Tag Archives: Resisting

faith on a plane.

25 May

Talking with a colleague recently, he asked about the increased travel I am doing as a Congregational Life Consultant for the Southern Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association. I told him I enjoyed it, and that I had worked out most of the details – what processes work for me, what hotel chains I like, when to fly. At that last point, we talked about how difficult it can be to fly as clergy – as soon as our seatmates ask what we do for a living, it opens all sorts of doors for conversations we may, or may not, want to have.

When I told him that, for the past 9 months, I have been wearing my clerical collar whenever I fly, his face took on a shocked expression. “Why on earth would you do that?” he asked me.

I shared with him that I was bothered by the increasing violence that is occurring on planes, and that I wanted to be prepared to be a force for good if something happened in my presence. I know that people respond differently to me when I wear a collar. If I were to witness something violent on a plane, in a collar I could stand up and be a witness in ways that are more powerful than I could as a mid-40 year old woman. Especially if I then started singing or praying.

I also want people to know that I am a safe person – that I am willing and able to try to de-escalate a situation, or be a good ally if that is needed. So in addition to my collar, I also wear my Black Lives Matter/Pride Flag/World Religions safety-pin (which I wear every day). Needless to say, the combination of my pins with my collar have brought interesting conversations, a few frowns, but mostly I get smiles and “Thank you” comments.

I completely understand why some of my clergy colleagues prefer to travel anonymously. But for me, this public witness is a part of my spiritual practice when I travel. It is a away to claim my religious authority and put my faith in action and declare that I am on the side of the marginalized. As a white minister, I have so much privilege. This feels like a good way to use it. I hope I am never needed in such a way when I travel, but if something does happen, I am ready.

safety, comfort, law and order.

22 Apr

As conversations around racial justice and white supremacy (both covert and overt) dominate our culture and my faith tradition, I have found myself thinking about the difference between safety and comfort.

In the past few months, I have been approached by numerous white people who want to share with me their discomfort over something a black or brown person has shared, usually (but not only) on the topic of police violence. “Is this a safe place for ME?” the white people are usually asking, even if there are only a few people of color in the room.

When white people do this, we put our own comfort ahead of the safety of people of color.

A while ago, Reading While White had a great blog post about this:

let’s stop worrying so much about creating comfortable spaces and worry more about whether our spaces are truly safe for all….creating a space that is truly safe for people of color and First/Native Nations people often necessitates making that space uncomfortable for White people.

Read the whole post. It’s a quick, powerful read.

What I really want to share with you today, however, is a connection to safety and comfort that I made while reading Chris Hayes’ new book A Colony in a Nation. Hayes uses his experience in Ferguson to discuss the concept of the second part of the phrase “Law and Order.” In Ferguson, Hayes experienced no law breaking, but the people in the street, backing up traffic, making a lot of noise, created a lot of disorder. Disorder that white people found uncomfortable. Worthy of having a police presence. Even though there was nothing unlawful happening where he was.

Hayes writes that over the 50 years since Nixon referred to black Americans as “a colony in a nation,” we have built just that. We have created “a territory that isn’t actually free. A place controlled from outside rather than within. A place where the mechanisms of representation don’t work enough to give citizens a sense of ownership over their own government. A place where law is a tool of control rather than than a foundation for prosperity. A political regime like the one our Founders inherited and rejected. An order they spilled their blood to defeat.

He says that in the Nation, which is made up of white people, “there is law; in the Colony there is only a concern with order. In the Nation you have rights; in the Colony you have commands. In the Nation, you are innocent until proven guilty; in the Colony, you are born guilty.”

Law and order are not the same thing.

Safety and comfort are not the same thing.

May our desire for order not outweigh our need for justice for people of color.

May our desire for comfort not outweigh the need for safety for people of color.

As we confront systems of oppression, I encourage those of us who are white to step into the discomfort, step into the disorderliness. Because it is there that we will begin to make progress.

a letter to Democratic Party leadership.

19 Dec

Power to the People

This letter was written after I sat in the Kentucky Statehouse today (12/19/2016) with my teenage kiddo as the Electoral College voted. In that room, I heard the Governor say he didn’t understand why people were protesting. I heard the head of the GOP party in the state talk about how Republicans have a mandate in the state. I watched the old white men who were the Electors (one woman out of 8) sign away our future as my child asked me what happens now. When I reached my car, I broke down in tears, and then wrote this letter.

