Local inclusivity

I was going to hit up the women’s march and activist conference today here in Nashville but the conference sold out… I wish they had allowed for more space so that everyone who wanted to attend could have attended.

Maybe next year they can host the conference in a space big enough for all the women who want to attend to be able to do so. Music City Center could hold more people. I just wish there had been space for everyone.

It’s interesting that I just read an online Tennessean article published last night promoting the conference and march with no mention that it is sold out. And yet the separate link to the conference just takes you to the march with no link to anything related to the conference and no indication that it even exists. Sigh.

I had a friend who was waiting to get paid to purchase her ticket this week. And I’m sure she wasn’t the only one. She was even proactive in attempting to get her ticket over a week ago and sent a message to the organizers about the financial aid option which was available to those who couldn’t afford tickets because she was worried they would sell out before she could get paid and buy the ticket and they never responded…

This is what we are talking about when we say that these kind of opportunities look great on the outside but when you dig down a couple of layers it becomes not so intersectional or inclusive. Either do a conference separate from the march or open these opportunities up to everyone that want to be a part of the whole march experience. Since the conference isn’t an option to all who want to attend, I’m going to sit out the free march this year, which feels like a sloppy seconds culmination to the conference that only a small percentage of the interested can attend…

I know nothing is perfect and maybe next time they can get this right but I’m not at all convinced anyone really wants to get it right because look… we women have had over a hundred years to take into consideration all the women in our communities and our nation… ALL OF THEM… and we are still fucking this up. I’m not at all surprised… but I’m still disappointed.

I’ll be filling my day surrounded by badass women just the same. And we will be discussing how we can make the spaces we occupy more inclusive and intersectional. To however you rise up, be it at the march or in your own revolutionary ways today, may you honor all women in your plans and consider every woman’s story in whatever you are planning, practicing, enjoying, etc. Cheers. #riseup #totherevolution

Haiti.

ON THIS 8TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE, LET’S BREAK DOWN SOME US/HAITIAN HISTORY:

Here’s how US policies, many enacted by Bill Clinton in the 90s, for which he has apologized for because he sees the error fully decades later, are why Haiti was the poorest nation in the world before the 2010 earthquake. “Free trade” agreements allowed US industry to come into the the capital of Port-au-Prince and provide “employment” opportunities to “help” bring Haiti out of agricultural independence and into the “industrial revolution” to aid US capitalism. 🙄 So Haitians left their agricultural lifestyle that was providing for their needs and went to the city where “jobs” awaited.

So we in the USA got to buy cheap clothes and wares from Walmart, Kmart, and Target made in Haitian factories and we started exporting food to Haiti to line the pockets of American agriculture and feed all the people of Haiti who no longer fed themselves because they were working to make cheap clothes for Americans aka “progress”… 🙄 So in 2010 a huge proportion of the Haitian population were living in the worst conditions imaginable in the city while their countryside lay in disuse and eroded neglect. Their government had historically fucked them over on many levels as had the US.

And when the earth literally opened up and swallowed them in 2010, we started kind of paying attention… Kind of. These people have more strength and grit and resilience through the worst this world has to offer than anyone in any government position in our nation. And Haiti is just one nation among so many negatively affected so that the USA could prosper. May we someday pay dearly for the sins of our nation. That’s the facts. #riseup #totherevolution

Learn more about US policies under Clinton here.

Rise. Fight. Revolution.

In 1980 my baby brother died at 9 days old because of a series of events by Baptist Hospital nursery and then newly opened Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital which in modern times would have been resolved with a malpractice law suit that would have possibly changed laws that helped families like ours. But you know what Nashville lawyers and lawmakers, many of whom were family friends and fellow Vandy grads, told my parents when they came to them with so much evidence to show malpractice on many levels?! They told them to mourn the loss of their son and go live their lives. That was 1980 and Nashville was a small town then. Prayers for the loss of their son should have been enough. They never were though. My father slowly went mad and my mother, an angel on earth, powered through and made ends meet for her family because that is what had to happen. I remember that story every time something happens that can easily be prevented and it just goes to show that not much has changed in the good ole USA. Keep your head down and don’t rock the boat and mourn the loss… Well I’d rather die in revolution for a better world than praying through all the bad with no action. No parent should have to mourn the loss of a child for negligence. That’s society’s job in a democracy to take up the fight for those who have been burdened by community negligence. No, my brother isn’t coming back and neither are the countless people dying or dead from off the chart hurricanes that are a direct consequence of humans disrespecting the earth and mass shootings wiping out vast numbers of innocent lives. But future loss can be prevented if we fight so that families affected can mourn and then help prevent others and possibly our future selves from the same end. So pray all you want. But you better also get off your ass and find a way to fight. #riseup #totherevolution

