Mahsa Amini: Say Her Name

She must never be forgotten.

As I write this tonight, women in 12 cities in Iran are protesting their utter lack of human rights. They are burning their hijabs and cutting their hair in a public outcry like no other. No doubt many of them will be tortured and/or killed for their efforts. Because, you know, we women need to be kept under control. You can’t have us running around, all willy-nilly, deciding that every single part of our bodies belongs to us, now, can you?

Why is this happening at this particular moment in time? Because of a beautiful, 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini. She was visiting Tehran, not causing any trouble, when she was stopped by the Morality Police. Every woman in Iran has been stopped by these sick people, or knows someone else who has been, and women therefore live in fear of them.

The Morality Police decided that Mahsa was not wearing her hijab properly, and must therefore attend a class at one of their detention centers. It was only supposed to take an hour. But other women in the van say that she was beaten and humiliated during the ride, and when she got to the center, she collapsed, lapsed into a coma, and then died in the hospital.

The authorities would have you believe that a healthy young woman with no pre-existing conditions had a heart attack. What a convenient coincidence. But images from the hospital show her bleeding out of both of her ears. That’s no heart attack. That’s head trauma. Her future was cut short because she let a few strands of hair show, intentionally or unintentionally. And does her intention in this instance truly matter? People have no right to kill someone simply because they don’t like their morals.

Before we Americans get all high and mighty about our vastly superior society, please remember that as you read this, American women are dying, too, based purely on legislated morals. They aren’t getting the healthcare that every person has a right to have, and therefore infant mortality rates are higher here than in any other developed nation. It has been legally proclaimed that we don’t have the right to personally decide whether it is safe for us to carry a pregnancy to term, and even the medical professionals we choose to consult can’t make that decision with us, and therefore women are dying from complications. More and more women will be forced to seek illegal and dangerous abortions, because, as is shown in Iran, you can legislate all the morals and values you want, but you can’t make anyone agree with that legislation. Abortions aren’t going to go away simply because you say so.

Please understand that I have nothing against the hijab if it is worn voluntarily. We should all be allowed to dress as we please and demonstrate our faith, or lack thereof as we please. But no one, NO ONE should be allowed to dictate what any woman does if she is not harming others in the process. And no one is harmed by a hijab or lack thereof. What they are harmed by is religious dictatorship.

NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO DECIDE WHAT YOU WEAR OR HOW YOU CHOOSE TO ADDRESS YOUR PERSONAL HEALTH ISSUES. NO ONE.

So take your morality police, Iran, the US Supreme Court, and fundamentalists everywhere, and shove them up your a$$. Sideways. We’re done being obedient.

The death of Mahsa Amini seems to have been the final straw for women in Iran and the men who support them. They have seen decades of governmentally sanctioned violence against women, and they are no longer willing to take it. Mahsa is now every woman. She must never be forgotten.

But the saddest, most telling part of this unfolding story is that I have yet to see any reportage on who Mahsa Amini was when she was alive. All we know is where she was from, and the names of 3 family members. That’s it. That’s all.

What were her interests, her accomplishments, her dreams for the future? Did she go to university? Did she want to? What stories could her friends tell us about her? At the time of this writing, it has been 5 days since her death, and we don’t know any of these things, and we will probably never know.

In a religious dictatorship, women not only don’t matter, but they are so closely controlled that they are rendered all but anonymous. Mahsa was a living, breathing human being. But now she has been turned into a symbol for a long-overdue protest that, I fear, won’t change a thing when all is said and done.

What a shameful, despicable waste.

Please vote.

Sources:

Say It With Me: Birds Aren’t Real

It kind of makes sense if you think about it hard enough.

A few months ago, I was at the grocery store and I spotted a young man wearing a T-shirt that said, “Birds aren’t real.” I was intrigued, but then, as often happens with me, I got distracted by something shiny. I soon forgot all about it.

