So many issues, so little time

Don’t know what to do? Begin by showing up for rallies, demonstrations and protests.

Several conversations lately have centered on how to be an activist without being overwhelmed.

These are difficult times for those of us who believe in justice and equality, and there have been attacks on every front.

You can’t work on everything.

You can, however, choose one or two issues and devote yourself to that.

You can stand in solidarity with others who are working on different issues.

You can show up at rallies and demonstrations.

You can visit, call or write to legislators and insist on being heard. If they won’t see you when you visit, leave a letter. If they won’t take your calls, leave messages and then send e-mails and snail-mails.

So, your first job is to set your priorities.

What’s most important to you?

Remember that all of these issues need work and you should go to where your passion resides.

For me, it’s health care and women’s equality issues.

For some of my friends, it’s racial equality and voting rights, which I’m also passionate about. I will show up for rallies and I will write to legislators.

But I have learned all I can about my issues. I am the go-to person in my circle of resistors because I have read the Affordable Care Act and I know the statistics surrounding it.

I understand how women die when women’s health clinics are mis-labled deliberately by opponents of abortion, a procedure that takes up only 3 percent of clinic resources. These clinics are shut down because people don’t understand that they offer cancer screenings, health checks, contraception, information and more and that women die when they lose that access to health care.

Some of my friends have extensive knowledge of workers’ rights issues, education, environment … and I depend on them.

Make a list of policies you support and ask legislators where they stand on those policies. Know your legislators’ voting records. You have one state representative and state senator, one Congressional representative and two US senators. You should also know where your governor stands on these issues.

I have one friend who’s on a mission to make her representatives tired of hearing from her. She calls them about everything and reminds them she is a constituent and she’s not going away.

Once you have your list of policies you support, prioritize them. Pick your one or two issues if you haven’t already.

When you write, call or visit concerning these issues, use your own words. When we use form letters or sign online petitions, no one pays attention. If your issue means that much to you, take a few minutes to write what’s in your heart. If you need help expressing your feelings, ask a friend.

You do not have to be arrested to be effective. If you attend a rally or demonstration, take photos so that there is a record of the event and of the numbers attending.

I remember being at a rally in Washington, DC, with 5,000 people before the Affordable Care Act was passed, and Rick Sanchez in CNN reported, “Dozens of people showed up at a rally today …” But the video footage told the real story. It was dozens of people all right — hundreds of dozens of people.

When media misrepresent what’s happening, post your truth on social media, then write to the media outlet that lied. Call them out with letters to the editor and phone calls. Include your photos.

What’s going on today is the result of decades of increasing voter apathy. We can’t afford to sit back anymore, and millions of us are beginning to realize that.

We must care about what’s happening in our country, and we must work to make others care.

So, go ahead and take that first step. Decide what issue or issues you will call your own and get to work.

Seek out others who are doing the work and organize, even if it’s a half dozen people at a letter-writing party, you’re doing something that wasn’t being done before.

You can make a difference, you just have to decide to do it.

#Resist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roy Cooper can’t do this by himself; neither can I

Roy Cooper is governor, and he wants to expand Medicaid, but he can’t without the approval of the General Assembly, which is still controlled by mean-spirited Republicans.

North Carolina’s new governor announced the other day that he wants to expand Medicaid.

That’s good news, but he can’t do it without the General Assembly. That’s the law in this state because Pat McCrory signed it into law — four years ago, as one of his first acts in office.

This was not part of the last-minute, strip-Cooper-of-his-powers stuff passed by the GA in special session last month; this was very early on, and McCrory was happy to do it. You could tell by the smarmy grin on his face in the photo.

I dogged him for three years before I was finally able to talk to him. He didn’t make appointments with people who disagreed with him — just like the majority leadership in the General Assembly. Instead they had us arrested when we showed up and refused to leave.

When I did corner him, he said he was sorry about my son and I told him his apology means nothing to me until he also apologizes to the families of the up to 8,000 people who died because he refused to expand Medicaid.

The opponents of health care reform have done everything they can, at every opportunity, to kill what little progress we have made in getting access to care to people who need it.

