Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Black Women In Mississippi AREN'T Committing Genocide!

On Wednesday October 15,  a bunch of men from Operation Save America will descend on my state's last abortion provider Jackson Women's Health Organization. Their main goal as always is to tell women what to do with our bodies. This time they are being specific; sistas they're talking to us. They want to equate abortion to lynchings and the holocaust.

How dare they? How freaking dare they! As if we need a homophobic pastor from Harlem and the guy who has attempted to link gays to the rise of ISIS to bring their asses down here to insult black women in Mississippi by calling us war criminals. After all black women have survived from forced breeding. forced sterilization, being used for medical experimentation to being denied federal welfare benefits. As black women we worry about if our children will survive in a country where our unarmed children may be killed simply for being black. So okay, well maybe I'll believe that they're serious when they take concern about living breathing black lives to the steps of our state capitol or our governor's office. When I see them calling for medicaid expansion so women can be healthy pre pregnancy, real sex education, fully funded schools, fully funded Head Start, child care vouchers, better TANF benefits, better access to housing for low income families, a higher minimum wage, union rights and so on maybe we can chat.

Our state has plenty to work on. Mississippi is the least wired state in the nation. Often leaving people unable to apply for jobs and school online as well as just access information. Did I mention Mississippi has one of the highest maternal death and infant mortality rates in the nation, especially if you're black? In Chicksaw County, Mississippi, the maternal mortality rate for black women is higher than those in countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya and Rwanda. Reproductive healthcare access for women of color in the south is so dire that recently a coalition of reproductive justice organizations delivered a report to the United Nations on the topic. The report found the US is in violation of the UN convention on racism. These things are impacting black lives everyday.

Loretta Ross on The Economic and Racial Dynamics for Black Women
They won't show up on any of these issues though. For men like them society's problems begin and end at the intersection of our open brown thighs and scripture. Everything is linked to the outcomes of our perceived moral failings. Oh, "If only more black women were married, if they would stop twerking, being sluts, and would focus on being real Christians (despite us being one of the most religious groups in the country) then things would be great".

The magnificent power of our wayward immoral vaginas has allegedly caused everything from gun crimes to catastrophic storms like hurricanes. (that's right ladies that hook up you had caused Katrina). In OSA's disturbing world view we should all head back to the 50s minus the segregation and racial violence (I hope???).

                                             Are Black Children An Endangered Species?

Black women are the cornerstone of our community.  We don't have to parent to matter even though most women who have abortions are or will be mothers. We raise, uphold and mold our sacred community. How dare ANYONE say WE are destroying it. ONLY the person who is pregnant can be trusted to know when how and IF they want to gestate and parent. OSAs genocide claim means they are accusing us the mothers, sisters, aunties, and nanas in the community of deliberately, systematically destroying and trying to wipe out ourselves. All while we often carry our families and communities on our backs. It's beyond absurd, Oddly it's never called genocide when white women have abortions just sinful ect. this extra shaming is reserved for us,

People like those in OSA are not keen on black women (or any women) having reproductive justice. They will never acknowledge that structural and social factors like poverty, racism (racism that leads to lack of healthcare access NOT a genocide scheme as they suggest), and oppression have to do with the disportionate rate of black women who have abortions each year. Nope let them tell it the "abortion industry" has us poor simple hormonal women duped into having procedures thanks to the evil plans of Margaret Sanger. (This link about Margaret Sanger and the black community is written by a reproductive justice organization funded by and ran by BLACK WOMEN; unlike most forced birth groups with black faces, often men in front with white money and white leadership behind them). All their rhetoric strives to convince people it's a good idea to control women's fertility. Getting groups closer to their goal-controlling the fertility of all women. It is less challenging for them to strip rights black women, other women of color and low income women and use us as the reason why abortion restrictions are needed instead of directly trying to attack white women's human rights.

The most interesting thing about this patriarchal, misogynist, slut shaming, shit show that's about to happen is that they named it "Operation Let My People Go". Whoever named this operation doesn't seem to understand people are exercising their right to an abortion WE ARE FREE TO DO SO! They seem to forget that they are mad that we are free to have abortion as an option. They are going as far as appropriating the language of the civil rights movement, a movement that was non violent while working for equality and human rights. 

