids ripped away from them, by our government. Many of us want our government to be held responsible for the human rights abuses they are committing in plain daylight.
 
So it’s us vs them, right? 
Who is the us, though? 
Who is the them? 
Left vs right? 
American vs immigrant? 
 
I say we chuck all the dividing lines and look at this differently. Us, are people. The human race. A global community. If we are all one people, then maybe we can support each other, without regard to whether that person lives next door to us, in the next country, or across the world. It shouldn’t matter. If your house was on fire, and you ran over to someone else’s house to ask for help, what would you hope they would do? Let you in? Or tell you to just go back to your house, fill out some paper work, and prove that I should let you come into my house? Should I take your kid and have you arrested, for trespassing on my property? I mean you did step on my property, which is trespassing. Is that what is important here, or is your house being on fire, maybe the more important issue we need to prioritize?
 
I don’t care if an immigrant comes here legally or illegally, I will not call them illegal. They are human beings. They are souls, and they are people who bleed, just like me. I will stand up for them, as soon as I will stand up for my friends and family. I don’t understand people who won’t. I admire those who do.
 
An old friend asked me some ideas for how to help, so I put this together. I thought I would share it, for anyone else looking for ways to help.  I by no means have all the best ways to help, but this is what I’ve got.
 
Donate

One way to help is donating to legal efforts to represent the parents and fight for them to be reunited with their kids

RAICES:
https://www.facebook.com/donate/490507544717085/

Act Blue has a fundraiser that is being spit across orgs including ACLU:
https://secure.actblue.com/donate/families-border
I got that one from Hillary Clinton on Twitter

Michael Avenatti (Stormi Daniels attorney) has pledged (and already started) to represent 50 moms, pro bono. While he’s covering the legal cost, there are other expenses like bond for the moms and such. There is a crowd-funding effort for that:
https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/stop-separating-families/

 
Contact Your Reps in Congress

Contact reps and keep contacting them:
Use @resistbot – you start a message to resistbot in fab messenger. It will get your info to look up your reps, and then it’s easy to type “resist” then “Congress” then type your message. Hit enter, then “done” and then “send” and they send you message right to your reps.

@Countable is another great app for messaging your reps on any legislation being voted on.

Calling reps is really important too, especially if your rep is a Republican. We have to demand they vote with Dems on this. They should sign on to Senator Feinstein’s bill called Keep Families Together.

We should be calling for an investigation and hearings. There is no oversight, so abuses aren’t being reported at all.

Protest
 
Sign up for a protest event for June 30th. This will hopefully be a massive nation-wide protest in solidarity with our fellow global citizens, who are being horrifically mistreated by this government:
 

I saw people have been protesting one ICE office so much they had to close:
https://www.npr.org/2018/06/21/622243400/ice-temporarily-closes-portland-office-amid-tumult-of-protests-across-u-s

Not sure that is realistic, nation-wide, but hey I’d love to see them unable to do their job.

As crappy as it is, we need to get people registered and convinced that their vote is everything. It’s crappy, because we can’t wait that long. These kids can’t wait that long. That’s not soon enough to help all those people, but there are some horrific realities:

  1. Some parents have already been deported and kids placed in private adoption agencies. It will be near impossible to get them reunited 
  2. Some kids have been “misplaced” and turned over to human traffickers. 
  3. At least one father killed himself, after his kid was take from him
  4. Congress is controlled by the GOP, who will not hold the Trump administration accountable
  5. Russia is going to attempt to hack our election. We need a blue wave so that the margins are so wide, Democrats overwhelmingly take over Congress.

Those realities are why we need an independent investigation, public hearings, and independent oversight of family reunification. We need an independent and accountable source, so that they will actively advocate for the parents and kids, not be shills for Trump’s fascist administration.  None of that is going to happen, while Republicans are in control of Congress.  They won’t stand up to Trump. They just enable him with their complicit silence.

 
This isn’t a legal issue, or a political one. It’s a moral imperative.  The crux is that we need political power, to ensure the moral imperative is achieved. We can no longer allow voter apathy to be accepted. We have no excuses. We should have near 100% registration and voter turn out. If we want our government to be a transparent and accountable body of citizens representing citizens, we must hold them accountable. We must be informed and we must vote in every election.  We must do the hard work of convincing our friends and family to do the same. 
 
We have to condemn the eye rolls at politics and campaigns. Being patriotic isn’t about waving a flag, as much as it’s about participating in the democracy that is the lifeblood of our country. Politics and campaigns are dirty and nasty, but the more citizens pay attention to the real issues, and not the character assassinations, we can push it to be cleaned up. We can reward honesty and transparency. We can expect our elected officials and candidates to answer hard questions and call them out when they duck those questions.
 
If we sit back and expect it to be done for us, it will, but it will look like the Handmaid’s Tale. If you haven’t seen it, it’s terrifying.

The Accidental Wisdom of America

One of the interesting aspects of the times we are in, is that people on both sides of the political aisle, want to be able to say they are proud to be American. We all want to say this is a great country, but many people are realizing that our history and our country’s foundation may not have been as rosey and great as we were led to believe.  The challenge then becomes, how do we have pride in our country? Well, I think we can still be proud of America, and be proud of what our country can be, without lying about our history and how we were founded.

Did Christopher Columbus discover America, and was he a cool dude, deserving of a national holiday?  No.  He didn’t “discover” America, and it’s long past time for us to stop celebrating him. What about John Smith? Was he cool? Not really, but I’m not an expert historian, so I’m not going to fine tooth comb his good and bad qualities. I do think we’ve had enough of celebrating the white men of our past. We should have a national holiday, to celebrate Pocahontas, who was strong, fearless, and stood up for her community.  The early immigrants to this country warred with Native Americans, and shipped in kidnapped, trafficked and enslaved people, predominantly from African countries.  Today we would call that human trafficking. It is the truth of how we built this nation.

Our forefathers did get one thing right though, and that was a desire to not be oppressed.  I know. It’s ironic, considering how they oppressed people of color, not to mention women. (Women have been oppressed since the dawn of time, but that’s another discussion). Our founding fathers were hypocrites about it, but they wrote our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution in a way that was intended to secure freedom for all people of this country.  Since the inception of this country, and to this day, African Americans have never known a time where they were not oppressed, and neither have Native Americans. We are not the country we claim to be, but we were founded on the wisdom that all people should be free and equally free.  It wasn’t necessarily their aim, for people of color to be equal, nor Native Americans, nor women.

