Archive | October, 2009

How an Evangelical came to support marriage equality

30 Oct

It’s election season up here in Maine, and the hottest issue on the ballot is gay marriage. See, our legislators voted to allow gay marriage earlier this year but the anti-gay marriage folks decided they were not happy with that and long story short it’s now going to be voted on by all the good folks here in Maine next week.

I must say this is perhaps even hotter than the presidential election with passions running high on both sides, hell even my neighbors have signs in their lawn letting the world know they are only down with traditional marriage meaning one man and one woman. I find their signs funny in a sad way because while I like my neighbors well enough, I have heard enough of their fights to know if they were the poster children for straight marriage, I would drop the Spousal Unit real fast and find myself a lovely lady. To say their relationship is dysfunctional is an understatement, so why they care about what two consenting adults do seems silly when they really don’t even do their marriage well. (to the neighbors, please close the windows next time you have one of your arguments)

Anyway close personal friends know that I call myself an Evangelical Christian despite the fact that my present membership is with a very liberal United Church of Christ church…old habits die hard I guess.

I am going to say that once upon a time, I was against gay marriage. Why? Well because in the churches that I used to attend it was said to be a sin and totally against God’s will. Well a few years ago, when I was feeling the pull to apply to seminary (still grappling with this but that’s another post) I started to truly read and study the bible on my own. After all if one is going to seriously consider seminary I figured I need to get real intimate with the Bible.

Well after a couple of years of studying, my own conclusion and I admit for the sake of writing this post in the time I have available I am not going to quote specific scripture but if anyone wants to know where I am getting this from, let me know and I will come back with verses that I am getting this from. It’s only in the Old Testament that speaks explicitly against same-sex relations, there is no denying that the Old Testament came down pretty much in what today would be called the anti-gay camp.

However using the bible as the basis for being anti-gay and if one is a Christian then we cannot ignore Jesus and the New Testament. Jesus was radical, his purpose in coming was so that salvation was obtainable to folks by belief in him. (yes, I know I am simplifying this) At the end of the day Jesus was about love and very much against the hypocrisy that was running rampant in his day and still runs rampant in many Christian communities today.

Yes, there is talk in the New Testament that marriage is an act that is between one man and one woman, but at the same time I think the New Testament is not scripturally clear and at best is ambiguous on the issue of gay marriage. But at the same time the overarching theme to love one another is very clear.

So for me from a scriptural basis, I cannot come down and stay silent and use my faith as a tool to mistreat each others. I told the Spousal Unit the other night that maybe I am misreading scripture but I just cannot get myself worked up about gay marriage. Not when I see so much abuse and mistreatment in the world.

Here in Maine, gay marriage opponents are saying what about the kids, if gay marriage becomes law? Well I say what about the kids now? In my professional work, I see a shitload of kids who are the product of heterosexual unions and frankly their lives are not so great. Funny because I can say personally the kids I know whose parents are gay or lesbian, often times have parents who are a lot more loving and attentive.

The other reason why I as a Christian, have a hard time with this issue is that as part of an interracial couple, it wasn’t that long ago that folks used the Bible to prohibit marriage between people of different races. Often times sounding the alarm with the question “What about the kids?” Well my kids are just fine, thank you very much. A couple years ago my son liked a girl who liked him, but her Dad was against interracial unions and he told my son that he had to be messed up because he was half white and half black. Yes, my first marriage ended in divorce but we were young and not compatible, race was not that much of a factor in the demise of our relationship and it most certainly has not hindered my son’s development in any way.

So when I go to the polls here in Maine, it will be No on 1 all the way because marriage equality is about equal rights and in America no one has the right to shove their religion down anyone else’s throat.

What does education mean to you? Please answer

29 Oct

I have written at various times on the issue of college education and each time I get some comments that I think are really deserving of hearing independent of any post/rant that I have going on.

So I ask you the reader, what does it mean to have any education? What does it mean to be educated? What do you think of our current system of education in the United States?

Personally some of the most brightest and intelligent folks I have ever met never stepped foot inside of a college. At the same time, all but one of those people have struggled greatly in the world of work because we have a system that for better or worse only sees those pieces of paper otherwise known as degrees as being valid. The one person that I have known who has not struggled has white skin privilege along with the privilege of being male and coming from an upper middle class family.

