It’s Been A Beautiful Journey

Change is hard.

When I started this blog, I had hopes that it would be like a journal to track this amazing progression. From not knowing anything about life to making my life into something great. And it’s been a really wild thing. I went from abstract writing pieces to mental health advocacy to political work to coping mechanisms and then some. And that’s been really cool.

But I can’t justify keeping this blog open for the nostalgia of it. I start more blogs than I finish, I post once a month and I’ve lost my passion somewhere along the way. And that’s not what I wanted. Now I’m at a crossroads. I can try to “fake it til I make it” and put fluff pieces up until I feel real again, or I can say goodbye.

I started out with great intentions. I wanted to be edgy and hipster and fantastic-with pieces that changed people’s minds and opened their hearts. But somewhere along the way, I lost that. And I can’t wait for it to come back. I have to go out and find it.

So this isn’t goodbye forever. This is goodbye until.

Until writing makes me feel alive.
Until blogging is passionate.
Until I discover what it is that I’m searching for.

Change is hard. But I was never meant to live on the sidelines anyway.

I’ll check the comments for a while-because I’ve made such wonderful friends along the way and I don’t want to lose you. I just don’t want y’all to feel like I dropped off the face of the planet without notice.

Live well.

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Healthcare in My Country: A Monologue in Three Parts

Image result for stock photo doctorPart One: Physical Health

What is wrong with my foot? Is my toe purple? Why does it hurt so bad? Hmm. Quick Google search annnnd ingrown toenail. Great. Home remedy ingrown toenail. Okay, I need to soak it, put cotton under it, and if it doesn’t get better in a week…Hah! You think the answer is to go to the doctor, but that’s not an option here, bucko. We’re gonna just hope and pray it gets better in a week or I’m gonna die from a bitchy toenail. Awesome. I wonder how bad mine is. Should I look at the pictures? No. Remember how bad you freaked out the last time you looked at pictures? You couldn’t stop picking at your sunburn for a week. Okay. HOLY MOTHER OF CRAP WHY DOES THIS HURT SO BAD? Google: Home remedy ingrown toenail quick. Hmmm I don’t think it’s infected. Apparently that would be icing on this crap cake. Wait. No. Shit. Maybe it’s cause I’m picking at it. Ugh. If I put alcohol on it, I’m going to scream. But there’s no other way. Fuck.

I should have gone to the eye doctor like a year and a half ago. I know you’re supposed to go like once a year, but I don’t have two hundred dollars to drop on an exam and frames. But it’s probably not that bad. I mean, I think I need to stop staring at screens so much. I have these little flashes of light in my periphery. I think I’ll do a quick Google search. Okay, so I have eye cancer, I’m going blind or I’m overexerting my eyes. And I need to go get them checked out. Yea, okay. I’m just gonna shake my money tree and hope enough dollars are ripe for an eye exam. That’s cute. It’s probably not that bad. I’ll just read books or something. Try to stay off the screens. Annnnnd now it’s in my other eye. Well, I should probably learn how to read braille. I’m going to hate being blind. Maybe I could just find out what’s wrong and then I can say no to getting new glasses. That’s still like a hundred dollars. Or I could try Walmart. That’s what I did last time. I don’t have the time right now. Maybe if I work a couple extra hours I can afford it. But I also need an interview outfit for school. I can go to Goodwill and hope they have something in my size. Sigh. I’ll just try to hold out until I have more money.

