How Now

Soapbox LogoI am the enemy. Yes, I said it. I am the enemy. I don’t live my life with this intention. I don’t wake in the morning thinking, “what can I do today that will harm another person, create chaos or stranger danger”. Nevertheless, I am the enemy.

Why do I say I am the enemy? I will answer you in as succinct a way possible. I am the enemy because many have identified me as such. Not because I have done or said anything specifically, not because of my beliefs or my political ideology, which have not changed in 40 years. I am the enemy because of my demographics.

Appearance/Race: White

Gender: Female

Age: 59.5

Orientation: Straight

Economic Status: Middle Class (not really)

Ignorant? Yes. Foolish? Yes. Nonetheless, since waking up on 9-November-2016 many of my friends, some of my neighbors and many strangers have identified me as ENEMY.

The 2015-2016 election cycle has been harsh and ugly. It has brought out the worst in the American people. It has unleashed every single thing that is ugly in our psyche and without a backwards glance said, ‘there you go, have at it’.

In 1956 W.E.B. Dubois condemned both parties and made an argument for why he would not vote in the upcoming election between incumbent Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. This eloquent and damning indictment of American politics is as relevant today as it was then, it was published in The Nation, October 1956, read it here.

For me, the most significant statement of the entire essay is this;

I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or web-duboissay.

We have drawn a line in the sand and erected walls to our absolutes. The very things we condemn in others we adopt for ourselves and call good. We do not see our own hypocrisy, we do not acknowledge our own terrible for what it is, both Terrible and Tragic.

The problem in how we are reacting to the election of Donald J. Trump? We are looking for excuses, seeking to lay blame anywhere we can, enemy and ally alike. In doing this we looked first to the easiest target, anyone ‘not exactly like us’ which included allies and with broad brush strokes, we named Enemies. We have refused to look in the mirror, at our candidates and the past eight years and accept we have significant work to do at the grassroots; if we ever wish to regain moral authority, political power or the ability to move this nation towards better days for all citizens, we must begin inside the party of supposed progressive thought and make real change.

Having the Presidency simply isn’t enough. The past eight years should have proven this, clearly though we didn’t learn a damn thing. We lost State House after State House, we lost Governorship after Governorship, we lost the House and the Senate and we lost our standing on the World Stage. We paralyzed a Democratic President through our failure to pay attention, through our focus on the specialty and special needs rather than looking at the overall needs of the nation, listening to the voice of the nation cry out. We failed the nation and the world, not just the few but the many. Donald J. Trump may be the culmination of years of GOP talking points, fear mongering and baiting of all kinds; but, we own him as much as the GOP owns him, we own him through our inattention to the bigger picture.

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There are several examples of our inattention, or better our attention to the specialty while ignoring the larger or overarching issues. We failed to look at what is critical:

  • The real economy
  • Real American jobs
  • Fear in Middle America

We failed to pay attention to word on the street about

  • Immigration, both legal and illegal and the cost of American jobs
  • Crime and Justice in America, the real cost to America
  • Rising cost of Healthcare

We failed to address the issues that mattered to Americans, such as:

  • Growing poverty across the American landscape
  • Ongoing War and our returning veterans
  • Our International reputation

We did not listen and speak to the heart of America, we did not address their fears of a failing American Dream.

When the only answer to a question that disagrees with your point of view is the following, “You are (Pick One and Insert: White, Heterosexual, Above the Poverty Line) you are not allowed an opinion regarding this subject”, you are over the line and you have turned an ally into at best a disinterested third party. At worst, you have turned an ally into the opposition. When the only answer to dissent or disagreement is name calling or labeling, you have turned a potential ally into an enemy.

When the voice of the minority becomes larger, louder and more important than the whole we lose. This is a simple fact proven with the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we demand strict adherence to ideology without question or dissent we lose, proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we name enemy those who question or speak out, where they see potential danger or unrighteousness we lose; proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we veer so far off course, forgetting all but those representing the special interests and demanding adherence to their interests alone we scare the rest of the nation. When we name any and all who question or disagree, “Bigots, Racists, Homophobes, Xenophobes, Sexists, Misogynists….”, we lose, proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

So now we are two (2) days away from the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Not my choice for President of the United States of America. I am greatly afraid for this nation. I pray we will find a way to manage this man who will be POTUS, who does not seem to understand the gravity of the office he will hold. Who has nominated to his Cabinet men and women who adhere to positions that are destructive and against every tenet this imperfect nation is built upon.

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If we are to answer this Presidency with real solutions and ensure the least harm we must begin to heal ourselves, we must see beyond the ‘not like me’ to the common ground. If we are to find solutions, we must start with the open hand rather than the closed fist. It must start with the reminder, we are Americans first, we have common goals and all the other labels do nothing but set us back, play into someone else’s desired outcome to keep us separated and screaming rather together and talking.

I am not the enemy, though some have labeled me as such even those who once proclaimed to love me.

What the Hell America

0-9jzicdodmhkgda85I have written this, rewritten this and then written it again. My words have stopped one hundred times. My ability to place into words, written or otherwise my thoughts on the tragedy that is our current national mood, I am at a loss.

We are three weeks from the election of Donald J. Trump and his God Awful running mate Michael R. Pence. I watched, numb and mostly in stunned silence as this travesty took place. Actually, I watched for months as Trump stomped, whined, insulted, bullied and assaulted our senses without a single person truly taking him on, not the media, or the opposition, not the majority of his own party and not the public.

I watched as we all shook our heads, thought never would the GOP allow this buffoon and life-long Democrat to represent them, to take over their party or be elected POTUS. We ignored what was before us every step of the way.  We whined when he insulted entire groups, when he bullied, when he assaulted, when he got into twitter wars, when he suggested his opponent be murdered, when he suggested a foreign nation hack our systems and interfere with our election. But we didn’t demand he be taken down by the systems we have in place such as the Justice Department or the FBI.

No, we did nothing at all, we piled onto our own nominee instead…Benghazi and Email all the way.trump-pence-03

Like so many I watched as the perfect Manchurian Candidate plowed through practiced professionals, chewed up the press and sucked in the disenfranchised, left-out, angry and ignorant with the aplomb of the reality star he had been for decades. We shook our heads as he selected as his running mate the most far right homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, hate and fear mongering insider there was out there and we said not one damned word.

