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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

(Repost) Mental Health Stigma

I don't have it in me to think or write right now but this is important so I thought I would repost for any who may have missed it.

Have you ever been unable to find the energy to get off of the couch for over a week and started to ask yourself, "I wonder if I stink and I just cant tell because its me?" Not only have I not done anything remotely physical, but I haven't had the energy to hold my hands over my head long enough to wash and condition my hair. So I just keep it in a ponytail and ignore my own hygiene and care altogether. My house is pretty much a wreck, too. The parts of the house I use, anyway. I gave up on going to bed a long time ago. I am on the couch. My pillow is on the couch. I have a blanket on the couch. Its too much energy to carry it all to bed every night and back in the morning.

I am too tired to take care of myself. My body doesn't have the energy. My mind doesn't have the energy. And I don't even think that bothers me any more. That is depression.

Every year I ride in a 50 mile bike tour that raises money for cancer research. I never train for it. I literally get my bike out of the shed, go to the gas station to fill the tires, and go line up for the event to ride for 50 miles. I finish my ride and come home exhausted with a body that hates me every year. Never, after finishing my ride and coming home, have I been this tired.

While raising my daughter, I always promised she would make it to Disney before she was 10. We were always poor and 10 seemed so far away. I refused to let her down, though. So the summer before she was to turn 10 I took a second full time job. Both of them required overtime. In one week I worked 96 hours. At the end of that week, I wasn't this tired.

When my dad was dying in hospice 3 hours away, I traveled to and from his bedside every weekend and spent more nights without sleep than I did manage to find sleep. I probably cried, exhausting all-encompassing cries, more in those last 3 weeks than I had in all of my life combined. By the time he passed I was not this tired.

There is a big difference between the kind of tired that comes from having run your body or mind too hard and from having run your soul too hard. I don't know the words to describe it. I'm not sure those words exist. My tired comes from having given up. The energy I have to write is the only energy that I have. My mind does not stop. My mind is tired and requires up to four naps a day, but my mind does not stop. So writing has become my outlet.

When I was an adolescent, I was diagnosed with severe depression twice. I didn't understand that depression was anything more than being sad. Mental health not only had a stigma back then, but it was often dismissed or discounted. My father had taken me for them to confirm that I was a bad kid and tell him how to fix me, not to justify my 'pity parties.' He pulled me out of them each time and determined they were quacks.

I am presently experiencing my third major depressive episode in my life. I don't know if they are precipitated by having had too much to deal with or having a chemical imbalance that makes it harder for me to deal with things that come my way, but each time I had more going on than I could find a way to endure. The first time that I was suicidal, my daughter was a toddler. I begged my parents to watch her so I could commit myself. My dad still had no use for such nonsense and told me "You created this, you fix it." Because he refused to believe in depression he thought I was looking for an escape from my life. And, as anyone would imagine, the best vacation I could think of was a mental health facility. Anyway, I did find a therapist and, with counseling and medicine, I was able to pull through it eventually. I believe now, however, and I believed then, that if I didn't have Audrey, I wouldn't have even tried.

I recently found this picture from when my daughter was little. It speaks volumes, I believe.

This episode has been much worse. My daughter is grown and off to college now. I don't have to take care of anyone. Care for myself has never even been something I have ever really thought about. Of course, that is why I find myself where I am now. I don't care. I never managed to find a value for myself beyond being a mother. Although I am still a mother, she doesn't need me to take care of her now. When my life began falling apart a year and a half ago, I had nothing to hold on to. I had nothing to fight for. I didn't need to be well. And I think my brain just kind of started giving up.

Initially around Thanksgiving of 2013 my life hit a wall that no one could have ever seen coming. I still can't talk or write about it because the tragedy is not just mine. But the pain and its mark will, undoubtedly, be with me for the rest of my life. At that time I only had my job to hold on to. I have always been loyal to my work and proud of my work ethic. Aside from Audrey, my job was the other thing I found external from myself to attribute my own value to. Even while things were collapsing personally, I managed to keep up my workload, but often had tears streaming down my face while I was doing it. Because of this I told my manager what I was dealing with so she understood because it must've looked very unprofessional. Having told her, I was sure, she would understand.

At this time I was 41 years old. I had been ignoring all evidence of an anxiety disorder for years. I really didn't even know that anxiety was a disorder, to be honest. I had accepted claims from those who knew me that said I was 'high strung' or 'neurotic' as truths. It was just the way I was. It didn't make me a bad person so I just figured it was my nature and never thought more about it. My body had been telling me for almost 20 years that it was more than just quirkiness but I had always found ways to ignore it. Hives. "Sure people get those." My back would go out and make me immobile but x-rays would find nothing wrong with me. "I must've pulled something and forgotten." My stomach would get incredibly sick every time I was upset. "What did I eat this time?"

So last year I guess my mind finally determined that it would give me a sign I could not ignore. My body literally betrayed me. In public. My boss, who knew that I was already on the edge and suffered from severe depression had been harassing me to a level which was so bad that by the time the legal department saw the evidence of both the harassment and Human Resources deciding to completely ignore and, thus, condone it, they offered me a settlement check to never tell anyone what she had done. But one day her harassment pushed me over the edge and my heart was pounding so hard I could feel it and hear it pounding in my ear. I was hot like I was immediately sick with a high fever. My entire body started shaking and I couldn't control or stop it. And my breathing was out of control where I could not catch my breath. I literally thought I was going to die from not being able to breathe. It was terrifying. I had no idea what was going on. Before that I day I thought a 'panic attack' was something else. "I'm having a panic attack" is a phrase people used when they were stressed out. I had no idea its actual reference was to a complete physical collapse.

I went for months after that day completely unable to leave my home. I was diagnosed with agoraphobia. It pissed me off. I finally looked it up and read that it is very common with people who have panic attacks, especially after their first, because your subconscious is trying to protect you from having a similar situation. I then accepted that this was a thing and that it made sense why it was happening. But I can also completely rationalize that it is irrational. So it still pisses me off.

Ironically, I honestly think that if my anxiety didn't keep my mind going at this seemingly fast pace (although compared to what my life usually offers when not combined with depression its not really fast at all), I would probably already be dead. The writing is the only evidence I have that something inside me is trying to counter my daily revelations that I would rather be dead. The fact that my life insurance doesn't pay out if I kill myself is the only thing that has kept me from thinking seriously about finding a way out.