My teeth hurt so bad. This is more frustrating than a migraine. What even is going on in there? I brush, I take care of my teeth. Sort of. I should probably floss more. Okay. I don’t see any black spots. So no big cavities. That’s a relief. Nothing seems super red. No inflammation. So why is it…oh no. Please don’t be wisdom teeth. Crap crap crap. I was supposed to have those out but they never came in. Is this karma for loving Dr. Pepper? Is that it? I’ve heard about people who keep theirs because they have a big enough gap in the back. Maybe I’ll be lucky. Of course, if they grow in crooked, I’m still screwed. How much is tooth surgery? HOLY BALLS I can’t afford that. I’ll run down to the store and pick up some Orajel. If I can’t get the pain to go away, I’ll figure out what to do then. But until that point, I’ll just keep brushing and I’ll floss. You hear that, little teeth. If you behave, and don’t make me go to the dentist, I will floss and buy some mouthwash and we’ll have a grand old time. Do I even have a dentist? My dental insurance is nonexistent so probably not. I mean, I’m sure there are clinics who do sliding scale. Or maybe I can go to the university and they’ll have students who do it for discounts. They do that at hair schools. Ugh this pain is too much. Maybe I can pull it out myself, like I did with baby teeth. That may have to happen if I can’t find someone to do it for reduced prices. I didn’t want to max out my credit card, but I can’t afford it any other way. I sure hope nothing else bad happens or I’m screwed.

Image result for stock photo mental healthPart Two: Mental Health

Oh no. I think I’m depressed. Should I see someone? No. If I do that, I can’t afford groceries. Or car maintenance. And the sensor’s been on for a while. Am I really that depressed? I am pretty suicidal. Is that a good enough reason to go? Would I act on it? Probably not. I mean, I never have before. I should probably just stay away from anything I could use then. Guess I won’t shave this week. Or take any Excedrin for my stress migraine. Ugh. This is why I’m suicidal, isn’t it? Maybe I *should* see someone. But who would even take me with no insurance? And what are they going to tell me? I need to be on medicine? Sure thing doc, just tell me where I can get free Prozac and I’m all ears. What’s that? I need insurance? Yea, I know. But I can’t afford to eat and go to school and work and pay rent and utilities AND pay for the right to live healthily. Life’s not fair, doc. And it doesn’t get better just cause I need to go talk to somebody.

Do you think normal people see bugs coming out of their ramen? I mean, that has to be stress right? I can just ignore stress. I do that all the time. Jeezus. This mushroom looks like a slug. I can’t eat this. Guess I’ll just starve again today. First it was roaches and then it was spiders and now it’s slugs in my cheap ramen. Where does this stop? Do you think if I died, I’d wake up in a bug universe? God, I wish I could talk to someone. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel like such a freak. But that’s just not in the budget right now. Or, ever, honestly. Would life be better if I got some cheap insurance through school? Would I use it? Probably not. I mean, I hate finding a new therapist. I always feel so judged. They never want to listen to me. They just want to push meds and tell me that I’m overreacting because I’m on my period. I can do that myself, standing in front of the mirror, listing off all the things I’m a failure at while I cry like a baby.

I should probably stay away from social media and my phone in general. It’s only going to make things worse. I’ll start comparing my life to everyone else’s and then I’ll be even more depressed. But I just want to stop feeling alone. Maybe a little won’t hurt. Nope. Everyone seems so put together. I’m such a fraud and a failure. They’re probably friends with me out of pity. They wouldn’t have to pity me if I was gone.

Oh no. I really am depressed. Maybe I should go see someone. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna call the clinic that’s been in my search history for like a month. I heard they do sliding scale. That could be good. I know it’s probably not going to be anything more than just student workers and an overseer, but it has to be better than nothing. Right? Sigh. I shouldn’t waste resources just because I can’t get my shit together. I’ll call if I can’t make this go away in a few days. Until then, just isolate and stay away from all sharp things and all medicines. Great.

Image result for stock photo obgynPart Three: Reproductive Health

I read an article once about women who pursue graduate degrees experience stress in weird ways. One of them was that their cycle becomes less regular and may stop showing up altogether. Maybe that’s what’s happening to me. I’d go get it checked, but an OB/GYN is a specialist and I’m not prepared to pay that out of pocket. I could go to Planned Parenthood, but the nearest one is one whole state over. I’d have to take a whole two days off of work and school to go. Plus the cost of a hotel to stay the night. Unless I got up super early and then just stayed awake. But even so, that’s a lot of wear and tear on the car. If I broke down, I couldn’t make it back. Plus, I’m sure it’s totally fine. Who needs cramps every month anyway?

