When were we ever ‘one nation under God’?

Some anti-equality ‘Christians’ have been floating a meme around Facebook that indicates a strong preference for this country to ‘return to one nation under God.’  And it made me wonder…exactly when were we one nation under God?

It’s certainly not now, conservatives have made that clear.  So what is this era that they all so desperately long for, this time when we were one nation under God, where there were no divisive issues and everything was just saccharine, homogeneous Christian goodness?

Was it when we were committing mass genocide against native people because our white European ancestors felt that they were more entitled to the land than the non-white people who already lived on it?

Was it during westward expansion, when we further decimated Native American and Mexican populations already living in western territories because we decided it was our manifest destiny to expand as far and wide as we could?

Was it when we were a nation of slave owners?

Was it anytime prior to 1919, when women didn’t have the right to vote?

Was it during the Jim Crow era, when racial segregation was mandatory and when it was considered socially acceptable to torture and murder black people for minor or imagined offenses?

Was it the later half of the 20th century, which birthed civil rights and women’s rights and other less powerful movements such as fat acceptance and disability rights, which have waxed and waned since?

When was this mysterious era of perfect Christian values and social harmony?

Continue reading “When were we ever ‘one nation under God’?”

We don’t yet live in a post-discrimination country

Last week, after the SCOTUS ruling legalizing same sex marriage, a gay person of my acquaintance on Facebook posted how happy she was that her daughter “won’t have to see her family face discrimination in her lifetime.”  I reread this post incredulously several times.  All I kept thinking was, of course she will!

Laws don’t automatically put an end to discrimination, and discrimination can be hard to prosecute when it’s systemic and institutionalized.  Just ask any person of color.

So as glad as I was to see the SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage, my sense of celebration was tempered by the fact that I know full well that the fight isn’t over yet. Conservatives are desperately trying to find loopholes to allow them to not have to give licenses to gay couples. For example…

  • Texas is telling government employees to ignore the law and feel free to refuse licenses to gay people.
  • Michigan is attempting to pass some ridiculous legislation stating that all marriages have to be ordained in a church – discriminating not just against same sex couples, but also non-Christian couples.
  • Utah has decided to sidestep the issue all together and is constructing a bill that would do away with all marriages in the state of Utah, discriminating against everyone just to make sure same sex couples can’t have legal rights and benefits.

Sadly, I’m not surprised by this.  Infuriated, yes, but not surprised.  The fact that Utah conservatives would rather force straight couples of faith to live in sin (according to their values, not  mine) or have to relocate in order to marry just to prevent same sex couples from having equal rights show how deep the hatred of LGBT people is in this country. Attempting to require couples to go through a church in order to marry shows just how far they’ll go to try to allow Christians to control marriage – something they neither invented nor own, and something which is in direct violation of the concept of “separation of church and state” upon which this country’s laws and government were founded.

A law won’t change these things.  This fight is far from over.  Radicalized evangelical hate groups masquerading as Christians are not going to give up on their quest for control over this country’s government and laws.  These are fearful, fear-mongering people who believe that it’s their duty to force all people to conform to their standards.  They believe they’re going to be held accountable to the sky ghost not just for their own actions, but for the actions of everyone around them as well.  They strive to hate all the right things with the right level of anger, intolerance, cruelty and violence so that they can prove how good they are and spend eternity in a place full of love and light.  It’s hard to educate or reason with that level of crazy.

But there are things that anyone can do to help not just LGBT people, but people of color, and fat people, and disabled people, and people with mental health issues, and other people who face open hostility and discrimination every single day.  Educate yourself and be able to articulate facts and dismantle fiction and propaganda.  Call out your friends and family who express hatred or disapproval of one of these groups.  Learn to recognize and call out microaggressions.  Let those around you know where you stand.  Be a vocal ally.

And listen to the groups you support.  Try to understand their perspective, their needs, and what they appreciate and don’t appreciate in allies.  Make sure you’re not contributing to an issue you’re trying to help change.

What happened on June 26th was merely a baby step, and the backlash from that baby step is going to gain momentum and vitriol.  Those of us who are LGBT or LGBT allies have to step up our fight and be even louder in our demands not just for equal rights under the law, but for our fellow citizens to show us basic respect and acknowledge our humanity.  Without that, the laws mean nothing.

Marriage equality wins!!!!