I feel like my world is so dark that if I didn't have something to focus on I could actually fall asleep and just not wake up. I could stop eating and drinking. I already ignore the phone and repel visitors. My writing allows me to look outside of myself, like I always have. I can focus on something else and ignore whatever hurts. I'm sure that's not healthy. But spending time inside my mind isn't, either.

Of course, because I can't leave my house, I don't have a job. And because I don't have a job, I cannot afford insurance. So I am, at present, on a very long waiting list for psychiatric care. My writing is my distraction and my care at this time. To prevent a panic attack I don't even spend time thinking about what kind of anxiety I will have to deal with whenever I finally have a psychiatric appointment and it is time to leave my house and go to an unknown place to meet an unknown person and offer them my life story and my fears and entrust them with my mental care. That complete notion is so overwhelming that I cannot find the words to express it properly. That is probably the worst thing about mental health issues. You won't find them in an x-ray or in blood work. And I don't imagine I am the only intelligent person with a large vocabulary who cannot find the words to tell you just how terrifying and awful it is to be in this place.

That's where I am. That's what I call depression.

But for many in our society its easier to just call it lazy. Or crazy.

And that's a shame.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Yes, Virginia, There Is A War On Women

Please take a moment to watch the above. It is only one minute long. It is true. It is a fact. I wrote about this a couple of months ago and was shocked by how many people (many women) wanted to argue with me about their belief that it was a lie.

This is why the laws we have aren't enough. Again, it is just one minute. And it is SO Important.

Okay. So we are now all starting from the same place. I admit that I am a Mean Progressive, but I am lovely to all people with open minds and I sincerely hope that this message gets out to all women, regardless of party affiliation. It is time for us to put an end to this ridiculous patriarchy we have been dealing with since we got here. 

Last weekend, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a Regressive group, held a conference in Washington DC and, curiously, the only thing you can find about it in the news is a "reported" bomb threat. You know, because the Christians in this fine nation of ours are under constant threat by all who mean to persecute them. I promise the threat was one they created themselves so they could have a means of documenting their persecution just two days after they tried to tell America that a massacre in an historical southern black church was because of their faith.

All of the Regressive hopefuls for the presidency were there and pandered to their base. The jaw-dropping revelation was that one of their noted speakers was Phyllis Schlafly. She is like 90 something. Not kidding. Apparently it has not yet occurred to those in the GOP that when your esteemed speaker on women's issues has to be helped on the stage and needs to use a walker to get to the podium, it may be time to consider condemnations about your attempts to take women back to the 50's. Not only is she the physical embodiment of that truth, as she dons a dress which was certainly fashionable then, but she narrates it quite gloriously, too.

Schlafly literally opened her speech by bragging that the very room they were standing in was the one she was in when they were able to bury the ERA in 1982. When I watched it I caught myself before I let "Bitch!" come out as I recognized she is elderly. But then I realized she is also a bitch. And I let it go! She went on to tout the glories of conservatism and the needs to maintain their views. She sincerely believes that it is a bad idea for women to make as much money as men because they will find themselves unable to land a man as their egos will be bruised. The entire purpose of being a woman, according to Schlafly, is to be a wife and a mother. She publicly denounces income equality often. She even said, "The best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap." And do not misunderstand me, she said this last year.

(Here is a link if you want to see her speech, she comes on at 1:08:00. The entire thing is 4 hours)

It is telling that this was the conservative leader who was invited to speak last weekend. This was the voice the Regressive Party wanted to offer to the women of their party. These were the reminders the leaders of their party believed they needed to hear. In 2015.

At this convention all of the Regressive wannabes took the stage, one after another, demanding the right for women to control their own bodies be taken away. We were reminded of proud cuts to Planned Parenthood, successful attempts to shut down various abortion clinics, passing partial birth abortion bans, etc. And the crowd cheered for them all. This was the message they wanted to hear. In 2015.

Of course this is a group who apparently only have two things on their agenda: #1 Demand our nation allow absolutely anyone to build an arsenal without a 3 day cooling off period. #2 Demand a woman have very little opportunity to choose what to do with her own body but if she can find her way to the resources needed, she needs a 3 day cooling off period.

How has it been nearly 100 years and the ERA has been unable to be ratified in 2/3 of these United States? I don't know? We are mothers. Maybe it is in our nature to worry about taking care of everyone else's needs and that has allowed the movement to go unheard. But, as mothers, it is time to recognize what society we are building for our daughters. It is not selfish to demand equality for ourselves. And it certainly isn't selfish to fight for the generations of women who will follow us. We are sharing this country and not sharing the same rights to it. And that's bullshit.

Presently the Regressive Party War on Women is moving along quite well. Of course, they have Mike Huckabee trying to explain that it is a War for Women. But, Mike, you see, a war for women doesn't assume that we don't have the capacity for reasoned judgment to determine what we can do with our own bodies or families. A war for women doesn't tell my employer that they are entitled to religious objections to my family planning choices. A war for women does not allow for funds directed to DNA testing of rape kits to be misappropriated and ensure the rapists freedom while endangering more women and perpetuating my fear. A war for women doesn't give us statistical proof of our earning a fraction of what men earn and tell us we are overreacting to demand better. And a war for women certainly doesn't champion the work of the woman who battled tirelessly to kill the Equal Rights Amendment.

So, Thanks Mike, but we will take it from here. We will carry the mantle you have managed to drop, kick and set ablaze. It is our work. It is our responsibility to inform all women that they are not remotely entitled to the freedoms they think they are. And it is important to do that while pointing out the myriad rights which are presently being taken away.

Let us not wait for the 100th anniversary of the first attempt to raise our voices.

These are my ideas to start:

You can start by going here to sign a new petition.

You can go to the ERA website to find answers to whatever questions you have running through your head.

You can go here to find your Senator and here to find your Congressperson  and send them an email or a fax NOW. Save their phone number in your phone. Set your phone to remind you to call them during their office hours and DO IT. The reason the right has such an amazing field game is they have organized their crazies to do this daily. And that is why their base is so strong.

Make a list of 5 (or more) women you know who will be pissed to realize that the ERA has never passed. And insist they do the same.

