Support the PHRA!

Hi hi hello readers, have you got a second?

I’ve taken on another (unpaid) role (instead of getting a job but who wants to work rn anyway??) which has my anxious ass communicating with people? What a concept! And so, I’ve much less time to put together a cutesy story around this in order to seem acceptable and charitable rather than angry, scared and personally involved. But someone on the internet was hellbent on being wrong and rather than wasting time arguing with them, I much rather do something constructive.

The Philippines makes the Western news nowadays for crude President Duterte and his brutal drug war, the number of deaths in which are disputed, but even the government’s count is over 5,000. But besides talking a big game (including perpetuating rape culture), what has he done for the most oppressed Filipinos?

If you hadn’t heard of how the US Drug War has gone and thought it would be a solution– you might think the problem would be solved by now. But this is what happens when you go after not just small-time dealers but criminalize using drugs rather than addressing why people may feel the need to turn to using or selling. You end up slaughtering toddlers and poor people that can barely afford their family’s coffins (cw: within 2 scrolls there’s a large photo of a dead body).

Since the 1970s Ferdinand Marcos administration/dictatorship, the Philippine government has depended on commodifying and exporting its people to work outside of it to send money back to make up its economy. OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) are hailed as heroes, but it’s as about as much lip service as the praise for essential workers is here in the US. There are tons of fees, taxes, and other costs to do this, and again, you would think with that the billions of dollars accumulated, so many Filipinos wouldn’t be impoverished. But millions are hungry while those in government gain billions. This sends the message that the Filipino people are not worth investment.

They are fit solely for being killed in the streets, being packed into prisons like sardines, separated from their families and put in precarious situations just to survive. Nobody can stand up for the Philippines when they neglect cultivation and depend on overseas remittances. A leader hasn’t implemented autonomy by allowing the military of the same wealthy countries preferential treatment over their population.

( * US irony dance break * )

It’s possible to point all of this out and not want the US to play world police. I acknowledge that I don’t have first-hand knowledge and that news outlets can have agendas. However, even though he may have cursed and a few trolls may have benefited by Duterte, the Philippines cannot be free if it isn’t free from the valuing of wealth and status over Filipino lives (if going out and conquering is the highest form of that, afterall).

US Imperialist cartoon
School Begins

The US has an atrocious history and present itself including that involving the Philippines. If you could care less about another country, consider that the US gives millions of dollars to the Philippine army— which harasses and bombs indigenous people. But the main thing is that a country particularly a small country that’s been subjugated by powerful others deserves the right to control itself.

This is why groups are urging US citizens to tell their representatives to support the Philippine Human Rights Act. This aims to repeal that US funding and a piece of its compliance rather than “intervention.” I believe that you can simply sign the petition, but it’s always great to call, follow or get in contact with organizations like those on the page and meet with lawmakers especially if you aren’t in the US.

Thanks for reading!

Current read pin

Rock My Soul 1-4

I can’t speak for all Filipinos as anyone of an identity shouldn’t be expected (in general it’s a good idea, but we really should start using the noggins more than eyes about what is good for people). I’ve European heritage, have lived only in the US. I hash together vlogs about Filipino kids books I wish I knew existed as kid. I wrestle with my experience of the only Filipinos I know seeming incredibly reactionary and in what/who their interests are tied.

It’s difficult to come from a background whose poverty is fetisized not only by external paternal forces but those in our own culture, our individual selves. Pageants over policy. It describes not only what garners the retweets but what’s considered “pride.” Stick a flag emoji in your handle and share a video of sob story answering trivia.

I’d heard of bell hook’s Rock My Soul: Black People & Self-Esteem, and my mind would come back to it when I’d see such kind of contradictions. How can there be so much of this excitement for a people yet unwillingness for the betterment for the lesser statused of them? I don’t mean to take a black woman’s work and just insert myself into it, but 1) I’d have no idea where to turn for any kind of Filipino work like this 2) While specifics may be for black people, others can probably relate to more general themes and probably should connect how they’re related 3) That’s kind of what I intend to do.