In contrast Operation Rescue and OSA are well known for their terror tactics. Operation Rescue even employs someone convicted of planning a clinic bombing. The same woman tracked the whereabouts of Dr. George Tiller for Scott Roeder before he assassinated the doctor in his church. Yet they have the gall to call what they're doing "in the spirit of the freedom rides". All while trying to take away women's freedom to bodily autonomy and in no way uphold human rights of women. Maybe they are thinking of a different civil rights movement? I'll just let their misuse of language set in for a moment.

The best thing these people can do for black women is drink a tall glass of STFU and go home. Unless they want to support women in all their reproductive decisions fully without judgement they aren't useful or needed. I know these few simple truths. I trust myself to parent. I trusted myself when I didn't want to parent. Most of all I know we should TRUST BLACK WOMEN!!

If you are in Mississippi and can come out and counter protest anytime between 11am and 1pm on Wed. Oct. 15, 2014 BE THERE!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Help When It’s Needed

This was originally published in the Jackson Free Press on Oct. 2, 2013

Years ago when I was a young mother, I worked two, sometimes three, low-wage restaurant jobs. This was not easy work. It was extraordinarily taxing—not only on my body but my mind. Wait staff have a lot of tasks to complete. Plus, they have to smile and be pleasant even when customers and management serve up a big old side of mistreatment.
Working those kinds of jobs always involves much more hard work than money, which is why I had two and three at a time. But even when I worked two full-time and one part-time job, I still couldn't make ends meet.
Recently, fast-food workers across the country went on strike. They asked for something fairly simple: a living wage. Make no mistake: The multinational companies that employ these workers can afford to pay better. But many from the right-wing political sphere called striking workers greedy, lazy and un-American.
Fast-forward to the congressional debate over food-stamp benefits (or SNAP), which has the potential to affect many of these same workers. I keep hearing from conservatives—and even some liberals—that "those people" just need to work harder. If only "they" would do that, then the collective American "we" wouldn't have to take care of "them." The problem with that thinking is that many people who receive SNAP do work.
Surprisingly absent from the broader discussion of responsibility has been the topic of corporate responsibility in the matter. When companies pay their employees fairly, people who work don't need food stamps. I find this disjointed thinking odd and non-congruent. It seems as if, in the eyes of some, the working poor are wrong no matter what they do.
In all my working years—on and off public assistance—I have contributed to the community. I am raising epic, awesome kids (yes, I am biased). I resent it when others imply that because people need assistance to put food on the table, they are drug addicts, lazy or worth less than other people.
Every person on assistance has a story. Some may have stories you approve of, and some may not. At the end of the day, I would like to think I live in a country that believes even people we don't like deserve to eat, one that is willing to feed people in need even when we don't approve of every food choice. I want to have faith that I live in a country that believes providing free school lunches to hungry children is a good and moral thing to do.
I hope my country shows me I'm right. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

It's Easy To Be "Pro Life" Until....You Need An Abortion

Originally Posted on Defending The Last Clinic  August 20, 2013 It contains a few edits

The sun was beating down through the car window, my mouth was dry and my legs felt like lead.  I was trying to figure out how I ended up here. In my mind I knew how- I was a bad girl I was stupid and careless. I kept telling myself all those things. How did I let this happen?  I couldn't be pregnant now. So there I was 22 years old mother of 5 about to do something I thought I would never do. Have an abortion. See I wasn't like those other women, you know the ones, the irresponsible ones who didn't “own their life choices”. The reason I had 5 kids is I owned my “mistakes”.

Abortion had never even been an option for me when I found out I was pregnant at 16. In fact the first place I called to go for a pregnancy test wasn't Planned Parenthood it was Birthright a anti choice organization that offered services much like a Crisis Pregnancy Center. I couldn't go to Planned Parenthood when I was 16 because everything in my upbringing had told me they were evil and I had believed them.

