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 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

mentalhealthawareness

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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 7.04.26 PM
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)

 

 

It’s Monday – on disappearing to find yourself

It’s Monday! Time to talk about privilege.

Today I want to share a Longform article by Alex DiFrancesco called How to Disappear. They write about their experience with disappearing in the midst of a mental break. Speaking about hearing the story of a girl who left her life behind, and the differences between how her disappearance was treated in comparison to their own, they say:

When I saw Kidd’s story, I thought of all the resources that had gone into her “case,” and all of those of us who really were lost, unhealthy, and scared, who were given little to no help.

DiFrancesco also gives us a peek into their journey to self acceptance. Here’s a snippet from the part that I resonated with, as having someone love me has helped me find my true self:

Having someone understand me, love me, and support my gender identity let me be the person that I’d been hiding from myself, the too much and too far that some of the people who had said they’d loved me all my life couldn’t allow. Some people did look at the real me and judge me as unlovable. Others adapted, learned, embraced.

Beyond the cis-gendered privilege many of us experience, DiFrancesco also touches on class and family support privilege. Please click through and read her entire story.

It’s Monday! and Representation Matters

Today in checking our privilege, I want to talk about how representation matters.

Reading from scriptures* was off-and-on a near-daily experience in my formative years. (*for us that meant the Book of Mormon, the King James Bible, and some other LDS sacred texts) We read about the old Mormon prophets: Nephi, Mormon, Abinadi – their heroic and daring and unwavering faith. We read about the old testament prophets: Jacob and Abraham and Noah – their (blind) (come on, even as a child the old testament was messed up) obedience and… actually, I never got much out of those stories. And we read the new testament, the gospels mostly, and Jesus was the ultimate self-sacrificing hero there. And in my middle-child, people-pleasing way I tried very hard to be the best Mormon girl I could be, holding these men up as the epitome of devotion to God.

And then I read a version of the first chapter of the Book of Mormon with gender-swapped people and pronouns. I must’ve been at least 20, probably older, and suddenly a floor fell out from under me. I found myself crying, sobbing really. My whole life I had been missing something and I never even had been able to recognize it. I wanted to be able to see me in the stories I had been taught from birth. I wanted to be able to see me in our heroes. I didn’t know I needed it, not consciously, until it was given to me. Continue reading “It’s Monday! and Representation Matters”

Black Lives Matter

Jordan Edwards, Rest in Power

jordan-edwards-dallas
Image description: a young black teenager smiles at the camera. You can see the collar and shoulders of a turquoise shirt, and there is a red background.

From the family:

“Not only have Jordan’s brothers lost their best friend; they witnessed firsthand his violent, senseless, murder,” the statement reads. “Their young lives will forever be altered. No one, let alone young children, should witness such horrific, unexplainable, violence.”

83 Black Americans have been shot and killed by police this year* according The Washington Post’s database.

Trevon Johnson

James E. Lewis

Mark Guirguis

James Owens

Ruben Randolph

Jamal Parks

JR Williams

Davion Henderson

Darrion Barnhill

Jahlire Nicholson

Herbert Johnson

Marquis Thomas

Ronnie Lee Shorter

Christopher Thompkins

Armond Brown

Arties Manning

Kevin Darnell Washington

Deaundre Phillips

Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens

Marvin Washington

an unidentified man

Tavis Crane

Michael Russo

Jamake Cason Thomas

Johnnie J. Harris

Nano Adomako

Shelly Porter

Jerome Allen

Cole Wooley

Curtis Jamal Deal

Chad Robertson

Quanice Derrick Hayes

Jocques Scott Clemmons

Carlos Keith Blackman

Darryl L. Fuqua

Alonzo E. Ashely

Willard Eugene Scott

Raynard Burton

Kenneth Lee Bailey

Kadeem Torres

Jimmy Briggs

Jean R. Valescot

Chance David Baker

Keo Crockett

Christopher Carter

Don Clark

Medger Blake

Morgan London Rankins

Timothy Lionel Williams

Lorenzo Antoine Cruz

Earl Riley

Christopher Redding

Epthen Lamont Johnson

Dennis Todd Rogers

Brandon Wiley

Luke O. Stewart

Rashad Daquan Opher

Cordale Quinn Handy

Frederick Ricardo Brown

Jermaine Claybrooks

Patrick Earl Gatson

Rodney James Hess

Desmond Phillips

Alteria Woods

Don Johnson

William Stokes

Eddie Davis

Reno Joseph Owens

Leroy Brown

Christopher Wade

Richard Xavier Summers

Zelalem Eshetu Ewnetu

Olugbalah Ridley

Keith Price

Damarius Butts

William D. Spates

Gavin Williams

Selwyn Aubrey Hall

Burgon Sealy

Avery Richard

Jordan Edwards

James Edward Ray

Black Lives Matter

4 months. 2 were female, 81 male. 5 were under age 18. 11 had known mental illness. 12 are known to have been unarmed. North Carolina and Texas are the worst offenders by state, with 7 killings each.

Black Lives Matter

Black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than White Americans.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

This is What White People Can Do to Support #BlackLivesMatter

Your Guide on How to Support Black People After Incidents of Police Violence

 

*possibly more. 45 individuals in the database have an unknown race listed.

 

It’s Monday!

Time to check your privilege!

privilege

Today, we’re understanding white privilege with The Root.

The concept of privilege often rankles those that feel accused of having it, but we have to remember, as allies it is our job to recognize where we have privilege, and do our best to level that playing field. That may be through policy changes or personal changes, but it is essential work.