So this individual whom I have known for almost 20 years has been able to work creatively outside the box and create his own destiny. Yet even he has pushed his offspring to not take the path he has because at times its been hard to make his way financially in this world having made the conscious choice to not go to college. It wasn’t money that made him decide against it because his family had the resources to send him to college. He just felt that his life was better served by not going but by living life.

I have known too many people though who have struggled without a degree, many  in my own family. My father being the prime example. My father is a true renaissance man yet middle management was the highest he was ever allowed to climb without benefit of the almighty piece of paper. At times it has made him bitter but he has tried to not let it get him down. Yet it’s hard to see a person elevated over you when they have less knowledge and the only thing they have you don’t have is a piece of paper.

 I had the pleasure of starting my own world of work experience sans any degrees and after years of working for less cash than colleagues who had degrees, and being denied advancement opportunities on the basis that I lacked a degree, it’s the only reason I went to college and later graduate school.

Personally for me college, especially attending as an adult was a true learning experience. I have always been a voracious reader but college really opened my eyes to different ways of seeing the world. That said, I see life and living as a way to learn, if we pay attention to the world around us we are constantly being opened up to new experiences from which we can glean information.

Enough though about me and my thoughts, tell me your thoughts on education.

Speaking of cash

27 Oct

Since my last post touched on career frustrations, I figured it’s time to give an update on how that not spending thing is working out. Well it’s been better than previous attempts but my son getting his own car has put a slight cramp in my planned budget. No, I did not buy him a car, that honor goes to his Grandma. In fact he has a nicer car in some respect than the Spousal Unit and I. It seems when one procures a vehicle they need gas  money, and since elder boy has been busy with his studies and the lead role in yet another play, he has no job.

So, that means he has had to hit Mama up for some gas money which as I explained needs to last until he gets a job. Now that his show wrapped up he has decided that working a pt job would be a great use of his time. I admit I have mixed feelings because he recently received his second offer for  free ride to a lovely Midwestern school with a decent drama program. This is the second drama offer he has received, problem is he doesn’t want to study drama in college; I have already told him we need to consider these offers. Any how he is taking a break from drama to get a job and then can pay for his own gas.

If it had not been for the unexpected car and gas money, well I would have more or less stayed within my projected budget and savings and that is factoring in the unexpected work we are doing in the Spousal Unit’s office.

This month I have been a lot more intentional with money, no drop by visits to Goodwill, thinking before I decide to grab a meal out. It would seem there is hope for me after all. Now I just have to survive the holidays, already I am working on a holiday budget and the emphasis this year is not on gifts. No, we will focus on the spirit of the holidays which I think will be more meaningful and surely keep more cash in my pocket.

That’s the latest update on the spend less front and no I have not entirely given up outside coffee but it does happen a lot less. I admit I do enjoy the times even more when I grab that latte or mocha because it no longer is a  daily given.

Following your bliss versus following the cash

26 Oct

Today is a day where I need to get personal, I could use some feedback from people outside my personal circle and figured my blog was the place to go.

We as a society often look fondly at those individuals who do work that literally changes the world. Yet the sad reality is that most professions (teacher, social workers, etc) that truly help people and have the power to mold people pay nothing. Instead we (general societal we) tend to compensate well those who in many cases have jobs that don’t make a great difference in the world. After all please tell me why investment bankers and poorly behaving entertainers (Kanye West..anyone?) make oodles of cash? While that nurse’s aide who changes Granny’s bed pan at the Die Quick nursing home probably doesn’t even make $10 an hour and is eligible for government healthcare benefits since she can’t afford the one’s offered by the for profit repository for old and sick folks that makes money hand over fist by underpaying their staff.

Yeah, I am in a foul mood. I know, I chose to leave the word of corporate sales to become a lowly paid human services professional many years ago. Yet I felt a deep calling to make a difference in the world. In the years since I lefts sales, I have helped women get out of prostitution, in many cases seeing them break free from substance abuse addictions and eventually become reunited with their families. I have worked with homeless men and women and helped them secure houses and jobs. I have written grants that were funded to help oodles of people and for the last year I have worked with low-income at risk youth and their families.

