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Fellow White People: Wake the Eff Up. Black People are DYING.

Fellow White People: Wake the Eff Up. Black People are DYING.

I mean, I know that’s not new news. They’ve always been dying.  They were dying when we kept them as property.  They were dying when we desegregated.  And they’re dying now, even when on paper they’re supposed to have the same rights as us.

I’m as white as White people come. The glow-in-the-dark, lobster the moment I see the sun variety.  I don’t know shit about the Black person’s experience.  And guess what, fellow White person?  Neither do you.

We don’t fear for our lives whenever we walk down the street. We don’t constantly get told, directly or otherwise, that we’re second class.  We don’t know what it’s like to have to teach our children to be afraid of those that are supposed to help us.  We don’t know what it’s like to still be a threat when we’re already pinned down and helpless.

See, when we go on killing sprees, people chalk it up to mental illness and discuss all the ways they’ve could’ve helped us before we snapped.  They detail our lives, trying to figure out where society went wrong.  When we rape people, we’re given light sentences and sympathy, lest a harsher punishment wreak havoc on our gentle souls.   Even when we suck, we have privilege oozing out of our asses.  And when we get killed, society looks for someone to blame rather than wondering what we did to deserve it.

So yes, all lives matter, but our lives have never been the ones at risk.  We were born knowing we mattered, and quite literally every system of society has gone ahead and confirmed that for us repeatedly throughout our lives.  Even you, broke White person.  Even you.  So let’s do a favour and fuck right off with our whiny “what about me?” rhetoric.  I know it’s super hard when everything ever has always been about us and now for once in our silver-spooned lives this conversation isn’t.  Fuck off anyway – our fragile, privileged hearts will get over it.  I promise.

Oh and while we’re at it, let’s stop looking for the isolated incidents where we actually were targeted and acting like that’s totally the same thing as a society of systemic-built oppression and racism, m’kay?  We don’t have to worry our pretty little heads – society already cared more about those incidents anyway.  Because, oh right, our lives were already valued more than our friends of colour.  Tell me again how all lives matter?  Perhaps we can say that when it’s actually true.

For now, wake the fuck up.  Black people are dying.  Stop telling them how they get to react to that. Stop telling them it’s not fair that they don’t care about us – as if that’s what they were implying or that we ever truly cared about them.  Sit the fuck down, shut the fuck up.  Listen for once.  Listen to understand. Recognize that we don’t.  Ask how we can be good allies.  Ask how we can help.  And figure out, once and for all, that Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that White lives don’t.  Indeed, White lives were the only thing that ever did. I’d be pissed off, too.

 

 doesn’t mean other lives don’t. Like people who say “Save The Rainforests” aren’t saying “Fuck All Other Types of Forests” – Matt McGorry

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2016 in privilege, Random Shit

 

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I Will Not Scroll On By

I Will Not Scroll On By

How many times have you read on social media: “If you don’t like it, just scroll on by.”

Be it on an individual’s page or a group, I see this all. the. time.  All the damn time.  Someone posts something controversial (or sometimes, not even!) and the instant that anyone has the gall to offer an alternate view they are accused of being unsupportive or told they are just trying to start “drama”.  Is that really what we’re reduced to, these days?  Are we really not allowed to voice a different opinion or stance, lest we be told we’re judgmental or worse, a troll?  Or my absolute favourite: the claim that the poster has the right to freedom of speech and how dare you challenge that.

For starters.  Freedom of speech means that the government will not throw you in jail for your opinions.  That’s literally it.  Freedom of speech does not actually mean that there are no peer consequences for voicing opinions.  It doesn’t mean that you can say whatever you’d like and people have to either agree or “scroll on by.”  It doesn’t mean your job has to continue to employ you.  It doesn’t mean that your friends have to continue to support you.   You can say whatever the hell you want and stay out of jail.  Yay for freedom.

Secondly, as I’ve already written about, it’s pretty unrealistic to think you can or should post things for hundreds, maybe thousands of people to read and expect that there won’t be a few disagreements in the bunch.  If you aren’t in a place where you can truly listen to both sides, maybe don’t post so publicly in the first place.

