Who have you become, America? Who will you become?

*trigger warning: assault*
When the letter accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct came out I thought that there’s no way we will move forward with this man as a potential for the Supreme Court…. and then we did and that’s where my disappointment has stemmed from for weeks. I have tried as a teacher, and when I was a public figure in the Miss America organization to keep my mouth closed, and I have finally read enough arguments on Facebook that I can no longer do so. This will be my last statement on the issue. Any negative comments will be deleted.

My social media from this point forward will not address political issues unless they are positive it will be used to talk about my volunteerism which is a big part of my life, to talk about family and friends, and clearly to talk about my excitement for my upcoming wedding next summer to my sweet, handsome Caleb.

I do reserve the right to unfriend any family or friends who choose to continue the discussion over Brett Kavanaugh’s accusations against his sexual misconduct.

Now let me pause there, I know this unfriending business is a sensitive subject for some people…and I’ve seen this increasingly particularly on Facebook lately. I actually see posts about it in more being a sensitive subject for generations older than me. I get being unfriended or uninvited or whatever can be upsetting, however, I do think that everybody has a right to unfriend somebody. Just as everyone has their own opinions. I have actually in the last few weeks unfriended some family members and friends, myself because of some of the stuff they have said has been very reminiscent of what I encountered in the first few months of coming forward about the assault I dealt with in high school and it has been a little triggering for me. it’s been very upsetting to me and so I didn’t want to continue to read those things. 

Now when I created my social media it was with the purpose of seeing friends and family‘s post about babies, dogs, you know, what they’re doing with their lives, not their political opinions so I will go ahead and say that I have gone full-blown political the last few weeks was never my intention; but it seems to me that that’s the only way to get into a few thick skulls (sorry if that’s offensive to you, probably lost people right there but that’s what it is). I do think however that no political candidate is ever going to read your Facebook post or your Instagram post. They do not care. If you want to change a congress member’s opinion write them a letter, give them a call, that is the way you make the change; this post is not for them, this is for you who are reading it on my Facebook list or whoever they’ve shared it to.

So let me jump into the meat of the argument. I think quite a few of you already know where I stand on this. It’s been very difficult for me to be non-partisan on the Brett Kavanaugh accusations of sexual misconduct. I’m a social studies teacher and I should be non-partisan but this one’s really tough for me because we already have a President in office who has been accused of sexual misconduct, that we still put in office and now he is trying to put someone on the Supreme Court to make decisions for us nationally who also is being accused of sexual misconduct, and it’s not only of one woman it’s now, I believe up to, what four women, so that’s not just one woman seeking to further herself. I just lost some of you, but I promise this is not a rant on Trump. This has a legitimate point.  

So if you read my Facebook post, you know I have already made the argument that women do not come for sexual accusations in this type of arena for fame. Take for example the Larry Nassar or the Bill Cosby accusations or even Kevin Spacey. Men and women who have come forward are not getting fame for this; I’m willing to bet that you can’t name the women and men who are coming forward with these accusations; I’m willing to bet without googling it, you cannot name five of Bill Cosby’s accusers and he’s been convicted recently.  The only reason that you may be able to name more than a few of Larry Nassar’s survivors of his assault and molestation women is because they already had fame these women picked themselves up and kept moving forward and were able to achieve amazing things but they didn’t get there because they came forward and said “Hey, Larry Nassar did this to me and I want him put away.” Their achievement had nothing to do with that; they had already achieved their moment in the spotlight it was not about getting fame for them and that’s not what Christine Blasey Ford is doing. She already has a career, she already has the money, she already has her degrees.

So my question to everyone who has argued well why didn’t she come forward sooner is: if it was you, if it was your son, daughter, or your cousin, or your aunt, uncle, mother, father, whoever it is that you value most in your life, would you force them to come forward, if they were uncomfortable doing so? Which clearly Dr. Ford was not comfortable at the time. She was embarrassed. She was scared, which most victims whether male or female are at the time. Even the statistics from the National Assault Hotline/RAINN say that most people who were calling in I have not told someone before. I’m one of those people. When I came forward two years after my assault it was the first time that I had chosen to talk about it since it happened. I had told one person and I didn’t use the word assault at the time. I didn’t say what he had done to me. I said he did something I didn’t want him to do and do not ever tell anybody. The whole reason I did not come forward at the time is the questions and victim blaming I knew I would get, and I then got when I finally did come forward. The questions most victims are asked, that I was asked, is exactly what we’re pulling today, it is exactly what you people are putting on social media right now about Dr. Ford and it’s disgusting. 