Dear Democratic Party Leadership,

What happened? Where did you disappear to?

When HRC was running, you seemed to be all over the place trying to defend her. But since the election, it is as if you have been sucked into a vast black hole.

We need you. Our children need you. The entire country needs you.

We need you to be on the TV news, on the radio, and in the papers, boldly asserting that THIS IS NOT OKAY. It is not okay that HRC won by nearly 3 million votes and Trump is proclaiming a mandate. His selections for cabinet positions are not okay. His business conflicts of interest are not okay. Bringing his children to State meetings is not okay. Not getting intelligence briefings is not okay. Being infiltrated by Russian propaganda is not okay!! Having election results stand, knowing the Russians tampered with the election IS NOT OKAY!

Others have written about this – about how, if the situation were reversed, the GOP leaders would be pitching a fit. They would be everywhere: they would be filing lawsuits, they would be gathering committees to examine WTF is going on, they would be giving press conference upon press conference stating and restating ad nauseam their horror, disgust, and how THIS WILL NOT STAND.

And yet from you, crickets.

I know you are shocked. I know you don’t understand what happened. And I don’t care. YOU MUST LEAD US.

For years now, you have been moving to the middle, thinking a centrist position would serve you best. And now you know how wrong that is. Now you know that we are well divided between left and right and the center is kinda lonely. So get out of there and come to where your people are!

I hear the cries for leadership amongst our people. We are afraid. Immigrants are afraid of being deported, whether they are here legally or not. Black people are afraid of not being able to vote, and of continued violence. Muslims are afraid of having to sign up for a registry. Same-sex couples are afraid to lose the rights they have gained in the last decade. Trans people are afraid they will be beaten or killed for going to the bathroom. Women are afraid of being treated as incubators for lives that are apparently more important than ours. The working poor are afraid they will never achieve a livable wage. College graduates are afraid that they will never be able to pay off their educational loans*. And across the board, we are afraid that our government has been usurped by the Russians**.

Progressives have a compelling message, if you would just claim it. Claim your voice, proudly. Claim your values. Stop being so wishy-washy-wait-and-see because there is an army of us who are behind you and who will put our bodies on the line for our cause.

And if you realize that maybe we are actually too bold for you, if you find yourself confused by how upset we are and how scared we are and HOW ANGRY we are, or if you don’t have the courage to speak up, then may, just maybe, you need to get out of the way so that others can step up.

Sincerely,

Me, and probably a whole lot of other progressives desperate for leadership

 

* College enrollment has been steadily dropping since 2011.

** Russian popularity among Republicans has been skyrocketing, as shown in the tweet below.

Gratitude for the Department of Energy

14 Dec

I post a #DailyResistance item on my personal facebook page. This is the one for today.

Today’s #DailyResistance focuses on the Energy Department. As you may be aware, Trump has nominated Rick Perry to head the Energy Department, which totally makes sense since Perry once said it was one of the agencies he would kill. If you haven’t noticed the trend of Trump choosing people who HATE the institution they are being asked to head, then this is your clue-brick of the day.

Department of Energy

Department of Energy Website

But other news about the Energy Department might have missed your radar.

ABC News reports: “Last week, sources at the Energy Department said the agency received a 74-point memo, which was obtained by ABC News, from the Trump transition team. The questionnaire asked for information on several Department of Energy programs and asks twice for lists of the names of staff members who worked on specific projects. One line item asked for names of any staff or contractors who attended international meetings on climate change run through the United Nations…A second question in the memo asks for names of personnel who attended domestic interagency meetings focused on the ‘social cost of carbon.’”

Scary, right? We thought the Muslim registry would be first, but it looks like it will be a Climate Scientist Registry. And no, that is NOT me joking.

BUT! Yesterday, the Energy Department refused to comply!!

Eben Burnham-Snyder, director of public affairs at the Energy Department said “We will be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team,…We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.”

YES!

Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy

Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy

So today’s action is to contact the Energy Department and THANK THEM!!!