As a little girl sitting in the dark stained wooden pews of our fundamentalist Baptist church I often had questions. I didn't understand why I couldn't wear pants when I was younger and then when we switched churches God magically changed his mind and I could. Only I still had to always wear skirts to church ALWAYS! That always made me wonder what would happen if I didn't would God come down and smite me? I mean I was only one little girl in Wisconsin -I always figured God had better things to do. I often wondered why women couldn't be church leaders or speak in church except during “women’s events”. I was always full of questions. It was never ok to question the good book and the teachings of God. So even though I was a questioning type I never really thought twice about my church’s stance on abortion or all the things I learned as a child and adolescent about abortion and sex. I did mention I was raised fundamentalist evangelical Baptist, right? Think Jerry Falwell,  (except oddly my grandmother strongly disliked him) John Hagee and Pat Robinson kinds of ideas.  There were lots of rules about life, especially sex and well women we don’t get a say.

Rule one-was sex is BAAAADDDD I mean it bad! It was dirty and bad, until it magically became good when you found the right God fearing (same race) man and got married. Then sex and babies were great- actually required.  In fact if you couldn't have babies you weren't suppose to be too shocked if your husband wanted a woman who could provide him children. (that is a whole other post) Rule two- If you were a girl who was dumb enough to get raped or slutty and tempted some good man to have sex with you or weak enough to let some bad man tempt you and you got knocked up- tough cookies for you. Abortion was NEVER an option. Not for rape, not for incest, and especially not for slutty girls who should have heeded God’s will and kept their lady parts to themselves (By the way NO masturbation either y’all if you’re horny just PRAY). Hormonal birth control is abortion and abortion is murder. I am a child of the 80s. Anti abortion rhetoric was very popular in my church then. I heard often about the holocaust being committed against the unborn. How I should be proud as the mulatto child of a single mom that she owned up to her sin and had me. I really couldn't thank people enough for calling me a black bastard baby on the sly. I was 12 when my mother experienced a stillbirth it was one more reason to demonize women who get abortions. How dare they throw away the chance she would give anything to have back. What ungrateful people they must be. I heard over and over how only selfish women chose to destroy the life God had blessed them with. This was usually paired with the story of some good Christian family who was just waiting to adopt but couldn't. Of course it was because of abortion they couldn't adopt. More than anything I heard how Planned Parenthood injured, maimed, and killed women (lies). That they didn't provide real health care and were only out to make money. The accusation that always stuck with me was that they would give you an abortion even if you weren't pregnant.

I grew up hearing those things until I was 14 and they were still with me as my friend and I walked past protesters who called me a murderer, told me to “be responsible” and they would “help me love my baby”  and yelled at me not to “kill my baby”. They didn't know or understand that I had 5 babies at home to care for-one under a year old-and a doctor who had warned me not to get pregnant for at least two years or it could kill me.  I didn't want to be there but I NEEDED to be there.  I hadn't wanted to go through the state mandated 24 hour waiting period, the informed consent lecture by phone or the stupid video of what an abortion is. Not because any of it made me feel guilty it all just seem like an insult to my intellect. It just drew out the inevitable. I knew what I was there for and my mind was made up before I arrived.

I sat in the waiting room looking around at the other women thinking “I wonder what her story is”. They all looked different some were calm, some scared, some tired, none of us looked like we wanted to be there.  Some of them may have been “good girls” who would go back to church on Sunday and act like abortion is evil. I held my friend’s hand and I waited. They finally called me back for my ultrasound. The technician, who had been chatting with me, got strangely quiet and then called the doctor in. The doctor introduced himself and said “Ms. Roberts there is no heartbeat and it seem the embryo stopped progressing several weeks ago- you are going to have a miscarriage. You should go home and contact your regular doctor especially if you don’t start bleeding in a few days. If you don’t have a regular doctor you can follow up with us. We will refund your money on your way out” He smiled at me gently and patted my hand. My mind was blown! They were suppose to be giving me a back alley abortion procedure right then and there according to everything I was ever taught. I had already began to question my views but this meant I had been lied to flat out for years! The morning I got up to go and get an abortion I still considered myself pro-life. I was one of those people that said I would never have an abortion but what you do is your business. That was a big step for me from abortion is always murder and those women are going to hell. Still for me I was not one of them. Those women were irresponsible I had a medical reason that made me different, right?