During the time I was doing all this good work, I went back to school and secured a couple of degrees assuming if I went the management path at least I would earn a decent living. Ha ha ha….joke is on me. Instead I have grown broker and broker, for years I didn’t pay attention to the fact that I personally was earning less than I did as a 22 yo sales rep for a major medical journal since I had the Spousal Unit’s higher earnings to off-set the fact that my personal income had dropped.

Well as journalism is no longer what it used to be and the Spousal Unit grapples with what career might work well for a middle-aged writer, I am forced to look at the fact that I have gone into great debt to get an education to work in a field where I am not even breaking even. Let’s just say the ROI on my college education was real bad.

Yet this post is greater than me on some level, after all we love to tell people to follow their bliss yet what if following one’s bliss means living a standard of living that is not comfortable? What becomes of us as a society if we all stopped following our bliss and started following the cash? I mean one only has to look at the legal profession, we now have way too many attorneys. I have known a few who despite Ivy League credentials, really were not making that much money. Now I hear for the first time in years prospects are bleak for lawyers.

How many rappers, singers and entertainers can we really support? What if college students said the hell with professions like teaching and social work? What if medical students only decided to go into high paying specialties like dermatology? What if nurses aidse decided they only wanted to be RN’s where the pay is higher? Who would change Granny’s bed pan?

If everyone who was capable of doing higher paying work (college grads) what would become of our society? Personally I think it would be a fucked up place, the more I think of it, every job should be deserving of earning a living wage. There is a lot of talk about living wages, but we typically only think of those low wage positions like janitors, home health aides, etc. What about the fact there are plenty white and pink collar jobs that are absolutely needed but don’t pay a living wage considering many of these positions require education beyond high school, hell some require masters degrees.

At what point does one say fuck following your bliss and instead says show me the money? This is what I am grappling with at present, when do I say enough is enough and become a good worker at the good worker company where they will pay me a living wage, hell they will even offer benefits but they will require my soul to stay in their good graces.

So what say you?

Swine Flu and you

25 Oct

Just a random thought before I head out to enjoy some sunshine today. But am I the only person who is wondering about this swine flu thing? Seriously, I know its real and shit, hell my oldest and dearest friend in the universe is recovering from a bout with the pig and she says its nothing to sneeze at. Shit, she sounded so bad the other night when she called me, I was confused about whether or not she is recovering.

I have to be honest, first I was all gung-ho about getting the H1N1 shot, of course I would have to search hard to find it and now I am plain old confused. Thanks to the internets we can all get online and become junior researchers, of course what you find depends greatly on the agenda of the site you are on. Go to the CDC site and they will have you ready to hold a doctor or pharmacist at gunpoint to get a shot. On the flip side check out more alternative healthcare providers sites and you will be ready to say fuck that shit, the gubment is trying to do us in.

Of course I like to think the truth is somewhere in the middle when it comes to this thing. After all seasonal flu kills an awful lot of folks annually too. Though when its lil ole granny going out being the youth focused culture we, no one gives a damn. Now though we have cute babies and young folks dying, so we are on high alert.

I admit though as a parent, the thought that my precious babies could get really sick and die scares the shit out of me and is one of the reasons, I am still confused about what to do. After all my general attitude to standard vaccinations is a tad more lax than many folks. I vaccinate, just not on the CDC recommended schedule, in the 14 year gap between my kids, there were too many more shots recommended on infants for my taste. So baby girl is just now getting her shots, with the plan being she will have most by the time she starts school.

Anyway what are your thoughts on swine flu? Are you getting the shot? Why, or why not? Right now I am keeping my hands clean, upping my dose of cod liver oil and when I feel even a tad sick, I stay home. It’s funny because I suspect this winter for the first time we will see productivity go down as sick folks stay home where they should be instead of running to work coughing and being sick and making everyone else sick. One might say that is a good thing but I doubt it is…

Wal-Mart and Black Folks…two things that don’t go together

23 Oct

It’s a strange day for me up here in my corner of the world. I need a vacation but that’s not happening for a while so I will take a moment from my busy day to bring some light to some situations that are only now just starting to get national attention.