Then, on the way to work recently I was listening to The Daily on NPR. (It’s a fascinating podcast. I highly recommend it.) On this day, the topic was “A Movement to Fight Misinformation… with Misinformation.” And it was about the Birds Aren’t Real movement.

After learning more about it, I have to say that I am hooked. If you go to the Birds Aren’t Real Website, you’ll find the following description of the movement:

“The Birds Aren’t Real movement exists to spread awareness that the U.S. Government genocided over 12 Billion birds from 1959-2001, and replaced these birds with surveillance drone replicas, which still watch us every day. Once a preventative cause, our initial goal was to stop the forced extinction of real birds. Unfortunately this was unsuccessful, and the government has since replaced every living bird with robotic replicas. Now our movement’s prerogative is to make everyone aware of this fact.”

If you go to the page that describes the movement’s history, you get a detailed manifesto. It describes a federal conspiracy to root out communists that ran amok, and has been getting even more amok since 1947. It explains that we entered the Vietnam war to have access to the aluminum that we’d need to make these drones. It reveals that Trump wanted to build a wall not to keep immigrants out, but to keep live birds out. He was relentless in this pursuit.

There’s also a lot of cool merchandise, called “Truther Gear” you can get to spread the word. Slogans such as “Pigeons are liars”, “If it flies, it spies”, and “Bird watching goes both ways” are some of the very popular selections.

The movement has thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook. Its founder, Peter McIndoe, was surprised how quickly it took off. But not so surprised that he wasn’t willing to quit college and hop on this feathered gravy train. Who could blame him?

He even has a van dedicated to the cause. On the side it says, “THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT MURDERED OVER 12 BILLION BIRDS OVER THE COURSE OF 1959 THREW 2001. AS THEY KILLED OFF THE REAL BIRDS THEY REPLACED THIM WITH SURVEILLANCE DRONE REPLICAS. INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM A BIOLGICAL BIRD. THERE ARE NOW NO REAL BIRDS LEFT.”

Breaking character for once, he spoke to the folks at the Daily, and said that one day he noticed a protest and a counter-protest going on. It was full of chaos and absurdity, and neither side was listening to the other. He decided to add to the absurdity by contributing some of his own. He made a poster that said Birds Aren’t Real, and footage of him earnestly shouting about a “birdemic” at that rally soon hit Youtube.

Followers now call themselves the Bird Brigade, and have started showing up at protests to speak their mind. They showed up at Twitter headquarters to protest their logo. They’ve done rallies on college campuses. (Campi?) They showed up at an anti-abortion rally, waded in amongst all the pictures of aborted fetuses (feti?) and made so much noise and had so much fun that the anti-choicers finally left in sheer frustration.

I love that they are diffusing hate with comedy. I love that they’re smothering misinformation in even more misinformation. This tweet just about says it all:

If you join this group. You’ll learn all sorts of useful information, such as the fact that you really need to avoid seagulls, because they’ve recently been upgraded and can now steal your credit card information by just looking at you. You’ll learn that those chem trails actually consist of poison gas used to get rid of the last of the live birds. And did you know that bird poop is really a liquid tracking device? No wonder it seems to gravitate toward our windshields. Big Bird is watching you.

Those who don’t join the movement are called “Cheeple.” They are told, “You’re either with us or you eat worms.” So be warned. Don’t be on the wrong side of history.

McIndoe theorizes that this movement is so popular with his fellow Gen Z members because, having been born between 1997 and 2012, they have known nothing but political chaos and unrest. They’re feeling isolated, longing for community, and they have an intense desire to have some semblance of control over their lives. These feelings are exactly why most people buy into a conspiracy, and if you insist on doing so, I can think of no better conspiracy to buy into than Birds Aren’t Real. (And incidentally, if you’re into Facebook, join the Bird’s Aren’t Real Facebook Group. It’s hilarious!)

