Posts Filed Under politics

Dear white women: This is definitely us.

by renegademama

NOTE: I wrote this post the day after Trump was elected, but never published it, because my grandmother was murdered later that same day, and obviously this blog was nowhere in my mind. I am publishing it today, in the wake of the Nazi Charlottesville terrorism, because the actual hashtag #ThisIsNotUs was trending on Twitter yesterday. And it feels like we will never learn. 

I wrote this to white women because I am a white woman, and most of my readers are women, but of course it’s relevant to all white people. And everything written here applies to me, too. We are all complicit and all responsible.  


Dear fellow white women:

We have got to stop saying we are better than this. We have got to stop saying this is not our country. We have got to stop saying “this is not us.”

This is us. This is our country. And we are not better than this. In fact, people of color have been telling us this for, oh, forever, and we are only “shocked” because we have not been listening.

62% of non-college educated white women voters cast their ballots for a KKK-endorsed reality TV star who bragged about sexually assaulting women.

53% of white women voters overall went for a KKK-endorsed reality TV star who wants to ban Muslims from entering the country, close down mosques, deport Mexicans, and remove our right to a safe abortion.

This means that white women – our aunts, sisters, grandmas, cousins, friends and neighbors – are largely more invested in white supremacy than agency over their own bodies.

Meanwhile, we make happy Pantsuit Facebook groups and gleefully exclaim, “busted glass ceiling!” Well, almost.

WE CANNOT FUCKING DO THIS.

If we think we get to look away from the disaster we’ve built – that we asked for, that we lovingly coddled and massaged into being – largely by telling ourselves “this is not us,” we are worse than ever anticipated.

If we insist on believing that white supremacy is a distant problem rather than the core of our national rhetoric, we are worse than ever anticipated.

If we cling to American Exceptionalism in the face of undeniable evidence to the contrary, we are worse than ever anticipated.

And if we insist that a small minority of white people went to the polls and created this mess—that merely a fringe population is outright fucking racist—we are worse than ever anticipated.

We may not turn away. We may not blame Bernie Bros, email “scandals,” third-party voters, media, or the electoral college.

It’s all whiteness anyway.

We may not deflect blame.

OVER HALF OF US WHO VOTED SHOWED UP FOR DONALD FUCKING TRUMP.

I know. I know. You’re a “good one.” I’m a “good one.” Everyone in the Pantsuit crew is a good one. And yet.

53%

This is definitely us.

And of course it hurts. It hurts because it’s truer than anything we’ve ever experienced. It is the moment we are faced with ourselves and cannot look away. It is the moment the stripped, hard truth is placed in our hands.

Trump is whiteness personified. He is masochistic white male mediocrity embodied. HE IS OUTRIGHT CLEAR FUCKING RACISM.

And we voted for him.

And yet still what I see is a bunch of sad people running around the internet weeping, This isn’t my country! This isn’t me!

We think we are excellent liberals. We want to be fair and true and just. But women. 53% showed up for Captain I Hate Brown People.

You know what percentage of black women voters voted for Trump?

6%.

SIX FUCKING PERCENT.

 

They say the truth will set you free, but first it will really piss you off. The reason it pisses us off is not simply because we are wrong, but because the truth – the great truth – sets aflame everything we thought we knew about ourselves. It uses us up and spits us out into a pile of something we never imagined could exist in us, let alone thrive at the core of our being.

Do we believe people of color now?

Do we believe our silence is compliance? Do we believe our silence is not revolutionary? Do we believe that it is only through pointed, conscientious action that we can break down the system of supremacy from which we all benefit? Do we see that watching slavery movies and feeling bad isn’t doing a goddamn thing?

Do we believe we are responsible? That we must speak? That we must call out the fifty racists in our families–oh come on. I know they’re there. Even in Portland–that we must RAISE CHILDREN WHO UNDERSTAND AMERICA WAS BUILT ON RACISM?

We are not post-racial. We have never been equal. And it is an outright delusion to convince ourselves “This is not us.”

This man was brought to power because of his white supremacy, not in spite of it.

This is a backlash of eight years of black presidency. This is a backlash against people of color rising to power. This is white America reclaiming its Empire.

