Make America What, Again?

As I was driving to work today I experienced a series of unsettling things. First, NPR changed Morning Edition to Horror Hour without telling anyone. They kept saying things like the Republican Party has officially nomination Donald Trump for President of the United States, and the theme of today’s Republican National Convention is, “Make America First Again.” And there was a semi driving behind me who had a Confederate Flag painted onto the grill of their truck. And then one of D-Trump’s kids actually said the words, “We’re the only children of a billionaire that feel just as comfortable in the cab of a caterpillar as we do in our cars,” unironically. And he mentioned the fact that people telling his dad that a kid from Brooklyn would never make it in Manhattan only served to spur Drump on. And NPR helpfully added that no one believes in the young man heading to make is way in Manhattan with only 35 million in his pocket.

And I can’t any more. I’ve started to become the person I don’t want to be on Facebook. I rarely use Facebook for anything more than a distraction while I wait in a line or first thing in the morning as I’m waking up. But I kept finding out that this “friend” (acquaintance, usually) is racist, or that “friend” has absolutely no concept of the world we all actually live in, letting their privilege and bias shine through in the memes they were posting. And I found myself itching to comment on them just exactly why they are offensive or the facts that they are ignoring, etc.

And I don’t want to be that person. Everyone has the right to post whatever they want on their social media, but the articles I’ve read on how youth have a breakdown of understanding between the private discourse that happens interpersonally vs the public discourse that happens on social media left out the fact that adults do too. I have seen so many adults I know post something offensive that I can’t imagine them ever saying out loud in real life. And I wanted to textually yell all of the reasons they’re wrong at them. And even though I don’t want to be that person I can’t just ignore it and say nothing.

Enter this blog. Because this is where I get to control content and post what I want on my social media, and I am angry. And I am tired. But mostly this morning I am done.

And don’t get me wrong, if I thought that it could be an actual conversation between me and whichever FB Friend I would 100% try to start that conversation. But so many of the things I see are issues that people seem to be so unwilling to see from a different angle. And no, I’m not blind to the irony that I’m writing that in this post right now. Because I do try and look at multiple sides of an issue that I feel strongly about. I can understand why some of the people are saying the things that they are. I can see the root of the issue that they are concerned about, and I understand their motivation. But that doesn’t make their racism or bigotry or ignorance okay.

Make America First Again is one of the most honest things Donald Trump has said. It completely lies bare his narcissistic need to be Number One. He wants to win the presidency because it’s an important title that he thinks he needs. He wants to build a wall to keep immigrants who are people of color out of the US so he can say that he did it. Other countries are trying to do it, or have succeeded, but he wants to be the one who finally gets it done in the US. He wants to be the first President of the US who ran on nothing but sensationalism and racism with no attempt at actual policy. And he wants to be the one who Wins because of it.

The United States was built on the backs of Native Americans and slaves from Africa and other continents. And we have been run on racist fears ever since. Look at the pictures in the article I linked above. Do they look familiar to you? Because I remember seeing similar images in history class when they actually taught us a little about the effect that all of the wars and events we were glorifying had on the people.


This image from Turkey in 2015 from the above article looks a lot like this one from a Japanese Internment Camp from 1943:


We have lived this before. There are a lot of Americans still alive today who remember being sent to these camps “for their protection” and losing everything. The inflammatory rhetoric that DT uses is how this started. The American people were afraid of the people they saw as Japanese because their leaders were telling them that they should be. And this is already happening with Muslims today. Why do we learn history in school if no one ever seems to learn from it?

So today I live in a world where a billionaire narcissist and all around terrible person was democratically elected by majority as candidate for President of the US after he ran on a platform of nothing. Where 49 innocent people were shot just for celebrating who they were (I linked it in case you forgot). Where police are killing African Americans and then being called heroes. Where one angry man has destabilized an entire community just as they were hitting their stride towards a safer, more inclusive atmosphere. And people are still shouting “guns don’t kill people, people do,” and “All Lives Matter!” and “Blue Lives Matter.” And gun regulation is still at a stand still even though the majority of Americans believe that it should be more difficult to get a gun.

And even though Trump has said an incomprehensible number of morally corrupt and offensive things, the biggest focus for a ton of people is that Hillary Clinton used the wrong email address, (EVEN THOUGH IT WAS LEGAL FOR HER TO DO SO) just like many Secretaries of State before her. And I’m not saying that that’s not a big deal, because it is. But does that really make her worse than Trump? I wish Bernie Sanders had won the nomination, but he didn’t, and I do believe that Clinton will make a good president. Although there are definitely some sketchy things in her past that should not be ignored, how can anyone think that Donald Trump is a better option? There’s no comparison. A career politician who has held other major government office and who has shown that she is (usually) willing to admit and learn from her mistakes vs an overexposed man-child who goes on a rampage when someone hurts his feelings.

