The sacred walks among us in many unexpected forms

Onstage at the annual Moral March on Raleigh, from the left, NC NAACP President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman; NC NAACP Health Care Committee Chair Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler; Debbie Bracer, whose son died from lack of access to health care, and me. 
Yesterday, I stood onstage at the 13th Annual Moral March on Raleigh, in solidarity with a woman whose son died from lack of access to health care.
Debbie is a couple years younger than I am. She still has two sons, but she weeps every time she utters the name of the one she doesn’t have anymore. Still. Two years out.
He was denied the drug he needed to survive because he wasn’t rich enough to afford it, and he died. She spoke about the pain of not being able to touch him, or hear his voice, as tears dripped onto her jacket.
She used a cane to stand, and I stood on her other side, my arm around her shoulders. Others stood with us to emphasize that we stand together for access to health care for everyone.
Before she spoke, she looked out at the crowd. Previously, she had told me she didn’t know if she could get through her speech, so I told her I’d be there to finish it for her if she couldn’t get through it.
But as she looked out at the crowd, she stood a little straighter. She handed the photo of her son to me and whispered, “I can do this.”
And then she did.
He looked just like his mama. They had the same smile, the same eyes.
Debbie feels as though the world doesn’t just hate her for being black, but also because she is a lesbian. She left a bad marriage after her third son was born and realized she had married for all the wrong reasons.
I wondered how anyone could hate a loving mother, a woman who fought so hard for her child’s life, when she told me, “I have two strikes against me in the eyes of powerful people.”
As I left the stage with Debbie, I recalled a middle school Sunday school class from a dozen or so years ago.
The lesson was “The Unexpected Jesus,” and the kids and I discussed what Jesus would look like if he came back today. We discussed the parameters first: It would have to be someone reviled by many Christians. It would have to be someone powerless in today’s power structure.
We talked about the Unexpected Jesus, the Jesus who ate with prostitutes and tax collectors, who spurned and challenged the powerful. We talked about the carpenter’s son, who recruited a few fishermen and changed the world.
So, we agreed that this Unexpected Jesus could come in many forms, not just that of a Jewish carpenter’s son from a small village in Galilee.
Suddenly someone said, “I think he’d come back as a big black lesbian.”
The room was quiet for a moment, and then we all blurted out something to the effect of, “Perfect!”
Now every time I see a black lesbian suffering because of her skin color and/or sexual orientation, I see Jesus.
I saw Jesus in Debbie yesterday, in the kindness and love of a woman who has lost something so precious it can’t be verbalized. All she can do us weep at the mention of her precious child’s name. I saw a woman whose human value is called into question because of her skin color and sexual orientation instead of a woman crushed by the grief of losing her child to injustice.
But I don’t see Jesus only in the life of my new friend. Jesus is so much more than that.
I see Jesus in the Latino child in a cage.
I see Jesus in the veteran who can’t get treatment for PTSD.
I see Jesus in the girl who has been kidnapped into sexual slavery.
I see Jesus in the faithful Muslim.
I see Jesus in the bereaved mother whose son died from lack of access to health care.
I see him in the low-wage worker whose rent and electric bill are coming due the same day and whose children are hungry and ill-clothed, and in the trans man who’s being harassed in the rest room, and in the homeless person who’s being chased from the sheltered doorway during a rainstorm.
I do not see him in the people calling for a wall at the Southern border, or in the people refusing to vote to increase the minimum wage to a living wage. I don’t see him in the people who make excuses for racism or misogyny. I don’t see him in the people who deny others the health care to which they themselves have full access, or in the people who accuse poor people of being lazy.
If you see Jesus in the powerful and not in the powerless, perhaps you need to re-read the red print in the Gospels. Perhaps you also need to go back and read the laws in the Old Testament — not the ones that talk about sex, but the ones that talk about treatment of the poor and downtrodden.
I’m tired of white privilege. I’m tired of the vitriol against people who are different, whoever or whatever they are.
I’m tired of the war on the poor.
Remember, Jesus was a poor man, likely a dark-skinned man. He spoke out against wealth and the privilege it brings. If you don’t see the sacred in Debbie, you need to re-examine your faith.

It’s OK to feel overwhelmed. We all need relief.

You needed this. You’re welcome.

We’re all feeling it — that sense that something’s about to come crashing down.

I find myself checking my phone for headlines far more than I ever did before, wondering what fresh hell awaits as I do it.

I wake up with a sense of dread over what the fool in the White House is going to do today, and I go to sleep fearful of what he’ll do before the sun comes up again.

