Shout Progress! Unique Progressive Designs

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dear Media: It's Called Terrorism

The Planned Parenthood shooting yesterday is creating a source of confusion for the media; at least for those who are afraid to discuss a terrorist event by an American and call it by its name. The media seems to sincerely not understand the meaning of the word. And their confusion is severely hampered by their own inability to understand that a terrorist act can, in fact, be committed by a person who has white skin or is not a Muslim.
This morning I was not surprised to hear their all too familiar narrative while they compel the audience to believe that our most recent terrorist suffers from mental health issues, the same diagnosis members of the American media are happy to attribute to all white men with guns. I ask my thoughtful readership to spend a single moment understanding that this supposition only supports the exact distraction the NRA offers as contradiction to any reasoned discourse about gun violence for each of our countless mass shootings every month. One would think a liberal media would want to counter their nonsensical talking points. Of course, one would have to first be ignorant enough to believe that a liberal media exists.

The other gift the media are offering the least among us is the question of motive in yesterdays terrorist act. Every channel I watched this morning asked me to believe that the police were still investigating motive. Huh. Well, considering the fact that even the Regressive Party leaders are allowed to make up completely wild and baseless claims about Planned Parenthood during Presidential debates without being countered, any rational human being would not need to spend time on what motivated the terrorism.

For those incapable of rational thinking: The terrorist was motivated by a media which allows false and hateful narrative to permeate our air. The terrorist was motivated by a society which allows the truths about abortion rights and providers to be completely countered by narrow and meaningless distractions. The terrorist was motivated by Regressive Party 'leaders' who perpetuate the lies they need to put into the community in order to stir up mindless and hateful pieces of shit to vote for them.

2015 has seen an unparalleled assault on Planned Parenthood by the Regressive Party. A group hired by the least among us (with the most money) to find and create negative stories about their opponents made videos to compel those who can't be bothered to think for themselves to believe that Planned Parenthood exists to murder babies and sell baby parts. The media has been quite eager to cover these videos because of their tabloidesque value, but they have not been remotely interested in offering their audience thoughtful discourse about the obviously ridiculous contentions.

Because our media is unwilling to report to Americans the truths behind terrorist acts in our country, it has become the job of intelligent citizens to inform them. I compel you, please do not take this responsibility lightly. It is an overwhelming request, I realize this. But the only way people are going to reason through rhetoric is for us to create the meaningful conversations those around us are not finding elsewhere. Imagine how many people heard Uncle Cletus rail against Planned Parenthood this week at the Thanksgiving dinner table. His audience was held captive by a fear of ruining grandma's day. Think of the countless people who hear the hate the RWNJs project in their workplaces but are not corrected because decorum dictates rational human beings not discuss such matters in that environment. Those within earshot will then only hear what the Regressive Party wants them to hear. Every opportunity missed to create thoughtful dialogue strengthens the objectives of those who mean to destroy our country.

If anyone bothers to ever report it to us, it is imperative that we remind all around us about the victims of yesterday's terrorist act. There were certainly women there who were seeking pre-natal care. Or looking to get birth control. Or a pap smear. Or a breast exam. Or treatment for countless maladies that are exclusive to women. It is important for us to then remind everyone that Planned Parenthood is an essential part of every community because of the services it provides to women.

Lawmakers and dissenters pretend as if we can go anywhere at all to get these services. Ohio Regressive leaders, after having killed Planned Parenthood funding in the state, have offered women a list of places we can get our care instead: School nurses, food banks, dentists, and senior centers. It is as if they believe a woman goes for gynecological care to receive a tickle and a slap on the ass. Women's health care is complex. And the recommendations of our lawmakers proves that they have no understanding of that fact. Their need to maintain dominance and dictate the means by which a woman plans her family is enough reason for them to work tirelessly to take away the services Planned Parenthood provides. It is your job to make those around you understand that. I beg you to take it seriously. I promise those on the right do little else with their time.

My only resolution at this time is for thoughtful Americans to become the media. Speak the truths about terrorism and Planned Parenthood beyond those in the left-leaning groups you are members of. The people who agree with you don't need to be convinced of anything. Those who are not paying attention enough to discern causation or motivation are the people we need to be spending our time on. Become their media. Become the rational voice they need to hear the truths no one else seems to be interested in giving them. We might not have a billion dollars to create our own campaign like the Koch blockers, but we have truth. Don't let it go to waste, I implore you.

Kiss Kiss.
Mean Progressive

Please donate to Planned Parenthood if you can. Their services are absolutely imperative.

Click here to Donate

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Incomplete Revolution

Sometime in the last decade or so I graduated from being a mother of one to being the mother of all. I cannot remember the moment of the transformation, but I can tell you that my sentences now end with ', honey' when I meet people of younger generations. Regardless of how they receive it, and even if they don’t recognize it, I am their mother. When society tells my babies to accept their second-class citizenship where they are openly dismissed for the color of their skin, their gender identity, religion, country of origin or who they love, I ache. I physically ache. I get angry. I rally. I demand better of my country. There is a universal mother inside most of us. She fights for her babies, regardless of whose womb they came out of.

