Sound of Silence

MLK - Silence is Betrayal
“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemy, but the silence of our friends.”
(On so many levels this applies.?)
After Friday’s markers in the sand, I wish to bring your attention again to the image (above). While it continues to apply on multiple levels, this time, allow me to narrow the focus.

Montana is My Home. My very name is part of Montana’s maps. My children are born and raised Montanans. I pay taxes, I own property. I travel Montana’s roads and highways with joy and appreciation for its vast, spiritual and magical places. I get to view cattle, sheep, horses, bison and the Crazy Woman Mountains, on my way to visit loved ones in just one of Montana’s other towns. I don’t have to be told “good luck” – I live it daily. I am blessed 406 ways and counting and I am ever grateful.

That said, I am done with enablers.

I am done with putting up with passive-aggressive, contemplative side looks from strangers in my own community.
The last 8 months brought more people showing racist and supremacist colors (in particular, the last few weeks) direct and sidelong to me than in the decade I’ve lived in Lewistown, the more than 20 years I’ve lived in Montana, and the more than 40+ years I’ve been alive.

If you don’t like it but don’t know who to ask, ask me. I’m happy to take your sincere question to help evolve positive growth and change. I won’t write you off as racist just because you seek true knowledge and hope to gain understanding, strengthen your empathy.

Recognize and Evaluate your Empathy, because I appreciate those who put forth genuine effort to at least try. Recognize that my opinions are my own and I do not speak for all Black people (because that would be ridiculous); I can only share based on my own direct and indirect experiences. While I am in no way anyone’s “token,” I do recognize the reality that PoC (and LGBTQ, for that matter) are few and far between in our Big Sky state with its 1 million people. I can see how it could be difficult to have a fair discussion amongst people without having some sort of representation of said people.

However, I am done with lip-service.

“Talk is cheap and bullshit runs a marathon.”

You are all supposed to be my friends in our community. I should be able to rely on your support as you should be able to rely on mine.

I should NOT have to fear walking my dog alone on the trail because I don’t know whether friend or foe approaches.
I should NOT feel I need anonymity, strip my car of all personalization because I don’t want those who feel I’m not human because my skin is brown to recognize me and mine by vehicle.
I should NOT feel grateful for being able to park my car in my garage because it hides my family’s brown identity from those who would do us harm.
Those I call “Friend” should NOT be okay or complacent with ANY of those above-mentioned items.

Small towns should be havens, not hell.

Let me be clear:
I am not now nor ever have been Prey.

Whether skin color, LGBTQ, religion, financial status, political affiliation, it is un-American for others to even think that it’s acceptable to make people feel that way.

No true alpha Leader allows others of their nation to feel as Prey.

On Friday and these last few weeks, Trump and his administration showed their hand. He made his stance on skin color, sexual identity, religious preference and the very laws that make up America’s fabric unequivocally clear. He removed any possible common ground. And his rigid, divisive, racist-supremacist stance is absolutely unacceptable in anyone, in particular the President of the United States.

I hope that this post will help cut through any confusion and bring it a level you all can relate to personally; imagine if you were brought to the point where you felt this post was necessary. How would you feel?

I am glad for my friends and neighbors and the relationships I’ve nurtured over the years. I want to stay that way. Let’s make it so. ?

Make America Respectful Again

Original draft:
Yesterday, whilst perusing the Twitter feed on my phone, I came across an article about indigenous people seeking to make cultural appropriation illegal. I do not agree. Cultural appropriation simply should not be done. Making cultural appropriation illegal, would only further negative feelings and create another useless, unenforced law like the laws against United States flag desecration (U.S. Code Title 4, Chapter 1, § 8, “Respect for flag” and U.S. Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 33, § 700, “Desecration of the flag of the United States; penalties”

USA Flag
U.S.A. – RESPECT: Is. Not. Optional.

On Memorial Day, various groups held flag-retiring ceremonies in Central Montana and this past Wednesday, June 14, Flag Day was celebrated in the U.S. People should not don garments of honor or culture they haven’t earned or been a part of, just as people shouldn’t cut up a flag for clothing accents and other purposes. Flags are retired with honor for a reason, and are done so with special ceremony – as appropriate – just as when a dropped eagle feather is retrieved during a powwow. That military person’s flag is considered sacred, a sanctified representation of that person, by that person’s family, friend and peers – among others – and should not be worn on the backs of those who haven’t earned the right to do so, especially under the guise of “patriotism.”

