the big picture

*warning: graphic, possibly triggering video linked to "sigh"*


this is the second time in recent weeks that i've seen the "planned parenthood is killing us!" thing.

i'm already sick of it. 

so...how come you get to appeal to folks' emotions while maintaining absolute silence about how black women also have less access to full information about reproductive health and adequate mental health services?

hell, even if you do have insurance or whatever, the u.s. ain't all that great with infant mortality rates compared with the rest of the industrialized world.

what about the foster "care" system that's chock full of kids of color that no one's adopting/caring for? they're getting funneled into the military and worse, you know.

if you really care about black women, their health and their babies, this misses many crucial points.

no one--and i mean no one--can talk about stopping abortion without simultaneously stopping domestic violence, sexual abuse, poverty, rape and a whole host of other issues that plague black women.

we also need accurate information about our bodies so that we can fully care for ourselves.

can't have that both ways, either.

yes, i am firmly pro-choice.  when, how, and whether a woman becomes a mother are issues that are between that woman, the deity of her understanding, and her healthcare provider(s).  period.

but that has nothing to do with why things like this piss me off so much.

to me, messages and media like this do not feel any more tied to my womanly welfare than ones that would suggest i need to tie myself to the nearest brotha and hang on for the ride.  actually, they seem like a backdoor way to keep women barefoot and pregnant.  or trapped in the good old "virgin/whore" dichotomy.  maybe under the thumb of male dominance and all other sorts of nasty oppressions.

yes, the ghost of eugenics is an issue, but it hasn't been a {true} social movement since about 100 years ago. even if i give you the benefit of the doubt on that one, we also know that living in a racist, white supremacist context has resulted in all kinds of psychological and spiritual maladies that we have not yet dealt with effectively as a people.

what does bringing more babies into the equation--at this moment in time--truly solve?

did you know pregnancy and birth can be triggering for women with abusive pasts?  are you only paying attention to that after they've become pregnant, or are you trying to save girls who are suffering now?

yes, i love children. without a doubt, they are beautiful, wondrous blessings. when you're prepared for them.

and i'm not just talking finances.

the moment you "save" a baby only to leave that child's mother in the lurch when she needs support, higher education, guidance, employment, child care, shelter, and all the things necessary to raise a child well in this world, you're dooming that baby anyway.

but i guess none of that matters.
addendum: for more on this topic, including stats and such, click here.


derailing for dummies

this link showed up on twitter yesterday, and i think it's a great way to make some important points.

difficult discussions are learning opportunities, not an excuse to shut down. we can all make mistakes when attempting to communicate with anyone. the key is to stay open and listen.

it's also worth noting that there's a difference between resting on privilege and knowing when it's time to shut down a conversation.  even then, it's how you shut down the conversation that matters.


"attraction" versus lesson-learning

lately it seems that many folks are clinging to the "you attract who/what you are" argument, particularly with regard to relationships.

i always want to interject with a, "yes, but...".

instead, i let it slide.

this is when it's great to have a blog.  

from where i sit, "you attract who you are" is a vast oversimplification at best.  at worst, it's a dangerous thought trap in a society that already does far too much victim blaming. 

of course it sounds perfect.  you keep meeting jerks?  well, you must deserve it on some level. keep finding mates who beat you? guess you need to get a black eye every now and then...but we all know it's not that simple.

i will concede this point: low self esteem leads to disastrous intimate relationships.  this is clear.  whether it's because you keep letting this one clean out your bank account or put up with the other's neglect hoping for a better day, if you don't believe you deserve the best, you won't get it.

on the other hand, what about the folks taking advantage of these self esteem issues?  where is their responsibility?  what healing do they need?  in a perfect world, those in need of some gentle uplift would be supported until they were ready to enter into relationship, appropriate emotional responses and boundaries intact.  instead, we have a predator/prey model that has folks ducking for cover, even if they might never be privy to the more extreme manifestations of the problem.*

in my understanding, interactions with others are lessons.  people enter your life for a reason, and your walk together speaks to that, whatever the outcome.  how many times have you heard about a relationship that should have been perfectly blissful, but wasn't because one or both parties were not doing the necessary work?  that's a lesson.

to use my own example, i didn't "attract" my last relationship because i hadn't done my work, although i definitely learned about a few tender spots in our time together.  it's likely he entered my life because i had started to feel i was ready for "the one".  same with him.