The US Senate took its first steps toward repeal yesterday by putting it into a budget resolution bill, and Democrats announced they won’t fight it. They said they’re going to take a ‘Pottery Barn” approach and let the GOP break it and own it.

Four years ago, before McCrory was elected, Democrats here in North Carolina said the same thing. “Let the Republicans have all of it, and in four years, people will be so disgusted, we’ll get it all back.”

Some 8,000 deaths later, the GOP still has a stranglehold on power here, even though we elected a Democratic governor — one who is powerless to increase access to health care by expanding Medicaid.

If Democrats won’t fight, I will leave the party and support candidates who will fight. If I’m willing to put my life on the line to increase access to health care, the least these people can do is stand up to the murdering thugs who would take it away from 22 million people who have gained access to care via the Affordable Care Act.

Lives are more important than political points.

Let me say that again: Lives are more important than political points.

If we don’t fight, we become as guilty of murder as those who vote to take away access to care.

Yes, I called it murder because negligent homicide is murder, and allowing people to die when they can and should get treatment is negligent homicide.

We need to fight these murdering thugs. We need to stand up and call them out on their crimes.

We didn’t elect Roy Cooper to stand alone so we can shake our heads and wonder why he isn’t expanding Medicaid — or funding education, or taking politics out of higher education, or passing a living-wage law …

Stop sitting on your sofa and shaking your head. Call and e-mail your state and federal representatives, not with links to web sites that express your views, not with form letters, but with your own words.

Tell them their behavior is unacceptable.

Then, if you can afford it, contribute to organizations that will fight these policies — the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and others.

Attend a march so that when the heads are counted, yours will be among them.

You don’t have to handcuff yourself to a Congress member’s chair, but you do have to stand up for what’s right in small ways because, while each voice is small, we are a deafening roar when we speak together.

No one person can defeat these thugs, but together, we can. Work with me here, OK?

 

 

We don’t have to just sit here. We can resist.

We can all take actions, large or small, to resist unjust public policies.

I know I’m not the only one who has felt immobilized by fear after the election. The thought of Trumplethinskin in the White House has kept me up at night and made me feel hopeless and helpless like never before.

I have reached out to friends and therapists, even a psychiatrist, Steven Buser, M.D., who also is co-author of the book, “A Clear and Present Danger: Narcissism in the Age of Trump.” (Chiron Publications, $16.95)

“In 30 years of clinical practice, I have never seen this level of dread and anxiety in any election,” Buser said.

Dr. Kelly Johnson, a therapist and friend, told me she has seen a tremendous increase in the number of people who are experiencing “teariness,” anxiety and depression, as have her peers. In fact, she says, it’s not just patients — she and her peers are feeling it, too.

Most of us are afraid this man will keep his campaign promises.

Some of us — many of us — are survivors of sexual violence, and we are appalled that a confessed sexual predator who has no experience in government is moving into the White House.

How could confessing to grabbing women by the pussy not have been a game changer for voters?

For weeks, I have seen posts on Facebook and heard people talking about how we can stop him from taking power, and I have said all along I can’t buy into these false hopes. We are going to have to deal with this man, like it or not.

So, here are some tips I’m following:

