One Eye Open

If the America of my youth could be said to be the “melting pot”, my adolsecence found Columbus to be the snow globe version of the whole. I was surrounded by differing opinions, religions, ideas and lifestyles-and found merits in almost all of them. Some of my favorite moments were when I could engage a stranger in a conversation that brought my faith in humanity up. I remember working at Subway one day and being able to understand the Latina woman before her son translated and then wished her well in her own language. She started laughing and the son and I spoke of how wild it is that I would take the time to treat his mother as an equal (well, formal equal). I remember interacting with a Muslim woman who became overjoyed that I would understand her not eating pork, and that I knew it was her holiday. If Columbus was my own personal melting pot, I became delighted to explore the rest.

I’ve had a lot of eye opening experiences-and not all of them for the better. When I was assaulted, I saw the depravity of human nature. I saw the victim-blaming and felt the humiliation that came from not being able to cope. When I moved to Kansas, I was confronted with the fact that people didn’t accept my belief system, and that the names of the LGBT club members were not released because of fear of violence and possibly death against them. I was a blue dot living in an overwhelmingly red state. I came to understand why it was such an issue to blend in when you were born to stick out. I was rebuffed for my naïveté-that I should not have been surprised that the things that made me (and millions of other people) different, were suddenly the things that made it dangerous.

And then I understood.

You see, I had always been on the other side. I was the ally that showed others that not all (insert category here) people were bad. I was the person who worked hard to be the best ally I could be-without ever really understanding the gravity of what I was allying for. And now, being on the flip side-they’re even more important. I’ve met friends who accept me for who I am, and that’s wildly important. Because how many times have we all needed someone to make the darkness stay away? 

But I now understand why speaking Spanish to a woman in a predominantly white neighborhood was a novel thing. I now understand why being kind and considerate to a Muslim woman was considered something out of the norm. It isn’t because they expect every single person to be vehemently against who they are- it’s that too many people are against who they are. They, much the same as I, were looking for a beacon, a person to tell them that it is okay to keep being absolutely just yourself. That there is a place for all the differences, no matter how alone you might feel.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” -Dr. Seuss

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A Quick Word

While I remain completely devastated at the monstrous individual the United States has as it’s supreme leader, I have not forgotten about Puerto Rico, nor have I accepted silence in Las Vegas. Diversity makes this country best, and I believe that we are stronger together.

I’ll be back to updating and blogging soon. But for now, midterm season is upon me.

Stay safe out there and know that regardless of whether an orange man with fake hair thinks so or not, all people have a right to life in a way that provides them with hope and love and the pursuit of happiness.

 

This is How

Everyone always asks what you want to do with your life. No one really asks how you plan on accomplishing those goals.

I always wanted to save the world. I held on to the hope for the longest time (and truthfully, to some degree still do) that I would be given powers or gifted something that would help me on my mission. I’m talking like superhero/X-men/mystical gift type stuff. Because I thought that that was the only way I could ever save the world. I didn’t want to do it for glory and fame and money. I told people I wanted to “leave the world a little less shitty than I found it”. and for the most part, that’s true. As an adult that sentiment has morphed into: “I see what our species could be, could do and we’re just not there yet”. All of this is still true.

Reading books was a really big thing in my house growing up. From a young age, it was a treat to spend a summer afternoon reading (because I lived on a farm where chores were never ending). I never viewed it as uncool or as homework, because I loved it. Reading gave me meaning. And it was there that I first learned to hope that I might be able to indeed, save the world.

I adore big thick books with multiple stories in a series. Countless tales whizzed through my mind on hazy afternoons and silent nights. They all brought me the notion that a person did not have to be rich and strong and powerful in order to make changes in the world that would impact others greatly. And I waited.

A constant reminder as I made my way through compulsory school was that soon, I would be an adult and that meant that people would take me seriously, listen to what I had to say. A little naive, perhaps, but it is in part still true. People do not listen because I speak, they listen because I have something to say.

I’ve come across the following argument a few times in my life and I think that it’s a pretty defining feature by this point:

If you were wondering what you would do in (the Cuban missile Crisis, the Revolutionary War, World War II, the Civil Rights Era, etc) this is it.