I honestly believe that it is our need to defend our babies that has allowed the women's movement to become all but ignored for as long as it has. We have been distracted by our need to champion, protect and lift up our children. Most women take the history of the movement for granted or don’t know about its struggles and accomplishments. Most tragically, many don't realize the battles that were never won and the rights we are presently living without because we have relegated our own needs to being a secondary cause (at best) for generations.

Its time for us all to realize that while we are making demands of a country that has refused to acknowledge our rights, we don't have the platform we need to make the changes we seek. Half of our children do not have the right to make those demands for themselves. What we leave for our daughters is an important reflection for every universal mother. They will become the mothers of the next generations. They, too, will have no platform. It is time that we all take pause and understand the profound legacy our foremothers have left us and what mantle we must carry for the mothers who follow.

Most Americans have no knowledge of the women’s movement. It has been condemned to hysteria for as long as it has existed. The history is quite important, however, to contextualize the place we find ourselves today. In 1923, exactly 75 years after the first Women’s Rights Convention, the movement went forward in compelling the country to understand that the right to vote we had finally attained a few years earlier was not enough. Alice Paul put forth the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) which was written to guarantee equal rights to women, as the Constitution had been deliberately framed to omit that half of society. Having been proposed in every session of Congress for 49 years, both houses passed the ERA in 1972. After making it through Washington, however, it had to go to the states for ratification. And that, it seems, was too much to ask.

This is the entire text of the Equal Rights Amendment:

 *Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States by any state on account of sex. 
 *Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. 
 *Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification. 

This amendment was not ratified by ¾ of the United States. After years of trying to compel those states to ratify, in 1982 the deadline expired. The right turns every discussion into a distraction about ‘states rights.’ Whenever you hear this in the future, remind yourself that we could not even get the states to grant equality to women.

The decades between its proposal and its eventual demise were filled with debates from various feminist groups. Alice Paul defined equality as having no limits. Those who opposed the ERA countered that women needed to have protections. This distraction eventually killed the ERA.

The leader of the anti-women’s movement, Phyllis Schlafly, compelled American women to believe that the ERA would create hardships for housewives. Her conflated logic offered fear to women by telling them that they would no longer be able to win custody of their children in divorces, sexual assault would no longer be a crime and that unisex public restrooms would become the norm. As absurd as these contentions were, they found a fearful audience which managed to completely revert the overwhelming support the ERA had in America at the time. The anti-women’s movement is the one that took hold, found political backing and thrives to this day. Schlafly was honored this year in a Regressive forum with the Presidential candidates in attendance. She took the stage and bragged about the fact that the very room they were standing in was the one she was in when she killed the ERA. That is the woman the Regressive Party wanted to celebrate. In 2015.

Once that revelation has found a place in our minds, it is easy to understand why the entire Regressive field of Presidential candidates struggled to find an answer to which American woman they would commemorate on the $10 bill in their second debate this year. This was an opportunity to look at American history and tell their constituents about the women we should hold in esteem. These were their answers:

Rand Paul: Susan B Anthony – the only name history seems to recall, who has already been recognized on a silver dollar.

Mike Huckabee: his wife.

Sen. Marco Rubio: Rosa Parks

Ted Cruz: Rosa Parks (because that was a good answer Rubio!)

Ben Carson: his mother.

Donald Trump: his daughter.

Jeb Bush: Margaret Thatcher (apparently he couldn’t think of an American woman)

Scott Walker: Clara Barton

Carly Fiorina: Nobody – ‘We need to realize that women are not a special interest group’

John Kasich: Mother Theresa (again, not an American)

Chris Christie: Abigail Adams

They have either been well conditioned to believe that the question of celebrating women is irrelevant to everyone, or they think it is more important to project attitudes of the universal white man to make their brethren comfortable. Either way, the fact that only 3 of the 11 answers (no credit for repeats) were serious contenders speaks volumes about how diminished our voices and our movement are.

It is important to understand that Chris Christie determined Abigail Adams was a notable choice because, as he used that moment to point out, of the indebtedness America owes to her husband, John. Abigail Adams is an easy name to conjure in an instant. She is sometimes recognized in obligatory historical remembrances because of her letter to John in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was being authored where she compelled him to ‘remember the ladies’ in whatever codes of laws our new country would dictate. She wrote:

I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation. 

However, history seems to have all but forgotten John Adams’ rather poignant reply which clearly encapsulates the reason we find ourselves in this place nearly 250 years later:

As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh. We have been told that our Struggle has loosened the bands of Government every where. That Children and Apprentices were disobedient -- that schools and Colledges were grown turbulent -- that Indians slighted their Guardians and Negroes grew insolent to their Masters. But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerfull than all the rest were grown discontented. -- This is rather too coarse a Compliment but you are so saucy, I wont blot it out. Depend upon it, We know better than to repeal our Masculine systems. Altho they are in full Force, you know they are little more than Theory. We dare not exert our Power in its full Latitude. We are obliged to go fair, and softly, and in Practice you know We are the subjects. We have only the Name of Masters, and rather than give up this, which would compleatly subject Us to the Despotism of the Peticoat, I hope General Washington, and all our brave Heroes would fight. I am sure every good Politician would plot, as long as he would against Despotism, Empire, Monarchy, Aristocracy, Oligarchy, or Ochlocracy. 

Indeed. They knew better than to repeal their masculine systems. They have not unlearned that lesson.