Woody Allen Deserves No Quarter

Last night Bill Maher was quick to support Woody Allen when they were discussing the Bill Cosby rape allegations. Maher said that he would offer 'quarter' to Allen and insinuated that his accuser (Mia Farrow) had a personal reason to make accusations and that it was different. I make few distinctions between rapists and child molesters. It is hard for me to believe that any thoughtful person could with what we do know about Allen, regardless of whether or not he was ever found guilty.

It always disgusts me to hear Woody Allen celebrated. Do we not have enough off-beat comedic talents that we can't spare just one? The fact that he has maintained his career and continues to draw the biggest celebrities to be in his movies is, frankly, disturbing. The charges of molestation against his own adopted daughter, Dylan, were never filed in 1992 by the prosecutor who cited that there was potential for instability during a trial due to the child accusers instability. Their having gone unfiled had nothing to do with credibility or evidence. I don't need those charges to be true to loathe him, however. I find his lacking morality cause enough to believe the child and find him repulsive.

When Allen started his affair with Soon-Yi, not only was he supposed to have been her father-figure, but he was in a relationship with her mother. Her mother discovered the affair by finding naked photos of her daughter taken by Allen. Obviously this discovery precipitated the end of their family. That is a lot of weight for any child, but especially an adoptee, to bear. And how long had the relationship been going on? His having had the affair and then advising her to keep their secret is not only a blatant disregard for the family of which they were both members, but overt evidence of grooming techniques attributed to pedophiles. He destroyed the security of Soon-Yi and all of her adopted brothers and sisters. Whatever role or bond that each of the family members was meant to have had was made irrelevant and completely destroyed. Imagine explaining to a child that their sister would now be having the relationship that their mother had had with the man who had been their father-figure, and actual father to one, Ronan. (but I'm still pulling for that Sinatra rumor to be true).

Of course, he reminds everyone that he was neither her legal father nor biological. Right. No, sure. That makes sense. Never mind the fact that you were the father-figure in her home from the age of 10; or that you knew her as a young, broken and vulnerable child acclimating to a new country, language, home and family. There is no rational way for that familial relationship to ever gravitate into a romantic one. It was your responsibility as a guardian to make her feel safe in her new life. Piece of shit.

If society can accept this behavior, adoption should be outlawed because every child's emotional development and stability are at risk. If these are the mindsets of those raising our adopted children, how are they supposed to grow up strong with self-respect; with a feeling of connectedness and security? As best I can tell, the only accessory that never goes out of style in Hollywood is the adopted child. But they line up to kiss his ass. Does no one look at their own family and question what type of monster Allen must be? I believe in the goodness of people. I believe everyone deserves a chance until they give you a reason to question their character. I believe Allen has more than gone out of his way to prove his own repulsive character. As long as Hollywood continues to revere him, they bare their own character, as well.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Are Temper Tantrums A Good Campaign Strategy?

Not gonna lie ... I cannot think of a single physical torture anyone could lay on me that would make me vote for a Republican. However, just watching from the outside, I feel confident that I would not vote for a Democrat or Independent who behaved the way those on the right have behaved this week. What must those in the center be thinking? Honestly!

This was the headline on Mike Huckabee's blog today where he railed over SCOTUS' decision on marriage equality. So, ummm... if you were, say, President, and you decided to resist and reject the judiciary, wouldn't that make you a tyrant? Moron.

He said the court was out of control yesterday, too. When they upheld the Affordable Care Act (say those three words in your head - wonder why they needed to give it another name?) he just wanted to lose his mind. This Christian will not abide living in a country where everyone has access to affordable healthcare. God. Dammit!

Ted Cruz had a fit yesterday, too. He, along with the rest of the GOP hopefuls, cannot interpret what the court ruling said. They all believe that they are going to be able to get rid of Obamacare. Never mind what they said in the ruling. No. Really. You have to have something to rail about, right?

Teddy hasn't commented yet on today's ruling. But last week he did tell a congregation, oops sorry, I mean conference attendees, "I would encourage everyone here to be lifting up in prayer the court that they not engage in an act of lawless judicial activism." So I assume he will be upset. Dick.

Bobby Jindals reply to Obamacare being upheld is almost comical. Its comical in the way that I like to laugh at people who are really assholes and say nonsense, not like a funny joke or anything. He was really pissed off because the Supreme Court didn't take away healthcare from millions of people based on semantics. Jindal demanded that the Supreme Court does not have the final say in the land . because ... yeah.

Of course, Mister Christian was all aflutter over SCOTUS' support of marriage equality today. It is curious. Im not kidding. I cannot have a rational discussion with someone and come out of it understanding how in the FUCK your religious liberties are diminished by another persons happiness.

I don't want to bark too loudly. Maybe they don't realize what they sound like to rational people. I just hope enough of them are paying attention. Good Gravy!

America the BEAUTIFUL

There is nothing special here. I want to just save this for myself in the future. This was the best week to be a Liberal in a very long time. Monday the Republican governor of Alabama took down the Confederate flags on the statehouse. By himself. He didn't wait for the legislature to allow him to do it. He just did it. It was instigated by an awful event and the tragedy will be with us forever. I hope more progress continues to come from their loss to honor them.

Yesterday Obamacare was upheld by SCOTUS. The Republicans in Congress have little else to signify their time in DC other than trying to take down Obamacare (because why would anyone think it was acceptable to give affordable healthcare for all?) and having hearings on Benghazi. The way that the findings were written made it almost impossible for anyone to try to take it down again. Now people will have to just work toward making it the best resource for all Americans.

And then today .... I swear when Audrey was a baby I envisioned the country having marriage equality by the time she grew up and entered the world, but I thought there were too many backward people in the world. IT PASSED. In the Supreme Court!!! And even though the GOP likes to turn every single thing into a states rights issue so they can influence their own courts and define their own little fucked up world, the court made this for the whole country. SO SUCK IT!!! And all of my brothers and sisters in the country can marry who they love and my world became more beautiful today.

My favorite headline today? Slate:

Hey! Here's a map of where gay marriage is legal in America!

