Why Blogging is an Act of Courage (at least for me)

writing+02The biggest challenge of writing is not necessarily the exercise of crafting words and paragraphs and a flow that is pleasing and engaging. The hard part is the ideas. Because to write something, there is a sense of permanence that does not exist with spoken words. When you write something there is a feeling of finality, that you have made up your mind, at least enough to mark it in a way where others will read it and know your thoughts, at least the ones you’ve chosen to share.

That appeals to me because, as someone who has struggled with feelings of loneliness throughout my life, sharing my thoughts, even with a stranger, is an act that brings me closer to other human beings in this world, and makes me feel less alone.

This also terrifies me, because I am the type of person who thinks deeply about topics and likes to look at topics from different perspectives and angles. Even on topics that I am fairly certain I understand well enough to write about, there is always a small voice in my head that tells me, I could be completely wrong. Continue reading

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On the Intersectionality of Street Harassment

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A clip from a famous video of street harassment in New York (https://youtu.be/b1XGPvbWn0A)

A guy came up to my car while I was on my way to work. I saw him start to cross the street, but thought he was only crossing, so he startled me when he appeared at my window, asking if I had anything to eat. I could have said no. I could have said, “I don’t want to encourage panhandlers.” But while the voice of White Womanhood in me says “be afraid, be very afraid”, I also remember the voices of black men in my church and community, sharing their pain, how they are painted as more violent and more dangerous than they really are. My iPhone was in my hand, a clear signifier of at least moderate wealth, and while I didn’t have any food in my car, I had cash removed from the ATM the day before, and I could just as easily blow a $20 on beer without a second thought.

I gave him the $20 and said God Bless. I did my best to make eye contact and to SEE him when I did it. This does not make me a good person. This does not make me a model or an example for others. I look past people’s humanity every day. And even as I am telling this story, I am still selfishly thinking more about myself than about him.

Continue reading

On the importance of seeing beauty

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Breath-taking view from Highway 1, north of Big Sur, CA. I took this picture! I was there! And it is even more beautiful in person 🙂 

Today I was reflecting on my trip to California, and I was thinking about how beautiful the west coast was — and so easy to see and find the beauty — the mountains and nature and ocean were all around us. Here in Memphis it can be harder to see. I noticed how beautiful the clouds and sky are here– big fluffy whipped cream kind of clouds. I looked up and noticed how beautiful the trees are — we are literally living where a forest once lived, and pieces of the forest still survive today. I was thinking about how important it is to see beauty, because beauty — and I say beauty, not just attractiveness or aesthetically pleasing design — beauty, itself, is a physical representation of Joy. A retail store and parking lot might be ugly and grey and depressing — but inside, the cashiers, the customers, are living, breathing, beautiful souls. In their hopes and dreams and laughs and kindness there can be so much joy. And even in Memphis, which is so scarred with trauma and tragedy and violence, there is still joy pushing up through the cracks. I want to get better at seeing beauty and seeing joy. I want to get better at looking past the grey, and seeing what is there, pushing up through the pavement, struggling to thrive, struggling to look into the sun, struggling to turn the grey and brown into green, into red and gold and purple and blue. That is why writing is important for me. It helps me to see. It helps me to notice. It helps me to push back against the laziness of just taking in the noise and the grime and the cement, and see instead the traces of life that are thriving in spite of being bullied and poisoned every day.

Fear

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I stand high enough above the dark ocean

That I become queasy from the height

Day after day

My invisible captors

Leave me at the ledge

Day after day

I peer over

With dread

Knowing I will remain

In this drafty purgatory

Until I die

Or jump

My stomach becomes tighter

And my mind heavier

Every time I look down

And see waves

And nothing below them Continue reading

To my Beloved Christian Family, One Nation, Under God

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My beloved family,
Loved and treasured by God
Apples of His eye
When
Did Christianity become about winning?