Of course, if it’s something serious like cervical cancer or something, I am completely screwed. Am I in pain? No. And I’ve saved a ton on not needing to worry about white pants and I don’t even need to buy supplies. Which has been a great grocery bill saver. When was the last time I had one? Like a year ago? Yea, that sounds right. So, even if I had been pregnant, I would’ve found out by now. Awesome.

Oof. It hurts now. Where’s the Advil? Shoot. I’m out. Way to go, me. Should’ve been prepared. I guess I’ll just grab some cold water and the heating pad. Good old heating pad. I hope this pain goes away soon. It’s like my ovaries are being ripped off. What even is that? I’m gonna say nothing serious. If I just stay hydrated, nothing can hurt me. I haven’t been drinking enough water. Shame on me. I know better. I wonder what it must be like to just be able to go to the doctor when something comes up. Do those people even recognize how privileged they are? Oh I’ll put it on one setting higher. Maybe the heat will melt my soul.

I hate that I could be dying of any number of things and I will have to suffer through all of them because I can’t afford insurance. And back when I was on my parent’s insurance, I was given the death sentence of “Pre-Existing Health Condition” so it’s pretty realistic that I may never have insurance again. Awesome. I don’t make enough to save for emergencies, and even when I do, I’m required to pay for car insurance and car repairs and I doubt I could ever save more than a couple hundred dollars. Not even enough for antibiotics or screenings or stuff like that. Poverty is my disease and it’s terminal. Guess I’ll just rely on these home remedies until I’m backed into a corner.

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

I would like to thank you for reading. Before I explain, I would like to say that I am okay. I am not suicidal, I am not in need of immediate treatment for anything and I have had plenty of water and caffeine today.

I come from a place of privilege. I am a pretty melanin-lacking individual. I married hetero and I’m a cis-presenting individual. (Read: White, married woman). And those are the pertinent aspects of this background. From this platform, I belong to a group of people who collectively seem to have forgotten about the rest of the world (Read: minorities). And that means I need to use my platform to speak out.

These experiences above are true. I kept them honest for the purpose of illuminating. I’m a graduate student. And that means I am part of the faceless poor. The people you don’t think of when you think “food bank” or “government assistance”. But I belong to a subset of poverty that is directly linked to healthcare. I don’t have insurance-I aged out of my parent’s and if something goes wrong, I-like millions of Americans-are left to chance. This is a harsh reality for much of the American public. I’m hoping by using my white privilege, maybe someone will understand that this is a real issue that needs a quick, successful solution.

This does not even begin to address the issues facing trans individuals, pregnant people, people with physical chronic illnesses, people of color, addiction or a plethora of other issues. I encourage you to consider these and others, as they make up additional pieces of the story I have presented.

And a quick shout-out to these stock photos. 10/10.

Where Are The Children?

As many people are aware by now, almost 1500 children have been lost by my government. And I want to talk about it. Because it needs to be talked about.

But also, I want to talk about Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzales, the 20 year old Guatemalan woman who was shot at the border of the United States.

Imagine graduating college with an accounting degree, and being unable to find a job. You decide that your only option is to leave behind everything you knew, your own people, coming on a journey that left you with very little to your name, seeking safety. You’re tired, exhausted really, ready to collapse when you finally make it to the border of a country that you believe will accept you in. And in a rapid turn of events, you hear “This is what happens. You see?” And then you are no more. Your family screams, but you do not hear, because you are dead.

Ella no merecía morir. Nadie merecían morir. Su familia vengan para vivir una vida mejor y todos somos responsables de eso.

She did not deserve to die. No one deserved to die. Her family came in order to live a better life and we are all responsible.

Image result for claudia patricia gomez gonzalez

Of the 7000 children who were separated from their parents this past year, almost 1500 of them are “missing”. These lost children of America were given to “foster” families-some of whom were known human traffickers. The American Government saw fit to sell children into slavery.

Our government-no matter how much or little you agree with it-sold children into slavery. 

Just keep repeating it until you puke. Because that’s what I did. And then get active. Jam the fax machines in congress. Jam the fax machines in your governor’s office. Donate to the ACLU and SPLC. Find the children. Because no matter which agency, under whose orders, these are the people who represent America. And until all of the children are found and brought to safety, this is all our faults.