Current read pin

1: Healing Wounded Hearts

In the opening chapter, bell hooks introduces why it’s no wonder black people may have “wounded” self-worth. Slavery and segregation have imposed observable white supremacist violence, but because self-esteem or the wellbeing of peoples’ souls aren’t very valued, the psychological impact of things like beauty standards and more namely, integration have not been studied and discussed.

2: Lasting Trauma

Although science has been a tool of racism that can be suspicious, mental health must be a part of liberation. Everyday violence reenacts trauma and without proper strategies that include decolonized thinking, healing can’t take place. hooks also critiques conservative blame and denial of black pain by noting their failure to connect ongoing trauma (like PTSD) to certain behavior and a perpetuation of racism by judging black people more harshly for this.

bell hooks quote

3: Ending the Shame That Binds

The shame of this chapter is that being (physically) ugly in white supremacist patriarchy. Shame conditions to intimidate especially vulnerable lower-statused people. The author wonders if black employment gains have come at the cost of psychological ones. Colonized minds value the imitation of acting and looking white.

I hate to bring this up but seeing as how white people have no problem, I’m reminded of mail-order brides. I can’t say the degree to which it’s encouraged culturally, but just from existing in the US, when you look at who is famous, who is rewarded, who has resources, who receives justice (who is denied), who is fawned over for doing the which actions, whose actions are met which such unmatched animosity, it’s easy to imagine the need to keep women impoverished financially and psychologically to pimp out for cheap labor. And how is this working out? Are we still getting beaten, raped, and stuffed into the backs of freezers? It’s no wonder that men that buy women stand with macho politicians.

4: Living With Integrity

Integrity is defined by Stephen Carter and Nathaniel Branden as being able to tell right and wrong and acting on it. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it seems like greed and other unethical behavior is rewarded. So to exist or even succeed, people must assimilate to bad behavior. However, if one comes from decolonized background, the imbalance of behavior and values create crisis and hypocrisy which Branden says is self-invalidating. There’s no integrity without honesty; lying spreads to other areas of one’s life.

I know it’d be nice and clean to end at chapter five, but this is already 600 words, and I’d like to include thoughts from the preface where hooks wonders why she and her siblings, who were more economically and academically privileged than their parents, were more psychologically fragile. I totally relate seeing my mother and others uproot their lives across the world, yet I have severe anxiety. I can only attribute it to Mom and at least one other woman I’m thinking of grew up in environments where everyone is literally family. Obviously, family is not synonymous with support, so I wonder about how toxic behavior is dealt.

I probably could’ve written a lot more but I read and didn’t write and already started 3 other books on here and don’t want so many posts on one book, so perhaps in the future when I re-read!

Roots of Health

Mabuhay readers, have you been watching the news?

I wanted to post my next batch of Filipino Kids Books, but video recording and editing is an ordeal. And I just didn’t think that I could continue my blog without condemning the recent attempts to subjugate women.

As you may have heard, US states like Georgia, Missouri, and perhaps most notably Alabama are working toward state-level abortion bans. If one does not follow “politics,” it may seem like you’re saving babies, but I would plead that not only is this not the case, but people pushing these laws know this and do not care. These rules are a punishment for not supporting white (patriarchal) supremacy.

PinoyPicks

We should know that wagging our fingers at hormone-addled teens whose sense of judgement isn’t fully formed and patronizingly telling them not to worry their pretty little heads about sex because you don’t have it until marriage doesn’t work. Why would this work for abortion? Young people– at least perhaps in culture that glamorizes sex or romantic relationships– are going to have sex, and we do them no favors– we harm them!– keeping inaccessible the tools and knowledge of safe sex (consent, reducing chance of disease) and healthy relationships. People that can become pregnant and don’t want to be are going to find ways to induce abortion regardless of the law.

This is just the case in the Philippines where the health service is illegal, but an estimated 610,000 still occur every year. And I hate to sound like a concern troll-y liberal seeking points by mentioning a poor brown country when the same issue is impacting the same people in her own country. But this is a blog by a Filipino-American, so one) that article is just the one that came to mind/I can’t really spend all day reading about terriblosity, two) is to show that injustice is a threat to justice everywhere, etc and inspire international solidarity, three) I’m categorizing this post in my Pinoy Picks series so that the diaspora can support empowerment and four) to show how pregnant people are forced to dangerous options that can kill them. So much for “pro-life.”

