Spirit Bands

This took place over a decade ago, but I feel like it’s pertinent. I’m doing my best to report it with integrity.

When I was in 6th grade, the administration of the school came up with the idea of spirit bands. They were little bracelets in our school colors that could be used for what was considered special rewards: going first in lunch lines, bathroom privileges and things like that. We were told that if we did not have bands, we could not buy juices or carbonated drinks at lunch, we would sit at a table designated for non-wearers and would have to wait for everyone else to get lunch before we could. You could lose your band if you were in trouble-which meant that any trip to the office took away your right to go to the restroom until you earned your band back (a process which took an indeterminable amount of time). They said it was to encourage us to be good students.

Image result for spirit bands

Now, in sixth grade, we were about 12. None of us had had really solid world history, and we were mostly innocent children. And then one day, we asked-well, what about people with diabetes? If they don’t have bands, they can’t get lunch. And if they can’t get lunch, their blood sugar could be at risk. The response was a very hesitant “they should have bands”. And that, my good readers, is when the revolution began.

Someone, I’m assuming someone with an older sibling, began to talk about how this was just like Nazi Germany-people being segregated based on an arbitrary division, handed down by those in power. A systematic oppression. We sent round a petition. We stopped wearing the bands. We did as much as 11 and 12 year olds could, to stop a system we believed to be unjust.

And we were met with some pretty furious administrators. I’m sure they were not happy about the spending of thousands of dollars on things they thought would be useful. I’m sure they were not happy that a bunch of 6th graders compared them to Nazis. I’m sure that was uncomfortable. But we won. None of us had to wear those bands anymore.

So why am I telling you this?

Because if, as a child of 11 or 12, we knew that something was unfair and we were able to change the tides, think of what we can do now, as adults? When there are actual Nazis to fight, deep injustices to rebel against.

I get it-being angry about this administration is hard. It’s been a long battle so far and we’re still going. It’s exhausting. It’s humiliating. It’s degrading. But resisting it is what is right. And what is right may not always be what is easy-but it is always what is right.

Think about all the terrible things that have happened since the 2016 election was revealed. Think about all the people you’ve had to leave in the past because they were accepting of a man who can destroy human rights with a sweep of his hand. Think about how many marches and letters to your representatives and how scared and angry you are.

And then think of all the millions of people who were marching with you. Who sent their letters too. Who stood up and said “Me too.” Who stopped thinking of just themselves and started working for the greater good. Think of the justice workers, the resistance, the handmaids, the people who are fighting with all they have. Because for each atrocity that the current dictator engages in, there are those who refuse to remain silent about it. Who whistle blow. And think about how you are not alone.

I know it’s hard-especially when you get onto social media and you see trolls and bots repeating the same terrible lies you grit your teeth at. Trust me. I know it’s infuriating to be gaslit. But keep going.

If not for yourself, for the thousands of children who are now at the mercy of people in Washington. For the thousands of children in foster care and abusive homes. For the thousands of women who do not have access to reproductive health care. For the thousands of LGBTQ people who are afraid they will face conversion therapy. For the thousands of people of color who are judged harshly for nothing more than the melanin of their beautiful skin. For the thousands of religious minorities who are afraid to practice their beliefs in public. For the thousands of immigrants who face the tyranny of America because they face death in their own home. For the thousands who do not have a voice of their own.

Keep going.

Keep fighting.

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.

All For One and One For All

Feel overwhelmed each time you turn on the news? It looks more and more like a scary world out there. And to some extent, that is true. It’s so frustratingly easy to get overwhelmed and afraid, being paralyzed by it. And I get asked the question a lot: how do I keep fighting even though I feel like I’m not making a difference? Here’s what I told someone.

Resist, persist, insist, enlist. The right path is not always the easy path, but it is always right. You bring so much kindness and spunk and thought to the world. And so I will share a story. When the votes were tallied and 45 became 45, a professor asked what she was supposed to tell of students-many of whom were voting in a presidential election for the first time. And here is what I told her: Tell us it is possible to lose a battle and still win the war.

Right now, we are winning some and losing others. It’s a fight which is taking every ounce of sanity we have. But we’re doing “it”. Not because it’s easy, but because it is right. We’re seeing good people step forward, perhaps for the first time. And that’s where I think you can help most. Kindness is contagious. If one person sees it, they spread it. We just need someone to start the chain. Each day, something small. You’ve been campaigning for the earth mother and for people for as long as I’ve known you, at least. Plant some flowers, give them away. Plant some kindness, watch it bloom. And whether you see it immediately or not, millions are right beside you, planting.