Day after day, the outrages pile up — the refusal to disavow racism, and in fact, a flaunting of it, from calling a political opponent Pocahontas because she claims some Native American heritage to saying “some good people” were among the fascists marching in Charlottesville, Va., and calling a black man a “son of a bitch” for taking a knee in protest of racism in America. He refers to countries where people of color are in the majority as “shitholes.”

Every day, some important regulation is rolled back, regulations that govern our treatment of the environment, the food supply, labor, students, women, immigrants and children. If it’s there to protect us from corporate greed, it’s a target.

And Mitch McConnell, a man I like to call Traitor Turtle, protects him at every turn, helping him to dismantle the government. His hypocrisy is breath-taking.

Still, a vocal minority supports them, probably because they love to hate. They love having permission to hate anyone who disagrees with them or doesn’t look like they do. They embrace ignorance, and the Republican party  McConnell leads celebrates their ignorance.

Remember, the Creature admitted to being a sexual predator before he was elected, and he shows no sign of having any respect for women as human beings. He appointed a sexual predator to the Supreme Court and mocked the man’s victim — and the Republicans in the Senate voted to approve this completely unqualified nominee.

I keep asking how much damage will be allowed before we finally put a stop to it.

But there are some bright spots. We’re finally beginning to see some rebellion against the Creature currently squatting in the White House, and it’s great fun to see Nancy Pelosi toying with this overgrown toddler. Her expertise in politics and her intellect stand in stark contrast to his immaturity and ignorance. He’s used to being the boss and of being able to fire or sue anyone who displeases him, and he can’t do that now. The best part of it is that she obviously doesn’t care what he thinks of her. She will not permit him to interrupt or talk over her. She calls him out on his lies. And she does all of it without raising her voice.

And then there’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who’s driving the patriarchs crazy with her refusal to bow to their idea of how a “lady” behaves in the House and her popular ideas for fixing our broken systems. She just might succeed in leading us away from oligarchy and fascism. I love her mocking of Mitch McConnell. Give her a few years’ experience in the House and I’ll support her for whatever higher office she wants.

In the 1960s, the top photo helped to change people’s minds about civil rights. Let’s hope the lower photo makes us wake up to the hate that lives among us now.

There’s the way the kids in MAGA hats taunting a Native American went viral with its condemnation of the kids, the school, the young man’s mother blaming Black Muslims for her son’s racist behavior. That kid’s nasty smirk is up all over social media, as are those of his classmates. His racism, his sense of white entitlement, have been roundly trashed.

But too many Native Americans still live in abject poverty as our government keeps trying to exploit their sacred lands for profit.

Too many African-American children go to schools that are ill-equipped and falling apart, and then are targets for cops with guns, who claim to be in fear for their lives even though the victim was unarmed — and then they get away with murder.

Too many LatinX people are afraid to live their lives — whether or not they are documented.

Too many people of every race and ethnicity are poor or living on the edge while our government refuses to raise minimum wage to a living wage. Instead, they cut taxes on the wealthy and impose more taxes on the poor, all while calling people who need help “lazy.”

Too many young people are forced into the military to fight our needless, profit-producing wars on foreign soil through the poverty draft — a promise of benefits after four or five tours of duty in combat zones. And when these young people finally come home, suffering from depression and PTSD, we ignore them.

And, still, too many people are dying from lack of access to health care.

Yes, I’m overwhelmed.

No, I won’t give up, and neither should you.

 

 

This chaos could destroy us

This is the look of a petulant toddler holding his breath until he gets $5 billion to keep out the brown people he doesn’t like.

 

For the first time in my life, I can’t imagine how this will be resolved.

Knowing government the way I do as a history buff and a journalist always made me feel a little safer in tough times.

But this is different. This is bad on a whole other scale than Richard Nixon or George W. Bush.

I was a young adult during the Watergate hearings. We had no way of knowing how far Nixon would go to protect his presidency, but in the end, he had a shred of decency in him, just enough to know he had to resign for the good of the nation.

But what we have now is an incompetent fool in the White House, a creature who’s obviously mentally ill and very dangerous. He’s a pathological liar, a sociopath and a hate-spewing bigot who cares nothing for anybody other than himself.

His vice president is just as dangerous as he is, a fundamentalist “Christian” who wants to transform this nation into a theocracy.

We have chaos in the Middle East, much of it caused by our oil policies and by our blind support of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, led by people like Pence who want Armageddon to come so Jesus will return, and today we hear that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government is being dissolved and new elections are being called for the spring.

And, while I’m happy to see American soldiers coming home, I fear the abrupt manner in which they’re being removed from Syria and Afghanistan will cause massive instability.

Wall Street is in free fall, thanks to this creature’s ranting about firing the Fed Chair, his trade wars, his insistence on $5 billion to build a wall most of us don’t want, his firing of anyone who tries to talk sense into him and his denigration of our allies.