Women won the right to vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution removing the word "male" from the 15th Amendment, which offered voting rights to former slaves. This is its entire text:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.  
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. 

That fight, alone, took 50 years.

Many give thoughtless dismissals to discussions of the ERA by saying that the Constitution was written for all Americans and condemn conversations about its intent to semantics. That could open thoughtful discourse, I suppose, if that were the way the Constitution was written. I have already evidenced the obvious exclusion of women’s rights by the framers of the Constitution and offered text to prove that exclusion when the 15th Amendment was enacted, but, lest anyone be confused about how that would be interpreted by our leaders in 2015, I offer you a stunning example of its application this year. In April, the States Attorney of South Carolina filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court which stated:

The Amendment’s framers certainly did not intend to dismantle, but fought to preserve, state marriage laws. Indeed, skeptical congressmen insisted that these remain unaffected by the Amendment. Many feared that state disabilities placed upon married women, such as property ownership, would be undermined by an earlier Amendment draft. 

This was ‘in support of respondents’: Bill Haslam, Governor of TN, Rick Snyder, Governor of MI, Steve Beshear, Governor of KY. The male Regressive leaders of the states of South Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky, in their attempts to disavow marriage equality, used the fact that women still had not found equality, per the Constitution, to denounce our children. And ourselves.

The truth of the adage, No one can love you until you truly love yourself lifts many upon revelation. Similarly, no one will respect us until we respect ourselves. At present, we are not demanding equality. We are allowing words like ‘feminazi’ to shut down important conversations. We are still trying to compel others to believe we are worthy of equal pay. That was part of the basis of the women’s movement over 150 years ago. Honestly, if we cannot demand more of ourselves and our movement, we can hardly expect anyone else to. They dismiss us because we allow them to. They condemn us with tired stereotypes because we don’t expose those who mean to counter our truths.

Every March, America congratulates itself for having allowed women to exist within its borders and designates a handful of our foremothers to levels of prominence. It would be lovely, I suppose, if it were sincere. We all know about Susan B. Anthony. Or we know her name, anyway, right? American history has maintained her name, if not her complete story. She was a tireless champion for women and deserves unending esteem. She was, however, half of a set. And history has forgotten her sister-in-arms, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Although they were best friends and united in the cause for over 50 years, they had very different personalities and approaches to their audiences. Cady Stanton, basically, had no use for diplomacy. She was the more outlandish of the two, she would not bend to the ideals of the more conservative voices of the movement, and she did not attempt to find a more delicate tone for a more needy audience. I assume that this is why her memory has been lost. She was a radical.

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Although its attribution has been given to several women, its truth is undeniable. Most accomplishments of the women’s movement were made by those history, itself, has determined unseemly and a society quite content with its male dominance has determined forgettable. Regardless of whether or not their stories are well-known, their efforts cannot be forgotten. And we cannot leave our movement in a stagnant state of disregard. Our universal willingness to behave has left us here in a place where we don’t even acknowledge an all-but ignored Equal Rights Amendment, nearly 100 years after its proposal. As long as we quietly submit to that truth, we are foolish to demand better of the society which has grown quite comfortable with our place in it.

I compel all universal mothers who are genuinely interested in the legacy we leave our daughters and the tools we leave them to win the myriad fights to come for our children’s children, to reflect on which rights we were meant to have. And I ask all to then take the only right we presently have, the vote, more seriously from now on. Elizabeth Cady Stanton once said of the vote, "The right is ours. Have it we must, use it we will." She was half right, at least. Thanks to the decades of relentless efforts by she, Susan B. Anthony and countless names all but lost to history, we have the right to vote. And within a century of having attained that right, we show as much regard for that right as we do for the right to participate in casual Fridays.

No woman who loves her country or her children can take her solitary right to vote for granted. And no woman who loves her country or her children can continue to accept their undefined rights to equal citizenship. We must now champion our own movement so that we can have a meaningful voice in our own futures and those of our daughters. It is an imperative. Do not allow yourself to believe otherwise.

Monday, November 9, 2015


My 2nd installment for Adoption Awareness month. Legacy.

My childhood home had a family room with no functional familial use beyond offering a great spot for hide and seek behind the couch. It was merely the room we walked through to get to the garage whenever we went anywhere. There was a large black and white portrait hanging predominately in the center of the room that always scared me when I was young. It was of a gentleman from the 1800s who didn't look the least bit friendly. Our home had black and white pictures everywhere. For a reason I have never quite ascertained, it was very important for the images of those who came before us to be displayed throughout the home.

I was so proud when I finally asked the story of the scary man in the family room. It turned out he owned a home that had a secret basement which was a stop on the Underground Railroad. My young mind was always trying to understand, and my tender heart was always trying to differentiate between, right and wrong. There was nothing more right to me than a person making personal sacrifices to save others from the evils of slavery. I was excited to tell people that I had such a cool ancestor in my family tree. At the same time, I was aware that it wasn't really my family tree.

Having been adopted, there were never times that either I felt 100% like a member of the family or that others went out of their way to make me feel 100% like a member of the family. Because of this, I was always careful to preface any recountings of my great-great-great grandfather's story with a reminder that I had been adopted. Its pretty sad just to type that. Imagine a child excitedly telling you something about their family but believing that you needed to know it wasn't really her family. Take that revelation one step further to acknowledge that she was comfortable in that place and those who should've taught her there was no variable didn't feel it was necessary to do so.