 

 

 

Marriage equality wins!  Same sex marriage is now legal throughout the United States!

marriageisaboutlove-300x224

 

Yes, there will be backlash.  Yes, people will still refuse to perform ceremonies.  Yes, there will be people who will be angry and who engage in ridiculous rhetoric about sodomy and child abuse and polygamy and religious persecution.  Yes, people will continue to spread hatred.  Just because the it’s legal doesn’t mean it will be accepted – there is still a lot of work to be done by and with and for LGBT people in the U.S.

But this is an *excellent* step in the right direction.  This is a moment to celebrate.  :-)

Image above taken from this blog because I really liked it:  http://equality365.com/2015/02/interview-from-the-front-lines-of-marriage-equality-in-alabama.  I do not own this image and will further credit or remove upon request from owner.  Also, you should read this blog.  

Navel gazing vs. Self-awareness

The concept of omphaloskepsis, or the practice of gazing at one’s navel, was originally a concept associated with meditation and contemplation.  Now known more popularly as navel-gazing, it’s meant in a much more selfish context.  Now it means the act of focusing too much on oneself and one’s own experiences, and it’s in this context that I’m using it.

There’s a fine line between navel gazing and self-awareness that I didn’t always see when I was younger, and I think it’s summed up simply:  Navel gazing is when you’re only concerned about your own experiences, and how the external world impacts your individual experience.  Self-awareness is when you understand your own experiences and how they are impacted by the external world, while also understanding how you fit into and impact the external world.

Of course, I’m projecting my own opinions about what self-awareness encompasses into this definition.

Continue reading “Navel gazing vs. Self-awareness”

Delusional or just maliciously sanctimonious?

Fox News isn’t exactly known for news, or for being rational and logical.  But I’m having a hard time grasping how they could twist the Charleston shooting into a war on Christianity after the shooter himself confessed that it was racially motivated.  The level of delusion here is astounding.  And baffling.

I shared this on my Facebook page yesterday:

Capture

(FTR, I don’t actually know the gentleman who tweeted this.  I simply shared it when I saw in on FB because it was so on point.  Also I’ve seen this tweet repeated by others but it appears that this man said it first, so giving credit.)

This guy nailed it.

What I wonder is, are these people aware that it’s about race but just don’t want to have to have difficult conversations about white toxicity and therefore intentionally deny being part of a group that is culpable for this sort of hatred and violence?  Or are they truly so delusional that they really, honestly believe that this had nothing to do with race and everything to do with an attack on religion?  I can buy into the latter, given that a lot of right wing, fundamentalist brand Christians tend to have massive persecution complexes (i.e. GAY MARRIAGE AND WOMEN’S BODILY AUTONOMY IS OPPRESSING ME!) but at the same time…The. Dude. Said. He. Wanted. To. Kill. Black. People.  In the headlines this morning, it’s being said that he told police he wanted to start a race war.

Even if he hadn’t articulated it, his jacket gives it all away.  He wore that jacket intentionally.  He posted pictures of himself wearing it intentionally.  He was sending a very clear message.

This was not about religion.  This was not about gun laws.  This was not about mental illness.  This was about the white supremacist radicalization of a white male.  And I’m using the word radicalization after doing a lot of reading yesterday and seeing multiple sources point out that we need to use the right words.  We need to say ‘terrorist.’  We need to say ‘radicalization.’  I took that to heart, so I’m going to say it.  This shooter was a radicalized white supremacist terrorist.  This wasn’t about those 9 people for him so much as it was about the black community as a larger group.  And he didn’t get his ideas from nowhere.  Someone taught him these things.  Someone was active in encouraging him.  Someone was complicit in allowing these beliefs to fester, in not taking them seriously, of thinking he’d never go through with it.

I get that there are people who will do anything to avoid having difficult conversations, but to what extent are they aware?  To what extent is Fox News, and the people who get on tv and say the things that these people say, aware that racism is a very real issue?  Is it pure delusion, to the point that they really don’t grasp that racism is real and still saturates American life in all sorts of ways, or is there some part of them that knows that this was about race and are consciously denying it because they just don’t want to have to deal with it?

I don’t know why this question plagues me so much when situations like this arise, except that I truly don’t understand the mentality of racism deniers.   And I’m a context person.  I like to understand nuances.  I think it’s important to understand, even if what you learn is completely horrifying.

We’ll see if Fox News changes it’s tune any now that the shooter has admitted it was 100% racially motivated.  I’m guessing instead of denials, they’ll make excuses – mental illness will no doubt be trotted out.  They may harp on religion or the gun control debate as distraction tactics.  Or they may try to say it’s an isolated incident and not proof of ongoing, systemic racial issues.  It’ll be interesting to see how they deflect this now.  Infuriating, but interesting.