Caribbean Aid

Want to help out the islands after these monstrous hurricanes have destroyed so much? Here’s what I’ve got for now…

Dominica

http://dominicarelief.org/ – government sponsored

https://www.gofundme.com/hurricanemariarelief – private citizens sponsored

Virgin islands

https://www.virgin.com/unite/bvi-community-support-appeal – Richard Branson (I know… 🙄But he has the connections) is working in aiding a rebuild plan of sustainability. Read more here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/19/sir-richard-branson-calls-marshall-plan-british-virgin-islands/

Puerto Rico<<
ou can see from the article above, Puerto Rico was an important link to the rebuilding efforts of the smaller islands. They began assisting in immediately following Irma's destruction two weeks ago without regard for their own financial issues or the fact that they may be in line of fire for another monster storm…They are out of commission for possibly months thanks to Maria's gut punch. Help them recover here.

https://hispanicfederation.org/donate/ – Lin-Manuel Miranda has partnered with this org to help relief efforts.

http://www.losambulantes.com/help-puerto-rico/ – list of ways to help PR

Stay tuned as more efforts are added. And in the long term… Don't discount these places as you plan your vacations and travel plans in the coming years. All these islands will need your support so make plans to visit them and spend your vacation money on their economies. That will be a tremendous value for them and for you. I promise that once you experience the beauty and strength and warmth of your brothers and sisters on these islands you will forever be better for knowing them.

Thanks for your support. Please share this post far and wide. #dominicastrong #puertoricostrong #virginislandsstrong #riseup #totherevolution

Foreshadowings to Fruition…

Today, we await word from my husband, Tommy’s, granny and auntie as well as many other friends and family, the morning after Maria, a category 5 Hurricane, literally destroyed the approximate 7×35 mile wide island of Dominica.

And now we brace for Maria’s return to the ruins of Irma, this time with potential to strike St. Croix, where Tommy’s mother lives, which was the one Virgin Island unscathed by Irma’s wrath. And the rest of the Virgin Islands either don’t know what’s coming or know with foreboding awareness that they will have incredible problems handling any new storm because it has barely been two weeks since their obliteration by the largest hurricane in recorded history.

Then we have Puerto Rico, who despite being in the worst financial ruins of its time, has been acting as an elder sibling to its smaller Caribbean islands, staging the post Irma rescue efforts for its brethren. And Maria is headed directly for it.

We have beloved family on every single one of these islands.

And if I’m being honest, all I can think about is how for almost two decades I have been watching the disrespect we heap on this earth and I have been predicting that too much has been ignored and the layers of broken will all begin to present themselves and we will no longer be living this easy life many of us live here on this earth that we disrespect. And our fellow humans are living this destruction environmentally, politically, financially, etc. and it’s only going to get worse and it’s only going to happen faster and faster to more and more of us. And it’s too late to stop it.

And these glorious people who have nothing to do with the disgusting decisions of first world nations are again at the front lines of the destruction we have selfishly wrought in the name of progress and industrial revolution. You’re damn right it’s a revolution. And it won. Industry won. We see it’s toxins destroying our earth’s livability every day. It’s been fighting us since the 1800s and it has caught up and will keep winning. Every year I gets worse and this year is braking records. Harvey, Irma, Maria, and the raging fires out west are just a vivid example of what’s been coming for a long while. Society will not withstand. The flames are all around us and there is no person or policy that will protect us when the earth is done with our nonsense.

Get yourselves and your family prepared for the future that we all are responsible for destroying. Teach your children how to care for what’s left of the earth they still have and prepare them to live in an unsustainable wasteland be side that is where we are headed.