You cannot travel to the past (yet??). You cannot insert yourself into a scenario and think about your life as it happens, sometime in the distance. You only have now and the possibility of tomorrow.

I think that the thing people get wrong about changing the world is thinking that they have to do it alone. That’s only for comic book heroes and Hollywood. The real secret to changing the world is that you have an incredible amount of people who are wanting to see that change too. The only thing is, they’re waiting for someone to step up and get things started.

So while I can’t say that having superpowers wouldn’t be cool (because if I had the option, I would DEFINITELY have them) but maybe my power isn’t telekinesis or shape-shifting. Maybe my power is standing up and speaking out-so that others can tap into that power as well.

Independence Day

Two hundred forty one years ago, “we the people” were in the process of committing the greatest act of treason in our almost-country life. We were rebelling against the British for unfair taxation, oppression and “intolerable acts”. The United States of America was founded in relative secret, under pain of certain death if the war was lost. A few men in a room took a chance and hoped that tolerance might be the foundation for this new life.

We all know the founding fathers had issues-slaves, mistresses and more. But we choose to look beyond that because of the legacy they left. That legacy is contained in just a couple parchments from almost two and a half centuries ago.

We live in a country today, still founded on those ideas of liberty and justice for all. But we just aren’t getting it. Immigrants are subject to being pulled from their homes or forbidden altogether. People with illnesses are denied the right to live. People who do not assume the cisgendered, heterosexual standard are harassed. Women are not given equal measure in power. People of color are not given equal opportunities. Members of the First Nations are subjected to poverty and oppression, the illegal use of their land.

In 241 years, we have gone from a whisper of a nation to a powerhouse. And this year, we find ourselves facing yet another tyrant, a megalomaniac with power the rest of us can only look at in wonder. And I feel (in my humble opinion) that we are rapidly approaching 1776 the sequel. Not because we are fighting for our rights from distant power, but from a power who has distanced himself from reality.

It’s easy to feel like there’s nothing to celebrate this year. We’re facing a threat on our very lives-not from terrorists but tyrants. Not from combat but from congress. And I don’t mean that to sound insensitive to the people in the Middle East whose very lives are under siege each and every day. I mean it in a “we’re seeing the revolution come up again and we need to take part”.

I know you’re tired. We’ve been fighting this regime for 6 months. And it’s not finished yet. But when King George III was brutalizing the colonists, it took them SEVEN YEARS to win. They fought, and I’m sure there were times many of them wanted to give in. There were families who were torn apart by picking sides. There were doubts and frustrations and I’m sure, moments when even those leading the effort grew tired.

But we have something that they didn’t.

We have women. We have millennials. We have people of color. We have LGBTQ+ communities. We have celebrities. We have ALL the First Nations. We have people with disabilities. We have poor people. We have a world waiting to help us. We have social media. We have immigrants.

All the things that the right believes to be a hindrance is actually where our strength lies as a country. Each and every human being who has been slighted by this tyrant is just another person who is there to help further the cause. The US Census Bureau estimates that 2.5 million people lived in America in 1776. Well over half of those people weren’t even counted as full citizens (women and slaves and First Nations). Today, we have 325.3 million people.

If 3 million people could hold off-and WIN- for 7 years, think of the power that can be harnessed from 100 times that many people.

We must resist.

We must persist.

That is the American way.

That is the true meaning of Independence Day.

Manchester

I’m saddened, as many are, by the events of the past few days. As has been news across the globe, an attack on a concert occurred, killing almost 2 dozen people and injuring almost 60. And as I was coming across the tweets, messages and prayers, I found something along the lines of:

Never forget, this was an attack on children, and on young ladies.

Which gave me pause, but ultimately I couldn’t find any fault in it. As someone who’s been to a few concerts, a great majority of the participants have been presenting female individuals. That’s not to say all of them, or even that I can assume their gender, but that a large majority were children and their parents. (I’m thinking Katy Perry, here, who I went to see in 2014.) That concerns me a lot.

But I’m not here to discuss politics, conspiracies or anything of that nature. I’m merely pointing out a point I found interesting and relevant, while hoping that those affected are found, healed and at peace. As I said in a tweet earlier: May the lost be found, the gone be at peace and those responsible suffer immensely for eternity.