The DNC offered up Hillary Rodham Clinton as the anointed candidate for our acceptance. With little in the way of opposition and despite her many flaws the Left was told it was her turn now. It seemed we were to be led by dynastic houses rather than the democratic process.

We laughed and shook our heads, we polished our wit as we watched Martin O’Malley be skewered and drop out. Bernie Sanders snuck up from the true progressive left claiming ideals and ideas at odds with Mrs. Clinton and the DNC and forcing at least a conversation, carrying a true populace standard. What did we do? We impaled our own candidates, at least those with the nerve to challenge the anointed. We disregarded the corruption of the super delegate system, we disregarded the voice of challenge. We disregarded the message. We laughed as we ushered Hillary onto the stage as the pre-determined and anointed candidate of choice.


One thing on Hillary, one thing only. I have never been a fan of Mrs. Clinton, however, I also believe at least 70% of what is said about her is flat out smear tactics that have stuck because it has been said often enough over the past thirty years. She is not the devil most believe her to be, in fact, she is an accomplished, knowledgeable, well-educated public servant. Is she perfect? No, but then who is. Has she made mistakes? She absolutely has, so have we all. My problem? If even 10% of what is said is true then she is corrupt, who the hell wants to elect a person to the presidency knowing they are corrupt. I know I don’t.

But it seems this nation did not care if the President Elect is corrupt, so long as they got to choose the corruption.

This nation has elected a president who wants nothing more than to enrich himself and his family. Yes, that’s right that is his primary goal. Make no mistake, this is not a man who looks at the Presidency and says to himself, “How am I going to do right by the 325 million people in the United States over the next four years.

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He isn’t concerned, he doesn’t give a shit about the lives of those people, not the ones who voted for him and certainly not the ones who didn’t vote for him. If this isn’t obvious yet, it will be.

What can we say? What can we do? I have watched as some have taken to the streets. I have listened as some of those on the streets have espoused their anger at election results in one breath while in the next admitting they did not vote. What? I have watched as one with the least to lose has challenged results in multiple states, raising money to do so, okay this is good right? Yet, where does the excess go? Who will benefit in the end?

I have watched old friends vent their fury at the outcome, draw the lines that are at once ugly and specific.

If I am White I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am a White Woman, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am Heterosexual, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am White and Heterosexual, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am any or all of the above, I am to blame and I have no right to any opinion. No matter how I voted.

If I am any or all of the above, I am to blame, I have no right to any opinion, no matter how I have voted this year or in the past and no matter what I have done throughout my life to open doors or make positive change. The lines have now been drawn. Friendships are now set aside. Civil Discourse is no longer possible.

I have watched this play out time and again. I am saddened by it. I am silenced by it. I weep for friendships lost. I weep for our nation, for the fear engendered by this election, for the hate boiling over in all corners, for the normalization of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny. I weep for where we are going. I fear for all of us, mostly I fear for those who will be most harmed by what is to come.

I wonder, how do we begin to attack the hate and bigotry being normalized and enabled by this election, by this President Elect and the cabinet he is nominating? Where do we start if we are unable to even remember our own friendships and alliances? How do we even begin to undo what is done if we are only willing to fight within our house. We came out. We voted. Did alliances hold? Not always, but we have to look beyond and we have to talk rather than point our fingers. We have to reach out rather than beat down. We have to work together rather than lay blame within. We cannot afford more loss, more giving ground.




Fallen Apart

soapboxpileTo support one thing does not mean I am against another. I want to make certain all who read my words understand this, to support one thing does not place me at odds with another thing. I can be for both, I can be in support of two seemingly different things. How you might ask, it is simple and I will tell you in as simple as terms as possible.

I am for humanity. I am for human dignity. I am for justice, fairness. I am for all of us, together as a people, as a nation finding solutions that will move us forward toward sanity and peace. I am at a loss, not just for words but my spirit is seeping away, hiding in a dark corner and refusing to seek the light any longer.

We are a people of disquiet and terrible, tragic division. We are not a single people, joined together by our desire to become stronger through our diversity and our shared history. Instead, we have sought the lowest common denominator, sought the very worst in ourselves and celebrated these most terrible and violent traits that drag prejudice and fear. Some of us protest the violent and senseless loss of life, we march and raise our voices demanding justice and change, yet the only thing that truly changes is the divide widens, the chasm of mistrust grows between us and violence increases. In our demand for recognition, our voices raised seeking justice that has not been ours in the past we say with one word, allies and friends be damned and cheer as innocent blood runs in the street.

The language of divisiveness has torn us down and apart. A mirror has been held up and we have seen ourselves, the worst of ourselves and embraced it. We have forgotten that good exists in abundance. We have chosen instead to ratchet up the hate, the vile rhetoric that will incite fear and violence on both sides of the ever widening abyss. Our leadership, whether elected or otherwise,5-signs-from-last-night-s-game-of-thrones-that-point-to-the-rise-of-daenerys-the-derange-996054 uses every opportunity to politicize death and mayhem, to feed our fear and fury. We are spiraling down the rabbit hole toward anarchy and those who would be king, they sit and rub their hands together gleefully as we fulfill their mad desire.

We watch in horror as another Black man is gunned down in the street or in his car as his child watches. We listen in horror as amateur journalists put their deaths on Facebook live, rather than offer them comfort and we justify their actions, we understand their actions because we need to know we need to see the bad acts. We forget to weep, we are immune we have seen this all before replayed over and over, these deaths simply cause our fury. Another senseless death. Another child, father, husband murdered by those sworn to serve and protect, murdered by those who will not be held accountable.

We blame the victims, searching for any misstep they might have made in their past, smearing them in public to justify their death. We tsk tsk as their death is replayed, over and over and every pundit tells us what we should think of them, depending upon what side of the chasm they speak from. We see the pain of their family, the fury of their loved ones and the demand for justice sends us to the street, more and more often with terrible results.

