Category Archives: prejudice

When Safe Spaces Are Invaded

Loath thought they may be to admit it, fundamentalist Christians and Muslims share something in common*: a boundary problem. People who are doing them no harm and who are doing no harm to others come under their radar because they do not love, conform to gender stereotypes, or worship in ways that they approve. I have never lived in a place dominated by fundamentalist Muslims, but I have and currently live in one dominated by fundamentalist Christians. And it is oppressive. It feels hateful. And on Sunday, groups that have been raised to fear fundamentalism had a painful reminder that they were right to.

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Hatred and Hostility in Texas

By now, it’s well known that Texas is leading the pack in making a frivolous lawsuit against Obama’s directive that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom that conforms to their identify. Of course, this is from the governor who is willing to screw our school system over to forgo millions in federal funds to defy the directive.

People other than me have written good posts about how there are no documented cases of men posing as transgendered women to assault women in the bathroom. Or how people who are transgendered are put into an impossible situation with regards to using the bathroom by these laws, or that people who are transgendered rightly fear going to the bathroom because they are at risk of being assaulted. Or about the stories of people who look gender ambiguous who have been assaulted for using the “right” bathroom. Or about how these laws are problematic for parents and caretakers of people with disabilities.

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Disappointed in Humanity

Last Friday, my usually even tempered Sissy became irritable. She’d dissolve into tears at the slightest thing. She started running a fever and lost her appetite. Then she got a rash on her hands and feet. In short, she got hand, foot and mouth.

I’d never heard of hand, foot and mouth until Buddy caught it a few years ago. Buddy’s case was very mild. A mild rash, I don’t think he even ran a fever and it didn’t seem to bother him any. Sissy’s case was a lot worse. She was in so much pain she couldn’t sleep for more than thirty minutes at a stretch and woke Buddy up with her screaming. Andy and I took caring for them in 4 hour shifts through the weekend. By Sunday we got her sleeping mostly through the night again, though Buddy’s sleep schedule was so thrown it’s taken him till yesterday to sleep through the night (autism and sleep problems go hand in hand). Her fever broke over the weekend, but the rash has been persistent. Andy stayed home with her Monday, while I stayed with her Tuesday and Weds, and Andy again on Thursday. I think/hope the rash will be completely gone tomorrow.

Friday, of course, was when the attacks on Paris happened, and it was while comforting a distraught Sissy that I read about it. So many thoughts, so much to say, but mostly in addition to being physically weighed down, I was emotionally weighed down as I thought about the consequences of the attacks.

On Monday I went to work. Whether or not to tell my boss I was planning on leaving was something I grappled with, and eventually I had to come out and do it simply because to get on insurance panels I would going to need access to a database that they had my information on, and there was no way to get access without them knowing. I was scared to let them know, given my history of working for companies that react poorly when people give notice that they are leaving.

The good news was that I had originally told them I’d leave in February. I assumed that getting on insurance panels would be a tedious, drawn out process. Thankfully it hasn’t been, and I’ve got that part done. Now I just need to build a client base. The bad news is no one wants to start counseling around the holidays. So I told my boss I’d stay through December. I wasn’t exactly thrilled. I’m burnt out and ready to leave, and I was worried about emotionally balancing full time work, private practice AND family responsibilities, but I also wanted stable income during the holidays.

Well, on Monday they told me that starting in December I would have to work part time. Considering the cost of daycare, can’t. What I would bring home would barely cover the cost of it. So I turned in my two week notice.

In some ways I’m relieved that I won’t have to stay through December and, if I do manage to get some clients, I won’t have to balance seeing them with a full time job and taking care of my kids. In some ways I’m mad that my hand was forced. Predominately, I’m numb. I’m exhausted, both physically and emotionally and I’m just ready to be done with this job and to move forward.

Cut to today. It’s Buddy’s fifth birthday! I picked him up from daycare and took him to the store and told him we were getting a birthday cake. He got excited. “Cake! Birthday! Give you hug! Give you hug!” he exclaimed as he ran and hugged me. For him, this is very impressive communication and encouraging.

