My How Far We’ve Gone (Back)

This time eight years ago, I was filled with so much hope and joy. I was expecting the birth of my first baby girl. We had just elected our first black president. Although the economy was tanked due to eight years of failed Republican policies, things were looking up. The stock market had begun to rebound almost immediately at the news of President-Elect Obama, and most people were looking forward to an era of hope and change.

Fast-forward to now. The hope is gone. The change is abhorrent. I feel more fear and dread than I’ve ever felt in my entire life walking around in my brown skin in Texas of all places. The campaign and now election of Donald Trump (AKA “The Rapey Cheeto”) has brought forth so much hate, so much racism, so much xenophobia, homophobia, islamophobic, and every abhorrent phobia related to humanity you can imagine. Almost as immediately as the election results came out, reports started flooding in about the harassment and even assault of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. Muslim women have had hajibs ripped from their bodies. Black people have been called niggers and told they can’t wait for us to get sent back to Africa or “put in [our] place.”Latinos who were born here and have been here for more generations than most white people are being told to “go back to where [they] came from.” Asian Americans are being harassed more than any time in post-WWII history.

Graffiti found the day after the election.

And white America still has the nerve to say, “I voted for him, but I’m not a racist.” No, you absolutely are. It doesn’t matter if you voted for him because you foolishly believed his claims to be pro-life. It doesn’t matter if you voted for him because of your idiotic belief that someone who has filed bankruptcy four times is a good businessman [as a former bankruptcy attorney, I can assure you that no good business person files bankruptcy four times]. It doesn’t matter that you voted for him because the other option was pretty bad [at least she wasn’t endorsed by the Alt-Right and the KKK]. There wa nothing hidden or ambiguous about Trump’s hatred of the other. It’s well-documented. If you didn’t see it, it is either because you share his beliefs and therefore see nothing wrong with them or because you chose to be willfully ignorant. Neither position is commendable. By being complicit in racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and the like, you are by association endorsing hatred. By voting for someone who campaigned on these beliefs, you are by action endorsing hatred. This is on you. You did this.

For people who like to brag that they are pro “family values,” Trump voters cast their ballots with no families in mind except their own. For people who call themselves “pro-life,” their actions in this election show a blatant disrespect for the value of others’ lives. This election wasn’t just about politics; it was about what we as a nation find acceptable in terms of behavior. The message that 50% of you sent on Tuesday is that you will accept bullying and intolerance and that you have no empathy.

If you are disgusted by the harassment being directed at your fellow man right now and you voted for Trump, understand that you are to blame. If you are disgusted by the harassment and didn’t vote for Trump, but stood by silently while people endorsed his ideas of “taking this country back” or “building a wall” or “putting them in their place with law and order” or “grabbing em by the pussy,” you are also to blame. You don’t get to absolve yourself from this because you turned a blind eye to hate speech that wasn’t directed at you.

Spare me the calls to come together or respect the president-elect. Where were your pleas of respect when President Obama was subjected to racial slurs and caricatures and threats of violence? Where were your calls of unity when during the Rapey Cheeto’s acceptance speech someone yelled, “Kill him!” at the mention of President Obama. Where, for that matter, was Trump?

I wish I had time to weep for this nation and what we’ve become (again). Unfortunately, I’m too busy trying to figure out how to protect my three children, my extended family members, my friends and their children, and myself from this onslaught of violence and hatred that has started.

Kudos, “Patriots”! You took your country back… all the way to the 1940s.

Please Stop Saying Ted Cruz’s Daughter “Hates” Him

The media has finally done the impossible—make me feel sympathy for Sen. Ted Cruz. Sure, the guy is a psychopath and creepy as all hell, but “even his daughter doesn’t like him” is a pretty cruel indictment, especially when we’re talking about a little child, and not some teenager or adult who has given a statement saying she doesn’t like her dad.

How many of us parents have had those kind of moments when our little kids don’t want to have anything to do with us? I’m sure if I was in the public eye, I could have had a day with one of my children where a hug as just not happening. But that doesn’t mean your kids hate you.

Yes, as a father he should’ve had more respect for his daughter’s body autonomy and just left her alone instead of forcing affection. And he should not have tried to use his child for political points.

No, Ted Cruz is not a good person. But for the love of all things good, please stop saying his daughter “hates him.”

Mass Shootings… I’m Confused

The Oregon shooter was a British, IRA-supporting, biracial, neo-Nazi, anti-theist, self-proclaimed conservative Republican… Color me confused.