the difference?  i continually worked to be and maintain readiness and was open about my process; he worked in his own mind and shut me out.  i had the tools to deal with our issues and mine when they arose; more often than not, he didn't.   

then there's the money and success angle.  i.e., you can't have "broke" friends if you're tryin to ball.  well, my answer to that would be, "what does 'broke' mean?"

i can tell you right now, i don't think i have one materially rich friend.  but i have many friends and acquaintances who are billionaires in heart, spirit, intellect, and character.  i wonder how difficult it would be to find those qualities if i decided to go out and get some financially secure friends.  trust me, i've been around my nouveau riche, upwardly mobile peers, and i couldn't stand them.  i had very little in common with them on any level, even though i grew up middle class myself. 

just goes to show what gets rewarded these days.

in a time and place such as this, with so many supposed quick fixes and instant solutions, you don't often hear about the deep work of healing.  those of us committed to that path will often attract those in need of healing and must be ready to draw the appropriate lines in the sand.  one way to avoid sending out homing signals to the wounded is to get very, very specific about what we ask for.

so, instead of "you attract who you are", i would offer that it's more accurate to say, you get what you ask for, consciously or unconsciously--which i have always seen hold true.

if that's what the "you attract..." crowd really means, great.  i just cringe a little when i think of what hearing that does to the most vulnerable hearts among us, and how it lets some bullies off the hook. 

*e.g, someone who's afraid to date 'cause everyone's a potential serial killing, sti-bearing, low down cheating monster according to the nightly news and dateline nbc exposés. never mind that these elements may not even be a significant factor in their communities.


transgender day of remembrance

{for more, visit these blogs: gudbuytjane, scattermoon, shemale}

i'm glad someone alerted me to this day, because i think it's important. i'm gonna go around the barn a bit to make this point, so bear with me...

there are many things i'm grateful to my parents (and extended family, for that matter) for, and one of them is how they allowed me to make up my own mind and be myself.

there weren't constant discussions or indirect jabs at groups of folks simply because of who they were--well, ok, maybe white folks. but i didn't get drilled about how it was so "wrong" to be gay or what have you. not even in church. no one in my circle was obsessed with the sexuality/gender expression of others.

in fact, my mother often talked about a schoolmate who she believed killed himself because of the isolation he faced for being a gay man, and often expressed annoyance at homophobic folks. the impression i got from my dad was that he didn't "get it", but there was no seething discomfort or hatred.

so, when i made cis-glb friends as an adolescent, it wasn't a big deal. i hated when i would hear and see people make fun of them for even the *perception* of queerness. i didn't understand where all that was coming from, and besides, who cared?

my given name starts with "les", so i got called a "lesbian" in middle school. little did they know it wasn't the worst thing i'd been called.

when i went to western--the oldest, all-female public high school in the u.s.--i got the "don't come out a lesbian..." speech from my friends going to zoned and/or co-ed schools. this, despite the fact that, while attending western, i only met a handful of girls who openly identified as lesbian and/or queer. so, apparently, just the notion of all us girls being stuck in there together was a problem.

it wasn't until much, much later that i had any concept of what it meant to be transgender, although i'd seen elements of it all my life.

i think many cis-glb folks as well as cis-straight folks wind up never knowing.

once i did learn about it, it didn't seem like a huge deal, either. certainly not a reason to hate anyone or deprive them of a well-lived life. on the other hand, i immediately understood the implications in the wider society.

i've learned a lot since then, and i'm grateful to all those who have taught it to me. when i think about the people who are dying because of transphobia, i realize that many of them look like me: women of color. i realize that cis-men of color are often killing them, just as they are often the ones killing my cis-sisters.

that hurts me. and it scares me that people have become so close-minded, so unaware and intolerant--or, more accurately, horrified--of all the possibilities of what it means to be human, to have a spirit, to go beyond the boundaries of physicality, to slip out of binary definitions of gender.

so, today, i pray that those who have lost loved ones are healing.

i pray peace for the spirits of those who have transitioned, particularly under violent circumstances. i pray peace for those who were forced to live lonely, unfulfilled, or without a true home while on this plane. iba t'orun.

i pray that transgender youth are finding safe spaces to be, to love, to grow.

i pray that cis-folks--straight and otherwise--open their eyes.

oppression only benefits the oppressors. remember that.