Tag Archives: Revolutionaries

We the people

Yesterday, January 21st, 2017, I got to be part of something extraordinary. I have always been politically active and rather –er — outspoken, but never in my life had I had reason to use my right to protest.

With the results of the election tearing me apart since early November, I was finally ready and able to do something about it.

I attended the Kansas City Women’s March, and I’m so glad I did. 9,999 other women from all races, religions, socioeconomic statuses, education levels, you name it — all came together to peacefully protest the bullshit that is spewing forth from our lying leaders.

I am still in awe of the camaraderie, respect, and empathy shown by complete strangers to others. The march was full of women, men, and children of all ages. My heart was full seeing parents so open and willing to share this historic event with their daughters and educate them on their rights.

It gives me hope for the future generations.

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One of my favorite signs from the rally. You can tell she was proud to be there. 

I went by myself, hoping to meet up with many friends also in attendance. However, the size of the crowd left me isolated and wandering — but I was never uncomfortable. I never felt alone. I was with fellow soldiers for progress. I was among friends. And I made new ones.

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Her words are so true. We accomplish nothing when we stay silent. I love how the statue of George Washington is watchful over her shoulder. It’s almost like he’s giving his quiet blessing to the women & minorities of this nation. I think he’d be proud of his country and his people today. 

I know you’re probably like, “Oh c’mon, there are places all over the world where women have it way worse than they do in the U.S.”

This is very true, but does not excuse trying to take away our current rights. We must continue to move toward total equality. Anything but is an extreme injustice! By refusing to stay silent in the face of tyranny, we stand up for oppressed people all over the world.

In the end, this march was about so much more than just women’s rights. It’s about worker’s rights. Immigrant rights. LGBTQ rights. Animal rights. Giving our children a future they can believe in.

It was a rally for equality. And judging by the internet’s reaction, that’s just too damn scary for some people.

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I high-fived these parents for doing it right. We are more than objects. We are more than the sum of our body parts. 

Of all the things that made me the most happy was the number of children present at the rally. Parents openly talking to their children about oppression and how to stop it. Pushing the importance of diversity. Speaking to them candidly about why all these people are here and what it means. Reading and explaining various protest signs. I saw many children even holding their own signs in solidarity.

It gives me hope that the world can be a better place for them. And if we don’t leave it better for them, they’ll make it better for themselves. I hope we can leave it better than we found it for them. And if we can’t, I hope they can make it better for their children.

I hope they choose to do what is right, instead of what is easy.

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In the end, this is the photograph that resonates with me the most from my first protest experience.

To the fellow ladies of the marches and rallies taking place all over the nation, and all over the world: I will always stand with you. I will always stand by you. I will fight for your equal rights for the rest of my life. If the government comes after your right to choose what’s best for your body, your family, and your life, I will be unashamed to stand with you. To my LGBTQ friends: if the government tries to strip your fundamental rights to love and liberty, I will proudly stand with you. To my immigrant friends: If the government tries to deport you, I will vehemently defend you and what you bring to our nation. To my Muslim friends: If the government tries to put you on a registry, I will fearlessly register with you. You are as valuable, as important, and as American as anyone here.

I will no longer sit and honor misinformed, willfully ignorant comments, posts, and opinions. I don’t care if we’re friends, schoolmates, or coworkers. You do not have the right to be ignorant. You do not have the right to strip basic human rights from others because of your fear. Educate yourself. Stop being afraid.

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A woman’s place is in the resistance.

We will not be silent. 

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Resolutions, Part 2

I have a bit of a personal ritual around the New Year. Not only do I celebrate my 8th anniversary of marriage to my husband on the 30th, but the new year also symbolizes a time to stop and reflect on the year I’ve had and the goals I want for the future.