Our government is partially shut down, meaning 800,000 people are without a paycheck (although Congress is not among them). Half the Cabinet is missing and the other half is incompetent. I mean, a man with the nickname, “Mad Dog” was considered to be the most moderate person in the room.

And Mad Dog Mattis was tasked with keeping this slovenly, tantrum-throwing toddler in an old white man’s body in line.

I don’t think we can survive another two years with this creature in the White House, but I don’t see Republicans moving to remove him before the damage is too severe to repair. This man could cause worldwide economic collapse, but the Republicans continue to sit on their hands, and the Democrats are doing nothing to force them out of their stupor.

He has fired the Secretary of Defense and replaced him with a businessman who has no experience in government. That’s right, we have a novice in charge of the largest military in the world. He fired the Attorney General and replaced him with a lackey. He seated a sexual predator and drunk on the Supreme Court because he knew Brett Kavanaugh would give him anything he wants in return. A hallmark of this administration is the ineptitude of all its appointments. Each federal agency is being led by someone who wants to destroy it.

I fear this creature’s supporters will resort to violence if he’s removed from office, but if he’s not removed, I fear even worse consequences for all of us.

Maybe we do need to tear it all down. Maybe a total collapse would allow us to remake society in a different way, with real rules for the wealthy and true equal opportunities for people who happen to be anything other than white and male.

But right now, today, as we look ahead to the new year, it looks bleak.

In my 66 years, I’ve never felt as though things might not be OK in the coming year. Even during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I had faith that the government could avert nuclear war, that there were people in charge who understood the weight of their decisions. That’s not true now. What we have is a petulant toddler let loose to wreak his havoc.

May we survive another year as a nation, and as a species.

We can’t let all this become normal

At a time of year when we’re supposed to be celebrating the life of a baby born in a stable because no one would offer his parents shelter, we are ripping children from their parents’ arms and incarcerating them in for-profit prisons.

 

It’s been awhile since I posted anything, mostly because I just don’t know what to say. Outrage after outrage happens daily and there’s no sign of it letting up.

We’re all waiting for Robert Mueller to lay his cards on the table, tantalized by the morsels he’s tossed out so far.

Meanwhile, children are being held in for-profit prisons for the crime of having parents who want a better life for them. Some of them are dying.

Republican legislatures continue to try and suppress the vote even as we’re left reeling from the level of their election fraud — hundreds of thousands of votes suppressed in Georgia by a Republican candidate for governor, enough to steal the election; thousands of uncounted absentee ballots in Florida, enough for Republicans to steal the election; a couple thousand absentee ballots tampered with in North Carolina, probably enough to steal the Congressional election.

In Wisconsin, the Republican lame duck legislature ripped authority from the incoming Democratic governor, just as they did here in North Carolina two years ago.

And in this Christmas season, when Christians are celebrating the birth of one whose parents could find no room at the inn, we turn away desperate people whose homelands are made treacherous by our imperialistic policies. We call them criminals and rip their children from their arms.

And because of the administration’s Muslim ban, a woman from Yemen can’t get into the country to say goodbye to her dying 2-year-old son. This is cruelty at its ugliest.

Meanwhile, we allow this administration to destroy the planet with its policies that are bought and paid for by Big Oil. We allow the carnage caused by unfettered access to guns to continue. We allow huge chemical companies to poison our food and water with pesticides and herbicides.

The thug currently occupying the White House spews hate and threatens our First Amendment rights, appoints people to positions where they can pillage our heritage, and people who claim to be Christian cheer him on, vilifying the poor and the immigrant as though the poor and the stranger are the people who are ruining this nation.

This country was built on the backs of slaves, indentured servants and immigrants, but few of them attained any power because that was already reserved for white men, who feel free to abuse everyone else at will. Although we claim to be a land where anyone with drive can make it big, we reserve wealth and power for the few.

Just thinking about all we have to overcome to bring about justice can seem overwhelming, but if we don’t bring about justice for everyone, the 1 percent will be the only ones to prosper.

We can’t allow all these outrageous behaviors become the norm. We can’t accept this deep, deep immorality.

I still have hope that we can fight the 1 percent and win such humane policies as a living wage for everyone, safe housing, a good education, health care, universal suffrage, a justice system that works for everyone, a reduction in the military budget …

We can’t effect these changes through social media, although it’s a great tool for educating — or mis-educating — people, as Russian hackers know all too well.

We have to show up. We have to vote in such numbers that their cheating won’t be enough to keep them in power.

We have to take to the streets when they steal elections. We have to be ready to do nonviolent civil disobedience.

And we have to stop accepting their lies. That means we have to work to learn the truth, and we have to call out lies.