Ernest Moniz is the Secretary of Energy. You can tweet at him, or email him at The.Secretary@hq.doe.gov or call the office at 202-586-5000 .

I tweeted, and this is what I said:

@ErnestMoniz Thank you for refusing to provide the names of climate scientists in a fascist request that has no place in our democracy.

You might want to email – you get more room to go into just how terrible PEOTUS’s request was.

#DailyResistance

14 Dec

In a blog a few weeks ago, I said “I won’t promise to post an idea for something you can do each day.”

And yet, I find that is exactly what I am doing.

Over on my personal facebook page, which you can follow without friending me, I am posting a #DailyResistance action.

Sometimes these are items that are going around. Sometimes I write them myself. Sometimes they are pretty quick. Sometimes they are longer.

I am wondering if I should also cross-post them to my blog.

Let me know what you think!

 

 

 

resisting twitter trolls.

29 Nov

I’ve been thinking about Trump, and his tweets, his weak spots, the phrase “when they go low, we go high” and what it means to resist. It is a mixed jumble.

Here is what I know:

a) Trump is a narcissist. And the best way to piss off a narcissist in real life (irl) is to ignore him. By this standard, when we pay attention to tweets, we are feeding him and giving him more power.

b) On twitter (not necessarily irl), ignoring Trump means that the only people he will hear are those who worship and praise him. Which will feed him and give him strength.

c) If someone says he is going to burn a school down, we don’t want to ignore him just because he is a narcissist. We need to watch him, and watch the school, to make sure he doesn’t make good on his threat.) We know Trump is a master manipulator and that he is using his tweets to distract us from other, more important issues. Perhaps it is his business dealings, or his cabinet choices – whatever it is, there is a new one every day.

d) Tweets are a window into Trump’s frame of mind. He can easily be drawn into a tweet-war. This may be his achilles heel.

Based on all of the above, I am wondering if we would be more effective if we followed the 6 Ways to Fight Trolls Instead of Starving Them.  That said, I am not yet ready to sacrifice “We go high” so my plan (and suggestion) is to ignore tactic #1 (mock mercilessly) and focus instead on adopting tactics 2-6:

Troll-Fighting Tactic #2: Cite Real-Life Sources

Troll-Fighting Tactic #3: Retain Some Humility

Troll-Fighting Tactic #4: Give ‘em the Snark

Troll-Fighting Tactic #5: Be Creative

Troll-Fighting Tactic #6: Feed the Trolls Until They Explode

I invite you to do so as well.

What might this look like?

When Trump tweets something ridiculous or offensive, I will try to respond utilizing the above tactics of being creative and snarky. And I will always include a link to something I think that he is trying to distract us from. I will probably respond a whole bunch of times, with different links in each tweet response.  I did this earlier today (minus the creativity) in response to his flag-burning tweet. This is what it ended up looking like:

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-2-14-24-pm

 

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-2-14-36-pm

 

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-2-14-46-pm

 

Even if Trump doesn’t see them, perhaps others will.

Maybe, maybe, if we utilize the above tactics to poke him to the point that he fights back, it might eventually cause Trump to implode to such a degree that even Republican leadership can no longer deny his unsuitability to lead this country.

Maybe.

One can hope.

And in the meantime, we can take comfort in annoying the hell out of him as we go high, creatively and with a side of snark.

Resisting the Complacency of Privilege

22 Nov

I want to talk about privilege and how it can give us a false sense of security. In order to do so, I need to locate myself: I am a person with a high level of privilege. I am a white, cis-gender woman. I grew up in a white-collar family where going to college was the expectation. I was entitled, and my parents paid for it. I was assured that I would be a success. In a family with 2 siblings and 2 cousins there are 2 doctors and a lawyer. All five of us have at least a graduate degree. I was told, and shown, that my gender shouldn’t be an impediment to achievement. I have been married to a man for over 20 years so present as heterosexual. We have two children.

The only debt we have is our mortgage. We paid for seminary out of pocket and so don’t have that debt. Our children go to a private school and I am putting myself through another graduate degree. We are saving for retirement. That all said, we have made plenty of tough decisions: our two cars are both more than 10 years old and our house needs quite a lot of work. But we live in a well-to-do neighborhood, and money is not an issue we worry about daily. And, if worst came to worst, we have the safety nets of parents.