I can say, without a doubt, that 2016 has been a steaming dump of a year. There were a few highlights, undoubtedly, like the weddings of a couple of my best friends, an awesomely extravagant vacation, and adulting successfully by doing something called buying a car. And while all these events are wonderful, it cannot overshadow the festering, stinking dumpster fire this year has been since the beginning.

Four more days, friends. Four more. But what, oh what, does 2017 hold?

That, readers, is questionable. If, like me, you have harbored extreme resentment and a little bitterness since the election, you, like me, are probably approaching the new year with apprehension. Uncertainty. Even disappointment.

Trust me, reader, I sympathize.

And that brings me to my resolution for 2017. I only have one this year, but I think it’s going to be important if I ever want to leave this rut and keep moving forward.

My 2017 resolution is simply this: To stop being afraid and live the life I want for myself.

I know you’re probably like, c’mon Chels, that’s so vague and idealistic. You can’t accomplish that. You can’t measure that.

None of that really matters to me.

What matters to me is the world seems to be falling apart at the seams, and if I let it, it will drag me down with it.

I refuse to let that happen.

I refuse to be afraid of circumstances out of my control.

I refuse to stay stuck out of comfort and fear of change.

I refuse to sit for another miserable year and end up the same unsatisfied human I seem to always be reflecting on the past year, and moving into a new one.

Attempting to find a job in Japan has given me renewed desire and perspective. A goal to work toward. Something I have wanted for a very long time but have been too fearful to pursue. Will it happen soon? Maybe. Will it happen under the circumstances in which I want it? Doubtful. Will it solve all of my woes? Certainly not.

But will it happen? Most definitely.

It can’t be any worse than sitting and waiting for change to come to me.

I’m so tired of waiting.

 

And so, I face 2017 with little fear and increased optimism.

 

2017 just better be ready for me.

Resolutions

Resolved: 2017: Write daily. Even on days when I don’t want to, I’m trying to protect some small amount of time for myself to write, reflect, and make words appear on paper. Some days it is difficult because I don’t have the energy to write or simply lack ideas. Some days it is easy because I have something to say. Today, I promised myself I would write something so here I am — rambling about how I don’t have anything to write today.

Today, it did one of my favorite things; it snowed. I tried to write a poem about snow and came up with only a few words. It just didn’t feel right. So now I’m writing about snow in a post about having nothing to write about.

I know what you’re thinking, you live in the midwest. Don’t most people hate snow there? Isn’t a big mess there? Well, yes and yes. Most people do hate snow here. And it’s been a big mess which is why I’m extra glad I didn’t have to go anywhere today.

There is something quite calming and peaceful about watching the snow fall. Watching as leisurely flakes dance their way to their brethren gathering on the ground. Listening to the crisp snap of the wind as it rustles through icy tree limbs. Smelling the cold cleanness of the December air that comes with fresh snow.

There is nothing in the world more refreshing for me than a snow day. A reason to stay cooped up in my house under warm blankets with no one to interrupt my introverted flow. A reason to cancel plans and just relax. A reason to nap as much as I want and read as much as I want guilt-free.

Snow days do wonders for my tired psyche. There is a certain kind of tired that sleep simply doesn’t fix. There is a certain kind of tired that only unadulterated down time can fix. That’s why I love snow.

Being a woman that finds symbolism in everything, there is a symbolic renewal that comes with that perfect, white sheet of snow. A chance to reflect and slow down. A chance to let time slip by slowly while appreciating the smallest pleasures of life.

Snow is incredible. I long to live somewhere that sees more of it.

 

It looks like I did have something to write about today.

Imagine that.

The Chance of a Lifetime

The timing of this is more than coincidence, and I am aware of that. My last couple of posts dealt with my realization of the quarter life crisis and the fact that I was smack in the middle of one. Feeling stuck, and lost, I took a chance on something a year ago I would’ve laughed at. It amazing how much things — rather, selves — change in just a year.

