Confederate Statues: It’s Really Not That Complicated

Up on my soap box for a moment – feel free to scroll on past, or not. Just do me a favor, and don’t drop any ignorant, uneducated, and/or uninformed troll posts here.

I will cuss, have no doubts, but it will be in general conversation, and not aimed at any one person in particular so, keep that in mind and don’t take anything I say as a personal attack on YOU. Respectful discourse is, as always, welcome:

What’s up?

This is just a quick note to all the folks posting memes and comments claiming that the “Removal of confederate statues is the same thing as erasing history”:

No. It. Fucking. Isn’t.

Oh, and if you think arguing this point makes you appear  smarter than the historians and teachers and museum curators who’re are telling you “Wrong!”…well, you’d be mistaken again. It really fucking doesn’t.

Now, stop already with that false equivalency. This has nothing to do with erasing any kind of history. It never has had anything to do with erasing history. And that’s the game that’s being played. Right now. Right under our noses. Open your eyes and see it, before it’s too late.

What’s it all about?

Here’s the deal: Confederate statues are monuments to those who tried to secede from the US. They were traitors to the Constitution of the United States of America and were hell bent on keeping people of color in chains, to keep them viewed as nothing more than a valuable commodity to be bought and sold. Nor more, no less. This is a point that no one. No. One. Can. Argue. If you say: “Robert E. Lee was a HERO!”, then you are raising a traitor, someone who fought a fucking WAR for the right to BREAK AWAY from the United States of America, to a “hero” status. You can’t call him a hero AND claim to be a proud American. No. Just stop. Shhh. It doesn’t work like that.

These statues that are being taken down are not being destroyed so, just quit with that noise, please. These statues are being moved to museums, where they belong. History is not being erased. Museums, books, and military parks such as Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, Tennessee (part of the U.S. National Parks Service) are still here to teach how the Civil War started. They’ve been doing it on a daily basis – some for decades and some for more than a century – and and they will continue to do so. It’s what they’re created for, and they do a damn good job at educating those who really want to know that history.

Welcome to class 

These parks, and books, and museums teach the politics behind the decisions that led to the Civil War. They teach about the massive loss of life, the division, the financial upheaval on both the Union and Confederate sides. They teach about slavery, a major player in the decisions that led to the outbreak of war. They talk about the personal toll on African American slaves, they talk about the financial toll on plantation owners. They put it all out there for people to see. They shine a light on it so no one can ever claim ignorance.

You can’t get there from here

This is the kind of history that can only be learned in places that are set up to teach the intricacies of something so complicated as a war among a country’s people. This is the kind of history that  SHOULD be relegated to memorial parks, and books, and museums.  You will not find the history of this dark time in our country’s past hiding behind a statue of Robert E. Lee – a man who fought to KEEP people in chains, no better than cattle. It’s not mentioned anywhere on his statue. In fact, his statue simply states his name with his birth and death year. This is a memorial, it’s dedicated to the memory of Lee, not to the memory of the atrocities of the Civil War, not to the lessons we learned or, in this case, have failed to learn.

You keep talking about Lee, but he’s not the only memorial!

You’re correct. He’s not. There are memorials spread out all over the south, and some in the north, that celebrate Roger B. Taney, Stonewall Jackson, and other ambiguous “unsung confederate heroes.” They’re all a disgrace. Every last one of them. These monuments and memorials were placed during the era of Jim Crow, and Civil Rights. They were placed in areas where the population is predominantly African American. They were placed in response to the rise of Civil Rights in this country. They’re meant as reminders to the Black people in this country that, at one point in our history, they were considered “less than.” And then, as if this wasn’t enough, these memorials were lifted high and literally put on pedestals to look DOWN on those same people.  To hell with that, if the shoe were on the other foot, I’m sure you, me, any other fair-skinned and thin-skinned American would be frothing at the mouth to “tear’em down.”

Make no mistake, these aren’t heroes

These are people who viewed fellow human beings as sub-human, as less than human, without rights to their own bodies, their own religion, their own families. These are the type of people who don’t DESERVE a monument.

Use logic. We don’t make “monuments” to the losers in any war, do we? No. We don’t.

We have a monument to the folks who died on the USS Arizona during Pearl Harbor, we do NOT have a statue dedicated to Yamamoto Isoroku, the man who planned and carried out the attack.

