It’s Wednesday – Let’s Hear From Someone New

Today I want to share an article from Screen Crush, where trans actors talk about representation, roles, and how Hollywood can improve: What It’s Like to Be a Trans Actor in Hollywood. Here’s a quote from Ian Harvie to get you started:

If when I was younger, had I seen positive trans roles in film and TV, yeah, of course my life would be different. My life would be different because I would have felt like I had existed a lot sooner than I did. I don’t feel like I existed until I met my first trans person, and they weren’t on TV. I didn’t know they existed, and I didn’t know I existed as a result of it. Had I seen someone when I was younger I might have known who I was, and it might have saved me from a lot of struggle.

It’s Monday – cis/straight privilege

It’s Monday and time to think about our privilege!

When we found out we were having twins, the first question people asked (almost without fail) is if we were having boys or girls. When our babies were small, that was still strangers’ first question. It didn’t bother me, per se, so much as surprise me how ubiquitous it was. Our twins are both female and although we are not pushing “girl” stuff we identify them as girls. But now that they are a little older, there is a lot of talk of potential boyfriends and how daddy needs to get a shotgun. This does bother me. It is disheartening how much conversation revolves around gender and heteronormativity with babies and toddlers.

prideflagToday I want to share this article from Everyday Feminism: 10 Examples of Straight Privilege. Click through to read the whole thing. The thing that stood out to me was that heteronormativity is both assumed from birth, and is reflected constantly in media. I’ve noticed this as we’ve watched so many children’s shows. From preschool shows that actually center episodes on the characters trying to get “boyfriends” and “girlfriends” to just minor passing scenes when romance is not a subject on the show at all.

So what to do? Those of us that are cis gendered and heterosexual have a long way to go in being supportive of our LGBTQA friends and family. But the changes that are needed – no more bathroom bills, intersectional feminism as the only feminism, real diverse representation in media, legal protections regardless of sexuality – all of that feels overwhelming. But we can change the culture of microaggressions today! Start here by reading this article on Huffington Post: Being an Ally Means Sometimes Having to Say You’re Sorry. Then practice! Listen, apologize, keep our mouths shut. We can do it!

 

Father’s Day

I have some conflicted feelings about father’s day. Every year it reminds me that I didn’t have the relationship I wanted with my father, and that my children do not have a grandfather in their lives. But I also love watching their relationship with their dad grow, and see how hard my husband works at being the best dad he can be.

Today we also got to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday today. We stuffed ourselves with delicious food, chased the kids around the house, and picked cucumbers in the garden. And then, after everyone was gone, and the kids were in bed, I opened facebook and was met with such horrible news.

Just after midnight, in London, a man drove a van into the crowds leaving several mosques after late-night prayers. At least one person was killed and several were injured.

This morning in Virginia a group of Muslim teenagers were confronted by a man with a baseball bat. They all ran, but one young woman was taken and killed by him. Her body was found this afternoon.

A woman in Seattle called police to her home after a break in and was shot and killed by them in front of her children. She was 3 months pregnant. The police claim she was armed with a knife, her family denies this.

This all following a rough week after Philando Castile’s murderer was acquitted.

So many lives lost to hate, so many families hurting today. A friend posted on facebook about how much discomfort it takes for people to overcome their apathy and be moved to empathy. It is easy to be filled with our lives – we are all busy, we all have struggles. But things will not improve – black lives won’t matter, muslim men, women, and children won’t be safe – until we all step up and and stand for each other. No one else will do it. Each of us have to.

It’s Wednesday – do you know about the Philly MOVE bombing? I didn’t.

It’s Wednesday and time to hear from someone new.

NPR did a story in 2015 looking back at the 1985 bombing of the MOVE compound in Philadelphia. I had never heard of this, well, it feels like state-sponsored terrorism. A fortified house was bombed, an entire block caught fire, the mayor was saying things like, “any means possible,” and 11 people were killed. 5 of them were children.

Click through to read the whole story, which interviews residents to see what they remember about the horrific events.

Then go ahead and read about the 2016 documentary Do Not Resist. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s next on my list. Watch it and we’ll discuss it on the blog.

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John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune

It’s Monday! Let’s talk hair and privilege and policing blackness

There has been another story in the news lately of black young women punished for being black – specifically for wearing their hair in braids.

Race, Racism and the Law has a long but excellent read on the way black bodies are both policed and punished in schools: Detangling the Politics of Racially Conscious Dress Code. Although this happens across society (the military only allowed some hairstyles in 2014), it is especially problematic in schools where these policies reinforce implicit racism in our children. Here’s a snippet:

A trait is “a quality that makes one person or thing different from another.”  When Americans see the name Shaquanda Jackson, and *1262 mentally distinguish her from others by designating her as a “Black person,” her very name becomes a trait associated with Blackness. Acknowledging this relationship is fundamental in understanding trait discrimination. Americans hear a name like Shaquanda Jackson or see a hairstyle like dreadlocks, and mentally code both name and hairstyle as racially Black. Trait discrimination takes this mental recognition a step further, by actively prohibiting speech, names, clothing, hairstyles, etc. that Americans mentally associate with a specific race. Though Black persons are not born with dreadlocks or pre-destined to be named Shaquanda, these traits become avatars of Blackness. Because race is such a real and tangible thing in American culture,  these avatars cannot be separated from their racial significance.

Click through to read the whole thing and learn how these traits that have become synonymous with blackness are part of America’s implicit bias against Black Americans.

 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

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CW: mention of self harm and mental illness

I’ve lived with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for almost 2 decades. My 20s are mostly a blur of deep sadness and hopelessness, punctuated only by memories of things I failed at, leaving a promising job, dropping out of school, leaving my childhood religion, even failing at suicide added to my darkness. It took me nearly 10 years to finally reach out to a therapist, and several more to find one that helped me to see myself in a way that wasn’t covered in shame and worthlessness. I finally began to hope that I might have purpose in my life. I finally began to believe that I maybe deserved to feel whole. I started trying to find medications to help me. And, luckily for me, they did.

That’s why I loved this article on The Establishment, Treating Mental Illness Doesn’t Ruin Creativity, by Sarah Bronson. She talks to three artists about how their mental illness, and how treating it, affects their work. Treating my MDD and PTSD is what gave me the freedom to begin exploring my creativity, the freedom from self-fulfilling doubts that stopped me from ever trying to create, from that voice that whispered, “you’re not good enough to do that” and “you don’t have anything worth saying.”

I’ve learned that self-care is an essential part of maintaining my mental health, and these sketches of “boring self-care” by Hannah Daisy of @MakeDaisyChains spoke to my soul. Went outside has been my only win on many, many days. Click through to her Instagram account to see her fantastic illustrations on mental health.

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From Hannah Daisy, @makedaisychains

To close out Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope you take time to reach out to your friends and family. Listen to their stories, sit with them, hold your embarrassment and their awkwardness in the space between you. There are so many things we can talk about for Mental Health – ending the stigma, the lack of resources and how that intersects with relying on police to provide intervention, the high rates of successful suicides for second attempts, the comorbidity with substance abuse, falsely correlating violence with mental illness, and so much more. All of these discussion are important and real. But for this May, hold your loved ones in your heart a little longer. Hear them. Believe them. The best thing any one has ever done for me, in the midst of a depressive episode both deep and long, was to hold on to me while I cried and simply say, “I know it hurts. I’m here.”

(I love you, C)