Because, you know, it kind of makes sense if you think about it hard enough. 😊

I hope that the Bird Brigade is descending upon the trucker rallies in Canada. This group of anti-vaxxers and haters have befuddled Canadians. Ninety percent of the eligible Canadian population has been vaccinated, and they don’t understand why anyone would want to be so selfish and foolhardy as to not do so. But these rallies are going strong, because they’re receiving funding from the radical right in the US. The protests soon filled up with confederate and Nazi flags and other symbols of hate. And, of course, Fox News is exaggerating the size of their presence and influence.

In fact, the Canadians are so unamused by this that all the unions in the country recently released this joint statement:

“What we have witnessed on the streets of Canada’s capital over the past thirteen days is something different altogether. This is not a protest, it is an occupation by an angry mob trying to disguise itself as a peaceful protest.

“We have seen an occupation of city streets and parks, disrupting workers, businesses and residents. Frontline workers, from retail to health workers, have been bullied and harassed. We have witnessed noise attacks keeping families up at all hours. We have seen right-wing extremists spreading messages filled with racism and intolerance, flying the Nazi and Confederate flags, alongside other symbols of violence and hate. We have seen organizers not only demand the end of all public health rules, but also call for the overthrow of our democratically elected government.

“The leaders of this occupation include people who espoused Islamophobic, Anti-Semitic and racist hate on social media, organizers of the notorious far-right yellow vest protests, and people spreading extreme conspiracy theories and calls for violence. This is an attack on all of Canada and not just the people of Ottawa.

“Canada’s unions stand together, unequivocally opposed to these vile and hateful messages and condemn the ongoing harassment and violence against the people of Ottawa.”

This statement from the Canadian Trucking Alliance makes it clear that they don’t support this protest either. Calling this a Canadian Trucker Protest is really rather unfair. The vast majority of them are not involved. There is only a tiny lunatic fringe who aren’t carrying on with business as usual.

This obnoxious protest is actually a practice run. They are learning how to create the type of chaos that will disrupt a democracy. They want to see how far they can go without getting arrested as they did on January 6th. And by “they”, I mean the financial backers of this debacle, with their nefarious agenda. The truckers are merely guinea pigs in this experiment.

Here’s hoping that Birds Aren’t Real shows up and holds up a big old feathered mirror to the truckers’ absurd faces so they can take a good look at themselves and withdraw with whatever is left of their dignity. Nobody is buying what those birdbrains are selling. Just ask the Bird Brigade.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Peaceful Protesters Aren’t Rioters

They care deeply about this country and want to change it for the better.

There’s definitely a lot to protest about these days. Personally, I’m emotionally drained by it all. My whole life, I’ve never been more horrified by what’s going on in this country than I am at this moment. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks with your own set of horrors. That’s the worst part about it. The list is endless.

The truth is that I’m glad people are protesting. It’s the only way that our voices will be heard. I’ve participated in a few protests myself. And every single one has been peaceful and nondestructive.

I get so frustrated when people equate all forms of protest with riots, looters, and vandals. Those things are a sickening side note that has nothing to do with the protests themselves. When a riot breaks out at a sporting event, as so often happens, do you blame everyone who attended the sporting event for that? When looters come in after a hurricane, do you blame the evacuees or the hurricane for that? When vandals tag a blank wall, do you blame the architect or the construction workers or the building for that? No? Then why are you blaming peaceful protesters? Is it because you really think it’s their fault, or because you want to add additional pressure to shut them up because you don’t agree with them?

In fact, according to this article, there is growing evidence that the trouble makers at these protests hold views directly opposite to those of the protestors. They’re trying to give them a bad name, when in fact it’s the right wing militia/domestic terrorists who should be accused. It’s horrific.

A lot of people are really angry right now. And unfortunately, some of those people are choosing to express that anger in very violent and destructive ways. That does not further their cause. In fact, it causes a lot of people to get hurt, tensions to ratchet up, and our tax dollars to be stretched even thinner to clean up after them, which depletes our ability to provide social services that might have prevented these problems in the first place.

But I genuinely don’t think looting, riots and vandalism have anything to do with the protests themselves. These destructive people are not trying to urge others to see their point of view. They’re just having a public tantrum, and using a protest as an excuse to get away with things that they normally couldn’t get away with.