This is every race-based immigration law in our history. This is Native America genocide. This is anti-miscegenation laws, the one-drop rule, and American colonization. This is white nostalgia and the rewriting of history.

This is Jim Crow after slavery. This is the prison pipeline after civil rights. This is redlining and white flight after the GI Bill of WWII.

This is exactly how America has always wanted it. HAS ALWAYS DONE IT.

Nothing could be more “us.”

We cannot run from this discomfort. We cannot hide from the dawning awareness that everything we’ve been taught about our country was a lie. We cannot soften this blow.

I choose to believe that this tragedy is not in vain, because I cannot believe otherwise. I choose to believe that this is an opportunity to finally, completely and totally rebuild a sick and broken nation.

We have let down people of color again. We have let down queer folk again. We have let down immigrants, and native peoples too. Again. We have let down women again.

But it is not “we.” Not all we.

It is us.

116 Comments | Posted in politics | August 13, 2017

Could the internet please figure out what “free speech” means or STFU about it?

by renegademama

Did you see what I did there? I talked about free speech then asked people not to talk so I violated their First-Amendment free speech rights.

No, I fucking did not.

BECAUSE THAT IS NOT WHAT “FREE SPEECH” MEANS.

I know this may be rough and wild in the world of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” where apparently everybody goes around inventing information at random to suit political aspirations, but outside that special vortex, people try to use words according to their actual definitions.

In fact, some of us get super frisky and use the Google to research what a word means if somebody informs us we are using it incorrectly.

But you don’t. This is what you do, Candy. (I named you Candy.)

Candy: “Milo Yiannopoulos losing his book deal is a violation of free speech! Dangerous! Sad!”

Somebody on the internet: “Hey, hi. That’s not what free speech means.”

Candy: “Hillary Clinton is a crook!”

Somebody: “Okay but that’s still not what free speech means. Please look it up.”

Candy: “Politically correct snowflake liberals love to silence people like Milo!”

Somebody: “That’s probably true, but Milo’s free speech rights are intact nonetheless. Google it.”

But you don’t. Ever. I am convinced you’re not even trying.

But no worries. I am here for you. I googled “freedom of speech” (because that’s the official terminology –I’m not trying to be sneaky), and here is what I found for its definition (incidentally, all dictionaries say the same thing, which is how definitions work):

“the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.” (source)

Another: “the right to speak without censorship or restraint by the government. Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.” (source)

Okay so this is not complicated, right? The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects our right to say virtually whatever the hell we want without fear of legally enacted censorship (although some speech acts are in fact illegal), meaning we can speak without fear of being thrown in prison, or killed by the government (although one may wonder what happened to some of those black Civil Rights activists of the 1960s and 70s who disappeared into thin air, but I digress.)

I can’t be thrown in jail for saying: “Our President acts like Caillou.”

Or “Gee I wish that Nazi was clocked 50 times instead of one.”

Americans get to burn flags, protest, rage, scream, sing, teach, write, and paint without getting chucked into the poky.

Melissa McCarthy gets to make fun of Spicey. Baldwin gets to mock Trump. Limbaugh gets to say women live longer because their lives are easier. Milo YiannoFuckYou gets to be the head gay spokesman for the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic “alt-right.” Bakeries get to gay-bash on Facebook.

IT DOES NOT MEAN THERE WON’T BE CONSEQUENCES FOR THOSE WORDS.

Please for the love of baby Jesus HEAR THIS:

It does not mean we won’t get fired, shunned, uninvited, criticized, kicked off Twitter, blocked, banned, dragged, mocked, and publicly ostracized. Why? Because other citizens get to exercise THEIR freedom of speech in response to ours, and those of us in the private sector get to fire or ban or drag your ass for being an asshole.

Once again just for fun: “Freedom of speech” does not mean “protection from the natural results of being a dick and/or sharing opinions the majority of Americans have progressed beyond because they result in the systematic dismantling of the civil rights of others.”

If I get mad at a coworker and yell that he’s a “washed-up piece of cow shit,” I can possibly get fired for violating a business policy of employing people with self-restraint and manners.