Make America Respectful Again
“Make America ?? Respectful Again” (published version, Lewistown News-Argus, June 21, 2017)
There will always be those few who’ll be childish and selfish and seek to demean others via cultural appropriation. That said, it would be un-American to seek law to enforce what human beings should be doing anyway; treating others how they would like to be treated themselves. Making cultural appropriation illegal could cause more harm than good. There are those who unwittingly appropriate a culture in genuine (hopefully) ignorance (example: children wearing Blackface for their school’s wax museum “exhibit,” or who dress as a Native American “princess” for Halloween), and those who appropriate culture out of a moment of stupidity (example: Katy Perry dressing as a geisha in 2013). Such examples of cultural appropriation would be better corrected if used as a teachable moment – an opportunity to create dialogue and understanding, and hopefully, empathy. Making cultural appropriation a crime would have the opposite effect – and likely encourage defensiveness, hate and spite, which – I hope – is not the goal sought.

There will always be assholes. I’d like to think however, that there are more good people than disrespectful, malicious bigots in our community, our state and our nation. Educate instead of prosecute. Knowledge is power, and that power can be used for the good of all. I would hope that with understanding, education and empathy, there will be more support for various cultures instead of appropriation; discussion instead of dismissal, should bounds be overstepped. Communities need to come together to show bullies and other small-minded people that their level of intolerance and entitlement will not be tolerated. We are stronger united. #UnitedStrengthsOfAmerica ??

Welcome to the Fourth World

4th World
Welcome to the 4th World
This morning following the vote tally, had Hillary Clinton been elected, some of you would have faced the day in annoyance, perhaps grumbled in anger over your coffee, and complained to your family, friends, and co-workers whilst clocking in to work.

Yet how many have you would have woken up to the news in abject fear for yourself and your children, your life, as you know it?

How many of you would have felt true grief to the point that you cried as you readied yourself for work, your children for school because your heart – so in love with your town and country – was just broken by betrayal? At best – at best – I feel as though my country just filed for divorce from me and mine. At best. I have many friendships with wonderful people in this community that survive because of our unspoken (and sometimes spoken) “agree to disagree” rule and generally stay away from politics. Yet how can I not take this one personally? And this is my struggle now.
How many of you would have felt compelled to tell their kids – while wiping tears from your brown and female skin – to be calm and stay strong in the face of the evident disrespect and hatred of their own community? To get through the day all the while knowing that your community lacks empathy, and while you’d known it possessed its racists (every community does), the realization that your entire town, state and country basically came out of its collective Hate Closet and now you feel that you walk with a target on your back.

Working at the News-Argus is an experience I’ve found surprisingly delightful; I enjoy coming in to work, learning about what’s new in our community, helping to share the news for Central Montana. But now I find myself in a conundrum: How on earth am I supposed to care about our small town community events when with one election tally, my community showed me it’s complete lack of feeling and care about me and mine. Pre-election, it was bad enough, but I got through the hate diatribe by telling myself that it’s venting. People will realize that what works locally simply isn’t feasible on the grand, international scale. It’s just a select few. It’ll be fine. No worries.

Yet a man openly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan – and do I really need to describe who these people are? – will be ascending the steps of the White House come January.

How is this not a problem for the people of Lewistown, Montana and the United States? How does the fact that this is okay for so many not strike pure horror in one’s soul?

People I thought I knew dismissed my concerns with, “She’s upset because Hillary lost and she’s probably a Hillary supporter.”

This is incorrect. My being in tears this morning as I woke my children up and braced to face the day actually had little to do with Hillary losing the electoral vote (ironically, “the system’s” vote) and everything to do with no longer feeling even a false sense of safety and security in my own community, my own country. The fact that so many willingly and even enthusiastically voted for someone who incites violence both on a general scale and onto women specifically, who wants to strip away one’s basic civil rights is what upsets me.

Myself, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the thought of another Clinton presidency. But at least I knew I’d be able to get through the four years intact. Perhaps annoyed because typical American politics, but perhaps even pleased with how things turned out both nationally and internationally in the future. I basically expected the usual imperfect governmental system that’s been our country’s base since 1776, and I hoped for (some) improvements overall.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah correspondent Hasan Minhaj expressed my feelings beautifully when he said, “You personally may not be a racist, sexist xenophobe, but that comes with the package. So if you take that deal, what you’re telling me is, ‘Hey, man. I don’t hate you. I just don’t care about you.'”

However, the knowledge that Trump will be the next leader of the Free World leaves me feeling nothing but violated, unclean, and without a voice to scream for help. Forget “first world”; with Trump elected we can kiss that status goodbye. “Third world” just got upgraded. Welcome to the Fourth World, my fellow Montanans, my fellow Americans.