Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Really, I am proud to be recognized for my writing at all, because up until today, all of my emails have been requests for money. So here is a friendly reminder that my ultimate goal for this site is to build community. I would love to post up my members own essays, artwork, recipes... Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
The November issue of Seventeen Magazine featured a story entitled "True Life Drama: My BOYFRIEND turned out to be a gir!l"
Rather than use this opportunity to educate readers about transgender issues, it never once even uses any terminology (well, unless you consider the slur "he-she")but instead furthers the common transphobic assumption that someone who's gender does not match their sex assigned at birth is a deceptive liar and even compares them (at the bottom) to perverts, drug addicts, and older dad's trying to get someone young w/o disclosing their parental/age status.
Please read the article (follow the 1st link) done in poor taste with a terrible accusatory tone from the get-go and write a letter to the editor (MAIL@SEVENTEEN.COM) expressing your opinion about the article, the implications it has, and ask them to put an apology in one of their next 2 issues.
The more responses they receive about this the better! Even if you don't read the magazine, it's important to send the message that articles like this will not be tolerated and that we don't want this hateful message being sent to young people who read it. Please invite anyone you can to write a letter, too.
Here is my letter:
Dear Editors of Seventeen Magazine,
When I was a teenager, I was a faithful reader of your magazine, which is why I am saddened to learn of the transphobic article, “True Life Drama: My Boyfriend Turned Out to be a Girl” in your November issue. The article is filled with hateful stereotypes and in a country where there still many hate crimes directed at trans people, this kind of shoddy reporting is unacceptable. In this day and age, the writers of Seventeen need to be more sensitive to trans issues-do you not think that you might have readers that are trans, themselves? Do not insult, create fear, or stereotype your own audience! I demand a written apology in one of your next two issues of Seventeen and a promise that you will use your magazine to help teens understand trans issues, instead of making them worse.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Earlier this year, the nation's public mental health care system for adults received the average grade of D... the same grade it received three years ago.
Despite the ghastly grade, many lawmakers continue to cut funding to mental health services as a way to offset the struggling economy.
The state of our mental health care system is frightening.
Your generous contribution supports NAMI's fight to awaken our nation from this nightmare and continue our work to improve the lives of everyone affected by mental illness. Go to Nami.org for more.
In between its very funny pages are also some really beautiful passages, like this gem I read this morning:
It was a glorious night. The moon had sunk and left the quiet earth alone with the stars. It seemed as if, in the silence and the hush, while we her children slept, they were talking with her, their sister-conversing of mighty mysteries in voices too vast and deep for childish human ears to catch the sound.
They awe us, these strange stars, so cold, so clear. We are as children whose small feet have strayed into some dim-lit temple of the god they have been taught to worship but know not; and, standing where the echoing dome spans the long vista of the shadowy light, glance up, half hoping, half afraid to see some awful vision hovering there.
And yet it seems so full of comfort and of strength, the night. In its great presence, our small sorrows creep away, ashamed. The day has been so full of fret and care, and our hearts have been so full of evil and of bitter thoughts, and the world has seemed so hard and wrong to us. Then Night, like some great loving mother, gentlylays her hand upon our fevored head, and turns our little tear-stained face up to hers, and smiles, and though she does not speak, we know what she would say, and lay our hot flushed cheek against her bosom, and the pain is gone.
Sometimes, our pain is very deep and real, and we stand before her very silent, because there is no language for our pain, only a moan. Night's heart is full of pity for us: she cannot ease our aching; she takes our hand in hers, and the little world grows very small and very far beneath us, and, borne on her dark wings, we pass for a moment into a mightier Presence than her own, and in the wondrous light of that great Presence, all human life lies like a book before us, and we know that Pain and Sorrow are but the angels of God.
Only those who have worn the crown of suffering can look upon that wondrous light; and they, when they return, may not speak of it, or tell the mystery they know. (77-78)
Unfortunately, my enjoyment of these passages, or any passage, in this book is overshadowed by one very nasty word that is contained in this book: the n-word. The word does not seem to be uttered with the same feeling of hate or disgust that I normally associate with it. It is mentioned in a passage where one of the characters is talking about a particularly "loud" jacket and it is said, "considered as an article of dress for a human being, except a Margate nigger, it made him ill" (49). Still, the word certainly has a negative connotation and it disgusts me that it is in the book at all when any other word would be better.
