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17 November 2010 @ 12:27 am
i haven't been active on lj for a really long time, but i will always dearly love the people i met here. i don't blog as often as i would like, but you can visit me at wordpress. i also have a political/activism blog on tumblr but i mostly just share news stories there, i don't comment much.

what have i done with my life lately? well, i'm finishing up a bachelor's degree in social services (ie social work) at a conservative christian university in mississippi where i have gone back in the closet for the first time in over a decade. i'm going to be 30 in about 2 months, that is fucking with my head quite a bit. i've loved and lost a few times since being back here, and i'm in the best place i've ever been i think. i started running about 2 months ago, i quit smoking, i don't drink much anymore...

activism and non-profit organizations have been my life since being back in MS. I was the VP of outreach & communication for MS NOW for a year, and was president of Jackson area NOW for a year. The National Organization for Women and i have had our ups and downs but i will say that i learned confidence, i learned how to speak in front of a group, and i had experiences that i know i never would've without the org. I am still a feminist activist in a literal sense, i'm still an officer in NOW and i still am working with other orgs in MS.

I'm trying to "be the change" i wish to see in the world, finish my degree, write when i can, and get shit done. visit my wordpress blog please!
i feel: chipperchipper
07 September 2009 @ 10:12 pm
(please note anything that i say someone said that i put quotations around is an exact quote.)

Our MS NOW president Jenni Smith had sent through a flyer to me about a "healthcare forum" being thrown by the radical right. She thought that we should let people know that it was going on so that there could be a liberal presence there to ask some questions and counter lies if need be.

Tom & I decided that we would attend and hopefully ask some questions. I wondered if any of the speakers had actually read the 1,007 page bill (HR 3200) and also why Les Riley was one of the speakers chosen for the panel. I knew that the forum was at Lemuria Books in Banner Hall. I had never been there before but in my mind I pictured the gathering being small, 30-50 people in the bookstore the way it might be if an author was doing a reading and book signing. In actuality it was at the Lemuria annex, so we had to walk across to there and arrived right about 6pm. The place was already packed to standing room only and people had started sitting outside as there was a speaker that allowed us to hear what was going on inside.(According to Lemuria employees the annex seats 70 and that with standing would hold approximately 120 people.) I wanted to take notes so it was easier to do that sitting outside.

I had expected to hear some of the frequent misconceptions or lies about HR3200 so I had read up on it prior to the forum. What actually happened was quite different than anything I'd expected...

The question of why exactly Les Riley was speaking was answered in Angela McGowan's introduction. You see Les Riley is not a doctor, he's not an expert on healthcare, and if he graduated college his bio doesn't say so. Les Riley is the organizer of "Personhood" MS, a voter initiative that hopes to amend the MS State constitution to classify fetuses as people in order to stop abortion and cloning. Yes, cloning. He is also a speaker at the anti-Obama "Tea Parties".

Riley was the first speaker of the evening. He opened by talking about Romans 13:1 & 4: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." Riley interpreted this verse to mean the Government's (only) job Biblically is to punish evil. Even leaving verses 2 and 3 out I feel that this is a bit of a stretch. Reading verses 2 & 3 it becomes clear that this passage is actually telling Christians to obey the government and laws. In fact it's no surprise that Riley skipped verse 2 as it states: "he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." Not so much of a stretch to say that protesting the President is rebelling against authority but then, I guess God didn't institute Obama? We won't go there, it brings up too many issues. ;)

Riley then informed us that those who are outside Christ will be seen naked on judgment day with their sin piled around them. He gave no chapter or verse for that. He then told a story of an email he received from someone who disagrees with him, informing him that Jesus were He here today would support universal healthcare as it cares for the poor. Riley's response to this was that the government doesn't actually use taxes to care for poor children. He said: "Socialism creates more poor people and enslaves them...That's why politicans love it." He told us that when his wife was pregnant with their 9th (yes 9th) child that he had just changed jobs and had no health insurance. His wife had complications and spend 90 days in the hospital and even then he didn't want the government's help. She didn't say whether or not she wanted the government's help as she was across from us on the deck; a tired looking woman in a long denim skirt watching over a brood of children where all the girls wore skirts.