The truth is, it was that day that I realized I wasn't different than "those women" and although I was sent home that day I am no better or worse than the 1 in 3 women who will have an abortion in their lifetime. Had they not sent me home I would have had that abortion and several days later when my body spontaneously aborted I was relieved to no longer be pregnant. I will never apologize for not wanting to be pregnant or unwilling to take the medical risk at that time to have another child. In all the years since I never mourned the loss of that pregnancy the way I did my other two miscarriages either. Those were different times in my life, different emotions and different circumstances. I left that clinic the same mother, daughter, employee, and citizen I was before. No better no less. I wasn't dirty I wasn't a bad person. I went to the doctor like other women before me and other women since.

That day I learned far from being crazed money hungry boogie bears abortion providers are compassionate health care providers (not saying there are never bad ones there are bad docs EVERYWHERE).  Planned Parenthood took good care of me. They were kind and patient. The exact same things I see every week at Jackson Women’s Health Organization. They also called and followed up with me everyday until I miscarried. They didn't have to do that. I wasn't really their problem anymore. After I had almost died during a miscarriage from lack of care at a Catholic hospital this level of care and concern was refreshing and shocking.

The biggest lesson I learned is it’s easy to be pro life (anti choice) until you are the one who needs or wants an abortion. It’s easy to tell other people what to do when you can never get pregnant. It is easy to project your feelings of wanting a child or having lost a child onto another woman’s pregnancy experience (as I did when my mother experienced a stillbirth) when it’s not you who needs one.  At the end of the day none of that matters for the lives and choices of individual women and families.

Families just like mine.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I Don't Regret Helping My Daughter Get An Abortion

(This originally appeared on the Defending The Last Clinic blog September 5,2013)

“It is always easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them”- Alfred Adler

It was a day I never thought would happen. I thought I had done everything to guard against it. Yet several months ago there I was hearing that my 15 year old daughter was pregnant.

It all seemed so surreal. How could this have happened to us? As I stood listening to her tell me  the test was positive I struggled with the strong desire to scream and cry. In my mind my daughter knew better. She is the homeschooled daughter of the president of the state chapter of a national feminist organization. The first time she ever spoke at the capitol was at a joint Senate and House hearing on teen pregnancy. She was 13 and spoke about the need for comprehensive sex education. She and I along with her sister are clinic escorts. She knows all about birth control, condoms, and Plan B. She has always had knowledge about and access to contraception as well as being encouraged to wait until she is older to have sex.

This was one of those moments in life when I was faced with living my beliefs. I had always said if one of my daughters got pregnant as a teen I wouldn’t flip out and judge her like so many parents do. I would love her, respect her, and let her choose how to handle it. I would support her no matter what. Yet my mind immediately did judge and I wanted to shake her.

I took a deep breath put my arm around her and said “everything will be ok”. Then we traveled down the short hall to the counseling room at the clinic we escort at. I kept telling myself “stay calm, breathe, she needs to know you love her”. As we sat down all she kept saying was “I don’t know how this happened” over and over. The truth was in that moment she couldn’t remember having sex the one time with the young man she was seeing. She isn’t alone this happens to grown women all the time who find themselves faced with unplanned pregnancy. The clinic ultrasound tech peaked in with a soft smile and offered to take her back to see how far along she was.

Left alone with two staff members I broke down in tears saying “she knew better” and “I warned her”. It’s funny how all the rational things you know about teen sex and pregnancy go out the window in a crisis. The truth is my daughter was using condoms. Guess what sometimes they fail. Especially, when children who aren’t educated in their use like my child is are the ones placing them on their penis.

So there we were sitting, waiting. The clinic counselor said I was the calmest parent she had ever seen- so I guess there’s that. Even with that comment I couldn’t help feeling awful. Like I failed.

Like I suspected my daughter returned and said she was 5 weeks pregnant. I told her calmly and plainly she had three options she could parent, she could choose adoption or she could have an abortion. I also told her she had time to decide since she was so early in her pregnancy.