We don’t need your prayers. We need your actions. We need your votes. We need your children to grown up and understand that they are the ones that are going to be living in a very different existence than humanity has known. #riseup #totherevolution

In Response to Someone I Love

A dear friend of our family posted on Facebook yesterday something to the effect that she and her husband worked hard and sacrificed much in their lives for their children to be educated in a private school, attend college and ensure that their needs were met. And every bit of that is true. She raised three wonderful children who are grown raising another generation of wonderful children. But then she went on to say that it made her sick that kids in college that have a good chance too, I guess like the one she and her husband worked hard to provide for her own kids, and have student loans, whatever that has to do with anything I can only imagine, are wasting their time “tearing down statues when they could be working hard to have a good future for themselves.” I was not silent.

Before I tell you my response, I must say that I have ignored for the most part posting anything to her wall for two years as she has promoted her support of Trump and the bigoted hateful ideas he spewed during the election. I mourned her as I did many last year who I basically caste into a category of “I will never forget your direct choice to side with hate.”  I choose instead to be very vocal on my own wall and then anyone who doesn’t like it can unfollow or unfriend me if they have a problem with what I have to say.

I have no doubt that many of you out there have experienced similar situations with people you love over the course of the past few years as race has been at the forefront of our lives. It’s always at the forefront of black lives and more recently a constant in many white lives, much to the dismay of many of them…

As I said, I am very boisterous on my own wall in response to people in my life who choose to side with Trump and his hate, who choose to misunderstand the Black Lives Matter movement as the new civil rights movement of our time. Those friends and family who continue to believe the lies spread about Black Lives Matter, who is continuing to fight for the marginalized and for an end to systems and policies that are literally killing black and brown lives simply because of the color of their skin and because of fear and hatred. Systems and policies and laws that both the Republican and Democratic parties have propagated based on white supremacy but given a “color blind” name like the War on Drugs, the War on Crime, the privatization of the prison system, the growing militarized police state, the guarantee that if you are a felon you may never vote again, the school to prison pipeline put in place shortly after “desegregation” began. All these systems, laws, and policies that both our conservative and liberal white elite controlled government backed fully. Both sides in this case are absolutely to blame… If only Trump had been referring to the three branches of our government when he said “I think there is blame on both sides.” If only he had been speaking of the bigoted government that made a home for his rhetoric… If it walks like a new Jim Crow, and talks like a new Jim Crow, it’s a new Jim Crow… Michelle Alexander did that research.

But after what happened in Charlottesville on Friday night, after listening to our bigoted president’s response about blame on “both” sides, after sitting with my girls and explaining to them what kind of country they are living in and how hard we are fighting to change their future for the better, I had to directly respond to my friend, someone I have loved my whole life and who I know loves me and my family. And yet that is simply not enough in this nation at this time. I encourage each and every one of you to do the same. Respond. Speak out. Do not remain silent. My sister just reminded me of Elie Weisel’s quote, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Please steal any and all parts of my response if they can help you speak out. Now is the time to choose your side.

Here was my response to someone I love in regards to students, in Charlottesville who, let me repeat, thinks are wasting their time “tearing down statues when they could be working hard to have a good future for themselves.” ….

I wrote, “They are doing just that. Working to have a good future for themselves as well as supporting a good future for everyone in this nation. We will have a nation that either eliminates white supremacy and it’s blatant forefathers who lost the war and regardless of a lost war the bigoted policies that still pervade every crevice of society or we will build a new nation where that is eliminated from its foundation. Statues are a start and should have been gone long ago. Send them to a museum and tell the story of the civil war properly. We were founded on liberty and justice for all white men. Women were a far second and black people were slaves who kept this nation running smoothly and upon whose backs “democracy” and capitalism advanced. The civil war was the beginning of ending that. The civil rights movement got us a little closer.

But policies are still as rooted in place as the statues of the Confederacy are, that allow for white supremacy to thrive. And a lot of white people are not liking the laws that have changed that put everyone on equal footing as it should have been all along. From that equal footing people can work hard or not and reap the benefit or not… From an equitable playing field. But as we stand right now there is still much work to be done to establish equal footing for all Americans.

My daughters are going to walk around in a nation that isn’t propping up losers in a war about whether or not their state had a right to hold them as property. We can go to a museum and read history books about the bigots of the Confederacy. But this nation is moving fast toward liberty and justice for ALL and my girls and my family will be working overtime (day jobs and then volunteering our extra hours) to dismantle white supremacy based statues, policies, and laws and there are a lot so we have much work to do. We are coming for all of them. We are just getting started. Blacks were slaves for hundreds of years and have technically only been “free” for about 55 years. So we all have a ton of work to do to ensure they are truly free and through their true freedom we can ALL be free. There’s no either or but the fight for ALL to be equal and that isn’t true yet. But it will be.