I strongly encourage people to peacefully protest, and I genuinely believe that the vast majority of protests are, indeed, peaceful. There’s no need or excuse for things to escalate into violence or destruction. That would play right into the hands of those whom you are protesting against. Protesters know that. Please don’t lump them into the same pile with the destructive forces of this world. If anything, protesters care very deeply about this country and want to see it change for the better. Destruction doesn’t achieve that end.

What follows is the aftermath of some vandalism that happened at South Park Bridge in Seattle the other day. It’s a beautiful bridge, or at least it was. This does not win people over to your point of view, but I doubt that was the agenda in this instance.

As a bridgetender, I realize that I’m biased. I always hate to see a bridge damaged. It feels like a violation. It makes me sad.

Bridges as Barriers

Bridges should never be politicized.

As a bridgetender for nearly two decades, I’ve come to view bridges as ways to connect people. They can often be the fastest route from one side of a river to another. They’re a delightful transition from here to there.

At the same time, I’ve known many people who see bridges as things to avoid. If it takes you 5 miles to get from point A to point B, and there’s a bridge along the route, many people will go 7 miles to avoid what they see as a bottleneck. The thing is, they’re often using interstates to avoid these bridges, even though the distance between exits is much longer than the average bridge, and in fact they’re often going over several overpasses in the process. Interstates tend to jam a lot more often than drawbridges. So I don’t get this aversion that people seem to have about them.

This is not the first time I’ve ranted about this subject, so when a friend came across an article entitled, “In Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago, Bridges Have Become Barricades”, she naturally thought of me. (Thanks, Jen!) But this adds a whole new spin to my rant. Mayor Lightfoot is intentionally causing bridges to hinder passage. This horrifies me.

It seems that during recent Chicago riots, the mayor has been ordering the city to raise the drawbridges and keep them raised. Yes, I’m sure this is rather effective in keeping looters from their targets, but there are several issues with this concept that bother me. First of all, I can’t imagine that this is putting the city’s bridgetenders in the most comfortable position. They can now be targeted by the rioters and will be every bit as trapped as the rioters are. Also, I would hate for Chicago’s beautiful bridges to be the focus of vandalism.

But the thing that bugs me the most about this concept is the inhibition of the free flow of Americans. I’ve spent my entire career trying to make my bridge openings as short as possible to avoid impeding traffic too much. We are even told that we should continue our bridge openings even if there’s an ambulance or a firetruck en route so as to speed the vessel’s passage through and close as soon as possible, but every bridgetender worth his or her salt will raise a traffic gate back up for an emergency vehicle if it’s at all possible.

Using a bridge as a barricade is making it perfectly clear that some neighborhoods are better than others. It sends the message that more privileged areas need to be protected from the unwashed masses. It pits one part of a city against another.

I love bridges. I look at them as sacred. I hate the idea that they are being politicized in this fashion.

I think a better idea is making the protestors feel heard. Listen to their needs. They deserve accommodation as much as any other citizen does. If they’re treated with dignity rather than met with teargas and walls, they will be more willing take pride in the community in which they are an integral part.

Another side rant is that the article I link to above refers to us as “bridge tenders”. Would you call someone a bar tender? No. It’s bartender. It’s bridgetender. I don’t care what your spell check says. Get it right.

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A Taste of Their Medicine

I was terrified that the cops were going to show up.

A few nights ago, I was driving home from work at 11 pm. I was mildly irritated to discover that a long section of the interstate was closed for some unknown reason. I would have to spend a good portion of my 25 mile commute on surface streets. Ah well, there was nothing for it but to settle in and endure a great deal of zigging and zagging through Seattle. Thank heavens for Google Maps.

I was wending my way through downtown when I turned a corner into the intersection of Bellevue and Olive, and suddenly found myself right in the middle of a protest march. About 200 people swelled into the intersection and surrounded my car. I couldn’t move forward. I couldn’t move back. I was trapped.