Let me tell you my daughter and I both LOVE babies! She loves kids. She is a great babysitter. She and her sister have a babysitting business. She wants to be a mom. She also helps me as a doula. Yet none of this means she is ready to be a mother at 15.

The clinic was closed the next week so we had over a week to be home with her being incredibly morning sick , unable to eat and asking questions about what it was like to be a teen mom. I was honest with her. I wouldn’t trade my children for anything but it was hard VERY hard. It is nothing like the fairy tale that anti choicers sell  to girls. Yes you can get benefits but you have to tell the state all your business to get them.  I had to work two and three jobs at a time often missing majors parts of my children’s lives. I wouldn’t have made it without my mother helping me every step of the way.

I made plans in my head for each options, if she chose to parent I thought it would be hard but we could do it. I’m a doula who works with teen moms I know the ropes. I tried not to tell her what to do and just gave her simple honest answers to her questions. It was about a day before we addressed the huge issue looming-the fact that my daughter has a illness that is managed by medication that is not compatible with pregnancy. The option for her would be to go off her medication and risk her health severely deteriorating during the pregnancy to the point of hospitalization.  Those are a lot of factors to lay at the feet of a 15 y/o girl but this was not my pregnancy or my choice it was hers alone. She spent hours curled up like a baby as I stroked her hair and after days of quiet reflection SHE settled on abortion as her choice.

So I made sure she received religious counseling pre procedure from Faith Aloud. She read the stories of other women online on the I had an abortion FB page.  I wanted her to know even there was no shame in what she was choosing to do she was walking a road many had walked before her. I wanted her to understand she had control. This was HER decision and she would have to be a parent, she would be the one relinquishing if she chose adoption and only she would be having an abortion, not me. I told her she could change her mind.  She said nope she knew what she wanted to do.

Doing the work I do I already knew the extra hoops parents are required to go through to obtain an abortion for their daughter if she is under 16. Let me tell you that knowing something and living something are two different things. In Mississippi a girl under 16 has to have parental permission from BOTH parents, a picture ID, and her birth certificate (which is redundant if she has a state ID since it was used to get the ID but whatever). It is the first time I was ever happy that Kayla’s father is not on her birth certificate because tracking him down wasn’t going to happen, we barely speak.

I had never even thought about having to go through the hoops of getting my daughter a state ID. We like many families in poverty who have moved often couldn’t find her birth certificate so I had to send off to her state of birth for that, priority mail. Then there was actually securing the ID. Our vehicle which like many low income families runs when it feels like it decided to break down when we were driving around to get the ID. Thankfully we have friends who could help us not everyone does. We also live in the city were we can get all this done . We didn’t have to drive 30 minutes or more away like many women.

We are fortunate that when my daughter and I couldn’t get through on the NAF hotline for abortion fund help (medicaid only pays for abortion in very rare cases my daughter’s wasn’t one her pregnancy was not a result of rape or sexual assault and she wasn’t about to die), I was give a person to call to get her intake completed. We were fortunate that we are surrounded by pro choice friends who were able to pitch in and help us with the cost of her procedure and take the day off to support her, unlike many of the families we see at the clinic.  Not only was I there on that day but a close friend who is a therapist was there in case she wanted to talk, had feelings to deal with, or just changed her mind and wanted to go home and come up with a different plan.

The day of her procedure she insisted on volunteering as an escort.  Which actually worked out well because when procedure time rolled around the protesters didn’t even notice her.  They were too busy harassing the other women coming and going to notice a regular fixture especially since we had several camera crews on site and they were showing off for them. In fact we were in a group of patients whose feet were filmed receiving the state mandated pre procedure counseling.

Since she is a minor she had the option to have me in the room for her procedure but she wanted to go alone.My daughter received excellent care. The doctor who performed my daughters procedure was caring and polite not only to my daughter but to me.   He asked her again before they started if she wanted to do it and talked to her through the whole procedure (I’ll let her tell her story in her own post).  Her procedure was quick and without complications.