But that is the accidental wisdom of this country’s foundation. It’s incredible, that our slave owning framers wrote a democracy that could create freedom for every man, woman and child. Not based on skin color, gender, or orientation. Based on the self-evident truth that all [people] are created equal.  Their documents have mostly stood the test of time, and today we keep pushing the needle forward. We are beginning to even talk about the casual, and not so casual, oppression of women.  Whether it be in economic disparity, or straight up sexual assault, intimidation and rape, the conversation is getting louder.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” ~ Theodore Parker

We have never had the equality, that we like to pretend we were founded on.  The grand irony of our country is that our founding fathers were rich lords. They weren’t all social progressives. They wore white wigs, tights, and most of them had slaves.  But they wrote the framework for our country, in a way that could move with us through time. We have the potential for equality, and a democracy that can protect it.  We just have to keep pushing the needle in that direction.

We have to be willing to amend the parts of our democratic framework, where we have learned a better more principled way to govern. We have to be willing to live up to that fundamental truth of a right to full equality for every citizen.  We must ensure our democracy continues to protect it, through our changing times. Our democracy must grow organically as it needs to, so we can be allowed to make changes, such as explicitly protecting the rights of minorities.

So maybe we can all be proud of what our country is about in truth, instead of a lie. We were founded, in truth, by a bloody history of oppression. We still have oppression today, but we are also still moving forward.  Like the unfinished pyramid on the back of our $1 bill, our country will never be “finished”. It is a living, ever progressing ideal. We can always do better.  We can always be better.  One way is to stop lying about our history; our past. We have an incredibly racist history.

That’s who we are, and we won’t wash our hands from it, by sweeping it under the rug, putting on rose colored glasses, and pretending it didn’t happen.  We won’t be able to move forward, if we insist on pretending racism isn’t alive and well today.  We need to address police brutality and accountability. We need to address for-profit prisons, and mandatory minimums. We need to address economic inequality and the need for equal access, to an equal quality, free, and public education.

We won’t be able to have gender equality, if we act like the #MeToo movement and people starting to speak out, is the end of the conversation.  It’s just the beginning.  We need to address how we can get equal pay to happen, and not just by outing differences in pay. We need to look at how our companies should be required, much in the same way affirmative action is done, to pay women equal to men, and to pay minorities the same as non-minorities.

I’m proud to be an American.  Like most countries, our past is not necessarily something we should be completely proud of. I’m proud of the “resistors”, who have stood up throughout our history.  I’m proud of the Harriet Tubmans, and the Allison Pauls, and the Martin Luther King Jrs. I’m proud of the every day citizens, who volunteer, march, run for office, and work to make communities a place of inclusion and equality. I’m proud of every citizen who shows up to vote, and knows that voting is the most patriotic thing a citizen can do. We should have 100% turnout, rather than the 30% – 50% we currently get.

I’m proud of the accidental wisdom of this country.  Even though we have yet to achieve it, we were founding on the ideal that we are all inherently equal.  The best a country/government can be, is one which protects and serves all citizens equally.  I believe we will get there someday, and it will happen when we can look at our past honestly, as well as our present.  It will happen when we come together, and stand up, not just for ourselves, but for each other. That’s how a people can preserve a democracy, and that is some awesome wisdom.

#TrendChangeTogether The Need to Support Each Other and Effect Real Change

We saw a lot this week, about women coming forward with stories of harassment, assault, and rape.  We also saw a lot of reactions to those who bravely came out.  They didn’t come out soon enough, no they should come out in their own time, no they should have done this or that or something else, to be more effective.

Then Rose McGowan, one of the brave women who has led this courageous move to bring sexual assault and intimidation out into the public, was blocked from Twitter.  I don’t know what her reasons were for coming out.  Her reasons are her own, and they should be.  Maybe she didn’t intend or mean to lead this move to encourage others to come forward and be brave like her.  Maybe she just needed to come forward for herself.  That’s good enough for me, and it should be for everyone else.

What’s more in the public eye, is a side-effect of her having come out about what happened to her. She was tweeting about her screenplay, and wanting to get it back from Amazon. At least I think the issue occurred within those tweets.  Apparently she tweeted a phone number.  While that’s against Twitter policy, it’s a policy that is not consistently enforced. I was tweeting with someone else, after that happened, and the woman mentioned that her personal number was tweeted, and the perpetrator was never suspended. Why did Twitter suspend Rose, and not another person, for the same violation?

Because Twitter is being political. At least, that’s what it seems to be doing.  I hate personifying a social media platform, but it’s easier to for the flow of this discussion.  Twitter is seemingly taking some people’s reports more seriously than others, or at least listening to some, and ignoring others.  Maybe it’s the amount of people who report a tweet.  Are there so many reports that they give a tweet with, say 100 reports, more credence than a tweet that gets 1 report?  I can understand that type of prioritizing, but it would be a horrible way to structure the process for reporting and getting equal treatment on the platform.  It would instead encourage a mob/bullying mentality, where bullies can get people suspended, and victims have no justice, because they oftentimes stand alone.

After Rose’s account was suspended, people started tweeting #WomenBoycottTwitter, with the idea that everyone should boycott twitter, to stand in solidarity with her, and against Twitter suspending this brave person, who was trying to speak out.  At first, I thought this was a wonderful notion as a way to stand in solidarity, and ensure she was not alone.

This morning, I saw the #WOCAffirmation, and started to read about how this attempt to boycott and stand together was somewhat shortsighted.  We thought to come together for Rose, but what about countless women of color, who have come forward and did not have such a swelling of support?  What about Anita Hill? I can’t imagine what she went through, testifying in front of the whole country.  It was incredibly brave, and the country barely noticed her.  People did not rally around her, the way they have around the brave women, who came out this week.

One thing I’ve been learning, as I follow #BlackLivesMatter, watch 13th, and read articles by Shaun King, is that we must learn to speak up for others more.  We can’t just rally around those who look like us, or who look like they are going through something that could happen to us.

We have to learn to speak up for ourselves, but also to speak up for others.  What’s just as important is learning how to speak up for others.  It starts with listening to them.  Really listening.  Whether they are people of color, Muslim faith, Jewish faith, LGBTQ, or any group of people who are different from you.  Men or women.  We all need to learn to listen to each other.  We need to acknowledge that the way we might want someone to support us in a time of need, is not necessarily what another may want or need in their time of crisis.

With that in mind, I think that instead of a boycott of twitter, as I have been seeing others suggest, we should be more vocal. Let’s not protest being silenced by being silent. I think there are times where that can be effective (#TakeAKnee, #BoycottNFL), but in this context, I wonder if we need to make some noise.  For that noise to be effective, we’ve got to be together on the message. On what we want.

So, if we are going to stage a protest, we really should have a list of “demands”, or things we want changed.  I thought of some changes I want to social media platforms (Twitter, facebook, etc).  I came up with a draft list, and I’m sure others could come up with others/better.