Thirdly, most importantly, where is the growth?  Where is the conversation, the healthy debate, the changing of minds?  When we are not allowed to ever disagree with one another – or forced to ignore it when we do – we are forced in these silos of naivety and arrogance.  We are surrounded by confirmation bias, content in our own little bubble that everything we do, say, and believe is absolutely the right thing.

This, my friends, is dangerous.

That is exactly why I will not scroll on by.  When you post about how you spank your kid, I’m not going to just ignore that.  When you tout the benefits of feeding pablum at 3 weeks old, I’m not going to pretend I didn’t read.  When you talk about how unfortunate the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling was, I’m not going to support your stance with my silence.  Because I want to offer the other side.  I want to discuss my own findings.  I want us to have a conversation about where your information came from and why you feel that way.  Mostly? I want to understand.

What happens if I follow the “scroll on by” advice and ignore every post a new mom makes about letting her baby cry to sleep?  I start getting upset – CIO is something I’m desperately against.  Maybe I distance myself from her.  Maybe I block her.  Maybe I convince myself this is the absolutely best thing because I’m doing what I need to without upsetting or disagreeing with her. Right?  Everyone else does the same.  And maybe, just maybe, this mom hates using CIO but doesn’t know what else to do, and since everyone who would try anything different is just moving along, she gets no offers of alternatives.  She now lives in this silo, believing that everyone follows the same approach, because nobody is willing to say otherwise at the risk of a debate.

Or maybe she’s perfectly comfortable with her choice.  Also completely possible.  The point is, I don’t know. I don’t understand.  And I can’t, if I’m not allowed to ask.  If I’m not allowed to tell it from my side.   I’m not always right, and we will not always agree.  That’s okay.  I don’t need to agree with my network on every issue to love and respect them . I truly don’t.  What I do need is to understand.

When I refuse to scroll on by, I learn so much.  I learn that the new mom was desperately calling out for help, and I can share what worked for me.  Or I learn that she was just strongly advocating for her position, and we learn that this topic is now off-limits for the sake of our friendship . Either way, it’s a much better ending than me being upset and cutting off contact.  Not to mention all the lurkers reading the thread that may have been hoping for a different point of view.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much knowledge I’ve gained simply by reading the different stances of people, even when I wasn’t quite ready to listen the first few times.  Rinse and repeat for virtually any other topic.

Now, of course, there’s a way to disagree.  Or rather, there’s an acceptable way to present your side, without coming across like an arrogant jerk.  Diplomacy should never be underestimated.  If you come to the conversation slinging insults and mud, it’s unlikely that any decent point you’re making will ever be heard.  You actually can be a voice of disagreement and still be respectful of everyone involved.  I suspect the people who don’t follow this are the reason this whole scroll on by business even came to fruition.  Do us all a favour and don’t be that guy.  Nobody likes that guy.

I’m not the be-all-end-all guru of the world – I’ve got a lot to learn, too.  I hope that people won’t be afraid to challenge my beliefs, whatever those may be, so I can continue to question, learn, and grow.  Sometimes, it ends with me coming out with a new perspective.  Sometimes it makes me more stable in my original position.  It’s all still growth, and it won’t happen by scrollin’ on by.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2015 in Parenting, Random Shit

 

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I Can (But I Won’t).

I Can (But I Won’t).

I can, little one.

I can stand over you; a giant in comparison.  I can intimidate and point my finger.  I can yell as your little face twists and turns in fear and sadness.  I can because I’m bigger.

I can let my anger get the best of me.  I can hit when I’m frustrated; when you’re not listening. I can stand by the “do as I say, not as I do” mantra.  I can wear it like a shield.  I can tell you it’s not okay to hurt, and then I can hurt you to reinforce my lesson.  I can because I’m stronger.

I can throw a tantrum and find that perfectly reasonable, but still not put up with yours.  I can tell you to calm down and get a grip, even though it’s apparent that I’m not able to do that for myself.  I can isolate you and tell you that you’re naughty.  I can expect you to know how to gain control of your emotions, or at the very least suppress them.  I can because I’m in charge.

I can leave you alone at night.  I can let you cry yourself to sleep, secure in my reasoning that you need to learn to soothe yourself.  I can ignore your stress and I can teach you to ignore your instincts, because that’s more convenient.  I can shut the door and go cozy up to my partner.  I can because I’m tired.