I don’t care what it a male or female had on, how drunk they were or were not, if they had ever had contact with the assailant, or if the assault was at random. For the record: tennis shoes, jeans, sweatshirt, I did know him, and he had no right to lay a finger on me. It is never a victim-survivor’s (whatever term you want to use) fault and how dare any of you blame this woman of it being her fault or her seeking fame, you all are enablers.

The next piece of the argument I want to address is that Mr. Kavanaugh is innocent until proven guilty. That’s fine. But someone who is innocent would have said from the get-go to do an investigation because you will find nothing. Which that has been Mr. Kavanagh’s last resort which tells me that something is not right. “If something does not feel right, something is not right.” if Mr. Kavanagh does truly believe that he is innocent he doesn’t act like it and the fact he has allowed the attacks on Dr. Ford continues to prove to me that he is not innocent, or he at least is not a reputable man who cares nothing about anyone but himself and his own pocket/power/reputation.

Now. Maybe I’m sensitive because I had this argument about a year ago with someone that survivors are not actually talked about it, that the result is nobody knows; but let me tell you people knew, even though I didn’t talk about it, he told people that I had done things with him, that I had not done by choice, and I just kept my mouth shut, I knew I would be victim blamed, and rumors were spread about me. I kind of now equivocate it in my mind to like on “13 reasons why” if you’ve watched that show. So for me, in my head, Mr. Kavanagh is pretty similar to that kind of situation so if he was innocent he would lay this to rest and do so in a respectful way of Dr. Ford insaid of letting her reputation as a woman be blown to shit.

Now I do understand that Mr. Kavanagh may believe in his head he is innocent and he wants the respect of his family and his children and wants this justice position. I’ve got that. But if he is this “respectable man” that you all believe that he is he would help this woman through this time, help her find who did actually assaulted her (use that law degree, boo boo), he would lay this to rest, he would go through the investigation he would prove to his family that he is, in fact, innocent instead of continuing the barrage of misconduct against Dr. Ford and her psyche.

I also cannot bring myself to believe that Dr. Ford is just out to get Kavanaugh when she sent the letter a year ago. She tried a year ago to prevent this entire incident when he was on the shortlist. Ours being the rape culture that we live in she was ignored, now she’s being questioned, now she’s being blamed, instead of being believed as a survivor who has a dealt with this in silence and alone for almost 4 decades that’s indicative to me of the direction that our country is headed. And it’s not the direction I want to go in.

As a teacher, as a female, as an active citizen, as someone who has believed in the American ideals and in the American dream for her 25 years I’m scared for the direction our country is headed. Because I know that we can do better.

I know that there were issues when we are founded. I know that there were things that our founding fathers did that we would prefer not to talk about. I know that there are things that have gone on in our 242 year history that we would prefer not to talk about as a country, that we have worked as a country to correct. I know that there are things as a country we are still working on; but as someone who believes in what this country can be, Brett Kavanaugh is not the answer.

Our founding fathers created us to be a republic, that included a representative democracy, (if you don’t know what it means, please tell stop by my Civics class and I’ll explain, seriously). That means this country chose Donald J Trump as our president whether I disagree with that choice or not. That means our military fights for the right for me to write this post, for Colin Kaepernick to kneel in front of the American flag during the national anthem, for Donald Trump to violate Twitter user policy literally every day. 

For me to continue to believe in this country we cannot put another man who committed a crime of sexual assault on our Supreme Court. We did it almost 30 years ago but I will not stand for it a second time. I had nothing to do with who was elected or appointed in the 1990s because I was not born. I have a say so now. I have a voice. I intend to use it. This will not stand for.

I am devastated by the rape culture that has been created in our country. I am devastated at my own treatment. I am devastated at the treatment of women I have gone to high school, church, college, with. I am devastated at the treatment of women I have worked with. I’m devastated at the treatment of some of my own family members and friends. I am completely and utterly devastated at the treatment of Dr. Ford by my fellow Americans and people on my Facebook and Instagram friend list.