DALLAS, TX - JULY 11: Dallas Police Chief David Brown

We pay men and women to put on the blue, to ‘protect’ and to ‘serve’ us, the people. We demand they do so and without them Anarchy would rein in the streets. Yes, we must demand they be held to a higher, more perfect standard. We must require they be fit for the job they perform. DPC David Brown had been doing that, going against what many believed would work in Dallas, he charted a new course.  Dallas has become a model city, proving community policing and modern ideas can work in large diverse city. We cannot ever be good with the mayhem, the chaos and misery they cause in our cities, our communities. We must not turn away, thinking just so long as it isn’t at our doorstep and so long as we can justify it with a good old fashioned smear campaign of culture, people or individual we can ignore it as ‘not our problem’.

Last week seven people lost their lives senselessly to violence. We do not know all the details surrounding the deaths of Alton Stearling and Philando Castile, but we know enough. We watched in horror as they died. We have also watched in horror as their lives have been dissected and their characters smeared.

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Their deaths have led to nationwide marches, demands for justice, demands for change and unfortunately in some cases demands for the blood of police. Which was finally met on Thursday night at a peaceful #BLM demonstration, with shooting of twelve Dallas police officers, resulting in the death of five. Not just any twelve, not just any five, but in retribution specific targets were selected based on race and their wearing of the Blue.

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Dallas mourns their fallen. I mourn the fallen. I mourn with the families of Alton Stearling and Philando Castile, their loss is devastating. I mourn with the families of the fallen officers, their loss is also devastating. In truth, how can we mourn one while celebrating the other? Yes, to all of those who have said ‘good’, to the loss of those five police officers I say shame on you and truthfully ‘fuck you’. We cannot mourn one without mourning both to do otherwise is ignorance on our part and shows a lack of compassion that strips us of our humanity.

Why don’t we know by now, we are one people born of struggle, fire, blood and tragedy. We are one people, born of spiritual poverty and horrify mistakes. But one people generations removed from our beginnings yet it seems still mired in the ignorance of our ancestors, still clinging like Velcro to our history it seems we will continue to refuse to climb out. If we do not learn to reach across the divide we are doomed. So yes, I can and do support both. I can and do see both and desire reconciliation, change, justice and the creation of a better more perfect nation. This, this tragic and terrible one, it has to end. But violence, bloodshed, hate and bigotry this will not end well for any of us.

American Taliban and All

soapboxpileThe new order of the GOP has truly and entirely lost what little mind they had remaining. I say this without tongue in cheek but in all seriousness and with not some little fear for the safety of anyone ‘not like them’. Like so many others I use to sit back and shake my head in wonderment and not some small amount of amusement at the foolishness of those who would follow these ignorant and arrogant little men through the gates of hell.

Yes, I said it and I do not consider it hyperbole. These preachers and their minions in the GOP, the ones who suck up to them for votes, who seek their endorsement, who slide through the muck bobbing their heads at the most outrageous vitriol; they are our worst nightmare. We should be pointing our fingers and screaming from the highest mountaintops, ‘Terrorist’. Instead, we point from the sidelines and laugh, ‘Clown’ or ‘sideshow freak’. We fail to understand these ‘sideshow freaks’ have a following, their words have power, elected members of Congress agree with them, candidates for President line up for their endorsement.

Why aren’t we afraid? Why aren’t we scared to death when preachers call for the death of citizens of this nation whose only fault is to be born with a different sexual orientation from the majority, from what is considered ‘normal’.

Why are we not afraid when elected officials and those who would be President pander to these delusional and angry Biblical literalist, scream ‘Death to the homosexuals’ and are followed on the stage by Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz? Oddly, most of the videos for National Religious Liberty Conference in which Pastor Kevin Swanson suggests killing all Homosexuals, have disappeared. I found a snippet of one though, this one is the only one I could find after searching hard and having to listening to manic ravings.

We giggle behind our hands when one of the front runners of the GOP presidential primaries writes he stabbed a classmate, beat another with a lock and lifted a hammer against his own mother; but it is all okay now because he was saved by God. Of course, all this is likely a lie written to make his story more compelling, more readable and more sellable. We, the malleable and forgiving Left, we shake our heads and say, ‘well he was a child, he was redeemed’, on the Right of course, it is ‘God saved him, we love him’. Now, that he wants to be President and his story is being vetted and none of it is true, not one word, he is crying foul, his pathology is being discovered but according to him the ‘liberal media’ is out to get him and no candidate in history has ever been more vetted than him. In the meantime, we simply sit back and giggle at the sideshow.

Another front runner is a bully, a narcissist, a xenophobe and an outright racist. What do we do? We create humorous memes about his hair, we protest his appearance on SNL. We speak in whispers about his bad behavior, but secretly we cheer him on, hoping he will be the GOP nominee because in our asinine thinking we can beat him Donald Trumphands down. He has no real experience, who would elect him, right? Yet history tells another story, we sit on our asses at election time, we turn away and fail to go to the polls. Our nation has been on a downward spiral to hell since 1981, because we were taken in by celebrity, despite a lack of experience, fundamental knowledge or an understanding of economics or international geopolitical influences or even the basics of diplomacy, we have gone from a first nation to tipping into third nation. Yet, here we are again thirty-five years later another ‘celebrity’ in the running this one full of ignorance and bluster and the party of know-not-a-fucking-thing is touting him as the Ronald Reagannext best thing.

The rest of the clown car, help me please to not lean to heavily on my cornucopia of foul language to describe this horrifying group of baseless cowards. Yes, cowards. They will say anything and do anything to rile up those who don’t know they are being flim-flamed. Tragedy? We got that covered, just look what the lovelies on the right are doing with Paris, if those victims had guns they wouldn’t be dead, here for your viewing pleasure just a few of the many quotes from the Right side of Hell in America;

Imagine a theater with 10 or 15 citizens with concealed carry permits. We live in an age when evil men have to be killed by good people

— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) November 13, 2015

They can wait if they like until next November for the actual balloting, but Donald Trump was elected president tonight.