And this obviously mentally ill person was allowed to purchase three handguns and an AR-15. There have been 45 school shootings this year. Texas Legislature recently voted to allow guns on campus (idiots) and other Teapublican law makers don’t even want to talk about gun control.

Again, color me confused.

Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk (AKA How I Spent My Winter Vacation)

I know it’s been a slow year on this blog, so for those of you who have stuck around, let me first thank you. Whether you’re old or new here, welcome (welcome back) and Happy New Year to all!

Honestly, it’s been hard to write more than rants on Facebook walls or quick blurbs on Twitter. My heart has been really heavy. There have been times where I have just been at my breaking point. I’m fearful of the world we are leaving our children. I truly am. And though I’ve kept on a brave face for my girls and even still found time to find some levity in the world [moment of silence for Joe Manganiello’s singlehood] and have kept myself busy with craft project after craft project, whenever there was silence I couldn’t fill, one thought always came back: we are fucked.
So I could just keep being afraid of the silence, or I could do something.
Pop Culture Dad is from St. Louis. [Yeah, I know]. Between the events in Ferguson and some other things, the likelihood of us making it to our annual Christmas trip this year was low like a girl in a Flo Rida song. But… it’s family, you know? And we only get to see them twice a year. But PCD and I decided that if we were going to go into the belly of the best, some good was going to have to come of it.
I had been following the action on Twitter and Facebook since the very beginning, but realized as Christmas was approaching that I didn’t actually know where to find information on how to get involved. I asked around and got several references for groups looking for lawyers to help out. I got in touch with those groups, and they all said they would get back to me… Then we got to St. Louis and… I just waited. No calls. I called again. I was told they would get back to me. My plan to be part of a solution was being thwarted. And, quite honestly, I felt a little depressed about it. In my head, our entire week in St. Louis was going to be filled with one rally or jail visit after another with us shouting to the family, “Come along or we’ll just have to catch you later!” In reality, it was basically like any other trip to the city: family, food, movie, Magic House. Then finally the morning before we went home to Texas, my phone rang with a text alert:

TODAY (SATURDAY), 2PM: STL’s United We Stand Silent March. Meet at Union Station downtown (18th and Market).

Finally! I informed Pop Culture Dad that, despite all the things we needed to do that day and all the promises we made to family, we were going. He was totally game, but we were also unprepared. On the way there, we ran into Michaels and grabbed posters and markers. The Pop Culture Girls decided they wanted to do their own posters. They did not, however, know how to spell “Black Lives Matter” on their own. So I wrote it out for them and told them they could follow it. Little Diva (being six and all) did a pretty great job. Super Girl got all of the letters, buuuuut, well, they weren’t exactly in any particular order. So she allowed me to make her a new sign, and she decorated it.

Super Girl and Pop Culture Dad
Little Diva made her own sign (“MY LIFE MATTERS”). Mommy probably should have told her yellow on pink doesn’t really show from far away.