If you asked me what one of my biggest childhood dreams was, I would tell you I wanted to see as much of the world as I could manage. Even when I was young I craved new experiences. New places, new faces, new ideas, new languages — I just wanted to soak up as much as possible. Well, fast forward twenty years and not much has changed in that aspect. I have always wanted to travel more, do more, see more.

Alas, I have not yet left the United States, even though the drive and desire is ever more deeply seeded. I need to travel more, do more, and see more.

“Get to the point,” I’m sure you’re thinking at this point in the post.

Well, I took a chance. I took a chance and applied for a job teaching English in Japan. I didn’t think I was even remotely qualified. I didn’t think I would get a call.

But, reader, I did get a call.

I got a call and an interview, then another interview; and if all went well; another interview.

And then maybe,

Just maybe,

A perfect chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do.

A chance to travel more, do more, and see more.

A chance to combine my love of teaching with my love of travel and new experiences.

A chance to break the meaningless grind.

A chance to destroy my “comfort zone.”

A chance to actually live the life I envisioned for myself when I was young.

 

So, I took a chance.

I took the chance of a lifetime.

 

I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Almost 28

Crisis mode.

I recently learned there’s a term for this:

Aptly called,

The Quarter Life Crisis.

Perpetually somewhere between a kid & a “real” adult

 

And

Intense depression

Despair

Feeling stuck

Being disrespected

Unsure of what is next

Scared to move, yet panicked to stay

 

What if I regret change later?

What if it doesn’t make me happier?

What if?

What if?

What if?

 

What if…..

I sit here forever in a state of indecision?

What if…..

I waste my life waiting for the opportune time?

What if…..

I just don’t know how to get what I really want?

What if…..

I’m just petrified by the idea of taking a chance?

 

Already depressed.

Already unhappy.

Already stuck.

Already disrespected.

 

What could be worse?

 

I don’t know.

And that’s why I’m here,

In crisis mode.

At almost 28.  

Monster

There’s a monster inside my head.

She is dark.

She is bleak.

She does not believe in love or happiness.

 

The monster inside my head

Sometimes she is quiet

Sometimes she’s an introvert

But she is always watching,

Waiting;

On bated breath,

To pounce on any inclination

Of self-doubt

Of self-consciousness

Of blissful unawareness

 

There’s a monster inside my head.

She’s a disrespectful, hateful bitch

She’s a soul-sucking hurricane of negativity

Feasting on my thoughts

My soul

My relationships

Everything that is dear to me.

 

There’s a monster inside my head.

I hate her.

But I can never rid myself of her.

 
Because the monster inside my head is me.

Sunwashed

Today, I am the sunrise.

The reliable, slow brightening of the morning sky.

The break in the darkest of night.

 

Today, I am the constant motion of the heavens around Earth.

The quiet, accountable rotation that perpetuates exhausting darkness to renewing light.

I am the changing landscape of color that denotes a new day.

 

Today, I am the sunrise.

Steady.

Expected.

The signal of something new.

 

Today, I emerge from the fading light of the moon to become a child of the sun.

Today, I turn a new leaf.

I celebrate the sunshine.

The warmth and motion of the day.

 

Today, I am the sunrise.

Only temporary;

Before the darkness returns again.

The stains that won’t wash away

 

Today I’m left feeling like that ink pen that explodes in your apron.

Anyone who’s ever served tables knows what I’m talking about.

That rouge pen that migrated to the bottom of your apron pocket, only to explode;

And cover everything in your apron with thick, black ink.

Including your hands.

Your order pad.

Your money.

And everything else you need to do your job.

It doesn’t destroy, just complicates.

It doesn’t stop you from doing your job, just makes it harder.

 

Today, I am that pen that didn’t destroy; I just complicated things.

I am that pen that didn’t stop you from doing your job, I just made it harder.

I am those smeared, sticky black ink marks that won’t quite wash off your hands.

I am those ink marks that permeate through everything you need.

I am that ink that stains your work shirt permanently.

I cling to you.