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) November 14, 2015

“I want to tell you something else – it is what goes through my mind,” he continued. “I bet it goes through your mind – thank God for the Second Amendment. Thank God for the Second Amendment or we’d be Europe. We would all be disarmed. You know Obama and Hillary, all of the Democrats, most of the Republicans. There would be no NRA. There would be no groups trying to protect us. Thank God for the Founding Fathers, the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Thanks God because you see this going on – these poor people who were slaughtered going to a sporting event or a restaurant or a concert or potentially a shopping mall — slaughtered as they stand there by these animals, by these barbarians – and none of them are armed, none of them.”

— Mark Levin, Radio Show November 13, 2015

They will say and do anything to stoke the fires of hate and fear, in a population who are certain their life is worse today than it was yesterday and simply need a target to blame it on. Well hell, why not blame it on ……

  • Homosexuals (they’re all child molesters and Gawd hates them ya know)
  • Blacks (they’re all lazy and on welfare sucking up our taxes ya know)
  • Muslims (they’re all terrorists ya know)
  • Illegals (they’re all rapists and murders ya know)
  • Planned Parenthood (Abortion Factories ya know)
  • Women (should be home making babies ya know)
  • Liberals (cause you know, usins are terrible Gawd hatin’ folks)
  • President Obama (he’s a Muslim, Communist, Socialist, wants to take their guns, ruined the economy, lily livered, weak, non-patriotic, non-American don’t ya know)

That is just the smallest of lists of who the GOP points to when they want to get the base jumped up. It is good enough though, isn’t it? The GOP moves further and further to the right. Never mind talking policy that matters. Never mind talking about the Economy and how we are going to fix what remains broken, let’s instead talk about fantasy football and fantastical new tax policies, everything from Biblical based tithing systems to tax forms that will fit on the back of a post card and eliminating the IRS. Never mind, we have a nation to run and infrastructure to fix, which is just the tip of the iceberg.

Haven’t we been here before? Haven’t we seen this before?

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I can only say, we should be afraid. We should in fact be scared to death. We should be fighting mad. We should be standing up, pointing our fingers and demanding better of both our elected officials and those who would be the President of the United States of America. That we are not doing so says we simply don’t give a damn, this saddens me more than I can possibly measure.

Both The Houses

Linda1I have been stunningly without many words lately. It is not that I have nothing to say, it is that my brain, my heart and my fingers do not seem to have the desire to make the connection. I have been silenced by what I can only call the utter and complete decimation of what was once good, fair and right in this nation. Now mind you, it was not completely good, entirely fair and always right; no it wasn’t that. But there was enough good, fair and right that many of us believed it was worth fighting for and working toward better. Hell there was enough good, fair and right millions of people from all over the world immigrated here for a ‘better way of life’.

Now? Those who come, they come because their own nations are torn by war, whether religious, drug or other, generally if you peel back the layers far enough we are in there somewhere stirring the pot. Or they are coming because despite the terrible xenophobia of this nation, the poverty is so terrible in their own they can only hope here will offer a chance to feed their families. Then of course, there is the alternative to these scenarios, there are those who are invited in to displace Americans in their jobs. They come here come to rape the nation of what few jobs remain to us in IT, Engineering and other high tech careers, leaving the dregs, the contracts at low rates and no benefits. They come with the help of Congress, with no complaint from anyone on either side. They come because ‘good liberals’ with deep pockets along with ‘bad conservatives’ are constantly storming the gates demanding broader expansions of this insidious program, because according to them, there are just too few Americans to fill all those waiting positions. This is the nation today, this is the vision of the future and there doesn’t seem to be a bright silver lining.

I have listened intently to what all the candidates for President have had to say. The Republicans with their petty bickering and attempts to out ugly each other. The Democrats with their attempts at calm and civility. The lines drawn in the sand today are brilliant if you stay at the superficial level of the arguments, if you don’t ask the hard questions or truly dig under the surface of unsustainable policy dreams, bright promises of better futures or ‘Winning’.

Is it me or is it truly worse? Is the ugly truly uglier? I think it isn’t worse, not really worse. I think what it is today is more public in some cases. I think there has been, over the past decade a move toward a sustained and unrestrained malice with the culmination being this election season. I think we have seen xenophobia, racism, nationalism and the doctrine of Manifest Destiny stirred into a stew rich in ugly emotions, fired up by looming fears of the failure to thrive.

Dreams of our fathers indeed. Dreams we were created equal in this land of immense wealth and promised opportunity. We know this isn’t true though, we know it wasn’t ever truly designed for all of us, not for most of us even. If we are honest and we should be, we know those pesky words about equality and opportunity were meant only for the few, the chosen who were of the right social class, the right economic class, the right gender (outie not innie please) and let’s face it, the right color or race, though throughout our history we have hated more than just those with obvious differences. Truthfully, xenophobia is one of our favorite pastimes. Want to stir the pot? Point to the influx of immigrants, German, Italian or Irish all free game at one time, though eventually they were absorbed to swell the ranks of ‘just like us’ when the rampart was weakening.

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The truth of the matter is, this nation is nothing at all without an enemy, or two or three. Some group to focus our hate, our ire and of course our military might on. The bedrock of this nation is war, the heart of our economy violence. We make war to keep the money moving. Those at the top of the food chain, beat the drums patriotism at every opportunity keeping the mighty war machine well-greased and the war-mongers well paid while the rest of us, we either fall in line or are labeled as anti-American, unpatriotic or other even less flattering things that most who shout them do not have even a fundamental understanding of their meanings. Without violence, without an enemy, without war we are nothing it seems; we love to declare war.

War on Drugs

War on Poverty

War on Terrorism

But in the declarations of war, who really is the enemy? In the declarations of war, who are we really focused on? Who has really benefited from these Wars?

Dreams of our Fathers, indeed.

I find I am tired. Worn out already with the idiocy and nonsense of the early Presidential season. With the bombastic bullshit from the Right and the pretense of civility from the Left. I find I am weary with the do-nothing Congress who does less and less with each passing session. I am exhausted by a citizenry that bitches, whines and moans but refuses to go to the polls when given the opportunity to do so. But more than anything, I am shattered by how far we have fallen as a nation and a people, by the sheer nastiness of our public speech that is not only accepted but defended.