If I walk up to a gay bakery customer and start shouting: “You are evil in the eyes of Jesus and deserve no cake!” my boss can fire me because I am messing with business. Even beyond economics, businesses often have a mission statement, a corporate culture, and if my opinions are not in concert with that culture, I gotta go. 

It’s a condition of my employment. And whether you like it or not, if you believe gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry, or women should stick with the kitchen gig, or all Muslims are terrorists, you are holding archaic beliefs many Americans do not support, so if you share those ideas, there may be repercussions.

This is called, “Being an adult.”

Feel free to hold and yell and cuddle those ideas like your fleece Nascar blanket, but be prepared for what follows.

Societal progress is a motherfucker, ain’t it?

 

Milo YainannaDoucheNozzleButNicePearls can say whatever the hell he wants, and indeed he was invited to UC Davis and UC Berkeley, but protestors created an environment that the university (or HE) felt was unsafe, so he left. He said all kinds of racist and xenophobic and misogynistic neo-fascist shit, and still got invited places and published.

But then it came out that he stated pedophilia isn’t pedophilia if the kid has hit puberty, which apparently is JUST TOO FAR for Simon & Schuster and that Republican rally thing and Breitbart (who knew Breitbart had standards?!).

The rest though was no big deal for those guys, so not one deserves a cookie, not even stale ones with raisins in the back of grandma’s cupboard.

In short, Milo shares a message that many American citizens believe does not deserve a platform. So they did their best to assemble, and deny him that platform. We can argue over the goodness and sanctity of that act, but his freedom of speech is intact. We know this because he’s still walking around being blathering on as a washed-up piece of cow shit.

 

Boycotts are not a violation of freedom of speech.

Protests are not a violation of freedom of speech.

Losing a book deal is not a violation of free speech.

Being uninvited from a speaking engagement is not a violation of free speech.

Milo’s career is smashed because of the choices he’s made within the context of the world he’s living in. Undoubtedly he will maintain a cult-following of alt-right worshippers, but the rest of us have no time for his bullshit, and kindly ask that you exit your unique snowflake word-definition vortex and figure out what “free speech” means, or shut the ever-loving fuck up.

Alright, not so kindly.

But this is America. Milo and I (I just threw up) and you and duck dynasty homophobe guy get to say what we want, and then, we get to deal with the consequences.

THAT IS OUR RIGHT.

 

Here. I made a handy guide the intended audience will never use.

It’s called “Is my right to free speech being violated: A STARTING POINT”

 

***

Speaking of saying whatever the hell we want,

you should join my April online writing workshop so we can

DO THAT TOGETHER.

“Write Anyway” begins April 5.

108 Comments | Posted in nothing to do with parenting., politics | February 22, 2017

A letter to James Baldwin because I have some questions about the love thing

by renegademama

Dear James,

You’re dead, but I’m going to write to you anyway, because I’m lost as hell and I have a few questions about your love theory.

In 1962, you wrote a letter to your nephew because he was “born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity” that he was a “worthless human being” and James it’s 2016 now, and this week, I’ve listened to and read the words of black mothers talking about their sons, because they were born into a country that has “destroyed and is destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and does not know it and does not want to know it.”

They asked us to know it.

They asked us to know it, but I think we won’t.

In 1962 you told your nephew it’s because white people “don’t know he exists” because they “cannot see” and here’s what I want to know, Mr. Baldwin, how do we make people see?

You talked of the conditions in Harlem, 1962, and how white people said: “No! This is not true! How bitter you are!” and “You exaggerate” and now in 2016 they say “ALL LIVES MATTER” and “if he weren’t a criminal he wouldn’t be dead” and they bring up traffic violations to justify the killing of a school cafeteria manager, who was reaching for his wallet, as instructed, with a toddler in the backseat of a car.

He bled and died anyway.

In 1962 you wrote that on the day your nephew was born, his family “trembled” because “it looked bad that day” (for black people in America) and you said, “We have not stopped trembling yet,” and James, in 2016, they have not stopped trembling yet.

The mothers and fathers and grandfathers and uncles and aunts have not stopped trembling and James I want to know when all people who look like me will care more about the trembling.

When.

