Tag Archives: disabilities

How to Love Radically in the Era of Trump

6 Feb

radical-loveI have been struggling, along with 2/3 of the nation, since November. I have been fearful, hurt, and worried for ALL targeted communities. For those who insultingly made this about “Hillary lost, get over it,” you missed the point, quite sadly. This was about resisting a fascist regime, which we are now under, as evidenced by the over 20 Executive Orders delivered by Trump — as evidenced by the myriad lies spread by Trump and his team (please don’t make up attacks, Kellyanne).  This was about supporting a billionaire bully who makes fun of people with disabilities  and says it is acceptable to grab women by their genitals.

And so I struggle. I struggle with how to be loving to Trump supporters, some of whom are family members — family members who have decidedly voted against me, my family, my friends, and the earth. Yet I must maintain that we have to stay in community; we have to operate from our hearts first; we have to make space for those who are hurting us. I STRUGGLE!

I struggle every day to make this space for people who are deliberately oppressing so many. It is hard to love someone when they are punching you or shooting at you or sustaining systems of oppression. Moreover, I don’t want to become like those who are oppressing us! I think our individual and collective ability to RESIST with every fiber of our being and simultaneously love and make space for Trump supporters is Radical Love. I would love to take credit for this, but at least two of my friends for over 30 years, Jen, and DeShawn helped me here.

I feel obligated to share some survival tips and invite you to share how you are surviving a world gone mad.

  1. Take a break from news and social media.
  2. If you are able to, binge watch some tv that brings you joy. Here, I would strongly recommend the Netflix remake of One Day At A Time. My friend Gita recommended this to me, and Robert and I are loving it! It has a Latina cast and addresses social issues and is FUN! Rita Moreno is in it along with Justina Machado, and I think I am in love with Isabella Gómez. 
  3. With intentionality, seek out friends, family, and family of choice who feed your soul.

Finally, join me in a commitment to Radical Love! I commit to being in and operating from a place of love, while I know there are days I will fail at this. When I fail at this, I will not shame myself. I will continue to work towards building community, solidarity, and find ways to both resist this current fascist regime and love those who are engaged in supporting a world of fear, hate, and oppression. If this sounds or feels contradictory to you, all I can say is: I’m able to hold a lot of tension around being messy — this work we do towards social justice/transformative justice is MESSY! We don’t do this work in isolation and we will not complete it, but we must be engaged!

I invite you to share how you are navigating currently. What is working and what is not working?

Standing in love and solidarity,

Michael

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I Hear America Weeping

11 Nov

libertyweepsI hear America weeping today, November 9, 2016. No, this is not Walt Whitman’s poem, I Hear America Singing. This is a song of woe, a song of anguish, a song of despair.

How is it possible that a person who sold nothing but pure hate could be elected President of the United States? A man’s whose venom reached Muslims, Latinos, the entire LGBTQ community, and all women is now President Elect? How? When Gollum’s understudy, James Comey, released his red herring of Hillary’s emails (which of course was NOTHING) days before the election, it managed to turn the conversation away from the dozen of women who have been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump. A man who admitted to cheating the government out of paying taxes — taxes that people in poverty and middle class people have to pay. For his loyalty, Comey will not lose his job.

I understand people wanting to break a system. What I do not understand is how you chose to anoint such a homophobic, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic piece of hell to do this. How? This man is a clear threat to me and my family and to all women, to all people of color.

Today, I hear children afraid to go to school. I hear adults and children of color afraid to live in the United States. I am afraid and ashamed to live here now.

I hear LGBT people young and old afraid to leave their homes — afraid that all of the successes made in the past eight years will now be turned back.

I hear women crying and fearful that the government will have even more control over their bodies — that the culture of rape has now been sanctioned by a misogynistic predator who has been elected as the leader of this nation.

I hear Native voices peacefully asking for us not to trespass on their sacred land and cry a cry centuries old in protest of colonization.

I hear the voices of our Muslim family quiver at the thought of what this now world “leader” will do to them.

I hear the Black Lives Movement tapping into strength and resiliency in the face of sanctioned, sustained racism.

I hear the choir of over 20 million voices (mine included) that now have health insurance thanks to Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) scared that we will now go uninsured because of Trump.

I hear parents asking, “how do I explain this to my children?” How do we explain how we have rewarded this bully and his white supremacy?