I am sure I will find my will soon. But right now, I find I am simply crushed and silenced by a nation and a people that refuse to seek greatness in favor of the lowest common denominator.


Exotic Exotic_sml1 introduced from another country :  not native to the place where found <exotic plants> 2 archaic :  foreignalien 3 :  strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual <exotic flavors> 4 :  of or relating to striptease <exotic dancing> ____________________________________________________________________________________ Red Ants aka Fire Ants are Exotic. I base this on the fact they are not indigenous to this nation, rather they were brought here by some genius farmers to kill a pest. Now they are here to stay. You cannot kill them easily; they have no natural enemies here. Thus, based on the above Fire Ants are Exotic.

Having read the above are you thinking to yourself, what in the hell is she talking about now? I don’t blame you; I have thinking about beauty lately. How we as a society define beauty, what is beautiful to our eye versus what we are taught about beauty. These are more often than not very different, whether we are discussing art, nature or the beauty of a person. What doesn’t fit into narrow definitions we find other terms to describe, Exotic is one of those terms. There are others of course; some are not as kind or puzzling.

There are many things we have splashed the label Exotic on, things like Cars:

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Or Flowers:

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And animals too:

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However, the thing that most intrigues me, is people. We name people who don’t look like us, who don’t fit into our box of standardized and normative ‘beauty’ as Exotic. We do this when we find ourselves unable to define their beauty or our attraction to their beauty.  The truth is, if those others who were not like us, those others who were from other lands, other cultures were not in their own right beautiful we would not now be talking about new labels of beauty or new definitions for who we are. Were it not for our attraction to the Exotic, we would not now be trying to stretch our understanding beyond the westernized symmetry of what makes a man or woman attractive to be more inclusive of all the other standards of beauty.

My best-loved mother of my heart said to me many years ago, I was exotic. She said this trying to be kind, trying to lift my heart as we talked early one morning over coffee. You see I didn’t understand why my adoptive mother rejected me so out of hand, why my cousins-sibling-sisters were so very standoffish, why I never really had girlfriends growing up. She said this trying to explain why I felt not just like a black sheep within my adoptive family, but within my peer group as well. She wasn’t trying to be cruel, instead she was trying to explain what she believed was a very real and simple concept.

Everything about me, my features, the tone of my skin, the deep color of my eyes, my natural hair color, my body shape, even my intellect; everything about me was slightly off and thus slightly off-putting. I didn’t fit within my adoptive family or later within my extended family, within my social peer group. I was Exotic I was different. People didn’t know quite what to make of me; they didn’t know how to label me. I could be almost anything, except what people were comfortable with, no one at the time considered this of course they simply knew I made them uncomfortable and acted accordingly.

I have over the years given a great deal of thought to this long ago conversation. I have realized many of my actions, everything from using ace bandages to strap my breasts closer to my chests, to trying to starve my body into submission, to coloring my hair blond and staying out of the sun to keep myself as pale as possible. Each of these were either conscious or sub-conscious acts to fit into a beauty standard defined by a society that had already labeled me ‘different’ or Exotic. My smaller rebellions, ear piercings and tattoo’s, these were me trying to exert power over my personal space and self, especially when I felt denied.

This brings me to our social standards of beauty and the exotic. America, the melting pot; isn’t that what we call ourselves? Over the centuries, our love of the exotic has resulted in a true blending of cultures and people. Our history of intermixing, whether with willing or unwilling partners, has resulted in a people who may wish to lay claim to purity of bloodlines dating back to the landing at Plymouth Rock, but how likely would most of them find more than one interesting skeleton in their closet should they choose to look. So what is beauty? Are we really so very narrow that we will allow the few to define a standard that adheres only to the European regularity, forgetting the beauty of all else. Surely, we have come further than this after so long.

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Don’t Be An Asshole

OpEdI have been thinking a great deal, about what is wrong with the world, specifically what is wrong with these United States of America. The list grows longer every single day, doesn’t it? Really, look around you and there simply aren’t enough minutes in the day to list everything that is wrong, just here, just in this nation so it is utterly impossible to look across the globe and start listing out what is wrong in the world. The strange thing is, when you start unraveling what is wrong with the world much of what unwinds ends up on a spool right here, right back in this little tiny country we call ‘USA’. Strange how that works, isn’t it?

We are rich, even in natural resources we are rich. Yet, it seems we are not rich enough we want more, we want what everyone else has too. We will murder and pillage, we will send our young to die just so we can steal what others have. Our leaders have absolutely no problem lying to us, time and again, sending us to war for the sole purpose of stealing what others have. It seems we never have enough.

We are mostly healthy, though we don’t care for our health very well. Yet, we want everyone to be less healthy than us and to pay more for their health than we do. Damn them if they pay less, we will find something wrong, we will apply the dreaded ‘Socialism’ word to their system and turn up our noses at their successful solutions. We are more than happy when we see plagues in other poor nations; this pleases us to no end. We can feel greater, pointing our fingers and sending some advice along with our condolences. We will spend millions keeping our own people sick, poor and without access to healthcare, medicine and proper nutrition. I suppose I must revise my original statement, we are truthfully a sick nation.

We are a nation of immigrants; our history is one of immigration, waves of immigration from all over the world, both voluntary and involuntary. Our entire history is steeped in bloody battles Murrieta-Immigration-Proetestof migration, whether willing or unwilling each surge of new feet on the ground in this land brought with them culture, language, knowledge and strength. Each wave brought new blood, new worldviews, new cultural norms to merge into what was already here. Each new surge also brought a new focus of hatred, though some have stayed with us while others over time have assimilated into the ‘White’ standard of ‘like us’ and thus ‘good’.

We are a nation that prides ourselves on our decency, our democracy, our record of civil rights, our education system, our freedom and even our diversity. Now there is a list that should make you throw up in your mouth just a little bit. As a nation we have spawned more hate groups and homegrown terrorists than I can count with both hands and feet, we have government representatives working hard every day to strip from our citizens the right to vote, agencies infringing on the freedoms of citizens to live without fear and practice the faith. Our education systems are failing, from pre-K straight through our university, which only the wealthy can afford. Civil Rights, I am surprised we know what these are anymore, with our prisons full and private industries taking them over for profit and diversity is something we talk about, not something we practice.