Our fault for being apathetic. Our fault for being lazy. Our fault for allowing this pompous, fascist dictator to remain in office. Our fault for accepting oppression as safety. Our fault for brushing off the news as “sad”, as “at least it doesn’t affect me”, as anything other than our responsibility. Our fault for not shutting down slavery-even though it is 2018. Our fault for not demanding equality loud enough, often enough.

So rise up people. Rise up with your rage, your sadness, your inequality. This is a war we’re fighting. And if we lose? It’s not just immigrant children who will suffer.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

And while we’re at it-where is the justice for the First Nations? Did you know the police incited violence at Standing Rock is still unfinished? There are innocent protesters who are still facing trials for defending their rights.

Where is the justice for African Americans? The NFL fining teams for kneeling during the anthem is against everything our country stands for. This protest was everything that was claimed to be acceptable-peaceful, non-violent, non-destructive, silent, safe. If you can’t respect that, you’re a hypocrite. Where is the justice for the people of color who are shot for no reason other than the underlying racism in America?

Where is the justice for the children who are more likely to be shot that someone who is currently serving in the military? Where are the safety precautions? The stricter regulations? Where is the political outrage over the fact that America is fighting a war it didn’t even recognize it had? And where is the justice for the victims who are blamed for the actions of those school shooters? The children who are slut shamed (or prude shamed)? The children who are gaslit for every incident that happens to them-much exactly the same way the adult Americans are gaslit into believing that hopes and prayers are the answer?

Where is the justice for women? For people in poverty? For immigrants? For religious minorities? For victims of sexual assault and rape and domestic violence?

And the list, I promise you, goes on. And on. And on.

If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying attention.

NISVS Report Released

***Trigger warning: discussion of sexual assault/intimate violence report*** 

For those of you who have followed since I started this journey, you know well that my passion lies in stopping rape culture. So I’ve been long awaiting this National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey report. It covers the years of 2010-2012 and brings to light some information about sexual violence and partner violence. This information includes things like:

1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men in the US experienced sexual violence. (RAINN has female incidents at 1 in 6 and male incidents at 1 in 33-so this is a BIG increase in reporting.) 

1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men in the US experienced stalking.

23 million women and 1.7 million men in the US have been the victims of rape.

27% of women and 11% of men in the US experienced intimate partner violence.

41% of female victims say their assault happened before the age of 18.

24% of male victims say their assault happened before the age of 18.

The CDC offers a “highlights” section which contains the statistic I’ve listed above, but also contains the full report of 272 pages. I’m making my way through the report as we speak and on the whole find it to be, well, dark. Some questions I have as I go through this report:

-Mention of LGBT individuals who maybe don’t use a binary gender?

-Religious overtones and motivations?

-Cross cultural examination? 

-Mental Health concerns?

I read in the report that they conducted a telephone survey. This concerns me for a couple of reasons: first, even though the sampling could have been random (through a random number generation system) does this represent an actual sample of the total? Second: almost no one I know answers the phone for numbers they don’t recognize. The report said 41,174 interviews were taken, but in comparison to the 321.4 million people who live in the United States, that’s a small thing. In fact, that is 0.0128% of the population (meaning 1 in 8000 people were contacted). 

States that ranked pretty low (comparatively) were (going from east to west): West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah. Highest reported numbers came from (east to west): Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. The lower statistical states had a prevalence of 29.5%-34.1% and the higher statistical states were 38.6%-47.5% prevalence.

I invite you to look into the report, as I will be spending what little time I have spare as a way to prepare for law school. Stay safe out there, folks.

You’re valid. You’re irreplaceable. 

SAAM 2017: Engaging New Voices

The theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is Engaging New Voices. According to the NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center), the targets for involvement are: Greek life members, Coaches, Fathers and Faith Leaders. It’s one of those occasions where I get to don my faith leader hat and use it to further an important cause.