How do we heal a nation that is divided by hate versus love. Trump has managed to normalize wicked and categorically unacceptable behavior. His supporters have sent a clear message that the only people safe and wanted in this country are white, heterosexual, cisgender men — and you better not have a disability! And you are welcome to treat women as chattel.

For those of you who voted for Trump who are in poverty, poor, and or unemployed, you have screwed yourself over yet again! But worse, you threw all of your neighbors under the bus because of your white anger.

As I am very quickly approaching 50 years old, I am exceedingly sad. This is not the country I hoped we would be in 2016.

Yet, I will not give into despair. Rather, I will challenge myself and all of America to take action! We need to organize, support each other, and change this system. Let us make every effort to mitigate the destruction he has laid out, the shredding of rights he has promised. Stay mobilized and passionate! There are anti-Trump rallies taking place all over the country — people are organizing and taking action. In fact, I was caught up in traffic last night because our anti-Trump rally managed to shut down I5.  I must confess, I did a little happy dance in the car. While I was inconvenienced, I was elated to learn that people are protesting. My only sadness, was that I did not get to attend this rally.

Well, my other sadness was that I later learned there were one or two people in the rally that were ill behaved. Please, I do hope all of us who are a part of these rallies do so peacefully–I don’t want us behaving in the same way Trump does. I implore all of you, please don’t despair, take action! Yes, I am also speaking to you, my white heterosexual allies. WE NEED YOU! Now is an opportunity for white heterosexual allies to step up to the plate and make your voices heard!

The Supreme Court Upholds Voter Suppression in Texas

20 Oct
Sad Legacy!

Sad Legacy!

Sadly, not many of us were surprised by the exceedingly conservative high court’s decision to uphold voter suppression laws in Texas.  The Roberts’ court continues to leave a legacy that works against civil rights, just in time to negatively impact the 2014 mid-term election. I would like to talk about how these voter ID laws negatively impact targeted/marginalized populations. Not that most of the high court is interested in how we continue to oppress targeted populations, but I hope we will at least start to have more conversations around what we all need to do to expand civil rights rather than curb them. Texas’ voter ID laws intentionally create barriers for the following communities to vote: people in poverty, people of color experiencing poverty, people with disabilities, senior citizens, transgender people, and all of the intersections of these populations. In addition to the horrible impact of this action, it flies in the face of judicial tradition. Typically, appeals courts — including the Supreme Court — act to do the least harm while the laws in question work their way through the system. Allowing the law to stand while it is under appeal aggressively disenfranchises Texas voters during the important November mid-terms. Even if the law is struck down in the long run, that damage will have been done, almost certainly to the benefit of Republican candidates. Suspending the suspect law until a final decision is made would be more typical, sensible, and just. Of course those words can rarely be applied to Scalia, Alito, Roberts, or Thomas. If only we could get more voices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s. Justice Ginsburg composed the dissent and eloquently highlighted the damage of this verdict:

…may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification…A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic. Racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact.

Both Justice Kagan and Justice Sotomayor joined Justice Ginsburg’s dissent. I want to believe there is hope that this court’s majority will soon gain a better understanding of their jobs and of civil rights.

Bigot of the Week Award: December 7, Sen. James Inhofe and his “Fellows”

7 Dec
BIgot of the Week

BIgot of the Week

This week a number of U.S. Senators have simultaneously taken one stand against human rights and refused to take another stand in favor of human rights. What ties these bitter white men together is their membership in a secretive faux-Christian sect known as the Fellowship. (It’s also called the Family — they couldn’t decide which word to misappropriate…) This nasty sect, founded in 1935, purports to be a prayer group celebrating the teachings of Jesus. What they really are is the worst of Who Would Jesus Hate hypocrites, pushing homophobia, misogyny, racism, and “traditional values” while secretly supporting the long-term extramarital affairs of Sen. John Ensign (R of course – NV) and former SC Governor Mark Sanford.

The Fellowship has international membership, and its members in Uganda, with support from U.S. members like Scott Lively, have been active sponsors of the viciously anti-gay bill currently working its way through the Ugandan Parliament. Five Republican U.S. Senators who are known members of the Fellowship — Charles Grassley (IA), James Inhofe and Tom Coburn (OK),  Jim DeMint (SC), Mike Enzi (WY) — (have actively resisted calls to condemn the bill. Sen. Inhofe notoriously argued with Rachel Maddow about the content of the bill and its connection to his organization in an interview last March. American “missionary” voices have been instrumental in fanning the flames of homophobia in Uganda. The refusal of these men to distance themselves from this potentially lethal legislation is inexcusable.  On the plus side, the nefarious Jim DeMint is leaving the Senate to lead the backwards hate group The Heritage Foundation–only white, heterosexual, homophobes need apply.