This is the adorable sweatshirt hiding under those huge coats. It was far too cold to show them off.
Despite our rushing, we made it to the meeting place in time and ready to go. It was cold (particularly for us Southern folk), and it was rainy. However, this group of a little over 100 people was not deterred. We walked arm-in-arm, silently (except for the children…), with our mouths covered with the names of a victim or victims of police and para-police violence, down Market Street toward the St. Louis Arch. As you can see in my pictures, this isn’t just a group of black people. This is truly St. Louis UNITED. There were people of various races and ethnicities. The ages ranged from 0 to somewhere in the septuagenarian range. There were people of various physicalities and physical disabilities.
You notice how that microphone says “5” (as in “News 5”)? The same reporter during those interviews later stated during the 5 p.m. Channel 5 newscast that he could not confirm that there were protesters in the area. Apparently the fact that he was with us from beginning to end was not enough to confirm our presence. See, people? This is why you need to have a healthy skepticism and distrust of mainstream media.
Now here’s where trolls on Twitter and people within the Arch who have unrecognized and unresolved race bias issues differ from what people outside the Arch will tell you. Trolls on Twitter who were never there have been arguing that the group was violent, raging, and vandalized the Arch (seriously). Anyone with half a brain knows that isn’t true. In fact, you can witness it for yourself. I videoed various parts of the protest, and if you look on Twitter for #STLunited, you will see several people who live-blogged or later videostreamed parts of the protest. In addition to what you can see for yourself, here’s what I can tell you: three of the protesters actually went inside the Arch to use the restroom. Once inside, security had noticed there were protesters, and those women were locked inside. When you hear us chanting “Open the gates!” it started because people were asking for security to let those women out. By the way, the Arch is a free, federal landmark open to the public. Can they restrict entry and exit for security concerns? Of course. Is prohibiting a group from exercising their First Amendment rights in a nonviolent manner in a way that doesn’t otherwise violate laws something that can be done at a federal landmark? Honestly, I don’t know [I haven’t done the research on that yet]. It’s a non-issue anyway. Because I think there is reasonable disagreement as to whether there would have been a security risk (probably something as little as a fire hazard) from allowing a marching, chanting group of 100+ people inside. I’m not saying I agree that there was a risk; I just agree that I see both arguments, and so we don’t even really get to the First Amendment issue. 
What I can tell you, however, is that this protest was most certainly non-violent. As I mentioned, this was a varied group, which included a lot of families. We had a woman in a wheelchair, a man on crutches, etc. This group marched in total silence [again, minus the children, who don’t really get that whole “silent” part of the silent protest] for nearly two hours before we reached the Arch. Yes, there were guys in Anonymous masks. And, honestly, the most annoying thing they did the entire time was smoke in close proximity to children and senior citizens. There was only one person in this entire group who raised my antennae, and I was side-eyeing and closely watching that guy the entire time. And, yes, this guy was the one who, after chants I wasn’t too uncomfortable having my children hear, decided to lead a much smaller group in a round of “Fuck the Police.” That’s one guy, out of over 100. There’s always one. And that one person is not the group. He was not representative of the group at all. In fact, he didn’t even march in close proximity to the rest of us (and I have the picture to prove that too).
The police, who kept a safe distance from the group (because no crimes were broken, HELLO) stay close to the guy I was side-eyeing.
The Arch was not vandalized. We created a “memorial” using the pieces of colored tape that had previously been on our mouths. Easily removable. Does not destroy property. It is no different from when people leave signs, flowers, and other memorabilia on public property. Anyone who calls that vandalism is a moron (and probably also an overreaching racist, but I digress…). As I mentioned on the Pop Culture Mom Facebook page, I’m a government attorney. Do you really think I would participate in or encourage any sort of activity that would violate federal law? Of course not. Any suggestion otherwise is preposterous.
tape bearing the names of victims of police violence
Correction of some of the falsities I’ve heard aside, this was a beautiful moment. I actually cannot find adequate words to express how moved I was by the entire experience. Seeing all of these different people come together was amazing. People who didn’t even know each other and hadn’t even learned each other’s names, were linking their arms and hands to stand united. People were helping each other (picking up the wheelchair together, offering food, holding things to allow someone to tend to children, checking on the children and talking to them, etc.). This total group of mostly strangers came together for one common reason—wanting to make sure that law enforcement and the general citizenry realize that black lives matter too—and it was amazing
Super Girl has the best seat in the house
Arms linked marching toward the Arch

 

Strangers united for a common good

Even more than the experience itself, I was so glad to have shared it with the Pop Culture Girls. Due to all of the craziness going on and the unavoidable conversations in our house that Little Diva is entirely too smart (and too nosey) to miss. I had to have “the talk” with her earlier than anticipated. We had the talk over Thanksgiving. More on that later. But suffice to say, even at six, she understands the gross unfairness in treating people differently because of their skin color, and she can’t believe that there are adults who think it is perfectly fine to support a broken system that systematically treats “the other” unfairly. So, despite the fact that she was not exactly down for all that walking (and none of us were down for the cold and the hail), Little Diva was glad she did the protest. One of the gentlemen who had been gathering everyone together when we initially arrived asked Little Diva at the end what she thought of everything, and she answered “Pretty good. Pretty good for my first protest.”
“Pretty good for my first protest.”
I’m proud of my kids for sticking with the elements and trudging along. I’m proud of my oldest daughter for understanding these issues that are so much bigger than anyone should have to understand at six years old [and, sadly, it turns out she “gets it” a lot better than many adults I’ve seen online]. I’m proud of my husband (and his entire family, amazingly) for recognizing and trying to fight against his white privilege to make a better world for, not just our children, but every child in this country. I’m proud of everyone who was there. 
Every time I get overwhelmed with despair, I look at the pictures from this march and I realize that there are people out there fighting to make a difference. I’m not sure if their work will change everything, but they’re bound to change some minds. Every little bit counts!

Originally posted on Blogger (http:/www.popculturemom.com) http://ift.tt/1vHdPR9

Why Green Eggs and Ham, Mr. Cruz?