  1. Block all accounts tweeting hate against other people eg nazis, kkk, alt-right etc
    1. Suspend until hateful tweets removed, deactivate account if hate tweets are repeated after suspension
  2. Take away check mark for fake news
    1. If an account tweets a false story, suspend until fake post is removed, remove check mark if fake posts are posted again
  3. Treat all violation reports equally
    1. tweeting personal info of another person (user or not)
    2. tweeting hate/threats/bullying
    3. tweeting fake/false posts or links
  4. Identify “bots” or fake accounts and delete them
    1. Go after person’s or entities creating them

I’m not naive enough to think it’s that simple, but it does seem that social media platforms, and the people who run those, have an obligation to take it that seriously.  They shouldn’t be giving the same level of credibility (verified check mark) to fake news and hate groups, as they do the rest of society and the truth.  I get that no one regulates the internet, but that’s the problem and the virtue.  Having overarching control over the internet could have the impact of silencing those who would speak out or dissent. It could stifle free speech.  At the same time, having no authority, means that we have a somewhat lawless frontier when we are online. It means that bullying and fake news run rampant. It means entire countries can wage war on the elections of other nation’s, by targeting fake news at people. They can sow discord and division. They can bully people into submission.

I propose that each social media platform has a responsibility to tackle this, and the ones who can figure out how to handle it best, will set the standard for the rest.  Whatever the solution, I imagine it will be most effective, if it is transparent to the users.  That way they will have buy-in from the users, and that’s buy-in they should seek.  It is, after all, a platform they built for our use.

Let’s Try Something Different – Protect Citizens Not Guns

I’ve seen a lot of reporting on the gun control debate.  Since I’m not a journalist, I likely will not have the best form of the argument, but let’s try, shall we?

First, we can only talk about the right to bear arms, if we discuss it in the frame of the 2nd Amendment.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I’ve seen some posts by lots of people smarter than I, on this subject.  Some have referenced that this is not the end. It’s like footnotes, and clauses that you need to reference.  For instance, “A well regulated Militia” has it’s own definition.  This was meant to be regulated at the federal and state levels.  That would mean, that the framers didn’t really intend every citizen to be able to arm themselves as much as they want.  Rather, they wanted the country to be able to defend itself against a tyrant or a despot.

Many will say, but we should be able to have guns, in case we want to protect ourselves from our government.  I would say that might be a coup, but let’s follow that logic for a quick sec.  Our government has arguable a quite large stockpile of weapons.  It’s absurd to think that your right to bear arms would ever be to protect you from our government.  Even it if would be for that purpose, it would be in vain.  I know, it’s a silly argument to bring up, but I’m trying to look at that amendment and figure out how to make it work for everyone.  I want to make it work for those, who desperately want their rights to own their guns.  I also want to make it work for those, who don’t want to lose a family member to a mass shooting.

I know many responsible gun owners.  I have no problem with them owning guns, but that’s because I consider them to be responsible people.  I know hunters who hunt, and they eat what they hunt.  I have respect for that.  I have even greater respect for people who use a bow and arrow, but that’s my opinion and I’m fine with admitting that.

The way I read the 2nd Amendment, it was added to the constitution (as it is an Amendment) for the sole purpose “being necessary to the security of a free State”.  It wasn’t meant for each person’s personal safety, hunting prowess, or enjoyment. It was to ensure our country remained a free one.

So here’s what I think.  In this day and age, it’s not realistic to make all guns illegal.  There are some people out there who would cry havoc and might even revolt at such a suggestion.  I think we can make a lot of changes to how things work now, that would still mean that a majority of gun owners would get to keep a majority of their guns, and nothing would change for them.  While this may not be what the framers intended, it might be a way we can all move forward without having to keep finding out there was another mass shooting.  The only ones not sick of it are gun and bullet manufacturer’s.  Their sales go through the roof, when this happens.  They literally profit off this misery.  I’m not interested in what helps them. I’m interested in serving the memory of those we’ve lost, and protecting those who are still here.

This is my laundry wish list of things Congress should enact, to keep all American’s safer.  After all, protecting the right of some citizens, to bear unlimited arms, is a failing of their duty to protect all citizens from this domestic threat.

  1. Ban all assault weapons – These weapons were designed for military use, and should only be legal for military use.  Active duty, in the field, only.
  2. Ban all armor piercing rounds – Citizens should never have bullets that can pierce the armor a police officer would be wearing to protect themselves.  Plain and simple.
  3.  Require that users take an exam to get a permit, just like before you get a license to drive.  You cannot own a gun yet.  You have to go to gun ranges, take safety courses, and then take a written and practical test in order to get a license.
    1. Periodically renew license with re-taking test.  Don’t like it?  It’s a hassle?  So is watching a loved one die at a concert or in an elementary school.  You can deal with re-taking a test every 2 years.
  4. Require that each gun be registered and have insurance, just like a car.
  5. Require that bullets be registered and insured too.  Then we can track them back to the owner, who is then responsible for their use.
  6. Maybe have a standard license, which would allow for standard types of guns (gun experts would be best at deciding these) and then more extensive tests etc for specialized licenses for owning specialized guns
  7. No gun sales to those who have a record of mental illness (duh)
  8. No gun sales to those who have a record of domestic violence (duh)
  9. No gun sales to those who are on the no fly list (duh)
  10. Close all background check loop holes.  You go to buy a gun, there will be at least a 48 hour waiting period, and I think 1 week should be ok.  If you are in that much of a hurry to buy a gun, we might want to know why.

I’d love to see what other people can come up with.  Of course the bump stock thing is going around, because that was used in this Las Vegas attack, but if we ban assault weapons, won’t that make it moot?  If not, then let’s add that.  It seems the GOP and the NRA are willing to move on that, though likely it’s just so it won’t look like they are doing nothing.

I am really not a fan of guns. I wish we lived in a world without them, but we don’t. I at least would like responsible gun owners to stand up and say that we need good gun control laws. That having those laws won’t infringe on the privilege of having a gun, but it will help to protect every citizen’s right to live in a wold without mass shootings.  The NRA and GOP want to say it won’t do any good, but if they really believe that, why are they against it?  We pass legislation to name bridges after people.  Let’s pass these laws, and if the gun violence stats don’t go down, they can say “I told you so”.  Don’t we owe it to every person lost, and every person forever grieving, to at least try?

