Browsing Tag

choices

Black Lives Matter, Guest Posts, Voices for Change

DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR?

August 4, 2020
dignity

By Tianna Bartoletta

I hope you’ve never been raped.

But one in five women, and one in 71 men have.

And so odds are, you know someone who has been…even if they haven’t told you.

And if you still think you don’t know anyone who has been…allow me to introduce myself.

Anyway…

there is a moment… a moment when you know you’re about to be violated where you make a split second decision.

Well, it’s more like a rapid fire question. Do I fight? Or do I acquiesce and survive?

But fighting is risky. Fighting escalates an already out-of-control situation.

On the other hand acquiescing also comes with its own side effects.

For me, I was left beating myself up for NOT fighting. For essentially allowing myself to be violated, for giving my rapists permission to do what they wanted with my body. For sacrificing my dignity on the altar of survival.

The altar of survival…

I don’t usually sit around thinking about my own history of abuses, assaults, and violations but I watched a traffic stop of yet another black person getting pulled over and I thought for a split second, “just shut up…get home”

Yes sir.

No sir.

I’m sorry.

Thank you.

Okay.

Sandra Bland died in police custody almost five years ago. Initially pulled over for not using her blinker…

I watched the traffic stop via the Officer’s dash cam, and a bystander’s recording. And for a split second I thought again, “girl, please…just comply…can’t you see he’s looking for a reason to fuck with you?”

For a split second.

And then for some reason I had a flashback, my subconscious made the connection for me.

I heard myself saying, “thank you for not hurting me.”

Yes. I, Tianna mutha fuckin’ Tashelle thanked my rapist once upon a time, for not “hurting” me.

And all at once I understood that what we often see as “non compliance” or “resisting arrest” when watching this footage are people clinging to dignity.

Clinging to the vestiges of dignity that people who look like me have NEVER had in this country.

Black men, emasculated in front of their significant others and their children.

Black women, dragged out of their own cars simply for being irritated about being stopped at all.

These are human rights violations.

These are traumas.

They are lose-lose situations.

And one doesn’t simply get over them.

I got pulled over by a cop in college, who admonished me for not paying attention because I was “bopping along” playing my music too loud like “you people do” even though my radio had been off for my entire ride, I wasn’t speeding, and got no ticket. It was just a good day to be harassed.

I remember knowing on a cellular level that I needed to appease this Knoxville sheriff so that I could get on with my day and my life.

I remember immediately going into “yes sir, no sir” making no eye contact, both hands on the steering wheel.

I remember pulling away shaking in my skin, happy to be driving away, disgusted that I cowered to another human being that way when I had done nothing wrong.

The tragedy, when people say things like “stop resisting”, or “just do what they say,” is that a part of you dies when you knowingly and voluntarily submit to the violation of your human rights.

Your body keeps the score and it will never forget the time of death.

Like rape.

I will always know the sound of those voices, the smell of that body, the cadence of the breathing.

I will always wonder how things-how I- would have been different if I made the decision to fight for my life and my dignity,

And yet- when it comes to traffic stops and cops I choose survival.

I choose, again, to sacrifice my dignity on the altar of survival.

It’s not just a traffic stop.

It’s never just a run-in with the police, not when you look like me.

And, although our plight is fading from the news cycle, protests are getting less coverage, and hashtags less trendy this is still the daily dilemma.

Dignity?

or Survival?

And I ask you, straight up, what kind of choice is that?

Tianna Bartoletta is an American track and field athlete who specializes in the long jump and short sprinting events. She is a two-time Olympian with three gold medals. Follow her online at tiannabee.com. Tianna is also on Instagram and Twitter.

On Being Human Online Workshops

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Other upcoming events with Jen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anti-racist resources because silence is not an option.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THE ALEKSANDER SCHOLARSHIP FUND

 

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, Pregnancy

Hole

September 17, 2018
hole

By Rhea Wolf

Forgotten already. Absorbed in the mystery.
Into the egg, I come. A mother,
Another one for the
turning, another one for the
wheel, under the ground,
burning waiting resurrecting
falling, singing the long high note and
descending Oh Phoenix oh fire walkers
now I am red and hot inside with
a fractured other,
many wishes,

and a fantastic losing mind.
Thinking those men
think it means enlightenment
but they are still free.
Making big scribbles and smoking sacred cigarettes
losing their minds to art and science,
while they are still free.
And my petals don’t fold out anymore. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Relationships

And Miles To Go Before I Sleep

August 5, 2018
miles

By Matt Jones

The night before the Half Ironman, I can’t sleep. I am nervous about the 70.3-mile race. I am exhausted from traveling from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Austin, Texas, from months of training and weeks of waiting for something to end that has scarcely even begun.

On the morning of the triathlon, I feel less alive than animated by raw anxiety. My parents, who have driven three hours up from Houston to watch the race, help me change into my wetsuit. It’s a little past 6:00 AM and the sun isn’t up just yet. The first leg of the race, the swimming portion, starts at Decker Lake. The gun sounds, and we enter the water by the dozen, so in the beginning, we are all over each other, kicking and colliding, fighting for space. Every few strokes, I lift my head to make sure I’m still going the right way and not careening off into the horizon—though would that be so bad? In many ways, I am already far off course. Despite the buoys and the red flags bobbing at the lake’s surface, I have entered uncharted territory. Even though I theoretically know what lies ahead, I am struck by a feeling of uncertainty. Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Things I Have Lost Along The Way, Vulnerability, writing

Survival. By Jen Pastiloff.

May 1, 2014

By Jen Pastiloff.

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black


I often think about the choices we make as humans and about how sometimes those choices, seem futile, naïve, masochistic. Un-human even. How sometimes, they lock us into a life we never imagined. You may want to pound your head into the wall (as I have done) upon looking back, say, at the choice to stay the night with an ex-boyfriend, who, when you ask if he can give you a ride to the Philadelphia airport the next morning, says, with a breath full of alcohol from the night before, “I’ll give you a ride to the airport for a hummer.”

The choice as to whether to give him a blowjob in exchange for a ride was simple one. Continue Reading…