Bill O'Reilly Fanboy Gets His Turn

Sometimes I like to record the Fox cable channel with the word 'news' in its title when big things happen in politics. Maybe I'm a sadist? Or a masochist? Since I don't know the difference, maybe not. But because Obamacare was upheld by the Supreme Court yesterday I just had to see what O'Reilly had to say about it. But he wasn't on. Apparently the night before Bill O'Reilly lost his shit. He went off on the idea that the right are racists and said that America is not racist. Basically, the problem with the black community is ... the blacks. They don't have normal family units and they have shitty neighborhoods and they have shitty schools. He is not a racist by pointing that out. The left have "the gall" to point out that America is a white supremacist nation? He kept saying that. I don't remember ever having heard anyone saying that the entire nation was filled with white supremacists. I remember hearing a lot of talk about our history. Our actual history. But then, we know that Bill rewrites history for a living, so maybe he is just confused by now about which are actually the facts.

Bill had a tirade about racism so crazy that made it in the news (the point, if I am not mistaken). And then he was not at work last night. So maybe he needed a little cooling off period? Maybe he is on suspension? Maybe he is getting fired? OOOHhhh let us all start rumors, shall we? That is what he would do. Or maybe he finally got arrested for domestic violence? Who knows.

Anyway, in his absence a little mongrel named Jesse Watters filled in. He has no charisma. And he is an asshole. He talks straight out of his ass. He is perfect for this channel. In his defense for America not being a racist country he talked about a childhood memory playing with a toy of the car from the Dukes of Hazzard. He waxed poetic about his memories of the show he loved when he was growing up. He then shows a picture and says, "What is this? The General. The Robert Lee. The Robert E Lee." Right. Having been an actual fan of the show I can tell you it is called none of those. He was born in 1978. The show started in 79 and ended when he was 5. I'll bet he doesn't have too many fond memories of the show. But whatever. I just needed that moment because I hate when people bastardize childhood memories and don't know what they're talking about. Sorry. I am easily distracted.

In the first segment this asshole, Watters, speaks to Clay Cane, editor from, and introduces him by reminding him the night before O'Reilly determined the disintegration of the black family here in America, "I know you would agree that is one of the biggest problems, if not the biggest problem. How does white supremacy create out of wedlock births in the black community?" Just take that in for a moment. Asshole.

Poor Cane tried to answer respectfully and say that there is a lot more to it and began explaining that we have a history of laws and policy that are supposed to undo the centuries of racism, slavery and Jim Crow, however all of the damage done to the community won't be miraculously erased in 50 years and by saying racism is no longer an issue while the fact of its history and maintenance are negated. Which, to all thinking people would then be answered by a, "Duh." But Watters is obviously not one of us. He replied, "You didn't answer the question of whether or not white supremacy causes African American men to not get married to women they have babies with." And then he offered him no time to respond. Again. Take a moment with that. He dismissed the man telling him that the reason we are dealing with racism is because we dismiss the discussion. This guy is perfect for this channel.

The interview then goes to the other black man on the panel, Jason Riley, a Washington Post columnist and Fox News Contributor. Watters confirms the talking points about the left scaring blacks into believing that the right are racists so they won't vote for them. (Apparently, having missed the entire discussion he just had with Mr. Cane), Riley agreed and said that racism is used by the left as a weapon to shut down debate. Again. While sitting next to the man who tried to just have a thoughtful debate.

Watters cut back into the conversation to remind Cane that we have made a lot of progress because "we have Obama and Oprah. And we gave 'them' affirmative action, the welfare state, Obamacare; all of these programs to make sure the sins of slavery have been eradicated." Cane tried to come back with discussions about gentrification but neither Watters nor Riley were letting him have it.

Watters concluded the interview by telling Cane, "people come to America from all over the world, not because its racist, but because its a great nation." Exactly. He said that to a black man who is here because his ancestors were brought to be slaves while denying both any racism in our history or our present. In the next segment he invited a nice young white woman to come on and determine whether or not she thought America was a racist society. Surprisingly, she only thinks there are racists on the left. They told us that the entire thing about Charleston was spun by the President wanting to use the race card.

And this is why my country is in the place it is. These assholes have a voice. And an audience.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Every once in a while members of black communities rise up. They have always been pushed there. It is never unprovoked. It has been after many failings of society as a whole to acknowledge what harm we allow to be inflicted based on race and excuse it or ignore it altogether. The talk that comes out about the rioting uses the pronoun 'they,' which always pisses me off. There is an almost accepted idea in society that every individual involved in the rioting is a representative of every American with dark skin. It also occurs to me that every time I have heard mention of the killer in the massacre of nine innocent souls in their house of worship last week, he has been offered to me as a lone wolf.

The people who rise up in anger and the white monsters who aspire to terrorism are both coming from the same place.  No one in our society can disassociate themselves from either of them. We have created these situations and we allow their maintenance. The communities of color rise up when society has failed them too many times and their rage gets the best of them. The white monsters commit atrocities because we tell ourselves they are acting solely of their own accord from a place no one can understand. Its a lot easier that way, isn't it? I understand it, though. I understand that he heard a lot of racist rhetoric in his life, from one place or another. He heard people tell him that he is superior to people of color. He listened to groups on the internet that supported those ideas and gave him bullshit 'scientific' support of his hatred. And I am sure that we will learn sooner or later (if anyone decides to report it to us, that is) that he spent much of his time listening to the extreme right wing radio bastards and watching the Fox cable channel with the word 'news' in its title.

We allow hate. We say that the people who spread the lies are exercising their freedom of speech. We say that, even if they are supposed to be exercising their freedom of the press, they are still entitled to say whatever they want. We do that so we can look the other way and wave our hands in the air and deem it someone else's problem. Of course, that is why we are still dealing with states condoning Confederate flags on their statehouses 150 years after the traitorous flag had become only a relevant historical artifact. I don't know how communities of color haven't been in perpetual riots. It is a grace I will never understand. And I hope the rest of us can take a moment to acknowledge that and rise to that level of decorum to begin a move forward. Together.

Last week was so hard for the country. We are repeatedly handed opportunities to see our failings and sincerely make a change. Collectively we opt out. Every time. This time seems to be different, though. We were offered a very personal look at the families who lost their loved ones in the massacre when they were in court and each of them, with shaking voices full of sorrow and tears, offered forgiveness to the killer. That is grace. That is a beauty we don't see in our society. That is in exact contradiction to what the hateful racists of the world were telling us their community was going to do. Those very least among us were hoping for another riot. They wanted to see the community outraged and attempt to revolt so America could remind itself that 'they' are angry. Instead we were offered grace. And love. And genuine beauty.