When I walk into a room in a professional situation, I expect people to listen to me. That expectation is expressed in how I carry myself, how I meet people’s eyes, and how I shake their hands. My expectation of respect, and how it is sometimes perceived by others, was made clear to me by a CPE supervisor who asked if I was a “blue-blood” – I honestly had no idea what he was talking about.

So you see, I have loads of privilege. I don’t say this to brag. And, frankly, it feels vulnerable to share all this with you. But you need to know where I am coming from because right now, I want to speak to my peers: other people who find themselves in a similar boat.

keep-calm-and-check-your-privilegeLet me describe this boat. This is the boat of “Well, the country may be entering scary times, but I will be fine.” We are not usually people of color, and maybe everyone in your family is white, like mine. We are mostly heterosexual. We are educated. We have professional jobs in fields that require specialization.

You know who you are.

To you, I confess: I am tempted, every day, to put my head into a hole in the sand and just ride out the next few years. Because, for the most part, I could. It feels like my life is not going to be directly impacted by most of these changes: no one in my family is getting deported, no one my family is being denied their right to vote, no one my family is being profiled by police, no one’s marriage is at risk. And if we end up with a pregnant teenager, we have the means to travel somewhere where abortion is legal.

I know the seduction of privilege. I have to fight it every day. It tells me that I “got” mine and that I should just hunker down to protect it.

So why don’t I?

Because I learned, intellectually and in my heart of hearts, that it is true that no one is free while others are oppressed.

I remember pieces of this shift. One occurred when my spouse and I were attending the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston, VA. It was the height of the 90s tech boom. We were in our mid-twenties, no kids, and had bought a house. Property values in our county were on the rise, though, and I complained about it at church one time. “We don’t have kids!” I moaned. “Why should we have to pay property taxes to support schools?”

An older man in the congregation responded with love and patience. It didn’t come with judgement for if it had I never would have listened. He talked about how having good schools benefits an entire community. He listed ways – a list much larger than the scope of this blog posting – that child-free individuals benefit from supporting schools. My mind was changed.

My heart was changed by a woman at church. She was the primary guardian of her grandchildren, and was usually on welfare. I remember the bind she found herself in: the system required her to get a job after a few months of benefits. But that job wouldn’t pay childcare, and her benefits would stop once she was employed. And so she would work a few weeks, then get fired or quit because the (inexpensive) unreliable childcare arrangement wasn’t working out and without someone to watch her grandkids, she couldn’t go to work. If something happened to her car, she had to decide between groceries and repairs – and if she was working but her job wasn’t on the bus line and she couldn’t get there, she would lose the job. In addition to the on-again-off-again job situation, her food stamps wouldn’t pay for necessities like diapers. At one point, she was so desperate for money, she considered selling drugs. I could not sit in my tower of privilege and judge her because I knew she was doing the very, very best she could.

I saw this woman struggle every day to get by. She was my friend, and from her I learned about the cycle of poverty and how impossible it is to get out of it. I learned that the system that so benefited me was slowly killing her. Literally. She had health problems from all the stress – but whenever she sought treatment, she got further into debt because, of course, she had no insurance. Which made her more stressed…

Do you see this cycle?

My heart shifted.

I realized that I was not inherently deserving of the privilege I had. I learned that it was absolutely not fair that my friend had not only been born into poverty, but also could not fight her way out of it.

And like the older member who talked to me about how communities as a whole benefit when they have good schools, I learned from my friend that I, personally, benefit, when people do not have to fight tooth and nail for every scrap we toss them. My friend wanted to work. She wanted to be a productive member of society. She wanted to contribute, to be of use.  And she also wanted her grand-babies to grow up in a safe, loving home, and for them to not go hungry. She was smart, and a hard worker – someone I would hire any day. The workforce was losing out by not having her in it.

connectedSo my mind and my heart have been changed. I understand now that my privilege requires that I be a good ally in the fight for equity and justice. Because I know that men are harmed by sexism, that white people are harmed by racism, and that heterosexual people are harmed by homophobia.