When I was in middle school, I remember being frustrated telling my friends about my family legacy because they didn't feel like it was as cool as I did. I was even more frustrated by the fact that my family didn't seem too incredibly impressed, either. It was more of a matter-of-fact and his picture was something my mother had basically won in a family lottery of items passed down when someone or other died. The portrait was added to the wall of the room that no one really used as many other pictures of people no one could recall had been throughout the house.

To this day I wonder if my brother and sister, who were not adopted and are related by blood to this man, would be able to tell you his story. I wonder if they even remember the amazing history we were given about our family and the strength of those who came before us. It feels as if they have no knowledge or care of actual legacy whatsoever.

I recently started creating my own family tree on It was a journey to see how far I could go back with the very limited information I have about my natural family (my grandmother came from Italy and I have her Americanized name). But I was really excited to see if I could work on the tree of the family I grew up with and know as my family. I was hoping to eventually get back to a place where I could learn more about this house and its place on the Underground Railroad. During my search I got several hints from the website about family members that others had in their trees and I would open them to get the information they had already found. I got a hint last week that my sister had created a family tree and I excitedly went in there figuring she would have all of the same people I did and it would make my job pretty easy. Instead, I found a family tree quite devoid of very important information. Apparently, in the legacy she is willing to leave to future generations, she did not have a sister. She had a brother, my brother. She had parents, my parents. But she did not have me.


It is really hard to imagine that a human being would want to omit a person from their history who was the sister she had grown up with; who bought her a maternity wardrobe with her first pregnancy and then flew to Virginia on New Year's when that first niece was born; and who drove to Virginia when the second niece was born. I guess not having had an actual drop of blood in that bloodline overrides any actual remembrances of sisterhood, however.

The word legacy is powerful. It reminds us of all that has come before to create and enrich all that exists in this place. The lessons one generation determines necessary to pass on to the next are inside of that legacy. The traditions of community and interdependence come from that legacy. The stories of pride and remembrance come from that legacy. Even as a child I felt not quite entitled to the legacy of what came before me. But because it was the only one I had, I wanted to claim it nonetheless. I would certainly, at least, be thoughtful about the legacy I would leave future generations. The pain of realizing that my legacy will be quite irrelevant and forgotten to those whose lives I have shared is indescribable.

The saddest part about all of this is the fact that the very members of my family who have known me my entire life and should, by now, have found a way to empathize when I explain my feelings, refuse to hear this retelling beyond waiting for the pause so they can defend themselves. But many people who are completely removed from this story with no emotional connection to me whatsoever will come much closer to understanding my pain than those who can actually witness and lessen it.

Throughout my life I have gone through phases where I would remove myself from my family completely to dispel the pain of their carelessness and intolerance. I have always allowed criticisms, both internal and external, to counter my own better judgment and reenter my family out of commitment and dedication to the thing which it was meant to be. But the truth is: It is not what it was meant to be. It is never going to be what it was meant to be. The thing that it is creates pain. And alienation. The thing that it is expects acceptance of things I find unacceptable and ignorance of things I find to be imperatives.

Loneliness is the only substitute I've found for vulnerability. Neither are exemplar. Neither are healthy. But let no one question why those are the only two alternatives I have found after considering the legacy I have been afforded.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

You Say You want a Revolution?

When we wake up tomorrow it will be November 8, 2015. The date means little to me. It is the day before my mom's birthday. Its a Sunday so I will want to catch John Oliver. And its the day the weather channel said I will finally have to shut my windows and begin my annual self-imposed (near) hibernation. Its really just another day in another week where I have little going on and little to do.

Tomorrow is, however, exactly one year before our next big election. I guess for those of us who are paying attention and passionate about our political landscape, the date will offer a marker by which we will measure our accomplishments. We have a year. For those of us who have been at this for a while, a year is not a lot of time. For those of us on the left, a year might as well be a decade for as much as we need to accomplish. But I can hardly tell that when I listen to some of my brothers and sisters in the party. I hear a lot about revolution these days. It might be written as an exciting time for future generations to learn about in history books. Or it might very well be another year where what could have been simply wasn't. Again.

With our gerrymandered maps and questionable annual election returns, it feels as if a revolution will be our only hope. Last week our national elections set us back even further because we on the left can hardly be bothered to go out every time. (I mean really). To be honest, its not evident that we all want a revolution. It appears that the radical among us are more interested in arguing the finer points of our objectives than actually doing anything that would be revolutionary.

The left loves to argue. Its one of the downsides of being the intellectuals. We have a lot of opinions and historical references and love to hear ourselves talk about them (I'm not pretending that no one is reading this and I am not one of those people). We do, however, create our very own obstacles when we do this; especially when the arguments we seek or create are within our own party.

Several months ago I wrote a piece condemning the Regressive Party for thinking women would flock to Fiorina (read here) because she was born with the same parts as we were. I was chastised by a woman who kicked me out of her feminist group for having been so closed-minded as to ignore transgendered people who were not born with the same parts. If her condemnation wasn't enough, she spent what must have taken a full hour to type me a book about how ashamed of myself I should have been. I wonder how much of that time she could have directed toward someone who wasn't already fighting for women's issues to make them aware of the movement and its necessity.