While I know that the book was first published in 1889 and that the word was more common back then, the word is still unneccessary and is still fraught with horrible, derogatory meaning. What disturbs me the most about reading the word is knowing that in just one word a whole group of people is excluded. One does not expect one to continue reading or to be reading a book you wrote in the first place if you insult them. There are some people that think that this word is sometimes okay to use, but I disagree. This word is so fraught with demeaning meaning that any time someone hears or sees it, one is disgusted. I have to believe that there are always better words to use in any situation, in any time period. Words matter. Always.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Since 1996, nearly six million people have died as a result of conflict and conflict related causes in the Congo since 1996. Forty-five thousand continue to die each month. Hundreds of thousands of womyn have been raped as weapons of war. You may not know this and if you don't, don't feel too bad, because our media chooses not to report it. Our media thinks the life of one little boy who might have died as a result of a bizarre balloon accident to be much more important than a holocaust in another country. All people matter and all people have equal value, whether our media believes it or not.
Why the Congo? The Congo is what is known as "the heart of Africa," because it has every kind of natural resource that one needs to get rich, only the Congolese are not rich, because whiteness stole their resources with just about every company that works there being involved in illegal activity. Fair trade is a nice idea, but one not practiced in the Congo.
Womyn have been systematically brutally raped and made infertile, in order to kill off a people. That's what the group "Friends of the Congo" informed us is what they mean when they say, "using rape as a weapon of war." THIS MUST STOP!!!
Get a group of rabble-rousing friends together and invite a speaker from Friends of the Congo. Go to the site Congo Week and find an awareness raising event going on this weekend. Recycle your own phone, so that less coltan has to be mined. Write your senators and other lawmakers. Write the president. Even better yet, write letters to these companies and inform them that their products are not worth people's lives!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Type: Education - Lecture
Date: Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Time: 12:30pm - 1:30pm
Location: Basement of Beeson Hall at GCSU
Description: A 6-year-old boy suspended from school for a Cub Scout utensil...an Eagle Scout suspended for a keychain pocketknife...Is this policy taking things to an extreme?
Check out these articles and come to Times Talk to voice your opinion! FREE PIZZA!!!!!!!!!!
NYTimes--It's a Fork, It's a Spoon, It's a ... Weapon?:
NYTimes--Suspended 6-Year Old Returns to School:
The Troy Record--School suspends Eagle Scout for pocketkniife:
The Troy Record--Teen’s dad wants son’s record cleared:
What do YOU think? Personally, I do not think that schools should be a prison, which is what they are becoming. I believe school should be a place that promotes creativity, not punishment. One cannot learn, if one is afraid all the time, which is supposedly the reason for the zero tolerance policy-that one should not have to fear for their safety, but the fact remains that children are being bullied and hurt anyway. Children and teens fear for their lives AND they fear that they will be in trouble for committing a crime for something innocent. Teenagers get in trouble for hugging in the halls, and yet when truly big, horrible crimes happen, we say, "But we did all we could! We have a zero-tolerance policy!!!" Perhaps the key to preventing crime is not by jumping down our children's throats, but by treating them as we would like to be treated-with compassion and respect.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
After a few more rounds of questions, the doctors carefully explained their recommendations to me. In England, treatment recommendations were always just that-recommendations. To leave a hospital, to stay in it, to take medications, to participate in group activities or not-they never forced any of it on me, and each time the decision was mine. Even at my craziest, I interpreted this as a demonstration of respect. When you're really crazy, respect is like a lifeline someone's throwing you. Catch this and maybe you won't drown.
from the book, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, by Elyn R. Saks
Respect is so important. I firmly believe that along with the essentials needed to survive like food, shelter, and clothing, that human beings need respect and love. When I was in the fifth grade, which is when I learned about Maslow's hierarchy, I wrote my health book company and stated this belief. I stated that it has been proven that babies who are never touched except to change their diapers do not learn how to walk or talk. We need each other to care for each other. The health book company said that while this is preferred, technically, though, the baby is still alive, even if it is developmentally delayed. I still stand behind what I wrote at age eleven. There are plenty of people who are technically "alive," but are spiritually or emotionally dead. This is unacceptable.
As Saks observed, respect needs to be shown to everyone, even those who are "crazy." We are all human and we all have the capacity to be great people and so should be respected. It has been very hard for me to read Saks' book, which is a book about her experiences with schizophrenia, because I have schizoaffective disorder myself. Her story is one of success, but it is too hard for me to read about her struggles and so I am making the decision to set myself up for success by recommending it, but waiting to finish it another time.