We have a monument to the people who died at the World Trade Center in NY, but we don’t see Osama Bin Laden’s likeness immortalized in bronze anywhere on the site.

There are hundreds of Holocaust memorials around the world that inspire thoughtful reflection, but you will never find a statue at one of those memorials with Hitler’s face on it.

We create monuments and memorials to remember those who showed great bravery in service TO our country, not AGAINST our country. We create monuments and memorials to those suffered – and died – at the hands of oppressors.

We create parks and museums dedicated to the history behind the Civil War. We identify the historic sites on which battles took place so, when we walk there among the silent hillsides, the gravity of what took place is not lost.  These sacred places already exist – both Union and Confederate. THIS is where the statues belong, not in front of our courthouses, or in our downtown parks, or on the front of our middle schools.

So, what now?

We can’t allow this issue to be reduced to something as simple as someones “feelings” being hurt. This isn’t a left/right, liberal/conservative, Dem/GOP issue. This should never, ever be a partisan issue. To treat it as such is a slap in the face to every man, woman, child, and family destroyed by the Civil War – both black and white, both north and south. That war, and all it stood for, is a stain on our history as a country – one we must own fully. It deserves attention, it deserves respect, and it deserves to be documented as meticulously as any other historically significant military operation. Remembering and documenting, however, should not be confused with celebrating. There is nothing celebratory about a war.

Final thoughts

Statues can have a place in the historical record, but when we put the value of a statue commemorating traitors above the value of an entire section of our population, we’ve failed as a country. We must never forget, or minimize, the lives destroyed by the distorted thinking and defective mindsets that insisted, to the point of war for Christ’s sake, that a particular group of humans was “less than.”

Removing these statues is one very small step in righting a wrong.

That’s what this is all about. Stop equating it with something as petty as a schoolyard taunt. It’s far more complicated than that – and if you stopped and thought about it from a different perspective, you’d see know it.

Signed:

Born Southern Raised Boston

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Just a piece of art that grabbed at me

Rapid-Fire Randomness…

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What happens when a dream, a conversation, a notification of a cousin’s acceptance into his Archaeological Doctoral program at Yale, and a life-long fascination with Mars all converge?

Possibilities.

Possibilities happen. And, sometimes those possibilities surprise even the the most creatively misunderstood (read: unsuccessful) writers among us!

Such a crazy, random, rapid-fire sequence of events. It reminds me of my son’s (Asperger’s) insistence that 2 + 2 = windowpane. Why? Because he remembers some random math problem that used panes of glass to represent two plus two with the sum total being a window of four panes of glass. But, I digress…back on topic: Hooray for random ideas!

So, now I’m writing. Again. I don’t delude myself into thinking that this will be anything more than an interesting and unique short story, but it will be a story.  All I can hope for now is that it captivates readers as much as it did me when it smacked me upside the head and announced: I’m HEEEEERRRREEEE!

So, This Happened.

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One of the things I really wanted to do was to write some compelling pieces about female sci-fi authors.  And oh my God, have we had some prolific feminine voices in the genre: Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, and Octavia Butler – to name just a few! These are writers I grew up reading, some of my favorites that helped me to mesh together a genre that both intrigues me and makes me feel like I can really make a mark in the literary field. They’re the reason I ever wanted to start writing in the first place.  One thing has led to another – and I’ll explain that in a moment, and I haven’t gotten to these pieces – yet.  But I do plan to, in the very near future. In fact, I have a short break coming up that’ll be begging for some writing, so stay tuned.

Now, to get back on point, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never hidden my hopes of, one day, joining this list of authors, even if it were just as a footnote. I would be so thrilled to count myself among these truly talented women.  And, I also know a degree doesn’t make an author.  I know this like I know breathing is necessary to life.  But – and there is always a “but” in my world – while my brain understands this, there is still a small, angry, bitter voice, hiding down in the dark, damp corners of my head, continually feeding me the idea that I am not a strong enough writer.  That my characters are weak, or my plots are too thin.  That I’m really not “good enough.”  If I knew how to smother that voice, I’d already have my pillow in hand but, alas, it still shouts out often enough that I find myself not trusting my own voice, and writing only in fits and spurts.