It was a peaceful enough protest. They weren’t doing any damage, but they did look angry. They were carrying signs, mostly related to defunding the police, and they were shouting, “No Trump! No KKK! No racist USA!”

I believe wholeheartedly in every one of those statements. I genuinely do. But these protesters didn’t know that. What they saw was some random white woman. It would be easy to think I’m part of the problem. And in essence, I am, since I’ve unwittingly propped up the status quo for my entire life.

So there I was, trapped in my car, desperately hoping that this crowd wouldn’t see me as the enemy. If they did, there’s nothing I could have done about it. Every movie I’ve ever seen where a car is surrounded by a mob flashed through my mind. They could have easily trashed my car or rolled it over. I was completely at their mercy.

I did the only thing I could think of to do. I called my husband. As if he could save me, 25 miles away. But it was good to hear his voice. At least he’d know why I didn’t come home if the worst happened.

The traffic light cycled at least 5 times, but I was going nowhere. My heart was pounding. I felt like I was going to throw up.

And then I had an even worse thought. If the cops showed up right now, this would probably turn into a riot, and there’d be teargas and rubber bullets. And I would be trapped in the thick of it, with nowhere to go. Oh, God, please don’t let the cops come right now.

Yeah. Let that sink in for a bit. I was terrified that the cops were going to show up.

At one point, the crowd started marching down the street, away from my car, which, in fact, no one had touched. I heaved a huge, shaky sigh of relief and prepared to move forward, out of the traffic snarl. But then, inexplicably, they all rushed back into the intersection and engulfed my car again. I felt like crying. I just wanted to go home.

That crowd felt like one big, organic, unpredictable entity to me. I didn’t know what was going to happen. And then finally, just like the parting of the red sea, the crowd separated and let traffic flow again. The incident probably only lasted 10 minutes, but to me it felt like an eternity.

I headed home, feeling nauseous from the adrenaline dump. I fought back tears as I merged onto the interstate south of town. I felt like I had survived something that I never expected to encounter.

And then I realized that this is what it must feel like to be black a lot of the time. At the mercy of the majority. Trapped. Afraid that you’ll be seen as the enemy. Terrified that the cops will come. Surrounded by the unpredictable. Misunderstood.

That night, the universe forced me to take a big old draught of the medicine that is poured down the throats of black people every single day, and I didn’t like it. Not even a little bit. In fact, it made me feel sick.

But in terms of enlightenment, it probably did me good.

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Two Things I’ll Never Say Again

I’ve learned quite a bit lately.

This current wave of extremely justifiable and long overdue protests has taught me many things. It has inspired many a recent blog. So much is happening that I can barely keep up.

One person I know has said that she’s really quite over hearing about all this. She wants to go back to seeing nothing but cat videos. My response to her is that a lot of people have had to live “all this” for their entire lives, so she really needs to suck it up and face facts. Who knows? She might learn something.

What I want to talk about today is the two things I vow to never say again.

White Supremacy

By saying white supremacy, I’ve been giving credence to the unscientific concept of race. Pitting whites against blacks is implying that these are two different species. It’s a belief that we are separate mammals, one from another. That not only has no basis in fact, but it’s giving power to the very hateful people that I oppose with every fiber of my being.

From now on, I will call it White Body Supremacy. That shines the absurd light on it that it deserves. These people are saying, “My white body is superior to your black body.” That’s stupid. That’s like saying that a tan dog is superior to a grey dog. Stop being fools. You’re getting all whipped up and violent over melanin. You’re unhinged.

The System is Broken

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: The system is not broken. The system works exactly the way the system was meant to work. The system wants to keep minorities down. The system wants rogue cops to be able to get away with murder. The system wants to incarcerate black people at a much higher rate than whites. The system has been diabolically effective in meeting its goals.

Saying that the system is broken implies that it can be fixed, and that we need to work within the existing system and simply improve upon it. It gives the impression that it’s otherwise great, that we just need to make a few minor adjustments, a few little tweaks, and everything will be just ducky.

