Tag Archives: Racism

Two White Men Hold United States Hostage

18 Jan

The Hug That Sank 800,000 Jobs

We are now in day 28 of the government shutdown–the longest government shutdown in US history. What a national embarrassment; I suppose it probably provides poor sad Theresa May some cold comfort. Let us just be clear and use facts about why the government is shut down. 45 has continued to lie about the safety of our southern border. He and Faux/Fox News have used fear to scare his base of support into spending nearly 6 billion dollars on a racist wall. However, Trump is not holding the country hostage alone: he has his loyal sycophant and award-winning hypocrite Mitch McConnell to help strangle the country. Lest we forget, during this shutdown Trump and all of Congress are still being paid their full salary.

More on the spineless, sexist, lying, egotistical, hypocritical, bigot, Mitch McConnell: this is the same bully who proposed the identical initiative that the Democrats are now to prevent a government shutdown–the same initiatives that he won’t allow to reach the senate floor, even though they passed by UNANIMOUS CONSENT in December. Party over politics and a huge fuck you to the American People to demonstrate his loyalty to the Dark Lord Covfefe Hamberders (are you missing Dan Quayle now?), and his loyalty to Putin, who gave him 3.5 million dollars. The Dark Turtle from Kentucky says he won’t allow a “show vote” that 45 won’t sign. This despite the fact that he allowed TWELVE votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act that he knew President Obama wouldn’t sign; he’s also allowing an anti-choice measure onto the floor this week, even though it has no chance of passing the house. Those are the very definition of show votes. Racist, sexist hypocrisy much, Mitch?

Let us talk about the serious and far-reaching impact of Trump’s racist temper tantrum. Over 800,000 employees are affected by the shutdown and going without pay; this includes 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents, 53,000 TSA agents, 42,000 Coast Guard employees, up to 88% of Homeland Security are working without pay. Maybe it is just me, but this does not make me feel safer. In fact, Trump’s tantrum has put the nation in jeopardy.

More than 380,000 people will be furloughed. This directly impacts NASA, the IRS, the Department of Commerce, the National Park Service. It seems to me this does not take an economics degree to understand that this is bad for the economy. Refund checks will now be delayed. There are now new barriers to homeownership, as there are now delays in processing and approving loans. This also negatively impacts all local economies that depend on tourism dollars to visit national parks.

While it is a Sisyphean task to keep track of all of the lies from Trump and his administration, it is important to note two huge whopper lies here.  Trump claimed that all of the previous presidents supported the wall, which in fact, is NOT true. Trump also made the claim that 63,000 Americans had been killed since 9/11 by people at the southern border. Again, this is NOT true. In fact, the number was made up by the self congratulating racist Steve King, who has now been censured for his charm free comment: “White nationalist, White supremacist,–how did that language become offensive?” I don’t even know how to unpack that, except to say that I’m grateful that at least a handful of Republicans have denounced King’s comments.

CALL TO ACTION: I implore you! Make those phone calls! Let Mitch know he can’t hide in his shell while the country suffers. Call your Senators! Thank the Democrats for holding firm and demanding that Congress perform its Constitutional duty of checks and balances. Demand that Republicans put their constituents before a pointless racist wall and force Mitch to allow a vote on measures that will easily pass.

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Cancer in the Trump Era, Part Deux

28 Dec

Today I start my first chemo treatment, thus starting my year-long journey to get rid of this new cancer. I hate that I am so scared and hate that I am causing all of the people whom I love to feel scared.  Obviously, the cancer last year along with the massive heart attack was not enough. This latest hiccup started the evening before Thanksgiving 2018 when I found out that the cancer in my colon spread to my liver. Needless to say this has been a rather intense and rather sad Holiday Season. My team of oncologists reported to me that this is stage 4 cancer and that there is between a 20 and 50% survival rate. Not exactly news I wanted to hear. I feel like my body, since hitting 50, has betrayed me, or is telling me that it is tired and has no desire to continue. While most of me still says fuck cancer, I must confess that the betrayal I feel from the Trump administration and from those who support this sociopath, makes it hard for me to feel confidence in beating this fucker cancer.