💙💙💙

But first thing’s first-self care. Remember to heal yourself before you take on the world.

_______________________________________________________

You see, what the world needs more of isn’t business, infrastructure or money. The world needs more kindness, acceptance and happiness. We need to treat other human beings as our equals, giving them the same love and attention that we ourselves need. But what about the earth? That’s something that needs our devotion too-but it’s much bigger than any one of us.

So here’s what we can do.

Start small. Be kind as often as you can, and start with being kind to yourself.

Dream big. If you want to change the world, you have to have a pretty big idea in mind.

Find your passion. If you feel really strongly about feeding the homeless, saving the bees, reducing polar ice loss, caring for the sick or fixing a broken social institution, pursue it. Now is the time to make those changes, to start movements.

Get involved. Find organizations that support what you do and see how you can help. Time is just as valuable as money.

_______________________________________________

It’s a hard fight we’re in for. To change the world requires nothing less. But to reiterate what I said above, nothing that is worth having comes easy.

And it is on that note, that I must impress upon you that what the world needs most is for you to realize that you have the power to be important. It does not matter what age you are, what ethnicity or gender or health status. It does not matter what religion, what political opinion, what country you belong to. It does not matter what your cultural heritage is, who you love, or what your socioeconomic status is. You have the power to be a positive force in the world.

I’ll wrap up with a story.

As I was helping some protests in my area concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline, several people were speaking about the reasons they were there. Many spoke of the injust treatment of the First Nations, many spoke of the need for clean water (I live just a few short hours from Flint, Michigan-another hotspot for water need). Some spoke of feeling “the call”-the feeling that they needed to be present. But no matter the reason, we all came together because it was something we felt needed to be done. Soon after, our governor recalled the police officers he’d sent to Standing Rock-because we were present.

As I was attending political conventions and rallies this last year, opinions and emotions ran high. There were central issues discussed, there were concerns presented and voices raised. We came because we were concerned, many of us were scared. We showed up. As I lobbied for better mental health laws, for human rights bills, for individual liberties and freedoms, thousands and millions of people were with me, marched with me, called with me, fought with me.

These big actions are not so different from the ones we take every day. Coping with depression, caring for a disabled loved one, sacrificing wants for needs, forgiving people who have wronged you, working hard to graduate or get a promotion or maybe even just getting a job in the first place. We use what we have to keep going.

That’s how you carry on. That’s how you win. You show up, be present. Keep fighting. Be kind.

You are valid. You have worth. You are irreplaceable.

Educators for education-not regurgitation.

Although by now the political climate of America is very forcibly divided, there remains one spark of hope-one area which has been passed down as sacred from generation to generation: the future. The children, it is said, are that future, and it is with them that humanity rests. But are we giving the future the skills it needs to survive?

In a time of information overload, young people are hard pressed to find a single skill set which enables them to navigate not only the political arena, but those which hit closer-to-home, such as healthcare, finances and the ever important education. As many of you well know, student loans are something I rant about rather frequently, the dangers of which remain quite unknown for many people from my parent’s generation. But I digress. The skill set most vital to each upcoming individual, in every generation is one that is in a recession all its own: critical thinking.

As a human being, in a much broader, globalized culture, critical thinking means the ability to objectively analyze and evaluate information (being able to determine fact from crap, essentially).

But Michelle-that sounds like you just criticized your own age group. What are you doing?

Pointing out a concern of mine in regards to the current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. I’ve included a little context, but put the point of focus in bold. In a recent statement at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), Mrs. DeVos said:

“How many of you are college students? The fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.”

Link to the video: C-Span of Mrs. DeVos’ Speech

job-education

What is concerning, therefore, is not the fact that Secretary DeVos is of the opinion that the “fight” extends to college students (because she’s right-we’re at the front lines of a fight which extends far beyond education) but that she believes educators are not educating, but force-feeding their opinions to their students. What’s further troubling is her fixation with othering. Her statement is incredibly biased, in the way it undermines anyone who does not support Donald Trump. That in-and-of-itself is refutes her claim of anti-First Amendment work. You do not have to support the person who fills the role of President of the United States in order to be an American, with all of the associated rights. To have someone in an educational leadership position not be entirely educated on the core values of the country is terrifying. And it is for these reasons that colleges (students and educators) MUST be at the front of the fight.