Uh… no. The system needs to be replaced. The system needs to be thrown out. We need to start from scratch. That’s the only real fix that is going to fix anything.

That’s why my thoughts have evolved over the past week, and I now agree with the admittedly inflammatory phrase, “defund the police.” I’m not saying that we should live in a state of lawless anarchy. I’m saying those funds would be better spent in creating an entirely different system, one with a strong social work component, and less of a militarized, “the people are the enemy and we are at war with them” culture.

This concludes today’s lecture. I hope you took notes. There might be a test later.

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This is still a tiger.

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Let Us Fish Protests and Their Ilk

Your actions impact others.

The other day, I saw a large procession of pleasure craft float beneath my drawbridge. I took this picture. From the radio chatter I was able to determine that this was a Let Us Fish protest.

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It seems that the State of Washington, as part of its Stay Home, Stay Healthy initiative, has put restrictions on recreational fishing. These protesters feel that they should have the right to fish. After all, how does it hurt anyone?

Well, as with all of those who are wanting to get back to normal too soon, you’re overlooking how your actions impact others, and I find that extremely selfish.

You will have to gas up your car and your vessel, which means you’re touching gas pumps. You’re probably stopping to get food and snacks along the way. You’re interacting with others at the docks. If you behave recklessly, you’re forcing the harbor patrol and/or the Coastguard to get involved, thus exposing themselves to you. If you get hurt in any way, you’re causing health care workers to interact with you. After all is said and done, you then bring those potential COVID-19 exposures home to loved ones, risking their exposure, and they in turn risk exposing anyone they interact with, many of whom aren’t throwing tantrums because they can’t go fishing.

It’s the same situation with people who are outraged they can’t go to the hairdresser or the tattoo parlor. Get over it. These things can wait. They are not worth anyone’s life.

In addition, by insisting that people go back to work, you’re overlooking some major points. When you get a governor to insist that restaurants reopen, as an example, those who still feel it’s not safe to reopen will not have a choice, because they’ll no longer be able to file for business interruption insurance. If restaurant workers don’t feel it’s safe but the state government does, then landlords will stop allowing people to defer rent and there will be no more subsidies, which means people who are fearing for their grandparents and/or have underlying health conditions will have to work whether they like it or not. If your employer is forced to reopen, but you’ve got increased risk of contracting COVID-19, you’ll either have to quit the job and not be eligible for unemployment insurance or you’ll get fired and those small businesses will be required to foot the bill for your unemployment, which puts a further strain on small business.

I’d have a lot more sympathy for these protests if they weren’t making them so inexplicably political. Many of those boats had signs that claimed that keeping them from fishing is the fault of our “communist” governor. They also had pro-Trump signs. So this was less of a complaint about wanting to fish than it was a rant against the fact that they don’t like decisions being made by a Democrat in their state capitol. Believe me, he’s not enjoying these restrictions either. But he’s trying to save lives.

Encouraging these people to participate in get back to work protests is not about helping the people. It’s about the one percent not wanting to foot the bill, pushing the financial burden further down the food chain, and trying to force you back to work even if it means more people will die.

Yes, I understand that people are hurting financially at this time. But I’d rather take a government subsidy which came from my taxes, or rely on public assistance, or go to food banks rather than put the elderly, the people with underlying health issues, or our frontline workers at further risk. COVID-19 doesn’t care who holds political power.

If the Greatest Generation had resisted food rationing the way we’re resisting doing our part, there’d probably be a swastika flying over the White House right now. We’ve become spoiled. We need to make sacrifices. I know it hurts. But we have to do the right thing, for everyone’s sake. Now is not the time to slack off. We’re all in this together.

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Lockdown Protests? Seriously?

This virus cares nothing about your moral imperative.

I understand. People are scared. People are suffering from loss of income. More people are on unemployment and are accessing food banks than have in living memory. We are struggling to survive. I get it. I’ve lived it. But that’s the thing. Even this economic nightmare that is raining down upon us right now is better than the alternative, which is death.

