Happy Monday, friends, and welcome to the month of June! And happy Pride Month!! I’ve been loving seeing everyone share stories on social media, and I’m so proud to be an ally of the LGBTQ community!! Now more than ever, we must shout from the rooftops…LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE. It’s such a fundamental, basic human right, you know? Love whoever you want. Freely and without shame! People should have that freedom, and it’s an incredibly sad reality that they don’t in 2019. We need to do everything we can to change that and to create a safe space for those who are LGBTQ. So for today’s motivational quotes, here are five quotes all about the power of Pride Month…
Like many people, I sat in horror as I watched the footage on the news. Wearing MAGA hats and chanting racist things, Nick Sandmann and a group of his classmates from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School stood face-to-face with Nathan Phillips, a Native American and Vietnam Vet participating in the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington D.C. The looks on the teens’ faces, particularly the face of Sandmann, sent a clear message of their intention: They were there to taunt, menace and intimidate.
The footage couldn’t have been clearer; it was all there, evidence of their racist and abhorrent behavior. Their voices. Their body language. Their smirk. There was virtually no interpretation or clarification needed. Like I said, the footage spoke for itself.
And yet, as I scanned social media in the days following the incident, people seemed to tell a very different and dangerous story. I saw people whose first reaction was not one of anger, but one of apprehension. They wanted to wait to see the full story, as if somehow, white teens wearing MAGA hats would magically become non-threatening and not racist.
They were so quick to give Nick Sandmann and his classmates the benefit of the doubt that they failed to see just how dangerous this reaction is — and what it continues to say about white privilege and the kind of future we’re all but ensuring if we don’t change course.
People being harassed for peacefully protesting and assembling has happened before. Sandmann didn’t say anything as he stood in front of Phillips. But then again, he didn’t have to. His smirk said it all. It was a smirk we’ve all seen before in those now-infamous photos from the Civil Rights Movement, where white men hovered over Black protesters during lunch counter sit-ins, where white passengers tried to intimidate Black riders on buses and where white students sneered as Black students took the first steps to desegregate high schools.
We like to think that we’ve come so far when it comes to equality, but Nick Sandmann shows us just how differently white and Black boys are judged by the public. Just think of Trayvon Martin. Unlike Sandmann, teens of color don’t have the luxury of going on apology tours; they don’t get the opportunity to go on the TODAY Show and tell their side of the story. For the public, there is no time to “wait and see” – these teens are judged and sentenced by the time they’re trending on Twitter.
Do we want this to be our future too? What sort of society are we destined to become when we let white teenage boys skate through life, seemingly able to do — and get away with — whatever they want? We’re setting the framework for a generation that thinks the world owes them, that they will never face consequences for their actions and that they can coast by on their white privilege alone.
In essence, we’re paving the way for the future Donald Trumps and Brett Kavanaughs. They become men who shut down the government when they don’t get their way and the men who don’t understand the word “no” because it’s a word they’ve never heard before. They’re the boys who become men who are white supremacists — the kind that viciously attacked me on Twitter last week when I simply suggested that we hold Sandmann and his classmates accountable.
Where we are now is not the future I want to be a part of. We need to teach these teens accountability so they can become men who don’t deflect their behavior and blame others for their actions. We need to teach them respect and demand that they be decent human beings. That’s not asking too much.
As a culture, we’re arriving at a point of reckoning. There’s no room for explaining away blatantly racist behavior, and we can’t continue to keep making space for hate. These teens knew exactly what they were doing. Isn’t it time we held them — and all white teen boys — accountable?
As my friend Nayomi Munaweera, a writer from California, put it: “White kids in MAGA hats get the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile black kids walking to the store to get candy, black kids at the train station, black kids listening to music, black kids just being human do not get the benefit of the doubt. The difference between these two is the difference between life and death.”