The pro-life side/argument is such a scam. Is it a life if it can’t survive on its own? “It has the potential.” What about the potential of the life carrying? What of the life of an 11 year old girl raped by a 65 year old and because abortion was illegal, she was forced to deliver (a fetus that likely won’t survive) at 23 weeks? These torturers could be spending their time doing so much else to promote the quality of life for people, but what do they do? Bomb people. Threaten to arrest (and kill) dissidents. They lie to, deceive, harass patients, and steal resources from the needy to fund their waste of law-making time and fake clinics without real doctors.

Delete Your Podcast episode 132- Forced Birth
Roqayah Chamseddine & Kumars Salehi are joined by reproductive rights organizer Christine O’Donovan-Zavada.

And look at this through racial, class, and gender lenses. If you click through that Instagram post and read the comments (I know I shouldn’t, but God help me), you can feel the misogyny radiating off comments condemning wicked women to gruesome death for slaughtering a romanticized notion of a baby. So much for Romans 2:1-5 (I know, they don’t care about Jesus either). What are we, ruled by Pilgrims? Only fuckin for the rapture? What are we, animals? No wonder some are so undeveloped. So much for the First Amendment. The preoccupation with forcing people (many women that have children already!) to put their body through a pregnancy and birth is exactly that: an occupation. It’s a way to force women to subordination via poverty and/or their so-called inherent roles of homemakers/carers. Ah yes, I guess that’s why we’re all cishet and physically and mentally able to bear children. And why actual infanticide by mothers doesn’t exist and women have never murdered before, right? 

2019-05-27 02.58.13 am
Marco Rubio fundraising email. “radical Democrats” i’m fuckin 😂

Who is most likely to get abortion? Poor women for whom birth control may be expensive. Who is most likely to be poor in the US? Who is sentenced to jail (disproportionately)? Why? What happens when you’re arrested? You may be work for pennies. You can potentially be barred from voting for the rest of your life. What just happened in mid-terms? For what/who do those people vote? 🤔🤔🤔

Obviously, voting is not the only concern regarding jail and prison. Consider the toll on one’s mental and social status and how a felony status and inadequate health care can land someone back at square one. Take a look at @prisonculture‘s profile. 

https://twitter.com/prisonculture/status/1132770033929805824

If such laws were about anything other control, these extortionists would be against state violence (war, killer cops, death penalty), funding adopting processes and birth control, getting non-violent people out of prison so that they can be with their families, and other processes so that people can raise children! Make health care and housing a right. It is classic reactionary bullshit to blah blah blah about what people should do and provide 0.00 resources to do them. How else can they make money off their jails if they’re not filling them?

PHILIPPINES

If you’re Filipino, you can support Roots of Health which aims to reduce maternal mortality, unplanned pregnancy, and HIV through sex ed and clinics. They are based out of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. I’ve only started following the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, so I don’t know them too well, but they seem to be more for organizing. They seem to have global campaigns but are based out of Quezon City. I think that people across the world can donate to both! I know that I, myself, do not know how to transfer between bank accounts and need things with Paypal. 😅

UNITED STATES

Planned Parenthood or volunteer for your local one, National Network of Abortion Funds, Yellowhammer Fund (Alabama), Sister Song (Georgia), Women Have Options (Ohio), Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund (MS), New Orleans Abortion Fund (Louisiana).

I tried to be inclusive of trans people, but please lmk if anything could be better. Or if there are any other Filipino organizations. 

International Women’s Day

I was going to write this for a blogger’s event for the celebration, but I had no idea if I would actually have time and didn’t sign up. I ended up changing my mind after checking out her social media, but I still wanted to try the deadline. So even though I’m not writing for a new audience, I still felt I needed to share some info.

I am not an expert or even someone who has read a lot about the subject, but in such a heavy moment that’s involving young women, there should be more examination and clarification. Simplistic catchphrases are cute on your tote bag or coffee mug, but they shouldn’t be used as an understanding and in some cases dismissal of an entire historical movement. It seems that everyone wants the aesthetic but not the active part of learning, questioning and dismantling. They want to celebrate Malala Yousafzai (supports socialism) and IWD (created by socialists) but chant along with fascists that declare the US will never be socialist.