  • Don’t watch TV news. Not any of it. Read your news from trusted sources online, such as The Guardian, BBC and Democracy Now. This man’s voice is a trigger for me and many others. You won’t hear or see him if you don’t watch or listen. Check the validity of your sources to make sure you’re not being pulled in by propaganda (aka “false news”).
  • Practice self-care. We’re in for a bumpy ride and we need to be in the best frame of mind to face it. So, get plenty of rest. Take walks outdoors. Take a yoga class. Meditate. Do some deep breathing exercises. Create — knit, paint, sculpt, make jewelry … Eat healthy, but do indulge in a favorite treat once a week or so.
  • Don’t turn to alcohol. A drink might seem to dull the senses for a time, but alcohol is a depressant, and if you’re feeling down already, it won’t help.
  • Find an issue and work on it. One issue, two at most, is what you need because you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Go to marches and rallies, if only to remind yourself that others feel the same way you do and to connect with them. If you don’t want to be involved in anything political right now, that’s OK; you can deliver Meals on Wheels or volunteer at an animal shelter or an after-school program.
  • Take action in some small way. Write to your members of Congress. That’s how we stopped them from gutting the ethics office. As much as Trumplethinskin thinks his tweet stopped them, it was, in reality, the actions of tens of thousands of citizens who called, e-mailed or showed up at their offices.
  • Reach out to friends. I started a group for women who have survived sexual violence and who were triggered by the election. It was supposed to be a one-time event, but we all agreed we’re going to need each other over the coming months.
  • Contribute to the effort to fight the injustices that are coming. Donate to the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women or the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • If you think you need professional help, you probably do. Don’t hesitate to call a therapist or talk to your doctor or clergy person.
  • Most of all, don’t give up. There are more Americans who didn’t vote for this man than who did. He and his ilk may have power for now, but we can resist. In fact, we must.

 

Yes, I’m jealous of Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds was lucky enough to be able to join her daughter, Carrie Fisher.

If you have lost a child, you will understand why I’m jealous of Debbie Reynolds.

It’s impossible to express the grief of losing a child. One friend described it as losing a huge piece of her innards, as though something had been torn from her. It was a physical pain.

Another friend recalls falling to the floor and screaming because there were no words and she lost the strength to stand.

We carry a hole in our hearts that can’t be patched, and it never, ever stops hurting, even for a moment.

I remember I had it in my head that my heart would stop when my son’s did. I couldn’t imagine life without him.

I sat by him, holding his hand and telling him how much I loved him as he breathed his last.

“He’s gone,” the nurse said after he stopped breathing.

But that couldn’t be so, I thought. I’m still here, and I can’t be here after he’s gone.

But there I was, alive and pissed.

I hadn’t told anyone I would die with him; I didn’t think I had to. Everyone would know why my heart stopped.

But then it didn’t stop.

I tried to will it to stop, but it kept beating.

In eight and a half years since he died, I have wondered every day when I will be able to join him.

I feel my heart beat and the injustice of it still makes me angry.

Yes, I have another child and four grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. Yes, I have nieces and nephews and siblings whom I love very much. And yes, I have friends — wonderful friends, a ton of them.

But I don’t have Michael.

I know this doesn’t make sense to you unless you have lost a child, especially if you lost that child to injustice.

He shouldn’t have died.

If he had been able to gain access to health care, he would still be with us.

If Carrie Fisher had been downtown instead of on an airplane, she might have gotten help in time. She might still be alive, and so would her mother.

If, if, if …

But the reality is my Michael is gone and I’m still here.

When I heard Debbie Reynolds had suffered a severe stroke, I felt a tinge of jealousy.

“She’s going to die,” I told my husband. “She gets to go be with her daughter.”

Sure enough, an hour later, he was online and saw she had died.

“Lucky,” I muttered under my breath.

My son has come to me a few times in extremely vivid dreams since he died. Don’t try and tell me he wasn’t there because I know he was.

When I see him, I tell him I want to go with him. I tell him I don’t want to be here any more.

But every time, he says the same thing: “That’s not an option now, Mom. You have work to do.”

Since he died, I have fought every day to expand access to health care to all people. I don’t say all Americans because there are plenty of people who aren’t Americans who need health care too.

I have gone to Raleigh and to Washington. I have spoken to people in power and told them there should be no test for access to care. Everyone should have it, even if we have to give it to them without requiring them to have a full-time job or to make more than poverty wages.

I have called them out when they say they are “pro-life” but in the next breath try to rationalize why we can’t allow everyone to have access to quality care like most of the rest of the world does.

And in the eight and a half years since my child died, we have made a little progress, but now we are poised to step backward, and all the work I have done to try and prevent more people from dying the way my child did appears to have been for nothing.

I have told his story again and again, but people seem to think he was the exception, that most people who die from lack of access to care somehow deserved it.

“Screw work,” I want to say, but I know it won’t do any good.