She went home and rested. I felt relieved, she felt relieved. I was happy that she had choices and wouldn’t have to postpone or give up the chances like I did. Happy that she wasn’t being forced to risk her health to give birth. Within a few days she decided she wanted to go back to the clinic and volunteer to escort.  I thought she might want a break that the insults of the anti choice harassers might bother her. Nope, in fact her resolve was greater than ever. I don’t think she ever thought it would be her at the clinic. She says she just wants to help and she does just that.

For me the hardest thing about this whole journey has been living up to the principles I say I live by. It is easy to say we are “pro-choice” or “reproductive justice activists” those are just words and titles if not put into action. It is hard to live them and let the people we love have autonomy, choice, and honor their decisions as their own regardless of what we think and feel they should do.

I know there are people who want to know if I regret helping my daughter with her abortion NO I DON’T! Frankly if she or one of her sisters were pregnant and asked me tomorrow I would do it again. Why? Their bodies, their reproductive futures are THEIR OWN not mine! They are my children-I do not own them. I guide them, I help them, I love them. That is my job. I am their mother NOT their owner.

I am proud of my daughter for deciding what was right for her and being willing to share her story with others and confront abortion stigma. There are plenty of people who wish to make her be ashamed and remain silent. She is rejecting that. She is refusing to be shamed by those who wrap their shaming in a guise of Christian love too (if she wants your prayer or thinks she needs forgiveness she’ll call you). As a mother and woman of color I will continue to strive to make sure no one ever has the right to tell my children or anyone else when, how, and if they procreate. As a people we have already been there done that and it didn’t work out well.

Below is a copy of the speech my daughter wrote and gave at the rally on 8/17/13. In case anyone asks I advised her against going public with her story but she said and I quote “I want girls like me to know it’s ok and they will be ok”.  Since she has went public the libelous slurs against my daughter and our family have already started. Kayla says she doesn’t care she wants other girls to know all their options and that they don’t have to be ashamed.  That is what she tells girls when they come to her for help. We then refer them where they need to go including if they need a doctor and a doula for their birth. That’s the thing about supporting women’s reproductive health and well being you have to support a range of decisions not just what you would choose.

“Hello my name is Kayla, I am 15 years old and I had an abortion. The day I found out I was pregnant I was scared and ashamed because I was 15 and pregnant. I had a big choice to make-should I stay pregnant, chose adoption, or have an abortion.
I cried because I want to be a mom one day but I was not ready for such a huge step at such a young age. So I chose to have an abortion. I was scared but I knew I was doing the right thing.
Did I feel sad? Yes. Do I regret it? No! Because I know that the spirit I named Mariah will go on to a woman who is ready for her. I love my mom for being so supportive of my choice- I love her for that.
For all the young ladies that might have been or will be in this situation- you are not alone. There are people who support you-always. Even when you don’t know it. Abortion is not a bad thing, it’s a lifesaver! I can now be who I need to be and I know God still loves me! Thank you.”

Kayla Roberts
Clinic Escort, Young Feminist

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Leading And Loving (classism in liberal organizations)

(This was first published in the Jackson Free Press on August 7, 2013 the online version is available by clicking the hyperlink)
My lower middle-class grandparents' status largely shielded me from class issues. I grew up the only child of a single mother, and it wasn't until I was on my own as a teenaged wife and mother that class restraints became real. They started to weigh heavily on me. Among other things, I learned the rules of who the "proper" people are for certain jobs in the restaurants where I worked, and I saw the class lens through which some view young mothers.
As an activist (and a real-life poor person), I am offended when I have to deal with classism within the liberal political and social-justice organizations I work with. If organizations think they can serve populations that their board members, directors or staff can't or won't speak with or listen to, they are in the wrong business. If an organization attempts to serve oppressed populations or low-income people but doesn't have representatives of those groups within the operation, it has failed.
I am tired of hearing conversations within liberal circles about how uneducated some people are in Mississippi, and this is why we should worry about who votes. Our educational system isn't perfect, but I want to challenge those who make such arguments. They come dangerously close to the arguments made for literacy tests and voter disenfranchisement during Jim Crow, and they aren't something one should put into the social discourse.
If voters are uneducated on issues, it is our job to reach out, not to further alienate them. We live in a state that is trying to disenfranchise voters—we don't need political parties, through their speech and actions, actively discouraging people from participating in the process. 
If either party wishes to broaden its base, it would do well to stop demonizing poor and working-class people and, instead, try talking to us. We are nice people. We're just as good—and as bad—as middle- and upper-class people, and we, too, want to understand the issues that affect us.
No one can afford to write off whole groups of people from the social and political discourse of this country. That's a losing strategy, especially with more and more people falling into poverty. For people on my side of the political spectrum, I strongly urge caution: You cannot be "on the side" of poor people and personally practice elitism.
"You can't lead the people if you don't love the people," Cornel West said. "You can't save the people if you don't serve the people."
West is right. But he means all the people, not just the ones that society long ago chose as the "right" ones.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A note on 9/11