I can, little one.  But I won’t.

I won’t abuse my size and power by making you fear me.  I won’t inflict any emotional or physical pain on a child when it’s illegal for me to do it to an adult.  I’m bigger, and that’s already an uneven advantage.

I won’t act hypocritically and expect your immature mind to “get” it.  Setting respectful, firm boundaries takes more work, but I won’t settle for anything less than the long game.  I’m stronger; it’s not a fair fight.

I won’t expect you to have the tools to regulate your reactions until I give them to you.  Until I help you, and practice, practice, practice.  I don’t expect you to learn anything else overnight, and this is no exception.  I won’t be so unwilling to allow space for the negative emotions simply because they make me uncomfortable.  I’m in charge; which means I’m also in charge of supporting you through all those big feelings.

I won’t crave closeness but deny you the same.  I won’t believe the hype of the busy North American life that suggests that children are made manipulative, and need to be trained out of it.  You need me, and I know it.  I know that with proper support, you’ll develop your independence all on your own.  I won’t force it.  I’m tired, and so are you.

I might screw up sometimes though, kid.  I’m only human and the pressure is great.  I have learned habits and in times of stress I sometimes fall back into those ways.  I can apologize.  I can resolve to do better next time.  I can come up with an action plan of how I’ll do exactly that.  I can create a village and ask them to remind me.  I can work everyday to make sure that I won’t be everything that works against our attachment.  I can do those things, little one.   And I will.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in Parenting

 

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This Is A Mommy Tummy

This Is A Mommy Tummy

It’s been bigger, it’s been smaller.  It’s soft.  It’s squishy.  It’s covered in stretch marks.  It jiggles when I walk.  It hangs over my underwear (and if I’m not careful, my pants).  This, friends, is my mommy tummy.

It gave a warm, cozy home to new humans.  It provides comfort and warmth to them earthside today.   It made new life possible.  It made love I didn’t know existed a reality.

It’s healthy.  It’s active.  It keeps up with my kids.  It runs half-marathons and does yoga and scales walls in obstacle courses.

It’s one mommy tummy of many in this world. Some of which are also bigger.  Or smaller.  Or harder or softer.  Darker or lighter.

And to a lot of society, it’s hideous.

Think about that for a moment, folks.  My body, that creates humans and runs races and has zero medical conditions is unacceptable because it’s not twenty pounds lighter and divided neatly into six sections – as if those are the factors that determine health and longevity.  My body, which is like so many other bodies out there, is one in need of a makeover.  One that I should regulate and deprive and drill until it assumes the shape dictated by Photoshop.  A realistic goal, I’m sure.  My body is one reminiscent of so many “before” photos in the makeovers, further reinforcing the notion of its undesirability.

And what fitspo doesn’t seem to understand is that the body acceptance movement isn’t about promoting unhealthy habits and lifestyles (although there are many who would argue that you get to do whatever you damn well please with your own damn body because it’s yours).  It’s about recognizing that thin does not equal healthy.  That fat does not equal unhealthy.  And that there are so many variations in between that are normal, natural and beautiful.  That it’s okay to love yourself for who you are, in the skin you’re in.  Even if you’d rather be a different shape.  Especially then.  That it’s alright to have confidence and self-love.  It’s alright to decide to workout and eat differently and it’s alright to decide that you’re happy and healthy right where you are.  That sometimes, there are more important things in life than depriving yourself of cheese.

This is my mommy tummy.  Maybe it’s yours, too.  And I’m here to tell you – that’s okay.  You are beautiful and worthy, just the way you are.

mommy tummy

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2015 in Parenting, Random Shit

 

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The Trouble With “This Too Shall Pass”

 

You hear it everywhere.  Baby doesn’t sleep, like, ever? Not to worry – this too shall pass.  Toddler being aggressive and hurting others? Normal.  This too shall pass.  Teenager seemingly hates you?  It’s just the hormones – this too shall pass.  Job is frustrating the hell out of you?  That happens to everybody, sometimes.  This too shall pass.  Rough patch in your marriage?  Marriage is hard.  This too shall pass.