I can’t go yet.

Debbie Reynolds was the lucky one.

I have to stay here, without my son, because I have work to do.

The deceitful, shameful, hate-filled NC GOP played us again

Late in the afternoon Wednesday, state representatives waited for word that the Senate had taken action to repeal HB2. The Senate didn’t do its job.

I don’t know why anyone thought the North Carolina Republicans could be trusted.

Again and again, they have played us for fools, and we keep thinking they might do the right thing, just once.

Nope.

The GOP leaders brokered a deal with Governor-elect Roy Cooper and the City of Charlotte, and yesterday, they reneged on the deal.

So, first, some background:

Earlier this year, Charlotte passed a law offering protection to transgender people, codifying their ability to use the rest room of the gender with which they identify. Immediately, the NC General Assembly was called into special session and the GOP rammed through a bill, known as HB2, that nullified Charlotte’s law.

But there’s more. The so-called Bathroom Bill was about a lot more than bathrooms. It robbed local governments of the ability to set a minimum wage higher than that of the state. It robbed local governments of the ability to pass any non-discrimination legislation. It robbed workers of the ability to sue employers for discrimination in state courts.

Retribution was swift. States began banning business travel to North Carolina. Sports organizations pulled their games and tournaments from the state, costing us tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

And the whole rest of the world saw us as backward and hateful.

And while the majority of North Carolinians are not backward and hateful, the state Republican Party has gerrymandered voting districts so that it takes more than two Democratic votes to do the same thing as one Republican vote. They they passed a law that would make it more difficult for African-Americans, students and the elderly to vote (because these groups tend to vote for Democrats).

The voting districts have been struck down twice by the courts, and the state will have to redistrict yet again and pay for another election in the fall of 2017 because the 2016 election was so tainted by the districts as the GOP drew them.

The federal courts also struck down most of the provisions in the voting law.

Gov. McCrory, the only governor in the country to lose re-election, was defeated because of HB2.

So, last week, McCrory called another special session to pass legislation to send much needed help to areas of the state devastated by flooding from Hurricane Matthew and by recent wildfires.

The GOP used that special session to call another special session, in which they stripped power from the incoming governor. Then they went home, and McCrory signed the bill.

News came on Monday that the General Assembly was willing to repeal HB2 — the entire thing — if Charlotte would agree to repeal its anti-discrimination law. The incoming governor urged the city to take the deal, and Charlotte repealed its ordinance.

I went to Raleigh, hoping to witness the GOP doing the right thing for once, but I came home disappointed.

Instead of the clean repeal of the bill that was promised, Republicans added an amendment that would have prevented local governments from passing any anti-discrimination ordinances for six months.

Democrats balked, and rightly so. The so-called cooling-off period was not part of the deal, and the whole idea of repeal was so that cities and counties could have the autonomy to ban discrimination.

Republicans doubled down, amending the amendment to extend the “cooling-off” period to 30 days beyond the end of the 2017 legislative session. It also would have given them the option to extend the moratorium again and again.

In other words, the GOP was never sincere about working with Democrats.

Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, issued a statement after the session closed.

“Our elected officials should have worked to protect all the people of North Carolina but instead they wasted our time and tax money,” the statement read in part. “Both the House and the Senate’s all white Republican caucus have proven that they are not fit to govern North Carolina.”

Toward the end of the special session, which cost taxpayers $42,000, Republicans in the Senate stood up and insulted everyone who disagrees with their narrow-hate-filled vision of what North Carolina should be. They called us lunatics and accused us of being “under the influence of California and other places.”

They lied through their teeth about what had happened during the day, even though we who sat in the Gallery witnessed it.

After the Senate failed to pass the repeal, I spoke to Rep. Chris Sgro, who is a gay man and executive director of Equality NC, and he held out hope that something good could come of the special session.

It turned out his hope was misplaced, along with the hopes of the hundreds of North Carolinians who came out to witness the state GOP finally doing the right thing.

This state’s Republican Party is incapable of doing the right thing. Its leadership is made up of lying, thieving, narrow-minded thugs who care nothing for the people of this state — they people they are supposed to serve.

