Date Rape, Nail Polish and Empowering Women

Nail-PolishThere’s been a lot of uproar lately about this new nail polish that can detect whether or not date rape drugs are present in one’s drink. After applying the polish, a person can stir the drink with their finger, and the color will change if drugs are detected.

A lot of women are critical of this, saying the responsibility of whether to rape or not falls squarely on the shoulders of the rapist. Still others hail this as a wonderful invention.

I agree with those who say this nail polish is a wonderful thing. While I also agree that only the rapist bears responsibility for committing the crime of rape, I fully support anything that empowers women, and makes them less likely to be victimized.

No one would tell a homeowner not to bother locking their doors at night, because we all understand that doing so makes us less likely to be the victims of a home invasion. Equally true, if someone neglects to lock their doors, no one is going to blame them for getting robbed. The robber is still fully responsible for committing the crime.

We tell women not to leave their drinks unattended in bars, we tell women to use the buddy system when out partying, and to make sure someone is always aware of their plans. We fully support women who choose to take self-defense classes, and constantly remind them to “trust” their guts, don’t be afraid to walk away from a situation that feels funny, even if the reason for that feeling is not easily identified.

How is the idea of the nail polish any different from any of those things? There is nothing wrong with taking action to make us less likely to be victimized. If, despite the actions we have taken (and even if no action was taken at all), the unthinkable happens, it is not the victim’s fault. That’s not what this nail polish symbolizes, nor is that what supporters are claiming.

Predators use ever-evolving technology to accomplish more and more dastardly deeds. It’s high time technology was used to stop them in their tracks.

Facebook, Racism and the Proof

So, this happened. Recently. As in, five minutes ago, on Facebook.

culture

What’s it going to take for people to realize that racism is alive and well in this country? This is but one screenshot, but it is nothing close to an anomoly. If people spent half the energy on defeating racism as they spend denying its existence, we’d be in a much better place.

 

John Stewart Goes After Fox in Powerful Ferguson Monologue

I came across this little nugget, and had to share. I’m a long-time fan of John Stewart’s, and this video is exactly the reason why. 

Regarding racism: “You think you’re tired of hearing about it? Think how exhausted the people are who live it.” 

Yes, indeed. 

Al Sharpton, and the Uncomfortable Race Baiter

In the wake of the tragic death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO, a lot of things have been happening. Lots of celebrities and activists have descended upon our fair city, with few as controversial as the Rev. Al Sharpton.

First, let me say that I am not on the Al Sharpton bandwagon. I don’t dislike him, but I don’t love him either.

He annoyed the hell out of me when he came to St. Louis to speak to the media on behalf of the Brown family, but didn’t bother actually going to Ferguson. I was not happy, watching him on the courthouse steps in the city of St. Louis (which is decidedly not Ferguson, nor is it even in the same county), flanked by St. Louis city officials, without a single Ferguson official in sight.

I mean, could he not have done just a little research on the area before gracing us with his presence?

I get it, he’s busy.

However, hearing him speak at Brown’s funeral two weeks later made me forget that little geography snafu with a quickness. I mean, wow. What powerful, moving words. He nailed it, and just when I thought he couldn’t possibly say anything better than what he’d already said, he nailed it again…

… And again.

I loved every second of it.

What I do not love, is some of the backlash I’ve heard about him since then. Most of it on social media, people are especially fond of dismissing The Rev as a “race baiter”. What never- and I mean, never- follows that accusation is anything specific, like why these folks believe him to be said “race baiter”.

Hold on- I take that back. One lady did give a specific example as to why she felt that way. She said that while speaking at Mike Brown’s funeral, he accused white people of murdering the young man, and then called the Black Panthers to action.

Do I need to actually tell you how patently, completely false that is? I mean, 100% pile of straight-up horse shit. I have no idea what that lady was watching, but it was not Al Sharpton giving the eulogy at Mike Brown’s funeral service.

Regardless, what I’ve come to believe is that the term “race baiter”, spit out in accusatory tones, really just means  “makes me feel uncomfortable”. Try it, like this:

Al Sharpton is a race baiter makes me feel uncomfortable.

See? It works!

Al Sharpton is like a recovering alcoholic, and the people that think he’s a race baiter are full-fledged, off-the-wagon drunks. No drunk wants to go out to the bar with a recovering alcoholic, because that recovered addict makes the drunk uncomfortable. Why? Because the drunk is forced to look inside, and look at his/her own drinking habits. That’s no fun, which is why drunks don’t like to do it.