Many Americans shop at Wal-Mart, some because they like it and some because they have no choice. After all its well-known that Wally comes to a town and often the little homegrown shops go out of business. Me? Well prior to moving to Maine, I had only been to a Wal-mart maybe once if that. I can’t recall. In part because there were no Wal-Marts in Chicago and also because I always associated Wally’s as being the type of place I had no need to go to.

Well after moving to Maine, for the first couple of years living here I started going to Wal-Mart because prices were cheaper but every time I went there, I hated it. There is something about being in Wal-Mart that literally makes me sick. It’s as if they pumped in bad air. I find the whole experience to be unpleasant and coupled with the fact that they are well-known for treating their employees like shit, as well as being anti-union. I started looking for better more sustainable options for shopping. I do a great deal of my shopping directly with small local farmers or small local shops, though I do go to the local big box grocer to round things out. In the end its only a few dollars more but in this case its money well spent.

That said, plenty folks go there and it’s just what they do. I pass no judgement on them….sometimes you do what you have to do. However if you are Black and shopping at Wal-Mart you may get more than you bargained for. Check this story out and this one. In both stories Black folks were shopping and in both instances white folks thought the Black folks cut them in line and well…shit hit the fan. Though in the last story I linked to a young woman who may have been bound for medical school is literally fighting for her freedom. Yep, Heather Ellis is dealing with intimidation from the local KKK and what should have not even been a case or issue is threatening to destroy a life. In that first story a woman old enough to know better thought that calling someone a nigger was appropriate behavior for being slighted.

Um….what the fuck is wrong with people. Are they on dope or dog food? Nope, sadly its that old friend racism rearing its ugly head and in a place like Wal-Mart, I swear there is something about the environment that makes folks just go crazy. You put people together who in many cases are scrapping to get by financially and long lines and its a bad combination. I know I am coming across as rather light about some rather serious situations but shopping in places like Wal-Mart I am aware that you see the intersection of race and class coming together and sometimes it is not pretty.

So I want to do my part and get the word out about the plight of Heather Ellis and send some prayers that this case is dismissed and that another bright young Black life is not lost to the penal system.  As for the rest of us, maybe us Black folks should stay the hell out of Wal-Mart…seriously they are not good for our health at all. In fact we should all stay away from Wal-Mart, the country would be a prettier places if there were less Wal-Marts destroying the landscape.

Edited to add, Revvy Rev left me another example of Wal-Mart and Black folks not going well together, check this piece out

Honesty and honest can we be?

21 Oct

Today’s post is inspired by a local buddy of mine, who had a Facebook status update that said “Most white people are too scared of appearing racist to be honest”. I must admit this has stuck with me since reading it and I thought maybe it would make for a good discussion on race. By the way to the friend whose status update inspired this, I hope you don’t mind that I stole your thought as inspiration for this post.

Now I must admit I am of mixed feelings when I think about this because the truth is as a society I don’t think we are mature enough overall to have true dialogues on race. Yet the bigger question is how do we get there? Personally I can say that being part of an interracial marriage for over a decade has inspired many discussions on race. For me there is no way to be married to a white man without discussing race. Is it a stumbling block for us? Yes and no. There are times when we clearly bring who we are to an issue, and have to sometimes agree to disagree. Though many times the Spousal Unit will admit, that in being partnered to me and part of raising biracial kids that he has had to leave the comfort of his white male privilege to really get an issue. I also can say that sometimes I am inspired to put down my own assumptions about whites and understand his perspective.

I think for me when it comes to racial discussions, especially those that occur between whites and blacks in the United States, that too many times the white perspective is seen as right and the black perspective is not viewed as valid. One only has to look around in the blogosphere to see examples of this, hell Beer Gate this summer with the Cambridge cop and Professor Gates showed how differently we view the world. For many whites, Gates was either a pompous ass professor or the victim of unfortunate circumstances, with a fair number of whites not seeing the situation as that big of a deal.

Yet on the Black side, we saw it as a huge deal, just one more example of the systematic bullshit that happens when you are Black in America. If you think I am kidding, ask yourself why a sitting president of the United States felt compelled to speak up? Because while Barack Obama may be the president he has spent enough years as a Black man in America to understand that what happened to Gates is just routine business as usual and all the degrees and money don’t stop you from feeling the weight of oppression and bullshit when you are Black.