If you wouldn’t want it done to you, if you had had a man or woman do that to you don’t do it to her, don’t do it to any other survivor. I’ve seen people say how Ford is somebody’s mom, friend, daughter, but she’s more than that, she is SOMEBODY. I just wish everybody would think about that.

As America wishes to be respected internationally, I hope everyone who is trashing Dr. Ford and praising Brett Kavanaugh and playing into rape culture continues to think about how they are being viewed internationally as well, because I can only imagine what people in other countries will think if we put yet white male sexual assault assailant in power in this country.

Trump had a shortlist for the Supreme Court nomination that Brett Kavanaugh was only one of. If you trust Trump, if you’re conservative, why do you not trust that some other person on that list is also reliable? Why is Brett Kavanaugh the only option to you? Is it just about being right? Or what is the purpose of having this man on the Supreme Court?

I am completely and utterly devastated, I’ve used that word already in this post but that is the only word I have for what I feel in the situation. The other day I caught myself sitting at the gas station unable to drive off because I was literally just crying at what this woman is going through, what she is being put through nationally and it’s phenomenal and not in a good way.

God promises in Psalm 10:14-18, that those who have been attacked will be restored. I fully believe Dr. Ford will have an extra jewel in her crown for standing up for survivors internationally. I am proud of her. It has given me a little bit of extra strength although it has also saddened me beyond compare.

So I’ll end with this: What is the point of having Kavanaugh, is it just “the win?” How are you treating other people? How would you feel if it was someone you loved? What do you want for America?

 

 

P.S. If you’re reading this, as a survivor, and you have been overwhelmed at the barrage of media and the treatment of Dr. Ford….please accept my virtual hug and my whisper that it is in no way, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, your fault. I wish I could tell sixteen-year-old Logan that, so I’m telling 25 year old, Logan, and I’m telling you, whoever you are. I hope you hear me loud and clear.

 

“For the Lord is righteous,
    he loves justice;
    the upright will see his face.” Psalm 11:7

“In the Mourning” of yet another high school shooting

Let me begin this post with a few disclaimers. First, I am a high school teacher, but I am not sitting with my students right now, I am home sick, and I will touch later on the fact of how this has broken me this week. Secondly, I am a registered Republican, but according to a few of my friends, I am an extremely “liberal Republican.” Thirdly, this post will not be eloquent by any means, because I am writing with pure emotion, and my heart is broken today. But if you’re sticking with me so far, let’s go.

Today children who are the age of the students I teach are being prepared by a funeral home to be buried. Today teachers, just like me, are being prepared for their funeral and burial. If the news was right, some of the funerals begin today. Not only are these people just like the people I see daily being buried, their families just like my family are mourning them, their work family who are just like my work family is mourning them, these students who are just like my students are mourning them and wondering how they will ever move on with their lives.

I did something I rarely do today, I sat down my cup of coffee, and if you know me my morning cup of coffee is important….I sat down my cup of coffee, so I could cry. I watched two young ladies stand on camera and BEG for their to be change in this country. One said she could not shower, use the bathroom, or sleep alone because she is so distraught in the aftermath of seeing her fellow classmates and teachers gunned down.

Then, mere moments later, the same news outlet silently scrolled the pictures of the victims. There was another thing I wasn’t used to….silence. My coffee cup remained on a coaster, and I wailed into my grandfather’s rocking chair at the lives lost and the hearts broken as a result. The silence, that I so often claim I want, was deafening. It physically hurt me to cry, yet I could not stop. My heart was broken for each of these lives lost, and the people they left behind.

So somebody somewhere is asking in their head: If you’re such a great teacher and you care so much, why are you not at school today?

Great question, somebody somewhere, let me explain. If you are new to this blog or don’t pay attention, I have a chronic pain disorder and an autoimmune disease. On Wednesday, I had more medical testing done to try to diagnose some irksome symptoms I have been having for over two months. I had taken yesterday off to recover, and unfortunately my body is not recovering at the pace I would like it to, so here I am stuck at home for another day. (yes, I’ve cried about that too). It has been hard being away from my kids for three days. It breaks me to know that I just want to hug all of them in the aftermath of this news, and I won’t be able to until next week. So, doing what I could I left them a message on Google Classroom, where they should be doing their work, so I can see it from home. The message read like this:

In light of everything that has happened nationally this week, I just want to remind you, you are each cared about. I am so thankful to teach each and every one of you. All of you have things in you that make you special, and you all have a bright future ahead of you. Strive to achieve those dreams. Be safe over your long weekend. Can’t wait to see you all on Tuesday!