He then told us that the "Liberal Left" says that the government shouldn't be involved in healthcare as an excuse for not protecting "tiny people". Now seeing as I am the liberal left and am also in the National Organization for Women one of the most committed pro-choice organizations in this country I can tell you that I have never said nor have I heard anyone say that the "government shouldn't be involved in HEALTHCARE" as an argument for a woman's right to choose. As far as I can tell the only thing even close to what he was saying was when we say that a woman's reproductive health choices are between her and her doctor. That is true regardless of who her insurance is coming from, the government or private insurance. He also said that because the bill doesn't state overtly anywhere that government run healthcare will not pay for abortions that the bill can easily be changed later to say that it will. His main reason for not supporting this bill appears to be that he believes that someday his tax dollars will pay for a woman to have an abortion. I hope he's right! Just kidding; or am I?

Riley then gave us his "Six reasons" for opposing universal healthcare. He went back and forth telling stories and talking as he gave his FIVE reasons for opposing it:
1. It harms the people it claims to protect. (He gave no examples of how.)
2. It is economically disastrous and will reduce opportunities for his children and grandchildren. (He didn't tell us how or why.)
3. He is Anti-Abortion and "this bill is Pro-Death" (He gave no explanation as to how it is pro-death.)
4. He is a "Constitutionalist and advocate for liberty." (I failed to see the relevance.)
5. "The Government cannot solve all of your problems only the Messiah can."

When he realized he had only given five reasons he then ended with "Because I'm a Christian."

After applause for Riley, Dr. Ed Holiday a dentist from Tupelo began to speak. As Riley did, Dr. Holiday mentioned within seconds of beginning to speak that he is married and has children. He then talked about his positive experiences speaking with "Tea Party" rallies. He informed us that we are "living under tyranny" just as in the time of Sam Adams. He believes that HR3200 "is about control not healthcare. The government wants to control all aspects of our lives."

"[HR3200] is the pit of hell." "A new trail of tears will begin. The economy will nose-dive. It will rob from our children by raising the National debt." Dr. Holiday sounded to Tom like an auctioneer and to myself like a fire & brimstone Southern Baptist preacher. Combine the two and what you imagine is what Dr. Holiday sounded like. Pretty quickly into his speech I noted that he was using impassioned tone of voice, a sense of urgency, and catch-phrases such as "my fellow americans" and "give me liberty or give me death" to evoke an emotional response in the listener meant to distract them from the fact that he pretty much said nothing. Healthcare reform he says is like "Eve eating the tree of knowledge." "We need healthcare reform but not this Trojan Horse..." He tells us, "[meant to] rob, steal and destroy the economy." He ended his speech that contained very little by stating "The government wants the right to pull the plug on you." and that "Patriots are taking names."

He used the phrase "give me liberty or give me death" at least three times, and "my fellow Americans" no fewer than twice. When the third speaker Dr. Pat Barret began it was clear that they'd started off with the two most powerful speakers. Tom and I had been receiving suspicious looks from the time we walked in and sat down. This began when the young man with the "personhood" T-shirt asked me to sign their petition as we entered and I told him that I didn't want to miss any of the speeches and perhaps when we exited. I also realized that despite the fact I was wearing conservative business casual attire (black slacks, a pink tank top, a fairly expensive scarf, heels) that I obviously stood out as I have a nose ring, 2 visible tattoos, and was wearing pants instead of a skirt. In hindsight, I probably should've worn long sleeves and a skirt as to blend in better. I was the only one outside taking notes which also drew attention to me. As time elapsed I became more and more conscious of the fact that we were not among friends. I didn't feel safe honestly. I know in this state we are always around the "from my cold dead hands" types, the ones that wouldn't vote for Obama simply because he is black. I had never really felt surrounded by them in the way that I did then. Surrounded in a way that triggered my fight or flight instinct, and i knew there were too many of them to fight off.