He happily chose some cupcakes from the bakery. When we got home, we found that Andy had gotten hand, foot and mouth from Sissy. Adults usually don’t get it, so I wasn’t worried about her giving it to us, but it looks like I should have been. For the record, Andy says it is very painful. And Andy can be a rather big baby about these things. Really, I’d rather be sick than him be sick!

So I loaded the kids in the wagon to take them for a quick trip to the playground before it got too dark. While there I got a phone call. Hoping it was from a prospective client I picked it up.

“Who is this?” a female voice of indeterminate age asks.

Stupidly I told them my name. I was still thinking/hoping it was a client. “Who is this?”

“Riaza.”

“What are you wanting?”

Silence. A giggle. Then a little boy says, “We’re going to blow up your daughter.”

“What?” I said, stunned.

More giggling, “We’re going to blow up your daughter.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing on the phone. They hung up. I stared at my kids on the playground in shock. The phone rang again, it was from the same number. I picked it up. Silence. Then I said, “I have caller ID and if you keep harassing me I will call the police.”

They hung up and did not call again. And yes, they were stupid enough to not block their number.

By then it was dark. I was a little bit unnerved. I gathered up my kids and went home. While I got Sissy ready for bed my husband and mom started a reverse number search on the number. It wasn’t anyone we knew, and the LinkedIn profile of the owner shows someone in a prestigious position at a big bank. We’re thinking his kids got a hold of his phone and played a really sick prank. My mom has messaged him on LinkedIn.

It’s sick enough making threats against someone’s daughter, even if you have no intention of acting out on them. But using an Islamic sounding name and making threats to blow her up takes it to an even worse level. Because it perpetuates ugly stereotypes against a group of people and fuels terrorism. I just cannot put into words how disgusted I am by their actions.

Sissy got off to bed. We gave Buddy his gifts and they were all hits. And then he went to bed. It’s been an exhausting week for him as well. And now I’m trying to process everything that has happened and remember that there have been encouraging things even though this week has been draining. I didn’t feel like I had a weekend last weekend because taking care of Sissy was so grueling so I went into this week drained and exhausted and running on fumes, and found I was in for a pummeling when I didn’t have a lot of emotional energy to spare. Now I’m even more drained, exhausted and, though I’m trying to cling to the speckles of hope I’ve found here and there, just disappointment in humanity.

That’s it. That’s how best to describe it. This week, I am disappointed in humanity. We can do so much better.

I Stand With Ahmed

I’m sure most people can remember what it was like to start high school. I remember I was nervous about making friends and fitting in. Considering I’m not very outgoing and rather introverted, this was doubly so. As the nerdy, geeky type, I would often wear “Star Wars” shirts and keep my books out in the open in the hopes that people with similar interests would notice and find me.

Ahmed Mohamed was starting high school. He was wanting to show his teachers what he could do and find a group similar to the robotics club he was in in middle school. Think about this. He was wanting to find encouragement and a group he belonged to. This need and want to fit in is extremely easy to relate to.

Instead he was accused of building a bomb, handcuffed, taken away from school, interrogated and booked. I nearly cried when I saw this picture. This look on his face is heartbreaking.

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Here is a kid who has a wonderful hobby, a hobby he can make a career out of. And instead he was treated like a criminal.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t schools supposed to be a place where teachers encourage creativity and learning? Or, in additional to racial bias, are we so accustomed to teaching to a test that teachers are no longer able to think and instead make outrageous accusations? Think of how this could have been different if this teacher had asked about how he built it, or what the wires do, or tried to understand what he had built rather than assuming it was a bomb. This teacher blew a precious opportunity to encourage a child’s interests.

I am so glad that President Obama, Mark Zuckerburg and others have stepped out to support Ahmed. Hopefully this will counteract any damage that was done. I’ve seen people minimizing this saying that this was “character building” or “people are falsely accused all of the time.” While something good can come out of a bad situation and “build character”, it does not mean it was right or okay for it to happen in the first place! And while people are falsely accused, it does not mean that they were not damaged by the false accusation. As someone who recently was on the receiving end of some false allegations I can personally state it hurts a lot and I have lost a huge amount of trust and am still recovering. I wish everyone who has ever been falsely accused had people rise in support of them like Ahmed did.

Which is why I am adding my voice to those who support Ahmed. Keep inventing, keep pursuing your passions!