March for Our Lives-FW

 

Marching was the last thing I wanted to do today. But I did it anyway. I joined the March for Our Lives protest in Fort Worth. I was tired, burned out from work, and would have much rather have slept in. But, after years of trying, and failing, to get people to care, now that people are finally giving a damn I can’t in good conscious sit at home and do nothing.

I graduated high school in the much hyped year of 2000. And I wanted to change the world. I wanted to organize for feminist causes. I wrote letters to my representatives, lamented that there were no organizations of like minded individuals in my school. Aside from me, no one seemed to care. Even in college, when the US invaded Iraq, I went to a peace rally that had a grand total of maybe thirty students. Even getting my fellow college students, who would complain about the campus housing constantly (there was only one campus housing complex on my campus, and they took full advantage of that)  to just sign a petition to have more than one option for campus housing was pulling nails, and this was something that impacted us directly! It felt like I was the only one who cared about anything, and trying to get other people to care and organized just got me branded as a nuisance. To this day I just accept that I’m going to speak out alone because no one will stand beside me. It’s lonely, but I can’t in good conscious stay quiet.

I know these movements come in waves. The 90s were a quiet decade to grow up in. I often feel like I was born at the wrong time. Now I have two small children and it is hard for me to join protests and be as active as I would like because of it. And it also feels like it’s never been more important to do so, because the changes I make now can benefit my kids in the future. Consequently, if we DON’T do something about gun violence, global warming, getting Trump out of the White House, etc, then my children are going to suffer greatly.

Yesterday I had a client in crisis, which as any mental health professional will say, is extremely emotionally draining. But the upcoming generation is doing something that people of my generation failed to do: give a damn. So I made a crappy poster even though I was exhausted last night. I put a lot of thought into the words but obviously, not the design. When I woke up I found my son had added his signature on the bottom, which is charming in it’s own way. He’s part of the reason I’m marching, so it was good to have his endorsement. It’s not the prettiest sign, but what matters is that I was there.

And so were thousands of others. Crowd estimates were between 7,000-8,000. There was one counterprotestor, spewing bile on a megaphone he did not have a permit for. While one of the students who organized the march (Lillian Scott) read the names of the Parkland students who were murdered and observed a moment of silence, he kept talking. When Lillian Scott started speaking, she raised her voice to drown him out, and we clapped. He was another example of right wing hypocrisy that will hopefully soon go extinct. The people leading the march are the future.

I used to be proud and excited to be class of 2000. We were supposed to lead the way and usher in an astounding new millennium. We haven’t. Right now I would have traded the empty prestige that came with being the class of 2000 to join a generation that is actually making a difference. I wish I were a part of this new and upcoming generation. Because when I read the multitude of scary headlines the plague our news, reading about them gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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But I’m the One Going to Hell

I was five when I was first told I was going to Hell. A friend’s mom said it to me. A grown woman said that to my five year old self because my parents had recently explained atheism and that they were atheists to me. Let’s just say, I was completely unprepared for the vehemence and hatred with which people would respond when I answered their questions about my belief system.

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Of Wounds and Scars

For the past 4 years I have been angry. Raising a child who is disabled has forced me to confront a lot of the traumas I faced growing up while disabled, and then if that wasn’t enough, the 2016 elections happened, which were triggering for me on a whole different level. I was bullied in elementary school, and some people who worked in the schools told my parents it was the worse case of school bullying they had ever seen. Because of this, I never thought of Trump as a joke, I found him triggering and terrifying. And that anyone could vote for him, let alone millions, has brought a lot of trauma to the surface. Basically the message everyone who voted for him sent was that it was okay for him to bully and degrade people, and that so many people in the United States believe that and that I walk among those people has been disillusioning. For the past 4 years I have been angrier than I have ever been, and I’ve had good reasons to be angry. But it is not a natural or a normal state for me, and it’s not how I like to live.

They say write from a scar rather than a wound. And I’ve been writing from wounds until the point where I couldn’t anymore, especially as I don’t think I am terribly effective when writing from a wound, and also because doing so is so painful. Still, time goes on, scars form. I’m still attending protests, voting, and calling my representatives, doing what I can to fight the most dangerous administration I have seen rise to power in my life time. But the anger I feel is no longer as strong. It’s faded to a grim resolve. On the one hand I am horrified that I am no longer furious, because it means that something atrocious has become normalized. On the other hand, anger was consuming me.

I’m a long way from wanting to build bridges, especially as harmful people are in power, people who only care about the rights of rich, white, evangelical men. When people in power want to take away the rights of people who don’t have it, bridge building isn’t going to happen. There are still a lot of fights coming up. I am marching next week against gun violence. I will be voting for leaders who reign in a dangerous despot rather than enable him. And I’m at the point where I can write from a scar.

Either Inspiration or Failure, and Never Normal

The death of Stephen Hawking stirred up some things for me. Seeing him described as so inspirational because of what he did while disabled struck a nerve. Like Hawking, I am disabled, but in a very different way. I am autistic and I have several learning disabilities. Unlike Hawking, I am not a brilliant scientist and I haven’t contributed something amazing to the world.