I’m sorry Manchester. May the divine bring you hope and peace.

For the rest of the world, take note. Through pain, healing. Through hardship, resilience. Through fear, unity.

I Am A Pre-Existing Condition

With all of the things going on in the United States these past few days, it can be tough to want to keep looking at the same daunting information. I know-really. Because a quick Google search for US news leads you to headlines about the healthcare bill, religious freedom bills, Penn State death, the GOP, the EPA, and a whole host more.

Searching Google, then, for the AHCA (aka: TrumpCare), you’d be compelled to scream. And I’ll be the first to admit, I reviewed all the information I could, watched the Rachel Maddow show to blow off some steam and then I ranted to my husband. A lot. Because, as I know a lot of you can empathize with, this felt like yet another attack on my identity. Not only that, it’s an attack on my education, my career, well, just about everything I suppose.

Here’s some important things to note:

-Go to your insurance manual/provider-look up all of the conditions they have the right to deny coverage for. Check off how many pertain to you (and your dependents). The greater the number, the more likely you’re going to be without insurance.

-Do you use Medicaid/Medicare? Cause that’s another tick in the “probably won’t have insurance/insurance I can afford” box.

-Do you use Planned Parenthood as a reproductive healthcare provider? Add some more ticks to those boxes.

Now, there is one small piece of hope. The Senate is much harder to get it to pass. And in order for it to be the ACA replacement-it HAS to pass the Senate. So that means we have time to call/fax/ResistBot all the Senators.

If you’re savvy with Twitter, you’ll have no doubt noticed the last couple of days have been filled with the hashtag: IAmAPreExistingCondition. That is in direct response to the House voting to approve this heinous bill. And that’s where the title of today’s post comes from.

Now I know-this post has been the Campbell’s Chicken Noodle of political posts (super condensed, no surprises) but the important things to take away are that activism is hard-but necessary and together, we will overcome.

As a White Woman, I’m tired.

I know-I’ve set myself up. But hear me out.

I’m tired of watching my friends with higher melanin counts be discriminated against. I’m tired of hearing stories of Muslim women getting their hijabs pulled. I’m tired of seeing violence against minorities. I’m tired of police instigated violence against those minorities. And I hear you, getting up in arms-I’m tired of police getting a bad rap for the crimes of the few bad apples too.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? I’m tired of a few bad people ruining life for everyone else. I’m tired of ableist, sexist, racist, classist culture that tells people I love that their love isn’t good enough to count as the real thing. I’m tired of the people who decided that unless a person fits a certain mold, they aren’t worth anything.

I’m tired of people coming into fast food establishments on Sundays and looking down at the people working for being there on “God’s day”. Because if you didn’t come in, we wouldn’t have to be there either. And while we’re on the subject, I’m tired of being looked down on because it’s not a cross around my neck, it’s the symbol of my belief system.

I’m tired of people whitewashing. I’m tired of watching the political ideologies systematically remove the concerns of myself and the people who need to be heard so that those with the most money can continue to sweep us under the rug. I’m tired of our news outlets labeling every murderer and deviant as “mentally ill”-unless of course we’re talking about rape and the perp is a collegiate, white athlete.

I’m tired of listening to people apologize for their broken English because they’ve been trying, but it’s hard. I know it is. You’re trying-no need to apologize. And while we’re on the subject, I’m tired of seeing the fear in people’s eyes when they’re out and about. I know I’m not imposing that fear on them, but I belong to this culture and can’t help but feel it’s my fault in some way.

I’m tired of being caged in a rape schedule. I’m tired of living in a country where more than half of the people didn’t want DJT to be president, but because of a 200-years-outdated system, and laws which require fealty over logic, here we are. I’m tired of speaking with my international friends and hearing them talk about “Americans” with hesitation and an almost disgust-and completely understanding why. I’m tired of feeling like I belong to a country that hates diversity-because that’s the most awful thing a country could do. Apart from create refugees and then not take care of them.