Another international manner arose in the Senate this week. Treaty 112-7, a resolution from the U.N. on the rights of people with disabilities came up for a vote. This treaty already ratified by 126 countries, supports equal rights and support for the disabled. Even though it proposes nothing that is not already U.S. law, a core group of U.S. Senators blocked the treaty as “intrusive.” Treaties require a 2/3 majority, so the 61/38 vote failed to pass. All five of the Fellowship Senators voted “nay.” What a nice way to show their KKKristian values.

As a sad coda, retired Sen. Bob Dole appeared in the Senate chambers to support the treaty. I’m hardly a fan of Sen. Dole, but he is a disabled veteran and served for years beside many of the current Senators. They greeted him, slapped him on back, listened to his plea for support for the disabled, and voted against him. What more proof do we need that these nasty, narrow-minded monsters have jumped the legislative shark?

Bigot of the Week Award: July 6, Rep. Joe Walsh

6 Jul

Bigot of the Week

Today a familiar face returns to bigotopia. Regular TSM readers may remember Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) who sat out a chance to work with the President on jobs for Americans and played the racist elected-while-black card when criticizing the President. This week he sank to a new low in his bid for re-election.

Walsh’s opponent for IL-8 is Tammy Duckworth. A Black Hawk helicopter pilot, she was one of the first women to fly combat missions in Iraq until November 12th, 2004 when her helicopter was hit by an RPG. She lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm in the explosion, and was awarded the Purple Heart for her combat injuries. Duckworth ran for Congress in 2006 and narrowly lost. Since then she has served as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and as Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Walsh, whose career consists of venture capitalism and lobbying for school voucher schemes, has no record of public or military service until the Tea Party swept him into office in 2010 (after three failed election attempts). He has mounted an attack on Duckworth because she has the audacity to mention that she served her country and was injured.

Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about. Our true heroes, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about. That’s why we’re so indebted and in awe of what they’ve done.

Bizarrely, Walsh was comparing Duckworth to the supposedly reticent John McCain, who has mentioned his military service and injuries just as prominently in every campaign he has ever run. This is nearly identical to the sadly successful campaign run against Sen. Max Cleland, a disabled U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, by Saxby Chambliss, who sat out the war on deferments. Clearly, these Republicans believe serving your country only counts if you preach the Republican gospel.

As a delightful side note, musician Joe Walsh (Eagles, James Gang, etc.) has endorsed Duckworth, disgusted by his namesake’s behavior.

Millennial Generation: Interview with James Queale

26 Jun

Many of you may recognize James’ name as a contributor to TSM.  He is a passionate advocate for social justice and he is a Millennial.

James grew up in New Brunswick, Canada in a conservative home with a Nazarene Preacher for a father.  James currently lives in  Philipsburg, Pennsylvania with his partner Tom. James is 21 years old and born during the Bush Sr. administration. Here is a chance to get to know James better.

On Coming Out: 

I came out when I was 14 and my friend asked if I was gay—which scared me and so I said I was bisexual, but then a week later I told her no, I’m just gay.  By the time I was 16 I was out to everyone except my family.  Even my teachers knew and really I did not experience any discrimination at school. I did face serious homophobia at home however.  I was watching an MTV show and my brother and I were watching a show with a gay kid who said he was gay and a Christian and then my brother and dad started the gay bashing.  I went downstairs and called my friend and I was very upset and it turned out that my dad and brother heard what I was saying. The next day my dad asked if I was struggling with homosexuality—I said I wouldn’t exactly call it a struggle and I was very scared.  But then he started crying and was talking about Jesus.  Then we got to the school and when I got out of the car I felt strangely free.  We went for two weeks without saying anything about it and then after two weeks my parents sat me down and asked what I meant when I said I was gay.  After a minute of silence I said, I like guys.  It kind of felt like they were trying to “cure” me from being gay.  Fortunately I was 16, so they could not legally force me into some type of “repairative therapy.”  From their point of view they now accept me, but from my perspective there is still room for growth.