I was there yesterday. All day and into the evening. I saw what happened.

Once again, we were betrayed.

 

Hoping won’t stop this. We must resist.

My friend and Moral Monday colleague, Rev. Curtis Gatewood being arrested last week -- again -- in protest of the unjust actions of the NC General Assembly.

My friend and Moral Monday colleague, Rev. Curtis Gatewood being arrested last week — again — in protest of the unjust actions of the NC General Assembly.

Stop pretending that the Electoral College or the Department of Justice will come to our rescue like a prince in shining armor to stop the Orange One from taking office on Jan. 20.

The election was in all likelihood stolen by a combination of Russian interference and a little tampering with the technology by GOP operatives, but we are creatures of habit and we won’t hold a new election, nor will we hand the office to the person who won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.

We have been trained to be lazy and accept what happens — that’s why more than half of us didn’t even bother to vote in the most important election of our lifetimes.

It’s not going to happen, so just get over it.

Blaming voters for the slow-motion coup that has been plotted and executed since Nixon devised the Southern Strategy will not change things, it will only serve to further divide us.

Trying to persuade people who voted for him that they were conned won’t work, either, because they have been brainwashed by the propaganda machine that is Fox News. Arguing with them is a waste of time and energy because they operate in a different reality with different facts. They already believe he won in a landslide.

To continue to concentrate on the sheep who have been led to the slaughter does nothing but divide us, and that weakens us.

I am being realistic here. This man will take office and he will appoint right-wing justices that will change the direction of our nation for decades. He will destroy what little remains of our social safety net and he likely will get us into devastating wars.

My friend and resistance colleague, Rev. Kojo Nantumbe, was arrested last week with more than 50 others.

My friend and resistance colleague, Rev. Kojo Nantambu, was arrested last week with more than 50 others. (Photo by Kevin Smith)

So what do we do?

We resist. We band together and work to defeat this vile creature at every turn, using everything we can.

Look at what we are doing here in North Carolina. We have spent the last four years protesting, educating and putting our bodies on the line.

We have sued to overturn unjust laws, and we have won.

We have been arrested by the thousands and brought national attention to the travesties wrought by these right-wing ideologues.

We still have a veto-proof GOP majority in the legislature, but we have a new governor and attorney general. And the courts have ordered the ridiculously gerrymandered districts to be redrawn and new elections held next year.

We continue to resist. Just last week, we packed the gallery to witness the power grab that was about to take place. Some 60 of our number were arrested for refusing to leave, charged with trespass in a public building while it was open to the public (I have been arrested and charged with that twice and have yet to be convicted).

We write to our legislators, even when we know damn well they won’t listen.

Two years ago, I worked my ass off to defeat my state representative, Tim Moffitt, who was among the worst of them. I knocked on doors, I made phone calls, I registered people to vote and gave them rides to the polls. His opponent, Brian Turner, won (and ran unopposed this last time).

We can resist. We can put our bodies on the line when necessary. We can show up and let them know we see and will resist what they are doing.

So, please stop waiting for the Justice Department or the Electoral College to save us.

We must do the work ourselves, together, in solidarity.

 

 

Whose fault is this, anyway?

This is my son, Mike, a very wise young man. I continue to be influenced and informed by his compassion and love.

This is my son, Mike, a very wise young man. I continue to be influenced and informed by his compassion and love.

My late son came to me in a dream last night. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, he usually has something profound to say.

I have been so discouraged since the election, which to me is the death of tolerance and inclusion in America. Yesterday, after seeing footage of followers of the man who would be president doing a Nazi salute, I was thinking that I don’t even want to live to see what happens.

Really. I’m 64 and I’ve lived most of my life in an America that was working to make itself better. Women managed to claim sovereignty over our own bodies. The Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the rights of interracial and LGBTQ couples to marry, all happened within my lifetime.

And now this: a common criminal, a con man, misogynist, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic narcissist is elected to the highest office in the land.

I have been furious at people who voted for him, even though I love some of them as friends and family members.