I’m tired of being poor. And now, I know that comes with degrees-and I’ve heard the “it could be worse” speech-and that’s true. But I know what it’s like to go through a food pantry line and receive moldy, outdated food and have to make it work because that’s all you got. I know what it’s like to live on pizza rolls and peanut butter and jelly (all off brand of course) because that’s filling, but not really nutritious. I’m tired of being poor enough that it hurts, but not poor enough to qualify for help.

I’m tired of seeing people on the news who served the country and are now homeless. I’m tired of seeing families on the street because life was hard on them in one way or another. I’m tired of abusive spouses or partners taking their anger out of others. I’m tired of the justice system that is “innocent until proven guilty” unless you’re talking about rape or domestic violence, because then it’s guilty until, well, always guilty in some way.

I’m tired of people being removed from their homes because they weren’t born here. I’m tired of seeing families broken apart by immigration officials, because their kids were born here but they came in hopes of a better life and now they’re getting that life ripped away from them. I’m tired of hearing the word “illegal aliens”-because it’s impossible to be an illegal human being. All humans are equal-because we’re all humans. And it’s beyond time for our social structures to catch up.

I’m tired of people getting denied healthcare because their bodies came a little frayed at the edges when they entered this life. I’m tired of people rising from the ashes who forget what it’s like to be at the mercy of the system.

I’m tired of abuse of our people. I’m tired of waiting for the corrupt government to tell me that instead of waging war on women’s rights to choice, they’re waging war on poverty, on neglecting human rights. That they’re going to provide healthcare to the people in Flint-because they’re owning up to what happened. I’m tired of wondering if those poor kids understand that the government fought for them to gestate nine months, but because they’ve been born, no one cares if they survive. I’m tired of staying up all night wondering if the heroin epidemic that took people I went to school with could just end if our education system didn’t cause so many mental health problems.

I’m tired of watching the injustices done against the First Nations. Since the first white people came to America, all we’ve done is pillage and murder and worse. And for what? Manifest Destiny? Since when does the white people’s god desire human blood to be spilled in order to gain redemption? And why are we still taking? Why is there so much greed for something that we’ve already taken by force? I’m tired of watching the government I have to pay taxes to use my money to wage war on the health and well being and sacred lands of the people who were here long before the ones who look like me.

I’m tired of being lumped in with the people of past generations who believe that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps-because so many of us don’t even have boots. I’m tired of people looking at my generation, the most diverse one yet and lumping us all together as lazy, ungrateful, entitled. Because maybe all we’re entitled to are the liberties denied us by those who want to use our own identities against us.

I’m tired of being made to feel ashamed because my sexuality doesn’t exist. I’m tired of being ashamed because my mental abilities aren’t neurotypical. I’m tired of being made to feel less than because my weight is “more than”. I’m tired that it’s 20-effing-17 and we still don’t have equality-even though it’s been fought for for much longer than I’ve been alive.

I’m tired that there are people who think human rights are negotiable. I’m tired that people are abducted from my neighborhood and sold into modern day slavery, with the promise of money to fix their poverty. I’m tired of explaining over and over again that feminism is equality-and it had better be intersectional or it’s not even feminism, it’s just a lie. I’m tired of fearing for my friends who are transgender, because the patriarchy is so ready to have them removed.

I’m tired.

I grew up with stories of having dreams, of independence, of resistance. My fourth grade teacher threw out the lesson plans and we spent all year learning about African American individuals who would largely go unnamed in history. My seventh grade teacher spent the year teaching us about the Holocaust and how when books were burned, it was work on progressive sexuality first. I grew up with a fondness for people like Thurgood Marshall, Sojourner Truth, Phillis Wheatley, Noor Inayat Khan, Cleopatra, W. E. B. DuBois, Amra binte Abdurrahman and Sayyida Nafisah. I was taught the stories of First Nations people-the story of the Great Turtle, Coyote and Iktomi, and the to-be-feared power of a woman during her cycle.

So yes. My skin is a pale tan. But my heart breaks for the suffering of people who bleed the same color as I do. And it is for these reasons that I have accepted my admissions offer to the 2017 Fall cycle of law school where I will focus on a combination of criminal law/trial advocacy and tribal law. I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but I can stop this cycle of being the white woman tired and start being the white woman trying.