The past two years have seemed unbearable, as I have seen the decline of empathy and understanding of the Social Contract, if it ever existed. The currently emboldened racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia is allowing us to see the very worst in humanity here in the United States. While it has always existed here, as it is a part of the very fiber of our country, 45 has normalized the worst in humanity. Sadly, 45 and his base of support have no understanding of what a Democracy is or how one works. Even more tragic is that the GOP does not know how a Democracy works, and they have proven they don’t care and thus support 45’s dismantling of our Democracy.

What has been particularly painful in the past three weeks aside from my latest cancer diagnosis, is that 45 is holding the country hostage by shutting down the government until he gets his racist wall. In the words of the late Ronald Reagan, I say: “Mr. Trump, Tear Down This Wall.” Yes, it has gotten so bad that I have to quote a president for whom I have nothing but contempt. Of course, in the world of twisted facts by Fox News which is wired directly to 45’s brain material, the blame is assigned to the Democrats who hold no power in the House or Senate currently. I and most of America continue to weep.

The list of lies and atrocities by Trump and his administration is pages long and interferes with my ability to focus on kicking cancer’s ass. Here is my plan to conquer cancer: I have named the tumor Pat, short for Patriarchy (watch out Trump/Pence), and I have named the port implanted in my chest Mueller to help kill Pat.

My hope is that during the next year, we will see some type of harmony and healing happen in the US and around the globe. That we will not see the pure hate delivered by Fox News, Trump, Pence, Theresa May, Michel Temer, J`anos `Ader, The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and of course Puppet Master Vladimir Putin. Let us hope people will work towards Democracy and dismantle the autocratic governments here and around the globe.

I am fully aware it will take an enormous amount of strength, courage, and determination to beat this cancer over the next year. I am very lucky. I have a beautiful and phenomenal network of friends that are on this ride with me and lift me up when I am tired, and carry me when I can’t walk. Even with this amazing support, I am scared as fuck! For all of us who are currently struggling with cancer, I say we need to unite and know we can’t do this alone and let us love on each other as we belt out our individual and collected voices to Fuck Cancer and Destroy the Patriarchy!

Treason and the Embracing of Fascism

30 Jul

I have spent many weeks working on this particular article, as it has been eating at me and has been the cause of great consternation. While I typically do not reach out to 45’s base supporters, I am reaching out now, as I am exceedingly nonplussed. My observations are that continued support of 45 in the wake of his behavior in the last two years provides overwhelming evidence of a disturbing embracing of fascism and a complete lack of understanding of how a democracy operates, not to mention the overwhelming evidence of how racism unites a huge portion of the population in the United States.

In the past two years we have witnessed such sociopathic behavior from 45 and the entire GOP and what we have witnessed can’t be undone–it cannot be taken back. We now have to look at how do we repair the monumental damage done by this administration and all of you who colluded with this nefarious behavior. Here is just a minuscule list of the damaging and unacceptable behavior that is moving to deteriorate and dismantle our democracy: 45 endorsed and campaigned for Roy Moore who raped countless women and girls–how on earth do you move forward after that? How is that acceptable behavior? While campaigning, 45 mocked a reporter with disabilities–for me, I was certain this would have been the end of his campaign, but the American people sadly proved me wrong and said it was okay to mock people with disabilities. His base further disappointed me by saying it is acceptable for men to grab women by their genitals. I don’t know how any of you readers were raised, but I was raised with respect for human decency and all of 45’s behavior and the collusion and support by the entire GOP fly in the face of human decency.

Another breaking point was the separating of children from their families and placing children in cages in camps. When we learned that one particular child with Down syndrome was separated from his family, FOX correspondent Corey Lewandowski mocked the child and family with his pathetic “womp, womp.” Honestly, how does one bounce back from this behavior? Have you no decency Mr. Lewandowski? Have you no empathy? I grow fearful and exhausted by 45’s base who shout: “if you break the law, you get separated from your family.” Sadly, you all don’t seem to understand how the law works and how applying for asylum works, or what due process means. One has to be on American soil to fill out the paper work to apply for asylum and should not be separated from one’s family and then is entitled to due process.