The Preservation of Life: Protecting Equality in the Great Divide

Last week I saw that Vice President Mike Pence was the tie breaker in a bill to de-fund health clinics.  Yes, there is much more detail, and I will expand on the implications, but let that sink in.  The GOP and our Vice President voted to de-fund a resource for low income people to receive vital health care, which in many cases saves their lives.
Breast cancer screenings, which saves lives.
GYN exams, which saves lives.
General physical exams, which saves lives.
Prenatal checkups, which saves double lives.
All because they offer the constitutionally protected right to choose.  They offer abortions, and they counsel women on all their options, when it comes to pregnancy.
The crux of this issue, is that the pro-life supporters don’t want this to be an option, and I get the sense that they think pro-choice supporters want abortions.  It is so far from the truth.  Abortions have existed for centuries.  They were just way more dangerous, in the past.  What happens when abortions are not legal or accessible, is that those with money can afford to find a private doctor to perform the abortion off the books, and it still happens.  Low income people resort to “back alley” abortions, which are incredibly dangerous. It still happens. Restricting access doesn’t prevent abortions from happening.  It prevents access to safe abortions from happening.
Making them illegal will not help protect life, it will only endanger it.  If pro-life supporters really want to protect life, they need to stop forcing women into back alleys, and attempting to control their bodies.  Controlling people will not sustain as a solution, and it does not respect the equality, that we must strive for, if we will ever have a community built on respect and support of each other.
So I wanted to address some of the dichotomies, that I find exist in the stance of being pro-life, and how we can really protect life.  It doesn’t start with outlawing or restrict access to health clinics, where abortions are provided.  It can result in the lessening of women seeking abortions, and that should be the true goal.  Preventing people from being able to have a safe abortion won’t solve this.  Vilifying women who seek abortions won’t solve this.  Protecting women, absolutely will.
Understanding the Reasons
There are many reasons a woman may find herself in the situation of becoming pregnant and seeking an abortion.  Out of the many reasons a woman could seek an abortion, many of those are situations where they have suffered trauma, are in an abusive situation, or do not have full control over decisions affecting their body and the decisions that would surround a pregnancy.
As long as women are not equal to men, in the value of their lives, they will always have the potential to have their body forced into a pregnancy, and could then feel forced into no other choice but an abortion.  The interesting part of this debate, is that men are fundamentally making these laws, which govern the rights of women.  They always have.  Women are not proportional in their representation in government.  At no point in a man’s life, does any law intervene and say what he can do with his body.  At no point, does he need permission to control the body.
People argue, that when a woman becomes pregnant it is no longer just her body.  Well, it still is her body.  We wouldn’t tell a woman how to raise a child, and we shouldn’t be controlling her choice to have a child.  We also shouldn’t be forcing her to submit to a hospital clergy, before she can abort an ectopic pregnancy, threatening her own life and/or even when a pregnancy is no longer viable.  It’s hard to grapple with the concept that we must value the woman in equal measure, that her right to control her own body must be an imperative.
While we can argue the merits of that again and again, we have many ways to lessen the need and demand a woman might have for seeking an abortion.  If we can fix some of the socio-economic divides, which can increase the demand for abortions, we can save many lives. Of women, and potentially lives that might not be aborted. We can provide better resources and options for women.
Welfare and the True Adoption Case
Many believe it should be as simple as giving the child up for adoption.  I encourage Mike Pence, to visit Child Protective Services, and meet with some social workers, particularly those working with kids in the welfare system.  Spend a couple of days learning about how many cases they have, and how strapped they are for funding and how much red tape leaves kids neglected and often abused. Work to fix that system, so the choice to give a kid up for adoption can become a more community strong choice, that is a better option than abortion.  It won’t completely negate any need for a woman to ever seek an abortion, but I guarantee you it would decrease the demand.
Too Young to Learn
I know pro-life supporters don’t want to have condoms in the schools, or to teach kids about protected sex, but there is math.  Statistics show a direct correlation to teaching kids sex education, with a decrease in teen pregnancy.  Do this, and encourage parents to talk to their kids, and you will have educated teenagers, who will be less likely to get pregnant. I get that it’s uncomfortable, but it’s the reality of life.
You can tell a kid to not go in the water.
If they know how to swim, and they disobey you, they won’t drown.
If they weren’t taught how to swim, just in case, they will drown.
That’s the flaw in trying to not teach kids the truth.  Teaching sex ed has the added bonus of preventing STDs, like HIV and AIDS. We must be brave, and have the uncomfortable conversation with our kids, so that they are armed with the best asenal possible.  The truth.  The truth about protected sex. The truth about rape and date rape.  The truth about mental health counseling.  They truth about options, and choices.
Those with Power Must Give it Back
It’s the struggle for equality.  Feminism, social resistance, etc.  The struggle is rooted in a group with more power, than that which they are entitled to. The social imperative of equality, is founded in no one group having more power than another.  Any social construct where a group of people are denied power, and those with more are able to abuse that excess, will never be sustainable.  It will always result in a struggle, for a redistribution of power.
If pro-life supporters really want to prevent pregnancies from rape, they need to start championing every effort for preventing and punishing sexual assault and rape.  Get rape kits tested, enforce strict penalties for rape and assault, and remove statutes of limitations.  The statutes vary from state to state, and I don’t get why they even exist, let alone why they vary.  Why does a rapist get to walk, because the victim wasn’t able to come forward in time?  What if it happened as a child, and because of the trauma they blocked it out? What if they don’t remember until decades later?  What if they are in an abusive relationship? What if they are being threatened?  What if the rape happened in one state, where the limitation is less than another? Darn the luck? Really?
Why is a woman being faulted, for not coming forth in a timely manner, when it comes to having to muster up the strength to fight through a court case? To fight a court case over the rape she already had to muster up the strength to survive and recover from?  No one was protecting the woman, when that happened.  And the woman still isn’t being protected, in the judicial system.  The accused rapist is protected, and in Congress if the woman becomes pregnant, the pregnancy is more protected than the woman.  Congress is voting to cut the funding that would directly help the victims of sexual assault.  The woman is abused, injured, used as a host and discarded.  That is not equality, and that is not valuing the life of the woman.
In preventing rape and assault, sex education programs should also include curriculum aimed at teaching boys how to be men, and how to respect women.  No means no. Only yes means yes.  It’s not all on the woman, to dress a certain way, drink only a certain amount, only stay out to a certain time, because she can still be raped.  It’s not about any of those things, but that’s what women get told, and it’s missing the point entirely.
Men must stand up to other men, who objectify and attempt to dominate women.  They need to call them out, when they brag about assaulting or raping women. If a girl or woman is raped, the last thing she will ever need, is a doctor lying to her, a Congressman or anyone else attempting to control her body.  It will just be like another kind of rape. A possession over the control of her autonomy and her body.  You can support funding for mental health resources, for rape and assault victims.  That might possibly help some to feel that adoption is something they could handle, and that abortion might not be necessary. I can’t promise that, but as a woman I can only imagine it would help, rather than exacerbate the situation.
I can’t ever promise that women won’t seek abortions, even if you support all the above.
You can help increase the amount and quality of options and alternative choices a woman has, to unintentionally becoming pregnant, and to seeking an abortion.  At the end of the day, if she feels that her only option is an abortion, she will seek one.  Making it unavailable or illegal will only make it more dangerous for her.  If you are ok with that, because you disapprove of her decision, you can’t truly claim to value life. You fail to value and protect hers. You would have championed protecting her life, while she was in the woom. You must continue to protect that life and it’s equality through her life.
The pro-life supporters, including Vice President Mike Pence, believe that funding clinics, which also provide abortions, is wrong.  Either they don’t know, or don’t care, that the funding isn’t used to fund abortions.  They don’t want to allow abortions to occur, or be able to happen, even though Roe v. Wade has been ruled before the Supreme Court, making it unconstitutional to outlaw a woman’s right to abortion access.
Right there.
I wonder how de-funding clinics, or cutting off foreign aid to clinics, where abortions are discussed and available, isn’t in direct violation of that constitutional ruling.  What is the purpose of having a constitutional amendment, protecting a right, if Congress can pass laws and deny funding for any entity practicing something under the protection of that amendment? I’m not a lawyer, so I’m sure someone can tell me why it’s not that simple, but it seems like it should be.
Regardless of those legal and political battles, the reality remains.  Making them illegal or unavailable won’t stop that need.  It just makes it more dangerous.
If pro-life supporters truly value life, they must value the woman as equal to the life they are trying to protect, in her woom.  By attacking a woman’s right to the privacy and control of her own body and health care, the value of her life has become less, and not equal.  The unborn life is being protected, and the woman is not.  Once that life is born, it runs the risk of ending up in cycles of abuse, in the foster and welfare system of our country.
If pro-life supporters truly want to help decrease the need and demand for abortions, I wish they would start championing the efforts that truly will help to lessen the need for a woman to seek an abortion.
Instead of protesting outside clinics, adopt and foster.  Take care of the kids in our welfare system.  Instead of cutting welfare funding, increase it.
Instead of refusing to have comprehensive education for our kids, to teach them protection and how to prevent a pregnancy too soon in their young lives, be brave.  Be willing to educate our kids, and prepare them, so that if they do go in the water, they don’t drown.
Instead of protecting the rights of an alleged attacker, protect the victim.  Make testing rape kits a priority.  Increase funding for clinics, including Planned Parenthood.  Including mental health funding, particularly for rape victims.
Instead of leading with your religion, as why women should do as they are told, decide what you really want.  Do you want to force your faith on others, or do you want to preserve and protect as many lives as possible?
We can help protect women, and pregnancies.  We can prevent the need for so many abortions, not by limiting access, but by preventing the situations that result in a woman becoming pregnant under conditions that are not conducive to her carrying a pregnancy.  Whatever the reason, it is her reason.  It always will be her’s to make. The best of what you can do is support her.  Or you can fight her, though I will never understand how you can bring yourself to do that.  She is not the enemy.
The situations, which result in women ending up with an unintentional pregnancy, are not caused by her alone.  They won’t be solved by her alone, either, but let’s start by not attacking her.  Let’s start by ensuring she is protected, supported and given as many options as possible.  If you support all the best resources, she may just be that much less likely to see the option of abortion.  As least, if it is accessible, we are protecting the woman, and at some point that needs to be enough.  After all, she was a life you would have protected, and you still should now.