I am glossing over the deep sickness in this nation. We have a cancer, one that is grown and is frankly malignant. The GOP presidential candidates are the embodiment of what is wrong with this nation. They are not an embarrassment; they are an indictment of us all. That we allowed any of them to survive, let alone thrive, rising to the top condemns us all.


Here is my cure, don’t be an asshole.

It is that simple and starts with each of us.

Don’t be an asshole and don’t let your friends or neighbors be assholes. Don’t turn away, don’t stay silent, start speaking up and demanding better.

When you see someone acting like an asshole in the store, say something. If you don’t, you are contributing to the problem.

When your city council plans on doing something that will destroy green spaces, go to the meeting, speak up. If you don’t you are contributing to the problem.

When your school board is going to do something that will harm the children of your community, even if you don’t have children, speak up. If you don’t you are contributing to the problem.

When you state representative says something that is insulting, racist, sexist or otherwise egregious; speak up don’t let him / her get away with it. If you don’t you are contributing to the problem.

The list goes on, whether it is local or not, don’t be an asshole. Say something. Engage in the community. The only way we change the course of the nation is we become active members of the community large and small. The only way we stop the crazy is if we demand better of ourselves and those around us.

So that is my new motto, even when it is hard to do otherwise, DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE. Even when circumstances may call for it, I am going to try hard to not be an asshole.Kickm

This does not mean you can’t meet idiocy and ignorance head-on. It doesn’t mean you can’t meet prejudice, foolishness and stupidity with intellectual force, which in some cases may appear to be assholishness. All it means, this ‘don’t be an asshole’ movement I am attempting to start, is don’t add to the terrible in the world by being one without warrant or cause.

I hope you will join me, maybe if enough of us decide to speak up when we see bad and work to do good, maybe we can turn this descent into utter chaos around.

Juxtaposition Shots Fired

OpEdThe State of Texas informed me a few days ago one of my shooters was re-entering the Parole system, no he hasn’t been granted parole he is simply being considered. I don’t know how I feel about this, I am processing my reaction. I know how people think I should feel, hell I know how I think I should feel, but I have changed, my heart is heavy as I consider my response.

Then, a few days ago, I read this, by Jeff Winbush who I greatly admire. I realized while reading this piece about the mistrial of Randall Kerrick, just how truly great the chasm sometimes is.

When I was carjacked, shot three times and left in the street for dead I was scared. There is no other way to describe my feelings, I was afraid. I did not know how I was going to survive what could have been fatal wounds. I did the best I could; I staggered to the nearest home late at night and pounded on their front door. The couple was older, they didn’t open the door, they told me to go away. There was nowhere for me to go, I couldn’t go further, I slid down their wall and in tears begged them to call 911. Nothing more, just call 911. Once again, they told me to go away; they didn’t want to be involved. At that point, I was so afraid but I was angry too how could anyone turn his or her backs on another human being in need? I didn’t understand, my only response too what seemed a terrible cruelty, ‘I am not going anywhere, you will have to explain a dead woman on your front porch tomorrow if you don’t call 911 now.’

I sat, waiting to die. I didn’t know if they were going to call. Holding the tourniquet, I had made and wrapped around my neck, feeling my warm blood as it dripped through my fingers, I talked to the universe. The one thing I was not afraid of was the police, I knew if they appeared I was not in danger, I knew if they were called and saw me sitting on the porch of these strangers home their instinct would be to help me, they would not see me as a threat.  I knew, if they rolled up on me they would not do so with guns drawn, screaming for me to get on the ground. I knew if the police were called they would help me, it would be foremost on their mind, to save my life.images (8)

My unwilling hosts must have weighted their options, they made the call. I heard the sirens in the distance and shortly thereafter, the blue lights of police and rescue cars rolled up the street. I was surrounded by men in blue whose first concern was my life and well-being. Could I talk, could I tell them what happened came after. How I got to that house, that porch came as I was laying on the gurney. I told them only part of the truth, not that I had to ask more than once for them to be called, only that I had been shot elsewhere and how far I thought I had walked. I didn’t understand until weeks later why they didn’t want to be involved, why they wanted me to ‘go away’. Even with my intellectual understanding, it would be years before I let go of my fury at their disregard for my life.

This brings me to the juxtaposition of my experience and the mis-trial of Randall Kerrick. If you don’t know who Randall Kerrick is, or why he is on trial I would suggest reading Jeff’s piece that I linked above, or this piece also by Jeff, but in short.

Jonathan Ferrell_zps6diudjvmOn September 14, 2013 Johnathan Ferrell, 24, had a car accident in the middle of the night. He crawled out of his car and made his way to a home where he tried to ask for help. The homeowner, after seeing a disheveled and bloody young black man on her porch immediately calls 911 and asks for assistance. When the police arrive things go from bad to worse, there doesn’t seem to be a point in time where the police attempt to discern if Johnathan is a threat, instead there is simply an assumption he is. First, as he runs toward them, likely because he is injured and needs help there is an attempt to Taser him when the Taser fails to discharge, Randall Kerrick fires his weapon, not once, not twice but ten times. Excessive? Absolutely.

Does anyone but me see the difference in response? I don’t believe it is getting worse, I believe it has always been this way, the difference is we are seeing it more now, hearing about it more now. We are becoming more aware and having to face just how truly unequal our entire system is. The push back on the demand for equality is both fascinating and heartbreaking. The fear that if we acknowledge indeed Black Lives Matter, we somehow are saying other lives do not yet for centuries we have said through our actions Black Lives Matter Less. How can we now demand inclusion in a movement of recognition?

The other day I saw this and thought it a perfect explanation of what is happening to the conversation, yet was saddened it had to be said.


The last question is important, why are we having these misunderstandings? Why aren’t we able to reach common ground, accept there is a problem and begin to work toward solutions together? What is it about our national psyche that forces us to demand there be winners and losers, rather than all of us working toward common good. Why do we continue to hate ‘other’?