The four words that have become the commonplace answer for each of life’s frustrations.  The catch-all that tells you that it’s just a phase and not to worry.  The statement that is, in my opinion, extremely problematic.

Now before you get all huffy, I understand that the phrase has good intent.  I get that it’s meant to be reassuring.  I know that it can be helpful sometimes to be reminded that your problems are short-lived and if you can just breathe a little more deeply you will see it through to the other side.  Hope is a powerful thing and it’s not bad to be told that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; what you’re going through is normal and that is does get better.  That, well, this too shall pass.

The problematic part is that we’re giving all this reassurance and hope without following up with any practical survival tips.   It’s great to know that in another year I may sleep for longer than 45 minutes at a time, but right now I’m a walking zombie who can barely function.  It’s awesome that my toddler will, in a few months, learn the words they need to express themselves but right now I avoid playdates like the plague for fear of what my little monster will do to their peers.  I may know that my teenager will sprout into an adult and decide I’m an okay human to be around, but in this moment I’m hearing ‘I hate you’ for the fifteenth time this week.   Job dissatisfaction may be normal, but I’m currently out of sick days because I just can’t muster up the motivation to get my butt to work.  Perhaps I’ll decide my spouse is the fabulous partner I once knew, but the thought of jail is the only reason I haven’t acted out the fantasies in my head.

When somebody reaches out to you, they are looking for something – maybe some empathy, commiseration or advice (although as a caution: if they haven’t directly asked for your advice it’s always best if you confirm they actually want it before you start playing Dr. Phil. Sometimes a sympathetic ear is all that’s required.)  Most people are fully aware that their children won’t go off to college still needing to be comforted 27 bazillion times throughout the night.  They know it will pass.  It doesn’t change their now.  Telling them ‘this too shall pass’ may make them feel like you are dismissing their experience.  It may make them wonder if perhaps their situation is worse than the normal, since you are basically telling them to suck it up and yet they feel so damn miserable.  It may make them resort to techniques that aren’t really in their best interest in the name of a short-term solution.

And, sometimes, it actually doesn’t just pass on its own.  Marriages normally don’t just fix themselves, for example.  Sometimes, it can only pass if you help it along.

So next time you want to assure someone that their experience is normal and likely a phase, avoid telling them it will pass without adding value to that statement:

That happened to me, too.  It’s normal.  This too shall pass.  In the meantime, here are some things that helped me get through it…

Ugh, that sounds so hard! The good news is that this too shall pass, eventually.  How can I help you cope?

I’ll help support you through this, until it passes.  What do you need from me?  Are you open to some suggestions?

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Parenting, Random Shit

 

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No Jesus? No love.

A friend of mine recently chose a private school for her two kids, ages 3 and 5.  My friend, who is not religious, made sure to ask if there was any religious agenda in the school’s curriculum.  She was told no.

So imagine her surprise when she attended her child’s school play and it was filled with (only) Christian stories and teachings.  She watched as the children dressed up like Mary, Joseph and the wise men and rock baby Jesus while singing Christian songs. 

My friend felt hugely uncomfortable but not because she’s uncomfortable with Christianity.  She was uncomfortable because she is a strong believer in exposing her kids to everyone’s traditions and beliefs and letting them choose for themselves and be accepting of others.  She was uncomfortable because she intentionally chose a secular school that indicated they were not preferential to any religion.  She was uncomfortable because the only religion represented was Christianity.

So my friend wrote a letter to the school.  She explained her concerns.  She indicated that she has zero problem with exposing children to cultural beliefs and religions, but that as a secular school she felt that if the play was going down the religious route then all of the religions should’ve been represented. 

An excerpt from her letter:  “We would have been Ok if it had been a celebration of different faiths around the world, for example, including a traditional Jewish song, however only the Christian faith was represented in a school where we have sent our kids with the understanding that it is not a “Christian” school, and where there will be no undertaking of religious teachings … We want them to grow up with a respect for the right of all people to be free to practice their beliefs. Christmas songs likely seemed in good fun, and to go along with the feeling of the season, but they were a celebration of the birth of Christ, which is not what all families celebrate … They are at an age where they are forming their impressions of the world, and we just want it to be an inclusive one, where all religions, ethnic backgrounds, family structures, and gender roles (not playing on stereo types of what “boys”, and “girls” need to do) are represented fairly and with acceptance.”