My kids know that every Friday I give what we call the “Friday lecture.” I urge them to make smart choices, and we go through the places I don’t want to visit them: the hospital, jail, or the funeral home. It breaks my heart that today there are students and teachers visiting two of those three places as a result of this tragedy. I have buried one student in my teaching career, and it made me unbelievably sad, so I cannot imagine burying 14, nor do I want to think about it. Burying one still hurts my heart. This week actually marked the one year anniversary and I cried about that, mere hours before the news broke that 14 students had been gunned down when they were trying to head home for the day.

THIS SHOULD NOT BE THE NEW NORMAL FOR OUR CHILDREN. Our children should not have to practice drills to know what to do if someone is trying to murder them while they are at school where they should be safe. Now, does my school do it? yes. Do I hate it? Also yes. I joke with my kids if I look out in the hallway and it’s clear we’re making a run for it. Yet, I also know in my inmost being I would do everything in my power to shelter them in place and fight an armed assailant off and if it meant risking my life I would give my life for theirs.

As I typed that statement, my selfish 20something inside me was like “oh no girl.” I am 24. I am not married. I have no biological children. I am in grad school. I have student loan debt to pay off. I have some awesome best friends. and I have four fur babies that I love to death. And I have a man in my life, whom I would love to marry. But would I stand in front of my children and block them from death, even if it meant that my own life would be cut short? Yes. I tell them from the get go that I prayed over who would end up in my classroom and that I don’t have biological children, so they now have become my children. Once mine, always mine. At the age of 24, I have over 400 children who have come through my classroom and they are all MY CHILDREN. I wish that the adults of this country would realize the responsibility we have to protect these children. My 400 are also your children, they are the future, and they are awesome, and they don’t deserve to be gunned down in their prime.

Oh god, Logan, didn’t you say that you’re a registered Republican? Yes. I registered as a Republican when I turned 18. I am extremely fiscally conservative, yet I am extremely socially liberal. But even registered as a Republican, I realize that something is wrong. There is something wrong when my children have to fear being at school. There is something wrong when someone who has been flagged by the FBI then LEGALLY owns an assault weapon and guns down 17 people and almost makes an escape.

We need gun control. We also need mental health reform. We also need to teach our children AND ADULTS to love and be kind.

The young man who has been arraigned and who is sitting in jail with no bond, because he slayed 17 people, is a young person. WE ARE RESPONSIBLE. He is the age that I would have taught my first year after graduating college.

I have worked in a day homeless shelter. I have a parent who works in the government’s social service field. I have seen those who are flagged “mentally ill.” Mentally ill is not a label that means that you wake up one day and decide to gun down 17 innocent people. In fact, one of my favorite people in the world is “mentally ill” and that person is known to hug me and sing me a song when they see me…    Yes we need mental health reform and perhaps that should be part of the conversation but that does not need to be the whole conversation. We cannot leave gun violence and gun control out of this conversation. If you want to say that the assailant (I refuse to speak his name and make him famous) did this because he was mentally ill then why are you not acknowledging the fact that our government’s gun laws allowed him to legally buy the weapon even though he is quote “mentally ill” and there’s an issue there.

This conversation needs to be had by both sides of the aisle without a government shutdown. Yes, we need mental health reform. yes, we need stricter gun control laws. Yes, we need to teach love more often. Yes, my kids did grow up in a generation where they were given a participation trophy, but that doesn’t mean that they grow up to be violent. Yes, we need to take time to mourn. But finally yes, this is the time for the conversation to be had.

As a reporter said this morning, we mourn the 17 lives lost, but we also need to acknowledge the survivors, they are the ones who are going to make the change.

I believe in this generation. I believe they are going to be the change we want to see in the world. I believe they are just as tired of mourning those we lose, and nothing be done about it.