Now let us talk about treason.  While 45 works to alienate our allies and insults Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, demonstrates unbelievably boorish behavior to the Queen of England, and then praises oppressive dictators like Kim Jung Un seems like a dystopian piece of fiction, but sadly it is our reality. His private meeting with Puppet Master Vlad Putin is more than just problematic, it is in fact treason. 45 said: “It is U.S. foolishness and stupidity and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in US relations with Russia,” all of this in the face of the evidence that Russia was involved in disrupting our democratic process. Then to make matters worse, 45 has now invited the Puppet Master to come to DC for another private meeting. Why are we not collectively freaking out over this? Why have charges of treason not been filed?

Moving on to more examples of behavior that you can’t take back–behavior that painfully demonstrates that 45 and the entire GOP display the very worst of humanity. 45 and his administration are currently trying to purge all current soldiers who are impacted by HIV.  Even more disgusting is that 45 is diverting Ryan White funds that are designated to help those impacted by HIV to separate children from families. The very unstable 45 has now also threatened Iran with war.  Is this who we are as a nation? The sad answer is YES–this is who we have devolved to as a nation. It is not a small wonder that we have lost any respect from our allies around the globe.

In my 51 years of living, never did I imagine I would witness the nation embracing Fascism, but alas here we are. Fascism is the embracing and subscription to an authoritarian government that does not allow for opposing views; it vilifies the free press and demonizes opposing voices as “enemies of the state.” There is a strong push towards nationalism and great disdain for economic equality, rampant misogyny, and disdain for the arts and intellectuals — disdain for human rights. All decision making is from a unilateral voice without a system of check and balances, and fraudulent elections.

Call to action: I worry that those of you who remain in 45’s seemingly implacable base, your legacy is one of hate, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and fear. Please prove me wrong. I implore all of us to reflect and show ourselves and the world we are better than this. I want America to weep no more. For all of us in the Resistance, please practice self-care. For me, I am watching Netflix and Kim’s Convenience.

The Weaponization of Social Justice

18 Jun

In the past three months I have been doing a great deal of reflection around how to mindfully create space to be more generous and more loving during the extraordinary fatigue of 45. Sadly, I have observed that I and the communities I am a part of and the nation in general are short tempered, ungenerous, quick to anger, quick to judge, and operate from fear and hate, rather than increasing our efforts to be loving and empathic. I know for me it has been difficult to get in the space of being more generous of heart with the daily assaults coming from 45 and his racist, homophobic, ableist, misogynistic, transphobic administration. How then can we be committed to issues of social justice and to be mindfully centered in love is the question I am wresting with currently.

I have, with great sadness, witnessed communities and students where I teach using social justice as a weapon–a weapon to prove how “woke” they are. I will say emphatically right now that none of us are “woke.” My whole life’s work is around social justice and working towards a more equitable world. My colleagues and I are constantly tell people we work with that we are having to hold the tension of messiness of social justice in perpetuity — that we are life long learners and our journey of awareness will never end if we are truly reflective, curious, and come from a place of love and humility.

As of the writing of this article, we are on day 514 of 45’s assault on the United States. The fatigue is real, as we see people in this country pitted against each other and the erosion of empathy and loss of any sense of community. We have to witness and live through more than 514 assaults on LGBTQ rights, on women’s rights (the aggressive attack on Planned Parenthood, on separating children from families and housing them in cages), an assault on civil rights for all people of color —  the list goes on and on. With the deterioration of our nation, I am wanting to engage in conversations and behavior that extend more love and more generosity of heart — to resist the hate that 45 and his administration put out into the universe. I want to make my corner of the universe sane in the face of this overwhelming insanity.

I want to embrace what former First Lady Michelle Obama said: “When they go low, we go high.” And my heart sinks at how much I miss First Lady Michelle Obama and how much I miss President Obama. I am inviting myself and others to resist what is being modeled for us from Fox News, who control 45’s brain — resist operating from a place of fear and hate. We must be mindful and center ourselves in love. I must work to reflect and try to ensure that our actions and words are from a place of love and to create more space for all of us to exist. I know I will fail at this and yet I must dedicate myself to keep trying in the face of so much overwhelming hate and fear, of racism, classism, abelism, homophobia, misogyny, all of the other ways in which we treat targeted communities.