So buckle up! These young people aren’t having it anymore. They are going to go to school full time, work, and use student loans and in their spare time use their voice to help dismantle everything bigoted in this nation. It’s all coming down. White people should have always been living in a country where everyone has the same baseline of privileges that white people have always been afforded in this nation. I know plenty of black people who have worked just as hard as you have and are still in poverty because of policies that kept them so. We are all simply fighting to dismantle a system that has worked to uplift a few at the expense of the rest. We will have liberty and justice for ALL or we will work to create something else truly founded on that. No body is trying to take anything away from anyone. This movement that we are a part of just wants to be afforded the same policies that have propped up white people, especially wealthy white people, for centuries in this nation. And we are never going to stop until those rights are truly everyone’s and the policies and laws in place that prevent that are obsolete. And there are a lot of white people, black people, Hispanic and Latinx people, and black and brown of many descents, every religion and no religions under the ecplipsing sun, who are becoming a fast majority and who will have liberty and justice and everyone who isn’t ok with that will either get on board or revolt in a way that will cost lives until we truly have a nation where ALL LIVES MATTER. ALL OF THEM. Your family, my family, the refugee family, the immigrant family, the black family living in poverty, the white family living in poverty, the Muslim family, and the Christian family, the Jewish community, the Catholic community, the Muslim community, the hindu community, the protestant christian community, the atheist community, the liberals conservative and everyone in between. All of us. And there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. There is nothing wrong with our groups that are working to change this system so all of us are free. That is at no one’s expense and all of us in this nation’s gain. And any voice that casts out entire races, religions and genders for their own gain, as white supremacist bigots do, as the men and women who carried torches in Charlottesville on Friday night did, (alt right, nationalists or whatever names they have that hold the white man as the highest in the land) will be defeated. Either people are working for everyone to have the same right as everyone else, like these students were Friday night against, or people are bigots. There is no in between anymore.

And furthermore, sadly, despite the fact that I am working my ass off for all of this, I believe entirely that it is too late for any of it to actually work and I think revolution is near, the terrible war kind not the beautiful internal magical kind. I think that there will be war here on this “land of the free” and the “home of the brave” is going to be tested dearly. Because freedom is subjective now a days. Facts are subjective and it’s too late for reason in a nation filled with such hatred towards one another simply over being truly free. So I’m raising my girls to be a force for liberty and justice for ALL in what may come after this nation’s fall. Because we are beyond divided. We are beyond any promise of agreement on any of this and it’s too late.

So my family will continue along with those kids in Charlottesville protesting bigotry and hate, to use our voices in this democracy as long as it stands as a democracy and then if we are here after it all goes down in flames then we will rise up and help to create a community, or state, or nation, where liberty and justice for ALL can be established from the beginning on the backs, blood and sweat of ALL of us working together. It will take the open mindedness and love of beautiful children like my girls and your granddaughter, who I love dearly, to create it but I believe in them. So may the hard working students on financial aid in Charlottesville and across our nation standing up to hate and bigotry continue to do so and use their free voices to speak out against any symbol or policy or law that casts one race over another, that props up and gives credence to a despicable time in our nation’s history that must be remembered for its inhumanity rather than be honored with accolades and statues and flags. May they do it for “a good future for themselves” as well as their fellow Americans.”

 

#totherevolution #alldefinitionsapply

 

Words Deep In…

Published in Broadside_Print Issue 5 August 2017 #NarrativeFeminism

Dear words that are deep in,

We have spent so much time together just us feeling the stories we created or witnessed or imagined. I know that we argue over sharing the stories through the written word when it’s so easy to TELL the story and the satisfaction that comes with verbally releasing it to the world is so much more immediate and DESIRABLE!

And shit… words that live deep within me… I get that you don’t want to leave. I don’t want you to leave either. What will replace you? But, honestly, y’all are too much now. I can’t hold you for much longer. I need space for my new stories. For the ones that are still shaping me, damn it. But I’m terrified to deal with the reality of me once you all are gone and on paper.