A couple of weeks ago I was, again, berated by people calling themselves feminists because I was excitedly promoting the then-unreleased movie, Suffragette. Within minutes I was determined to have not only been a detriment to the feminist movement, but also, a racist. I wrote a piece about it (read here) because it was beyond my comprehension how people could be so misguided and I received many replies about my own determined narrow-mindedness. The majority of my replies came from people who read my article down to the point where I talked about my having been called a racist and they stopped there to interject having never (quite obviously) made it to the end of the piece where I imagine most people capable of both reason and introspection would realize I am, in fact, a feminist and hardly racist. That piece had people who demand they are feminists coming at me for two days to argue with me. Again I wonder, how much of that time could have been focused on arguing with someone who needed to hear your argument?

I stopped arguing with RWNJs many months ago. They are exhausting and although they will probably be a lifelong curiosity of mine, I do realize they have no capacity for critical thinking so I will never have an opportunity to offer them revelation. My only mission now is to offer rationale to those who are capable of understanding it. I find that those conversations are growing harder and harder with many on the left now, too. Last month I was sent a private message from a young (very young) man who was inviting me to join his FB group where the actual objective was to talk shit about one of the two main candidates for the Democratic ticket next year. Initially I replied respectfully (believe it or not) and said that I had not yet determined which of the candidates I was going to vote for but that even when I do, I would not want to participate in destructive conversations about the one I had not chosen. He promptly told me that I was an idiot and that I obviously don't understand politics or how important this upcoming election is. [Sigh...] Of course, I then took it upon myself to educate him about the history of the Democratic party and our myriad failures and before I was done telling him what an arrogant little snot he was, he blocked me from FB. okay...

I have had to put messages up in my groups telling people that if they want to create dialogue only meant to disparage one of our candidates I would block them. People are not even thoughtful enough to realize that if the meme they are posting has attribution on it from a right-wing group, they are literally perpetuating the Regressive Party narrative. There is nothing more discouraging than looking at our uphill climb and realizing how many of our fellow Dems we are going to have to drag up that fucking hill to get to the top.

I am a Democrat. I will support the Democrat who ends up with the nomination. I will bust my ass for whomever gets the nod like I do every 4 years. If you cannot say the same, then you do not want a revolution. You are literally creating the exact path the sick hateful sonsofbitches on the right need to wiggle any one of their beyond-crazy (some I comfortably call evil) candidates into the White House. And do not be mistaken. This is not just a fight for the White House. 2016 is our chance to get back the Senate. If we can convince enough people that the left is the only alternative when they go into the voting booth next year, we actually can make a change. No change will be made, however, if we all spend our time fighting with ourselves and demanding that the rest of the left see every candidate and issue through an identical narrow prism. That is POISON. Period.

We will get a national down-ticket revolution next year if we join together and continue to remind those around us of the shit that is coming out of the right. Daily I have people tell me, "Oh they know. Americans know what is going on." No. They Don't. They don't want to know. They are ignoring what is going on because the in-fighting is exhausting to them so they choose not to listen. When we perpetuate the nastiness we are just as unbearable as the RWNJs. Pause with that for a minute, because I am right (from over here on the far-left). When we behave like radicals we will be ignored like radicals. If we can manage to rally like champions, that is what we will be. You decide. But fucking unfriend me or leave my page if you don't want to hear about what it takes to actually have a revolution because I can't imagine I will have anything else to say for the next 365 days.

It's called R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Follow their lead. K?

Kiss Kiss.
Mean Progressive

Monday, November 2, 2015

(White) Boys Will Be Boys

Back in the day, growing up in Northeast Ohio, my brother had the same pellet gun that Tamir Rice had. One day, when we were 12, he was playing with my cousins in the parking lot between our family home and family business. They were creating a cops and robbers scene so perfect that, even if Scorsese had filmed it, no one would have believed. It ended with my brother running into the garage and hitting the button for the garage door to come down. As he rounded back to the front of the garage and the door was almost to the ground, he rolled on his back and fired at my cousin. Before the door hit the cement there was a scream from the parking lot. He'd shot my cousin. In the nuts.

My family were well off. My father and grandfather held prominent positions in our small town and were well respected. Even though the neighbor called the police, no charges were filed and no one was held accountable. No one pointed fingers at my parents and blamed them for having raised a child who would play with a toy gun. This was simply a case of boys being boys. My cousin wasn't badly injured and he has his own children now (I feel certain that more than one person has to be asking that question).

While remaining in NE Ohio, fast forward 30 years: We are now an open-carry state where the law requires neither a license nor a registration for firearms. Ohio does, however, have a duty to inform law which requires gun owners to inform law enforcement that they are carrying a weapon immediately upon confrontation. That law, of course, would mean that the person in question would have to be actually carrying a weapon and they would have an opportunity to speak a single word before the officers decided to open fire on them.