In an attempt to counter that personal failing, I took some classes and finished a degree I’d started nearly twenty years ago. However, as challenging as these classes were, they weren’t so advanced that they were able to appease my inner-critic, or silence that festering little gremlin.  No, this was just your basic BA.  Not an MA, not an MFA…something to be proud of, sure, but still: not enough.

So, I pushed it just a bit further.  What the hell, I thought, the worst they can do is say “no.”  And then that festering little gremlin can give herself a congratulatory pat on the back and an indulgent grin, and I can move on with my life, content in my perfectly acceptable, normal career of writing web copy and health care marketing pieces. So I sent off my personal statement and two pieces of writing – not my best work, but not my worst either.  They were what I considered mediocre. I’m still not convinced those mediocre pieces being mailed to the school wasn’t an attempt by the festering little gremlin to sabotage my application from the jump.

And then I got the letter.

I won one of sixteen spots for the June Cohort.  I will be going to school for my MFA. NOT my MA, my god damned MFA.  The authors on staff at the school think my work is good enough and shows promise.  The professors think my work is good enough and shows promise.  Me? I’m still on the fence – because I’m a self-deprecating little trollop that thinks everything she writes is “the suck.” But, right now? What I think comes second to what the pros think. And THEY think: Good enough.  And, bonus: that festering little gremlin has gone silent. For now.

Here’s hoping that letter is just the “pillow” I needed to smother that bitch.

Totally Random Musings

So this came across my news feed. I’m not ashamed to admit that my inner DIII Nerd laughed – loudly. ❤

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Throw Back the Curtain

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“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” – Author Unknown

I had just finished setting up my daughter and her friend so they could sack out and watch movies, before heading into my son’s room to settle him in with his kindle and a snack, when my cell started pinging message notifications one after another.  I stopped what I was doing and thought, “Well, something must have happened, and by the sounds of it, it can’t be good.”  So, I hurried up and tucked my son in, and then went to check what all the fuss was about.

It all started with a note on Facebook from a friend…asking our little group a very difficult question: should she…or shouldn’t she?  In the end, she did, of course. She did it because it was the right thing to do, because she is strong, and she is brave. But also because she felt an overwhelming responsibility to her daughter.  A responsibility that demanded she do everything in her power to nurture an environment, a country – a world, for the love of God – worthy of her presence.  One where she will have every opportunity – without strings.

So, you’re probably wondering, “What did she do?” And, that’s a fair question. What she did was throw open the curtain and walk out into the light.  She posted her story, with all its ugly facets and residual, sharply honed shame. She left the shadows and, damn it, she is not going back.

csa_shareable-01-600-600x320-1The story is one of a 17-year-old girl, a freshman at college, at an off-campus party, who was raped.  She didn’t report it because she was ashamed and intimidated. This boy and his friends made her cower in fear – she had to spend the next four years going to the same school. Over the course of our conversation, each and every one of us echoed our support for her by lending our own voices.  One friend recounted her experience: 8 years of physical and mental abuse. She never reported it because all of their friends were mutual.  She was ashamed and afraid – he made sure she stayed afraid. Another added to the conversation: an ex who demanded she abort their child and, when she refused, tried to “abort” the baby himself through physical violence. She never reported it because they were a couple, and she was afraid no one would believe her.  And, of course, I outlined my own experience with sexual/domestic abuse.  The first time, I didn’t report it, I was young 16 at the time, and terrified.  The second time I did report it, and got out.

This is just one small group of friends.  And yet, every one of us had an experience.  The really scary part though?  We were not alone.

On the public post, more women added their stories.  A rape while serving in the military – the victim forced to take an honorable discharge, but only if she remained quiet.  If she complained, or brought charges, that would earn her a dishonorable discharge.  The victim punished and forced out of the Navy because she had the audacity to “get” raped.

All across social media, from Twitter to Facebook, Instagram to Snapchat, women of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds (social and financial) have been coming forward to add their stories, their voices to the swelling tide of rage and disgust that is, at this very moment, sweeping across our country. Enough is enough.

consent#WhyWomenDontReport? Because we’re made to feel ashamed, like it’s all, somehow, our fault.  We’re told: “How were you dressed? Did your clothing ask for it”? “What did you expect, going out to a bar and having a drink?” “Don’t you know you court trouble when walking at night alone?” So, we’d like to address those questions with the following: “My God damned clothing is inanimate and doesn’t ‘speak.’” “I expected to go out for a night with my friends and not get attacked, why is that too much to ask?” “All I was ‘courting’ was getting to my destination unharmed and without being accosted.”  Now take your excuses that place blame on the victim, and shut the hell up.  There’s your answer.  That is why women didn’t report. But, do you hear us now? We are raising our voices and rejecting this twisted version of “how it is.”