The filthy, sloppy, sad reminder of the pen that betrayed you.

Today, I am that pen.

We’re not okay

Let’s talk about the United States. The land of the free. The home of the brave. The land of assuming everyone is suspicious. The home of white privilege. Whether you hail from the good old U.S. of A. or elsewhere, recently, it is undeniable that race relations are in a piss-poor state these days, and in fact, have been for a long time. We have stayed blissfully ignorant and have continued to ignore the injustices served to minorities for hundreds — yes, hundreds — of years.

Now, bear with me. I know what you’re thinking. But Chelsea, you’re white. You’re pretty. Doesn’t that mean you are bitching about your own privilege?

Why yes. Yes I am. I am a pretty white girl. I have never been in a situation with law enforcement when I felt like my life was threatened. I have never been assumed suspicious. I have never been accused of being guilty of anything without proof. I have never been assumed dangerous.

And yes, I recognize that I have white privilege.

But what does that mean? This term gets thrown around alot these days — in a world where minorities are being shot for their cars breaking down in inopportune places or for walking down the street in the wrong neighborhood. You see — white privilege is exactly that. As a white person, I’m not in inherent danger if my car breaks down in the middle of the road. It is likely that if an officer or other law enforcement stops to see what’s going on, they will not assume I am armed, dangerous, or have illegal substances.

That’s white privilege.

If I’m walking down the street at night on my way home from a friend’s house party — I’m not assumed to be a threat to the neighborhood I’m walking through. Because of the color of my skin.

That’s white privilege.

Simply put, white privilege is all those small aggressions we of white, European descent don’t deal with in our daily lives. It’s unlikely that we’ll be the ones “randomly selected” at airport security. It is unlikely that we are assumed guilty. It is unlikely that law enforcement looks at us and assumes we have illegal substances or weapons. Cops don’t look at white people and assume we’re in gangs. They don’t assume we’re selling or doing drugs. Hell, they don’t even assume we’re armed.

And let’s be honest, in today’s society of assuming everyone is out to hurt you — a hell of a lot of people are armed.

This is why we’re not okay.

We have lived, for generations, blissfully, willfully ignorant of the systematic racism that has permeated our nation’s core values. Shit, we ENSLAVED an entire RACE of people for hundreds of years with no complaints. I’m not saying we’re the only nation with a history of slavery, but I am saying it took hundreds of years for Americans to begin to even admit that slavery is a gross injustice. It took hundreds of years for Americans to see that people of a different color aren’t lesser of a human being because of the color of their skin. What’s even worse, is after the emancipation of the slaves, we continued to treat them as less than human. We denied them the same rights as white people. We denied them the same education as white people. We denied them the same resources and opportunities as white people. We even denied them the right to vote, and penalized those who had the desire to vote.

What’s worse, is that even 150 years after emancipation — the wounds of slavery are still felt by minorities across this country. Minority races are still denied the same access to education. They are still denied the same access to basic constitutional rights (i.e.: innocent until proven guilty). We still make it harder for them to vote. We discredit their opinion. We paint them in a negative light in the media.

This, my friends, is white privilege.

What upsets me the most is how white folks are the first to deny white privilege. It doesn’t affect them directly, so it must not be real. Minorities don’t need to be convinced that white people live a more privileged life than they do. They already know. They live it every day. But it’s those of us with privilege that refuse to see it, or remain ignorant to it even in the light of conversations like these. I guarantee at least one person will read this and still deny that white privilege is a thing.

You, reader, are part of the problem.

You, reader, are why this nation isn’t okay.

You, reader, must see that you have the privilege of living in a different America than the rest of Americans.

If you need further proof, you needn’t look further than a major news network or trending news. A white man can shoot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and be taken alive. A white man can shoot blacks as they pray peacefully in church and be taken alive (and be taken by Burger King to get some food on the way back to the station).

Yet a black man can’t have his car break down in the middle of the road without being shot.