We have all seen the video. We saw where a kid was playing with a toy gun and pretending it was real. We have been told that the officers thought he looked older than 12. That is meant to offer absolution to the officer who shot Tamir Rice because his being older would make him a threat. Why? They didn't even talk to him. Not only did they not take the time to determine if he was actually carrying a weapon or how old he was (where if he were the grown man they said he seemed, he may have been legally open carrying a gun), but there was never a determination that he had broken any laws. Ohio allows people to open carry their weapons. He was not in conflict with anyone. He was literally standing there doing NOTHING. And to some, apparently, that is quite enough:

This bullshit comment showed up on my Facebook page today in reaction to the shirt I designed for Black Lives Matter showing dozens of names of people of color murdered. I've heard it all before. This is the shit some white people tell themselves to remain in their little happy world where everything is right and their white supremacy is the standard. I realize that a lot of people don't understand that this is what their subconscious is doing, but I can't allow them that freedom, either. You don't get to rewrite histories or biographies to make yourself feel better. How many people are presently feeling good about themselves saying, "Yeah. Well they were killed because they were criminals or ran their mouth"? How can you not then allow a revelation that neither of those things warrant being murdered?

In America, if you commit a crime you are arrested, given a court hearing and a judge or jury determines your guilt. If found guilty, you are then sentenced. Few crimes warrant death. Asshole.

Running your mouth? Really? Anyone who knows me will tell you that all of my life I have 'run my mouth' giving no consideration to the power or position of its recipient. Fortunately, however, I was white while I was doing it.

She concludes her nonsensical list of reasons to murder people with Tamir Rice and his fake gun. She doesn't expand on her thought process (I generously attribute one to her, which is probably unnecessary) but it seems to tell me that children with fake guns should be murdered without question or due process. Thank goodness my brother had that white skin or who knows what might have happened to him. Cunt.

Apparently, unless a police officer screams the words, "I'm killing you for your blackness," while shooting, there will never be a way to make some people understand. I honestly don't want to share the planet with people who are this shallow, selfish and willfully ignorant. If you have thought things similar to the comment pictured above or nodded your head when someone else was saying these things, I compel you to take this test. If you get to the end of it and do not see the problem with your thinking, you are hopelessly devoid of humanity. But that means my words are of no consequence to you. So I offer you the most abject shame and hope you have little time left in this word with no influence over the next generation.

Honestly, we are settling for this society. Until every rational voice demands coherence out of those who embrace hate and ignorance while completely dismissing lives lost to people of color, we will remain right here. Until our 'leadership' believes that the majority of Americans see the truths behind these killings, they will not do anything. They don't have to. A very precious few of them do anything unless it helps them get reelected. Please stand up. Please shout for justice. Please don't wait for the next innocent child to end up dead for engaging in his childhood. PLEASE.


Thank you.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Adoption Awareness Month

I have sincere passion about the topic of adoption. I have written about it sparingly in my political forum but, as this is Adoption Awareness Month, I am going to put some of them here. People are very quick to give dismissive understandings to the issue of adoption in a mindless quest to make themselves feel better about the idea of displacing human lives. It is always a great resource for people who want to dismiss the idea of abortion, more often than not by those who have never adopted a child (and no child would surely benefit from it if they had).

I wrote this January 12, 2015 as I began my exploration into writing in an effort to understand myself and find resolution for things I have held on to from childhood:

Adoption, as it existed when I was born at least, is unnatural and cruel. There is this lovely pervasive notion that to have been adopted means one was "chosen." As nice as it must feel for the relayer of the message to simplify and minimize the experience, even a young child knows it's bullshit. Inevitably, upon hearing the news, however delivered, that the parents you know as yours are not naturally yours, a hole is created that can never be filled with nonsensical paradox. To have been chosen by one you must have been given away by another. That is a revelation so personal and so painful that no one could imagine having never experienced it, no matter how empathetic.

My adoption was in January 1973. I was born in October of 72. I was taken from my mother in the hospital and held and loved on (one hopes and assumes) by random nurses until I was deemed healthy and could leave the hospital. I was then placed in a "home" for three months. Obviously I have no memory of that experience. I do know what it should've been, of course, having given birth to and raised a child of my own. I should've been held and sang to and fawned over every day. I should've had a big finger to wrap all of my little fingers around while receiving kiss after kiss and feeling assurances of love and safety. I should've come to recognize the smell and sound and warmth of the person who would dedicate the rest of her life to my health and happiness. Of course, again, I have no idea how much of that I received. But I do know that whatever I received was impermanent. I do know that whatever bond was created in those three months was immediately broken in a moment, as quickly as whatever bond I'd formed with my natural mother in her womb.

To be sure, the majority of adoption stories from that time would then drift into stories of building bonds with permanence. One cannot discount those first three months, though. When I became a mother those months were a revelation to me every day. I was specifically aware of the bonding. The beautiful human being in my arms was immediately comforted by my voice, by my presence. I, too, was comforted by hers. Her coos were the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. They told me I was loving her properly. I wasn't sure I could. (That admission alone proves I was selfish to get pregnant. But at least I can acknowledge it). We were creating a connection every day that would hold and sustain us for a lifetime.

At three months I was given parents. The father was very eager to parent and love a child. I have memories and stories and photographs to support this. Likewise, I have memories and stories to evidence that the mother had no desire or capacity to parent or love a child. She had plenty of time to make this decision, of course. She had to have conversations with her husband and family, take classes at the church, hire an attorney and wait for a child to be born. During all of this time she could've found the selfless strength to speak out and admit she didn't want children. But she never found that strength. To continue on her selfish path, she began an adulterous relationship with a man she knew from the church who was also taking parenting classes to begin the adoption process. He and his wife became good friends with my adoptive parents. When I was two she left my father and I for this other man. She never asked for custody. Thank God.

