Posted in Activism, advocate, badassery, CANCER, death, Equality, movies, pop culture

Goodbye, King

When news came late Friday night that Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played King T’Challa in the Black Panther and Avenger movies, had died at age 43, the news hit me harder than I thought it would.

Boseman had been battling, unbeknownst to most, colon cancer for four years. This time had included the time he was working on the Black Panther movie. If you haven’t had cancer or a serious, debilitating illness, it’s difficult to appreciate what I consider to be a truly heroic effort to portray a hero. Each time cancer takes someone young or inspirational, I’m reminded I need to embrace more of the remaining life I’ve been given to live. This death cut me to the core. I’ve so much left to do.

I remember when the Black Panther movie came out and so many people of all races and lifestyles came out of the theaters crossing their arms in the “Wakanda forever!” sign. People of color walked out of that movie changed and inspired. Young black children finally had a Marvel superhero on screen that looked like them, that they could identify with. Someone strong, caring, extraordinary and human.

I was also inspired by the Black Panther. The strong women of Wakanda, who were in charge of the technology and protecting the King, made me cheer. These depictions of strong, intelligent women (of any color) shouldn’t be so few and far between, but they are. Shuri is the smartest in the room. Any room. Okoye and her crew could kick any man’s ass. Nakia is brave, and convinces the King that sharing their knowledge and wealth for the good of all is an important enough idea to allow it to stand between her and her relationship with the King.

Heroes don’t have to be the same color as you are to be inspirational, but I’m white and I have plenty to choose from if that is what I seek. It was about time that people of color had an extraordinary hero and a slew of capable, ass-kicking heroines. I can only hope another hero can rise on the shoulders of Chadwick Boseman.

What I hope people learn from Boseman’s short, but well-lived, life is that people can be heroes both on and offscreen and be an inspiration beyond what they intended or hoped for. Heroism and quality of character goes more than skin deep, and that is one of the legacies that Boseman left behind for all of us.

Rest in Power, King.

Posted in Activism, advocate

Black Lives Matter

Let me preface all this with – I’m white. Grew up in an all white community in an all white church. I do not pretend to know what it’s like to be judged just because our skin tones are different and I won’t pretend to.

It’s so difficult to peel away a lifetime of white privilege. You have to be deliberate about it to find your way to a new perspective, to try and see a life from a different point of view.

People who haven’t peeled back their white privilege say things like, “but all lives matter,” or “but I’m not racist.” Like I said, it’s a difficult process.

Responding with “All Lives Matter,” when someone (especially if they are black) says “Black Lives Matter,” tells them you don’t think black people are hurting or persecuted. It invalidates them and their pain and struggle.

I know most people mean it out of love for all lives. But all lives aren’t being persecuted right now. All lives aren’t equal in the eyes of America, and unfortunately, the law.

Honor the struggle of our black brothers and sisters and say it out loud, “BLACK LIVES MATTER!” When you say that, you say to a black person that you care about them and their struggle. You would be shocked at how far that goes. When you are hurting and angry, don’t you wish someone would tell you that you matter?

Of course some say “All Lives Matter” defensively, as if Black Lives Matter means white ones don’t. I don’t have time for you right now.

When a person says, “Black Lives Matter,” they are saying that a black life matters JUST AS MUCH as anyone else’s. In this case, save the “All Lives” when all lives really do matter equally.

Posted in Activism, challenge, commentary, community

Blackkklansman

I’ve watched Blackkklansman several times now. Parts of it make me sick, particularly the parts where “Christians” believe white is right and the only color. Harry Belafonte’s part where he recounts several atrocities is particularly strong. One hopes we’ve made progress. Right?

Then a church going white man drives into a crowd to kill people for their assumed religion based on how they look. In Sunnyvale, California. In 2019.

We can do better, America. We need to stand up for each other. Own the past. Change the future.

I still have hope change can happen. May I do my part.

Posted in Activism, advocate, fearless, safe

THE TRAUMA OF ME TOO

Regardless of your political affiliation or personal feelings about sexual assault victims or trauma, please consider all the people whose abuse or trauma still hides in the shadows, in their traumatized hearts and minds.

You may not know you are standing next to a sexual assault victim, that you’ve known this person for decades and they’ve never summoned the courage to tell you their truth.

Sexual assault is more common than you might think. People are afraid to come forward for a myriad of reasons. It’s complicated.

You don’t know.

You may not know that you know their abuser and to you, he may appear to be the most faithful family man you’ve ever think you’ve known. You’d never believe it because that hasn’t been your experience with that person. But he, too, has a secret he won’t tell.

You don’t know.

You may not know that when you roll over at night and put your arm around the person you love, that they’ve pushed their pain down so far they can’t even put to words what happened to them, so it remains buried, at least until the triggering event comes along to where everything explodes like a messy science fair volcano.

You don’t know.

All I ask is that you consider your words when speaking of this kind of trauma. You never know who is listening and what they’ve had to, or still are dealing with. I know one too many sexual assault survivors and the last couple of years have been traumatic for them, and this past week has been especially tough.

You don’t know.

To any sexual assault survivors out there still hiding in the shadows, if you need a safe place, let me know, because…I know.

Posted in Activism, commentary, community, holidays, Human Rights, Humanity, politics

MLK Day

Until 1988, I didn’t know much about Martin Luther King, Jr. Nothing was taught about him in history class (of course, no history class I was in got much further than WW2), and so it passed under my radar.