I’m Pagan. Those words are already a turn off to a lot of people, and I know that. All it means is that I find the divine in nature. I think that’s pretty amicable grounds-Chrsitians often cite nature as a way to prove their beliefs. Islam’s holy book is filled with depictions of nature. It’s universal because it surrounds us. But I’m bringing this up for a different reason.

A LOT of mythologies contain depictions of assault. Native stories about Coyote have them, Celtic stories, Norse stories, Greek and Roman traditions, even Slavic ones. And there are mentions of it in Judeo-Christian texts as well. It would seem, from the beginning of the written word (at least), sexual assault has occured. I think though, the most well-known story about it is Medusa. This story is one that I hold dear-but for a little different reasons. I’ve told other people, but I think it’s a really good lesson for others as well, plus it fits with the current climate.


(Cellini, 1554)

The version that is spread around in academic settings, and even in pop culture is the following.

Enter Medusa, an incredibly beautiful woman who devoted herself to her beliefs. She worshipped the goddess Athena, who was a virginal goddess-meaning her followers would also be virgins. Poseidon, god of the sea, seeing that Medusa was beautiful, came to visit her and try to woo her. Medusa was devout and refused his advances, returning inside the temple to pray. Poseidon followed after her and raped her. Athena, then angry, cursed Medusa to live as a Gorgon-a winged snake woman with snakes for hair and eyes that turned men to stone. Medusa is then killed by Perseus and her head was removed and used later. Perseus is hailed a hero, having vanquished a foe, with the help of other gods.

But that’s not the version I know. Here’s the version I learned.

Medusa, an incredibly beautiful and intelligent woman, lived her life devoted to her faith. She worshipped the goddess Athena, known for her wisdom and strategy, as well as being a virginal goddess. Her followers, then, chose to remain chaste as well. Poseidon, god of the sea and enemy of Athena, saw that Medusa was beautiful and came to visit her, to try to woo her and make her one of his followers instead. Medusa refused his advances, returning to the temple to pray in safety. Poseidon, angry at her rejection, followed her and raped her, then left. Athena returned to her temple to find Medusa, no longer a virgin, crying. Athena told Medusa that she could no longer be a servant in the temple, but that Athena would like to help her. When asked what she needed, Medusa told Athena that she needed a way to protect herself from all who would harm her. Athena then turned Medusa into a Gorgon, giving her the power to stop anyone who came to harm her in her tracks.

The first version is told from a male perspective. Perseus conquers the monster and sets everything back in balance. The thing I couldn’t ever get past was Athena punishing Medusa for being raped. That wasn’t her fault. Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault. And for the longest time, I felt like mythology had made a giant mistake. Until I came across the version I know. Instead of punishing someone who was already punished, the victim became a survivor. And that’s why I share that story.

Sexual Assault and Rape and Domestic Violence is not the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter the circumstances, the clothing, the drinks, the location.  That’s why SAAM is important. 

Rape culture isn’t a new concept. It’s not a myth. 

Mni Wiconi

Water is life.

Just let that sink in. Our bodies are made of water by more than 50%. We need to consume water in order to live. Clean, fresh water is a human right and so many, many people do not have it-abroad and here in the United States. I think of Flint, Michigan and the horrible injustices done there. I think of Toledo, Ohio and the similar story from a couple years ago. The self-proclaimed “Greatest Country In The World” should be able to provide safe drinking water to its citizens. Once a year, my own water, in the capital-Columbus is unfit for drinking or use because of nitrates.

My hometown is being plagued by fracking sites. When I looked at the fracking plans for the state of Ohio, my heart is just crushed. In the name of progress, we are killing the very earth we need to live. And yes, the pipelines will kill it-in the same way that not being able to drink water will kill human kind.

So Dakota Access.

What is it?

Dakota Access Pipeline is an oil carrying structure being built by Energy Transfer Partners. This is in no way the only pipeline being constructed this year, as you can see from this chart:
Pipelines.jpg

You can also check out Pipeline Projects to see what’s been done in the past few years. There are multiple types of pipelines as well-the ones I’ve been looking at a lot are oil and fracking-because those are scariest (at least to me).

Why is it a problem?