There are some people who won’t accept the truth. These people are known as the Republican “base,” and they account for no more than 30 percent of the voting public. They won’t be convinced they’re wrong by anything we say or do, so we have to work to educate the people who will listen, who will see the injustice of putting children in for-profit prisons, the insanity of unfettered access to guns and the immorality of keeping people in poverty.

I believe we can do this. That’s why I work to organize for the Poor People’s Campaign. I’ve been arrested numerous times trying to talk to legislators about health care, and I have no plans to stop trying to speak truth to power.

Please understand that you don’t have to be arrested to work toward justice. Those of us who don’t stand to lose out jobs can do that.

But you do have to show up. You have to vote in every election, and you have to educate yourself before stepping into the voting booth. You have to let your legislators know you’re watching through phone calls, letters and e-mails. If you can, you need to show up at rallies and other events. The more people they see in the streets, the more they know we mean what we’re saying and we have the support to get rid of lawmakers who vote for unjust laws and policies.

In this coming year, I refuse to let up. I refuse to be quiet. I refuse to stand down.

As one of my favorite freedom songs says, “I am not afraid, I am not afraid. I would die for liberation, for I know why I was made.”

 

 

 

More legal lynchings. When will it stop?

Marcus Deon Smith, the man killed by Greensboro, NC, police, who hog-tied him.

On Sept. 8, Marcus Deon Smith was experiencing a mental health crisis in Greensboro, NC,when someone called police.

Yes, someone should have called police because in North Carolina, as in most places, there is no other alternative for someone in a mental health crisis.

It’s what happened next that’s the issue: Police hog-tied Smith, and he died.

For someone in crisis, being handcuffed and put in a police van is more than frightening. The person likely doesn’t understand what’s happening. By the very definition of severe mental illness, the person is confused and detached from reality.

So, rather than try and talk him down (which ALL cops should be trained to do), they treated him like an animal. They hogtied him, and he died.

I can’t even imagine the horror of his final moments.

Greensboro officials responded by saying hog-tying is an accepted form of restraint for a human being.

An accepted form of restraint. For a human.

So, of course, it’s not the officers’ fault that Smith died. He shouldn’t have been mentally ill in public, I guess, although I wasn’t aware that it was a capital offense.

Then, earlier this week, police shot and killed Jemel Roberson outside of Chicago near a nightclub where he had just apprehended a shooter. In other words, Roberson saved an unknown number of lives when he chased the shooter down and tackled him, only to die at the hands of a trigger-happy police officer.

Police claim they warned him a number of times to drop his gun — but they obviously didn’t wait for a reply, if, indeed, they did issue a warning.

 

Police Fatally Shoot Black Security Guard Who Detained Shooting Suspect

Here’s what witnesses had to say to NPR:

“Jakia Woods lives in a house adjacent to Manny’s parking lot. She said officers already on the scene had asked Roberson to release the suspect, and Roberson was complying, when another officer came through the bar’s back door.

‘”Before [Roberson] could get up off of him, the officer comes flying out this door gun up,’ Woods said Tuesday afternoon while standing on her porch. ‘He says, ‘Get on the ground,’ and before he says ‘ground,’ he fires the first shot.’

“‘Everybody is screaming and hollering,’ she said. ‘Even the officers were screaming and hollering, ‘He’s one of us. He’s one of us. He’s a security guard. He works here.’ ”

Witness Adam Harris told a television news crew that he saw the same thing. “Everybody is screaming out, ‘He’s a security guard!’ ”

But officials still claim he was issued a warning and didn’t comply. Even if he was issued a warning, was he supposed to get up off an active shooter? The cop couldn’t wait a couple of seconds for a reply?

It seems like almost every day, white mass murderers are taken alive. Hell, Dylan Roof, who executed nine people in a church in Charleston, SC, because they were black, was issued a bullet-proof vest and fed before being delivered to jail.

I was called racist last week because when the person who murdered 12 people in cold blood was identified, and even before there was a photo, I posted, “I’m betting it was a white man.”

I was right, of course, but trolls started having a field day on my news feed and I had to block almost a dozen of them.

If you can’t see the real racism around you, every day, across the entire country, I think the chances are you’re racist yourself.

Look at the news. Time and again, black people are shot and killed, and if they weren’t actually committing a crime, police find a reason to vilify them.

Michael Brown may have stolen a pack of cigars. Or he may not have, but he did argue with the shopkeeper. He was shot dead in the street by a cop who couldn’t have known about the altercation.

Philandro Castile died because an officer said he smelled pot and got scared.

Eric Garner was selling single cigarettes and suffered the death penalty at the hands of police officers who joked with each other as they watched him die.