When did we begin to say,
Close our doors
Seal our borders
Keep our families snug and secure
In our suburban houses with
Green lawns
And no sidewalks
And security systems

Don’t welcome the foreigners,
The ones who worship under a strange moon
And not a cross
who worship the strange god Allah
The ones who
Wrap their women in too much fabric
Who don’t watch romcoms
Who don’t wear bikinis
Who won’t eat our hickory smoked Barbecue pork

Don’t welcome the small, undernourished children
Eyes eyes as scared and hollow with trauma
As their gut is from hunger

Don’t welcome doctors who come to study in our Universities
To work in our hospitals
To heal our sick

Fly your flags high and proud
One nation under God
And rejoice that the Christians are winning
The good Christian soldiers
Who work nine to five
Who earn overtime pay
Who relax on their weekends off
That were paid for by the sweat and blood
And resistance of immigrant laborers
Their illegal strikes,
Their fight for fair wages
And reasonable hours
And safe working conditions
Their fight to unionize
And end child labor
So you could work
Your white color job
While your own children
Enjoy free education
And new toys
And play dates.

Stand proudly on their backs
And declare your victory in Christ
Declare how good God is
That only by his grace
And your own bootstraps
Do you stand here today
While lazy immigrants
Feed their children with McDonalds.

We won! We won!
God is in the Whitehouse!
Our strong God, our mighty God,
Our God who will not take no for an answer!
Our bright and white and shining God
Who rewards the wealthy
And reprimands the poor for their sloth and impropriety
Who loves the blacks
And will teach them to be smart and civilized
to stop doing drugs and going to jail
Who puts Americans first!
Who will make a way
For oil to flow freely through our land
That we rightfully discovered.

Let us thank our God, our Father,
For the blessings poured out over us
Thank God that we are not godless muslims
Or whining liberals
Thank you for
Our guns and our veterans
Who protect us from the barbarous world outside.

And we will be One Nation under God
No longer forced to endure
The rowdy, rude chants
Of untamed mobs
Who are an affront to our blue lives,
And our color blind eyes.
No longer will these anti-americans
Soil our ears
With their unreasonable demands
For clean water
And healthcare
And a living wage.

Our mighty King Solomon
Adorning our country with glorious towers of Gold
(never mind the heavy taxes
And unpaid labor that builds them
After all if they had studied and
Worked hard they would have
Found a better job)
Making our nation great again
As our pure white crosses
Shine from every hill
For if our Nation is One
Under God,
Who needs liberty and justice
After all?

Street Harassment Blog: Day 39

4I did not intend to go this long without posting. When I started this series of blogs, I intended to chronicle my experiences with street harassment for 40 days, the final day being tomorrow.

My reaction to Trump’s victory was pitifully similar to the recent SNL skit. There is no possible way that our country would elect someone who has told blatant lies, sexually harassed and assaulted women and even allegedly raped a child, to be our next president. There is no way that we would elect someone who has threatened to deport all immigrants, ban Muslims from immigrating, who is endorsed by the KKK, threatened free speech in the media, mocked veterans and people with disabilities, could be elected president. But he was. One of my relatives told me “It kind of feels like a slap in the face as a woman.” That’s exactly how I’ve felt.

If anything the results of this election has made me more resolved that oppression and injustice in any form is never normal. It is wrong, and it is unacceptable. Continue reading

Street Harassment Blog: Day 15… or “If I could tweet my harassers like the Donald”

I’ll keep today’s post short and sweet. Yesterday I was riding my bike to the river downtown. I passed a street corner on my way where I have experienced harassment before on multiple occasions. And sure enough, as I pass I hear “Hey beautiful!” Later that night as I came back, I hear “Hey sweetie! Hey!”

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Both times I ignored my harassers. I was too busy enjoying a beautiful day to ruin it by giving them the time of day. But, if I could respond to them in the form of a Donald Trump style tweet it would be this:

“Loser men trying to hit on me again. Sad!”

“Really dumb guy at bus stop called me sweetie. Just another sad case.”

“Interesting how men keep calling me ‘Baby.’ One of the dumbest and worst ways to pick up women, they got it all wrong.”

“Wow. Pathetic man thinks yelling at me is a compliment? total dummy!”

“Street harassers are haters and losers. Wouldn’t know a real compliment if it hit them in the face.”