Last night, Ted Cruz, the junior senator from my state (and general stain on humanity), decided to filibuster into the wee hours of the night on his crusade against ensuring proper healthcare coverage for million Americans. During his all-night-long rage against quality of life, he read Green Eggs and Ham. Why that book instead of any other Dr. Seuss tale? Well, ignoring the irony of reading a book about someone who stubbornly insists he hates something he’s never tried only to find out in the end he likes it to protest something Sen. Cruz has declared he hates, even though it is yet untested, I have some theories about why the other Seuss books were a no-go:

1. Mr. Brown Can Moo, but that mooing was the result of a pre-existing medical condition. Formerly, Mr. Brown could not qualify for insurance based on that condition; but now, thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), he can no longer be turned down by insurance companies because of any pre-existing conditions, even mooing.
2. The Cat and the Hat‘s friends, Dick and Sally, are now college students in their 20s. Their mothers did not mind at all if the did opt to stay on their families’ plans as dependent children. Thanks to the ACA, Dick and Sally can stay on that plan as long as they are dependents, up to age 26.
3. Oh The Places You’ll Go, like to the doctor when you’re mildly sick, instead of the minor emergency room; because now that you have insurance, you’ll have real co-pays instead of attempting to duck hospital bills that come later.

4. Horton Hears a Who, but now that the ACA requires strengthened standards for community mental health centers, there’s a good chance he can find a qualified doctor to help him work through the schizophrenic episodes.

5. You’re Only Old Once!, and under the ACA, there will now be a temporary reinsurance program for employers (reimbursing them for 80% of claims between $15,000 and $90,000) providing health insurance coverage to retirees over the age of 55 who are not yet eligible for Medicare.

6. If I Ran the Circus, it would have to provide me healthcare insurance or pay a nominal penalty so long as I remained full-time and it had 50 or more employees.

7. I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today!, but I’m pretty sure I would need immediate medical attention afterward. Now I can afford it!

8. I am not Going to Get up Today! Well, I wasn’t. But then my employer, a small business, received a grant under the ACA for establishing a wellness program, and now I realize the benefits of getting up and moving.

9. The Butter Battle (Book) was resolved when I read the nutritional content on my menu at Cracker Barrel. The ACA requires chain restaurants and food sold from vending machines to disclose the nutritional content of each item. Whelp! I dodged a bullet there!

10. The Lorax developed a powerful cancer-fighting drug from those glorious trees, and he received a 12-year patent on exclusive use before the FDA will be able to make a generic version of the biologic drug (which hopefully will not further deplete the tree resources!).

Has Social Media Made Us a Less Forgiving Society?

This week, I was listening to Lance Bass’ “Dirty Pop” on my way home [Sirius/XM OutQ 109]. I don’t remember the celebrity or the topic that started the train of thought, but Lance and his co-hosts opined that society has become less forgiving of celebrities when they screw up, and they believed the rise of social media has a lot to do with that. I completely disagree.