What has been particularly heartbreaking for me is watching people lash out at those who are trying to help and make a difference. For example (and I have her permission to share this), a colleague of mine attended a listening session for the students we teach. My colleague, and friend, thanked the students and then offered: “Thank you, this is so helpful, please tell me what you need so that I can try and meet those needs.” What horrified me was the reaction from a student, a white woman, who came at my colleague with: “Don’t you dare ask what we want — that is putting all of the labor on us and not you. You are acting in a white supremacist way right now.” I hardly know what to say, save that I hope this student will do some reflection and come back to my colleague with an apology. My colleague is Latina and is part of the resistance  movement, so I am also worried we have people using language that they actually lack the sophistication of knowing how to use words with shared meaning.

Another example that was particularly painful was an experience in one of my own classes, where a student told me that: “my job is to listen and to say yes or no, but not to make things messy.”  Wow! Candidly, I consider the lion’s share of my work is to make things messy and to ask people to create more space and more empathy. I can only hope this student, who is now a colleague, will do some reflection and even circle back to me.

Call to action: I invite all of us to try to practice radical love and kindness. While I know I will fail at this probably several days a week, I must commit to staying engaged and working hard to act from a place of curiosity, humility, and love. I must also continue to do everything I can do to help make my world a place that values community and resist the insanity that  is 45, Pence, and their minions. I must center my self in love.

What has been very helpful for me is watching the television show The Good Fight! This is such a brilliant show and my husband and I feel a bit more hopeful, a bit safer, and a bit less anxious after each episode. The amazingly talented Delroy Lindo, Audra McDonald, Cush Jumbo, Nyambi Nyambi, and Christine Baranski, and the rest of the amazing cast of The Good Fight create amazing resistance to the world 45 is creating. We are also watching RuPaul’s Drag Race as a tonic to the hate and fear mongering perpetrated by this administration. While I know it can be extraordinary difficult at times to love people who are actively hurting you, I am trying to sustain the belief and action that being centered in love is the way to eradicate racism, homophobia, abelism, misogyny, and all of the intersections therein. With love and gratitude, Michael.

The Entitled Homeless

16 Apr

The number of people experiencing homelessness is growing exponentially as we watch and witness homeless camps popping up in both urban and rural areas across the United States. The entitlement I see with this community is astonishing! I’ve noticed that people experiencing homelessness have the audacity to want to be treated as human beings and want access to food, shelter, clothing, and access to hygiene and the ability to just go to the bathroom. There is an expectation that they be recognized, seen as human beings, perhaps even deign to make eye contact.

Sadly, the culture that is well established here is that we have created a narrative that not only vilifies people who are homeless, but we have managed to vilify poverty and to create insurmountable barriers for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. I also want to acknowledge the disproportionality of targeted communities that intersect with being homeless–the overrepresentation of the LGBTQ community and people of color.

What prompted me to write this article was a string of recent events I witnessed. On my way back from Medford, Oregon where I was doing an equity and inclusion workshop, I stopped at the Burger King to grab a bite to eat before heading back to Portland. While sitting in the restaurant eating my lunch, I saw a young man enter the building and go directly to the bathroom. (I had just used the bathroom and it only accommodates one person at a time, so one has to lock the door) Behind me, there was a man that I would guess was in his mid 50’s, white, heterosexual, cisgender, with a shirt that said “Jesus loves me.” This man threw a fit that the young man got to the bathroom before him. He threw such a tantrum that he started banging on the bathroom door and demanded the young man get out. He then proceeded to demand to see the manager of the restaurant where he went into a rage that was so loud everyone could hear him. He screamed at the manager: “There’s some homeless kid that ran into the bathroom and now he has locked himself in there–he has no business being in there and you need to get him out!”

Of course, this sparked my own rage and the need to intercede. As I watched the manager and now two other employees banging on the bathroom door, I approached the manager and explained that first, the man throwing the tantrum does not know if the young man is homeless or not, and that secondly and more importantly, he has the right to use the bathroom regardless. Homeless people have the right to go to the bathroom! I would love to say that the manager and the two employees heard me and backed away to allow this person to use the bathroom with a modicum of dignity. Most unfortunately, they did not.