Because I thought when people with love and hearts and souls are shown facts and shown the suffering of people, James, that they will see because they are human and even though they don’t HAVE to care, they will.

Because they are human.

But James, I think I’m wrong.

In 1962, you told your nephew, “You were born where you were born, and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason.”

And that was Harlem. And he was expected to “make peace with mediocrity” and was told where to go and how to act and how to be and that’s still here, in 2016, in the narratives surrounding “inner city ghettos” and “black on black crime,” and it’s here through the prison pipeline and racial profiling and economic inequality and the media. Yet it seems almost nobody looks to explore what we’ve done to create, reinforce and secure the failure of people trying to survive in a place “intended for them to perish.”

Intended for them to perish.

They’re still perishing, James.

 

You wrote of “inhumanity and fear” and that’s what I see when I look around at most of my white brothers and sisters and I don’t know if I want to scream or ignore them or get on my knees and beg them, and that’s why I’m writing to you.

You said we are “trapped in a history which [we] do not understand; and until [we] understand it…cannot be released from it,” but they teach and nobody listens.

People don’t BELIEVE what they’re hearing. Why?

“They have had to believe for so many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men.” This is true. I know this because I grew up white. I know what it feels like to learn from unidentified sources, from the air you breathe, from something, somehow, some way, that your race is just a little better but you are for sure not racist because “racist” is slurs and not hiring someone because of the color of their skin and you would never do that! You have black friends.

And if people would just act like “normal (white) people,” everything would be fine for them.

And the people “set down in Harlem,” you see, they don’t act white. And so they don’t count. They don’t matter.

And when people insist they matter, white people don’t have to see. They don’t have to listen. They don’t even have to be vaguely curious. They sit back with a sigh and a “fuck you” and they don’t even hear, James.

This is my worry. This is my worry with your love theory.

 

I feel the silence in my bones of the people around me and the ones doing mental gymnastics to justify police brutality and I wonder if they know in their guts they’re wrong.

You say many “know better” but “find it difficult to act on what they know” because “to act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of their identity.”

Of course they know better. I’m done pretending they don’t. They know. But it’s easier to PRETEND than admit you’re wrong, especially when all that power is at stake.

I knew better when I learned I had been lied to. When we know better, we do better, right? Isn’t that the way it works?

THEN WHY ISN’T IT WORKING?

Most of the time, I see no way in.

 

“Try to imagine how you would feel if you woke up one morning to find the sun shining and all the stars aflame…[it] is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality. Well, the black man has functioned in the white man’s world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar: and as he moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundations.”

And in 2016 I want to ask you, is this what it feels like? Is this the shaking of the foundations and the dislodging of a star until it comes crashing to our side? Is this it, James?

Because I’m not so sure, and I don’t feel much hope, and you say that love will fix it but I’m not sure, because what good is love if the recipient feels it as VIOLENCE?

An attack on their personhood.

A violation of who they are.

I want to tell them they’re better than this, James. I want to beg them. I want to punch them in their faces.

SEE IT. 

 

You say “these men are your brothers—your lost, younger brothers… and…that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.”

I wonder if that’s so, James. I wonder if we will ALL ever cease fleeing from reality. I wonder if we need them anyway. I wonder if anything will change, other than some of us dying out, to become stars fixed forever on the wrong side of history.

James you promise there’s a transformative love, a powerful one, a love that shakes foundations and sets stars aflame, but it’s hard to believe such power exists.

I’m kinda tired of “love.” I hear a lot about it but don’t see much action. I’m tired of anything that doesn’t make us USE OUR ACTUAL BODIES to dismantle our place, a place that was never actually ours, a place that was stolen, ripped off, burned and murdered for.

You say love IS what makes our feet move.

You say this is how you make change, and you said do not be afraid. I know you weren’t talking to me. I’m not black and I’m not your nephew.

But I am afraid.

Because I wonder when all white people will feel this pain as their pain and this perishing as their perishing and stand up and set the stars aflame themselves, shake the earth themselves, become an immovable pillar in the fight for the moment when, as you say, the “dungeon shook, and the chains fell off.”

So I’ll keep fighting, in love, I guess.