I read "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," by Maya Angelou when I was 20. The book changed me. I ended up reading everything she had ever written and determined that she was speaking for me. I had finally found someone to identify with. It is curious, to be sure. I am a white woman from another generation who grew up in Ohio and had exactly zero of the same life experiences that Maya did. The best I can explain it is to say that she received and interpreted the world the way that I did. She had a personal connection to life and lives and felt her own attachment to them. She found a way to relay her understandings through her writing and was not apologetic for it. My emotional attachments were something I had never been able to accept about myself because no one else had. Maya gave a companion to my feelings and understandings and because they came from her so beautifully, I was able to love and respect myself in a way I could never have done before. I still remind myself of her grace when I think of the woman I want to work toward becoming.

When I read Maya Angelou's poem "And Still I Rise" as a young woman, I misinterpreted it. I thought that because of her many life experiences she was telling all of the people who had ever looked down on her that their opinions were irrelevant. But I kept hearing lines from the poem in my head last week whenever the news would play a clip of the families in the courtroom. That was who she was speaking about. That was about the unified black experience. The unified black soul continues to rise. And it juxtaposed with things that white America chooses to see. And what white America refuses to see. 

I see it. I hope everyone can take time and give a loving, thoughtful reflection on Maya Angelou's words here. I hope we can all aspire to rise. Together. 

(I hope I am not disrespecting anyone by posting it. I have no idea how to get approval or if it is necessary).

And Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dear Media: Grow Up!

America has been given yet another opportunity to begin sincere dialogue about the problems we have with racism in our society. We have them at least once a month now. The reason we know about the events is because you report them to us. Then, tragically, you turn every single event into something fantastical that can get you ratings. 

Every. Single. Time.

I feel confident that the reason you ignore important discussions is because you know that most Americans don't want to hear it. They are quite content in their little bubbles where societal issues don't affect them. You fear they will turn the channel and watch some other network give them 24/7 nonsense. As a journalistic outfit, can you not just accept that and do your job? Can you not make it important to give America the information that they need?

Today Marc Maron's podcast, WTF, had an interview with President Obama. The interview was a revelation. We were offered thoughtful and candid reflections from our leader about the issues of race in America. These are issues that are traditionally ignored by those in leadership because they don't want to offend anyone in their base or be called out for saying something insensitive. We finally had a deep conversation with our President. You are all telling us that he used the N- word. Are you fucking kidding me? It literally gave me a vision of you sitting at your desk in third grade, raising your hand with your mouth  making an 'ooo' and begging the teacher to call your name so you can say, "Ooohhhh, teacher, Johnny said the N- word."


The entire point of his having said it was to point out that just because those in society don't hear the words use as often doesn't mean the same supremacy that used to allow it doesn't still exist. He gave you something to tell us. If you truly were journalists the discussion would have started right there. You have plenty of news clips you could've shown of many politicians and pundits on the right using coded language to incite their base.

Here. Let me get you started. Take these videos and begin the dialogue in our discourse regarding why it is still acceptable for Americans to be full of hate and believe that racism is still a part of our political world.

Last week offered us plenty of opportunities to sincerely discuss race with the comments coming from the right. Their inability to empathize about how hurtful the Confederate flag would be to the descendents of slaves while supporting the people who see the flag as a proud symbol of their heritage (a heritage of their ancestors fighting for the right to maintain slavery) should be profound enough, but it was ignored and offered to us as just a matter of fact.

Here we have Lindsey Graham explaining why the Confederate Flag is an important symbol of the South and then he literally waves his hands as if to say 'over there' and says they have an "African American memorial." The memorial is, obviously, a throw away. And the pain the flag causes and its symbolism adopted by racist groups is, too.

Remember Charles Murray? The white trash piece of shit who wrote the Bell Curve? Right. The guy who wrote about how whites are genetically predisposed to superiority over blacks. Just this year in an interview Jeb Bush was questioned about solving the issues of income disparity and he went into a talk about welfare and, without encouragement, went into explaining how his ideas are shaped by Charles Murray. The rest of his answer was about welfare, and because of who he quoted, he was obviously talking about black people being the problem.

Rick Santorum telling a group of white people about how its not fair to give the black people welfare money that white people earn.

Instead of focusing on the President reminding us that racism exists, maybe give America an opportunity to reflect on why it is still deemed socially acceptable. Just last week Donald Trump, while kicking off a campaign to be our President offered us a nice look into the mentality:

Mike Huckabee is forever condemning the President for fighting against the Jews and Christians. This is his dog whistle reminder to their racist base who need to hear reminders about the rumors they started about President Obama being a Muslim and means to support Jihadists. He tells us that everything the President does is against the Jews and Christians (just like Jihadists).

 Here he tells us he was proud to have a black President and now he realizes that Obama doesn't want America to succeed. They are always telling their base that the President is sincerely trying to ruin the country.

The Chinese (all of them, apparently) lack imagination and are thieves

Maybe you could just discuss this for a single moment (from earlier this year):

Oh. By the way. Here is a journalist who gets it. Maybe give him a call and ask how its done. Editorializing is, in fact, necessary sometimes. If you do not editorialize you offer the Republican faithful only the dog whistles they are being sent without offering any rationality or asking thoughtful Americans to consider why they are hearing things they find offensive.

It is unfathomable that you all get to call yourselves journalists and then behave as if you are either employed by a tabloid or the Fox cable channel with the word 'news' in its title. 

As often as the politicians on the right offer us examples of how large swaths of human beings can be immediately dismissed or worse, you never find it important to report on that. You are literally complicit in the racism so pervasive in our society when you give a voice to the racist actors and do not either condemn them or ask your audience for reflection. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Little Bit of Cancer

Originally Written February 4, 2015

Today isn't the anniversary of my dads passing, but for some reason I always think it is before I correct myself. We lost him on the 6th. On the 4th, which was a Friday, I scheduled the day off from work and Audrey from school so we could have a long weekend with my dad. Because I always wake up at the crack of dawn, Audrey and I made it from Columbus to the hospital in Akron before everyone who lived up there. I was sitting in a chair by the window being quiet so I didn't wake him up when the doctor came in and shook my hand. I imagine there had to have been some type of other conversation first, but I only remember him saying, "Your father isn't going to wake up again." I really wanted to be mad at the doctor, but I didn't have the energy. I literally felt deflated.