Unfortunately, perhaps, I have never been hospitalized in England, but I have in America four times-each time in a locked unit and each time, I had an experience that severely lacked respect. Respect IS a lifeline and the people that have shown me respect and compassion when I have been "crazy" mean more to me than words can say and I would do almost anything for those people. Medicine helps, but so far there is no medical 100% cure for any kind of mental illness. Respect cannot cure all things either, but when it is combined with the medicine, miracles happen. It should not have to be said that therapists should respect their clients (note: I consider the word "consumer" to be derogatory and it will never be used on this blog to describe those living with mental illness. We are not walking dollar signs.), but I have run into many therapists and doctors who I think consider themselves above respecting their client as a person. Fortunately, the one I currently see and my last one are/were fabulous therapists.
Respect, compassion, and love need to be shown to every one you meet. Give dignity where it's due.
Friday, October 16, 2009
This is a call for submissions for a book titled, Mighty Real: An
Anthology of New Black Gay and Lesbian Writing. The anthology will offer a collection of poetry, fiction, and essays by black gay and lesbian writers throughout the U.S. and abroad. Not only will this book reflect contemporary issues of racism, sexism, and homophobia, it will give literary and political voice to the experiences of brothers and sisters from numerous black SGL communities. Finally, this book will introduce new black gay and lesbian writers in addition to introducing new work by more established writers.
Please submit five poems, three short stories, or a critical essay on a topic of your choice reflective of your individual identity and aesthetic. Feel free to submit work from all three genres. Documented articles should follow MLA format. Previously published work will be accepted. Please email hard copies of your submission(s) along with full contact information and a short bio (to be included in
Darius Omar Williams
Royce Bryant Smith
NOTE: THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS NOVEMBER 1, 2009!
Monday, October 12, 2009
Columbus Day is celebrated, because he was the first white person to discover America, although historians think that Vikings discovered it first. But what's a little history? Don't rain on my parade!
Since the Americas were discovered by white people, a country was formed with some pretty radical ideas, especially the one that all men are created equal.
Well, not quite.
Men could own other men, which means that they were really not considered equal and a people that were just fine handling matters on their own were soon enslaved and killed.
I'm just manifesting my destiny, don't you know...
How about before you go out shopping, if you do, hold a moment of silence for all the Native Americans and African Americans that lost their homes and their lives due to whiteness discovering the America.
It is important not to domesticate Jesus' social passion. The point is not that Jesus was a good guy who accepted everybody, and thus we should do the same (though that would be good). Rather, his teachings and behavior reflect an alternative social vision. Jesus was not talking about how to be good and how to behave within the famework of a domination system. He was a critic of the domination system itself. Indeed, that's the best explanation for why he was killed. He wasn't simply a nice inclusive fellow but a religious social prophet whose teaching, behavior, and social vision radically challenged the elites and the domination system of his day.
From the book, "The God We Never Knew," by Marcus J. Borg.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
And some ways of thinking about God lead to a passion for a transformed social order. In our own century, we have seen this in figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., and Desmond Tutu and in movements such as liberation theology and Latin-American Christian "base communities." The conviction that God cares about suffering leads to protest against unjust social orders and advocacy of an alternative social vision.
I was shocked that I did not know who this womyn is, since I know and honor the other social activists mentioned. I cannot help but think that the reason that I have never heard of her good works are at least partly due to her gender.
What we would like to do is change the world, make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute, we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world.
Before her conversion to Catholicism, Day was an active social activist. She worked for womyn's suffrage, and for worker's rights. In 1924, she wrote a semi-autobiography titled, "The Eleventh Virgin." She always supported herself, which was in itself a revolutionary act at that time.
By 1941, she and Maurin had established thirty Catholic Worker communities-today there are 100 such communities all over the world!
In 1952, she wrote an autobiography, "The Long Loneliness" and she wrote about her movement in a book called, "Loaves and Fishes" in 1963.
Her bohemian beginnings led her to be called "the first hippie" by Abbie Hoffman in the 1960s, which was a titled she agreed with, although she no longer believed in some of those attributes, like "free love."
In 1971, Day was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award, or "Peace on Earth" Award. She is currently being considered for sainthood, although she had said while living not to consider her a saint, for to do so would diminish her work.
Posthumously, she was award the Courage of Conscience Award from the Peace Abbey in 1992 and in 2008 was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.
It is a myth that one cannot be feminist and a Catholic. It is true that there are some pretty major conflicts in church doctrine and certain feminist principles, but one must remember that there is a difference between a person's individual faith and the mandates set forth by a person in authority. The church needs to be changed and the only way that change will happen is from the efforts of people within the established religion, who understand the new needs of this time and people.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Borg says that for some people, habitually following religious rites can unintentionally open one up to seeing and experiencing the Sacred. He describes several different types of rites followed by Orthodox Jews and by Catholics, although he notes that there are rites that can give the same kind of experience in other religions. One such rite is observing the Sabbath. Here is how Borg explains the Sabbath:
Sabbath is not experienced as a day of inconvenient restrictions but as a day of joy. (117)
But here is were my feminist lens sat back in surprise and my inner Spirit leapt for joy:
Husband and wife are expected to make love on the Sabbath, for they are Adam and Eve, the primal couple naked and unashamed in Eden, the Garden of Delight.