In the aftermath of the #CharlestonShooting, here are three things I’m glad to see…

I hate waking up and reading about mass shootings of any kind, but the shooting that happened in Charleston, SC yesterday is particularly difficult to process because it was so obviously a hate crime driven by blatant racism.  But in the aftermath, here are three things I’m happy to see happening…

Continue reading “In the aftermath of the #CharlestonShooting, here are three things I’m glad to see…”

Musings on disgust as a social contagion

I read an article the other day about why so many people hate the word “moist.”  I personally don’t, but I do know people who do have a strong aversion to the word, and this article explains why.  The article explains that disgust evolved to keep the body from harm, and eventually became a social mechanism to keep the “soul” from harm (their word.)

However, the idea of disgust as social contagion is really disturbing.

Continue reading “Musings on disgust as a social contagion”

Stuff You Should Read – McKinney, TX

Like many people, I’m sickened at the McKinney video.  A teenage girl, wearing only a swimsuit and crying for her mother, is not a threat to a fully dressed cop with a weapon and police training.  Her friends, teenagers who were just trying to enjoy a pool party on a warm day, were not a threat to this cop or anyone else.  They did not need to be handcuffed.  They did not even need to be spoken to harshly or disrespectfully.

Only black teens are targeted in this video.  White teens are not only let go, they are spoken to politely by the officer.  A random white dude lingers near the cop…not overtly threatening, but inserting himself into the situation as an ally to the officer, not the persecuted teens.

I’m a rage-crier myself, more prone to tears when I’m super pissed off than when I’m sad, and this video made me tear up.  The whole thing is an awful nightmarish live action demonstration of police brutality and blatant racism.  But like many people, I was particularly struck by the fact that the girl who has her hair pulled and her face slammed into the ground was crying for her mother – that, more than anything else, really hit a chord with a lot of people.  This officer is trying to act like a bikini-clad teenage girl is a threat, meanwhile the girl’s first instinct when this was happening to her was “I want my mom.”

What’s worse is that this disturbance appears to have been caused by an adult white woman – possibly a mother herself – slinging racial slurs at a bunch of teenagers.

As for the statement that “nobody was injured” – um, I beg to differ.  When you’re a teenager innocently and peacefully enjoying a pool party, who is approached by white adults using racial slurs to let you know that you’re unwelcome, and you call them out on their racism…yet you and your friends are the ones who end up handcuffed and slammed into the ground?  Yeah, that’s an injury.  It’s a *big* injury.  So don’t tell me those kids weren’t harmed – they were most definitely harmed.

As the outrage over the McKinney pool party nightmare (rightfully) continues, here are a four of the many articles I’ve read that I found particularly poignant.

McKinney pool party cop’s vicious hatred: This is the face of white rage – By Marie Myung-Ok Lee discussing the incident in McKinney, her own encounters with racism, and the “daily indignities” of systemic racism.

McKinney, Texas: Rage is Our Rightful Response to Anti-Black Racism – By Kirsten West Savali, discussing rage, racial bias, and how black children are targeted by police.

4 Shocking ways Segregation Continues to Devastate Black America – By Lawrence Brown, referencing McKinney but discussing the larger issues facing black people.  It’s not just police brutality – there are a myriad of ways that black people’s lives are made more difficult by a socioeconomic system that works to their disadvantage.

McKinney pool part incident has everything to do with race – By Dorothy A. Brown (with video), discussing how this video would not exist had these been white teenagers.  But I think what makes me the saddest about this piece, and other pieces that have said the same, is that this is considered “progress” and “a step forward” – and why?  Because none of the kids were killed by the cop.  (Very short piece – if you’re limited on time, at least read this one.)

I am sincerely and profoundly happy that the girl who was crying for her mother did get to go home to her mother.  So did all the other kids.  And as happy as I am, I can’t imagine the relief of those parents, knowing what could easily have happened – knowing that instead of comforting an upset teenager, they could be planning a funeral.  But think about that – our system is so fucked up that we consider it progress that the cop only pointed his gun, but didn’t fire it.  Just sit with that for a minute.  No parent should ever have to be grateful that the cops only threatened and brutalized their kids.