In college, I had a friend named Dee Dee who suggested, since we were near Atlanta on Spring Break, that we go see the MLK Center opened by Dr. King’s widow.

We went on our journey that day and I didn’t know what to expect from our visit, but I left the MLK Center very reflective and sad that someone who fought so hard for equality was persecuted for it. He was not perfect, but he was important. For all of us.

My life is richer because of the diversity in it. May we all work together so we are all on equal footing to reach our dreams.

Happy birthday to the King of all Dreamers.

Posted in Activism, advocate, commentary, community, Equality, fearless, feminism, Uncategorized, World

NEVERTHELESS, I PERSIST

Yesterday was another day of political upheaval here in the United States. I am 48 years young but I’ve never seen (or was too young to really remember) anything like the baffling regression of the American spirit like I’ve witnessed over the past 18 months or so.

I will say this and leave it right here: I believe in equality for everyone. Everyone. Progress has been made the past decade to close many gaps for many different people groups and I refuse to let any group in this country try to drag us back to the dark ages of closed-minded thinking.

With that out in the ether I’ll add this: I’m ashamed of the president and what he’s stirred up in this country and continues to allow with no intelligent comment or rebuke. I have a great admiration for presidents past, and I hope to have a president I can admire and be proud of and respect again, but 45 is not that president. I have great respect for the office of the president, but I do not respect the current president. I can and will make that distinction for the duration of his term. If you voted for him, that is your right, but please don’t try to defend him or your choice. I am tired of that conversation. It’s done.

My heart hurts for the family that lost a sweet daughter yesterday. All she was doing was protesting a hate group. Peacefully. She believed in the diversity and love of all in America and she was marching to show this hate group that she still believed we could all get along, that there was room enough at her table for all. This hate group cannot stand that thought, and one man from that group took it upon himself to violently end her life and injure many others because people like her are trying to put other beliefs, thoughts and color into his whitewashed world.

I believe I am fortunate to be surrounded by a wondrously varied group of people every day. I work for an international company in the most diverse city in America. I work with people who were not born in this country who came here for freedom and chose the US and became citizens. Some are just here for a few years or months, others’ parents or grandparents came here and brought their rich cultures to the greatest melting pot in the world.

I navigate a number of cultures, religions, belief systems, biases and dissimilarities every single day. Harmony, even when there are notable differences, can be achieved if everyone allows their worldview to be wide enough to consider that not everyone was raised the same, believes the same, or wants the same outcomes for their lives.

I still don’t understand the notion of making America great again (MAGA), as if America wasn’t already great. It seems to me that the MAGA directive for the 45 supporter is to regress back to the idea that one way is the only way, which is anchored in ignorance and fear.

I wholeheartedly believe that America’s diversity is its strength. When hate groups march (which is their right as long as they are peaceful) and preach that they want to keep America the way it is or was (for them) they miss the point. America has always been diverse. America has always been a haven for all. These groups have just isolated themselves so much that they are afraid of what and whom they don’t know or understand. Rather than build a bridge, they want to vote everyone else off their very small-minded island.

I’ve lived in Houston 23 years now. I went from a small town in Indiana where most people looked, talked and thought like me to the most diverse and culture rich city in America. I am all the better for it. I understand so much more of the world because the world is here all around me and it is a wondrous assortment of people. If MAGA means isolation, hatred, racism, and a white’s only attitude, I want no part of it.

After the events yesterday in Charlottesville, I was a bit disheartened to say the least. America feels like it is sliding backward, and I feel like a small minority of hatred is going to suck me down with it. I can’t let that happen, but I don’t always know what I can do.

I become overwhelmed with the vastness of the pervasive hatred that some humans have against other humans simply because they are not disciples of the same ethos or they have a different color of skin. What can one person do to turn the tide?

I was reminded today to do something I already try to do – reach one person at a time. Learn as much as I can about our differences and use every opportunity to lift that person up. If that person needs an ally, I will stand with them. I will celebrate everything that makes them unique, because I also thrive when my uniqueness is noted and celebrated.

It really does boil down to treating others as you yourself want to be treated.

Nevertheless, I persist.

Posted in Activism, badassery, GLBT, LGBT, politics, safe, Uncategorized

SAFE SPACES

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Whether you agree with the safety pin movement, I ask you to think about all the marginalized people groups you know of, and friends you know who are labeled into those groups.  While a safety pin is a small gesture, a gesture some mock or ridicule or label too small, it’s a step in the right direction.  The hearts are in the right place. We shall soon see if their hands, feet, mouths and ears are in the right place as well.

I’ve always thought of myself as a safe space for people. In hindsight, I know that was not always true.  I was often judgemental and closed minded.  While I know that I’ve come quite a long way (a canyon’s divide) from where I once was, I’m only beginning to understand how to be a safe space, and I hope to become a proactive safe space.

One step at a time. First I must ensure I am a safe space for those who need it. I must seek to understand a pain or fear I perhaps have not experienced myself.

Second, I must listen more. I do a lot of talking. I seek to heal, empower, and encourage people with words. Sometimes, safety is found in my silence.  Sometimes, it’s found in the words I’m afraid to say aloud. No more fear.

I’m still trying to find words for all I’m feeling right now.  Still digging through. The main point of this post is to say I’m a safe space for those in fear, those who feel unheard, threatened, or pushed to the margins. As a single, middle-aged woman, I am in some of those margins myself.

For now, I hope this is a good first step. If you need a safe space, I’m here for you.