And hope to god you’re right.
actcommitted

 

Note to fellow white people interested in dismantling white supremacy: ALL THE LOVE IN THE FUCKING WORLD IS USELESS IF IT’S NOT BACKED BY ACTION.

We know what to do. “Be an accomplice, not an ally.” The time for talking and feeling super bad at dinner is over. It’s time to move our bodies and use our voices to join the new Civil Rights Movement. Suggestions to begin are here, here, and here

37 Comments | Posted in politics | July 11, 2016

Gender-neutral bathrooms are a parent’s dream

by renegademama

So, people are concerned that male pedophiles are going to prey on girls in female bathrooms.

UMMMMMMMM geniuses. These flesh-eating-bacteria-scum were formerly sharing the bathrooms with your boys.

How were you not concerned about that?

And if you are so concerned about the safety of your children, why the hell aren’t you super freaking happy at the prospect of gender-neutral bathrooms? Gender-neutral bathrooms mean we get to accompany our kids no matter what their gender and age into restrooms.

For example, my 10-year-old son is too old to use the women’s restroom but I hate letting him use public restrooms alone because I’m weird and overbearing and have internalized irrational threat narratives, so my only option is to stand wild-eyed halfway in the doorway, glaring at the people and repeating his name loudly until I’m sure he’s peed safely. And washed his hands.

I’m kidding. I don’t do that. But I want to.

Gender-neutral bathrooms would allow my kids and I to all use the same bathroom as one big hand-washing batshit WHY DO I HAVE SO MANY KIDS family.

It’s a damn parent’s dream.

Everybody keeps talking about family safety. Family. Family. The threat to our girls! And now businesses are like, “Hey, you can stay in bathrooms with your kids to ensure their safety” and you’re like WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT THE SAFETY OF MY FAMILY?

Also, our kids are way more likely to be hurt by people we know. This is awful. This is also a statistical fact. We should all get down with facts.

And if you’re worried about you as a woman getting raped, well, I understand that. That is a worry. I too am a woman, but frankly, we are at some risk no matter where we go, and I’m pretty sure if a rabid rapist were hell-bent on attacking a woman in a bathroom, some stupid fucking plastic sign outside the door wouldn’t stop him.

I don’t think sociopathic degenerates are like “Oh, well, if it says I can’t go in there I guess I won’t” when they plan on assaulting a human being. Something tells me societal decorum is not at the forefront of their minds.

I wish they would die in fires.

Let’s move on to freak-out number 3: Men dressing up as women to creep on females in the women’s bathroom. First of all, this already happens, only with men dressed up as men. Have you not heard about that fucking freak show that like lived in a porta-potty or some shit so he could watch women pee, and, evidently, get pooped on?

I read about that years ago and to this day I can’t use a portable toilet without glancing down to make sure a face isn’t staring up at me. Oh god. I should not have said that. I feel gross.

I hate porta potties.

My point is that there are sick fucks everywhere, people, and transgender people are not more likely to be those sick fucks, and if you think they are, you have bigotry transphobia issues. I suggest you work those out somehow, possibly with education. I am not being sarcastic. I am sincerely asking you to learn about what transgender means and how it is not associated with sexual deviance.

Well, unless you’re some sort of religious zealot like that lady who walked through Target waving her bible with her children in tow (how is that not abuse(?)) screaming about how Target hates babies. In that case, we’ll just hope you don’t homeschool.

And if some dude were claiming he is a woman and hanging out in the Target bathroom just kind of chillin’ randomly, don’t you think somebody would see him and he would get kicked out of the bathroom by security? Like all the other sick fuckwits in the world? 

For example, a couple of years ago there was a creepy-ass looking dude sitting at a table in the children’s section of the public library. There were no kids with him. He was filthy and glassy-eyed and had a coat thrown over his shoulder and lap. I’m going to let your mind wander to the foulest thing you can think of, because you would be correct.

You know what I did? Walked up to the librarian and demanded that the sick lap-stroking subhuman be removed from the library immediately, and castrated. Sorry. So wrong. But fuck that guy. And fuck all the men and women that want to prey on our babies. And fuck the people who think trans and gender non-conforming individuals are those people. 