Seems reasonable to me.  Seems completely logical that a non-religious parent who preaches acceptance for all and who consciously chose a non-religious school would expect that said school would not show a preference for one faith over another. 

A few days later, my friend received a response from the owners of the school. An excerpt: “As we planned we came across the idea, as you suggested, to include multiple songs from other faiths. Even if these faiths do not celebrate Christmas, there are many that celebrate a religious holiday during the month of December. However, here again we ran into some concerns. The class this year is made up of mostly Christians. In fact from my understanding all are Christians aside from a few which are of no particular faith like yourself. The problem we had is that we have seen children at this young age that are completely devastated when they find out that not everyone in the world believes in Christ. Because we have so many Christians and no one from another specific faith we decided it was a little early to introduce multiple religions to the young Christian children in this class.”

I personally have a few issues with this response.  To begin with, nowhere on the application to the school or during the interview was it asked which faith a family follows.  How the director of the school would know what religion each child practices is mind boggling to me.  But my second, and biggest beef, is the notion that young children are not emotionally equipped to handle the news that some people may be different than them. To indicate that young children are “completely devastated” to learn there are different faiths in the world so they aren’t even willing to start to teach acceptance.  That ignorance is what is truly completely devastating.  The approach that sheltering your children is best since having to have the conversation is just too much of a burden.  It’s too uncomfortable.  It’s too difficult.

Last time I checked, it’s this kind of sheltering and ignorance that leads to bullying.  It leads to discrimination.  It leads to a seemingly innocent comment of “you’re weird!” to another young classmate at the playground which in turn leads said classmate to question their own place in the world. 

My three year old is capable of empathy and understanding.  My three year old can recognize differences in people and can process the lesson that different is okay.  Don’t tell me that a group of kindergarteners are too young for this – it’s the perfect time to start. 

If the Christian childrens’ parents wanted only Christian values taught, they could’ve chosen a Christian based school.  But even if they had, Christianity teaches loves and respect for all.  Christianity teaches loving thy neighbour regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.  In this respect, I’m not understanding how teaching about other faiths is in any way un-Christian.  It’s not contagious, people.  Encouraging your child to accept his peers isn’t going to diminish his love of God.  Your ignorance and hypocricy might, though.  Just sayin’.

Dan Pearce, author of Single Dad Laughing, touched on this with one of his posts “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay“.  and on his follow up post, he outlined some of the responses he received. Most were enlightening, tear-jerking even.  They told stories of transformation, of a principal finally preaching acceptance in his school, or a mom finally contacting her gay son after years of estrangement.  Some of them, though, were downright appalling.  People saying that God tells us to hate sin and that calling for more love and acceptance is directly against His word.  That the kind of love Dan talks about has done nothing but destroy the world

I’m guessing the appalling comments were written by the sheltered kids.  The ones whos parents refused to expose to other faiths and lifestyles for fear that it would be ‘devastating’.  The worst part? These people missed the mark; completely and totally missed the point.  The post had nothing to do with what you perceived to be right or wrong.  It didn’t care if you were gay, straight, Christian or buddhist.  It didn’t care if you condoned the behaviour or not, because it’s irrelevant.  You don’t have to agree with a certain lifestyle or religion.  I certainly don’t! That doesn’t change the fact that in every single major religion preaches love for everyone regardless of background.  That being a true Christian means embracing and loving all mankind, regardless of your personal feelings about a particular lifestyle.  Jesus lived with the sinners and a Christian’s goal is to be more like Jesus, is it not?  Case closed.

So whether you are Christian, Buddhist, atheist, Jewish, gay, straight, transgendered, fat, thin, tall, short, black, white or purple I beg of you to go home and teach your kids that different is okay.  That we love our peers even if they believe something a bit different than us or look a bit different than us.  It will be the most valuable lesson you can pass on to your children and the single most important step in eliminating discrimination and bullying.  We have all been in a situation where we have been the odd man out and made to feel like a freak because of it.  How much different would your experience have been if someone had just smiled and said “that’s different and that’s awesome!”

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Parenting, Random Shit

 

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