Feminism is not about equality. But it isn’t about “matriarchy” or special treatment. I’m not a big fan of the “choice” slogan either. These buzzwords may work for specific issues under feminism, but I have no desire to be equal to oppressors. That is not a goal or victory for women (just as patriarchy is not even working for men).

CaptainMarvelPropaganda
With disparity in female roles in Hollywood, movies like Captain Marvel— on a promo tour featuring the USAF– may be seen as empowering. But as films that feature military equipment receive direction from the Pentagon, always question: empowering for whom?

Privileged Western women can choose to join their militaries or become wealthy CEOs, but it doesn’t seem very “girl power” to invade, bomb, destabilize or otherwise create conditions where impoverished black and brown women are raped, murdered and/or forced into slavery. Or if the business owner doesn’t provide safe working conditions for women or pays them pennies. Or if a politician runs on and creates racist, xenophobic, homophobic, or anti-poor legislation which surprise! impact women with those identities.

“Equality” and “choice” may work as slogans for gay marriage and reproductive rights, but they’re very individual and divorce feminism as a notion of being for women collectively. I haven’t dwelt on this too much, but opponents are probably able to utilize them easier. There’s probably a very knee-jerk reaction of questioning what’s “for women” then. This is why I’m much more in favor of ideas like liberation (from oppression, perhaps you could throw in a patriarchal). This expresses that, should even a woman be a scumbag (lmao), she should not be discriminated against on the basis of her gender. Obviously, if she were a racist or championed laws like “right to work” or charter schools, she should be egged for being an asshole to poor women (as should a man, the only thing that should be equal, lol).

Additionally, while women may come to be included in positions traditionally for men, they most definitely are not treated as equal, so it’s just not true. Another point is that these boxed in phrases restrict our imagination! Some regard sex work as an empowering choice, but others aren’t in such a position. Shouldn’t we be free from that? If you are wronged does corporal punishment (which could possibly kill an innocent person) help? Wouldn’t you want what would allow you to thrive— health service, mental support, a home, some tangible proof that not just one person would be prevented from doing one crime but that we as a society were addressing that issue?

In short, it doesn’t fucking matter if you, personally, use face masks or like dresses. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t care for example, if a woman is president if they’re just going to take the “equal” route and exploit feminism to probably get rich off wars that kill foreign women, traumatize the soldiers and leave them both to fend for themselves. We must look at power and how systems and institutions impact the most vulnerable (women) and create a world that not includes women in oppressive roles but frees us from those positions.

Current read pin

Women, Race, & Class 1

Hey hey readers, what are you reading?

I have to admit, I’m kind of tech snob. Not in a Apple superfan way, but that I was wary of e-readers, and I’ve no idea what I’d do with tablet or smart speaker. But Haymarket Books (which often offers great sales) was offering Remi Kanazi’s Before the Next Bomb Drops for free, so I decided to try to figure out how to use e-books. And now I’m downloading all of them! 

Current read pin

The first e-book I checked out from my library’s system is Angela Davis’s Women, Race, and Class. After realizing how devoid of diversity my bookshelf is, I was really excited to start reading work by feminists of color (even if yes, I am already in the middle of 13 other books 😅). Since it’s Black History Month, I thought I’d share some highlights of what I’ve read so far.

Chapter 1: The Legacy of Slavery: Standards for a New Womanhood

Black women were women indeed, but their experiences during slavery– hard work with their men, equality within the family, resistance, floggings and rape– had encouraged them to develop certain personality traits which set them apart from most white women.

Ironically, there was an equality for slave men and women as they were oppressed the same. Black women were not afforded the higher status that motherhood brought white women i.e., pregnant and new mother slaves still worked, were still whipped, still had to care children in the field. But because of this, the passive role expected of white women wasn’t applied to slave women. Eugene Genovese described slave families as “a closer approximation to sexual equality than possible for whites.” Consequently, Black women’s resistance matched that of men.

