We Own It

OpEdENOUGH

It should be that and more. All of us, no matter which side of the aisle we claim, should be scratching our heads and questioning what in the hell is wrong with this country, with our moral center and ultimately saying, ENOUGH.

We aren’t, that we aren’t leaves me wondering why.

Far too many of us are walking by the murder and mayhem created on our streets by those sworn to ‘serve and protect’, we are looking the other way, pretending not to see, to not hear the voices of the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters as the cry out; ENOUGH.

Far too many of us are turning our backs on the women and children, hungry, homeless and without hope for a better life and begging, please, help us, no more, ENOUGH.

Far too many of us are shrug our shoulders at the tens of thousands of veterans returning from wars we should never have fought only to be thrown out on the streets, without jobs, without proper care for their physical injuries or their mental wounds, none of us says ENOUGH.

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Far too many of us are passively accepting the millions of men and women locked behind the walls of prisons for decades for non-violent crimes, because they couldn’t afford the cost of justice in America. We don’t question, we don’t challenge the profits made by the private prison industry, we don’t question the children sent to prison for decades, we don’t say ENOUGH.

Far too many of us watch as state after state pass laws to disenfranchise our fellow citizens, ‘Voter Rights’ and ‘Freedom of Religion’. We simply watch, we simply shrug and sometimes even justify these Jim Crow era laws, maybe because we don’t understand or maybe because they don’t apply to us, we have the right ID, we are Christian or we don’t fall into one of the other categories these laws are trying to attack, to brutalize, to keep out of active participation in our communities and our process. Certainly, the last election showed the level of apathy we are capable of, we failed to say ENOUGH.

Far too many of us shake our heads and ‘tsk tsk’, as our only acknowledgment of the racist animus leveled at this President, how it has changed the conversation in Washington and created even greater polarity, frozen our system, cost us millions if not billions. We refuse to say it aloud; refuse to acknowledge that we, as a nation, continue to be divided by racial animosities and segregationist politicians. While we might not all be racist, we vote for those who are, we allow them to make our laws, accept their leadership and refuse to say, ENOUGH and NO MORE.

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Far too many of us watch as SCOTUS perverts our Democratic Republic, we shrug and say there is nothing we can do. We fail to demand an accounting. We fail to demand change. We fail to vote, to get up off our apathetic and sorry asses and say ENOUGH.

What is it we are thinking? Someone else will do our job, that must be it. Someone else will stand-up for us, we don’t have to do it, we don’t have to risk it? We aren’t Gay, so their issues don’t affect us, is that it? We aren’t Black, so their issues don’t affect us, is that it? We aren’t poor, homeless, hungry so their issues don’t affect us, is that it? We aren’t women, poor, pregnant with no way to raise a child, a rape victim, so her problems don’t affect us, is that it?

There is a conversation we have to have in this nation, one that will be painful and ugly, without it though we will never heal and become what is possible. Until the day, we say Enough and No More, until the day we own what is wrong and start the conversation this nation will never be put to right, will never begin to heal. Until the day we acknowledge the true foundations of the United US-Constitution-toilet-paperStates of America and its continuing framework of racial bigotry, misogyny, colonialism and classism we don’t have a snowballs chance in Hell of moving toward the promise of our Constitution and The Declaration of Independence; they might as well be toilet paper.

When I say we, I mean all those of European extraction, White Folks. It is us, we own the problem and we own the action of ripping the scab off the festering wound. We own the standing up first and saying Enough and No More. It is our actions, our elected officials, our filthy rich who drive the continuing wedge into this nation; we own this history and this future. We own SCOTUS, we own Congress, we own ALEX and all the legislation making its way into the States to destroy hope. We own the police departments responsible for killing citizens on the street without repercussion.

We, American White Folks, own the history of Slavery, of Native American Genocide and Land Theft, of Jim Crow, of Segregation, of community destruction through the War on Drugs and images (8)mandatory sentencing; the list goes on but every one of them attacks families and communities of color in this nation, we own it.

We own the conversation that must start and we own the cure. The election of Barack Obama did not indicate a shift, what it did was cause all the racial hostility to come out of the closet. What it did was create even greater polarization, now we know who they are and where they are. Some of them are running for President, by damn some of them are running ahead of the pack. We have a chance to say Enough and No More, will we? We own the elephant in the room of our nation, we have ignored it for far too long.

We have the chance to start the conversation, to start healing the nation. Will we? I wonder, truly I wonder.

I leave you with this question are we ready for the change necessary to heal ourselves and this nation, what say you?

Misogyny & All Women

OpEd

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 1 Corinthians 14:34

I want to start this by sharing what I listened to while writing, it has taken me three days to form my thoughts around this subject so they were palatable for mixed company. While I worked through them I listened and sometimes watched as well.


 

I struggled with how I would approach the subject of women, society and culture. Of what it means to be a woman today nearly anywhere in the world. It would be easy to put my pragmatic hat on, pull out the statistics and studies, don’t worry I might still give you some of those, but at the end of it that doesn’t really speak to the truth. The truth is, being a woman of my age (56) means I have walked through a few fires simply to pay the price of being a woman. Why struggle with talking about this subject if we are going to talk statistics, better to talk from a position of authority, right?