Being a child and having a father who loved me and wanted to always do the right thing for me, I never knew about the affair or heard a cross word about her second husband, Dave. My stomach still drops when I recall memories of going home to my father after a weekend with my mom and Dave and recounting all I'd done. Dave had a motorcycle and I had my own helmet. He had a pickup truck and I got to go in the back. He played baseball in the backyard with his son (my brother for a brief moment in my life), Matt and I. We would use the large flowerbed as our baseball diamond. My dad never asked me not to tell him about how great Dave was.

Of course, this marriage didn't last long at all. My mother would tell me later that she was only attracted to him because he was a sex addict and it was a phase she was going through. (Charming. As if any part of me would want to know that). I just lost my step-dad, step-brother and Dave's parents who I called Grandma and Grandpa. They were just not my relatives anymore. They were no longer in my life. I was expendable.

My weekends with my mother went to just the two of us. I would cry and beg my dad every time he drove me to Canton to not make me go. I would cry those Sundays the whole ride home. My dad had very rigid beliefs of right and wrong. And it was right to visit my mother. He didn't understand how much it hurt me to be alone with her. She didn't want me around. Ever. She would give me cards to play solitaire or a cross stitch to sit on the couch and work on. I was even allowed to watch rated R movies on cable. She never said I was allowed, of course, but she never came into the living room to see what I was doing, either. I have very specific memories of entering whatever room she was in saying, "Hey mom!," excited to tell her whatever I'd just learned on TV or just thought about. She would always answer with a long and audible sigh, "What Angie..." I would inevitably back out of the room with a "Nevermind."

She soon found a new man and they were quickly married. I wasn't invited to the wedding. I asked my mom why I couldn't come. She said it wasn't really a big deal. Even though I was a kid I realized it was important enough for her parents to fly in from Colorado, so it should've been important enough to invite her daughter. I decided then that marriage was stupid and I would never do it. If you can just leave them and forget them later, marriage was obviously not what it was given to be.

I hated her new husband, Carl. He was an asshole. I'm not sure that I had a complete concept of what an asshole was at that age, but I knew I didn't like him at all. He didn't like kids. After getting married, my mom and Carl promptly moved to Cincinnati. This was good for all involved. As much as my dad wanted her to be in my life, every other weekend was too much for anyone to commit to driving that far. I only had to visit her once in the summer and once over the holidays. And she was often able to come up with a last minute ski trip or something to get out of the latter. We would have an obligatory Sunday night phone call where I never knew what to say to her and it felt more like a chore to take the call than anything else.

I was very fortunate that my dad remarried the woman that he did. She was as attentive and patient with me as could be hoped. I needed her to be patient. I was a shit to her. Not only was I now going to have to share the one person who never let me down and undoubtedly loved me, but I was supposed to believe that this woman, my third to date, wanted to be my mother. I wasn't having it. She would have to prove herself. I wasn't aware of it at the time, of course, but I was awful to her because I didn't trust her to stay.

After I had Audrey my lifelong series of questions about my natural mother became overwhelming. My mind wouldn't stop wondering about her. My dad understood this and hired a company to find her. Once she was located, they approached her and asked if she would like to meet me. Again, this was a perfect opportunity for reflection before making a profound and life-altering decision. She chose to meet me. She, my natural sister (no one ever told me if she was a full or half sister but we looked strikingly similar), her husband and others came to Columbus to meet me. It was awkward at first but exhilarating, too. They invited me to visit whenever I was in Alliance and we began a real relationship. I never even anticipated that, I just wanted to ask her all of my questions. The majority of my questions went unanswered. She was evasive and often said something to the effect of "That's my past and I'd like to keep it back there." These answers always struck me because she could've left me back there, too. Did she really think I wouldn't ask these questions? One day she said something that was my last straw. She was never rude or nasty, but she was very thoughtless. We were in her dining room and Audrey was dancing in circles. I said, "Isn't she the cutest thing ever?" My natural mother replied with a saying I had hated all of my life because of the fact that I was adopted. She replied,"Yep, she's a keeper." There was never a hint on her face of what she'd just said or who she'd just said it to. I was done with her. Some part of me found relief that this person didn't keep me. But another part was heart sick. The irrelevance I'd always felt had just been confirmed.

(Un)fortunately, by this time I had built a very tall and thick wall. By this time I had known nine sets of grandparents. I had not only learned that I was expendable, but had subconsciously determined that everyone else was, too. Very few people have been inside my wall. Sadly, people in my life who had figured they were comfortably in my heart would promptly learn that they were not, at all. It terrifies me how easily I dispose of people. My heart that loves the world generically and wants to make it fair and safe, refuses to sincerely love people enough to keep them around. I'm aware now of how broken I am. The revelation was very hard to come by, but it's cure is proving even harder. I'm not convinced that anyone will ever get in again. Ironically, and fortunately, the third woman who was to be my mother has penetrated my walls and continues to fight for her place there. And Audrey. That's it. I let a man in a few years ago by mistake. I'm pretty sure he will have been the last.


