Sunday, February 16, 2014

On a disturbingly regular basis...

You know that scene in the movie Love Actually?

The one where Emma Thompson goes into the bedroom she shares with her husband, after having found proof that he’s likely cheating on her, and collects herself so that she can go to the Holiday event at her children’s school without freaking them the hell out?


I repeat a scene much like that…on a pretty regular basis.

Not because I’m in a relationship with someone who is unfaithful.

Or maybe I am…in a way.

I repeat that scene…a deliberate pause, tears threatening and heart pumping, followed by a visible resolve to soldier through despite the pain…on a disturbingly regular basis, because I live in a country where a black man is seen as a threat simply for being a black man.

Longtime readers know a bit about my brother…that he is the older of my two older siblings and he has autism. He is aphasic, and he makes loud funky noises…he gets excited when he likes a song and he twirls and dances.  He looks “normal”…a lot younger than his 43 years, but still “normal” in presentation if not behavior.

So, I know that his behavior could get him beat up or shot.

He likes to look in car windows.

He doesn’t understand “the rules.”

He likes people…and the smell of freshly washed hair or French fries on someone’s plate.

We work on it with him…we watch him closely.

Because we live in a country where black men get shot and killed for seeking help after a car accident…or refusing to turn down music…or walking home after going to the corner store.

I don’t know how to guide him.

I just don’t know what to do!

Do I tell him to seek help if he gets lost?

Do I tell him to find a police officer?

What will happen when he can’t speak or explain?

Will strangers try to understand?

Or will they open fire and ask questions later?

And so, on a regular basis…at least once a week, and sometime more often than that…I find myself in the bathroom preparing to go to work and I pause to grab the counter, take several deep breathes and then smoothing my hands down the front of my outfit.

I breathe in.

Exhale.

Repeat.

Because I have to go about my day despite the anxiety and fear.

I don’t want to become that sister who won’t approve any community outings. I've come up with this ritual so that my brother can have some semblance of a life despite the world we live in and the dangers it presents.

Breath in.

Exhale.

Grab car keys…tell self to move forward.

Walk, damn it.

Drive.

Get out of car.

Smile.

Greet others.

Please, please, please…oh, please.

Log on and check email.

Lord, I give him up to you…again…always.

Work.

At least once a week, and lately far more often than that.

Sigh.

So much has changed and so much remains the same.
"In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky—her grand old woods—her fertile fields—her beautiful rivers— her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains. But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal spirit of slaveholding, robbery and wrong,— when I remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged sisters, I am filled with unutterable loathing, and led to reproach myself that any thing could fall from my lips in praise of such a land. America will not allow her children to love her. She seems bent on compelling those who would be her warmest friends, to be her worst enemies. May God give her repentance before it is too late, is the ardent prayer of my heart. I will continue to pray, labor and wait, believing that she cannot always be insensible to the dictates of justice, or deaf to the voice of humanity."
Frederick Douglass to William Lloyd Garrison - January 1, 1846

Thursday, January 30, 2014

RIP Betsey the Sorta-Beagle...

It is my sad duty to report that Betsey the sorta-beagle, my beloved pet-companion for over a decade, passed away yesterday morning.

She was 15 years old.

Longtime readers will remember Betsey as a badass bundle of joy who often kept me centered when all things were anything but balanced.

Our house is a little too quite without the click of her nails on the floor, the strangely soothing rhythm of her loud as hell snoring while napping, or the sharp clap of her outraged bark when the mail comes through the slot.

She will be dearly missed.

If you are so inclined, please donate to Stray Rescue of St.Louis in her honor.

Adopting a rescue dawg was one of the best decisions I ever made in life...and I encourage anyone who is considering adding a pet to your family to do the same.  Betsey was two years old when she joined our family and, since she was far from perfect, she fit right in!

Many thanks to the wonderful staff at Hillside Animal Hospital for their loving care and support over the years and during Betsey's final moments.

And special thanks to my sister C-Money for everything.

Rest in peace, happiness, and endless joy, Betsey the sorta-beagle!


Forever in my heart...always.

Friday, January 03, 2014

On calling out the shit in the middle of the room…

Happy 2014, y’all!

I’ve been absent from the internets for a long spell. Between a starting a new job (yay!), dealing with some personal drama (not so yay, but getting better), and news that Betsey the sorta-beagle is in the process of dying from cancer (sob)…well, there’s been a lot of offline distractitude in my world.

Sigh.

But I’m back, so…

…shall we?

***pause…sip coffee and snuggle Betsey the sorta-beagle…continue***

I’ve observed several recent Twitter-based corrections within the feminist world and I’ve noticed a pattern. 