Pride and Prejudice: Race Through History in America

I’m white as white can be.  I often joke that I’m so white, I could land planes, just by stepping on a tarmac in shorts.  I’m also a woman, 1/2 Jewish, 1/2 Catholic, and gay.  According to those who are all about “white pride” I’m not really white, because I’m Jewish.  Being gay probably doesn’t help either.  Many white people think that prejudice and racism aren’t really a problem anymore.  It’s a thing of the past.  I couldn’t disagree more.

We don’t seem to talk about our history, with as much truth as I feel we should. There isn’t just a tendency to be overly romantic about the founding of America and the American dream.  People will actually lobby to rewrite history books, to ensure a fairy tale is taught to our kids.  Why can’t we just have an honest, true history?  The good, bad and ugly?  Because the founding of our country was done in blood and oppression, but all we seem to recall is the white people who were fleeing the same treatment.

I don’t get the need to have “white pride”.  I just don’t get it.  There is one saving grace to that concept, but it isn’t what the supporters of that movement would want it to be.  It wasn’t just a group of “white” people who fled to America.  It was a mix of different nationalities.  British, Irish, Scottish, and even some Dutch, French and Spanish.  Some countries had more than others, but it did transcend those nationalities.  For the most part, it was British refugees. Those refugees had slaves with them.  Africans, who had been kidnapped into slavery. I kind of despise the idea of saying African, or African-American.  Africa is a continent, not a country.  There are over 33 countries, and European countries invaded most of them.  They trafficked the people.  They tore them away from their homes and enslaved them.

When those European refugees landed on the shores of America, they didn’t “discover” the country with Columbus.  They wound up realizing there were people already here.  Indians, or Native Americans, as we call them.  We met them with mass murder, rape, syphilis, and pushing them out of their lands, using might to make right.  We like to minimize that note in our history, but we shouldn’t.  The idea of the American dream is that anyone can be who they want. That we all have inalienable rights and inherent freedoms.  Those rights and freedoms are entitled to all citizens. Not based on race, gender, or any other marker we can place on a person.  Yet, people still try to limit rights and protections for people who they don’t want to see having equal rights.

This country was built on the backs of people whose rights were maligned and stripped.  If we are to make good on what we started, we must ensure our path going forward does not forsake those who enabled the start of this country.  The idea of “white” pride has one saving grace, as I said.  The concept does transcend national borders.  White is not a nationality.  It seems contradictory, as those in white pride are not a fan of black pride and visa versa.  Why not just have mankind pride? Why do we need to have pride that excludes people? The irony is that I see more of a reason to have black pride, than I do white pride.  For that, I am probably seen as a traitor to my race.  I know that I am not a traitor to the human race, and that is more important to me.

Black pride has been needed, because there is not a time through history that the black race has not been oppressed.  Whites have, throughout history, usually had all the power.  The idea that whites are losing their rights and their place in the world, is a fallacy.  You can’t lose what wasn’t yours, and having more rights than others is not a right that is inalienable.  The reality of what is happening, is that it may feel like whites have less of a spotlight.  It’s really the shifting of rights to all people, which feels like it might be leaving whites out all together.  It’s not.  It’s the same concept of equal pay for women. Men aren’t losing anything.  But having women on an equal bar as men, will feel like men have less bargaining power.  The truth is, that it wasn’t rightfully theirs to have more bargaining power than women in the first place. That loss of power, was power not rightfully theirs in the first place.

The opposite of the white pride concept is white guilt.  I definitely lean more toward that end of the spectrum.  It’s not that I’m not proud of my heritage.  I am, for sure.  I am not proud of the racism of my ancestors, though.  It is something I hope to better in my heritage.  A legacy of pushing the needle toward equality.  Learning from my forefathers on what not to do. How not to treat others.  When I walk down the street, no one looks at me like I’m a criminal.  When I go into a store, the security guards don’t watch me with suspicion.  I am not pulled over, for looking like I might commit a crime, because of a predisposition to viewing minorities as preternaturally criminally minded.  I know that.  I don’t have to wear a gold star on my arm, and the president-elect isn’t threatening to make a database that would require me to be monitored because of my religion.  It’s not that this is my fault, but I can’t imagine what it must be like day in and day out to be treated like that.  Years ago, I went to dinner with my friends.  They were both minorities.  The waitress was rude, ignored us, and it was crappy service.  The next night my mom and brother wanted to go to the same place (I was over-ruled). We ended up with the same waitress.  She was nice, attentive, and friendly.  It was so obvious that her treatment was based on the color of the people sitting at the table, it just stuck with me.