I'm no coward mind you. I go to conservative Christian college in a car plastered with rainbow, NOW, liberal and pro-choice bumper stickers and it's often in the back of my mind that some crazy might get in my face about them. Worse, they might do more than get in my face. In a world where people claim to be pro-life and kill doctors i'm not sure that some of them aren't crazy enough to harm a person just for being pro-choice, or gay, or liberal even - as i stop at the stop sign that has a "lose liberals" sticker on it one block from where i have to park my car. I've honestly never wanted to blend in before. I let out a breath I did not know I'd been holding when we got up to leave. Unfortunately that would not keep me from looking behind me to make sure Tom was following and literally knock one of Les Riley's toddlers to the asphalt in the process. I was panicked and aghast because believe it or not, I'm pro-choice and probably want to have kids. He was fine, he didn't even cry. I was already incredibly on edge, which led me to shout out "Oh my God, I'm SO SORRY!" which probably earned no points as I used the Lord's name in vain. Mrs. Riley (as I am sure she would want to be referred to) assured me that he was fine and for a split second I felt like we were all just people. I wasn't a radical lesbian liberal feminist Christian who enjoys body modification; she wasn't a radical right-wing anti-choice mother of nine who won't wear pants and probably believes she should submit to her husband. For a split second there we were two people concerned about a child who had hit the pavement. People, just people.

That's something I think we all forget when we start thinking about politics. It's something we have to forget to an extent when we become activists for either side. "The enemy" becomes a theory rather than a flesh and blood human being. I fight for her right to choose to have nine children, she wants to take away the right of every other woman to not. It's odd to look into someone's eyes and for a split second forget all of that. In the end, I can give you no solid, statistical, valid reason for not supporting HR3200 because they didn't give one. If there are any, it appears that this particular group of people believe that their skills at playing on your fears, your inability or unwillingness to find out the facts for yourself, and your eagerness to be swept away in mob mentality are much more important than giving you concrete reasons to not support it. I'm pretty sure that alone tells you why you should.
i feel: discontentdiscontent
03 June 2009 @ 10:10 pm
this is my latest blog post from www.nowms.org

jenni smith, president of MS NOW and nancy kohsin-kintigh, director of the jackson women's health organization

this is a difficult post to write, as it is a very difficult time. this past sunday may 30th dr. george tiller was viciously murdered in his church during the service as he served as an usher. by now most everyone has heard about this horrific act of violence. sunday was a blur of at first shock followed by disbelief, sadness and then activity. the fact that Jackson Women's Health Organization director Nancy Kohsin-Kintigh had to begin organizing a press conference when she should have been allowed to grieve the loss of her friend is just the tip of the indignity that the act of a gunman who was clearly out of his mind caused.

i'm not even going to try to hide the fact that i am angry.

i am angry that a movement that claims to be protecting life would take it. i am angry that these organizations will immediately (20 minutes after the act? really?) condemn the action but remind people that dr. tiller was "a mass murderer". whether or not they want to admit it, these pro-life organizations nurture and create killers like the man that took dr. tiller away from his family, his friends, and the women that he helped each day. i believe that organizations like operation rescue are directly responsible for the murder of dr. tiller.

these groups want to say that abortion is murder. ok, well what is murder? if anyone reads my blogs here and elsewhere you probably already know that i am a "wordie". i perhaps just made that up right now but it's like "foodie". i love words. so when i begin a thought or a blog post that has something to do with a word i start at the beginning - let's take a look at what the word means so that we can truly begin to understand it. let's start at the source. because words can get perverted, their meaning can be changed by popular culture, by incorrect usage, by slang, by any number of things. so before i go any further let's look for a second at the word: murder.

according to the random house dictionary which is used on the website dictionary.com murder is defined as: "the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law." or to be more specific look at what wikipedia has to say about murder: "Murder, as defined in common law</a> countries, is the unlawful killing of another human being with intent</a> (or malice aforethought</a>), and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide</a>." so murder is something unlawful aka against the law, and as we all know abortion is NOT against the law it is legal. so when groups like operation rescue call dr. tiller a "mass murderer" what they are really doing is using inflaming language to incite people who are anti-abortion. incite them to what? well, we already know the answer to that don't we?

the truth is abortion is a tricky subject in the united states, and especially here in the south. in mississippi we have left today only one abortion clinic in the entire state. i had the opportunity to spend all day yesterday in the MS Dept of Archives & History reading room with our Starkville NOW President izzy pellegrine who is doing research on a personal project involving abortion in the state. as we looked at newspaper clippings beginning in 1975 a shocking pattern became clear: since roe v. wade the anti-abortion activists have had the exact same argument and so have we. a quote that we read from the 1980s could easily have been followed by the name "Jenni Smith" instead of the name of the then-President of MS NOW. izzy and i both remarked on that. the question became what have we been doing for the last 36 years? well i know what izzy and i have been doing, neither of us were born in 1973; but what have the feminists, the pro-choice movement been doing the last 36 years? because somehow we aren't changing any minds.