Earlier that week my mom called and said he was making a remarkable recovery. He was talking and eating and she thought they might let him go home. I believed their sending him home meant he was getting better. No man has ever lived who was as tough as my dad. The last time I'd seen him, the weekend prior, he was in really rough shape and made no sense when he spoke. If anyone could have recovered from that state, it would be him. Sadly, what I didn't understand at the time was, my dad wanted to die at home. His pain was so overwhelming that they couldn't control it outside of hospice. My mom just told me my dad might be able to go home to die. I thought he was recovering. She never called back to tell me things had changed. She probably couldn't bear the thought of my reaction.

I have always kind of just accepted that the rest of my family kept a lot of things from me. I am very sensitive and don't deal with suffering very well, especially if it's a loved one. I'm not sure if they do it to make it easier on me or themselves, but I am glad to play along. My dad had had a cancer diagnosis three years prior and he called to tell me that they found "a little bit of cancer." Im sure that was meant to soften the blow. He never told me, however, that this "little bit of cancer" diagnosis also came with a prognosis of six months to live. He was very willful and no one doubted that he would perservere. I checked on his progress all of the time. He or my mom would update me and say he was doing radiation or he was doing chemotherapy and they were working. The doctors were taking good care of him. That is what I wanted them to tell me and they were good enough to oblige. I wasn't ever going to be prepared for anything more than this generic back and forth we had created. I was never going to be able to accept that we could lose him. My dad and I hadn't fixed everything yet. I hadn't come to the place in my life where he was proud of me yet. He was Audrey's only real father-figure and he couldn't leave her. She was getting ready to graduate. He was going to walk her down the aisle one day. I just wanted to live in a world where a little bit of cancer was really a thing.

I now know that my dads cancer progressively worsened and spread to other parts of his body over those three years. After various attempts in Ohio, my dad had flown to Texas for special treatment where they had come up with a new plan of attack and, as far as I knew, it was working. Not long before the end when he was admitted to the hospital, I was on the phone with my sister turning from Broad St. onto Waggoner Rd. when she said, "Yeah. And now it's in his brain." The conversation immediately went silent as I pulled into the Meijer parking lot to prepare my mind to process what she had said, while Dawn, it was clear, had just realized she wasn't supposed to tell me that. I was upset and accusatory. In that moment, it was an insult to me that my family had kept secrets. Apparently, they had even determined that Audrey was strong enough to know more than I did. Of course, my willingness to play along had brought me to this moment and it was just as much my fault as anyone else's. To be honest, I was probably more angry that she told me anything at all. I was pissed that I was going to have to now step out of my bubble and believe that the toughest man I would ever know was really suffering. And mortal.

One morning, after I learned that the cancer had spread, Audrey and I were in the car on the way to school and she said, " Mom, stop saying that." I have this thing where everything I think comes out of my mouth. I wasn't even aware that I was talking. I knew what I must've said, though, because it was the sentence on repeat in my head, "I hate you." Over and over I thought it and, apparently said it. I apologized to Audrey and told her,"I wasn't talking about you, baby. I hate cancer." She said, " I know." She knew. She is such a gift. I was telling cancer that I hated it. It's a pretty strange and irrational thing to have on repeat, but she knew and understood me in that moment. I was absolutely wrecked inside. I would sit at my desk at work and tears would silently stream down my face for days in a row.

The truth was too much to handle. My mind raced constantly. It's so unfair! He never smoked. Ever. He shouldn't get lung cancer, I should. He just has to get to retire and drag mom all around the country in an RV. That "ignorance is bliss" bit is true. It's so nice not knowing. But my dad was in a really bad place and I had to accept that he might not pull through. I had to start preparing myself in case it happened. But all I could think was, " I hate cancer."

When the time came, I wasn't ready. I never came to terms with any of it. Unfortunately, the only thing I learned, aside from the fact that I definitely hate cancer, was that I really like my bubble. It doesn't matter why I'm kept out of the loop on things. I could never have handled three years of watching him suffer and knowing he was going to die. I forgot to eat most of the time during the 3 weeks he was in hospice and lost over 10 pounds. I looked disgusting. I couldn't sleep. I would lie in bed and just worry about my dad.

Those last two days were unbearable. His pain was so bad that while I was talking to him and holding his hand his body shuddered. My aunt told me I was hurting him. I hurt him by holding his hand. That was it for me that day. I couldn't stop crying so I stayed in the hospice TV room. I didn't want to cry in front of him.

The day dad died I was numb. I had found the strength to say the words, "You have to let go now, dad," the day before without my voice betraying the face he couldn't see. I wasn't ready for him to go, of course, but he was in so much pain that even I had finally resigned myself that there was no way to come back from the state he was in. That morning, after he had gone and everyone had been informed, my family gathered around him and I felt calmed by knowing that he was no longer in pain. But I still hated cancer.

A Parting Gift

Originally Written February 6, 2015

My father was a single parent from the time I was 2 until he remarried when I was 5. I was the apple of his eye. He thought I was the cutest thing ever. He was totally right, of course. In July of 1978 he married the woman I now call my mother who had a daughter that was 3 years older and a son who was 5 days older than me. We were all going to be in the ceremony.

My dad and I went into the entrance of our church with the long hallway. This time, though, we turned right immediately and walked a hall I'd never been down. It was probably the only place there I hadn't yet explored. We went to a very large, old church with lots of mysterious alcoves to explore. My future brother and I went on adventures every Sunday while the grown ups talked after services. We knew this was the hall we had to avoid. I was with my dad, but it still felt like I was getting away with something. This curious path ended up leading to the doors the reverend would come out of each Sunday. This time, though, my dad and I came out of them. Together. We met up with my new mom, brother and sister and we all committed to be a family.