Because I grew up in a really small town, kids at my school knew I was Jewish.  There were only like 3 families in the town that were Jewish.  Kids drew swastikas on my locker and desk.  Fellow students would raise their arms in class (in a heil hitler salute) and say “the occult’s, coming out tonight boys.” When I would ask my teacher to get them to stop she would say “What do you want me to do?” and then proceed to do nothing.  These same kids would call my house at night.  I was a latch-key kid.  Both my parents worked, so I would often be home alone at night, if my brother had plans.  They would call my house and tell me they were going to come kill me.  I had to really work through the fear that someone was going to come try to hurt me, and realize it was all talk.

I once watched a documentary on skinheads when I was young, and home alone.  The people interviewing the skinheads asked them what they would do, if they knew where a black or Jewish person was right then.  They said they would probably go kill them.  People they didn’t even know.  If they knew where I lived, would they kill me? They don’t even know me.  But that’s the rub.  That’s why I lean toward white guilt, instead of pride.  I have guilt that I cannot join minorities in their struggle all the way.  I can only support them from the side.  I know what prejudice can be like, but people don’t know I’m a minority, by looking at me.  Racial minorities are targeted purely based on the color of their skin.  It makes them a target.

Martin Luther King Jr said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  If we are going to seek our own rights and opportunities to advance, we must seek to ensure everyone else has those same rights and opportunities.  When we pull others down, to push ourselves up, we ensure a perpetual game of seesaw, where there is inequality at all times.  We end up in a tug of war, trying to take rights from others, and having rights taken by others.  It was a cornerstone of this country’s war for freedom.  United we stand, divided we fall.  I feel so unbelievably sad, when I see people commenting online, that we shouldn’t help people in other countries.  That we shouldn’t help the people of Aleppo, Syria.  I don’t understand that.  I don’t understand having such disdain and lack of empathy for people suffering an atrocity.  If it was happening to you, I would think you would hope that someone would help.  How can we be deserving of allies and friends, if we would not act for others?  How can we sit back and let people be slaughtered?

I have tried to find the quote many times over the years, but I can never seem to find the quote.  I read it in college.  It said, something to the effect, that nationalism would destroy the world.  Instead of a planet sharing resources to ensure all people are equally provided for, we draw up borders. We put up walls, and lock people out.  We fight over resources.  We go to war over resources.

So there is American pride, which seems to conveniently forget our bloody history on the backs of African slaves, and on the land of Native Americans.  There is white pride, which seems kind of random to me.  If everyone in white pride organizations took DNA tests, I think they would be surprised to see what their background actually is.  I am white, and I’m not un-proud, but my pride is more in being a woman who has navigated male-dominated industries most of my life.  I’m proud of my ancestors, who worked hard to make a living and be good.  I am aware of their racism, and I work to learn from those mistakes.  We are all people.  We are all brothers and sisters. Once we can all see that, we can erase borders and take down walls.  We can stop fighting each other, and start working together.  I find diversity the most beautiful aspect of America.  The different races, genders, religions, orientations. There is so much to learn from every person, if we are open to learning what we do not know.  A different perspective, a different background.

My thought is that we all see the world, as if we are looking through a diamond.  There is the top, and the bottom, but no matter how you look through a diamond there is refraction.  The perspective is not a straight one, but one that will bounce off an angle.  If we all see life in that way, then we must acknowledge that all of us can only see so much.  We must rely on each other to help us with what we might not be able to see so well.

A good litmus test for any person, would be this – if you look at someone and have hate in your heart, but do not know them, you must challenge that hate.  What do you hate? What do you know? Treat that person, as you would want the most important person in your life to be treated.  They are someone’s most important person too.  Acknowledge that none of us knows everything, but we each have knowledge and truth that we can share.  Let’s not be selfish.  Let’s not be so prideful in who we think we are, that we shut the door on those who are different.  We are all different, and that should be good.  The true greatness of America is not that anyone can start out poor and end up rich.  It’s not as shallow as that.  It isn’t about the money.  It’s about inclusivity.  That is the real American dream, or I think it should be.  A country that, at it’s core, is about accepting diversity. Not just tolerating differences, but welcoming them.  A country made up of different countries.  That is how our country is elevated above other countries, and that is the only way we can stay elevated.  The minute we close our doors to diversity, we close ourselves off to our greatest potential.

Should We Create A Database?

I work in database application development, which is my non-sequitur way of saying we should talk about the Trump transition team plans to create a database of immigrants from Muslim majority nations.  Honestly, I have a hard time trying to figure out where to start with this.  I thought I might as well start with NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s response to this:

He’s by far, not the first mayor to respond in this kind. It’s not a shock that mayors of large cities are standing up to say they want their cities to be a refuge and safe place for immigrants, in defiance to this announcement.  What is infuriating and terrifying, is that all of Congress isn’t rejecting this.  It’s lunacy to me that our government isn’t disqualifying him or making it known he will be impeached on day one of his trying to implement anything close to this.

I don’t wear a gold star on my clothes, and either did my grandparents.  That’s because brave soldiers from USA and around the world stood up and stopped that from happening to the millions of Jewish, Polish, Russian etc masses who were being registered into “databases”, and eventually rounded up. Yeah, I know, they didn’t have databases.  They had paper. And we see what the result was.  Families were torn apart. Communities were decimated.  Many were deported.  Many were killed.  Of course that didn’t happen over night.

It started with the idea of a “database”. Registering people from one culture, race, religion.  It started as “We need to get a handle on this.  Some of them are criminals.”  Well, there are some white American criminals too.  Some of them wear hoods.  Should we make a database of them, until we get a “handle” on it?  No, we shouldn’t.  We don’t register people according to their nationality, race or religion.  Our country is as diverse as the entire world, because we welcome people from the world to come here, from here to travel there, and for all to find opportunity TOGETHER.

We are better than this.  We have to be, or our country will not be as great as the idea we claim it to be.  I want to stop terrorism, and I have not seen any facts or reputable research ever finding that registering immigrants will help stop domestic terrorism.  In fact, while I’m not a full fledged journalist, who will find the best research, I believe the majority of our domestic “terrorist” attacks have been with guns, and done by non-Muslim American citizens. Many of them white.  We can’t make our biggest cities places of fear.  We can’t create an atmosphere where people are afraid that they, their friends or family will be rounded up and deported.  Where kids worry that they will be separated from their parents, because of what they see on the news or because they are being harassed by other kids in school.