This is a problem for a few reasons. First (courtesy of this screen capture)

Screenshot (320).png

Here’s an image of the United States and the lines which run below it. Blue lines are gas lines, red lines are hazardous materials.

pipeline map.png

This is a source of major concern when you think about the amount of water which could be damaged in the event of a spill or explosion. And speaking of:

Other places pipes have caused great concern?

There are plenty of places which give credit to the concern of the DAPL. 2016 Problems lists out all of the explosions, leaks and issues in 2016 in the US. Amongst them are the ones like the Alabama explosion which killed someone. But there are other examples as well. A MAJOR oil pipeline issue occurred this year in Peru, in which the Amazon River looked like this:

Amazon Leak.jpeg

All that yellow? You guessed it-oil. 3000 barrels as a matter of fact. And this just shows the river, there was substantial impact to the flora as well. Read more here. One barrel holds 42 gallons of oil, so that is a total of 126000 gallons (476961.885 liters). The Amazon River is the water source for 20 million people (I googled “How many people rely on the Amazon River for water”). That’s a LARGE number of people without water for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing and the like.

Who are the water protectors?

The water protectors are the individuals of the Lakota nation (a sovereign collection of indigenous peoples in North America) who are trying to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from being put on their land. This group has expanded to many (and I mean MANY) groups of people coming to stand up against this injustice. Tribes from all across the globe, peoples from not only other First Nations, but other religious groups, other ethnicities, other delegations. Water protectors has been applied to those who are against not only the actions of ETP, but against the desecration of the lands which belong to the First Nations, all for the safety and freshness of the water. The water is needed for 15 million people to drink, bathe and perform all of the human necessities. The Missouri RIver also flows into the Mississippi, where another 18 million people get their water. So 33 MILLION people are at risk of losing clean water access in America.

Now, for those of you not in America, or who have not taken a “Native American” class, let me tell you a little about why DAPL is a problem. I know I won’t cover everything, but hopefully, this will give you a little bit of an overview.

When “Manifest Destiny” was coming to an end, and assimilation was proven to be monstrous, the First Nations (indigenous, “Native American”) were treatied off land which would be their “homes”. This happened to just about all of the First Nations, with the understanding that these peoples would be able to govern themselves, their land would be their own and that would be that. DAPL was originally going to go through a majority white neighborhood, but was rerouted into Lakota lands.

The Dakota Access Pipeline went through sacred resting grounds for the ancestors. This is the equivalent to a bulldozer plowing through Arlington National Cemetery so that oil can be moved around the country. Not only that, but there is brutal force being employed against the water protectors.

What happened over Thanksgiving?

Over Thanksgiving (a holiday celebrated in remembrance of a time when colonists stole land and killed members of the First Nations in order to expand the country of America-then Colony of Britain/France/Spain) a particularly heinous event occurred. Although reported as a defense against fires started by the water protectors and violence, Morton County PD enacted several crimes against the people. Now, Morton CPD has been working FOR DAPL, in the sense that they are not protecting the people, but the DAPL workers and equipment.

So these officers used water cannons to spray down the water protectors. It’s below freezing in the Dakotas (about 28* at the time) and there is no active heat source. Hypothermia became a very serious condition immediately.On top of this, mace was used, sound cannons and tear gas were also employed.

The officers also used rubber bullets shot directly at the individuals. Contrary to the thought the name implies, rubber bullets are actually solid metal rounds coated in a thin layer of rubber. A 13 year old girl was shot in the head with one and this is not the first time someone has been shot point blank instead of being hit because the bullet bounced (as is how they’re intended to be used). But perhaps the most discouraging piece of news is that of a 21 year old New Yorker who was bringing water to the water protectors and was hit in the arm by a concussion grenade.

The fires were started by Morton CPD, in case you were wondering. The full story can be seen here however: WARNING-graphic picture. They included a picture of the poor woman’s (Sophia Wilansky) arm-a fact which I didn’t know the first time I looked at the article. It’s since been amputated (I think-I can’t find any information since).

What can “we” do?

If you’d like to provide encouragement to Sophia, here is the only address I could find for getting her cards in the hospital. I do not know if she is still there, but I cannot imagine she isn’t.