We need men, real men, to stand up and support a different kind of narrative. And this should be done publicly, not privately via emails and messages, but right out in the open.  Loud, vociferous, and angry – male voices that offer support, empathy, sympathy and understanding. Because that code is still in place.  That dismissive brand of entitlement that seems to say “all men do it” when, in reality, they don’t. But to remain silent only allows the behavior, the “rape” culture to grow, fester, and bleed out into everyday society, everyday actions.  A society where little boys who hit girls do so because “they have a crush on her” – and it is considered a cute, and no-means-no1valid excuse. Where women can’t venture out into public without rethinking if the shoes they are wearing will allow them to run away if necessary, or if their dress is too clingy, or whether or not they have 911 already dialed into their cell phone, their fingers hovering over the “send” button, as they begin to cross a darkened parking lot to get to their destination. No more. Screw that to hell and back.

It has been said that sunlight is one of the strongest disinfectants – and nothing can hide when the spotlight is cast upon it.  Each one of these voices are throwing back the curtains, and snapping up the shades.  They are calling the light from inside their kitchens, the grocery stores, and the Kindergarten classes, they are screaming out their frustration from the boardrooms and the assembly lines, they are standing up in the crowds at the libraries, on the trains, in the carpools, and at the gyms. Because they’re fed up, they’re pissed off, and they’re just not going to stay silent one second longer.

Over the past few weeks, the conversation has grown into a giant, virulent boil that has finally, painfully – and damn-the-consequences – been lanced.

So, my advice to those who continue to push this “weak wristed” narrative that “real men talk this way,” “real men act this way,” or “it’s just ‘locker-room’ talk,” is to buckle the hell up – because you flipped the “bitch” switch, and we will not stay silent just to make your turn-of-the-century, stunted selves more “comfortable.” In fact, the more you insist this is acceptable, the louder, and more uncomfortable we will make you feel.

This ride has just begun, and you all can either act civilized and keep the hell up, or woman-silhouette-blue-skyget left behind to fade into obscurity.  But make no mistake: under no circumstances will we allow you to push us back into the shadows. #MyVoiceMyStory #IBelieveHerIAmHer

An Open Letter To Donald Trump From Some Angry Women.

Spot the hell on.

Drifting Through

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Dear Mr. Trump… can I call you Mr. Trump? Is that ok? I want you to be happy, that’s very important to me.

Before I get started, let me say this letter isn’t from all women. The Trumpettes surely won’t approve of this message. But this is from most women.

We see right through you. We have all known you at some point. Your ways are not unfamiliar to us. We see through you because we’ve been dealing with you our whole lives.

We heard you call women pigs. And disgusting. And stupid. And bimbos.

We watched as you called a former Ms. Universe “Ms. Piggy” and then spent four days continuing to insult her.

We see your weakness. Your lust for attention at any cost, your need to denigrate women. We see all of it. And we’re mad.

Yes. We’re mad. And fired up. And here’s the thing about us……

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Random Thoughts About a Short Story

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I had a pretty decent idea for a short story – but, as usual, no time to start writing it – yet. Now, those that know me know that I am so preoccupied with organization, I walk a shadowed line that exists somewhere between Librarian Of The Year and “Hoarders” candidate. So what did I do? I made a spontaneous decision to do away with the little bits and pieces of paper, the endless notebooks, and the leaking pens that stain my fingers blue.  Instead, I opened up a word doc and started typing out the concept.  You know, so I wouldn’t “lose” it.  And, rather than writing “Short Story Concept,” I typed “Shit Story Concept.”  This…this does not bode well.

I’m deep into literary theory and riding the edge to the end of the longest stretch of my academic studies.  Now on to my (hopefully) MFA – but if I keep writing “shit stories” I may not even get that nod.  Good grief.