That last part has already been happening.  So this is where we need to start.  I have a readership of like 12 people, and I think 6 of those are my parents re-clicking on the same post because they kept getting bored.  We need the media, with actual readership and viewership, to call out President-elect Trump now.  Every press conference and every question has to report on an incident of hate.  Make him respond to every damn incident.

Then make him respond to the pressure from Congress, to his appointment plans for Steve Bannon.  He is the wrong person to have anywhere near the White House, or near any strategy work for the President of the United States.  We need serious people with experience and knowledge of the jobs being filled in his Administration.  They need respect for the job, and equal respect for all Americans. Appointing someone with a record of promoting white nationalist goals, is the opposite of the resume any President of this country should be looking for in a candidate in his administration.

He may have to look outside the well of sycophants he clung to, during his disrespectful and boastful campaign of vanity and ego.  If he really wants to make good on his promises to help this country, he needs to work on making this country great, like he and his supporters say they want it to be.  If he can’t find an AG, who believes in the vital importance of the 3 branches of government, then he may just need to cross the aisle.  Real leaders can swallow their pride and do that. Can he?  The head of the EPA should believe in climate change.  Our Secretary of State shouldn’t have any conflicts of interest in their previous businesses or work, that could even potentially hurt our standing in the global community.

Good Republicans must stand up to this onslaught of unqualified candidates, who have conflicts of interest or ideology.  If their candidacy would not be in the best interest of this country, then Trump should be disqualifying them from the list.  If he is going to prop up these candidates, then the Republican led Congress and Republican party should. Everyone who voted for him, and the party he is now the head of, should care about how he staffs this Administration.  It can’t just be up to Democrats, to stand in opposition.  We need Republicans who care about not just the welfare of their party, but this country, to insist that the Trump administration be run 1) the way he promised it would be and 2) the way a good Republican administration should be run.

I mean besides, I really don’t want him impeached.  Then we would have a President Pence.  Not really wanting a database of the LGBT community, so gay conversion therapy camps can be started and HIV/AIDS can spread like wildfire across this country.

No, we’ve got to stay the course.  So does Trump.  So does the Republican party.  So does the media.  So do the citizens of this country.  It’s on all of us.

 

Rage Against the Dying of the Light, But Where to Focus?

Since the election, I am seeing the threats against minorities.  You can see my post here, (We All Have Work To Do) , for my thoughts on that.  I’m also seeing a lot of celebrities recommending good charities to support, like ACLU and Planned Parenthood, which I applaud.  I’m also seeing a lot of protests, which I think are amazing, unless there is violence or damaging of property.  Any of that will silence your argument and reduce you to a nuisance and a criminal.

I have also seen this petition to encourage the Electoral College to vote for Hillary Clinton on December 19th Electoral College Petition.  I have to unpack this, because it is no simple thing, that is being suggested here.  First off, we need to understand what this means.  When we all voted, that was the popular vote.  The projection of states to one candidate or another, made by news media, was done on the speculation of how the electoral college would vote.  This is historically done in line with each states majority vote, giving that state’s electoral votes to the majority winner of that state.  I tried to check and see if the electoral college has ever pulled off the “faithless elector”, essentially voting against the will of their state.  I couldn’t find a precedent.

Now, to make things fun and interesting, Trump tweeted that the electoral college should be abolished, in 2012.  This was in response to President Obama winning re-election. I thought Trump tweeted this , because Obama didn’t win popular vote. I was wrong. So was Trump.  President Obama won the popular and electoral, in his re-election win.  It is a not mirror of what is going on today. But if it were, how would we respond?  It would be hypocritical to suggest we should deny Trump this win, if we would have wanted Obama to have his re-election win stand.  This is, of course, suggesting a what-if scenario, so let’s not give that too much thought.  We need to stop over-analyzing the past.

I also think we must face the reality that racial tensions will not go away, if Trump is all the sudden denied the win his supporters believe he justifiably has accomplished.  I really do think we could end up with a violent modern-day civil war.  Upper and middle class may be able to stay relatively clean in such a war, but lower class minorities will be targeted and will get hurt.  We need to not just be sensitive to that danger, but we need to ensure that our fights and what we choose to push for, will include protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

Then we see that Trump is putting an Anti-Semitic white nationalist in the White House.  Steve Bannon is a terrifying person to have in the White House, and that won’t be the end of the racist, sexist, and bigoted over-reach that will be all over Washington, as the Trump team takes form.

I have been reading up on the Electoral College.  Is it to make things more fair? Does it disenfranchise minorities? Does it make sense to abolish it?  I really don’t know.  I can’t tell which way it should go, but I feel like it might be time.  Why should it matter if more people in towns vote 1 way, vs another in cities?  Why should an entire state go red or blue, when people in that state voted both ways?

My gut tells me we should get rid of it, but I was elated when President Obama won re-election.  I wouldn’t have wanted that to go any other way.  Now I’m terrified of what will happen to all the progress of the last 30-40 years, in terms of civil rights, environmental awareness and clean up, and furthering a goal for America to lead the fight in human rights.

I signed that petition, but I am pretty sure it won’t come to any good.  First, we would need an overwhelming amount of signatures. So huge that people smarter than myself can encourage the Electoral college (and the public) as to why this is a good move.  Also, I am sure that too many will sign the petition, but then won’t verify their email, which will effectively result in way less signatures than we need, in order to make the desired impact.

I know it is hypocritical to want the Electoral College to flip on this, but glad they didn’t when Obama won. I will say, that I have seen numerous sources reflect this sentiment of Hamilton’s, about the Electoral College’s purpose: “Hamilton and the other founders believed that the electors would be able to insure that only a qualified person becomes President.” (Why The Electoral College)  I have never seen someone win the office of the Presidency, who was wholly unqualified.  Donald Trump doesn’t even know the articles of the constitution. He doesn’t understand freedom of the press, and he doesn’t seek to protect it, in his rhetoric.  How can we respect a President-elect, who doesn’t have any education or understanding of what our democracy is? of what our freedom is?

If we want to work on changing our election system, and I hope we do, we will have to do that with whoever is sworn in on January 20th.  But for now, let’s focus on the fights that we should be fighting.  Either this fight to encourage the Electoral College, or a fight to ensure the Republican Party and the White House, don’t get filled with bigots by Trump’s transition team.

We must protect minorities, regardless of the fights we pick and choose.  We must be mindful of who will be most likely to get hurt, and ensure we protect them first, not cry after.