Black and brown men die mysteriously in custody, like Freddie Gray Jr., 25, who died in a police van in Baltimore. No one was convicted of a crime.

Jesus Huerta died, supposedly of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, while he was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car in Durham, NC. The teenager had been searched before being placed in the car, and his family said he didn’t own a gun.

The list goes on and on.

Meanwhile, white men are shooting people in bars and churches, synagogues, movie theaters, malls, grocery stores … but it’s black and brown men who get killed by police.

This is institutionalized racism at its meanest, and if you don’t think we’re a racist society, let me ask why black and brown people are the ones most often targeted by voting “reforms.” Let me ask why predominately black neighborhoods are split among two or three voting districts to water down their combined votes. Let me ask why white men who shoot multiple people are so often taken alive, while black and brown men are shot on sight, even after not committing any crime.

I fully expect to read that Jemel Roberson smoked pot in high school or was caught shoplifting when he was 5 because no black man is guiltless and police are always right.

Shame on us for allowing this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The time for resistance is now

A white male terrorist killed 11 people in a synagogue on Saturday, and the pretender in the White House responded by saying they should have hired an armed guard.

I don’t even know where to begin. The violence of the last week has hit me in the heart so hard, I can’t even begin to put the feelings washing over me into words.

Children in cages and the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice who was so obviously unqualified for the job, despite the objections of millions of women and men, and bombs being mailed to prominent Democrats, weren’t bad enough, now we’re killing black people and Jews just because they’re black people and Jews.

We have a pretender in the White House claiming that armed guards would have prevented the unspeakable tragedy in Pittsburgh, even though the white male terrorist shot three armed cops.

What’s worse is the thought that people should have to worship behind armed guards. That’s preferable to banning military-style assault weapons in this country because the NRA owns Congress.

It all goes back to who has the money and power in this country, and in the last four decades, that money has bought all the power.

This is NOT the last gasp of white supremacy. This is the ascendance of absolute power for upper class whites and the war economy.

The overwhelming majority of Americans want sensible gun control laws, but we can’t get them through Congress.

The majority of Americans want campaign finance reform, but we can’t get that done.

Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, but the Republicans cheated and placed their pretender in the White House, and they’re cheating in this election by tampering with voting machines, suppressing the vote and intimidating voters.

We have 800 military bases around the world. No one else has anywhere near that number. We are wasting our resources on a war economy because that’s what the ultra-wealthy want to protect their resources. War means profit, and they don’t care how many lower-income people die for their profit.

We don’t matter to them. We are expendable.

And even though we have abolished the draft, lower-income people have no other recourse if they can’t afford college. It’s called the Poverty Draft when the only way to a better life for young men and women is to go into lifelong debt or risk their lives in overseas adventures set up by the Pentagon.

When our nation spends about two-third of its wealth on the war machine, it prevents us from modernizing our infrastructure — or even keeping up with its decay. It takes money from research into renewable energy and necessitates our war-for-oil policies. It takes money from education — which the ultra-wealthy see as welfare, anyway.

And it makes us a more violent nation, especially when our so-called leader refuses to roundly condemn violence and racism — when he is, in fact, a violent racist and misogynist.

And the fact that he gets away with his violent rhetoric, with putting children in cages, with insisting we need a wall to keep immigrants out because they are “other,” means we no longer can call ourselves a functioning Democracy.

When he was a candidate, he said he could shoot someone in the middle of Manhattan and get away with it, and he was right. The Republican Party has condoned his every evil move.

Violent racists have been emboldened by his insistence that “there are good people” among the Nazis chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”

Back when racism and violence were considered inappropriate behavior, we thought we’d never see the likes of Nazis again, but now we’re nurturing them.

When George W. Bush was in the White House, he suggested we might “reform” Social Security and his approval ratings tanked. But now, when Mitch McConnell (the man who broke the Senate) suggests it, there’s hardly a ripple.

With the lack of regulation in the markets, we’re being set up for the worst economic collapse in history. The Great Recession will look like a little dip in comparison.

And it’s all because avarice, racism and disregard for human life are the new normal.

I’m not sure voting will be the solution anymore. We have broken down the walls between the branches of our government. If the Liar in Chief wants to nullify the elections, he owns the Supreme Court now, so he can.

We have been warned repeatedly, but we have ignored it. Remember the derision Hillary Clinton faced when she talked about a vast right-wing conspiracy? They don’t care who knows about it now because their takeover is pretty much a done deal.

And now, white male terrorists aren’t seen as the ones at fault when they walk into a synagogue and declare open season on Jews. The fault lies with the victims because they didn’t choose to worship behind armed guards.

Well, I stand with my Jewish siblings today, and my black and brown siblings because we are all children of God.

When you attack them, you attack me. I will not be silent in the face of fascism.