I do not ask these questions rhetorically; rather I ask them because they deserve answers. I look at the very real difference I as a white woman am treated by the police and the way in which Sandra Bland, a black woman was recently treated by the police leading to her death in custody, these questions demand answers. I consider the ‘arrest’ and death of Walter Scott in South Carolina in comparison to the extraordinary protections taken in the arrest of Dylann Roof, these questions demand answers. I watch the press and many others with voices smooth over the actions of Dylann Roof, calling him a troubled youth, but jumping on the horrific actions of Vester Flanagan as a Racist Hate Crime, I wonder why do we allow these definitions to stand.11951145_476709872503362_4356076426194746518_n

When do we all start to truly question the systems that keep us apart, keep us from building the necessary bridges toward true freedom and real power. When will we realize it is time for us to find common cause, common ground.

I stare at the letter from the State of Texas, I have the right to respond. I have the right to speak to the Parole Board, through a letter, on the phone or in person. I have done so every time one of my shooters has been up for parole. Three years ago, both of them made parole and both of them were back inside within 120 days. My heart has changed a great deal in twenty-three years, my understanding of the world changed too. I don’t know how I feel anymore, I don’t know if I want to demand more of my pound of flesh in retribution for my pain. I don’t know anymore if I am being vengeful or if my heart simply won’t let go.

I do know my experience is a very different one than that of Sandra Bland, Johnathan Ferrell, Walter Scott and the thousands of others. I also know there is something inherently wrong that needs to be corrected.

Intersections of Power

OpEdThursday, 6-August-2015 we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Voters Rights Act. One of the cornerstones of Civil Rights in this nation, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and reauthorized by President Richard Nixon in 1970, President Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford in 1975, President Ronald Reagan 1982, President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and last but not least President George W. Bush in 2006. It is important to note, all re-authorizations were with full support of both houses of Congress. Another important note, all US Presidents to extend the Voters Rights Act were Republicans.

The first of the GOP debates has taken place, sponsored by the infamous Roger Ailes and his propaganda machine Fox. It is important to note, not a single one of the candidates whether at the kiddie table or the Big Show supports the extension of the Voters Rights Act. Not one single one of them supports the right of all members of society to vote. In fact, those who are in a position to do so, or have been in the past have actively sought to restrict voter access through any means possible including; Voter ID laws, voter roll purges, early closing of polling places and other actions that would restrict voter access. Interesting isn’t it, though the laws have been coming into play for years, they didn’t reach the stridency or full on war against the ‘other’ until the election of this President, who represented everything they feared and hated, specifically the ceding of power to ‘other’.

The loss of White Male Power, had finally come to pass in a big damned way with the election of Barack Obama. It couldn’t be avoided any longer, it was in their face and up their nose; White Men no longer could rely on the ignorance of the citizen to keep them in power, there was a change in the air and something had to be done and by any means necessary. The first thing was Congressional action, without the consent of Congress this President was going to have a hard Presidency and the GOP had met and agreed, they would oppose this President at every turn.

To understand where we are as a nation, why it feels worse than ever before in our lifetime it is important to look at historical context. This is not the first time the backlash of the White Male tumblr_mdcctdnb471r4fn52o1_500Power Structure has risen up to retrieve authority and supremacy in this nation. In fact, it is fairly easy to trace the roots of racism, defined by institutional structures including Economic, Educational, Opportunity and even movement. Look at the historical intersections and how those in power created the great divide between people who should be banded together rather than fighting each other.

  • Until 1676, there were both African and European ‘slaves’ in the New World. Though the European ‘slaves’ were indentured for a set period they were treated no better than African slaves and frequently never lived to see their freedom. The Bacon Rebellion of 1676 saw the burning of Jamestown, Virginia and with it a new thinking by the ‘ruling’ class regarding their servants / slaves. New laws were created to separate the poor whites, whether indentured servants or free whites from the African whether Freeman or slave to prevent them from forming alliance in the future. These laws created the three (3) tier class system with the African at the bottom, the landowner at the top and all other White Men in the middle. This is considered, by many scholars, the beginning of institutional racism, along with the rule of law called Partus Sequitur Ventrem which means status followed the mother rather than the father, a distinct change to previous British common law.
  • For one hundred and eighty nine years (189) things went along swimmingly for slaveholders, the ‘Masters’ of all they surveyed and those who benefited from the status quo without recognizing their benefits. With the end of the Civil War the South entered into the period of Reconstruction, it wasn’t long from 1865 to 1877. This period saw the passage of the 13th, 14thand 15th Amendments which Abolished Slavery, Granted Black Men the Right to Vote and Prohibited the Federal and State governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on their Color, Race or previous condition of servitude.
19th century illustration via New York Public Library Digital Collection

19th century illustration via New York Public Library Digital Collection

  • The period of Reconstruction was short-lived; the loss of power by those who previously held all the power was not to be tolerated. Reconstruction led to backlash including the first KKK, the White League and Red Shirts, the first true home-grown terrorists, intent on preserving White Supremacy at all costs including violence against any they considered race traitors or those they considered uppity, their previous slaves. The true backlash though was the institution of the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws throughout the South, including laws to disenfranchise the new Black voter from exercising their right to vote; Poll Taxes, Literacy Tests, Comprehension Tests, Residency and Record Keeping requirements (sound familiar?). While these laws disenfranchised poor whites as well, grandfather clauses allowed them to remain on the rolls, keeping those who should have found common cause apart once again.

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  • The Jim Crow period ushered in a new age of poverty and peonage. The Black Codes created a free labor force, empowering the police to arrest Black Men and Women for the slightest infraction, imprisoning them for long periods to forced labor for ‘loitering’ or ‘vagrancy’. For one hundred years, until 1964 and the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the Black family in America was segregated from active participation in American Life.
  • It was in 1954 though, with the SCOTUS decision of Brown vs. Board of Education the US saw the next rise of official terrorism and White Supremacy with the institution of the Citizens Councils aka The White Citizens Councils, across the southern states. Many state legislators, mayors and other influential White citizens were members of the Citizen Council, which met openly and whose entire agenda was the ongoing disenfranchisement and segregation of the American Black. Though usually their tactics were economic intimidation, they were not above violence when it suited them. During the last half of the 1950’s the Council produced children’s school books claiming heaven was segregated. They also opened and supported private segregated schools, some of which are still in operation today.