Chapter 2: The Anti-Slavery Movement & the Birth of Women’s Rights

This chapter was about white women that joined the abolitionist movement. Working women and middle-class housewives lost economic and social status from industrialization and may have noticed the similarities in subjugation. Women like sisters Angelina and Sarah Grimke challenged women to “join in on that struggle with the understanding that their own oppression was nurtured and perpetuated by the continued existence of the slave system.” As they organized, these women learned about those power structures, how to take action upon them, and how to challenge male supremacy from the abolitionist view which would assist in the fight for women’s liberation years later.

Sojourner Truth
When heckled that male supremacy was a Christian value as Christ was a man, Sojourner Truth replied, “Where did Christ come from?”

Chapter 3: Class & Race in the Early Women’s Rights Campaign

Chapter 3 is about the failure of those women considered part of the Women’s Rights Movement to include working white women and all Black women, enslaved and free. While there was rightful concern about inequalities in institutions like marriage, in which men controlled women’s finances, there was a lack of associating the economic control recent European immigrant women faced in unsafe mills. The first women’s rights convention, held in Seneca Falls and organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, did not have a single Black woman in attendance.

This was unfortunate because it was not as if these women weren’t fighting for their rights as well. Mill women striked and Maria Stewart gave speeches years before Seneca Falls. There are a few quotes that come to mind that convey that if one party isn’t free, one’s self isn’t free. Davis uses an Angelina Grimke quote to condemn the solidarity deficiency: “While the South has waged this [Civil] war against human rights, the North has stood by holding the garments of those who were stoning liberty to death…”

Chapter 4: Racism in the Woman Suffrage Movement

As middle-class white women neglected building “an alliance embracing labor, Black people and women,” it’s not surprising that leaders for their suffrage possessed a biased analysis of the political moment. After the US Civil War, people like Elizabeth Cady Stanton viewed emancipation as total liberation and that Black people were then on the same level as she. Yet, she became so defensive about the proposed 15th Amendment– which would grant suffrage to Black men but not women– that she would align with anyone who supported her cause including staunch racists.

Frederick Douglas, who was not only an abolitionist but an ardent supporter of women’s rights (he was only Black person at the Seneca Falls Convention), argued that because of violent attacks on Black people, support of the 15th was a means of survival. He didn’t mean to say that women’s suffrage shouldn’t be supported; it seemed like he called the passage of the 15th a boost to energize the movement for women’s suffrage. 

book cover

Hopefully, I can complete this book in a more timely manner than the last one I started for my series! Check out my last read for Black History Month about a Black Panther photo book I won from Goodreads here!

Surviving R. Kelly Reflections

Hello readers, can you take a second to make sure if you’re prepare to read about sexual assault?

Initially, I did not think I was but felt that it was important to learn about since I didn’t know about accusations. Watching a documentary is literally the least I could do if when I do get around to reading articles, that’s more graphic and overwhelming for me. So it’s completely understandable if you’re not comfortable…

I’m kind of in the continual process of rearranging and organizing my blog, and as preferable (and probably more profitable) as it is to only write about makeup and music, I gotta purge about other stuff for which I wouldn’t want a blog (i.e., troll comments) to be solely dedicated. Enter my new Reflections tag.

In watching Surviving R. Kelly, whichever Clinton/Lewinsky program was recently played, and just my own got danged product-of-an-older-white-man-and-(Southeast) Asian-lady life, I can’t help but notice the parallels. Kelly’s victims may not have become a household name like Monica, but the predation on young women and the relegation of them to a fucking punchline is stunningly disgusting. The exploitation of white supremacy to get away with abuse of black and brown women. I’m reminded of a poem by Barbara Jane Reyes where she says she can’t find an article about a Filipina woman whom was dismembered by her white, USian husband that doesn’t mention that he was in the Navy or a tenured professor or something.

Statused, privileged men are able to exploit those titles, their wealth, and connections to prey on and manipulate young, impressionable women. Yet, who is supporting the abuser? The community of the abused. Whenever I see this type of dynamic, I think that people like supporters in this case, want such structures. Perhaps they think that if they stand by the statused, if they believe, they will be rewarded, recognized either by the person in power. Or they otherwise benefit from misogyny or xenophobia. So long as they’re beating you, they’re not beating me. Who cares if a few of them are mutilated so long of the rest of them keep sending those remittances, baby!!