 

 

 

 

 

Not all men? Really? And do all lives matter?

Just shut up and listen to us.

OK, I’m going to sound like an angry woman here again — mostly because I am angry.

I wasn’t at the keyboard five minutes this morning before I saw a post that said, “not all men.”

Well, duh. I never said it was. I told the man this sounded a bit like “all lives matter,” and he set about mansplaining to me why my feelings aren’t valid.

Let me survivor-splain why they are.

I know not all men. I’m married to one who gets it. I have a ton of man friends who get it.

The problem is, it’s enough men.

The problem is it’s systemic.

The real problem is, we never know which men.

See, not all men harass women, but pretty much every single woman on the planet has been harassed, attacked, raped, abused, molested, paid less, dismissed, interrupted … All of us.

And then we’re blamed.

Am I safe getting into that elevator with the man alone?

What about the man walking behind me in the mall parking lot? Is he going to grab me?

If I stop into a bar and have a drink, who’s going to think I’m there for him?

Ask me all the reasons I quit wearing heels as a young woman. Among the reasons are the fact that I can’t run as fast in heels as I can in flats, and the fact that some men are going to think it’s a come-hither thing.

This is not paranoia. This is as real as it gets. I know because I have lived it.

I know I’ve avoided being attacked at least once by being prepared. Back in the early 1980s, three men approached me one morning while I was walking in Paterson, NJ. I had my keys and the blade of a small knife sticking out through my clenched fingers. They walked past me. But I wasn’t in the office 10 minutes when I heard a woman walking alone in the same place I was had been attacked just a minute after I passed by. They stabbed her and stole her purse. Had I not shown I was willing to fight, I would have been the one attacked.

If you’re a man, tell me what measures you take every day to protect yourself.

I mean every day.

Every. Damn. Day.

Let me give you an example: Last night I was driving home from Raleigh. It’s a four-hour drive, and about three hours into it, I had to pee something fierce. There was no way I was going to make it home, so I stopped at a rest area.

It was 10 o’clock at night and the rest area was all but deserted. There was one other car, and a lone man standing outside the building, smoking a cigarette.

I stayed in my locked car, debating whether I should just pee in the car and get it cleaned later. Fortunately, another car with two people in it came along.

Witnesses.

I got out and went into the rest room, keys jutting out between my fingers in case I had to gouge an attacker.

So tell me, Mr Not-all-men, have you ever had to even think about doing that?

And if someone did attack you, have you not reported because you know you’ll be blamed for your own attack?

I have.

Has anyone ever told you a woman who was raped somehow asked for it?

I’ve heard it again and again.

Remember when the Kennedy kid was accused of rape? One of the reasons the young woman was blamed for her own rape was because she took off her pantyhose to walk on the beach. So tell me, if you’re going to walk on the beach barefoot, doesn’t that involve taking your socks off?

But she was at a bar.

So was he.

But she had a drink.

So did he.

But she was dressed up.

So, that means you get to have your way with her? Her attire is a personal invitation for you to screw her? I’ll bet that’s not what she thought when she was getting dressed.

How about the politicians who say educating females will get rid of rape? Know what they’re really saying? It’s our own fault for being prick teasers. And you know what? Our very existence makes us prick teasers.

So, don’t tell me not-all-men. I know that.

Instead, roll up your sleeves and stand with me.

Listen to me. I know more about this than you do. Every woman does.

If you do that, you never have to tell me not-all-men. If you have to say it and then you feel you have to mansplain it to me when I question your willingness to fight misogyny with me, methinks you doth protest too much.

 

 

I’m not just an angry liberal, I’m an infuriated woman

 

Poor Eve. It was all her fault. It still is, according to old white men.

The Republicans have — once again — thumbed their noses at women and let us know just how they feel about us.

They think we’re liars.

They think we live to seduce and then destroy men.

They think we’re powerless to stop them.

I have never been angrier about the abuse of women by white men in power.

It was an old white man who violated me when I was 3.

No one would have believed me if I had said anything then, and people have questioned my honesty since I divulged in my 30s — 30 years after the abuse began.

Why didn’t I say anything? Because it was my word against a pillar of the community. Because when adults had to choose between my story and his, they would have chosen his and punished me for lying. And he still would have had control over my body.

When my ex-husband decided he didn’t need my consent to have sex with me whenever he wanted, the law of powerful white men was on his side, not mine.

I wasn’t allowed dominion over my own body in 1971 when I got engaged and went to the doctor for birth control. In Massachusetts in 1971, the law of powerful old white men decided I couldn’t have birth control unless I was married, and I was so unable to make decisions about my own body that I wasn’t the one who would be punished if I tried to take control of my own reproductive system — it would be the doctor — an old white man.

