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.

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What I Needed to Understand

I’m a shy person by nature. I don’t talk to strangers often, I like being introverted. Even in a manic state, I only get chatty with people I know. Interesting.

Ever since I discovered that I’m really passionate about human rights, I’ve started to see an evolution in my personality. I helped a complete stranger yesterday who couldn’t get their door to lock. Normally I would have shied away, had my husband see if he could help. And I feel chatty. Depressed, manic, all the time. 

But only about specific things.

And wouldn’t you know that the things I feel like I need to speak about so urgently are the things that I harbor in my soul.

-Depression and Suicide

-Sexual Assault Rights

-Protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

                                                                                 (Image from Google-I just happen to love it.)

It has come to my attention (or should I say, I have noticed) that I start these conversations, I make sure the people I am with are aware that there are some very big news stories going on and that they need to care. I mean, I’m sure I sound like a downer because I talk about (generally) death, crimes and destroying the earth/cultures. I know. 

But I can’t stop talking about them.

I don’t even think I want to stop.

Because, as I put so poignantly in a FB response, “If we stop talking, we stop living.” And I believe that. 

So instead of apologizing for being the bearer-of-bad-news and the news anchor in my social life, I’m going to keep talking. I’m going to keep bringing up things people might not want to talk about becuase I have no other choice.

If I stop talking, I stop being who I am. 

And I won’t compromise that. Not anymore.

Civic Duties and Civil Disobedience

As it would turn out, one of the most basic acts of democracy and independence is being denied our populations. Scores of “entitled millennials” left their comfort zones in protest around the country on April 6. Duke, Ohio State, Appalachian State, University of Washington, St. Olaf  all protested (along with others, I’m sure) about things which made a difference to their schools. On the list of protest debates were:

-House Bill 2 (The Transgender Discrimination Bill)

– Racism (at more than one school)

-Fiscal Transparency (at several schools)

-Energy Awareness and Ethical Usage

– Sexual Assault Policies

-Divesting in companies which are against helping Palestine and Israel

I’m quite sure there are other reasons for protesting, and have a few ideas myself, but I think that this is a good place to start.

I know that I was unaware of the fact that there was a protest, or you would have seen me amongst the group, behaving in a peaceful manner, as is my constitutional right. I cannot speak for the people of the other schools, or even other people besides myself, but I can tell you about what I know.

5:00PM April 6th, OSU campus police say that there are accommodations for protestors who plan to stay overnight in Bricker Hall.  But within the span of a couple hours, all students were threatened with jail time and expulsion if they did not vacate. There is even a video showing a police officer shoving students out of the way (which I will link at the end). There were no accommodations, you see, as there was no air conditioning, no water and no food. Later, the following statement was issued:

“Ohio State has a vibrant community of students, faculty and staff who work together through an active and effective structure of shared governance. The methods employed by this group were outside the scope of permitted practices. We actively encourage dialogue with students on a wide variety of issues. We remain committed to all parties interested in meaningful discourse and in contributing to the excellence of our university.”

Now, as a student who feels strongly about the state of the university that I pay money towards, I think that there is an exceptionally large line of political correctness here. I went over the student code of conduct, because I couldn’t imagine what type of rules would not allow peaceful protesting. Turns out, Ohio State’s rules. Behavior which is “inconvenient” and may be “interpreted” as being illegal are strictly prohibited. Over 40 year ago, students were gassed in front of the same building. It is literally against school rules to civilly disobey. And I find that to be in and of itself, unjustified. Turns out, so do a lot of professors. There is a “letter of solidarity” being signed by staff, faculty and GTAs of Ohio State, stating that the behavior towards the protesters was completely uncalled for. And I agree wholeheartedly.

Letter of Solidarity/ Police Tweet

ReclaimOSU After Statement

Videos, Including Police Shoving Students