I just happen to be figuring out how to use ebooks and am reading Angela Davis’s Women, Race, and Class. It’s not surprising that rape is about power and control rather than any sort of attraction. But what Davis brings to light is putting this in the context of slavery and imperialism: “Rape was a weapon of domination, a weapon of repression, whose covert goal was to extinguish slave women’s will to resist, and in the process, to demoralize their men. … Since the Vietnamese women were distinguished by their heroic contributions to their people’s liberation struggle, the [U.S.] military retaliation specifically suited for them was rape.”

Vietnam War quote
Source: Women in Vietnam, Arlene Eisen-Bergman. 1975

While women bear the brunt of these actions, men and boys are affected as well. They see what’s permitted; they see what happens to loved ones. It’s very dispiriting to see people so actively against their own people and interests. But we must address systems in addition to individuals to ensure sure “never again.” Although that seems like a big task, it makes me hopeful to see survivors living and all the people screwed over by power {vs. those in it} who will overthrow our oppressors!

To watch: Surviving R. Kelly on Lifetime. They’ve also provided several organizations that help victims of abuse.

To support survivors + their work:

Sparkle

Kitti Jones

Asante McGee

Jerhonda Pace

Indie Biz Wish List

Hi readers, do you have a spare umbrella?

It has been raining all day in a very odd bout of winter weather. However, it is keeping with the whole not really feeling like Christmas atmosphere. So why not make another wish list? 😅 I don’t really like giving my money to places that already have a lot, so I’ve a couple of tags on the right there to share love and provide easy access for myself and others to these brands. Here’s some previously featured that would make great Christmas presents or stashed for a holiday down the road!

Urban | Wanderlust

I came across Judith Rojas’s URBAN | Wanderlust whilst perusing Shop Latinx for the second sharing of awesome finds from the directory. The soy vegan candles provide timeless quality, but if there’s a need for nativity, perhaps more seasonal scents like this Fraser Fir can help. Personally, I’d love to try the Bamboo Coconut.

Just Peachy

https://www.instagram.com/p/BiXo-xEADSI/

Do you have an enamel pin collection? Just Peachy makes the cutest and most unique ones! Their shop is  perfect for the anime or video game hobbyist. And if you or a giftee prefers, Just Peachy is also home to apparel, hats (particularly some sassy berets), and other accessories. I love this mean chickie, and everyone must too because it’s hard to keep in stock! 

Honua

We’re all thinking about how our purchases can be (more) “green,” but have you thought about how they can be “blue”? I heard about it through this PopSugar story. Brands like Kapua Browning’s Hawaiian Honua are also focusing on how to reduce harm to the earth’s oceans.

Cambio & Co.

Cambio & Co. is a marketplace that connects Filipino artisans with the rest of the world. Its creators, Filipino-Canadian, Gelaine, with her partner, Jérôme, also made a directory for socially conscious businesses in the Philippines. It’s the first post I named in my Pinoy Picks series (I retroactively placed Rags2Riches in it).

Beauty Bakerie

Owned by Cashmere Nicole, Beauty Bakerie has become famous for their unmovable lipsticks. They offer other cosmetics which are vegan and don’t test on animals! When you shop at Beauty Bakerie, you support a black woman-owned business! I expand on the importance of this in my original post. An item from the shop is sure to be a great gift.

Lip Whips
Affiliate links
Lip Whip Nude | Creme de la Crumb | Space Cake | Grape Life | French Toast

 

What’s your favorite indie brand?

 

black owned brands pin

Mielle Organics

Hello readers, had any bad hair days lately?

Well let me tell you about Mielle! Started by Monique Rodriguez in 2014, Mielle Organics focuses on healthier ingredients for healthier hair. The former nurse says she wanted to utilize her background to help others make better choices.

It’s not just the food we eat, but it’s also the products that we use on our skin. That’s important, as well.

Mielle currently offers hair and skincare items with intriguing ingredients like babassu oil, mongogo, and sachi inchi. There’s also standards like honey, avocado, and mint and perhaps even new uses for classic elements. Have you ever heard of ginger for your hair?