When a man wanted me to give him a blow job in exchange for me making a sale, I went back and told my boss. The pig denied it, but my boss believed me and threatened him with real trouble if it happened again.

Another white man asked me out to lunch and as soon as we were in the car, he pulled his penis out and asked for a “massage.”

At work at a small newspaper in new Jersey, I sold ads. Another sales rep, a creepy old white man named Bob, decided I would be his next conquest. I told him no every day, often several times a day. He made a habit of trying to grope me every time he was within reach. After a couple months of this, I went to the publisher to complain, and all he did was laugh and say, “That’s Bob.”

For the first time, I fought back. I told him to give me his home phone number, which he was stupid enough to do.

“If I call now, your wife will answer, right?” I asked.

His face fell.

“If I tell her what a fucking pig you are, she won’t be happy, will she?” I said.

Then I held up the slip of paper.

“Ladies, I have the phone number for Bob’s wife here. If he ever gropes you, if he ever makes another pass at you, please ask me for the number. I’m happy to share.”

I quit a short time later, but Bob was kept in check because I gave every woman that phone number.

A couple of years later, another white male boss bragged that he liked to keep the heat turned down to 65 degrees in the office because the women’s nipples got hard and he enjoyed that.

Every morning I went and turned the thermostat up to 70. Every hour or so I checked to make sure it was still set at 70. I left him notes letting him know what I’d overheard and promised to report him if I found the heat set below 70 degrees.

But people still ask why I didn’t report my grandfather. Am I SURE it’s not just “recovered” memories? Trust me, the memories are real.

Do I remember the room? Yes. It was a little room in the attic. Do I remember walking up the stairs or coming back down? No. Do I remember who else was in the house? No. Do I remember what either one of us was wearing? No.

But I remember his hands on me — all over me. I know what happened, even though he died in his bed and everyone else still thought he was a fucking saint. He was so good with children, after all.

Having people question Christine Blasey Ford’s motives in telling her story, or accuse her of lying, is the same as telling me I’m lying.

And I don’t care that he didn’t actually get to rape her. He intended to, and she knew it. She was fighting for her life for all she knew.

I’m tired of people asking why she was at a party where drinking was going on. He was at that party, too. Being at a party where people are drinking is not an invitation to be raped.

Wearing a short skirt is not an invitation. Having dinner with someone, having a drink, walking on the beach, just our very existence, seems to be reason to say we tempted him, and all he did was take what we really wanted to give him.

We are not here for your pleasure. We actually aren’t all that interested in you or your accomplishments or the size of your penis. We don’t care about your flashy car or your decked out apartment. You are inconsequential.

Brett Kavanaugh is a sexual predator. The creature currently squatting in the White House is a sexual predator. They flaunt it every day with their hate-filled rhetoric toward women. They flaunt it with their ramming through the nomination of an unqualified, active alcoholic, lying partisan hack to the highest court in the nation.

Damn right we’re angry. Women have had about enough of this.

More of us die at the hands of people who are supposed to love us. More of us live in poverty. We make less money for the same work. We do more of the work in the home, when when both partners work outside the home.

We are the Daughters of Eve, the people Evangelicals say are responsible for our own abuse and all the violence against us, and we are pissed.

We are coming for your white male privilege.

Look behind you. We’re gaining ground.

 

Here’s why women don’t report

This is me with my older sister when I was 3 and she was 6. This was the year my perpetrator found me too irresistible to keep his hands off me. Notice the come-hither look I must have used to tempt him.