A black man can’t be a caregiver for a deaf person without being a shot.

A black man can’t walk down the street without being shot.

A black man can’t walk toward police with his hands in the air without being shot.

Do you see a pattern here?

Black people are two and half times more likely to be shot by law enforcement than white people (Washington Post, 2016). Yet, white people commit 69.1% of the violent crimes in the U.S. (Table 43A, FBI). White people are statistically just as likely to commit manslaughter as a black people. White people are statistically MORE likely to perpetrate crimes like forcible rape, aggravated assault, property crimes, and violent crimes.

Yet, 58% of those incarcerated are black or hispanic. In the United States, of 2.3 million people in federal prisons, 1 million are black (Criminal Justice Fact Sheet, NAACP). 5 times as many white people are caught will illicit drugs and illegal weapons, yet minorities are 10 times more likely to be sent to prison for the same crime.

So, do you still think systematic racism isn’t a problem? Do you still think white privilege doesn’t exist? 

Open your eyes, please, citizens of the United States.

We’re not okay, America.

We’re not okay.

 

Sources:

I would like to note that a very quick Google search lead me to all of these resources, including the statistics from the FBI on the number of violent crimes committed by race. Do a little research, people. For the love of God — do some damn research.

 

“Table 43A.” FBI. FBI, 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

 

“Aren’t More White People than Black People Killed by Police? Yes, but No.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 11 July 2016. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

 
“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” NAACP. N.p., 2016. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

Wealth

Wealth is defined as: “an abundance of valuable possessions or money.” But is that truly the only way we can live wealthy lives?  I believe wealth is more than money and materialism. To me, wealth is much more abstract than numbers in a bank or stuff in a house. Perhaps I just haven’t found the word I’m looking for to describe how I am wealthy. Or perhaps, I just value something a bit different than most people.

Here in the United States we are conditioned to be consumers from a young age. We are taught to want the biggest, newest anything and encouraged to seek jobs that bring material wealth. We glorify those who flaunt their monetary status. I have never understood the fascination with the monetary wealth. What good is a multi-million dollar house and designer clothes if you still hate yourself when you’re alone? What comfort does money bring you in the middle of a lonely, sleepless night?

I dislike western culture’s idea of wealth for many reasons — the biggest being the myth that without money, it is impossible to live a fulfilled life. Unless you work a good job or have a solid career — you can’t have lived a happy, satisfied life. We don’t deliver eulogies on the subject of a person’s salary. We don’t remember them for the stuff they owned or the car they drove; we remember the person they were.

I have known deep in my heart for many years that I am not a typical American. It has taken me a long time, but I am okay with the fact that I’m not like most of them. I couldn’t care less about the Kardashians. I don’t care if my clothes came from a thrift store. I’ve never stood in line for the release of the newest Iphone. I’m not hung up on my dress size, or that my car is almost 200,000 miles. 

Because no one will remember me for that. My students won’t remember that I only had 2 pairs of shoes. They don’t remember my recycled outfits and bad hair days. They will remember how I challenged them to be better. They will remember how I accepted no excuses. The people who know and love me, the people who enjoy my presence the most will never care if my black-on-black didn’t match or if my eyeliner was $2 or $20. To me — wealth is so much more than how new my clothes are or what model year my car is. Wealth is more than what I paid for my house or how much my gross income is.

I want wealth of knowledge. Wealth of experience. Wealth of love. Wealth of happiness. I want the kind of wealth that allows you contented, peaceful sleep. I want the wealth of having traveled the world. The wealth of good conversation. The wealth of enduring friendships. The wealth of having made a difference.

When I think of wealth, I often think of the words of Bob Marley, who was once asked if money and possessions are what make you rich. “Possessions make you rich? I don’t have these kinds of riches, no.” he replies. He seems genuinely surprised that anyone would define being rich as stacks of money or worse — things. 

“My richness is life, forever.”