The brand has some celebrity fans too! Yara Shahidi gave them a boost. They’re now available in drug stores, groceries, and mass merchandisers, so they should be easier to find and access. Follow them on Instagram to see when CVS is having a sale and for them to repost your pic!

Many products look to be sulfate-free and are made with specific hair types in mind. Is it too early to start thinking about holiday gifts?

Mielle hair products
Affiliate Links
Honey & Ginger Edge Gel | Pomegranate & Honey Leave-in Conditioner | Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner Mongongo Oil Heat Protectant | Mongongo Oil Pomade to Oil Treatment

Have you tried Mielle? What’s on your wishlist?

 

Blogger Bills: Happy Pride Month!

Hi followers, are you celebrating this month?

We’re in the middle of LGBT Pride Month, a time in particular for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans community to celebrate diverse sexual orientations and genders. June was chosen to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots which is said to have sparked LGBT activism in the United States.

While there is certainly time and cause for cheer, we’d be remiss to omit the origins of Pride Month and why it’s necessary. Many people served jail and organizing time to be free of oppression, and many have been discriminated against, harassed, and killed. There has been progress, but there remains constant threat of hard-earned rights being stolen.

Hopefully, you can conjure a little Stonewall in yourself and protest against those inequalities. Here are just a few ideas.

Educate!

Learn about Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans activist, who participated in Stonewall and co-founded STAR for homeless queer youth. Read about how LGBT youth are over 100% more likely to be homeless and trans women have a disproportionate rate of being murdered. Check out Compton’s 1966 Cafeteria Riot. And don’t keep all that info to yourself!

Support the Arts

What do Fight Club (novel), American Horror Story, and “Pynk” by Janelle Monae have in common? They’re created by people who identify as LGBT! The arts can make a difference in peoples’ lives whether it be seeing representation, the opportunity and employment of a role to represent, or just sustaining a smaller creator. Again, share that journalist, filmmaker, or dancer if you enjoyed their work for both LGBT and not to see as well as expressing that such voices and stories are valuable. 

Join an Org

If you ever feel overwhelmed by an issue, someone has probably already created organization about it! Regularly being part of a group is a great, hands-on way to learn and get involved especially with local chapters. Regional clubs are more likely to be need of help, you’ll feel the difference in your neighborhood, and influence state and federal decisions.

Some groups I follow include the subsequent: Equality Florida, Metro Wellness, Metro Manila Pride, UP Babaylan, and TLF Share.

Act on Laws

Supporting groups like the aforementioned is also a good way to keep track of certain local and national legislature. I use an app called Countable which sends an email to your representatives regarding whether  you support a bill or not. E-mails aren’t considered as effective as calls or getting groups to visit legislators, but if you’re unable to do those, the messages are the least one can do. I usually send it when I find out about a bill, and make calls whenever it’s closer to the vote.

Here are a few bills just on my radar that deal more explicitly with LGBT issues.

You can find your national representatives at WhoIsMyRepresentative and state legislators at OpenStates.

Tips! Search for the sponsor of a bill on Countable first and then scroll their profile for the specific bill. Also, enter your full address or zip code when using OpenStates as when I just put in my street address, it thought I was on the other side of the country!

Now that you’ve helped make the world a little more fair, it’s time for fun! Hope your festivities are safe and invigorating!

Is My Mom Not Economically Anxious?

Following the US 2016 election which gave us President Trump, there seemed to be a frenzy of reporters clamoring to share his supporters’ stories. Sam Bee and Full Frontal beat me at covering this biased narrative of poor, rural whites voting out of “economic anxiety.” Bee also brought up the point that– wait for it– “working class” is not synonymous with white!

At first I wondered why outlets bothered; 45ers had “won” after all. After CNN ambushed an old lady outside her house, one might see these tactics a sad attempt at going after small fish rather than hold the powerful accountable. But considering the gatekeeping of journalism, I think that these writers know dads or aunts (that they like) that voted for Trump and wanted to show how they weren’t mini Hitlers literally snatching crumbs from children.