Last week, I was doing an equity workshop in downtown Eugene, Oregon. I went to get a coffee at the Starbucks. There are a critical number of homeless people around this particular Starbucks. I needed to use the bathroom and — quite disturbing to me — one has to have a code to use the bathroom. It is very clear that this now common practice of putting coded locks on bathroom facilities is to prevent people who are homeless from having access. I must confess, this whole absurd barrier is more than just mind boggling for me, for it speaks to the ugliness of just how awful humans can be. Even more tragically, these painful examples relate to just one key challenge faced by those experiencing homelessness. Our nation’s apparent intent to dehumanize them fully adds burden after burden.

More disturbing is that because of the recent overhaul of the social structuring of the United States in the grotesque guise called the Tax Cuts, we can certainly expect the homeless population to increase. All of this begs the question of how do we care for our communities? How do we address systems that create such horrific disparities in wealth and the hoarding of wealth? How painfully ironic that Paul Ryan, one of the chief architects of the Tax Cuts/Reform, has announced that he will retire at the age of 48 after stealing safe retirement from millions, compounding the homelessness crisis. Until we can purge the inhumane from the halls of government, how can we hope to treat all people with humanity? How do we assert our individual and collective voices to remind those who work in government are civil servants–just a side note–the ship has sailed on Scott Pruitt, Paul Ryan, and most of the GOP in their understanding the notion what it means to be a civil servant.

Take Action: There are things all of us can do. Find a way to get involved with a shelter that provides services without conditions. Donate money to some of the following organizations: Sisters of the Road, Street Roots, and Central City Concern.

Roseanne Destroys Her Legacy

30 Mar

Roseanne has turned into Sarah.

I truly loved the original Roseanne series. During the Bush Sr. years, 1989-1993, (Bush who raised taxes, what a novel idea. Who do I need to strangle? The current Republicans are making me defend Bush Sr.!) we were in a significant recession and jobs were hard to come by.  There were no television shows that reflected Americans struggling with issues of money, paying the mortgage, unemployment, food, birth control, race, homosexuality, abortion, and body image. Truly, Roseanne was a revolutionary.

What happened? In an era of rebooted television series such as Will & Grace and the amazing One Day at a Time, Roseanne, unlike the other two reboots, neglected to become relevant. In fact, the reboot of Roseanne only serves to reinforce a dominant narrative of wealthy white heterosexuality. Roseanne’s use of this platform to bash Hillary Clinton and support 45 serves only as an insult to people who experience poverty and nothing but vile racism, misogyny, homophobia, and classism in ways that are so overwhelming that the United States is truly experiencing what I call 45 Fatigue Syndrome.

While we did give the show a try, I was sadly disappointed. The show is relies on a great deal of nostalgia, but lacks any sense of awareness or sensitivity or poignancy. The only poignant moment is when Jackie says: “All the weight you lost was the good Roseanne,” not a truer sentence said. Sadly, Roseanne has become the soulless sycophant that is Sarah Huckabee Sanders. But even more pathetic is that the show just wasn’t funny, and that is perhaps one of the most dangerous flaws of all for a comedy.

If you want relevant television that is ground breaking and reflective, I suggest you turn off Roseanne and start watching the reboot of One Day at a Time, or watch the envelope pushing The Good Fight. These are shows that are far more reflective and resist the white supremacist paradigm of 45 and the entire GOP currently. I know that during my recuperationOne Day at a Time, The Good Fight, Will & Grace, and The Crown are getting me through.

Finally, watching the reboot of Roseanne serves only to reinforce all that is currently wrong and inequitable in our country right now–it only normalizes Trump and Pence and their collective agenda. I ask that you RESIST and not normalize hate.

GOP Tax Plan: A Complete Social Restructuring of the United States

4 Dec

Welcome to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 500 pages of far-right dreams smashed together in two weeks and rushed to a vote in the middle of the night. While there is an enormous amount of this plan that we should all be mortified about — specifically how it hoards wealth for the top 20% of Americans and steals money from the poor and middle class — there is far more going on here, much of which has little to do with tax “reform.”  I worry that most people are not paying attention to everything it does over time, as evidenced by the fact that most of the people who voted to rush this through have not even read the whole plan, nor have there been any substantive hearings or analysis provided. This massive document is also difficult to read because much of the marginalia is hand written scribbles, eliminating even concerned senators’ ability to read and understand the implication of the entire document before voting on it.