While I am quite capable of passing along my opinion, I thought that perhaps it would be more prudent to provide the thoughtful discourse of a professor. In an email (which I have attained permission to reproduce), Professor Michael Phelan, Linguistics Department at The Ohio State University gave the following statement:

I have been teaching in public schools of various levels [for 14 years]. In all of that time I have never heard comments such as these from someone in a position of educational leadership; I am aghast and astounded.

Education is about two things: Getting you to ask deep, meaningful, interesting questions about yourselves, your neighbors, and the world around you, and training you to answer those questions. Good educators do not let you rest with *any* set of answers. Good educators probe deeper, asking you to consider how you know what you think you know, if there are special cases or more general formulations of your answers, if it is reasonable that other people in other circumstances may find different sets of answers to be more useful. The hallmark of really answering any scientific question is that your answer leads to more good questions, not fewer. Good educators force you to strongly consider the possibility that you might be wrong, and that your teachers might be wrong too. I firmly believe that if you somehow get through four years of university education without having had your deepest beliefs challenged you should ask for your money back.

Good education is not a systematic indoctrination to try to force you to think the way your teachers think. There are systems of thought and custom where that is the case, but education is not one of them. If you believe everything I believe, and your generation believes everything my generation believes, then we as a species have wasted all the years between because we haven’t learned anything new. But if either of us cannot back up our beliefs with rigorous argument and objective evidence, we are only fooling ourselves.

In the coming weeks, we will discuss issues related to language ideology, bilingualism, and the way that attitudes about people affect our attitudes about their language. We will discuss how the way we talk about political issues can strongly influence our beliefs about those issues, and we will use concrete examples including controversial topics like marriage equality, abortion, and physician assisted suicide. I have strong political beliefs, as doubtless many of you do too. We will keep the debate focused around the language used to talk about these issues because language processing is the point of the course, but it is important to know that we can have that debate respectfully, regardless of where we each come from politically.

Secretary DeVos said, “The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think.” I think she got her question words wrong. The faculty and staff at OSU and at any university worth the name don’t teach you what to do, say, or think. We teach you how to do things, how to say things, and more importantly, how to think clearly, deeply, and critically.

It is with this email that I leave you with the following quote.

Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.
Albert Einstein

As always,

You are valid. You have worth. You are irreplaceable. You are enough.

 

What is there to know?

So many things to speak of. On a quick side note, if you’re still trying to fight the fight, some interesting “trackers” are out there so you can get the Campbell soup (condensed) version of what’s going on. I HIGHLY recommend looking at primary sources and coming to your own conclusions instead of relying on third parties. If you need to know where to start, and want it made a little plainer so you can get started there are two places.

  1. Trump Tracker This website allows for a quick, efficient examination of election promises and the progress therein.
  2. WTF Just Happened Today? This one gives a play-by-play of what happened politically, with updates as needed.

And of note, two issues near and dear to my heart. LGBT (SAGA) protections and water rights. I’m a member of the LGBT community, albeit one of the later letters. I have friends who belong to the beginning ones, friends that are just delightful people. And I worry so much about them. Especially now that “T” is coming under fire. The battle isn’t beginning, they’re setting fire to the soldiers.

The water. I didn’t appreciate water as a kid. I loved soda. Now, I pray for rain with the hope of a thousand prayers. And rain is only available because of the water cycle, which draws water from the earth to the sky, where it falls to the earth once more. My favorite smell is petrichor. And all the ones I pray to are in the rain. Water is where I feel at home. And it is the one place we’re destroying so fast. You can’t drink oil. And I’m discouraged that businesses and corporations (and governments) do not see that.

When you feel overwhelmed, you’re not doing enough. -Mark Ruffalo

Get involved. Be active. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter if we’re divided or unified: we will all fall as one.

But in happier news:

You are valid. You have worth. You are irreplaceable. You are necessary. You are vital. You matter. You are enough.

I Will Fight

I’ve seen a lot of things these past few days, and I’m sure you have too. There was, of course, the Women’s March a couple days ago-which was wonderful. There was the emergency #NoDAPL protest last night. And there are more, I am sure. The thing is, this is just the beginning. 

I saw a post on Facebook about where people would migrate to if they were leaving our country. There were plenty of places-people who have met with lawyers, people who have researched and gotten their passports. I won’t lie. I have a place picked out that should we go the way of WWII Germany, I will take my husband and dog to and we will fight from abroad. That’s not deserting, that’s smart planning. I cannot fight from the grave. I would try, but a dead gal can only do so much.