Self doubt crept in.  I hate that son-of-a-bitch.  He does nothing but weigh me down.  I was running when he started rearing his head.  You see, running is my “deep-thinking” time – and self-doubt isn’t invited to THAT particular party. However, self-doubt doesn’t give a slick-god-damn for invitations and he crashed it anyway. I lay all the blame for the “shit story” slip up on his shoulders, the useless ogre. And yes, in my world, self-doubt is a he.  He even has a name: Jackson.  Why? Because it’s pretentious as hell and holds a certain aura of arrogance.  In any case, this is my party – and I’ll name the nefarious, intangible guests whatever the hell I want.

One bright note from that bitch of a run: I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone has a “story” waiting to be told.  And 90% of everything a writer puts on paper is total shit.  But then there’s that 10% that we all keep reaching out to catch.  Only way to grab that dragon’s tail is to keep right on friggin’ writing.

Eyes on the world people.  I leave you with this observation:

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Stranger Things? Indeed.

Image used through CreativeCommons.org
Image used through CreativeCommons.org

When my cousin tells me I need to watch a show, I’m writing down the title and looking for it, because I learned long ago to listen to her instincts.

Now, I have been known to drop off the face of the planet, fall off the radar, go MIA from all things social, and just generally tune out of “pop culture” related everything for months at a time.  But when it comes to gripping entertainment (cinema, Broadway, BBC, etc.), I never seem to miss the shows that leave a mark – because I have Annie – my (now not so) secret weapon; the one relative who always seems to know when I swam out a bit too far and need to be hooked by the collar and reeled back into the land of the living. Or dead. Dying? Alien?  Whatever.  My point is, when she emails me that something is a “must see”…I don’t argue. I just pop some popcorn and get to watching.

Her most recent recommendation was the show Stranger Things, the latest Netflix original series offering.  The one that feels as if it could very well be the bastard child of an unholy tryst between Stephen King and Steven Spielberg – if that were at all possible and not in any way unnatural.  Okay, it can be unnatural – who am I to argue with greatness?

Show creators Matt and Ross Duffer do not disappoint with this nostalgic and tense trip down a dark, twisted, and cold memory lane. The Duffer brothers concocted a perfect recipe of sketchy, clandestine government agencies, sinister supernatural creatures, mysterious disappearances, and even more mysterious appearances, to turn a normal, run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter, early-80s town upside down (see what I did there? No? Watch the show!) and shake it out of its idyllic existence.

Placing a town in peril and putting the bulk of the detective work into the hands of a group of childhood friends is classic Spielberg, while the understated costuming and settings are a tip back to King.  Add to this a seamless continuity from one episode to the next, and solid acting from 80s/90s favorites Winona Ryder, and Matthew Modine, David Harbour, and relative new comers Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Caleb McLaughlin, and Gaten Matarazzo, and it becomes dazzlingly clear that this cast has found a unique and rare formula that simply works.

For purely nostalgic reasons alone, this show is a strong draw – but if you’re a serious sci-fi or horror fan, there are an abundance of verbal and visual Easter eggs threaded throughout the show that give a firm nod back to classic films that came decades before.  If you pay close enough attention you’ll see similarities to movies including: Stand by Me, IT, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Alien, Fire Starter, The Goonies, Predator, Scanners, Poltergeist, and many, many more.  It’s the movie version of a “Word-Seek” puzzle dedicated to the best 70s and 80s science fiction and fantasy films and stories. Add to that the Dungeons and Dragons theme and it’s a sci-fi geek’s holy grail.

This show is a must see for any sci-fi or horror fan who appreciates a classic, organic “scare” that doesn’t rely on flashy effects and over-the-top CGI. It’s stripped down and raw, but it works on such a deep, psychological level, that you don’t know it’s happening until you’re well and truly sucked into the fold.

All it took was one episode for me to get hooked.  In just 24-hours – and allowing for sleep, food, and bathroom breaks, I blew through all 8 episodes.  I’m not ashamed to say that I feel a bit lost…as I sit here, wondering what to do now that I’ve finished the season.

There’s no news (well, reliable anyway) on another season – yet, but there are rumors.  And I honestly don’t know how they’d even top that first season – although I do have my guesses. That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t state the obvious:  with the impressive writing and solid, spot on performances from the cast, I’m willing to bet – if given the opportunity – this series would continue to deliver binge-worthy seasons.

 

CVSO 3’s Planet – Quadrillions of miles away – and photographed???

Check it out:

Amazing Photo Shows Likely Alien Planet 1,200 Light-Years Away

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