This is not a rock and a hard place situation as so many people seem to think. This is a reasonable choice vs a potentially ruinous mistake. But the majority of Republicans still elected Trump for candidate. And I can’t understand it.

I try to look for the helpers. I do. But sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the seer amount of willful ignorance that I see in this election cycle.



Sleeping Beauty: A Metaphor

I have just had one of those mini epiphanies where you suddenly see something that you have always known about but something new clicks and you see it in a completely new light.

I have to admit, somewhat shamefully for my 90s child self, that I have never seen Sleeping Beauty – the Disney version or otherwise. And I just now read the Brothers Grim version of the story, “Little Briar-rose.” Who names their daughter Briar-rose though, seriously? (Someone reaching for symbolism, obviously.)

In the story, in case you’re like me or just need a refresher, the king’s wife (everything is very patriarchal-centered here) has a beautiful daughter, and he’s so happy that she’s so pretty that he has a feast and invites all of the important people in his kingdom except for one Wise Woman, because he runs out of dishes. (I’m pretty sure he could have found one more plate for her. He was the King, but whatever.)

So this  jilted Wise Woman comes and curses the beautiful Briar-rose so that she will prick her finger and fall into a 100 year sleep on her fifteenth birthday (more or less). And the king and queen are so terrified of this coming true that they attempt to get rid of every spinning wheel in the castle, but of course they don’t, and on her fifteenth birthday Briar-rose pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep that lasts for 100 years. But that’s not all. The Wise Woman was so mad at being excluded from the party that she made her curse so strong that the entire castle from the king to the stable dogs fall into this sleep with the princess. And did I mention that while they’re all sleeping a killer briar patch grows up around the castle killing every prince who tries to sneak in to creep on witness the beauty of the sleeping princess? Because that happened. And then 100 years later a prince comes and finds that the murderous briar patch has turned into, you guessed it, a patch of beautiful briar roses, and kisses the princess on the day she was destined to wake up anyway. And of course he gets all the credit for ending the slumber and they get married and live happily ever after. So, now we’re all caught up.

But when I was reading this it was super obvious that if the king and queen had just sat beautiful, modest, gorgeous Briar-rose down and told her, “okay so a Wise Woman was mad that I didn’t invite her to the party I threw to congratulate myself on making such a beautiful baby and so she cursed you. She said that you’re going to prick your finger on a spindle on your fifteenth birthday and fall asleep for 100 years. So we need you to avoid spindles. We’re not saying that you can’t ever touch a spindle, but if you do decide to touch one we’d like you to make sure that you’re ready and then wear these gloves specifically designed to prevent spindle pricks.”

See where I’m going?

Instead of seeing the prick from the spindle as an inevitability with terrible consequences for the entire castle that only the perfect man (a Prince, of course) can swoop in and save everyone from by marrying the princess, why not giver her a little agency? Teach her what she needs to know about spindles. Let her look at diagrams of how spinning wheels are put together, and tell her all of the risks and benefits that can come from using one. Show her how to wear the special protective gloves, and then trust that she will make the right choice. Maybe she’ll avoid spinning wheels all together because she doesn’t want to risk getting pricked. Maybe she doesn’t even like spinning wheels, and so doesn’t need to worry about it. Maybe, understanding the entire process involved in making spinning wheels and how someone might get pricked by a spindle she will always make sure to carry the protective gloves with her when she decided to roam about the castle.

If the king and queen had done all of this instead of just saying, “no spindles ever! You don’t need to worry about it. Fifteen is way too young to be thinking about spindles. We’ll just limit your exposure to them and hope really hard that you never come into contact with one.” the princess would have been so informed that she would have made a choice that did not end in 100 years of sleep.

They could have prepared their child for a lot of different possibilities. She could have learned that it’s important to know the possible outcomes of spinning thread. Even if she never wants to use a spinning wheel there are still a lot of ways she can protect herself while making thread. Because even if she never comes into contact with a spindle she could still get dye or lint on her hands or, you know, something like that. It would have been beneficial to teach her that it’s okay to be curious about spinning wheels, but she doesn’t need to fear spinning wheels and spindles because as long as she wears her gloves it is very unlikely that she’ll have any sort of outcome that she doesn’t want. And it’s okay if she never has any interest in them (or any part of the thread-making process at all).

And they could have let her know that if she ever had any questions about spinning wheels, spindles, or the thread-making process she could come and talk to them about it. And they could have made thread-making a subject in her school because sometimes it’s necessary for young people to hear from an outside perspective all of the details about thread-making and the necessary tools. And because not all families are comfortable taking to their kids about thread-making, but they should still get accurate information. Because some youth like to make thread, and no matter how much society tries to tell them they shouldn’t they are still going to do it.

But anyways, just some thoughts I have on Sleeping Beauty/Little Briar-rose. And why it’s important to advocate for medically accurate, judgment free, inclusive sex and sexuality education in schools.