Let me tell you what trauma does to a person so that you might understand why women don’t come forward.
I was 3 when I was violated. I remember his hands on me. But I don’t remember the exact date. I remember the room, but I don’t recall going in there or leaving. I remember my chubby little fingers closing around the quarter he gave me — the hush money. I remember knowing what happened was wrong, but also knowing I couldn’t tell anyone, so the abuse continued until I was 11 and told him he had to stop or I would tell.
In Sunday school at the Evangelical church we attended, I learned that all girls are the daughters of Eve and therefore guilty of her original sin (which it turns out is seduction), so we have to be controlled by men, who always know more than we do. So, long before the abuse ended, I knew it was my fault.
Sex was a filthy thing, so no one ever talked to me about what to do if someone molested me. It was just assumed no one would be that dirty unless I offered myself up. It must have been my come-hither look at age 3 that started me on the path to hell.
If I had come forward, I would have been treated like Christine Blasey-Ford. I would have been called a liar. I would have been blamed. I would have been told it must be my fault. I was, after all, alone in a room with my grandfather, who was a good, upstanding member of the community — a school janitor, crossing guard, church sexton. People loved him because he was so good with children.He would have denied it and I would have been punished for telling such a filthy lie.
Had I come forward, I would have been accused of destroying his life, even though he was the one who destroyed mine.
I live to this day with a sense of shame, even though I know I have no reason to be ashamed. I still have to remind myself that I was the victim of a crime. I was never at fault.
So, when friends and family tell me they want to see more proof, I tell them I need no more proof. The reason she was reluctant to come forward is clear — just look at how she’s being mocked and criticized — blamed for her own assault.
“She was at that party.”
Well, so was he.
“She was drinking.”
Yup. So was he.
What was she wearing?
Why should it matter? What was he wearing?
She doesn’t remember the date.
Why should she?
She doesn’t remember how she got to the party or how she got home.
In the scheme of things, those things weren’t etched in her memory the way the assault was. That’s a classic response to trauma.
According to people who know Brett Kavanaugh’s drinking habits, he has lied under oath about his underage drinking. 
So, we know he’s capable of lying, but we still prefer to believe him and not her.
This is white male privilege at its most damaging.
He’s still under consideration for a seat on the highest court in the land, and she had to abandon her home because of death threats to her and her children.
These old white men care nothing about those of us who have suffered sexual violence. They “protect” us by withholding our identities, as though we’re the ones at fault. When we do come forward, we are attacked, accused of being at fault.
This whole episode has triggered anxiety in me like I’ve never suffered before, and this predator may be rewarded with a seat on the US Supreme Court, just like the pretender squatting in the White House.
Criminal behavior is rewarded if you’re a white man, but the truth destroys the women who come forward.
Do not EVER ask me why women don’t come forward. If you have read this and still don’t understand, you likely never will.

A summer of losses causes one to think about the future

This is part of my husband’s and my “logical” family, taken 27 years ago on a hike in Pennsylvania.

It’s been a difficult summer. My husband and I lost two dear friends and a cousin in the space of a month.

We had planned two trips to New Jersey this summer to visit friends who have been together since childhood; we took four, two of them for funerals.

The original core group of boys met in fourth and fifth grade, and as the years went on, they gathered more friends and spouses, who played softball (or cheered on the team), vacationed together and gathered twice a year, in January and July.

We went to weddings and mourned the deaths of parents, and now each other.

Friendships like these are rare in today’s mobile society. People move and make new connections, and most of the time, many of the old connections are lost.

This group is my logical family (as opposed to biological), and the unexpected death of one and the lost battles to cancer of the other friend and my cousin were paralyzing.

Grief is an odd thing. It seems to be cumulative — each loss compounding the others. It comes in waves, and it’s not just for the most recent loss, but for each of them. For my father, and my sister and my son and these dear friends. It’s one of the most difficult things about aging.

But the loss of these friends reminds me of what’s important, of what I still have and what I want for the future.

I still have three sisters and a brother, a son, four grandchildren, a great-granddaughter, two daughters-in-law and two grandsons-in-law. And I still have a ton of logical family.

I’m reminded that we each have a limited time on this planet and we need to think about what we will leave behind when we go.

I would hope my legacy is a positive one, that I leave behind a better world in some small way. That’s why I’m so active in social causes. No one should go hungry or without shelter or health care in a world of plenty. No one should die at the hands of a cop because of the color of his or her skin.

Humans are an angry lot — we never seem to be at peace with what we have. We want more, more, more, and we’re not willing to ever admit we have enough. So, a few gain power and take even more, hoarding it in overseas accounts so they don’t have to pay taxes and contribute to the common good.

I’ve thought a lot this summer about how much I do have. I see war-torn places where people don’t have power or running water, where crops can’t grow because of the danger farmers face in times of war, or because the water is being co-opted by those in power. There are places where it’s not safe to go outside, even for a short time.

We Americans haven’t faced that since the Civil War, and I don’t think most of us are aware of how many problems in the world are caused by our own greed and short-sightedness.

The American “war on drugs” has caused instability throughout Central and South America, and now we’re punishing people for trying to escape the chaos we’ve helped to create.Build a wall, my ass — we need to open the gates the way we did in the early 20th century. There is great strength in diversity.

Our policies created Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and even Manuel Noriega (remember the Panamanian “strongman” from the 1980s?), and when they tried to take the power we gave them in a direction we didn’t want, we went to war and killed them.

We are not the good guys, and it’s time we acknowledge that and begin to work toward a more just society. It’s long past time to stand up and demand justice — economic, racial and moral justice for each of us.

I can’t bring myself to watch the Senate hearings to confirm Brett Kavanaugh for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, but I have friends there protesting, and soon I will join them.

We need to stem the tide of greed, racism and hate. We’re not here for long; we should make our time matter.

 

 

a world of progress site | woven by WEBterranean