In addition to the sociopathic maldistribution of wealth this plan secures, the social ramifications are profound and are antithetical to what we have worked so hard to accomplish in the ways of equity in the past 100 years.  For example, this plan includes Medicare reductions that will end cancer treatment for people on Medicare. Yes, you read that correctly. This sounds like a death panel to me, and it should not come as a surprise, given that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have been working to dismantle Medicare for years now. Oh, and as an added bonus it eliminates the Individual Mandate from the Affordable Care Act, basically robbing 13 MILLION Americans of coverage.

As outlined in the Chronicle of Higher Education, this bill creates even more barriers for people who are not in the top 20% of Americans to afford a college education. For example, this bill puts additional taxes on charitable donations to colleges that allow for financial aid. Small liberal arts colleges are heavily dependent on charitable gifts to survive. The message is quite clear, the GOP does not value education, as further evidence that Betsy DeVos is the secretary of Education. People do your homework here! Obviously, the lack of access to eduction benefits the GOP, as it encourages ignorance and precludes critical thinking skills: skills that would allow people to ask questions of the government, the people that are supposed to be public servants.

Another alarming part of this bill — so alarming I needed to get my smelling salts just to be able to write this — is the reversal of The Johnson Amendment. Yes, this is part of the Religious Freedom Act (specifically Christian agenda freedom) coming from the far right wing, which now controls our government. The Johnson Amendment, created by LBJ in 1954, prohibits all non-profits, or what is called a 501 (c) (3) from making any type of political endorsement or stand to lose their tax exempt status. Trump and his henchmen are now about to reverse this in this tax plan, but ONLY for churches, allowing them to become tax-free lobbying organizations. So much for separation of church and state.

The bill slashes the corporate tax rate, eliminates the bulk of the estate tax, and changes “pass-through” business taxation in a way that benefits only the wealthiest of business owners. These changes are PERMANENT. The tweaks that MIGHT make a small change for poor and middle class taxpayers expire within the first three years. At the end of ten years, the vast majority of households making $75,000 or less will see their taxes rise, often by 20% or more.

Many deductions are eliminated or severely curtailed including bike-to-work incentives, moving expenses, most mortgage and home sale deductions, tax preparation deductions, and disaster relief deductions. State and local tax deductions are greatly reduced, penalizing blue states that fund federal programs for red states.

The bill will increase the deficit by at LEAST $1 TRILLION. So much for the party of fiscal responsibility. Deficit hawks like Sen. Flake and Sen McCain (the Arizona Stooges) believe that wealth will trickle down as businesses have more revenue, even though EVERY major corporation interviewed has indicated that the vast majority of this revenue will be used to pay bonuses and reward stockholders, giving no benefit to the average American. Sen. Murkowski sold out her constituents in exchange for getting drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yeah, that’s a tax issue… Sen. Collins accepted a fig leaf promise for a vote someday on an ACA bill that won’t come close to solving the problems caused by the loss of the individual mandate. Sens. Johnson and Daines pretended that minor changes to the pass-through rules would help small business owners. Overall, over 20% of Republican Senators had major objections to the bill but voted for it with vague changes and vaguer promises.

The most nefarious impact is yet to come. As that big deficit hole comes into reality, Republicans will certainly use it to insist on austerity measures. This is a feature, not a bug. As the deficit grows, they will insist that Social Security, medicaid, and medicare be slashed to balance the budget.

Our only hope for derailing this monstrosity is putting pressure on the conference process that will reconcile the House bill (awful in many different ways) with the Senate abomination. Getting the House to accept all the little tweaks and odditities may be difficult, and losing them may make the final bill impossible to pass again in the Senate.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your Representative and Senators and demand that they stop this horrible bill. It’s not tax “reform”, it won’t serve the middle class, it crushes the poor, and it includes elements that will reshape the social network and basic protections that we rely on today into something mean, nasty, and unrecognizable.

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