For nearly as long as I have been conscious of being a woman, I have also been conscious it meant there were those who would always see me as one, if not more, of the following:

  • Weak
  • Victim
  • Stupid
  • Property
  • Of less value than themselves

There is not a single woman, not one single one of us who have not faced at least some form of gender based harassment, discrimination or bullying in our lifetime. As young girls we grow up being told we are ‘not enough’, it might not be the intent of the messenger to deliver this message it is though the message we receive. The message of ‘Not enough’ is delivered throughout a woman’s life, they go something like this, NOT ENOUGH:

  • To play sports, but YOU can cheer on the sidelines, if you are pretty enough.
  • For college funds to be set aside or made available based on your performance and competency, boys first there is only so much to go around.
  • To be protected from roaming hands, catcalls or sly whispers  in hallways and classrooms, Boys will be Boys.
  • For your aspirations beyond housewife, mother, secretary or assistant too some male, those aspirations are slightly ‘unnatural’.
  • For your labor to be valued at the same rate as your male counterpart, instead you will work longer hours for less.
  • To receive necessary health care at affordable costs, instead your body will be fought over as if it were an oasis in the Sahara to be confiscated by the fastest talking Bedouin every two to four years.
  • For your ‘No’ to be true no matter how or to whom you say it or for any person to question what you were wearing or what you might have done to ‘ask for it’.
  • To walk down the street at night and feel safe, even in your own neighborhood.

The list could go on, every woman could add to it from her own experience, these though are important and have been lately in the news:

  • Not Enough to be safe even when using a field in pairs because there is no other place to empty their bowel or bladder, they lost their lives after being gang raped.
  • Not Enough to be safe in their schools as the 276 young girls of Chibok, Nigeria would say as they were herded onto trucks and carried into the jungle to be sold in markets or to their kidnappers as ‘wives’.

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Women everywhere, no matter the nation they are born in or their circumstances all have one thing in common it seems, they are born NOT ENOUGH.

We might be born into the very best circumstances, wealth and privilege. We might receive the best of everything, education and opportunity throughout our lives. None of this will be enough to protect us from exploitation, catcalls on the street, domestic abuse or rape. What these circumstances will provide is the chance those who do us harm will pay the consequence of their actions.

If we are born without privilege, without money, without opportunity; if we are born anywhere in the world even here in this nation that takes pride in its ‘advanced’ views and civil rights, we are lost before we step foot out the door. Despite lip service, our bodies are the battle ground men fight ‘morality’ wars over decade after decade. Whether we have the same right to sexual freedom and the same right to protect our reproductive choice the fodder for nightly news segments, pulpit rants and Filibusters from both sides of the aisle. Our right to say NO clouded by what we might choose to wear or whether we have deigned to say YES to others previously, our history as women the only thing on trial if we are brave enough to report our victimization at all. The very meaning of RAPE subject to redefinition to narrow the scope from a Violent act against us to whether it was a Legitimate act of Violence or not.

There is no woman on the face of the earth, not anywhere in any nation who in her lifetime will not experience some form of harassment, bias or bullying simply because she is a woman. There is no woman, not one who will not suffer some form of bias, will not have her options limited in some manner specifically because she was born with Breasts, Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus, Cervix and Ovaries rather than being born with Penis and  Testicles.

Women around the World (Image)

Women around the World (Image)

While men continue to debate whether women should be paid equally, should have the right to body integrity, we as women seek simply to achieve equity in community and choice of how we live, how we love and who we love. Our struggle to reach equality, to be seen as whole and complete is tied to so many other movements toward equality we sometimes lose sight of our need as women to band together and lift each other up, we fail to reach across fences and work together for common cause.

Our gender creates a single unbroken chain across borders, faiths and race. As of 2013, out of 7,162,119,434 in the world we are 49.6% of the total and growing. We have enormous power in our hands and between our thighs. We are the mothers of the world, it is through us the next generation is born, it is with us the next generation learns their first words, takes their first steps and learns compassion, love and hope. We are the light of the world, without us there is nothing. Yet, six out of 10 of the world’s poorest people are women, 70% of the world’s poorest people are women, one in three American women live in poverty.

I struggled with how to approach this subject. I am reminded daily of what is wrong in this nation and worldwide, as women die simply because a man takes it in his head he is owed what is not his; a woman’s body the gift of sex or love, the gift of our gentleness, the gift of our hearts  and our compassion cannot be stolen through violence and cannot be hidden behind veils or high walls.

Before I close this let me say clearly, I do not believe all men are bad or evil, truthfully I love a man. In fact I believe most men are not misogynistic, most men are not rapists, most men do not wish to harm women. What I think is most men do not know by their inaction they enable. The chain women must form across all the boundaries we have today, whether of our making or of society and culture, that chain must include men who believe as we do, that we are ENOUGH just as we are, that we have equal value within society and our contributions as human beings are not just welcome but sought. Were all of us, men and women together to begin to form common cause, the subject of our equality would no longer be subject of debates it would instead be a History Lesson, as would many other Civil Rights issues which frankly require a woman’s voice and a woman’s touch.


 

Things of interest:

UN Women Should

Human Trafficking: The Polaris Project

Human Trafficking: The FBI Files

Do Something Campaign

PCI Global: Women’s Empowerment

Shriver Report

 

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