Al Sharpton makes people who have race issues uncomfortable, because he forces them to look at their own issues. He shines a spotlight on racial disparity, and then dares people to make a change, prove him wrong, make a difference. Lots of people just aren’t ready to do that yet, which is fine- it just isn’t Al’s fault.

My plea: stop with the Shapton-bashing, and let’s all work towards a better world; a bigger, brighter future for our babies.

Mike Brown, Cops, and a View on Society

I used to tell my husband that while some white people may be prejudiced against black people, most do not realize their prejudices. It’s just ingrained in them somehow… they’re victims of a system that was built to slyly discount us.

I never believed it was this conscious, purposeful thing, until now.

Mke Brown was an 18 year old, scheduled to start college two days after he was killed by an officer in Ferguson, MO. He was unarmed, and he was shot 6 times. The case has caused an uproar, particularly in my hometown of St. Louis, a city in which Ferguson is a suburb of.

Many of my “friends” on social media are white people. I associate with all kinds of people, and the diversity, for the most part, is wonderful. Most of my friends, regardless of race, are amazing people.

In the wake of the emotionally charged aftermath of Mike Brown’s killing, I noticed something strange…

… and heartbreaking.

While not the majority, a quite substantial number of white “friends” had horrible, insensitive, flat-out racist things to say about Mike Brown, about Ferguson, about black people in general. As a whole, we were called animals, criminals and thugs. We were referred to as gangsters, and some of my “friends”- people who know me, and know my black husband, our two black daughters- called black people the most vile and hateful of things.

These vicious attacks against people of color came after reports of a small crowd of looters and rioters posing as protesters in Ferguson late at night. I won’t sugar coat the damage they did. It was substantial, but these were not Ferguson residents, and the number of people looting compared to the thousands of people protesting was negligible.

Even though the majority of the protests were peaceful, these “friends” of mine didn’t focus on any of that. They didn’t care that the United Way was doing drop-ins to provide food and water to the protesters. They didn’t care that residents of the town came out at sunrise to clean up their streets from the activity of the night before, or that booths had been set up to register people to vote.

Rather than pay attention to the reality of what was unfolding in front of our very eyes- we were witnessing the historic moment in which a generation of black boys became activists- they chose instead to focus solely on the violence perpetuated by a criminal few.

These same people chose to completely ignore the shocking and heartbreaking terror being committed against peaceful people by our own law enforcements officers. They cheered when police officers began pointing military weapons at unarmed 90-year old women, they watched with excitement as these officers began kicking the media out of Ferguson, arresting reporters at McDonalds, bringing in tanks and tear gas.

They wildly cheered when police began firing rubber bullets on unarmed citizens, who did nothing more than exercise their constitutional rights to stand in their community and protest the death of yet another unarmed black boy.

So you see, it isn’t violence they hate.

It’s us. It’s me. My daughters, my husband.

They ignored the violence that killed Mike Brown, choosing instead to criminalize him. They circulated a (fake) picture of Brown, showing him drinking alcohol, smoking weed and holding a gun. Even when they learned the picture depicted someone else, someone wholly unrelated to Mike Brown, they continued.

These “friends” knowingly perpetuated a lie against a dead black boy.

They circulated a picture of State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, a Kappa from college, posing with a fellow Kappa, a frat brother, claiming the Captain (a black man) was “throwing up gang signs” in the streets he was charged with protecting.

As support for the police officer that killed Mike Brown began to grow, these “friends” began to label those protesting on the officer’s behalf as “supporters”. Those who rallied in support of Mike Brown’s family, in contrast, with their black skin, were labeled an “angry mob”. This, in spite of the fact that Mike Brown supporters chanted, “Hands up, Don’t shoot!”, while Wilson’s supporters chanted, “Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!”

I realized, as I watched all of this unfold, that the hatefulness, the ugliness of my “friends”- yes, the racism- they showed, couldn’t possibly be an accident. It was purposeful, and they are not the unsuspecting victims of some backwards societal norm that slights black people.

They want it this way. They want to hate my family and me.

The people I’m referring to don’t actually know any “thugs” firsthand. They hide behind their computer screens and act tough, but would honestly rather die than spend five seconds in the ‘hood, with or without thugs present.

No, the black people they know are gainfully employed, educated and family oriented. The black people they know do not fit the stereotypes these so-called “friends” of mine are so intent on perpetuating. The black people they know look just like my husband and I do, like our beautiful children. Our children who get straight As in school, who play the piano, like to swim, and volunteer for charity. The black people they know look like my husband, the college educated sports official who mentors kids of all ages for a living. They look like me- a woman who was educated at a private university, has a degree, and is successful in her field. A family that loves each other, demands excellence from each other, and loves the world around us.