One thing that I find lacking in feminism is that it often only seems to be the domain of angry womyn who when talking about sex, only talk about either the right to choose what she should do with her body, i.e. have an abortion or not, and rape. These are incredibly important topics, but there needs to be a space for womyn who are not content to play the role of "angry liberator."
Liberated people, while they may be angry, are also usually full of joy! I know I am when my heart is open to the Sacred, which is where I want it to be. Womyn, feminists, do need to talk about abortion and rape, but we also need to talk about joyous sex too.
Womyn are by means completely liberated, but I believe that we can only accomplish true liberation from the patriarchy by living as if we already are, which means it is imperative for us to open ourselves to the possibility of experiencing Joy on a daily basis.
I truly believe that the good feelings that sex provides are one of Godde's greatest gifts-not the fact that sex might produce babies, but the ecstatic feelings themselves. I'm a little afraid to admit this, but the times when I feel the closest to Godde are when I masterbate. I've written about this before, and I am going to say it again, we will not stop acts of rape from happening by talking about "stopping violence"-it will only stop when we are solely promoting that womyn should only expect joyous respect in their sexual intimacy.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Ann Wright is very involved in the peace movement. In fact, in 2003, she was one of three State Department officials to resign in order to protest the Iraq invasion. Peace is precious and the way to fight for peace, at least I believe, is to not fight at all.
Wright says, “Your job is to implement the policies of an administration…if you strongly disagree with any administration’s policies, and wish to speak out, your only option is to resign. I understood that and that’s one of the reasons I resigned – to give myself the freedom to talk out.”
And Wright did just that! In 2008, she wrote the evocative book, "Dissent: Voices of Conscience Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq."
Go to the website, Americans Who Tell the Truth to read more about Ann Wright's life and about other "true patriots."
Tuesday's event is co-sponsored by the First Iconium Social Justice Forum, Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace, and Veterans for Peace Atlanta Chapter 125.
*****Wright will also speak at a noon luncheon on Wed. Nov. 7th at Emory University, Goizueta Business School, W320 12-1 p.m. Free to public, RSVP required: email email@example.com or call 404-727-2031.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
On Oct. 3rd, this Saturday, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) GA is having a walk-a-thon in order to raise money to help pay for the services that they provide for our community. I will be there that day volunteering my time and I hope that after reading why NAMI is important that you will donate a little bit of money towards the group in my name by going here. Even if you can’t, please pass this announcement to someone else, because awareness about mental health advocacy is ultimately the goal.
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots advocacy group for mental illness and I am a member of the Gwinnett branch. This group is dedicated to breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness by educating all the people in a community – those with mental illness, family members, police officers, even President Obama, as representatives from NAMI recently met with him during a summit on mental health. But the reason I am asking you to support NAMI is personal!
If you are reading this, then you probably already know that I have mental illness. The two main ones are schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type and an eating disorder, which means that I get stressed out more easily than most and that when I do, the consequences can be quite severe.
In 2007 and 2008, I moved away from my support system in Atlanta to try to obtain a degree in music therapy. I did well in the music therapy program, but unfortunately, I often felt stigmatized by the fact that there were almost no appropriate mental health resources for me in all of central Georgia. I suffered a relapse in my eating disorder and when I came back and tried seeing a new psychiatrist in Milledgeville, I was sexually harassed. After that incident, I knew that I could not stay for much longer in a town that could not meet my needs.
When I came back home in December 2008, I had to find a new mental health support group, but fortunately, I knew that there was a NAMI group nearby and I started attending regularly. The first time I went it was a wonderful, supportive experience. I no longer attend as regularly as I used to, but I am still thankful that they are there and every time I do go, I see that same joy on each newcomer’s face.
Right now, I am currently taking NAMI’s Peer 2 Peer class, which is a free class that is taught by a peer – someone with a mental illness – to a peer. It is a positive experience, providing me with more coping skills and education.
NAMI needs your support in order to continue providing these classes for free. The organization has not only classes for peers, but for family members, and even members of our police force have taken mental health sensitivity training, as provided by NAMI. Obviously, supporting NAMI is not just about supporting me, but about supporting our community, our safety, and our leaders. Perhaps one day there will not be the kind of overwhelming stigma and lack of resources that I have experienced in these past few years. Can you help me achieve these goals?