Inconceivable.

INCONCEIVABLE:

adjective
  1. not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable.

RaACISM

noun
  1. the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

INEQUALITY:

noun
  1. difference in size, degree, circumstances, etc.; lack of equality.

STEREOTYPE:

noun
  1. a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

FEMINISM:

noun
  1. the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

ASSUME:

verb
  1. suppose to be the case, without proof.

DIVERSITY:

noun
  1. the state of being diverse; variety.

Today’s topic, as you can see, is a social justice one. It’s been something that’s floated around in my mind, waiting for a moment when I could write everything down properly. I included some definitions today, simply because too many people don’t actually know the real definition of words these days. Pity.

I, as we have discussed, am part of the millennial generation, the group of people born between 1980 and 2000, and I speak with those of us who do not wish to see the world fall to ruin.

loraxEQ.jpg

Each and every day I am surrounded by gobs of people, and I know almost nothing about any of them. But sometimes I come in contact with people that I do know something about, or I catch a snippet of a conversation and what I hear is something like the following:

“I just think that there are a lot of [insert “race” here] people who are a waste of space…”

“I don’t think women should be so concerned about…”

“I’m not racist, but…”

“I know it’s anti-feminist, but…”

benjen

I have heard enough. I have heard ever so much more than enough.

I am the daughter of farmers, a third generation American (on the one side), and although my skin is pale, I have a voice and I’m ready to use it. In fact, let me list out as many minorities that I belong to as I can.

Woman. Pagan. Pro-Choice. Third-gen American. Liberal. Anthropologist. Mentally ill. Multi-lingual. Bisexual. First generation college student. Poor (I think that counts).

You know what? We’ll stop there. It’s enough. And no, I’m not a woman of color. I know that. I will never know what it is like to feel discrimination on the basis of the amount of melanin in my body. I am aware of that.

But NONE of those things make me lesser-or better- than anyone else. Let me repeat that for the people in the back.

original

I belong to the generation that takes offence to everything. And maybe it’s for good reason. It’s not okay to make racist or sexist jokes. It’s not okay to group people together under assumptions and broad generalizations. (Case in point, the millennial qualifiers I have highlighted.)

We are all people. We are all human beings searching for the meaning of life, the reason for living, respect and empathy. And I am so tired of hearing people, listening to people I know make comments and “jokes” that they shouldn’t. And I’ve started calling them out.

It isn’t an internet issue per se, and I’ve been working in person to make the conversations around me better too. Even so, a large portion of communication these days is online. And that is where it is almost worse in some ways. It’s easy to assume that because something isn’t in person, that it doesn’t matter. But it does. It really does.

No one is born racist. No one is born sexist. No one is born with the thought that they are better (or lesser) than someone else. We are all just born. We all just die.

diversity-1

I love diversity. I love it so much, in fact, that that’s what drew me to anthropology. And I love that we’re not all exactly cookie-cutter versions of the same person. That’s dull. It is only through our differences that we can thrive. But it isn’t the differences that make us better as individuals, or as small collectives. Our differences are like the glue that holds our species together, building us up. Something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

You may notice that I haven’t specifically mentioned all of the terms that I laid out for us in the beginning. I’m just putting them in because it’s a “food for thought” thing. I know they’re important, it’s just important that people start using them the right way for the right reasons.

(As always, these pictures came from Google, I’m not trying to steal them, I thought they were great. I did add words to the Lorax and the picture of the hand. That part was me!)

 

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A Letter

Dear Senator Sanders,

         You do not know me, but I am a young Democratic voter from a very small town in Ohio. You’ve probably never heard of it, but it was named after a Polish officer who fought in our revolution. In that tiny little spot, there are no stop lights, and plenty of dirt roads. It is a place where children can play freely, cut off from the rest of the word, or so it can seem. I grew up there, and it will always be home to me, full of the love and support that I am thankful to have had.

         I’ve been privileged to have had some wonderful friends, all of whom helped me grow into the outspoken, passionate woman I am today. And part of that stems from having a deep love of people who are different from myself. I deeply enjoy looking into other cultures, ensuring that I have the best, most thorough information available, so that I can make that small town proud of the ways in which I impact my world. As an anthropology student, research into cultures and attitudes are kind of a requirement. So I took the time to do a little research on you, Mr. Sanders, and here is what I found out.

         You are a man of many skills: carpentry, film and legislation among them. You are devoted to your family, and all that you see morally astute. But do you know what I did not see, or at least, not on your website? I did not see a medical degree. And so it troubles me deeply that you went out of your way to say the following at the debate in Flint, Michigan:

“We are, if elected president, going to invest a lot of money into mental health. And when you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to address the mental health.”