According to the Dirty Pop Crew, thanks to celebrity and media over-saturation, now when we see a Lindsay Lohan or Paula Deen type, once they’ve messed up, we as a society get tired of hearing from them and want nothing to do with them. While I know I personally feel that way (and social media has little to do with it), that doesn’t seem to be the trend of celebrities in general.
Take Chris Brown for example. What the heck does this douchebag have to do in order for people to ask for him to disappear?? He nearly beat his girlfriend within an inch of her life [and, if you read the police report, it sounds like exactly what he was trying to do was kill her]. He barely showed any remorse for it, only instead giving interviews saying he was sorry if he disappointed his fans [that “I’m sorry if you think I should feel sorry for something” fake apology is the worst ever, and no rational person should ever fall for that!!] but then going on to have harsh words for his “haters,” because he was a “child of God,” so the rest of us could suck it. From that he has had several instances where he goes on Twitter tirades until his publicist or someone makes him delete his hateful tweets. And then, if all of that wasn’t bad enough on its own, the guy has an interview with Robin Roberts—fresh out of chemo—where afterwards he was so mad at her (and called her a few choice words) that he punched a mirror and threw a heavy chair out of a window and onto the street below. He never even tried to do a real or “I’m sorry you think I should feel sorry” apology for that either. But did people cut off Chris Brown? Did they ostracize him from the community of celebrities? Was his brand tarnished in the least? Nope. Not by his fans. Heck, shortly after he beat the crap out of Rihanna, some newlyweds became internet sensations for a YouTube video of their entire wedding party dancing down the aisle to “Forever.” That song is still used as an anthem for damn-near everything fun and celebratory. Chris Brown’s misguided fans continue to support him and all of his temper tantrums, and buy the line of horseshit he constantly tries to sell, painting himself as a victim. In fact, his popularity is at such an all-time high that it is apparently up to Chris Brown and Chris Brown alone to decide when it is time for him to quit… maybe. Chris Brown announced on Twitter this week that after his next album comes out this fall he is quitting music, because he’s tired of being famous for a “mistake” he made as a teenager rather than his music. Gee… that’s funny… Because from where I’m sitting, the only people who still focus on his “mistake” [seriously, I’m just angry he has the nerve to be dismissive like that] are those of us who didn’t give two craps about his music in the first place. Sure, before he revealed himself to be a jerkwad of ginormous proportions, I liked his music just fine. But there is NO performer good enough to make me overlook these kind of issues. I do have some morals, you know. In my household, the TV or radio is changed when he comes on. Sometimes I feel like I’m alone in my continued punishment of not-so-sorry sorry celebrities. But then something wonderful happens, like when Zynga stupidly tried to feature the phrase “Chris Brown” in its Daily Draw. The result was a lot of pictures of Rihanna’s bruised and battered face accompanied with statements that people needed to remember what this stain on humanity has really done with his life and realize why he should not be honored. My drawing skills skew more cartoon-oriented than life-like portrait-oriented, so my protest went thus:
Chris Brown isn’t the only celebrity who has gotten a pass on bad behavior. Sure, we’re sick of Lindsay Lohan now, but how many years of bad behavior did it take before we got there? Ten? I can’t even keep track anymore. And, really, it’s disingenuous to say that “we’re” sick of her. Obviously, someone still likes hearing about Lindsay Lohan, or I wouldn’t even know that she left rehab last week.
Paula Deen’s restaurant had a line out the door and around the block the week after details of her racism [no, not just 38 years ago, dolts!] emerged and after her four attempts at her bogus “I’m sorry if you felt offended” “apology.” Of course, the people waiting for hours and hours to go into her restaurant were probably also just racists and bigots who don’t think they’re racist and bigots [much like the people who lined up to line the corporate pockets of Chick-Fil-A in honor of its Hate Crime, er, CFA Appreciation Day don’t think they’re bigots… but they are]. But the fact is, while Paula Deen lost several endorsements and fans that month, she also gained just as many. In fact, despite being universally cut off from all of her former sponsors, many of them have announced recently that they’re going to take her back. No, she hasn’t done anything new or special to indicate she truly knows what a horrible person she was (is) and wants to change it. In fact, new allegations have since come out about how she asked black women working for her to dress like Aunt Jemima. The fact is, Twitter and Facebook have moved on, so now all of the corporate sponsors who threw up mock outrage (which, I’ll admit, looked real at the time) in June, now feel perfectly safe fully supporting someone they allegedly found so distasteful not even two months ago.Yes, Black Twitter made a mockery of her with the awesomely funny #PaulasBestDishes hashtag… but no one else seemed to care because she “had been punished enough” or “it’s old already.” 
Anthony Weiner… Do you remember the days when disgraced politicians would disappear and never come back? Or at least they’d disappear for a long enough time and re-emerge as so awesome of a character that you almost totally forgot what it was that they had done? Apparently, those days are gone. Twitter (or, rather, his inability to use good judgment on Twitter) did take him down. But… he popped back up… Same horndog, a-hole he was before. No changes, and this time no apologies. Heck, he’s even doubled-down on his jerkiness.
All of this is to say, while I agree with the Dirty Pop Crew that social media makes it easier to become aware of celebrities’ dirty deeds and makes it easier to judge them for it, social media has not in any way created this “gone and dead forever” scenario that the DPC claims exists. Celebrities these days bounce back like one of those inflatable punching bags—you keep pushing, but even the worst of them refuse to stay down. And these days, they don’t even bother with real and sincere apologies.

See? This Is Exactly What I Was Talking About

Some lawmakers in Texas and the lieutenant governor are now working on legislation to allow teachers to bring guns to school and allow for gun training for those teachers. Even ignoring how absolutely awful that idea is, this is exactly what I meant yesterday when I talked about fucked up priorities.

In 2011, Gov. Goodhair Rick Perry cut $4 billion from the Texas education budget, resulting in the layoff of thousands of teachers, larger class sizes, and, as a natural result, a worse education for many public school students in Texas.

So we can’t provide the funding to keep all our teachers and reduce class sizes, but we can provide the funding to arm and weapons-train teachers (many of whom don’t even want the training)??? Are you fucking kidding me?!?!?!?!

I need out of this state. Fast.

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