On Politics:

I tend not to label myself when it comes to politics and religion. Labels come with baggage–baggage you may not realize is there. From a Canadian point of view, I have never chosen a party to follow. Honestly, other than knowing about our political system, I don’t pay attention too often. We have numerous parties to choose from which is nice, because I really feel that Americans are at a disadvantage because there are only two choices. Well, occasionally three, if an independent is running. Canadian politics are far less interesting than American. From an American point of view, I find myself most often relating to the Democrat side of things.

Historical Point of Reference:

9/11 was the biggest thing—by default for my generation this was a defining moment.  I think this is why immigration has become more difficult.  Now people are treated like criminals regardless. As a Canadian, I kept hearing that the terrorists came through Canada, but that did not make any sense.  I was in science class and a classmate said ‘oh the towers got hit.’ Of course, I was only 11, so it was difficult to make sense of it all.

LGBT Issues:

I was fortunate enough to have my rights as a gay Canadian by the time I was 15. Because of this I never knew what it was like to fight for rights until meeting my American partner when I was 18. Little did I know at the time that America was very behind on the equal rights front. I knew many things about America, but I had never REALLY paid attention until meeting Tom.

And this is when the predicament began. How were we going to be together with the law in our way? Well, we still have not figured this out. I can’t be here as his partner because of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), so we are no more than “friends.” Which is something I always tell the border guards so that I am not discriminated against or “turned away” by a homophobe. I am stuck as being a visitor because:

1. To be a student is expensive. American universities cost a lot more per year than Canadian universities. Plus, your sponsor has to have $20,000+ in the bank aside from the money I would have to have in my own bank account. And finally, you can only work on campus for no more than 20 hours a week.

2. I have no family in the US to sponsor me.

3. I do not have a “special” skill to get a company to sponsor me and hire me.

Why don’t we move to Canada? Yes, that would be cheaper and a little less tedious, but my partner has medical issues which has him reliant on his Disability. Most countries want someone who can contribute and since I am not exactly rich, I can’t sponsor him up with me.

Even if DOMA is repealed, it does not mean successful immigration. The American immigration system is broken, difficult, and expensive. I have heard numerous stories of heterosexual couples in Bi-national relationships and they have to move to their partner’s homeland instead. Like I said, that is not an option for me. So what does a young man in love do? Wait and hope.

Biggest Anxiety:

That I will not get to be with the one I love.

Biggest Dream:

1. That one day I will have a permanent home with the one I love.

2. I am an aspiring novelist and hope one day to write something good enough to get published and end up on the NYT bestsellers list. Unfortunately, I am very critical of myself and every time I start a manuscript, I throw it out and start again another time. Also, I suffer from what I call “creative ADD” so it is difficult for me to stick with one idea.

3. I hope one day to see everyone around the world treated equally and have the same rights.

Jamie, thank you for doing this interview and thank you for working so hard for social justice.

Black History Month 2012: Maggie L. Walker

20 Feb

Today we honor and celebrate a teacher and businesswoman who broke through color and gender barriers, Maggie L. Walker. Born to freed slaves in Richmond, VA in 1864, Maggie Lena Mitchell attended the public schools and helped her mother deliver laundry. She taught school for three years until her marriage to Armisted Walker, Jr. His work as a contractor provided a good income, so she focused on raising a family and dedicated herself to the Independent Society of St. Luke, a fraternal burial society that administered to the sick and aged, promoted humanitarian causes ,and encouraged individual self-help and integrity.

In 1902, she launched a newsletter to raise awareness for the group. Realizing that the Richmond chapter required financial stability, she founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. By doing so, she became the first woman to found a bank in the U.S. and the first female bank president. While she maintained a clear head for the business of the bank, she was also dedicated to helping the community and used the bank’s power to help African-Americans in Richmond buy homes and start businesses. By 1929, St. Luke had absorbed all the African-American  banks and become the Consolidate Bank and Trust; Walker became Chair of the bank’s Board of Directors.

Walker fell on the steps of her home in 1907 and injured her knees. The damage eventually became so severe that she was confined to a wheelchair. She used her personal experience and wealth to begin advocating for the disabled as well as the African-American community. She died in 1934, still serving as Chair of the bank and using her influence to make life better for others. Her home is now operated by the National Park Service as a museum and information center dedicated to this remarkable woman.

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