justice, Uncategorized

To: white, straight women who did not vote for Trump and yet remain silent post-election

I know the outcome of this election is not what you expected.  During the campaign you expressed disbelief over the vile, hateful and misogynist comments made by Trump.  These among other reasons were guiding your conviction to vote for another candidate and now that the president-elect is Trump, I—we have yet, to hear from you.

Surely you’ve heard of the terror and fear that so many have been feeling since the election results.  Men and women from marginalized groups all over the United States know what a Trump presidency will mean for themselves and their families.  Immigrant children have been scared that they will have to move out of the country.  LGBTQ people have been beaten, bloodied and verbally harassed.  Black churches have been burned down and defiled.  Muslim Americans have been told by Trump supporters that now that the United States has a ‘real’ president they need to go back to where they belong.  All the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, hate-filled rhetoric by Trump has encouraged acts of hate and discrimination against brown people, black people, Muslim people, immigrants and LGBTQ people.

Yes, over the past two years it has been painful to endure rhetoric that has been filled with hate.  It’s been re-traumatizing as it has reopened old wounds and memories of verbal and physical abuse within our shared history.

Now those words have been followed by hate crimes and violence against disenfranchised communities—leaving us to worry about our daily safety when navigating public spaces or even when we sit in our places of worship.

As if that is not enough, we realize that our basic human and constitutional rights are threatened with a Trump administration.  What protection or legal right will we have if our marriages and relationships are deemed invalid; if we are forced out of our country because of what we believe or what we look like; if we as immigrants find no safe haven here in the U.S.; if we lose our jobs or our housing because of who we are; if we are assaulted or harassed sexually or physically in the workplace?

We have no assurances of safety, dignity or protection in the present or the future.  The outcome of this election stripped all of that away.  We are filled with unspeakable terror and pain.

You know this because we’ve had conversations regarding these realities and still you choose silence in the wake of incredible devastation, terror, grief and uncertainty.

It’s hard to make sense of your silence and I draw from past conversations and inaction and I am dissatisfied with the conclusions I come to in the wake of your silence and withdrawal.

I try to see it from your perspective— as a white woman there are also risks to your safety, which is overwhelming and troubling.

I know this patriarchal & misogynist society views your life void of value and seeks to silence you, too.

Yet, when I ask you about this reality you say, “it sucks and you hate it, but it’s just part of life”.  When you’re pressed about that you say:

I’m not very political or

My life is too busy to fight it or

I can’t deal with conflict—it’s just too stressful or

I have kids that keep me busy or

I have a job and too many responsibilities to be bothered with politics

As a brown, queer woman and mother of a trans child, I tell you I have all those things too… a job, kids, responsibilities—a busy, full life, but I do not have the privilege to disengage the results of this election or oppression because it’s my very life, family and community who face a future that is uncertain and there is no time for inaction.

You say that you love me and that you want to be a safe place for my venting, but you refuse to show up for me/for us—to use your civil liberties and constitutionally protected freedoms to demand those same rights for all people in the United States.

I can’t help but feel unloved.

You are secure in your civil liberties and constitutional rights and are comfortable with this status quo—even if it is a false sense of safety.

I can’t help but feel envious of your privilege to prioritize yourself in such a way because you have little fear that your life or your family will be threatened or be forced to change significantly.

You are the norm.

I tell you how this is bound to affect my gender non-conforming son’s existence and you say:

That’s too bad, but I don’t believe in that.  I believe in my right as a woman to consent and to make decisions about my body, but I don’t believe that this applies to others’ rights to express or identify who he or she is outside of our social gender structure and traditions.

I ask you to reconsider because we need all people and all voices to stand up for our rights and you say you need to pray about it or go to church and get the green light from your pastor or your priest.

I can’t help but feel tired, frustrated and neglected because I know that when you came to me and told me that you were raped by an acquaintance:

I was the one who told you that I believed you when no one else would and we went together to the hospital.  I stayed with you through the rape kit and the criminal report. When you were questioned about your clothing and your choices I was the one who stood up for you to those who would shame and blame you.

When you told me that your family friend had molested you as a child and you were filled with shame:

I told you that what happened to you was wrong and horrific and that you were beautiful and beloved and wronged in the most ugly way.

When you told me that you’d been beaten by your partner:

I told you that in no way did you bear any fault and that I’d help you find safety.  I went to the court with you to file a no-contact order and stayed with you throughout the process.

I have used my voice, my resources, my passion and my energies to stand in the gap for your rights… to call for justice when you were violated and abused.  I have zero regret about this—I would do this time and time again, but what I want to know is will you show up for me?  Will you show up for us—those that do not look like you, act like you, relate to you?

When it comes to oppression, discrimination and violence showing up has been a one sided experience.  You seem to overlook the sense of urgency and fear that I feel—even though I show up for you, for your kids, for your troubles… your fears… your concerns without question or hesitation.

I’m learning that real, authentic relationships are reciprocal and are paved on paths that go both ways.  It is times like these we all have to put ourselves on the line.

I am not going to lie to you… I am angry that you choose to not hear me.  I am angry that you choose the convenience of silence.  I am hurt that you feel no urgency when you see this pain.