 

This is my daughter, Georgia:

12961222_10209132545693807_1597598430076518130_o

She was recently thrown out of a bathroom by older children who insisted she was a boy. 

But I’m a girl. 

They blocked her from the stall until she left crying.

Please, be the change, in your family. 

AND BE IT NOW.

 

To the “angry” women of the internet

by renegademama

If you are a woman, and you critique social, political, or cultural institutions, figures, or narratives through your voice, art, writing, music, or social media, you will be called “angry” and told, directly and indirectly, to “calm down.”

Behave better. More pleasant, please. Maybe add a bow to your hair. 

If you are a woman of color in the aforementioned scenario, you will be called “angry” even if your tone is not angry at all, and Super Helpful White People will instruct you how you could “gain more allies if you were nicer.”

(People sit DOWN with that redemption bullshit. Nobody needs you.)

If you are a woman and you write satire, which, by definition, is used to call out another’s bullshit by elevating the situation or behavior to ridiculous extremes, you will be told you are “shaming” that “poor soul.” Even if the poor soul in question SHOULD be called out and NEEDS to be called out and you, as the motherfucking critic, have CHOSEN satire to do so.

That’s right: “shaming.”

Mean girl stuff. You know, vaginas in dispute.

If you are a woman and you say things people don’t want to hear, and you refuse to do it in a tail-between-the-legs, indirect, gentle, subdued way, your argument will be reduced to perpetuation of “mommy wars” or some other contrived battlefield of female bickering.

And as such, people will dismiss you as just “too much.”

Yes, even if your critique is balanced, researched, thoughtful and nuanced, your arguments will be ignored in light of your TONE. Your words will be reduced to the ravings of a “jealous,” “envious,” and “hateful” “shaming” woman.

But if you would have been nicer we would have listened to you, so it’s your fault.  

One wonders how many male comedians are told they are “shaming” people, how many male social critics are told they really should “stop being so angry.” That they are “mean” and “envious” and that is why they’re cracking jokes and writing satire and political commentary.

Even if the thing you’re writing about deserves anger, outright rage, clinched fucking fists and screams, even if the thing kills people, rapes people, unjustly incarcerates people, removes freedom and bodies and choice – the violence of the thing itself will fade to nothing under the shadow of your unpleasant delivery because check it out: YOU CAN SPEAK OUT BUT DO IT WITH YOUR INSIDE VOICE, please.

Nobody likes the yeller.

In other words, you’re not making me feel good about this topic, and I like feeling good, so in the interest of my feelings, please deliver ideas to me gently in a way that makes me feel good about myself and my pick-and-choose activism so I can go home and remember what an aware and enlightened human I am.

I love supporting causes, but I don’t like feeling uncomfortable. 

And it’s not just expected of women writers. It’s actresses and musicians and teachers and mail carriers and doctors and marines. Mothers and daughters and wives and friends.

WE GET TO BE FUCKING ANGRY SOMETIMES.

We get to say what we think in the way we want to say it.

And we get to say it out loud. And loud.

We get to not be “nice.” And they get to deal with it.

 

If you are a woman and you critique and publicly analyze people, systems, and rhetoric of society, you will be called mean and “judgey” and angry and irrational and shaming and “not displaying your best self” so often that one day you will wonder if they are in fact correct.

It will creep in unannounced and plant itself right there in the center of your mind, where faith in yourself lives.

You’ll wonder where it came from, that voice. Was it there before? When did it arrive? When did I grow afraid?

When did I start wondering if it is worth it?

When did I grow so tired?

And when you sit down to write that thing you want to say, you will wonder if silence is perhaps a better option, because you’re not sure you can take one more assault reducing your brain to petty shit-slinging, your voice to the squeals of a little kid not getting their way.

In that moment I hope you come back and read this, and say it anyway, because every time you do, I hear you, and I see you, and even in your rage I witness your love, and turn around to do the same, maybe even a little truer than last time.

 

gofuckyourself

****

WRITE WITH ME.

LOUDLY. Or quietly, actually. It’s cool.

We just need you to say the thing as opposed to not saying the thing.

We start May 24 (and we need your voice).

bastards1