But Mike had something profound to say again: “You can’t blame sheep for being led to the slaughter.”

People have been fooled by this con man, and his accomplices at Fox News, CNN and all the other corporate “news” outlets that gave him free time, that promoted his candidacy as entertainment and that refused to investigate his shortcomings and crimes.

To make things worse, the corporate media played Hillary Clinton as a villain — a nasty woman. News of her private e-mail server (the same one used by her Republican predecessors at the State Department) was all over the news, as were the charges that she had something to do with the four American deaths in Benghazi. For 30 years, she was portrayed as a shrill, conniving bitch, and the American public bought that, even though she has been a dedicated public servant.

As for whether Bernie Sanders would have won — and he was my preferred candidate — do you think these people making Nazi salutes would have let a Jew into the White House? Really?

The corporate media have led the American public to the slaughter. They have shrugged off their responsibility to investigate and inform, and instead have gone for lies and profit.

They have peddled the false equivalency of “both sides do it,” until people believed it was equal, and they continue to do it as they claim I have no right to be angry because the other side hated Obama.

Obama isn’t a criminal. He didn’t have to settle a fraud lawsuit before taking office. He was never accused of rape. He never cheated on his wife — his only wife, by the way.

Mike was right about that, but as he said he had to leave, I told him once again that I didn’t want to be here, especially without him, and he answered the same way he has before:

“That’s not an option, Mom. You have work to do.”

I have work to do.

I told a Muslim friend this morning I will go with her to the grocery store or anywhere else she is afraid to go alone. She was born in Pakistan and still wears traditional clothing — a sari and hijab. But she is an American citizen. This is her homeland now, but she is afraid to be here.

A Jewish friend says the raised arms of white supporters of this man at a political rally remind him of the tattoo on his mother’s forearm. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. He said it also reminded him of the hatred in his schoolmates’ eyes when they beat him up because he was a Jew — and he went to school in a middle-class, suburban town.

Another Jewish friend was followed by a pickup truck, plastered with bumper stickers for this man and sporting two Confederate flags, as she left her synagogue with her 7-year-old grandson. The truck pulled up beside her and the two white men inside started screaming anti-Semitic insults at her.

I have felt compelled, as a survivor of sexual violence, to help other survivors cope with this sexual predator by starting a support group called #IBelieveTheWomen, as this man promises to sue and ruin all the women coming forward to tell of his unwanted sexual advances toward them.

I will not accept that this country really wants to be led by this criminal. I will not be sweet and give him a chance to govern when I know what he is and what he wants to do.

But I will stop blaming the voters when the culprit is the slaughterhouse personnel at Fox News, Breitbart and other peddlers of right-wing bullshit.

I will blame The New York Times and other so-called mainstream media for giving this man a pass until it was too late to turn the ship around. I will blame corporate newspaper companies for laying off reporters and editors at a time when our country most needed real information.

This will not end well. The right controls all three branches of our federal government now. These people will not give up the power they have attained, and some of us will die fighting them.

Just look at what’s happening in North Carolina. Our governor has lost a close race, and the state Supreme Court has gone to a Democratic majority. The governor has refused to concede and the GOP legislature is hinting it might add two justices to the court to give the Republicans the majority again. And there’s talk of throwing the gubernatorial race to the legislature, which would appoint the Republican governor to another term.

Now legislators are denying they will have a special session to increase the size of the court and stack it, but they have called special sessions before to push through unpopular and ill-considered legislation.

Those of us who still have critical thinking skills need to use them now. Our very existence as a nation depends on it.

Leaving now is not an option. We have work to do.

 

 

 

Sen. Sessions needs some schooling on assault

A clueless Jeff Sessions thinks it's not sexual assault to grab a woman by the genitals. I have news for him.

A clueless Jeff Sessions thinks it’s not sexual assault to grab a woman by the genitals. I have news for him.

In nearly every instance, I’m committed to nonviolence, but that doesn’t mean I can’t think about what I would like to see happen to a man who thinks grabbing a woman’s genitals isn’t sexual assault.

I would like to see someone grab him by the genitals and twist until they come off.

