Actually, Mr. Moore, Flint Does Need Bottled Water

Dear Michael Moore,

Thank you for your concern for the people of Flint. You offered some very nice insight on long-term solutions, and I completely agree with you that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder needs to be held accountable for this situation. There is one issue I have with your letter, however: Flint needs water now, and the best solution for now is bottled water.

I hear on a daily basis from people who live in Flint and who volunteer their IMG_0613time to help with the crisis there. Many of them are quite angry with the governor and want federal assistance with the situation. There are others who don’t care about politics. All of them are on the exact same page about this one thing: Flint needs water now, and the best solution for now is bottled water.

You are right that nothing is going to fix the damage already done. Many people in Flint, particularly children, have already and will continue to suffer brain damage that will affect them the rest of their lives. When all is said and done, the toll on people’s health will likely prove to be enormous. That doesn’t change one thing right now: Flint needs water now, and the best solution for now is bottled water. Continue reading

“The Packing House” Is Packed With Power

“The Packing House” by G. Donald Cribbs is an incredible, powerful book. It is an absolute must-read for anyone with a son or for any boy/man who has survived child sexual abuse.

“The Packing House tells the story of Joel Scrivener from his point of view. download (3)Joel is a sophomore in high school who frequently moves on short notice at the behest of his mother. This adds to his difficulties in dealing with many typical issues of a social outcast. He has trouble connecting with girls, particularly his long-time love Amber, he’s unsure of his sexuality, and he experiences bullying, sometimes at the hands of his younger brother. All of that is simply the foundation for the greatest horror Joel faces. He experiences horrible nightmares which lead to him recovering memories of being raped a decade earlier. Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Silence

In honor of my Canadian friends (many of whom are bloggers), I thought I’d tap out something quick for their Bell Let’s Talk campaign.

I have to admit I’m struggling. I suffer from Complex PTSD, and because of a variety of factors, it’s hard for me to get good therapy. I’ve also had some pretty serious setbacks recently. In one example, I had a conflict with someone popular in my community which has led to me feeling alienated and/or awkward with some close friends. I’ve been trying to fake my way through it, but that’s only making things worse.

My geographically close friends seem to think the situation was less serious than it was or that it’s simply a matter of my mental health issues. Those far away remind me that it’s much more than my mental health. I was silenced and stigmatized. When I expressed feeling that way, I was met with denial and defensiveness, and I was publicly shamed, making the hurt much deeper. Being silent about all that won’t heal this wound, not even with time, especially when I see the person who hurt me publicly celebrated.

I know my own mental health issues make the situation worse, but I also know that my hurt is very real. I want to talk it out, but I’m growing increasingly discouraged that I’m ever going to be fully heard by the people from whom I need that most. And the only way I do feel heard nowadays is through the blogging community or with people far away.

I’m willing to listen. I’m willing to admit to any damage I’ve done. But I can’t do that if people won’t talk to me. Silence only breeds more silence, and silence can be deadly. So let’s talk.

I’m Afraid of White Men

…but I’m not afraid of Drew. 

My life has been littered with angry white men who stood in my way. I was too brown, too Muslim, too female. Whatever their reasons, they stood in my way and they were ugly about it. These men were school administrators, police officers, teachers, neighbors and peers. 

White men still get in my way. I expect them to. And I expect it to hurt. I shrink in their shadows. I cautiously play stupid even with men who clearly have nowhere near my education or natural capacity for critical thinking. I pretend I know nothing about what they mansplain to me when I often know as much or more, even when the topic at hand is their profession. Because I do my research. 

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“chensio’s moly” by Yoda Navarette

I do my research because sometimes I will have to drop the charade, but before I do I check my clothes, apply my makeup and cast my eyes down to stay safe. Men are more likely to give me what I need–whether it’s a correctly repaired vehicle or passage on the sidewalk–if they find me pretty and unintelligent. Men are less likely to verbally degrade me if they don’t know my cultural or religious upbringing. So I play quiet and I play white. Unless they have an Arab woman fetish, and they often do. Then I play simple and repeatedly decline their advances as politely as possible. Continue reading

Traveling Around to Feminine Collective and The Honeyed Quill

Feminine Collective paid me a great honor in publishing my essay “Cosby’s Indirect Impact on Pop Culture and Why It’s Still No Excuse”. They’re celebrating their second birthday today. So go show them some love.

At The Honeyed Quill, you can find my deeply personal look at the dark side of being an abuse survivor, “The Beast Within Me”. Shawna is also content editor for On the Verge with Shareen Mansfield where you will find “The Ninth Planet”, some amazing work by Jacqueline Cioffa. Shawna will be my guest here soon, and I can’t wait.

I hope you check out these fine sites. It’s quite an honor to have my work published by these amazing people.

Also, while you’re at Feminine Collective, buy yourself a copy of their anthology “Raw and Unfiltered Vol. 1”. If you do so by March 31, half your purchase will support homeless women and their children. I already did.

Dear Mom (Watching Over Me)

Dear Mom,

I felt you watching over me this past weekend. I saw you in the angel hanging in the corner and on the card sitting in front of me. It made me think of your old angel collection. You had so many different ones made of porcelain, wood, cloth, and even a couple silly ones I made you out of Legos. Some stayed on display all year, and some only came out at Christmastime.

An angel with an invisible demon, perfectly imperfect.
An angel with an invisible demon, perfectly imperfect.

Now you’re an angel watching over me, and it was nice to have you there with me. It’s been more than five years since I last laid eyes on you. At this point back then, you were in the hospital, and I was in Afghanistan. In a few months, I’d be taking leave to come home to bury you before heading back to war again. While I was away in a combat zone, all those angels drifted away and are now probably scattered around in the hands of strangers. Those old Legos are probably just pieces in some other construction. You wouldn’t mind, though, as long as they’re making someone else happy.

This past weekend I spoke some scary truth to strangers. I cried as I talked about you and your angels. That’s when I realized you were with me. I’m working on speaking a whole lot more of that truth, some of it much worse than what I shared. The idea scares me, and it sure helps to have you by my side while I do it. I’ve lost track of you from time to time, but I’ll be sure to keep you close from here on out. Continue reading

Pressure Coming Down On Me

I’ve been working on essays lately about David Bowie and one of my childhood idols, Bill Cosby. I never want or expect to be as famous as them, but I do know that any amount of fame and popularity can have negative effects on a person.

Lots of celebrities behave badly to some degree or another. They’re like popular kids in school, insulated by friends and reputation from their negative impacts on the world around them. I have negative impacts on people all the time and am constantly working to be aware and improve on that. Continue reading