Indeed. The behavior of Nick Sandmann and his classmates isn’t just a tale of teens behaving badly. It’s a sad story of white privilege that is threaded through our history. We can — and need — to do better. For us and for future generations… xoxo
[Bottom photo via Unsplash]
Listen, do you hear that? Listen closely. It’s the voices of the Founding Fathers and the Suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony. They’re all chanting, practically SHOUTING, from beyond the grave: Vote, vote, vote! Vote in the midterm election!
Maybe you think that opening paragraph was just a tad bit dramatic, but it’s not. The truth is, things are dire right now. All over the world and all over the United States — from coast to coast, town to town, house to house, life to life. We’re in trouble, and one look at the CV of the current administration over the last two years paints an alarming picture — and even worse, signals a dangerous and perilous future. The “president” said the safety of Americans is top priority. Yet, he and his administration want to…
*Define transgender out of existence
*Strip people of health insurance
*Mock people with disabilities
*Refuse stricter gun control laws
*Criticize the press
*Ridicule sexual assault survivors
And that’s only the beginning — the tip of the iceberg, if you will. Two black people are dead after they were just trying to go grocery shopping. And 11 Jewish people were killed while peacefully worshipping in their beloved synagogue. Two horrific attacks in less than one week. Two horrific acts of violence fueled by hate and committed by white males, NOT by foreign terrorists. It’s no coincidence that this violence mirrors the hate speech used by the “president.” It’s the same rhetoric used at his rallies, at press conferences and on Twitter. Make no mistake: He’s emboldened people. He’s normalized this behavior. I wrote this in my very first CNN op-ed last year and it’s even more true today: “The leader of our country has shown…no interest in restraining his supporters from attacking everyone.”
Grocery stores and churches are supposed to be safe places. You’re supposed to feel at home, not fear for your life.
That’s why I took my rage and disgust to the voting booth last weekend. I voted early because there’s this palpable sense of urgency to change things. We all have to do our part to bring about the change we want to see in our world. We can’t sit home and complain. We can’t keep getting into arguments on social media. We need to take that rage and desperation and channel it in a productive way.
One of the most productive ways to raise our voice is to vote. There is so much at stake in the midterm election, like 435 House seats and 33 Senate seats as well as which party controls the two chambers of Congress and has oversight power of the president and his administration. There are also 6,665 state positions (36 states will elect governors) and, of course, scores of local ones.
Needless to say, there is much work to be done! Yet it’s scary to see statistics like only one third of Millennials are sure that they’ll head to the polls; the survey also found that young voters don’t feel represented by Congress. The good news? Sites like Vote Forward let you send letters to unlikely voters in the midterm election and early voting is already underway across the nation! You can find your voting location in seconds too!
As Tom Krattenmaker said in yesterday’s op-ed in USA Today…
“The one to heed is the voice telling you that the future direction of your society and your prospects of a dignified life are at stake. The one telling you that in this election more than most, voting is caring — caring about LGBT Americans, people of color, immigrants from “s—hole” countries, sexual assault survivors and others — all targets of the Trumpians and all under threat of losing their rights and their rightful place in society. It’s the voice telling you that voting is an act of noncompliance — noncompliance with political forces that do not have your interests in mind and want you to lie down and be quiet.”
America, what have we become? Where do we want to go? And are you going to join the fight to get us there? Imagine a world where people rush to the voting booth with the same urgency as they have when buying a Mega Millions lottery ticket. What a bright future that would be. A bright future, indeed…
[Bottom photos via Unsplash]
This morning, I cued up the old Twitter and was greeted with a hashtag about National Boyfriend Day. It’s today, apparently. There’s a plethora of tweets from people bestowing the virtues of their boyfriend, giving shout-outs to their favorite celebrities and declaring that all they need is their cat. Oh, wait, that last one is just me. Either way, through the haze of lovey-dovey Internet PDAs, I couldn’t help but pull a Carrie Bradshaw and wonder: Where have all the good men gone??