I would like to see him attacked as he walks to his car at night and then told it was his fault because his tie was too sexy or he shouldn’t have been alone in the parking garage at night or he looked suggestively at his attacker during Congressional testimony that afternoon. And then I would like to tell him myself that he should just get over it.

I would like to see him sent to a re-education camp staffed entirely by women who have survived sexual violence.

Would I actually do these things? No. But I can dream.

I am a survivor, and I am so deeply offended by the potential appointment of this miscreant to the office of Attorney General of the United States that all I can do is think about what I would like to see happen to him.

For me, the sexual violence began when I was just 3.

That’s right, I was still a toddler.

I have never known a time when my body was my own to do with as I pleased. I didn’t know what it was to say no to sexual advances, even as a little girl. My body belonged to my assailant until I was 11 and I finally found the courage to say no.

I later was raped as an adult, and I believe part of the reason was that I still wasn’t convinced my body really belonged to me. I have since decided it does, and that I will defend it.

So, I have some expertise in this area, and I have a few words for Mr. Sessions:

Until you have been objectified and grabbed because some man thinks he has a right to your body, you don’t have any idea what sexual assault does to a woman.

And, yes, grabbing a woman by the “pussy” is assault.

In nonviolence training, we’re taught that even touching someone can be classed as assault, so if I can be charged with assault for putting my hand on your shoulder, you certainly are guilty if you grab my lady parts — any of my lady parts.

You are not superior to me, nor do you have any rights over my body. You may think you do, but I’m telling you the only time I am even tempted to do violence to another human being is when a man thinks he has dominion over my body.

This means I will believe any woman who tells me she has been assaulted because even though there are cases of women lying, those cases are rare.

My body is mine and mine alone and neither you or any other man will tell me what I can or can not do with it. You will not touch me without my express permission. You will not tell me I can’t have birth control. You will not tell me I can’t choose to terminate a pregnancy.

These are my choices.

Women’s bodies are not pleasure palaces for your penis, Mr. Sessions. My “pussy” is mine, not yours or any other man’s. I will decide who can touch me and who can not. I will decide what happens with my body because I claim dominion over it.

We are not going back to the days when you could claim us as chattel. We are going to determine our own destinies.

We will decide when and if we want you to touch us in any way.

We will decide whether we want to bear children, and when.

We will have control over our lives and we will shun despicable characters such as you, Mr. Sessions.

 

 

 

This person is not — and never will be — my president

Neither of these men belongs in the White House.

Neither of these men belongs in the White House.

This has been really hard for me. I have friends and family members who voted for this person. They begged me to give him a chance because they hated Obama as much as I hate this person.

I’m sorry, but Obama doesn’t trigger crippling anxiety in you because he is a sexual predator and you are a survivor.

Obama never threatened to take away your right to control your own body.

Obama is a Constitutional scholar; this man likely has never read the Constitution.

Obama symbolized an acceptance of diversity. He is well read and intelligent. Even when attacked mercilessly and blocked at every turn, he never lashed out. This person is awake at 3 in the morning lashing out on Twitter because of a verbal insult issued years ago.

He is a dangerous man on every level, mentally ill and willfully ignorant. He is hate-filled and his entire campaign was fueled by hate — by racism, xenophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, homophobia — and I don’t expect the next four years to be anything different.

You can say you’re not racist, but if you voted for this man, you voted for the candidate endorsed by the KKK. You may not be consciously racist. You may have people of color in your family and love them more than you love yourself, but you just slapped them in the face if you voted for this man, even if it was an unintentional slap.

The first thing he did was to choose a stalwart of the “alt-right” as his closest advisor. The alt-right is nothing more than a polite name for neo-Nazi. Look it up. They stand for hatred of people of color, of anyone not white, male and Christian. Many of them have had their Twitter accounts canceled for tweeting hate.

“Give him a chance,” people said. “He might not be so bad.”

I don’t have to give him any more chance than I would give the man who molested me as a child or the man who abused me as an adult. His behavior makes it abundantly clear who he is and what he will do.