As a brown woman I appeal to you:

Please do not exploit our generosity and our burning conviction in human rights for all people.  Do not use our necessity to speak and to assemble to support yourself and your interests at your convenience and then when it doesn’t directly impact you disappear.  Please do not call yourself ally or friend in private, but when called upon in public circles and public policies look the other way.  Please do not try to comfort me by saying, “I don’t judge you”, because even if you were outwardly bigoted toward us your judgement holds no power and we don’t need your moral pardon.  Please recognize that being a ‘safe person’ and indicating so with your safety pins may require you to actually stand up to bullies on the bus or at the movie theater or at church or at the mall.  Thus far, being a safe person has not count the cost when hearing a friend or family member brag about their candidate winning and how they finally have their country back.  For years, you’ve claimed that you believe that racism and sexism are inexcusable, but remain silent when you’ve heard your family member or friend use a homophobic joke or racial slur.  But enough is enough—we can’t afford your silence—it is causing additional pain.  Your silence is creating barriers and broken bridges and we do not have the energy to mend them.  Please consider the radical nature of love… love is never inaction… love is not based on convenience… love is not negotiated… love is not just spoken in private—no, rather, radical, transformational love is lived out in public.  So if you say that you love me—love us—consider coming out from the shadows and stand with us—speak.

Uncategorized

Well…Hello, Istanbul!!

Taksim square people & statue

I arrived in Istanbul 2 days ago to begin a research project here at Bilgi University.  I’ll write more about the research that we are doing, but wanted to at least post a few pictures.  The city is an international hub.  It is alive and buzzing.  The culture and the sights have been thrilling and I look forward to sharing more soon.

Taksim statue

This is Taksim Square.  This week marks the one year anniversary of environmental demonstrations in this square.  This year police were everywhere to ensure that a 2nd demonstration would not take place.

 Taksim square statue 1River scene

As you can see from the pictures Istanbul is densely populated with approximately 15 million people living in this city.

taksim neighborhood poverty

The locals tell me that many of the gypsy neighborhoods like this one are becoming gentrified.

catholic churchJesus catholic church

Istanbul is known for its beautiful mosques.  Here in the shopping district is a beautiful Catholic church: Church of St. Anthony of Padua.  I’ll be visiting Hagia Sophia and will be posting pictures soon!

Jesus statue

Christ statue in the courtyard of Church of St. Anthony of Padua.

Bilgi sign

This is the university where I am working for the next week.  This is finals week here on Bilgi’s campus.  The architecture students have placed their final projects on the lawn of the university  Here is a beautiful structure on campus:

Bilgi hanging boat

red flower

Video

Closets suck.

http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Coming-Out-of-Your-Closet-Ash-B

images

Ahem ahem… now wait a minute before you go on thinking that you couldn’t possibly have anything in common with Ash Beckham, a self professed lesbian feminist (who goes through phases of militant lesbian intensity, which includes quoting Ani DeFranco as gospel, not shaving armpits, etc. (her description not mine)). Take a few moments to pause and listen—you might just find that you have more in common with her than you thought.

The one important thing that Beckham does in this Ted Talk is draw us to our commonalities around ‘closets’. Closets has traditionally been a term used in the LGBQT community, but Beckham shows us that we all have closets. She defines closets as hard conversations—anything ranging from a terminal illness to moving out of state. From time to time we face closets and we have to make that scary, hard choice to come out of our closet and share our situation—“initiate a hard conversation”

There are some common experiences that we face in closets. Closets are typically isolating and lonely. There is a lot of strategic energy that goes into figuring out ‘who to come out to’ and ‘when’ and ‘how’. And ‘coming out of a closet’ is not usually a one- time event. It usually requires coming out again and again and again.

It’s important to acknowledge the commonalities in closeted human experiences.

This is a good message—an important message—a vital message.

We need this message.

We have much more in common with one another…

Yet, I am also aware of the fact that we hold a tension in talking about closets.

On one hand, there is a common or similar experience and on the other hand there is something very different for why some of us need a closet.

For all of us, our closets pose a difficult conversation ahead. For some of us, our closets are survival. (Survival can be defined in physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual domains).

A few weeks ago it was trangender remembrance day. I took time to reflect and mourn. In reflecting on transgendered people who died in 2013 I was struck with the stark and hard reality that to come out of a transgender closet there is incredible risk… for this list of people’s names revealed the graphic and violent accounts of transgender deaths—hundreds of brothers and sisters murdered simply for being who they are.

So in contrasting the meaning of closets: for all of us hard conversations versus for some, survival.

We must acknowledge that for most of us to come out of closets and have that hard conversation we may face some rejection, some lack of understanding or lack of compassion on the hearers part—it will more than likely be difficult and painful and hard.

While for some of us, coming out of our closets will mean we will be hated and despised and targeted with violent acts for being who we are.

We cannot deny that there is a difference here. Dare I say a privilege here?? For the term privilege has been on the cusp of being overused… but for lack of a better word right now… yes, this is a closet privilege and it’s important to recognize, because some brothers and sisters may face danger in coming out of their closets and that should lead us to deeper and deeper fountains of compassion within our hearts.

Coming out of our closets are never easy. We don’t need to get all judgy with people for taking their time in figuring out ways to come out of their closets: the time, the place and the people…

It’s so personal and so intimate a decision that none of us can place standards on other people for how this should be done.

Go on. Watch this talk.