         You see, the media may have found that sound bite worthy of a chuckle, Secretary Clinton did as well, but for someone who works so hard at promoting equality amongst peoples, you have let down a very large, very important community. You may have made an offhanded comment about the opposing party, but you neglected to consider that the members of the mentally ill community may not have appreciated you including the Republican candidates into that group simply because some of the outrageous things which have come out of their mouths.

         I have been a proud advocate of mental health awareness, of mental illness equality and of breaking down stigmas associated with mental illnesses. But more than that, I am a member of that community that you so brazenly mocked. Some of the phrases you used last night were “lunatic”, “crazy person” and of course, the quote which I have mentioned above. You see, while it may be easy to openly criticize actions such as those of Mr. Trump mocking a physically disabled person, it is not as socially acceptable to openly discuss ways in which mental illnesses need to be treated with the same respect. 

         So here I am, Senator Sanders, a young woman from Ohio, asking you to consider the fact that while the words you speak may be coming from a well-intended place, you are furthering the stigmas and stereotypes which have plagued a branch of health and wellness for far too long. Instead of using the actions of the opposing party to get a few laughs, why don’t you focus on ways in which you will help the mental health community facilitate our own well-being in the face of misunderstanding and under-education. Perhaps then, you would be able to see why making jokes about mental health isn’t funny-it’s just plain rude.

         Thank you for your time.

Best,

Michelle Brewer-Bunnell

A Concerned Citizen

It Isn’t Like They Say

Yesterday I started my job, and it was just swell. But by the time I got home and got finished with my homework, I barely had enough time to eat before I fell asleep. Thank goodness my husband understands and just let me sleep. Today I’m back at the grind, but also, I’m back to posting about things that mean worlds to me. I wanted my first post in this last month to be about something I hold very dear to my heart: beliefs. And before I jump right in, I’m going to preface by saying that these truths are my truths. Everyone has different experiences and that leads them down different paths. These are the ones for me. And therefore, you are free to make your own conclusions, but it will not affect mine because I have lived them, I have experienced and grown as an individual.

As you can see, I changed my blog title to To Be An Equal. I got to thinking, isn’t that what my point is anyway? Pointing out reasons why we should all be accepting and help foster the levels of equality amongst all peoples? So I wanted something that reflected that. Also, I want to open up the option of suggestions. If you have something that you wish to see me rant about from an anthropology student with a deep love of people and bring in facts and whatever, let me know. I’m always up for a greeat discussion. So anyway, back to my story.

So where to begin? The beginning, of course.

I went to church in an exceptionally small town, so small I won’t even name it because you wouldn’t know it. It had, in its hayday, 100 people,  but most of the times that I remembered were 40-50. As a small child (of 4 or so), I was unfamiliar with the ways of the church, and my parents took me there. I remember one Sunday the teacher brought in a Qur’an and told us that in order to defeat the devil, we had to know who he was and told us to rip up the book. This also happened with the Book of Mormon, I believe. Later the papers were lit on fire. I was told what behavior was acceptable, including the need to squash down questions. When I was a preteen, I had several questions. Now, I was not asking these questions to be a delinquent. I thought that the questions I had would aid me in being a better Christian. (If women in the Bible have their heads covered, is hair enough, or should I have a covering? If anger is a sin, how can God be without sin if he got angry at the Jews…a lot? andan assortment of those questions.) I went to the pastor, because I assumed that he would have the most answers. He told me I shouldn’t ask questions and just accept God on faith alone, because that’s what true Christians did.

  Obviously that didn’t jive with me. I was an inquisitive person, with feelings and concerns who got shot down. I didn’t like hurting books. Books couldn’t harm people, could they? They were just words. (I admit, that was naive of me. But really, there is no reason to be murderous towards a book of peace.) And on top of that, the people there judged you on what you wore to service, and I witnessed one girl get removed for wearing a tank top and shorts (It was the only pair of clothes she had without holes or stains.) So by the time I was 17, I was out of church, I didn’t really want to return, but I went occasionally for my mother, although we did switch churches. I was saved, baptised, I was a member of the first church and everything. 

I entered college soon after and began to find something missing in my life. I wasn’t sure I was okay with the church stereotype I’d been given, and needed to find something else. I took a lot of quizzes, looked online and decided maybe I belonged to a UU (Universal Unitarianism) church. But I would find out that I didn’t belong there really either. I just didn’t like the way that everyone seemed to need a scape goat. SO I didn’t stay.