Already, there’s talk of a Muslim registry. Know that I will register as a Muslim on Day One, as will millions of others who hope to protect our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Already, he has appointed people who want to strip me of my rights to control my own body.

Already, Paul Ryan is talking about stripping senior citizens of their Medicaid and Social Security, and gutting Medicaid, which is the only access poor people have to care.

Already, there is talk about getting rid of minimum wage, which is too little to live on as it is.

Already, there is talk about deporting millions of people who are working hard and trying to do better for their families.

Already, there is talk of annulling the marriages of my LGBTQ friends and neighbors.

Already, there has been a marked increase in hate crimes. A friend of mine was threatened as she was leaving synagogue with her grandson. The threats came from white men in a truck plastered with stickers supporting this man and sporting two large Confederate flags.

Gay friends have had people tell them their marriages — and the more than 1,000 rights and privileges that go with them — will end as soon as this man takes office and begins stacking the Supreme Court.

You might have noticed that I have not uttered this man’s name. I will not give him that much respect. He is not my president. When President Obama leaves office, I will have no president.

I am prepared to fight for my rights and for the rights of everyone this man considers “other.” I will not be a dutiful American as millions of Germans were in the 1930s. I will be a dutiful human being and fight against hate.

And if you want to spew hate against me or anyone else on my Facebook thread or in comments here, I will block you. I will not tolerate hate in any form, from any person. I am fine with disagreement, but I will block hate every single time.

Stand against hate, fight against tyranny

I will protest. I will put my body on the line, but I will not be violent.

I will protest. I will put my body on the line, but I will not be violent. Let us take to the streets in PEACEFUL protest.

This week, the daughter of an African-American woman told her mother that she, her Latino husband and their children would be moving out of the country following Tuesday’s election of a man who has promised to show nothing but contempt for them.

Another woman’s biracial grandson was called the N-word on the school bus.

A lesbian friend was called a reprehensible name and told her marriage would be annulled.

A Muslim friend is afraid to go grocery shopping.

These examples are just among my friends.

In our schools, Latino children are being taunted with threats of deportation and gay and trans children are being harassed.

This is the new America.

On Facebook, a high school friend complained that Democrats are bad sports because a white man reportedly was beaten up by black men because he voted for the man whose name I refuse to utter.

I reminded that friend of the verified news reports of gays, Muslims and people of color being beaten up as their assailants named this man who might move into the White House.

The hatred is palpable.

I will not hate. I will not commit violence in any form. It is against everything I believe, everything I stand for.

That does not mean I won’t fight.

Last night, I listened to Rev. William Barber on a conference call with hundreds of other people, as he told us he believes we do not have to be gracious about the political victory of a man who has promised to be cruel to immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ people and more.

We do not have to offer congratulations to a man who has shown no compassion, no honor and no regrets for the violence of his followers.

This morning, I spoke with my friend, Rev. Rodney Sadler, who echoed Rev. Barber’s sentiments.  Rev. Sadler and I talked about the protests we plan to organize and/or attend, and about our fears for the safety of people we love.

Sitting at home is the same as doing nothing. Silence in the face of tyranny makes one complicit. As this man tries to implement his hate-driven policies, we who enjoy privilege must stand against all of it.

I will stand with my brothers and sisters whose lives and bodies are under threat. You will have to go through me to get to them. I will do everything in my power to protect them, except violence. I will not stoop to that.

I am a follower of Christ, who instructed us to love our enemies, to care for “the least of these” among us. I will feed the hungry and love the marginalized. I will defend the defenseless and give voice to the voiceless.

To me, loving my enemy does not mean being gracious toward someone who would let children go to bed hungry, who would deport millions, who would strip women and LGBTQ people of their legal rights, who tweets vile insults to people who disagree with him.

Loving my enemy means not harming them in any physical way and believing that they are deserving of redemption if they seek it.

Loving this person him does NOT mean any form of approval for his policies or beliefs.

I will stand against this person as I stand for peace and justice for everyone. I will not sit down.

I will take to the streets with my brothers and sisters. I will do no violence. This is my promise.

 

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