I’d be willing to lose everything, sleep in the woods, forage for berries, as long as me and mine are alive. This is a life or death situation that we are in right now. This is real. Nothing else matters.

So, when I see people gathering in groups to protest this lockdown, encouraged by Trump, I’m absolutely horrified. Did you hear me? They’re gathering in groups. That’s the last thing on earth anyone should be doing right now.

If you want to be a fool and risk getting this virus, that’s your prerogative. The world could use fewer fools. But unfortunately, after you go to these protests, you are then coming home to your innocent grandparents and children and spouses, and they in turn will spread it to others, and so on. That’s the whole point. That’s how a virus works.

So your stupidity impacts us all, and will, in fact, increase the length of time that we all have to be locked down. Your protest will have the exact opposite result than you want it to have. Brilliant.

Of course Trump wants you back to work again. He wants you to be a cog in the corporate wheel, always. He wants you to think the world is a shining, happy place before the elections roll around. To hell with you if you die in the process. He could care less about that. How is that not blatantly obvious? He will tweet you into oblivion.

Are you so busy trying to “liberate” Michigan and Virginia, are you so hellbent on contracting and spreading this virus and making this situation so much worse, that you can’t see that you’re expendable to Trump? Don’t you know that this virus cares nothing about your moral imperative? You’re being used as a human, political shield.

For God’s sake, at least wash your freakin’ hands.

Social Isolation protesters

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Tomorrow, In Mexico, A Day Without Women

In 2019, Mexico averaged three femicides a day.

Femicide. It’s a word I’d never heard until a friend of mine in Mexico introduced me to it. It seems that violence against women is an ever-increasing trend in that country. In fact, according to this article, they averaged three femicides a day in 2019 and one in three Mexican women is a victim of sexual harassment or violence. That’s horrifying and unacceptable.

As is typical of most governments these days, the Mexican government doesn’t seem to be taking women’s issues seriously at all. So there has been an outcry on social media asking women in that country to “disappear” for a day. Don’t go to work, don’t go to school, don’t go out at all. Women comprise 52 percent of the population, 50 percent of the students, and 40 percent of the work force, so this could potentially have a huge impact on the country.

According to the New York Times, this day was sparked, in particular, by two recent femicides that rocked the nation. (Brace yourself.):

Ingrid Escamilla, 25, a Mexico City resident, was stabbed, skinned and disemboweled. Her body was found on Feb. 9, and photos of her mutilated body were leaked to tabloids, which published the images on their front pages, adding to the public outrage.

On Feb. 11, Fátima Cecilia Aldrighett, 7, was abducted from her primary school in Mexico City and her body was discovered wrapped in a plastic bag next to a construction site on the outskirts of the capital.

If enough women participate in this day without women, it could cost the Mexican economy 1.37 billion. (I’m unsure if that’s pesos or dollars. The Times didn’t specify. Still, it’s a lot.)

Protest today, March 8th, International Women’s Day. Take to the streets, if you feel safe doing so with COVID-19 lurking about. (I know the Women’s March here in Seattle has been cancelled, and even though that’s understandable, it saddens me.) Then drop out tomorrow. Let them see that they can’t survive without you.

Please join me in standing in solidarity with the Women of Mexico in their efforts to feel safe in their own land. Every woman, every human being, deserves that basic human right.

#UNDÍASINNOSOTRAS, (A Day Without Us).

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Seattle Speaks

So many of us are in a state of shock, trying to adjust to this new world we’re living in. We are wondering how we’ll fit in now if we’re women, minorities, immigrants, or part of the LGBT community. I know I’ve really been struggling with this.

Fortunately, there’s a place that I have been going once a month to tell stories, and I thought that this month, in particular, this group, full of so many people that I love so much, would be a source of solace for me. I expected it to be a sort of life raft in a storm-tossed sea. Surely in this place, if no place else on earth, my voice would be heard. And I planned to tell an amazing story, one that I thought would be healing for many people.