I think that by and large honesty is a good thing but I think in order to get honest, whites need to be willing to temporarily relinquish their privilege at least mentally and attempt to have empathy. If that does not happen, then you are not going to have a real discussion.

My viewpoint for me is supported by the fact that personally the best interactions I have with white people tend to be with working class, lower class and blue collar whites. Those that the only privilege they often have is white skin, I could go on and one with anecdotal stories about connecting with whites who initially I am nervous around because they look scary to me, in many cases I admit and its my bias that white men with shaved heads that look like skinheads or bikers scare me. Yet just last night I was out and came across such a man at a local eatery and ended up having a delightful conversation.

I admit that sometimes such folks can be scary but I also think that for some of these folks they are aware they don’t have much privilege aside from white skin and in some cases its easier to make a connection.

For Blacks I have to say if we want to engage in an honest dialogue that we too may need to put aside some of our bias and assumptions when it comes to whites though I admit it can be hard.

Yet I will say that in the quest to be honest with one another, it’s also important to be respectful. Take the age old issue of Black hair, yes my hair is different and its ok if we are friends to ask about it but remember I am a human and that maybe being singled out does not make me feel comfortable.

So while honesty is a possibility and there are plenty of whites and black engaging in honest and real discussions, we need to enter them being thoughtful before they can proceed.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue!

Liar liar pants on fire

20 Oct

You know we are in a sorry state when the highest aspirations a couple has is to become reality tv stars….what’s even worse is when a couple will look for any means necessary to accomplish that goal. Yep, I wanted to not even talk about those folks but really its just too good to ignore. Yes, I am talking about balloon boy and his family or more specifically Richard and Mayumi Heene, the parents of poor little Falcon, the child who did not fly away.

Look, like I told someone Stevie Wonder could see from the get go that this was a bullshit ass story. When it comes to science and shit, I am not the sharpest tool in the shed but as I looked at that jiffy pop looking concoction, I couldn’t see anyway that a child could have been in there. Secondly had my kid flown off in a big ass balloon, calling the news media would not have been high on my list of things to do. Call me crazy but 911 would have been my first call.

Well as we all know, the powers to be are saying it looks like the Heene’s planned this story in hopes of seeking fame and fortune and maybe even their own reality show. Though it looks like if they get away without sitting in some jail cells for a bit they ought to be real happy.

As a parent I must say what bugs me about this story is that they clearly are teaching their kids to lie, after all poor little Falcon blurted it out on live tv “we did it for the show”. I have to say this caused me to laugh since if you have ever spent anytime around small kids, they are real good at blurting shit out. Yet most of us strive to teach our kids to tell the truth, not lies. I mean think about it, what kind of parent brings their kids into a harebrained scheme such as this? One’s with issues, I tell you.

Unforunately for the Heene’s, their son seems to have a conscience and could not lie, literally…it made him sick to his stomach. I saw that poor child on tv puking and his Dad, was just an ice cold prick. I have to be honest, if I had been in the room with Dad, he would have gotten slapped, plain and simple. What he did to his kids was abusive, no question about it.

There is nothing wrong with aspirations and while I started this off putting down reality star wannabe’s, really there is no issue if that is what you really want to do. Yet when your desire for such things crosses over to lying and scheming and involving innocent kids, well that is wrong. So to Richard I say liar, liar pants on fire. May the po-po throw the book at you and may you end up paying a healthy fine as well as sitting in a cell for a while thinking about why teaching your kid to lie is really a bad idea.

Perhaps, Mayumi can get off and maybe take her kids away while Richard is cooling his heels in the clink and think about whether it’s a good idea to stay married to a man who would harm a child in such a way.

Parenting is already hard work without looking to intentionally corrupt our kids.

One of those days…

18 Oct

I wish I could say I have something profound to say but the truth is this is one of those days where I am hanging on by a thread. Its one of those days when I want to grab a bag and run far the fuck away from my life. A day when I wonder if I am kidding myself by staying in Maine where I have no extended family versus heading back home where at least I have my Pops and my brother and a whole lot of extended family members. Admittedly many of them are not on my I like you a lot list ,but they are family.