it's true that it's hard to argue with religion. we can obviously, and have and do, but how do you change the mind of someone who has a closed mind? you can't and it's clear that we are not. how do you identify an extremist? that actually is not so hard. it's easy to spot a ticking time bomb, just not so easy to see when he or she will go off. the new york times magazine featured a jackson area activist back in october of 1994. in her cover story "kill for life?" lisa belkin profiled "rev" roy mcmillan and his wife beverly. in the piece federal marshalls walk dr. booker into the now-defunct new woman medical center in jackson, to prevent mcmillan from killing him. fifteen years and the faces haven't changed. neither have the sides that they are on. in that same story it states: "The day after Britton [an abortion doctor in florida that was killed by mcmillan's personal friend paul hill] was shot, Booker's security guard says he heard McMillan shout, "You could be next, Booker."

what sense does it make to kill for "life"? it makes no sense in my mind but it's apparent that the people that do believe that the end justifies the means. kill an abortionist and you stop abortions. that's short-sighted in that another doctor will take the place of the doctor you kill. it's also short-sighted in that the same people who want to "save babies" have no interest in making sure that they have food or health care after they are born. this is what has always boggled my mind: the exact same people who stand outside the abortion clinics with their signs featuring mangled fetuses or whatever they claim to be "murdered babies" are also the people that want to do away with medicaid and welfare. as soon as the baby can breathe on its own it must fend for itself, literally. they want to protect it in the womb but they don't want their tax dollars to help pay for food for it to eat or insurance to get it shots or doctor's visits once it goes to wherever it will go to try and survive.

an unwanted child will not be nurtured. it will not be loved, it will not be adequately cared for, but that doesn't seem to matter to roy mcmillan and the other thousands of pro-"life" activists around the country. what about the babies that are killed? left for dead by teenage mothers that do not and never wanted them? why would you kill for an infant to live for ten or fifteen days of abuse before it is smothered and left in a dumpster? they scream "let us help you love your baby!" but how do they do that? they don't. they only want to confuse and intimidate young women past the point that they can obtain a legal abortion.

i know i tend to go on, and honestly with this subject i could go on and on. perhaps i will make this a series of blog posts. i want to end this post and leave you with this true story. a few months ago a friend and i were on a bench swing enjoying the sunshine at laurel street park in the belhaven area of jackson. it was a pretty day so the park was full of children and their care-takers enjoying the warmth, and one heterosexual couple swinging on the swings. a man entered the park a short time after we arrived with four african american children. something tugged on the back of my mind, but i wasn't sure what. i think i recognized the hat that he wore but all i thought to myself somewhat unconsciously was "that man doesn't look like he would have four adopted black children."

my friend and i continued our conversation until the man in the funny white hat approached us. he looked at my friend and said "do you know where i met these children?" she was a little confused and laughed but said "where?" he then began to tell us a story. it was about that time that i realized who the man was, "rev" roy mcmillan. i recognized his distinctive hat because i passed him each day on the way to work, he held up signs that said things like "abortion is black genocide" on the corner of state st and fondren place, the corner that he could stand on given the restraining order. i realized that he must've seen the bumper stickers on my car "pro-child, pro-choice, every child a wanted child", "i'll be post-feminist in the post-patriarchy" and my HRC sticker and by process of elimination decided that of all the people in the park she and i would be the ones driving that car. he told us a story of a young woman who was homeless, living in her car with her four children. she had no job, no way to work with so many young children, and had no home for them except a car. she came to jackson to have an abortion because she was pregnant with her fifth child. he interceded and talked her out of having an abortion, he helped them find a place in a homeless shelter. (i imagine simms house. i know it because a friend lived there for a time and i have issues with their policies.) the baby was born on christmas day, a little girl. his voice was oddly calm and his demeanor was frankly a bit creepy even before i realized who he was. at that point one of the children ran over and told mcmillan that he had to go to the bathroom. mcmillan replied "that's ok. we are going to chuck-e-cheese now." and wandered away as inexplicably as he had wandered over. my friend looked at me confused and said "what was that?" i said "that was roy mcmillan."

