Browsing Tag

Resistance

Fear, Guest Posts, LBGQ

We Are All North Carolina Now

February 19, 2017
resistance

By Lindsey Danis

This summer, I prepared to visit North Carolina by growing out my hair for four months. I hoped this would help me, if not pass for straight, at least look more female—and thus forestall violence.

This would not be my first trip through the South. But it would be my first time since the passage of HB2, the North Carolina bathroom bill requiring individuals use the bathroom that matches their gender assigned at birth.

Normally I use the women’s restroom, because I’m generally read as female. But with my short hair, androgynous attire, and lack of makeup, jewelry, or other feminine markers, I worried I’d face harassment in North Carolina. When a viral video of a lesbian getting yanked out of the bathroom by police officers surfaced, my stomach clenched in fear. This could happen to me.

I’d gotten bathroom policed before. In a baseball cap, hooded sweatshirt, baggy pants, and sneakers, I looked masculine enough to frighten an airport employee. As I walked toward the ladies’ room, she called out, panic rising. “I’m a woman,” I yelled back without breaking stride. She relaxed and I got to pee in peace.

My North Carolina vacation was in honor of my mother’s birthday, so not a trip I could cancel. As the departure date drew closer, anxious thoughts kept me up at night. Would I have to get my mother to accompany me to the bathroom in case anyone challenged me? Would I get verbally or physically abused trying to pee? Should I buy some mace to make myself feel better? Or take along one of my wife’s pink tee-shirts so I could conform to gender norms?

The worst part wasn’t the fear that stole my appetite and my sleep, it was the total lack of understanding I received when I spoke up. “I’m really afraid of someone harassing me, because of this bathroom bill,” I said. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Refugees, Resistance

The Old Colossus

January 30, 2017
people

By Daniel Elder

The searching faces of those who once had homes, now on the run or corralled into camps, their entire lives carried on their backs, are flattened on our screens. They once lived in homes. They lived in cities and in villages, raised their families in houses, on farms, in apartment buildings teeming with life. Their homes had roofs of concrete or brick or corrugated tin. They walked on floors of wood or parquet or mud. Outside their homes were gardens, flush with dates and lettuce and cucumbers and beans. Beyond the gardens wound roads that tied their homes to those of their neighbors. They stood up from planting in their gardens, from walking on their roads, from talking in cafes and squares, and looked up at the dollop-tops of minarets and listened to the plaintive calls of muezzins. This was before the punishing flights of MiGs came screaming overhead, before the chaotic staccato of ammunition became the soundtracks to their days, before the plumbing ran dry of water to drink. Before they fled. They once had homes: tapestries of languages and recipes, places of heart, woven out of scents and light, filled with stories formed of memory and tea.

My grandmother, Khana, survived the Nazi siege of Leningrad together with her three sisters and their mother, Maria. Leningrad was their home: a city of canals and boulevards, White Nights in June, the Hermitage and the Winter Palace, long and lively strolls down the Nevsky Prospekt. The rumblings of war built up slowly, buzzing from the radio antennae. And then the border was breached, the pact was broken, and the pincers of the Wehrmacht bore down, the Luftwaffe screaming overhead, pounding concrete and flesh into submission. Legions of dreaded Panzer tanks encircled the city, with no way in and no way out. Boris, Maria’s husband, the girls’ father, was a Soviet believer. He was sent to the front, to the city perimeter. He never returned. My grandmother, barely twenty years old, watched the skies while foraging for scrawny grasses that grew through cracks in the street, her whole being filled with fear of the bombs that had killed her father. When food ran out, her family boiled wallpaper glue into soup, with leather belts added for flavoring. Her mother’s belly grew distended as she starved herself to ensure her daughters would live. Leningrad was home, but home was now just survival, day after day, until after more than two years our family was at last evacuated on The Road of Life, away from home—and to safety instead. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, religion, Vulnerability

What I Learned From My Muslim Neighbors

January 29, 2017
religion

By Jessica Yaeger

Recently, I went to the “Get to know your neighbors” event at my local Islamic Center. My dual goals were to learn more about a religion I knew very little about, and to show support to our local Muslims who I imagined were not feeling particularly supported by the words of our newly elected President.

On the way there, I was anxious about how it would go. How many people would be there? I had tried to dress appropriately to be respectful, but had I succeeded? Why can’t I think of any intelligent-sounding questions to ask if I am put on the spot or in a face to face conversation? Will this be safe or will there be violence there from.. someone? Good grief, I know literally not a single other person attending, what I am thinking?!