So what is the problem BGIM? You may wondering….its a lovely child whose energy level even sick exceeds my energy level. See my daughter is a true blue extrovert, but the Spousal Unit and I are introverts to varying degrees. Don’t get me wrong, I like people, hell I struggle with the fact that getting together with folks face to face in Maine is like pulling teeth. Everyone is so busy, gone are the days when you can just call and say hey lets connect…nah, its all gotta be planned. I like people, I need a certain amount of time around people but at the same time I need alone time. I must have time to re-charge preferably alone or in silence.

Even elder boy who people are drawn to is an introvert at heart, when he was a wee lad, he understood that quiet rainy days were days that we snuggled up and watched tv or played a quiet game. However girl child is not her brother and while I love her energy and  courage, the fact that even at 4 she can argue a point like a young prosecutor can at times wear you out. Today was that day. Today was the day that it took everything not to turn her over and spank her, it was not my best moment as a parent. I won’t beat myself up since most days are good but at the same time I feel bad that I lost my cool, and no there was no corporal punishment, instead she was left in her room for 10 minutes while I cooled down.

I am reminded that this parenting in isolation is a bad thing. For the first time ever, the idea of being closer to extended family even ones I don’t know well almost feels preferable to living in isolation here in Maine. For a good half hour I was on edge and realized that while people say I can give em a ring, there was not one person I can call here and say I need a break, help me out. I realized that if I were back home I could have called someone but here there was no one and that was a truly lonely feeling.

So may tomorrow be a better day, but today was one of those days. Thankfully the Spousal Unit is taking a break from work at the moment and overseeing night preparations with the girl child so I am thankful for small things.

What about the kids?

15 Oct

Apparently no one told Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace down in Louisiana that its 2009 and that folks of different races have the legal right to get married. Seems an interracial couple went to get a marriage license and this lovely man told them no can do. It seems in his view such unions don’t last and well the kids are not accepted by anyone. By the way, all the news account I have read about Bardwell state that he is not a racist, hell he even lets Negroes use his toilet.  Nice to know should I ever darken his doorstep with a hot case of the runs, he will let a sista use his can….mighty nice of him. I wonder if I could drink from his cups too?

Obviously as a Black woman partnered to a man who last time I checked was white this story felt a little personal, especially because many years ago I heard similar arguments against interracial unions from members of my own family. Hell, I got family members so anti-white that the last time I went to a family reunion, a fair number of folks didn’t talk to me. Saw some of these same assholes when my Momma died and only my Mom’s spirit kept me from cussing em out but that’s another story.

Yes, Bardwell is an ass and hopefully this couple will go on to marry and grow old and gray together. Though its funny because the longer I stay married (12 years in a few weeks) I have wondered what does become of interracial couples? I mean you can find all sorts of tidbits about interracial dating, etc but I rarely see any media coverage about interracial couples married 20-30 years…I suspect there are lots of reasons for that. The reason’s range from it wasn’t until more recent years folks started marrying across racial lines in greater numbers though I suspect a bigger reason is that at a certain point you are just a couple.

Seriously, the Spousal Unit is white, I am Black but we are at the stage in life that race doesn’t phase me. He is just the man I married and like on most days. I spend more time thinking about life, not race.  Hell I don’t even think race factored into why me and the first Spousal Unit split up, more that we were too damn young to have gotten married in the first place.

As for the kids, what about the kids? Yes, biracial kids sometimes catch flack from others but not always and I think among the youth today its almost considered cool to be biracial. As a buddy mentioned to me my son most certainly doesn’t suffer from a lack of friends male or female. I think the only time biracial kids have real issues is when they have no one to talk to them about their roots. I think when kids are connected to their historical roots as well as community, it creates a safe space for them.

Nah, sorry but Bardwell’s arguments are steeped in pure old fashioned racism. That’s ok though see once upon a time a jackass like Bardwell could do this shit and no one would know but now???? Hell, lil ole me up here in Maine is adding my two cents. Hopefully the unemployment line is going to feel real good to Bardwell after this move.