So that story we tell ourselves that we won’t be effected? It is a myth made up to keep people artificially divided, to make it easier to target vulnerable communities. To keep us from using our privilege for good.

So please, oh privileged peers of mine: Resist the desire to hide your head in the sand. Resist the complacency of privilege. They need us in this fight. And we need them.

Resisting.

21 Nov

Thoughts and ideas have been stewing about in my mind for 2 weeks now. This is how I grieve – I get angry and I think a lot. And rant a lot. My family is a bit tired of it, I suspect. Though I am on twitter all the time, and I am posting more publicly on facebook, the reality is that neither of these formats are ideal for concepts that require much depth. And so I am inspired to start a new blog tag: Resisting. You can follow these themed blogs by clicking on the tag over there → (don’t worry, it will get bigger as I post more).

Why a special category for Resisting?

Well, as you may be aware, due to a messed-up system that makes the vote of someone in Wyoming worth 3x that of someone in California, we have elected a misogynistic, racist, xenophobic compulsive liar to our highest office. Someone who has no political experience. Someone who is already trying to parlay his election into a business win for himself. Who is a threat to our freedom of speech. Who is appointing men to his cabinet who are more famous for their hate than for their leadership experience.

Don’t kid yourself – this is not “just like when <insert candidate you didn’t like> was elected.” This is not about partisan politics. Not even close – I don’t know about you but I would gladly take Mitt Romney right now even though I have some major disagreements with him. No, this is much bigger. As a friend of mine told me on the phone, the “Great American Experiment” is collapsing. Democracy itself is at stake. The ideals of one person-one vote, government by the people & for the people, self-determination, freedom and justice are in the crosshairs. Fascism is in sight.

You still don’t believe me? Look at Trump’s reaction to Pence’s Hamilton visit or his reaction to SNL’s recent skit – he doesn’t like freedom of speech when it means he gets criticized. He threatened months ago to remove libel laws so he could sue the press when they print something he doesn’t like.

Or how about this: Though he has not released his tax statements, we know that Trump owes millions to Deutsche Bank. This same bank is being fined for $14 billion by the Department of Justice for mis-selling bonds in the run-up to the financial crisis. As President, Trump will appoint the Attorney General, who heads the Department of Justice. Trump will be the AG’s boss, which means he can tell the AG to drop the case against Deutsche Bank, maybe in exchange for, say, Deutsche Bank forgiving all that Trump owes them.

When has there ever been a President with this obvious, enormous conflict of interest? But don’t put money on Trump somehow recusing himself – the “blind trust” he put his business affairs into is anything but blind and is being run by his kids. The same kids he is trying to get security clearances for so that they can be his political advisors, not just run his businesses.

If he feels he stands to gain, nothing will stop him. Trade Agreements, International Treaties, Civil Rights. Human Rights. Do not kid yourself: everything we believe and love about this country is at stake.

Beloveds, we have a lot of work to do. We must resist.

But this is not a weekend project. Or something we do between now and the inauguration. No, this will be a long road. Two years, at least, some say. Or four. I suspect it will be much, much longer. Studies have shown that the effects of Nazi propaganda lasted more than 50 years on those who were exposed to it. This will be a long, long road. And the longer it lasts, the longer the recovery.

So we must have endurance. We must be resilient and find ways for resistance to become our new normal. Something we engage in on a daily basis. We can’t go around panicking all the time, even though I know it comes upon me regularly in waves these days. We must build resistance into our routines and find communities that will sustain us and support us. This is the only way to move forward, to fight our own panic and to struggle against the threat of fascism.

One example I have for you is a friend of mine who spends every Monday lunchtime on the phone with her legislators, state and local. It is a part of her routine.

One of the things I will be doing is trying to blog more regularly. I won’t promise to post an idea for something you can do each day, or a list of organizations you should give time or money to – others have already done that and I highly suggest you look them up if you haven’t already.

What I want to do is let you in on my processing. What am I doing? What am I thinking? What am I struggling with? Because I am doing a whole lot of all of those right now. I hope you are too and I hope you join me.

Vive la résistance!

And in the spirit of freedom of speech, and because someone told me I was too serious the other day, and because I would gladly welcome Canadian overlords right now, I leave you with this.

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