Regardless, those people supported a candidate that was going to do that. So why should I care about them? Everybody keeps talking about coal workers; those few jobs aren’t coming back. There are 300x more workers in retail, a sector deemed unstable from sudden and massive layoffs and other factors. Where is the sympathy for them? Where are their quotes and stories? Here’s (part of) my mom’s.

Some are fun, some are not fun… the story of my life.

For the past 2 years my mom has been awakened by a shifting heaviness on her chest and head: It’s her fat orange cat, Simba, asking for breakfast. It’s 5am and after taking care of her mini lion, she must get ready for her “part time job with full time hours” at Macy’s.

Until last summer, she split the week between the department store and Wal-Mart but quit to take a break from having only Saturdays off. “When I was working at Wal-Mart, I get off at 1 o’clock at Macy’s, and I go home, take a nap or something. And go to work at five until ten [at Wal-Mart].” She wouldn’t have to work at Macy’s on weekends but initially did both Saturday and Sunday at the big box chain.

In January, the retailer claimed the president’s tax cuts would allow it to raise minimum wage to $11 per hour. When we now shop at my mother’s previous employer, we no longer see her previous position. The 10 or so cashiers we’d usually see have been replaced by self-checkout machines with a few employees keeping watch. The last time we went, I heard my mother speaking to a former co-worker. She murmured about how employees weren’t allowed to perform check-out actions for customers; they could only tell customers how. 

Mom and Simber

Mom actually transferred to Wal-Mart from Sam’s Club when lifting wholesale goods on a daily basis became too exhausting for her five-foot frame. “‘Are you sure it didn’t happen at home?'” she recalled a manager saying after telling her about a sprained wrist. “‘Oh, I’m gonna investigate, I’m gonna look at the camera.’ And she didn’t get back to me… And you know what? She got demoted.” Cashiers were also expected to upgrade club memberships which was “frustrating” because by definition of a club, you’d be asking the same people. When memberships were advanced, management expected more.

After transferring to Wal-Mart, she lost $0.35 per hour. The same day Wal-Mart made its $11 announcement, it would close sixty Sam’s Clubs (including Mom’s former store).

Obviously, working two part time jobs isn’t ideal especially when combined they can total more than full time, but one must take what’s available when rent for one’s buggy apartment is due and an almost $1000 tooth extraction is needed but insurance isn’t provided. As someone who describes her own teeth as “garish,” I’d always been a bit jealous of my mom’s straight teeth and wondered how it was possible that she, growing up on the farm and not going to the dentist, managed to have them.

After the extraction, she now has a small gap that no one would say is noticeable or unsightly. But after seeing my mother for nearly 30 years, it always catches me off guard for a second as if I’m not sure it’s her. I don’t think that I can ever forgive a system that not only did this or took that tooth, but made health care so unaffordable that she could not attain preventative care.

Memorial
Mom’s memorial for her parents. She hasn’t been able to visit family since before they passed.

My mother did hold full time work for 20 years at Macy’s before being laid off in 2009. “From 1990 ’til before I got laid off, I always became Employee of the Month, but I don’t get anymore ’cause I don’t put up with the shit no more. Before I was like, whatever they want me to do, I do it. Now? Uh uh. I complain a lot too,” she laughs. “So they don’t give me any recognition no more.” That recognition the 1990s meant a lunches, special parking spot, and plaque; now it’s a t-shirt. “I still do my job good, but I don’t volunteer… After I lose my benefits…”

In Full Frontal‘s silly segment, it’s briefly discussed what it would take for people and politicians to hear the “actual forgotten working class.” One person says for us to run for office; another says the disregard is intentional to prevent action. It seems so ridiculous that we should have to do that when the interviewed agreed that they had no free time. Plus we can probably not actually afford it. But I suppose absurdity calls for ridiculous methods. I am not one to put down one way of doing things, so hopefully, one of my current routes of putting our stories out ourselves counts as being enterprising. 😅

Since thinking about writing this post, I’ve also seen findings stating “economic anxiety” was fear of losing status. Hm, could being treated like someone who isn’t a white guy pose some sort of problem??? I’ve also considered writing about my two friends, so this may be the first of a mini-series.