But to my shock, I was not allowed to tell my story. Politics were declared to be off limits. The moderator doesn’t seem to have caught on to this new world of ours, where we will need a place where all of us can be heard and still accepted. This wasn’t your grandmother’s election. This was more like a political 9/11, whether the person you voted for won or not, and people need a chance to process that.

Instead, the restrictions mount in this group with each passing month, but they’re unequally applied. It’s kind of like our new country in microcosm, and because of that, more and more people are discontented. In his desperate attempt to please everyone, he’s pleasing no one. He doesn’t trust us enough to loosen his grip. Boundaries are required, yes, but they should be equal and not so heavy handed. It breaks my heart.

So I had to leave. I couldn’t stand the thought that I could only speak there if I fit within an ever-narrowing set of criteria. This was the one place in this city that I didn’t feel like an outsider, but my foothold is increasingly precarious.

I now have to decide whether I can take that feeling. There are a lot of people I would miss. But I can feel like a freak and an outsider just about anywhere, without having to lose a day of work and drive in rush hour traffic.

Did I overreact? Yeah, probably. But in this political climate, it feels like all the nerves are on the surface of my skin. I need embracing, not restricting. So instead of having my monthly invigorating dive into my pool of friends, I came home and felt sorry for myself and may as well have applied the pint of gelato I consumed directly to my waistline. Only time and a cooler head will tell if I’ll be back.

Who knows. I may not be welcome. I may not be generic enough. It’s nearly impossible to avoid stepping on toes in a room that is that tightly packed with people. Perhaps the moderator needs to have faith in people’s resilience. Just a thought.

So, without further ado, here’s the story I intended to tell last night. I ask you, is it so controversial that a group of people, who have always struck me as being extremely supportive, would have found it intolerable? You decide.

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Yesterday I was at work, trying to figure out how to live in this new world of ours. Everything looked the same, but everything felt different. I was afraid and confused. I was in despair. I couldn’t even figure out how to write my daily blog, in a place where my voice suddenly feels like it’s being discounted by society at large. So I just sort of sat there, stunned.

My shift was going by really slowly. Not a single boat asked for an opening of my drawbridge for several hours. It kind of felt like everyone was hunkering down, trying not to draw attention to themselves until they figured things out. It was eerily quiet.

Then the radio crackled to life, and it was the Boeing corporate yacht requesting passage. I opened the bridge for him, and he passed through. But something surreal happened as I closed the bridge. When I opened it, the street had been deserted, but upon closing three minutes later, I saw that the street was now filled with dozens of flashing red and blue police strobes. And behind them was a massive crowd of hundreds of people. It was like they had appeared out of nowhere.

I finished closing the bridge and then climbed out on the catwalk that is suspended over the street to get a better view. As the crowd drew near, I could hear them shouting, “Bridge! Bridge!” My heart settled into my throat. What was going on? Were they going to occupy the bridge? It happened once before when the occupy movement was in full force. Suddenly I was feeling very isolated and vulnerable. And they were getting closer.

But as they approached I began to hear more of their chants. “Build a bridge, not a wall!” “This is what democracy looks like!” “Refugees are welcome here!”

Voices of inclusion. Voices of unity. Students reaching out and speaking their truth in a non-violent way. The true essence of America at its best. Freedom of speech.

And there were so many of them. The procession lasted a long time and I got to witness it all from my perch. I was gazing down at hope for the future.

And just like that, the ice melted around my heart and I got tears in my eyes. We still have voices, every one of us. We don’t necessarily have to agree, but we all can speak in this country. And the majority of us aren’t going anywhere. We’re here. Together. And somehow we’ll all work this out. These students reminded me of that.

Speaking your truth is a little gift of kindness you give to those who are worried that they may not be able to speak their own. And when your truth is combined with the truths of others, it is very powerful.

Witnessing this piece of history inspired me. Yes, I can live in this world. There’s room for all of us. There’s just a lot of work to be done. I have to say I’m really proud to be a part of Seattle right now.

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