But while we’re on the subject of fighting, I have a plan. I know-I’m just one millennial (gasp!) but there are millions more of me (and older generations) who understand what we have to lose. I invite you all to go look at Trump Tracker. This is a working list of all of the things he promised to do during his time in office. There are 189 things, all of which are divided into categories: First 100 Days, Culture, Economy, Environment, Government, Immigration, Indigenous (not Native American-it means citizens), Security, Health, World, Education. These 189 things are what he has promised to do, and as of his 5th day in office, he has achieved 3, is working on at least 2 and broken 2 ( Not tweeting and a gun provision on his first day.)

I am one person. I have biases, I have limitations, I have a small voice. But I also have care and compassion and a willingness to use that voice.

So here’s my plan (and no-these aren’t alternative facts. And no, it’s not just me saying words together. This is a definable plan.)

-I will actively promote the availability to clean water for all human beings. This includes admonishing companies who do not produce responsibly.

-I will be in contact with my representatives at all levels over issues that are injust and oppressive. I will also be in contact with them on less controversial issues-because I am a constituent and they represent me.

-I will remain active in the fight for equality. Intersectional equality.

-I will fight for, continue to fight for women’s reproductive health, and healthcare in general.

-I will carry on being a mental health advocate.

-I will carry on being a sexual assault/rape/domestic violence survivor advocate.

I am going to law school in the fall. I picked my schools based on the programs, the ratings, the clinics and the networking capabilities. As you all know, I am going to law school to focus on my last point. But my ability to affect change does not end there. I picked schools that had diverse populations-because I love that. I picked schools that had LGBT+ (SAGA) faculty and clubs and classes-because I will continue to be active in the communities I belong to. I picked schools that have a track record for being active against DJT-because I want to be fostered in an environment that gives me passion, not stifles my abilities. I made these choices because I know it is my destiny to fight. And you’d best believe that I am ready.

Who I am is not a surprise or a novel realization. I frequently talk about my identity-because it allows me to see my biases and the way I think about things. It influences me. And also because I need to know if I am potentially overlooking something because I am too close to an issue.

Some of you will remember my IMADTTO project. I spent hours and days and weeks slaving over that project, creating something I saw as a beautiful entry into the history of women, something that would help the world be a little safer. As you know, I was rejected. And I know now that I was too close to the project. It’s not something that will change-I will always be too close to it. But that doesn’t mean I cannot look at it objectively and now carry on the fight being more aware.  

So there’s me. I watched a video featuring Mark Ruffalo, in which he said “If you are feeling despair, you aren’t doing enough.” I happen to think that applies, to at least my own life action. 

So what about you? How do you feel? What are your plans?

Dear Melania Trump

You do not know me, but I know you. You are one of the women which millions now look to for a standard of living. They look to you with expectant eyes, watching each move you make. You hold a position which so many women will never hold as their own and with that privilege comes responsibilities. 

Your platform as First Lady, as you have said, is to deal with the issues of cyber bullying. I applaud you for this. Cyber bullying is something which is recent, but a pandemic nonetheless. I have some ideas which may help you in this endeavor, as someone who has been one the receiving end, but has also had friends who know what it is like.

Cyber bullying is an issue for teens across the country, and the world. It affects teens and young adults, girls more than boys and at nearly 1/3 people affected, is an urgent matter. But this also includes people of color and LGBT+ youth. I know that your husband’s cabinet would rather see to it that LGBT+ youth are not present in this-or any-discussion, but they are a vital part.

You see, as you became First Lady, you took on the responsibility to help the country you now serve. That means the whole country-whether they look like you or not, whether they love like you or not. I hope you understand the gravity of the power of the office you now hold.

The people of the country may be under the leadership of your husband, but ultimately our wellbeing lies with you.

Please, do not let us down.

Sincerely,

Michelle BB

No.

Three days. It feels like a countdown to doom. Just a couple short moments until the world as we know it pauses. I know that good things come from dire places, but doesn’t it feel a little *too* dire?

I’m trying. I’m trying to be the optimist here, to be the person whose logic and reasoning skills are intact. I’m trying to not let the fear and the crushing weight of all that is happening allow me to come undone. Really.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are a great many things that I feel. There are facets of my life that both thrill and terrify me (in the exhilarating, stressful way). And then there is just three days from now-when all the lowest things about human society become what everyone sees of my country.

I know I have a few international readers-and I do hope you see this for what it is and not an insult to your reasoning skills-but I have a message. A request, really.