More accurately, I’ve noticed a continuation of an offline pattern take place online.

Someone within the movement indulges in a public display of privilege/bigotry, people point it out and express their outrage/shock/pain/disappointment, and then other folk start talking about tolerance and how we shouldn’t eat our own.

Cue chaos…more outrage/shock/pain/disappointment…and folk fretting about how all of this is bad for feminism because the world is watching.

I’ve been blogging for some eight years (gasp) and this ain’t new. Longtime readers know that I’m not a fan of the school of tolerance. One tolerates a stench and hopes it goes away. I don’t know many folk who want to be the stench of feminism.   

When a person takes a shit in the middle of the room tis important to everyone within that room that 1) that shit gets cleaned up, 2) the source of the shit understands that shitting in the middle of the room isn’t acceptable or productive and is the very definition of insulting and disturbing, and 3) that folk appreciate that the room shitter, through the act of shitting in the middle of the room, has reset reality and will have to prove over time that they understand that and aren’t going to gleefully take a public crap again.

We all get this. 

It isn’t confusing. 

We’ve all watched some amazing Twitter-based and/or online actions calling out room shitters.

Nope, this isn’t confusing…until we encounter a situation where the shit in the middle of the room originated from someone on the left.

Did I mention that this ain’t new?

This fumble over how to address wrongness from within keeps flaring up…and tis why I’m committed to making 2014 a year of realness.

Y’all, it is beyond important that we encourage and respect authentic responses to public displays of bigotry and privilege. 

If women of color had a dollar for every time we’ve been told to give someone a break after they just took us out at the knees, we might be able to fund an international multi-media campaign to educate the masses on why we ain’t trying to hear that shit.

And it is critical that we cease tolerating and explaining away displays of bigotry and/or privilege from within.

The whole world is indeed watching and nothing damages a movement like hypocrisy. That’s why we are quick to gleefully point that mess out when conservatives do it!

Lawd knows I’m a better activist for having been told about myself along the way…for being forced to look at my shit in the middle of the room and clean it the hell up…and for being given the gift of an opportunity to learn and grow.

Toodles.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Small town values and unlocked doors…

Years ago, I received an email from a woman who was looking for some guidance in how to help guide her two teenage boys through a situation where one of their friends had confessed to rape.  The rape survivor was also part of her sons’ social circle. 

They all lived in a small town in rural Missouri.

I replied that I am in no way qualified to provide specific advice, but would reach out to some folks I know who are and get back to her.

The woman explained that she became concerned when she didn’t know what to tell her sons after their friend was raped and then another friend was arrested.  Her sons admitted that they were torn between liking both friends and being disgusted by what one had done to the other.

The mother's fear…her confusion and frustration came through, loud and clear. 

After forwarding a list of resources, I couldn’t help respecting this mother for reaching out.  And I couldn’t help wondering how other parents were responding to similar situations.

I thought of that mother and her sons when I read about the rape case in Maryville, Missouri.

About how that community responded…and what those responses teach everyone, young and old.

While some ask how such a horrible crime can occur in small town Missouri, this Missourian is left wondering how anyone can expect a different outcome when community members support a world view that protects men who rape and terrorizes those who have been assaulted.

There are those small town values that make people proud that they don’t have to lock their door at night…

…and then there are those small town values that make a body wonder how anyone sleeps at night.

Blink.

Something about October…

Gawd, I love this time of year. 

The air is crisp…the trees in the park are beyond beautiful…and the sorta-beagles can stay outside for extended periods of time without frying like bacon.

Sigh.

I recently updated my LinkedIn profile and realized that I tend to make career changes in October.  Twas an interesting realization…that for well over a decade I’ve moved forward to new jobs in October.  And I don’t think it is a coincidence, because I do tend to use July and August to take stock of my world and evaluate what’s what.

Well, there’s just something about October.

I’ve been offline because I recently wrapped up my time on staff with Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri and started up as Communications Director for Progress Missouri.  I enjoyed five amazing years with PPMO and learned tons about reproductive health policy, those who oppose access to reproductive healthcare, and myself. 

You can’t do this work and not do a lot of inner work along the way.

Pause…consider…continue.

Well, you could do this kind of work and not do the inner work along the way…but odds are you wouldn’t be doing this kind of work well.

Anyhoo...

I’m thrilled to embark on this new journey and I hope to take y’all along with me.

Throughout my life I’ve taken the road less traveled by…and yeah, it has made all the difference.

There’s just something about less traveled roads in October.

The air crisp and fresh.

The trees exploding with color.
 
Something that demands exploration and that a body enjoy the journey so much they almost forget that there is a destination at the end of it.

Pause...breath deep...exhale.