what i took from that conversation is this. there is no ounce of common sense in convincing a woman who lives in her car with four children to have another child she does not want and bring it into homelessness and poverty. when it comes right down to it the reason that i am pro-choice is this: it is hard to raise a child even under the best circumstances. children deserve love. if you love a child he or she may never notice that they grow up in poverty, but they deserve to be loved and wanted. when someone does not want a child they do not treat them with love or respect. no child deserves to be abused. i can tell you stories of friends and acquaintances that you would think came from a lifetime original movie. no 8 year old girl should be pimped out by her father for money. no one should have their arm broken by a father when they make too much noise. children should be loved and wanted and i do not think that anyone should be forced to carry and raise a child that they do not want. abortion is still legal in this country and i will give my own blood to see that it remains so, but i don't think that anyone should have to die for doing something that is LEGAL, that is OPTIONAL, and that women seek out because they WANT and NEED it.

photos by vickie d. king of the clarion ledger

i feel: sadsad
14 February 2009 @ 12:10 am

this is a video i made of photographs i took from our prop 8 protest in november 2009 and our ex-gay protest at morrison heights baptist church february 2009.

song "lullaby for the new world order" by matthew good, used with permission.
Tags: ,
i feel: creativecreative
27 August 2008 @ 10:51 pm
as i said in an email earlier, i have a pit in my stomach like i did before katrina... i don't like the buzz that is building around potential hurricane gustav.

i remember how horrible it was being so far away during katrina. all i did was post about it, 5, 8, 12 times a day. radar, articles, videos from nola news programs... i definitely don't want to go back to that place, but i really hope it's not as bad as it could be. please.

headin straight to nola:
09 August 2008 @ 04:17 pm
so my horoscope (lol, i know. i know. i don't take them seriously i just read them occasionally for fun) had something interesting to say today: "Ask people in love you respect for their definitions of love. Is it unconditional? Passionate? Devout? Full of affection and mutual respect?"

now, i don't think it necessarily has to be someone in love to answer this question. i am wondering what all of my friends (because of course i respect you all) what is your definition of love? not what makes it work, not what makes it last, any of that stuff but how do you personally define love?

talk to me. leave a comment, i want to hear your thoughts.
i am: couch
i feel: curiouscurious
in my head: myspace karaoke
29 June 2008 @ 10:28 pm
new f-only banner to go with the new theme!

some entries have been unlocked so you get a feel for the journal & me.

please also visit lamiarants which is my "public journal" and anyone is free to join that community although i am the only one that can post. thanks a lot! :)

edit: this got waaaay buried back in '06 so i'm moving it up. i make too many public entries! lol.
i feel: restlessprivate
in my head: the twilight singers ~ twilight...
24 June 2008 @ 10:32 pm
got a couple new rants over at lamiarants go read 'em.
24 June 2008 @ 09:13 pm
i needed that smile!!!

Anyone know what's being filmed on Magazine street near Napoleon? Just curious!

(Post a new comment)

the film MARDI GRAS

Starring Carmen Electra's boobs. With special guest Carmen Electra.


it's true, the best people in the fucking world live in nola. maybe one day i will be one of them! (september - april, mama wants a winter refuge in heaven...)
i feel: okayokay
in my head: regina spektor ~ apres moi
09 June 2008 @ 11:38 pm
i don't watch the view except when there's a clip on perez hilton (i used to, back in the day like the view. back when i worked noon-seven i watched the view and part of dr phil before i went to work, after working out.)

but can i just say after the last clip, elizabeth hassleback needs to be muzzled? wtf? i'm all for you being a ridiculously anorexic better looking anne coulter, but i wish that the words that came out of your mouth were a bit more intelligent. i'm not a raging fan of whoppi (did i spell that right? LOL) either, but at least she was making an intelligible point.

this is what survivor has brought us...dear God. breed, please continue breeding elizabeth. it's apparently what you're best at (save the thinking for the men) and God knows we need more republicans.

i'm less bitchy when i didn't just quit smoking 11 hours ago. slightly.
i feel: hungryi may do unspeakable things
in my head: i want to smoke gd it!!!!! i wish i could sleep...