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What I Learned About DNRs

My paternal grandpa died late Thursday night. He was 91. The past 8 days have been a roller coaster. My grandma had gone into the hospital for a blood transfusion, and he’d gone with her because he was too frail to be left on his own. I’d gone to pick them up from the hospital and watch over them for a bit at their assisted living community. When I got to the hospital I noticed my grandpa sitting oddly in a chair and that he couldn’t talk or move. He’d had a massive stroke.

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Don’t Fear Halloween

12191358_10205891307215939_80861616091564416_oI’m in several Facebook groups with other non-religious mothers, and these have been a lifeline for me. Lately I have noticed a few posts asking how to handle Halloween because they don’t like teaching about magic and make believe. These people seem to be solidly in the minority, with most people commenting that it’s just a time to dress up, get scared, and pretend. Considering Halloween is my favorite holiday, I tend to shake my head a little at how some people seem to think that exposing children to make believe leads to beliefs in the supernatural. I was raised by atheists, and growing up we knew Halloween was pretend and make believe, and we still had fun. And what I think parents are missing when they stress out about Halloween and imaginary play is that it is important for child development to engage in pretend and imaginary play!

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Wrapping up the Women’s Convention (I Hope)

I’m still waiting for an official announcement, but several people who have protested Sanders being given such a prominent speaking role at the convention have received emails stating he has been demoted to a panel about resistance organization in the Trump era. Considering that the Women’s March has told so many different stories in an attempt to spin this, they have lost my trust and I am watching them carefully, however, if this is true it will placate me. If he has to be there, resistance organization at least is an appropriate topic for him. That being said, there are several ways I’ve attempted to see the Women’s March spin this.

First, before the apology, they had promoted Sanders as having a big role in the convention.I am not going to let them spin this as that they intended for him to just be a part of a panel discussion all along.

Second, Women’s March organizer, Linda Sarsour, had a livestream denouncing those of us who were upset about Bernie being given a prime spot at the Women’s Convention as racist. I witnessed the outrage from the start, and the criticism about Sanders speaking was very ANTI-racist. For instance,

1. Many women of color were outraged about the decision. In fact, the friend who informed me about this is a woman of color who was just as furious as I was.

2. We were outraged that Bernie was referred to as “Senator” while Rep. Maxine Waters was NOT addressed by the Women’s March promotional material with her title and wondered why Bernie’s achievements were recognized and not hers.


3. From the start, we were asking for a woman or a woman of color to head the convention. Examples that were suggested included Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris, Tammy Duckworth, Elizabeth Warren, Michelle Obama, Kirsten Gillibrand, etc.


4. Most of us agreed that the list of other speakers sounded great, Bernie was the problem.


5. We were mad that Bernie was the ONLY speaker who got a news article with his picture on the front that described him as “opening the convention” and the “headliner.”


6. We were asking why the women who would be speaking were not so honored with a news article, their picture being circulated, etc.

7. We were angry that Rep Maxine Waters words, “reclaiming our time,” were being used to promote a white man.

The outrage over Bernie was not racist and that a white man holds so much privilege that speaking out against him opening and being given such prominent billing at a women’s convention can be spun as racist is, frankly, alarming. Many of us were speaking out because we feel he is a poor advocate for people of color and women. While his focus on issues that affect white men will help everyone, it will not help knock down the barriers that prevent women and people of color from rising at an equal pace with white men, which is one of the many reasons why he is a poor choice to address the Women’s Convention. Bottom line, the criticism of Sanders was anti-racist and anti-sexist, and the Women’s March is harming their cause and alienating supporters by attempting to spin it as such (see the responses to Tamika Mallory’s allegations that she was thrown off a plane if you want an illustration of how doing this is harming their cause).

Finally, some thoughts about this whole debacle. Like a lot of people who supported HRC, I was scared to flaunt it. And during the primary I bit my tongue, a lot. I actually even created a Facebook group for Democrats who wanted him to drop out and separated it from my identity so I could vent my frustrations. Between fear of being harassed and fear of further alienating Sander’s supporters, I think me and a lot of HRC’s supporters suppressed a lot of rage. And there have been articles documenting that HRC had a lot of devoted supporters (the success of Pantsuit Nation?), but they were scared to be open about it. Hence, why she won both the primary and the popular vote by such staggering numbers.

And over this weekend, that rage was released. The Women’s March honoring Sanders was the final straw, and until they issued their apology, 98% of the comments were from people furious over Bernie headlining, and while some were Sander’s supporters who sympathized or did not think it was the right place for him to speak, most of it was from HRC supporters for whom this was the final indignity. Since the election had already happened there was nothing left to lose with unleashing on the people who had been so unforgiving and willing to cause so much damage because their candidate lost. Meanwhile, the Sander’s supporters calls for unity and moving forward rang as extremely hypocritical and too little too late.

I wish I had been more vocal during the primaries. I think the lesson is to not let fear hold you back from only backing your candidate so it is no surprise to people when they win. Basically, if Sanders supporters pull this crap with Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Corey Booker, or whoever runs against him in 2020, I am not going to be silent again.