This is a question that’s been haunting me for awhile now. It’s embedded in my brain and I just can’t seem to let it go. For some reason, I cling to it. And I don’t ask it as some bitter feminist who is on some angry tirade against men, even though every headline this week has sent me down yet another spiral of rage. Instead, I’m asking as a decent human being wondering out loud where all the decent men are these days.
Are they all hiding from me? Are they at the local Target? Busy taking a morning jog? Or maybe they’re all “too scared” to come out and actually support women when we need it the most? Honestly, that last scenario is the only one that seems plausible to me right now. Because I’m sure not seeing these good men that people like my mom swear are out there. All I’m seeing are entitled, mansplaining dude bros who are exasperated that they’re being called out because, for some, their cushy little life has never been disrupted like that before.
It’s a wake-up call for them, as it should be! Because no matter how many people say, “Oh, there ARE still good men in the world,” those words alone just aren’t enough anymore. In 2018, it’s simply not acceptable to just say these good men are out there. I, and so many women, need to SEE these supposed good men in action. Men need to be an integral part of the #MeToo movement and need to be loud and proud in their support of sexual assault survivors. They need to stand up to this world of misogyny and sexism that we’re living in and let women know that they’re not alone — that they have the support of men as well as women.
Remember that list I wrote when I was 17 — you know, the one about what traits I’d want the future Mr. Melissa Blake to possess? It contained some 20+ qualifications and looking back at that list now, I’m amazed at how high my standards were. Right now, in 2018, I just want someone who is a decent human being and knows that assault is WRONG. My, how low our standards and expectations have fallen, huh? It’s a sad state of affairs — one that, I’m sure, isn’t felt by just myself. I’m pretty sure a lot of people are currently feeling like this.
So, what is the answer to my original question? I’m not sure, but I wish I knew where to go from here. I wish I knew how to move beyond this endless sea that we’re all drowning in. But I do know that the way out involves those good men, so I hope — on all that is holy — that they show themselves before it’s too late. Because that “too late” point? It’s coming faster than we think and sometimes, I think we’re already there.
As Zachary Hendrickson wrote in an op-ed for Columbia University’s Columbia Daily Spectator, it’s beyond time that men do something RIGHT NOW…
“Take the time to review your personal history with the same scrutiny that you wish the senate judiciary committee would have shown Judge Kavanaugh last week. Be honest with yourself and with others. Understand that we’re all capable of doing terrible things. Accept that no amount of “beer” or drugs can be used as an excuse. Then start digging. And no matter what you find at the end of that process, own up to it. Acknowledge it, work through it with a therapist if you need one, apologize for it, take actions to atone for it, and don’t ever let it happen again…”
Amen! Where are these good men, friends? How can we continue to fight for justice and equality in a world that feels so unjust and unequal right now? I’d love to hear your wisdom on this very-important topic. We need to keep this conversation going as long as it takes… xoxo
[Second photo via Unsplash]
We all* owe it to those strong and powerful Suffragettes to uphold their legacy, but also remember that the work is not done. It’s 2018 and women are still fighting for equality and fighting to be heard. We must never stop fighting. From the boardroom to the kitchen table and everywhere in between.
I love what Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, said about the power of fighting for women’s equality…
“We can’t wait for equality to happen. We have to make it happen. It is each of our responsibility to drive change. Educate yourself on political issues. Get to the voting booths. Run for office if you feel called to do so. On Women’s Equality Day and every day, let’s rewrite the rules that are no longer working and create new ones, together.”
Also, lest you think Women’s Equality Day means that women have achieved all the equality and no longer have to fend off wildly inaccurate mansplaining, I’d like to leave you with this gem: I once had a guy try to tell me that women and men have equal rights. And by “once,” I mean last year.
So where are we going, friends? And how do we get there? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this important topic! xoxo
*Yes, men, I’m looking at you too…
[Photo via Bettmann Archive]