HCMC, c/o Sophia Walanski, 701 Park Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55415

If you want to donate to her medical expenses: Do so here.

If you choose to make the trip to Cannonball, make sure you are self-sufficient. There is a group of peaceful veterans going on December 4th (Read about that here.) There also seems to be a movement trying to get the water protectors removed (article 1 and article 2) which I’m not entirely sure is legal.

You can also close out your accounts to the banks who are funding the pipeline. This article might be helpful in determining next steps if that is how you can help.

You can also call your government officials and let them know not to send your police and guard members to Cannonball. Here in Ohio, we raised a petition and our officers were brought back. It can work.

You can also hold supply drives for the water protectors. They have Amazon wishlists and the like.

The request of the water protectors is simple-in all you do, do so in peace. Pray. Be peaceful. Protect the water.

I know that religion can seem like a barrier between a lot of people, but there are many things that I think can bring us all together-and water is one of them.

So if you are Christian, pray. If you are Jewish, pray. If you are Muslim, pray. If you are pagan, pray. Lift your voice to the universe.

And then go out and live your peaceful life, protecting the earth. It’s the only one we have and if we don’t protect her, we won’t last long when she’s gone.

rezpectourwater48

(This picture belongs to Urban Native Era.)

Freedom Writers (The 2016 Version)

freedom-writersI don’t know how many of you have seen the movie in the title (with Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey). The premise according to Google: “A dedicated teacher (Hilary Swank) in a racially divided Los Angeles school has a class of at-risk teenagers deemed incapable of learning. Instead of giving up, she inspires her students to take an interest in their education and planning their future. She assigns reading material that relates to their lives and encourages them all to keep journals.”

There is a scene in the movie in which Hilary discovers a very racially biased drawing (an African American child with big lips) and says “This is how a holocaust happens.” The kids didn’t know what the Holocaust was and that leads to the real meat of the movie.
That moment happened to me in real life Sept 27. And I need to talk about it.

I’m gonna link to the videos of the portion I’m talking about. I’m sorry it’s not one video. The first one is the intro (poor quality) the second one sounds reminiscent of my class discussion today (better quality), the third one is where healing begins (but also is heart breaking-because they are high school kids) (has subtitles). And this video plays into what I need to say.

I walk by thousands of posters every week. They hang on bulletin boards in buildings, outside, on sign posts, everywhere. Flyers, ads, everything. I pay attention to them a little because I hang up some of them (academic ones, on my floor at the department). But most of them I miss because I’m very busy.

My first class this morning, the professor (who I find delightful) burst through and was quite visibly shaken. She mentioned that we were not going to be taking class the direction she’d originally planned and held up these two posters (I’ll explain why I have them when we come to that point in the story).

bs1bs2

These posters didn’t immediately mean anything to me, as I am used to seeing Greco-Roman sculpture (I’ve taken a fair few Art History classes, and Archaeology courses). I thought it was advertising a study abroad or something. DO NOT MAKE MY MISTAKES. The professor was shaking, as she asked if we knew what they meant, who “Identity Europa” was. No one did. And she pulled up the links she’d found this morning to the Twitter feed of the group. I’m going to post the pictures here, because you need to be informed.

I’m posting screenshots because I don’t want to give them any more traffic than is necessary. If I gave you links to these tweets, they would get more views. More views=more validation and that is something I cannot get behind.

This group’s mission, essentially, is to deport anyone from America who isn’t white (read: European). Their targets are obviously people of color, people of Muslim heritage. Less obviously, their targets are members of the SAGA (LGBT) community and other religious minorities. Does this sound familiar? And as if this could be any more shocking, they don’t appear to be Donald Trump supporters.

We spent the entire class period discussing this information, these images and groups. I came away with the following pieces of information. (I’m only going to bring up some highlights-this conversation lasted almost two hours.)

The triangle thing (Twitter profile picture): This is actually coded messaging. The triangle is actually a three armed swastika (used by the Neo-Nazi movement) as a way to identify other fascist/racists without calling it what it is. It is also tied back to the original Nazi movement-because triangles were how prisoners were identified (they were color coded).