Please do not look at January 21 and think that all Americans are like that. Please do not think we all hate differences, are afraid of people who aren’t the same as us. The loud minority is drowning us out, but we are here and we are fighting. There are those of us who care for the water and the planet we live on, who weep at the injustices at Standing Rock. There are those of us who value the lives of other human beings, both those who look like us and those who don’t. There are those of us who love openly, and rejoice when others can do the same-regardless of whether or not it fits our idea of love. There are those of us who are working to make the world better-not drag it back into hatred, ignorance, bigotry and fear mongering.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned. I am.

But do you know what I know?

I know that in dire times, good comes. When human kind needs it most, who should appear but Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Shirin Ebadi. The list goes on.

I can’t wait to see who our next humanitarian leader is. Maybe I’ll get to meet them. Maybe, dare I dream it-I might be them.

Sleep peacefully, readers. Be safe, be loved.

You have value. You are valid. You are irreplaceable.

We’ll make it. Together.

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:
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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)

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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.

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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:

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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.

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(This picture belongs to Urban Native Era.)

This Program Has Been Rated E/I…

As an anthropology student, I am always surprised by humanity. I don’t mean that with any connotations-I’m simply surprised. I am surprised by the depths of narcissism, by the amounts of self-loathing that seems to characterize our species, by the unselfish nature shown by people in times of dire need. I’m also surprised by growth curves. Not the physical ones, but the mental and emotional and psychological ones. If I were still going to grad school for anthropology, I might just look into trends, sociophobics (shared fears) and the way that shapes our “shared experience” (that comes from Durkheim-a theoretician whom I seem to gravitate toward for his work on suicide and social association).

This isn’t political-insofar as I can tell, because I feel like we’ve said what needed to be said, started to make changes and everything else is up to actions. I’m going to try to make this E/I-Educational and Informative, whilst also being at least marginally entertaining.

The Out of Africa Model

This is one of the ideas behind how humans came to populate the whole globe. The general idea is that our species evolved in Africa and began to spread, following food, climate and several other reasons. This is supported by archaeological finds.

The Multiregional Theory

This one is the idea that a predecessor to our species (usually thought to be Homo erectus) left Africa, split off into the different geographic locations and THEN evolved into us. This is also supported by archaeological evidence.

So why am I telling you this?

Recently, there have been people who feel that it is okay to tell others to “go back to Africa” or various versions of that idea. And I need you to know that we ALL came from Africa-one way or another-some of us have just been gone a little longer than others. There is no, I repeat NO reason to tell someone that they do not belong somewhere. There is no such thing as an illegal human being. 

Craniometry

This idea has been DEBUNKED-or at least the applications of it. Craniometry is the study of the measurements of skulls. But it was used to “demonstrate racial difference” in a way that provided a hierarchy. That is to say that someone with a smaller skull was considered inferior to someone with a larger skull. Add in skin color and you have the formula for some very Hitler-esq discussions.

It was debunked because so many factors influence the size of your head-which are indiscriminate. Poverty in utero, poverty in general, geography and disease are just a couple I can think of off the top of my head.

Race

It’s hard to pin this one down. On the one hand, you have differences which *appear* to be attributed to people who belong to a certain demographic. That is how crime scene analysts tell you which amount of melanin that person had. But on the other hand, race is also a social construct. White people are white because they are devoid of “other”. The terminology is outdated and offensive (hence why we don’t use words like “mongoloid” or “negro” or “Caucasian” to describe people–the exception here is the people who really do live in the Caucasus Mountains-who, by regional association are called Caucasians. But the fact remains, we (as a species) categorize others into “us” and “them”-even when there is no reason to.

**Waiver** That is not to say that terrible things haven’t happened in the name of “race”. That would be a great disservice and offense against people who have experienced it. I’m stating that there is no reason for racism to have happened in the first place.

So what now?

Being an ally means that you accept the struggles someone else has gone through and not trying to use it against them. It means accepting their experiences, and not removing their sense of validity. This is true of survivors of sexual assault, of people with mental illnesses, of anyone who is different from you, of yourself. If you feel that you cannot do that, you may consider taking a long, long look at yourself and asking the hard questions. You know the ones.

I found all of this information on Google, through sites which I’ve used during my college career. I can provide links if they’re requested-I’ve been using dual computers which aren’t linked, so I’m unable to copy/paste at the moment.

I just wanted to provide a basic overview, so that other people can battle this ignorance. The more you know.

You are valid. You are valued.