That’s how I know this prejudice, this racism, is purposeful.

Even when their own experiences with black people are the complete opposite of what the stereotypes portray us as, they still choose- yes, actively choose- to market negative, false stereotypes about us, putting ugly, hurtful and downright horrific labels on our shoulders.

They know we are not what they say we are, and yet, they persist.

I finally understood that these people are not victims of a racist society.These people are what makes our society racist. 

Finally checking in

Been on the road for work lately, so haven’t had much of a chance to check in. I’m still going strong on the weight loss tip, and have lost 9 lbs in 12 days. I’m consuming about 1800 calories a day, and eating a ton of good fats, fresh veggies and protein. As long as I don’t go longer than about 6 hours without eating, I don’t get overly hungry, and I love my newly increased energy level. I’m still on phase 1 of Atkins, and plan to stay there for quite a while. So far, it hasn’t been difficult, and the benefits greatly outweigh any challenges I find myself facing.

Tribute to My Dad

I originally wrote this in honor of my dad, back in 2008. Today, I’m reposting. Enjoy!

It’s Father’s Day, so of course I have to talk about my daddy.

How the heck can I describe him and where in the world should I start?

My father is one of my only true heroes. He is amazing, and I’m not just saying that cuz he’s my dad.

He’s a great man for putting up with all my crap over the years… and he’s a great man for never giving up on me, for always believing in my greatness- even when that was the last thing I could see in myself.

My dad is the guy when I’m at my worst, suffering the consequences of all the riduculous decisions I’ve made, who can still look me in the eye and tell me he’s proud of me.

He means it too.

Growing up, my father pushed me to excel no matter what… he was tough. If I got a B on a test in school, a typical reaction from him would be, “That’s not bad… but why wasn’t it an A?” He taught me that regardless of the situation, no matter the circumstances, if I did not give it my all, it simply wasn’t good enough.

If I wanted to watch TV, it was my father that would restrict various shows, saying, “There is no socially redeeming value in that…”

I would get so mad… but it’s a phrase I use to this day, when restricting my own kids’ access to the television.

He led by example, and I watched my father work hard at everything he’s ever done- be it as the VP of Finance for a healthcare company, or as a student in Seminary, or as the passionate leader of a congregation of hundreds, and most importantly, as my father.

He’s the one who took me horseback riding every Saturday morning growing up. He’s the one, when I was terrified to try my first jump on that stupid horse Rascal, who hopped on an even crazier horse, and took an even bigger jump- just to show me it was ok.

My father is the one who taught me to love thunderstorms… when a big one would come at night, he’d open the blinds in my room, and say, “Look! It’s a light-light-light show!”… another trick I have used with my own daughters.

He’s the one who read me bedtime stories every night, and still to this day buys me a book every year for Christmas. He taught me to love reading and learning, and all these years later, I still do.

When I couldn’t sleep at night, my dad was the one who would come in my room and make up silly songs to sing to me. I had a stuffed pink poodle that when wound up would play Brahms Lullabye… I think I was almost 20 years old before I realized that the lyrics to that song are NOT, “Lullabye, eat a pie, so your dreams will come true…”

When I was in piano competitions, and the judges would say something to the effect of, “What a beautiful job she did playing that Mozart… but her left pinky looked a little weak”, my dad was the one who nearly strangled them for saying such a thing about his baby girl.

When I got older, and it was time to start looking at colleges, my dad was the one who went through the entire process with me. He spent countless weekends on the road with me, visiting schools all over the place, taking tours of campuses both large and small, pouring over countless pamphlets and welcome packets.

When I had narrowed down the list, and decided which music schools I was going to audition for admittance to, he was the one who went with me. He was the one who- often literally- wiped the sweat from my brow when it was time to face the music board at Oberlin, and Heidelberg… he was the one who celebrated with me when I was accepted at various schools… and he was the one who wanted to have the entire music departments fired at the ones I didn’t get into.

He was the one holding my hand when the verdict- “guilty”- came in during my rape trial.

He took me to see “Hello Dolly” with the original Carol Channing as Dolly… and he took me to see “Phantom of the Opera”… I am, to this day, a musical nut.

I inherited my love of steak from my dad… and I inherited my strong sense of justice, and fighting for those less fortunate from him. My dad is the strongest man I know, but he is a man of quiet strength. He gets his points across lovingly and compassionately… often with a touch of humor, but I have never known him to strongarm or bully a single human being.

My Dad has the voice of God… a deep, booming voice… he commands attention, and makes people want to hear what he has to say.

To me, Daddy, you are the greatest and I love you dearly.

 

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