There are memories from childhood which are so vivid that when I recount them and find my audience is unable to remember, it pisses me off. It is strange, probably, but it is almost as if that was such a poignant moment in my life, it feels either wasted or less relevant if I cannot share it with someone who was there. Of the many memories from decades ago which seem to live in my mind as a near perfect reel, the one that not only continues to haunt me but seems to have most defined me as a person was in May of 1985. The memory is only mine. My whole family was there and none of them seemed to have experienced it so profoundly as to even remember it with me.

I have relayed this story a lot lately. I was only diagnosed with a panic disorder last year. The fact that it took 41 years to find that diagnosis is, to say the very least, peculiar. My first memory of an attack, of sort, was when I was 12. I was in the living room waiting for the Disney movie to come on (we didn't have on-demand back in the day and were offered a single helping of Disney once a week). I went in to the living room after dinner and whatever was on the television when I turned it on was so upsetting to me that by the time the rest of the family came in to sit down for our Sunday evening entertainment, I was bawling. My dad was angry, as I recall (although I now realize that a lot of his emotions seemed like anger to me then and he was probably frustrated by this child he could not understand), and demanded, "What are you crying about?" I pointed to the black and white footage on the television of a large pit with naked skin-and-bone bodies being bulldozed on top of one another into it.

I had no idea what I was looking at. My fathers curt reply to my response, "What is that?" was a quick, "That is from the Holocaust." I had no idea what the Holocaust was and my plea for him to explain it warranted a, "If you don't want to look at it turn it off." I could not stop crying and as my father was then angry with me for having been upset, my sob turned into that mess where you can't even catch your breath. I set myself off to bed rather than ruin the family's evening with Disney.

I did not sleep that entire night.

The few minutes of footage that I had seen of this film terrified me. It had a name. My father gave it a name. It is called a Holocaust. That means it is a thing that exists in the world. Those people who had families and friends had somehow come to a place in their lives where this was their end. And it had a name. And it existed.

My father checked on me several times that night to see if I had settled down. I was eventually able to stop crying but I had not been able to stop thinking about it and worrying about those people and wondering what you have to do to end up in a place like that. I wanted to protect all of my loved ones from having to die like that. I simply could not grasp the fact that this Holocaust existed. And it must have been a common event or my father wouldn't have explained it to me so casually. The world was terrifying to me in a way that it had never been before (and I had also recently had similar, but not as overwhelming revelations about slavery in history class and children being kidnapped by the movie Adam).

Of course, my fathers quick dismissal didn't mean that the Holocaust was a common occurrence in the world. It only meant that my father saw everything as a matter of fact and had no capacity to deliver information in a way that would be specific to this very sensitive audience. I have been 30 years now on this path to understand the Holocaust. I watch every documentary that I ever learn about. I have read many books. I can now rationalize that neither the next movie nor book will offer me the light bulb to make it all make sense to me. But I can also understand with age and historical context that this was a very specific moment in a very ugly time in World history which is quite singular in its evil and circumstance.

Today I spent the day watching documentaries on Amazon. I happened upon a Frontline video of a documentary they had released about the Holocaust in 1985. I started the movie and thought, 'this could be it.' That would certainly be the year that the memory of my first anxiety attack happened. And I have never been able to tell the story completely because even my own mind always struggled to remember what exactly I had seen. I can now say, without a doubt, that I must have turned the television on after dinner and it would have already been set on PBS.

In 1985, Frontline aired a documentary which had been a project started 40 years prior by a coalition of US and British Army filmmakers. Alfred Hitchcock even participated and refused to take pay for it because of its importance. For reasons unknown (I've found several speculations but nothing seems to have been settled), the film was never finished. In 1985 PBS put the unfinished reels together and left many minutes of completely unnarrated film. It sounds like an unprofessional piece to have not had it completed until many who had been involved were gone and so much was unknown about why the project had been abandoned in the first place. The fact that there are many minutes with no narration certainly seem strange, but that is the strength of the piece. You don't need the words. The entire point of this piece is to document the moment and place in history where humanity had been forfeit.

I can now tell you, having finished this documentary, that the footage at the end is the exact memory I have seen as I retold this story throughout my life. This is the moment in my life where my heart broke and my mind raced and my soul reached out for something to give me understanding of the world. It has haunted me ever since.

After having seen this film in its entirety as an adult, my constant demands that the sonsofbitches on the right who like to compare every aspect of the political world which might not happen to be going their way to the Holocaust must stop is now something more of an insistence. I literally can not abide their hate and conflation of history and propaganda. I can not let it exist.

I beg you to save this on your computer and watch it. It is an hour long and it is probably the most painful thing you can imagine ever seeing. But it is an imperative. We must allow our outrage to equal and exceed their disregard. We must allow our voices to be louder than theirs. There are no words powerful enough to ever explain this film. I feel confident that it would have the same affect if you watched it on mute. Our humanity dissipates a little bit more when we allow this memory to be negated by their drawing unfounded parallels.

Please watch this and shout at the top of your lungs every time Carson, Cruz or Huckabee determine that any perceived slight to their rigid societal standards should be compared to the Holocaust. Every time they get away with this shit, the impact of these truths dissipates a little more. And it creates an environment where we won't see it coming if we ever do find ourselves heading down a similar path.