Today is the anniversary of 9/11 media outlets will spend the day trying to milk our country's collective sorrow and pain for every bit of ratings it's worth.

I can do without TV stations replaying a moment by moment, as it happened 9/11 remembrance. We can still remember without doing that. I don't think it serves any function but to make us scared. The mass media likes scared. Capitalism likes scared. Scared people tend to buy things and stay glued to our TVs which means we watch commercials.

Well media I remember exactly how scared I was that day. So scared in fact that my children were running late for school and I decided to keep them home thinking the end of world was happening.
So scared I called one of my best friends Addison asking "what the hell is going on".

I remember making my kids huddle on my bedroom floor with me for about a half hour as I had a panic attack. Yes I was THAT scared even though I was in Indiana. Not really a big terrorist target. Yet it felt like it was the end of the world and media helped make it feel that way.

No MSNBC and others I don't need your yearly trigger. I don't need Facebook and Twitter posts to tell me to "Never Forget". I won't forget nor do I need to see graphic photos to remember.

I do know since that time I have grown. I know that one act of terror doesn't give us the right to hate or to blow up whole counties making innocent civilians and families feel the same pain as we did and still do.

I know I am not as sure as I once was that charging into countries to "teach them a lesson" is such a good idea. I am much more of a pacifist.

Today we can commemorate those lost without reliving our pain minute by minute. The lessons we need to take away from 9/11 happened leading up to that horrible day and in it's aftermath. Lessons that in the wake of what is going on in Syria what we need to be even more focused on.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Thankful for the small things

When I came home from church yesterday my mom and I were talking about how one of the reasons I was able to question the fundamentalist evangelical church I attended as a child is my aunts Julie and Cindy would openly defy the rules and give me things I wasn't allowed to have. (background my mother stayed in the church largely due to my grandparents influence and the fact we lived with them and/or by them).
On my 6th birthday my aunt Julie decided to get my ears pierced. My mother didn't object she just pretended not to know so my grandmother would yell at my aunt and not her. It was a full 2 days before my grandmother noticed and then all hell broke loose. She insisted my mother remove them and let my ears heal and my mother simply said "no she likes them and they aren't hurting anything". Thus I got to keep my earrings.
Julie also bought me my first pair of pants that year, turquoise blue sweatpants with white strips on the sides. I LOVED those pants! I couldn't wear them in public because I wasn't allowed but I hated taking them off. I wanted to wear them everyday even under my ankle length prairie dresses. In fact I wore them all the time for two years. The poor things had been patched so many times they were clearly rags and they were almost the length of walking shorts.
One may wonder why pants were so meaningful to a six year old girl but I remembered as I sat talking to my mother what I felt when I put them on. I felt free! Free to play and do things I had sat and watched other kids do but I couldn't because they weren't "ok for girls to do". Pants meant I could climb on monkey bars and flip upside down on the swing. Wearing pants meant I didn't have to constantly worry about how I was sitting. I could just be a kid, play and have fun.
My aunt Cindy understood this because at her house she often threw me in my cousin Jason's clothes and sent me out to play. Then I could get dirty, run, tumble, and just BE without worrying about that stupid bulky skirt getting in the way.
In this moment of reflection I remembered how thankful I was for such small things. How joyous those that seemingly small change felt. Often when I am doing the work I do I have to remember that "small things" matter. Many times your small things are really big things to the people who receive them.