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These things have run in waves, fear and fear mongering is the red meat thrown out into the yard by those who know exactly how to keep the populace in line, keep them filled with hate of ‘other’. Now we have a more sophisticated model, the 24 hour news cycle but the message remains the same, hate those who are ‘not like you’, fear those who are ‘not like you’.

Do you see the pattern emerging? The prison industrial complex, the militarized police force, the systematic killing of Black men and women on the streets of every city in this nation without repercussion. Do you see a pattern emerge, when there is even a slight power shift and the election of Barack Obama was certainly that, those who define their supremacy based on race have risen up again through organized terrorism, the Tea Party is one example, another is the rise in membership of White Power / Segregationist groups such as Council of Conservative Citizens.

“I want my country back!”

The cry of those who feel the loss of power. We must ask where do they want to take us back too, from whom do they want it back from? The structures of institutional racism have been well established for centuries, each time we begin to break them those with the most power and the most to lose tighten their hold, we let it happen by not rising up and fighting back hard enough. By not understanding our own history and seeing the emerging patterns.

I don’t want my country back; I want my country to progress, to move forward. That is what I want.

Next, inter-sectional and women in the public domain.

All media licensed under Fair Use via Google or Wikimedia.

I Am


Such simple and stark words, I AM. So often we are cautioned to remove ‘I’ from our thinking, from our language, from our definitions of self even. Yet how do we speak to who we are what we are without ‘I AM’. The truth is, until we define who we are as individuals, what we stand for, what we believe it is difficult to move through the world in a meaningful way. We can move like zombies, brainless, dumb to the world around us; but to what purpose? How do we serve even ourselves if we have no ‘self’, no ‘I AM’.


Through life’s tumbles and stumbles I believe there is a distinct possibility I know 85% of the conundrum of ‘I AM’. We all ask this question, of who we are and what we are. It is a question we start asking at an early age and continue to ask throughout most of our life. Many of us change our ‘I AM’, sometimes through our life experience and sometimes simply as we search for what fits us best. My ‘I AM’ is a combination of everything, how I was born, what was done to me, what I have done and the choices I have made along the way.

This is my ‘I AM’.

I am human, first and maybe most importantly. No better, no different from any other human I run across in my daily life. What separates me from other humans is nothing but the surface stuff but certainly not our shared humanity.

I am a woman, always. This more than many other things defines me, defines my thinking and how I move through the world.  Vintage_photo_nude_woman_1

I am White of mostly Southern European extraction, though according to the DNA testing we had done some time ago there is a bit of other things thrown in there. It is my understanding some of my heritage is rooted in the Southern European Romany, however this is family lore only.

I am a feminist, not a man-hater but instead a believer in women and their innate power, strength, ability and capability.

I am a political progressive. Not a Democrat, not a Liberal but instead an Independent Progressive. I make no bones or apologies about my leanings; there are certainly some Socialist elements to my political stances. There are components in my thinking that lean outward, toward social good rather than inward toward personal enrichment (Capitalism). My tendency toward compassion, toward helping those of less fortune than I is ingrained a part of my core being, not learned but rather a ‘born this way’ feature of my personality.

I am a person of great spiritual faith and depth. I believe there is something greater than me; I simply do not believe that thing is an Old White Man on a Cloud in the Sky. I am not Christian; I am angry-godwithout a religious affiliation. I was raised in a mixed Christian household, depending on whom you asked, we were Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or other. I have read the Bible, cover to cover more than once. I have read other holy books, thinking there must be a reason people are willing to kill and die for their ‘God’, their faith or their religion. The one thing I have come away with, there is nothing religion can offer me, not one damned thing man can offer me through religion.

I am pro-life. Yes, this is a true statement but it might confuse you. I am a staunch supporter of women’s absolute right to decide whether to end a pregnancy. This is true whether it is the morning after, early in the pregnancy or late in the pregnancy due to unforeseen and tragic circumstances. My stance goes much deeper. I am pro-life, I support any program that enriches, encourages and enables the lives of human beings already born, already living on this earth, we share. I believe strongly we should work to reduce abortion through making contraception readily accessible to all women, make childcare programs available, make sex education appropriate, factual and early enough to count. I believe we value life by ensuring healthcare for all, encouraging education and providing it to all members of society equally. We value life by removing weapons from our streets, making it more difficult to purchase and maintain arsenals, dismantling Stand Your Ground Laws and the Castle Doctrine in our states and shutting down the internet sellers of bullets by the thousands. I believe we value life by raising the minimum wage thus providing at least a ‘living wage’ for families with born children. We value life by insuring our elderly are cared for and their retirement funds are paid through Social Security. We value life by ending the Death Penalty. This is the short list, this is what makes me Pro-Life, anything less is anti-life.

I am a humanist. Yes, I think this is the best description of me. I believe in Human Rights first. I believe it is impossible for us to achieve a civil society without Human Rights taking a step forward. For far too long we have allowed a small cadre of selfish men to march this nation slowly into perdition. We have allowed the Human Rights of many of our citizens be trampled under the heels of kochbrotherthose who simply wished power and riches at the expense of all of us. We were comfortable with the social hierarchy as long as we weren’t on the bottom, so long as we could stand on the shoulder of someone else and point to their disadvantage we were fine thinking maybe we weren’t so bad off. The truth is, we are all the same, the only thing that separates us is the color of our American Express, the size of our bank accounts.

I am a person with a vast capacity too love and a desire to love and be loved. This is perhaps one of my greatest strengths and greatest weakness’. This desire to see the best in people, to believe others want what is best for me allows me to see the world through rose-colored glasses and never question motives, to retain a level of naivety despite my experiences and history; this desire and capacity to love allows me to retain an innocence, but it also breaks my heart.

For all my faults, for all my failures, for all that I am still seeking about myself there are some things I am certain of, these are some of them and oddly they haven’t changed in forty years. I have grown in my understanding, but my core values haven’t changed since I was seventeen years old.


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