Shall we?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fantasy hockey…with a dash of bitchitude!

Last night was my first fantasy hockey draft and it was beyond fun.  The Futastics is gonna whoop some ass!

Welcome the Futastics to the wonderful world of bitchitude…

Steven Stamkos
James Neal
James van Riemsdyk
Loui Eriksson
Pascal Dupuis
T.J. Oshie…GO BLUES!
Scott Hartnell
Vladimir Tarasenko…GO BLUES!
Duncan Keith
James Wisniewski
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Christian Ehrhoff
Alex Steen…GO BLUES!
Cody Franson
Brandon Dubinsky
Jordan Staal
Sergei Bobrovsky
Braden Holtby

I’ve got some Blues…a Stamkos…a Staal…and more than one Russian.

I’m totally set.


Let’s go, Futastics!


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Pondering Rick Perry's Missouri shopping spree…

Ready?

Set.

Go!

Texas Gov. Rick Perry spent the month of August shopping in the great state of Missouri.

He’s running a load of ads…tons of ads…so many damn ads that I’m beginning to wonder if he plans to invade Missouri and this ad blitz is part of his plan to soften Missourians up for our future domination.

Pause…shudder…continue.

Rick Perry wants Missouri companies and workers to move to Texas…and his ads center on how Texas is a better place to live and do business.

Audacious!

I mean, that takes some SERIOUS brass.

But wait…it gets better.

The Missouri GOP are all for Perry's shopping spree because Perry is preaching about tax reform and they are trying to rustle up the votes to override Governor Nixon’s veto of a dangerous tax bill.

Mmmmhmm.

For real.

Way!

Full disclosure: I lived in Texas for over seven years (hey, Dallas!) and I’m still rather fond of the state. 

But…um...what works in Texas will not work in Missouri.

See, Texas has a revenue source that Missouri doesn’t…a source that adds so much money to the state coffers that elected officials in Texas are struggling with the math.

Rick Perry failed to mention oil in his ads…or that Texas gets revenue from oil…or that the money they get from oil is kind of [translation: very] substantial. 

I’ll cut Ricky some slack, 'cause remembering and understanding shit isn’t his strength.

But the Missouri GOP needs a fierce correction.

Trying to override Governor Nixon’s veto of a fucked up from the floor up tax bill is one thing.

A stupid thing...a bizarre thing...a dangerous thing that makes folk question those legislators' ability to lead.

Cough.

But inviting a political vampire like Rick Perry to tour Missouri, tell us how our state sucks and pitch Texas as a better alternative, all so y'all can attempt to use that media blitz as proof that your fucked up tax bill isn't fucked up is...well, that's the very definition of fucked up.

To add insult to injury, the same MO GOP fools who invited Perry to Missouri…threw open the door and cheered as he marched on through…might as well have thrown a parade for his ass…yep, those fools have gone mute on why businesses and Missourians should stay put.

Is it too much to ask that those elected to represent Missouri actually represent Missouri by championing the state and defending her against this attempt to seduce away our motherfucking jobs and talented workers?

Could it be that those legislators behind this tax bill actually hate Missouri?

Gasp.

Pause…sip coffee…consider.

Good Gawd, that might be it!

If the tax bill had become law it would have done incredible harm.

But even if the veto holds...and Lawd, please let it hold...we've still got to deal with the ramifications of a month-long recruitment blitz from Texas!

Add a healthy dash of the state's legislative leadership failing to say a damn thing in defense of Missouri during that month-long recruitment blitz...and well, methinks there's a conspiracy to blight the entire state of Missouri!

Gasp again.

Where's Oliver Stone when a bitch needs him?

Blink.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around!

Shall we?

I haven’t been blogging.

I took an extended break, because I needed to work through a serious case of doubt.

Yep…doubt.

I doubted my ability to make an impact.

I doubted the inherent decency of my fellow humans.

And let me tell you, doubt like that will stall progress and I mean stall it good!

I didn’t want to pass this doubt along to others, so I stopped.

Stopped tuning in…ceased blogging…and stood still.

When in doubt, particularly when that doubt is about my social justice work, I turn toward history.

Yep…history.

History shows us that experiencing doubt is normal…

…and that succumbing to  doubt is exactly what The Man wants. 

I’ve been diving deep into movement history to treat my doubt.  The amazing thing about the activists who made the Civil Rights Movement happen is that they acted through the doubt…they marched in spite of the unknown…and they participated in demonstrations when threats were real, fear was valid, and those who were sworn to protect were preparing to do damage.

Suffice it to say, the Eyes on the Prize Treatment Plan has done wonders!

Today, on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, I’m recommitting to the cause.

And I ain’t gonna let no body turn me around.

Bitchitude is back.