First, let me say that I’m a fan of Wendy Davis. I look forward to reading her recently debuted memoir, Forgetting to Be Afraid, and I admire her amazing energy, her dedication to public service, and her impeccable choice in footwear while filibustering for 11 hours in the Texas Senate last year. I’m way thrilled that she’s running a tough race to become the first Democratic governor of Texas in two decades.
No, my problem isn’t with Davis at all — or even with the way she candidly detailed her abortion experiences in her book.
But we have come to the point where, like rape, and domestic violence, and so many other “women’s stories, there’s the ‘good” story—the acceptable one, the defensible one, the OK to discuss one — and the others. Women still have to justify their choices about their bodies, their sex partners, and who they allow (or don’t) to punch them in the face. Keep reading »
While the direct blame for abuse rests solely on the abusers, we live in a culture that supports and perpetuates the cycle of violence. It is on all of us to listen, support and validate the voices of those who come forward. Victims shouldn’t feel censored or have their stories dismissed just because there isn’t a direct line solution to their complicated realities. We cannot get to #WhyILeft without confronting the reasons #WhyIStayed.
At first glance, Charlotte Alter’s piece on Time.com, “Instead of Asking Women Why They Stay, We Should Ask Men Why They Hit,” sounds sensible. In 140 characters, it even seemed empowering — almost spectacularly right on the money.
Why are we asking Janay Rice and other victims of intimate partner violence to explain themselves?? Abuse survivors shouldn’t need to justify their circumstances and choices in a hashtag. Shouldn’t we be as shocked and appalled at that conversation as Alter seems to be?
Actually, no. It turns out, she has missed the point entirely. Keep reading »
Some years ago, a young man that I was casually dating invited me to a birthday party with some of his friends who all moved to New York City, from Florida, to go to college. It was a scenario I had long grown accustomed to: I was the only Black girl amongst a group of non-minority people, laughing, drinking and talking.
Then this statement came out of nowhere and immediately wiped the smile from my face: “The best way to keep America safe is to just deport all of the Muslims,” a young White boy said in between sips of a beer.
It pierced my ears, momentarily paralyzing me. My eyes darted towards my friend to gauge his reaction to the words that pierced the air like an arrow launched from a bow, striking me in my chest. He seemed completely unmoved.
“Well, we don’t have to get rid of all of them, just the terrorists really,” he responded plainly.
We never spoke after that day. Keep reading »
Selfish (adj.): Lacking concern for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
Death is not profitable or pleasurable. It’s just nothing. It’s just not suffering. It has nothing to do with benefiting or not benefiting oneself or others. Saying that someone was selfish for having committed suicide is like saying that it was selfish of a person caught on fire to scream in agony.
When the topic of suicide is brought to the table, my primary concern isn’t to address people who have suicidal ideation. Everyone else is already doing that: They say, if you’re depressed or thinking about suicide, please seek help. Keep reading »
Last week, I found myself grateful for the conviction of Renisha McBride’s murderer, Theodore Wafer. This conviction did not bring back Renisha McBride. It did not atone for the miscarriage of justice that happened when George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. It did not lay to rest my fears for my niece growing up in a country where Black girls and boys, men and women, are still fighting to see the completion of our ancestors dreams and hopes for equality.
But I was grateful.
I was grateful because I thought that this may be a step in the right direction — an inching towards our goal. I was still reeling from the death of Eric Garner in New York, still raw from the violence against Professor Ersula Ore, but this was a bright spot in the overwhelming despair. And then Saturday happened. Keep reading »
“Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you, we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs upon the reasons they are dying.”
— Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex,” Sister Outsider
My younger brother is 16-years-old. He is six feet, four inches of gentle, timid, and awkward. He loves baseball and breakfast food, family and faith. He is quiet and complex, an introvert who often laughs with me about our frustrations with growing up in a small home with six people.
But in our Orange County hometown, he is feared. A Black teen with a physical presence that far eclipses his white and East Asian peers, he bears the psychic toll of being seen as a walking threat before being seen as a boy. He knows the police are not on his side. He is right; every 28 hours a black person is killed extrajudicially by law enforcement or vigilantes. And that terrifies me. Keep reading »