I stumbled onto Wicca through a series of bizarre recollections. I’d come across an article in the 90s about paganism from like 17 magazine! And I remembered reading it and relating, so I looked into it one my laptop. I alomst immediately loved what I read. It was a transition period, mind you. I had gone from one supreme deity with (as had been taught to me) a sexist attitude, a vengeful anger problem and jealousy issues to many deities and a connection to the energy of the earth, as well as the loss of a need for forgiveness. I could be whatever person I wanted to be. And the pat that made the most sense was theline in the rede (the “bible-like belief code) that said “And it harm none, do as ye will.” I had a whole new world open up to me, and I could still have a moral ground to thrive on.

  But as all good things do, this phase came to an end. I felt the pressure to be a supply hoarder: candles, books, incense, herbs, everything. It soon began taking over my life and I felt suffocated by it, just as I had with Christianity. There was also a reverse sexism that I understood much later: against men. We spent so much time focusing on the feminine that the masculine became marginalized. So I began my search once more. But where would I end up? It turns out, as a druid. Well, with hoodoo tendencies, anyway.

So what do I believe now? Well, let me explain it to you.

According to the teachings of druidry, there are three aspects of your life that are of utmost importance: wisdom, creativity and love. I think that describes my life perfectly. I shift between the acceptance of many deities and the focus on just my personal one: Danu. I found her through the Morrigan. Danu is the three aspect mother goddess. I can go into all that more if you’d like, but for today I will leave it there. I can also talk about after death, before life, and really all the other spiritual things in a different post, if anyone wants to know, but I think I’ve gone on quite long enough so I’m going to use the rest of this post to dispell some stereotypes about witches and magick folk, as well as hopefully answer some questions.

  Do I work magick? Doesn’t everybody? Have you ever made a wish on a birthday candle, a star or a dandelion? But yes, I do personally do so. I pray to my ancestors, I speak with the great mother, I use tarot cards and crystals, I have a juju bag for protection. How often? Every single day.

Do I curse people? No. That’s a personal choice, but I still hold by the “do not harm” rule. Do I have the capacity? Yes. Do I? No. I just don’t feel right about it.

Do I have a religious book? No. Not really. Although I do have in possession two bibles, one qur’an, a book of shadows and a cook book (that one I use most)

Would I ever go into a church? I do. Not regularly, but before I moved out of my parents’ house, I would go to functions held in churches. It doesn’t bother me. I like to think that the Christian God would approve of my attempts to be a good human being. I do, however, make jokes while I’m there about being struck by lightning or spontaneous combustion. It’s just to relieve the stress.

Do I face any discrimination? Well, yea. Doesn’t everybody? I’ve had people give me judgey looks and glares while wearing religious symbols, as well as the occassional ignorant comment. Mostly it’s just people who don’t understand that worshipping nature is my fact, just as Jesus is theirs. 

Anyway, I hope this has been an informative look into the beliefs of a religious dabbler. I’m sure it will come up more again. Thanks for reading!

   (This is my favorite picture of Danu. She is fierce, she is the great mother goddess, and a wonderful symbol for mother earth). Also, the artist, who I do not know, is fabulous.

I’ll Follow You Into The Dark

Public perception and stigma. (Yep. I’m taking a break from the mental health blogging to bring you an insight on something else I’m big on.)

I’m writing today to bring attention to the saddest bits of information which have become public.

Why is it that children who have two parents are treated differently than those with one? Or with non-biological parents?

Why is it that children who have parents of different “races” are treated differently than those with similar?

Why is it that children with two gendered parents are treated differently than those with two parents of the same gender?

Why is it that children who do not look like others are treated differently than those who look like everyone else?

Why is it that children who practice one religion are treated differently than those who practice a different one?

Why is it that children who dress one way are treated differently than those who dress differently?

Why is it that children are taught to conform to gender roles instead of embracing whatever roles they wish?

Why is it that children with non-hetero preferences are treated differently than those who are heterosexual?

Why is it that children with mental illnesses are treated differently than those with physical illnesses?

Why is it that children are pressured to conform to standards set much too high for their own good?

Why is it that we, as adults, do not foster beliefs that individuality and imperfection are the qualities which matter not only in life, but as a way to keep ourselves alive. Being different is not a curse, nor is it a negative thing. Being different is what makes us special, what gives us a chance to be who we were meant to be.

And the thing is, it isn’t just children that we treat differently. It’s ourselves too. We shame others, we shame ourselves. We need to realize that the only one who hurts when we give into these stigmas isn’t “one” it’s “every” one.

So instead of watching people commit suicide because they are bullied, instead of judging those we deem differently than ourselves, instead of forcing everyone to be replicas of us-celebrate the diversity and the uniqueness of all those around you. Celebrate the you that you wanted to be, not the you that you felt pressured into.