I have a message to others – if you see something like this happening, do what a bystander in McKinney did and get it on video.  My understanding is that as long as you’re not interfering with the cops and you’re at a bit of a distance, they can’t do anything to you.  They can threaten to, but legally they can’t confiscate your phone or ask you to stop recording.  (I don’t know if that’s the same in all states?  But I think it is?)  Unfortunately, video evidence is practically the only way to hold unruly authority figures accountable.  It’s harder to defend your actions or lie when it’s all on video.

Chances are, this never would have been anything more than a blip in local news, and this officer never would have been held accountable for his actions, had this incident not been caught on video.

The McKinney video is a perfect example of what institutionalized racism and police brutality look like.  This is a yet another case of “they’re black so they must be guilty of something” playing out, not only in the video, but in pro-police, mainly right-wing interpretations of the situation that have happened since.

It’s 2015, and a bunch of black teenagers were just brutalized by police because white people didn’t want them at a pool.  And in case you’ve been living under a rock, pools have a very racially-charged history in this country.   So let’s think about that – it’s 2015, and a bunch of black teenagers were brutalized because white people didn’t want to share a public space with them.  The cops were called and black teenagers were brutalized because of a “disturbance” – that disturbance being that the black teenagers refused to vacate a pool area after enduring racist commentary.

The idea that the Civil Rights Movement solved racism, and that America is now post-racial, is a dangerous delusion.  I think America is waking up to that more and more, but we have a hell of a long way to go.

Sorry, y’all, but Mad Max is not a feminist film (or particularly body positive)

It’s an itty bitty baby step in the right direction – portraying a female character who (at times) takes the lead in the action and isn’t overtly portrayed as a sex object or a sidekick. For that, I appreciate it.  But I can’t honestly say this feels like feminism…because it’s not.  At least, it’s not my feminism, and Furiosa is not my feminist hero.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead.

Continue reading “Sorry, y’all, but Mad Max is not a feminist film (or particularly body positive)”

One month later – how Nepal is faring

It took less than a month for mainstream media to begin forgetting about Nepal.  Stories of Nepal’s recovery are still being circulated, but not highlighted.

Much like Haiti, the repercussions of this quake will be felt for years to come.  What’s worse, donor fatigue is resulting in a lack of aid for communities who badly need it.  The best thing you can do if you want to help is to make a monetary donation to an organization working in Nepal rather than food or supplies.  Here are six sources from TIME magazine.

And here are some articles from the past day or two detailing what’s happening in Nepal right now:

Rebuilding Nepal to Survive the Next Quake

Nepal: with monsoon season nearing, UN races humanitarian relief to quake-affected communities

Donor fatigue hits Nepal one month after mega earthquake

Struggling amid the ruins a month after Nepal quake (with photos)

 

Putting on the scarf

I have a scarf in my closet that someone gave me for Christmas.  When I unwrapped it, I initially liked it.  I was actually surprised that someone had seen that scarf and thought of me, because I thought it was beautiful, and I was happy to have received it.

Until the person who gave it to me blurted out, “I knew as soon as I saw it that you’d like it, because I know how much you  like tacky things.”

I was incredibly hurt by that, not just because of the comment, but because for about a minute I *loved* that scarf so much, and to have that comment made to me was so deflating and so demoralizing.  I didn’t call it out then, because I didn’t have the arsenal of appropriate comebacks that I have now.  At that time, any attempt on my part to convey my hurt feelings would have resulted in an argument.  And since there were other people present, it wasn’t worth it.  But I do remember having to blink back tears and just feeling so shitty.  I didn’t really want to open any other presents, and I couldn’t really enjoy anything I got.  That one little “joke” had effectively ruined my mood for the entire day.

This was years ago, and I’ve never worn the scarf.  It sits in my closet, and every year when I do one of my bi-annual closet purges, I think, I should just give this to Goodwill.  I’m never going to wear this.

But I never do.

Continue reading “Putting on the scarf”

Seton Hall University: An example of how money overcomes morality

My alma mater is all over the national news today.  It’s in People, HuffPo, USA Today, NBC, Fox, Gawker, and many many other news sources – and for an infuriating reason.

Seton Hall University – or, more appropriately, the Archdiocese of Newark, which is a major blight on American Catholicism – has dismissed a priest who worked for Campus Ministry for tweeting support for NO H8, a campaign which supports LBGT rights that began in response to Proposition 8.  You’re probably familiar – it’s the series of photos of people with making tape over their mouths.  You can see the photos here.

Continue reading “Seton Hall University: An example of how money overcomes morality”