I am overwhelmed with what it is going to bring up but I am numb with you inside and I need to feel this beauty that life has offered me. I need y’all to get up on out and then I can get to all that drives me. We can do this life so much better with y’all outside of me and not taking over in here.

I have never liked sharing myself with another living being… Two pregnancies were wonderful but, by the end of both, I was ready for them and me to be separate, autonomous beings. So I need to birth or purge you, words deep within, so that I can be free. I need to stand separate from you. And when we are apart, when you live on a page rather than in my gut and my brain and my blood, we will see what we are left with…

What we may be left with is what is scary because we have always been together. We made each other for all these years.  So together we must just fucking do this. We must come apart. And then we will see what we are made of when there is only freedom left behind.

Remembering Augusts Past…

It's August. I've been writing a lot about my childhood of late and I want to share a remembrance that is pure August for me.

This is a story of crepe myrtles and my Grandpa, Bernard. Summer is always synonymous with my Grandpa, my mama's daddy, to whom I was very close all 21 years I got to have with him. As a little girl, I would spend hours with him in the back yard of the house on Brookfield Dr. I would lose myself in grand adventures, while he was working away on his pristine gardens and landscaping; overflowing with vegetables, flowers, plants, perfectly manicured hedges, and never a branch or twig on the ground… As I spent my days crossing lava rivers and traversing deep dark jungles, he spent those same days combing the yard picking up each piece of wood that had been discarded from the abundance of shady trees over head and tossing them into the old fireplace in the back of the yard, weeding the gardens, trimming the hedges, and riding for miles and miles on his lawn mower, his pipe always just so in the corner of his mouth, hat a bit off kilter, and those suspenders over checkered shirts with a pocket on the front left always with tools and a pen or pencil inside. My Grandpa.

My earliest memories of late summer were always ushered in with the blooming of the fuchsia crepe myrtles in Grandpa's yard. There was one in a flower bed in the far corner of the yard and one right by the house in a small little alcove that was my Grandma Julia's St. Francis garden. I am sure that she was the one who wanted the crepe myrtles and probably initially planted them, especially the one that grew in that small corner garden. Her bedroom window was directly above that garden and from it you could sit on their high 4 poster bed with a perfect view of the glorious blooms. But in my mind's eye of those long, idyllic, sun drenched, hot, southern, summer days of childhood,  it was Grandpa I can still see so clearly tending to to  the crepe myrtles.

I can still perfectly remember a late summer afternoon curled up on Grandma and Grandpa's bed with a copy of Charlotte's Web in hand. The window air conditioning unit running full blast, belly full from a baloney sandwich, pretzels, and a coke cola that Grandma had prepared for me after coming in from a whole morning deep in glorious summer time play in that yard. I slipped under the covers and finished the book, the first one I remember reading all by myself. As I lay there, the bright pink blooms of the crepe myrtle blearily peeked in at me through the window, as I was crying with all my heart and soul, just devastated that Charlotte had died. I was just gutted by it. That tree stood by right outside as I learned the power of a story for the first time; a story that ushered in the thousand other stories that have served as the paving stones I have tread upon my life's journey. The story that held such value to me in that memory that I named my daughter after the little girl who saved a pig, who went on to teach a beautiful lesson in friendship and sacrifice to another little girl; with huge tears in her eyes, tucked under the covers, inside her Grandma's beloved house, surrounded by her Grandpa's magical yard, in which stood a blooming fuchsia crepe myrtle, watching over her as she mourned.

After Grandma died way too early… After my own immediate family broke apart into tiny pieces of shrapnel imbedded in every part of us… After we came to live with Grandpa, who opened that safety of his home to us full time, I remember the crepe myrtles most as his trees. Grandpa's trees. Later in my twenties, after grandma and grandpa were both gone and, I hope, reunited once again, their bedroom belonged to me for a time. I would sit at grandma's vanity that was by that window with the crepe myrtle blooming and just watch it dancing in the summer breeze. It was a constant source of beauty throughout my life.

And so all these many years later even though the house on Brookfield was sold and I don't get to see that particular crepe myrtle anymore, the spirit of those trees resides in them all. I have shared the story of grandpa's crepe myrtle with my girls and now every August as we drive here and there, they shout every few minutes, "It's a Grandpa tree!" and Grandpa lives on in my girls' minds' eye as the very source of comfort that he helped create for me in my childhood. What an enchanted full circle that is, don't you think?