I was going to have to share my dad now. He was the only person that I knew really loved me. For sure. I was uncertain about our new additions, but I was also glad to have more people in my family. My dad worked a lot. I spent much of my time with babysitters or in the alterations department at the store with our seamstress, Norma Needle. (I can promise you that Needle wasn't really her last name, but I honestly don't ever remember her having had another). Now I would stay home all of the time and be with my family every day.

We never referred to one another as step-. We were brother, sister, mom and dad. It was very Brady of us. It felt right, though. My mother was garbage and so was their father, so we all easily acclimated into our new roles. There were plenty of ups and downs growing up, but I think we were pretty much a normal American family with a mom who was too soft, a dad who was too hard and, eventually, three pain in the ass teenagers.

I was always very aware of my fathers disappointment in me when I would let him down. He never seemed to be as upset at Dawn and Scott when they screwed up. They always seemed to get lighter sentences, too. I thought he was harder on me because he liked them better. Looking back, I think he was disappointed because of our first five years together. He knew me as a sweet, loving, perfect little girl. It was probably a lot harder for the two Angies to coexist in his mind. As much as I disappointed him, he never stopped loving me, though. I knew that. I used to joke around when I would call the store. Whichever of the girls answered, if they would ask, " Can I tell him who's calling?" I would always answer, "Tell him it's his favorite daughter." A part of me was kidding. But a part of me knew that it was true.

My dad was a caretaker by nature. All of us kids have stories of his generosity. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008, Audrey had just started at a very nice private school that I really couldn't afford. I gave my Jetta back to the bank and got an absolute piece of shit so I could make my monthly payments to her school. It needed fixed so often that I should've kept the Jetta. I had to borrow money from my parents sometimes to cover the repairs. My dad wasn't really sold on the idea of the private school at the time but he knew I was doing my best to give Audrey an education equal to her abilities. So he helped. He said he believed that when his kids were doing the right thing, he wanted to support that. We could've argued about whether or not I had been doing well before then, but I can just resolve that " the right thing" is subjective. At least he thought I was on the right track before he left us. Because he had just been diagnosed and (now I understand) given six months to live, he bought me a car. It was only two years old and had 14,000 miles on it. He told me he wasn't going to leave this Earth and have to worry about Audrey and I on the side of the road in the Buick. I didn't remind him that we both had cell phones and I had my annual AAA gift from he and mom. I graciously received the car. It meant everything to me. That is one small example. I do believe my dad would've left my mom a millionaire if it hadn't been for his generosity and care for others.

When my dad was in the hospital, and then hospice, I wanted desperately to return his many favors and care for him. I'd have done absolutely anything to bear his pain. There really is no more helpless feeling than watching someone you love suffer and having no capacity to do anything for them. I had memorized all of the "safe" zones on all of his monitors. I would harass his poor nurses whenever he was out of range. I could at least make sure that the people who could help him were doing all they could. I'm sure they wanted to kick me in the head.

On February 6, 2011, I woke up and looked around. It was still dark outside and everyone was still asleep. We had all made camp in the hospice family room and were sleeping in chairs. I went to the bathroom then headed down the hall to see dad. The nurse had told us what each of the final stages would be like step by step. We noted each step. They each took time. Hours. I passed mom and Scott in the hallway. Mom said that my dad had just entered the final stage of shallow breathing. We all figured that would be a long one, too. Mom and Scott were heading down to the cafeteria to get everyone some breakfast. I'm sure dad was tickled that they finally left. I know that he wouldn't want to go while anyone was there. Of course, then I walked in and blew it. I sat down beside him and wished him a good morning. His breathing was very obviously different. I was making small talk to him. I said,"I haven't even seen a mirror yet today. I'll bet I look like a witch." I walked into the little bathroom in his room and ran wet fingers through my hair. I went back and sat down beside him again. He was gone.

I could finally hold his hand again without hurting him. I told him how much I loved him while I cried and tried to catch my breath. I paused for a moment before I called mom and Scott to come back. I realized that I had just been so fortunate to have awakened at the exact moment that I did. I was with my dad when we entered our family and I got to be with him when he left. I felt guilty for being selfish, but I felt like he was just a little bit more mine than anyone else's. And I felt honored to have been given that final moment alone with my dad.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Plan to Have the Flag Down By Monday

From every interview of the Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, it is clear that she has no compassion or understanding about the pain perpetuated by flying the Confederate flag atop the state house.

From this debate, her interest in removing the flag would only be compelled by the CEOs of the major corporations which call South Carolina home.

These are the top 22 large corporations in America which have a a major presence in South Carolina with a copy of their Twitter handles. You can also go to their Facebook page. You can send them a message or you can write them a letter. If enough people compel them to act they will do so. Their only interest is in maintaining their good name. And, apparently, Nikki Haley's only interest is in making these corporations happy.

If you want to forward a letter to Nikki Haley there is one here you are welcome to use.

By Monday, if these corporations are threatened by enough customers of a boycott, they will become involved. 

Please help in the effort.

Mean Progressive

Please also take a moment to sign this petition which is nearing 500,000 signatures if you have not already. The voices of Americans can be heard here.

Dear Nikki Haley: It Is Time

Dear Governor Haley:

It is common knowledge for all Americans that the Confederate flag is a symbol for racist groups. As such, one would think that it would be an embarrassment for it to be displayed publicly at a government building. Please ask yourself what the difference is, historically and emotionally, between the Confederate flag and this swastika flag. Both flags have been adopted by countless racist hate groups because of their commonalities. If that does not make sense to you, I insist you should not be representing any state or its citizens. You raised the question of your capacity to lead when you  answered in debates that removing the flag was not important to the CEOs of corporations in South Carolina. Do their opinions still hold the same weight?

State Representative Doug Brannon means to propose a bill to have the Confederate flag come down in November. That really is too long to wait. The healing cannot begin until the flag is removed from your statehouse and November is many months away.

You had a massacre in your state. Members of your community were murdered while they were praying in their church. The objective, per the assailant, was to start a race war. The hatred and racism from the time of slavery has never been addressed properly and is still a very important issue for all Americans to contend with. You dismiss the lives lost this week when you allow the very symbol adopted by racists as their flag to fly over the state house.