Response One: There’s a self-identified Japanese-African-American girl in that class who was also disturbed by this news-and shared that it is things like this that made her mother give her an 8PM curfew (the girl is 20) and she said that her time living in Okinawa was spent being racially profiled, but she feels unsafe in America now. She moved here last year from Japan. Her contribution to this conversation (one of many she had) was that the oppression of the minorities does not need to be a source of shame-it needs to be acknowledged, fixed and then left in the past, where it belongs.

Response Two: There’s a self-identified Mexican-American in that class. He was actually the most insightful person I heard all day. He spoke of how he wanted to sit down and talk with these people-to find out what it was that motivated them to feel this way. His contribution (amongst many) was that if all sides of the argument come to the table with respect, perhaps we will all walk away with a better understanding of the motivations of others.

Response Three: There’s a military man (of 20 years of service) who spoke up as well-about how he fought to defend the ability to speak out, even when others do not agree. (Which I can respect.) But he then compared this movement to BLM (Black Lives Matter) and my respect for him was markedly diminished. His “white male” privilege was mentioned by someone I didn’t see. He also chuckled at these posters-but perhaps it was out of the fact that they are absurd. I don’t find them funny.

Response Four: There’s a blonde girl who sits on the far other side of the room who brought up how “white” isn’t something that belonged to the Greeks or Romans-who were Mediterranean and therefore more olive skinned than the marble they carved. I appreciated this. As the lines between skin colors are muddled more than ever.

Response (Mine): Where is the line? I asked the professor, because I needed to know. I needed to know if I needed to be scared. I brought up that skin color is a very poor indicator of heritage and ethnicity-about how my grandfather was an immigrant from Russia, my grandmother from Poland, I was told as a child that I have native blood, I did a DNA test and I have African blood as well. I’m not Christian. I know multiple languages. I enjoy other cultures deeply. I’m part of the SAGA community. I’m mentally ill. I’m a woman. (I could go on.) Should I be afraid? My brain felt like screaming it. And that is how we learned that not only Muslims and people of color are targeted by this group, but several labels I use to self-identify. Apparently quite a few people in that classroom (my professor included) have things to worry about. We spent a few minutes talking about heritage pride as something that’s acceptable and to be enjoyed. We talked about how identity is something we make for ourselves. We talked about how differing opinions are beautiful-until they disrespect someone else. We discussed fear. But we can’t let fear win. And I’m going to keep on keeping on. Because fear will never win.

This is how a holocaust happens.

Not loudly and with much gusto-but quietly, with covert symbols and language choices. With seemingly harmless posters and images. With hidden meanings, hidden identities and hidden agendas.
This is how a holocaust is prevented. Not with apathy and fear-but with knowledge and openness. With communication and collaboration. With respect and understanding.

So I ripped down the posters I saw hung up, just as my professor had done this morning. I will continue to do so for every single IE poster I see. But I kept two. And I want to tell you why.

I’m not racist. I don’t agree with ANYTHING this movement stands for. I loathe it entirely. I felt like a shitty person carrying around racist, borderline-terrorist propaganda in my bag today.

I have the posters for the same reason that World War II holocaust propaganda is in museums: because people need to be warned, so that history is not repeated. When my children (if I have children) grow up, I need them to know that this is what the dregs of society look like-welcoming and filled with deceit. I need them to know that they need to break apart the messages that they interpret and see the truth. I need them to know the same lesson in the videos I shared up top: what may seem innocent on the surface can be filled with hatred. And hatred will fill a person up with poison until they become lethal to everyone they come in contact with.

So yes, I kept these posters. I will bury them in the back of my closet, away from the light of day until one day in the future I open that box and look back, thankful that these people did not succeed in their endeavors. I will look at these disgraceful posters and remind myself that there are good people in the world, and the darkness will not win. I will keep these pieces of history and one day place them in a museum-right next to other relics of domestic terrorism, racism, bigotry and fear mongering so that generations long after my own will see them and know that if they do not learn from the past, they are doomed to repeat it.