Even If You Voted for Trump – You Have Work to Do. We All Do

After Trump won, these following incidents have been reported.  I am sure there are more:

  1.  Gun pulled on girl, by 4 guys calling her a n****r, and saying if there weren’t witnesses, they would kill her (https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/796752150827298821)
  2.  …Man Tries to Pull off Woman’s Hijab…(http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/She-is-Scared-Man-Tries-to-Pull-off-Womans-Hijab-at-San-Jose-State-University-400702341.html) Edit* – I have learned this was a fabricated story. Obviously, that is unfortunate, and I will do my best to ensure articles have time to be vetted (I am not a journalist, so I don’t have great resources for vetting articles)
  3. This was in Queens, NY. She was asked to go to the back of the bus. (https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/796696197134172161)
  4. Students yelling ‘cotton picker,’ heiling Hitler at this local school (http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/education/index.ssf/2016/11/students_yelling_cotton_picker_heiling_hitler_at_this_local_school.html#incart_most-read_warren-county_article)
  5. Swastika graffiti in NY (https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/796729403338321920)
  6. White dudes saw a woman alone and yelled “grab her by the pussy” then tried to do so. (https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/796551437467664384)
  7. Vandals Set Fire to LGBT Flag (http://wxxinews.org/post/vandals-set-fire-lgbt-flag-north-winton-village-area)

There was a report of a guy flying a nazi flag over his home, near San Fransisco, but learned that it was meant to protest Trump’s win.  I have seen swastikas spray painted (5 above) and in Philly, but I wonder if those are the same.  From people who rejected the hate and bigotry of many who supported Trump, and were furious that such a force of hate managed to win the seat of leading this country.

I get that not all people who voted for Trump agree with bigotry and hate.  But what the rest of us need you all to acknowledge, is that you can’t ignore it either.  Not now, and not ever.  You may claim to not be bigoted or prejudiced, but that doesn’t absolve you of responsibility.  Whether you voted for the candidate espousing such hate, or not.  The one that I put as #1 above is the reason why.  No one should be threatened on the street, because of the color of their skin.

For those of you who don’t think #2 is that bad, I want you to question your own prejudices. Imagine you have a cross necklace, you may well have one.  Imagine your mom or grandma gave it to you. Now imagine someone tried to rip it off your neck.  If that had happened to you, or any other American citizen, who worshiped the cross, would you find that inexcusable? Then you must also defend those who wear a hijab, their right to be protected in their own religious beliefs, traditions, and paraphernalia.

I am seeing a lot of people saying we need to come together, and heal.  That we need to find common ground.  I agree that we need to do this, but before we can sit at a table, we must all agree we are equal.  Why?  Because when we attempt to do that, we will root out those who don’t believe we are all equal.  If you are ruled by hate, by 1 sect of supremacy for 1 race, 1 religion or 1 nationality, then you cannot have a seat at a table for American citizens.  We are diverse, and we are best when we have diversity of background, diversity of opinion, and diversity of tradition.

We have seen the stats that whites gave this election to trump.  I really don’t get white supremacy.  And I’m white! Here is what I don’t get.  Some people think one nationality is better than another.  Some think one religion is better than another.  But where did anyone get the idea that pasty white skin is somehow an indicator of superiority? It seems so unbelievable random and just convenient for those who are white, to try to keep the privilege they’ve been accustomed to having.

In America, we have some groups that are under attack, and one thing I am learning is that white men in this country feel marginalized. They don’t want to lose the power they’ve had, to people who have never had any power.  What I think is missing from this conversation, is that if we can make us all equal, we can all have equal power.  You don’t need power over another person or group of people, in order to protect your own power.  You just don’t.

So we have groups that feel they are losing their power:

  1. straight white men

Groups that are struggling to have equality, which means having their own power:

  1. Blacks
  2. Latinos
  3. Jews
  4. Muslims
  5. Native Americans
  6. LGBT
  7. Women

We must start the conversation by making a framework about the power we have vs the power we should be entitled to.  True freedom means you have a freedom to any opportunity you wish to pursue, so long as that pursuit does not infringe on the freedom of another.

The first list I posted above, is the price we pay for not paying attention.  I don’t care who you voted for.  If you are white in this country, you have more power than those who are not. It is time for us to acknowledge that, and not suggest that we are absolved of responsibility for the crimes against minorities.  Just because we aren’t committing the crime, our silence is allowing it to perpetuate.  If we do not condemn violence against minorities, we are saying it’s not really that big of a deal, if the civil rights and basic safety of American citizens are attacked.

This is on every American.  Even if you don’t understand the race, nationality, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, that really means nothing.  You can work on understand those who are different than you, on your own time. This isn’t understanding each others’ differences.  This is about protecting all American citizens as having an equal right to an equal amount of freedom and civil liberties. From walking down the street without being attacked (verbally or physically), to having the police provide an equal level of protection, to every group listed above. straight white men, and all the groups listed after them, and all those I did not list.

I think the misconception is that giving equal rights, providing rights to another group, means you have to give up your own rights.  It doesn’t.  What it may do, is take away your power to control that group.  I have been watching the Amazon Original series “Good Girls Revolt” recently.  Besides being a fantastic show, it highlights the struggle women have faced in this country, culminating in the protests and fights that took place in the 60’s and 70’s.  These women stood up and said that they didn’t need or want men speaking for them.  They wanted and equal opportunity at the same jobs, for the same pay.  We still aren’t there yet, because the fight for equality is a fight for your own power, against those who have the power over you.  It takes all of us standing together, and it takes some of those with the power, acknowledging that it is not their right to wield it in the first place.

We can and must do this work, regardless of who is our President, and which party controls Congress.  If you want to wake up, I recommend you follow Shaun King, on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ShaunKing).  He finds the cases that don’t get the attention of ones like Treyvon Martin’s did.  That kid’s tragic story is just one story out of thousands.  He has worked on articles (he is a journalist) for ways we can repair our communities with police, and fix the institutional racism that is indoctrinated in many police forces.

We all get that blue lives matter. No one disputes that police face an incredibly dangerous job, and that most of them do it to honestly protect and serve.  But many don’t seem to understand the reason behind black lives matter.  There is a long history of violent white supremacists infiltrating police forces.  We must hold the good cops to calling out the bad cops, and that is no small order.  These guys work together under incredible pressure, and tight budgets, with limited resources.  They are family and operate under an oath of having each other’s backs.

But what happens when having the other guy’s back, means you are no longer doing your duty to protect and serve an American citizen?  That is the first oath, and must be upheld.  If a police officer abuses their authority, the system of protection for all citizens fails us.  If another police officer tries to call out the first police officer, they are protecting the citizens equally, but betraying their friend, their colleague, their fellow officer.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be in that situation.  But that’s the incredibly difficult job of a police officer.  To look past what is easy, and do what is hard.  I know I am just scratching the surface, but we all must try.

People are being lost to hate and bigotry, which has a long history of manifesting into violence.  We must identify the attackers, and condemn them.  Lock them up, and figure out how to rehabilitate them. But they cannot be free to roam the streets, while they seek to attack citizens of this country.  If you can agree with that necessary rule of our law, then we can start to sit at a table and understand our differences.  Then maybe, we can try to heal.