The insult is so much more profound when you realize that not only was one of the people who was killed, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of that church who had just spent an hour praying with his killer, but he was a member of the House of Representatives for the state of South Carolina. He must have had every ounce of the grace attributed to him by so many to have entered that building every day and pass that flag which represented so much pain and hate to then offer the respect to all inside. Every person inside the state house that he paid respect to had the power to return the favor by taking the flag down. It is unimaginable that they will allow it to fly now.

When you dismiss all pleas for the flags removal you disassociate yourself from a profound opportunity to begin the healing that our country has been in such desperate need to find. If it remains after the slaughter of these human beings in an event that we know to have been only an issue of race, you are perpetuating the problem and condoning not only the actions, but the mentalities behind the racist actors in our society today. They want that flag to stay up. The good-hearted and loving among us what an empathetic, thoughtful reflection to offer revelation to those with the authority to declare it time to take the flag down and respect those who were lost.

At present, your town is full of monuments and reminders to those who led the battles in attempts to maintain the ownership of other human beings. Can you not allow this massacre to be the event that makes you understand what type of pain that causes? I hear interviews of those defending their ancestors who fought in the war who demand the flag is an important reminder of their sacrifices. Would it not be prudent, at this time specifically, to consider the sacrifices of the ancestors whose lives they were fighting to remain enslaved?

The black community, too, are your citizens. And you perpetuate their suffering when you tell them that the struggles of their family are irrelevant. You condone the hatred when you fly a flag that all know is a symbol of hate in America. It is time to take it down. Today.

Most Sincerely,

All Patriotic Americans

This number of signatures on this national petition will continue to grow. I urge you to keep an eye on it. It will help document how many people are beginning to associate racism with a Republican leader who refuses to understand the importance of their role in perpetuating racism.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Terrorism Is Being Hijacked

The focus of yesterday's diatribe was about the voices that come out every time we have a tragedy relating to guns which tells us it is wrong to politicize the event and, in effect, dismiss the lives lost. Not only have those voices managed to politicize this massacre and dismiss those lost lives, they have managed to hijack the message America needs to hear. Initially the Tea Party was able to hijack the GOP. It was stunning. It still is. The Republicans began to fall to their will for fear of a radical base leaving them. The Tea Party then managed to hijack the Bible. The message of Jesus Christ in a relatively short period of time has turned from peace to vengeance, from love to hate, and from comfort to condemnation. They have grown adept at spinning things in a way that America is pretty much just left in a state of shock where it is too profound to imagine so they ignore it altogether. That may have been the objective all along.

Whatever their objective, I do believe that this attempt to hijack the tragedy in South Carolina was probably a step too far. I imagine anyone who has heard their leaders over the last few days explain to them that this mass murderer was on a mission to kill the Christians will have a moment of pause and scream a quick, "Wait! What?" at the television screen. We have plenty of Americans who do their best to never know what is going on around them. They don't really know what the Tea Party has managed to do to the country, but I feel confident that every time they are confronted with a message of Christian persecution having been a motivation in what was quite obviously a racist attack, they will have the sense to tell themselves, "That is so fucked up."

The politicians on the right, but those in the Tea Party specifically, have mastered the fine art of changing the national discussion. They don't want to talk about racism right now because their party is a safe haven for racists. And they don't want to talk about gun control right now because their party is funded by people whose base has a sole mission of obtaining and maintaining arsenals.

Lindsey Graham, a Senator from this state which is still proudly displaying its white supremacy today with the confederate flag on its state house lawn, was on The View yesterday and offered such an outrageous reflection on the massacre that I had to rewind it to make sure that I heard what he said. But he said it. "It is 2015. There are people out there looking for Christians to kill them." So in Lindsey's mind (a place I never want to spend a moment of time), this little sonofabitch determined that he would walk into a church, pray with its parishioners and kill them because he is afraid of Christians. Absolutely! I hear that all of the time. When I am anywhere in social media the thing I hear from Americans is abject fear over the pending murderous attacks from Christians. I guess that makes sense because I have never seen anyone say anything racist. And, even though we have had people who know this murderer come out and explain his extremely unbelievable views about race and hatred for the black community, I suppose it was this fear of their Christianity that finally pushed him over the edge.

Yesterday Rick Santorum was on a radio show in New York and said that it was an obvious "assault on religious liberty." He agreed that it was a hate crime, however the hate was not directed at the black community but at the Christians who have recently decided that they are being persecuted in the country they have an overwhelming majority in. He told the audience, "You talk about the importance of prayer in this time and we're now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we've never seen before. It's time for a deeper reflection beyond this horrible situation."

I can not find a place to put this. I actually feel rage over it and can not find a way to accept that any leader in one of our two major political parties is diverting the focus of a profound tragedy and another of the many opportunities recently afforded our society to talk about and work toward mending our national disgrace of racism toward a discussion about his political agenda. Many Americans don't even realize that the Tea Party candidates have decided that their own persecution is the new campaign slogan. What would rational people think if they knew? I certainly hope that if any good can come out of this deplorable plummet into the lowest of realms by the right it will be for Americans who are not paying attention to actually hear their message. I believe that is our only hope right now.

Many on the news have been asking one another whether or not the massacre in Charleston was a terrorist attack. I find myself actually shaking my head when I hear that question. Is it such a profound question to struggle over? Has the media conditioned itself to believe that the only way to define a terrorist is by their religion?

Terrorism: the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

Ok. Where is the confusion? A massacre is certainly violent and is obviously meant to intimidate. If his act and its reasons were not meant to go out to the world beyond, thus being a political message, he would not have set one person free to go tell what he was doing.

I am sick of typing the same thing and I assume my readers are growing weary of reading it, but we are complicit in every facet of this problem. Society is allowing itself to ignore the hate that comes from the right. We are allowing them to hijack everything from our important and meaningful national discussions to our interpretations of the Constitution. The fact that a single media outlet would give a voice to a candidate who has the nerve to insist that Christianity is under attack and that the massacre this week was a result of Americans persecuting this religion is beyond my comprehension. It is only made worse by having those who are meant to inform us struggle to determine if this was an act of terrorism. But they do it. And they have an audience. And they sell advertisements. And that is why they exist. As long as we allow the voices of the most hateful among us to distract us from making reparations in our own country, we will continue to allow them to take us to the depths they envision for our country. That should terrify everyone with a conscience and a capacity for critical thought.