Once I arrived, I saw I was one of hundreds of folks who attended the event, young and old, men and women, many different faiths and races. The brief introduction to the Islam faith was not only incredibly educational, it also was entertaining. When I had imagined visiting for the evening prayers, I had not visualized I’d be laughing so much! Our tour guide (there was one for the ladies and another one for the men) was funny, but also gracious and knowledgeable, and assured us that no question was stupid or off limits. As a result, our group of women, who were Muslim, Jewish, Christian, atheist and more, had an incredible dialogue that touched on scripture, God, prophets, head coverings, woman’s rights, and even terrorism. It was only 30 minutes of my life, but those 30 minutes changed me. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Resistance

On Quiet Resistance

January 20, 2017
action

By Vivian Wagner

Since Trump’s election, my social media feeds have been filled with calls to fight. To stand up. To make calls. To sign petitions. And I’ve been doing some of that. I’ve been trying to do everything I can. But mostly, at the moment, I’m finding that I need to protect myself, my sanity, my students, and my daily life.

I learned to withdraw while growing up with an often angry, violent, alcoholic father. I learned to escape. I learned to make safe places that he could not invade. I learned to protect myself and my sister. And this is what I’m doing now. I’m replicating all of that. I’m hiding and camouflaging – things I learned long ago to do to survive.

The thing with Trump is that it’s not just him. It’s all of his followers. It’s the white asshole in the coffeeshop droning on about how it’s a revolution, about how he’s happy to be on top again, how women and minorities can just suck it. It’s the jerks in the jacked-up pickup trucks on the interstate here in southeastern Ohio, emboldened now, driving recklessly and with cruel abandon. It’s the endless commenters on CNN stories who hate and cut down and bully. The sexist, racist, xenophobic abusers are everywhere. And each one I see is a flashback, a reminder of physical and psychological danger. I need to do whatever necessary to survive. I know I need to fight, to stand up to tyranny. I know that politics are not the same thing as the family. But I need to also give myself permission to feel afraid, to grant that I have to build up my strength if I’m going to do any fighting at all. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Resistance

Epiphany Now: On Turning Fear Into Action

January 16, 2017
fear

By Jane O’Shields-Hayner

Laughter chimed through the house, and when the bed bounced I opened my eyes to see our children pulling at our pajamas, and shrieking out what they’d just seen under the tree. They begged us to wake up. I was sleepy, but it was Christmas morning, the one holiday a year parents can never sleep in.

I glanced at my iPad. It lay on my bedside table, within my reach, but I refused my impulse to grab it. Instead, I got up, brushed my teeth and followed the kids.

The tree was lit, as we always keep it throughout the night on Christmas Eve. From above, my living room seemed filled with a cloud of shimmering white light, and I descended into it, joining my family, who already had begun passing out gifts.

The holiday season arrived fast this year. In the wake of the presidential election, My husband and I Zombie walked through November, confused, in shock and denial, hardly knowing what to do. By December, we practiced our normal routines of the season, but strangely distant, and for myself, clutching at straws and feeling desperate. We were fixated on news updates as we hauled boxes of decorations from the attic and drove kids to endless holiday performances, concerts and parties. Late at night we mindlessly placed ornaments around the house while watching MSNBC. A pall lay over everything, but our determination to create happiness for the children kept us moving through the familiar tasks. Making art has always seen me through grief and it was, ultimately, my solace this year.  However, yesterday’s antics from our president-elect were sobering and crassly timed. I had gone to bed disgusted and wrapped in dread. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Resistance, Surviving

Our President-Elect Caused Me Chest Pains and an E.R. Visit

January 15, 2017
chest

By Stephen D. Gutierrez

The turkey was almost done and our guest was almost here and the house looked warm and cozy and everything was going superbly for our best Thanksgiving dinner ever, everything timed perfectly, my son Ben helping out, Jackie a star in the kitchen, me an adroit helper, the music on, the news off, the day cheerful and honest, a bright fall day in the San Francisco Bay Area, with enough gray to make the leaves stand out autumnally, and smoke in the air from a neighbor’s chimney when I stepped outside to get air. I did this often because inside I worried and fretted and battled anxiety, a looming sense of dread, of unavoidable catastrophe. I took my calming pill and walked around the block and saw neighbors strolling post-prandially, perhaps, the early eaters, and jovially, everybody happy and thankful.

All this unfolded around me so splendidly and movingly and authentically American, so naturally and kindly, not a worry in the air, only that wisp of smoke, I should have taken off my shirt and pretended I was an Indian coming out of the suburban bushes ready to partake of the national feast. I’m Indian enough! I can play both sides! I chuckled and stayed busy and still, I felt it, a pain in my chest.

So I decided to check my blood pressure. Next thing you know Jackie’s on the phone, calmly, with me sitting outside, calmly, giving the numbers and the symptoms to the right people. “It’s 170 over 100.” Next thing you know I’m in the hospital because of the chest pain, which wasn’t severe but persistent enough to concern me, obviously, and I’m still unfazed but a little upset that I just fucked up Thanksgiving dinner. Continue Reading…