The 4th & Murrieta, California’s Hate for New Americans

As you ready your house flags, don your sunscreen and set up your BBQ’s, I would love if we all reflected a bit on what it means to be an American.

For a long awhile, I admit to having never given much thought to what it means to be an American. I’ve always been one and have enjoyed all of it’s privileges and rights. After all, we are the envy of many other countries. So much so, that people will risk their lives to come here.

Think about that for a minute. How bad would it have to be for you, in your own life, to risk everything in order to get yourself to another country?

I don’t live far from Murrieta, California. For those not following the news, there are refugees from places like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, most of them children and young mothers with babies, who have risked their lives and their children’s lives because it is so very bad where they come from they seek a better life in the United States.

They’ve walked miles with only as much as they could carry. They’ve dangerously jumped on trains to hitch a ride some of the way. They’ve crossed hot and barren deserts, climbed mountains, and many have died.

Jack and Hala at the Capitol rocking it for Lupus
My children in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC.

One of these mothers was interviewed on our local news. She said her two children had no future in her village. It was nothing but poverty and crime with no way out. So she made the heart wrenching decision to attempt to make it to the United State’s border. She said she heard if they made it, they might be allowed to stay, or they might be sent back. She understood the odds. She also didn’t feel as though she was doing anything illegal as she knew, if her plan worked, she would at some point meet up with American Border Patrol.

Despite what she did know, she had no idea some Americans would be so very unwelcoming once she arrived. Screaming at her and her children as their bus approached the Murrieta processing center. Causing such havoc, the bus turned away due to security concerns.

I wonder what my ancestors thought as they made the voyage over the Atlantic to get here. They knew, once they reached the process center at the other end, they was also a chance they would be sent back. Illnesses from a sniffle to lice, could mean the difference between life and death for the family. It could also mean children separated from their parents.

My Polish ancestors were called stupid and given menial jobs upon their immigration. My Romanian ancestors had an even tougher time, called gypsies and not even trusted enough to be employed. Yet, through hard work and that ever present American dream that made them roll the dice, my Polish great-grandparents found themselves a Polish speaking area in Detroit and set up a corner store. Never learning English. My Romanian ancestors doing just as well, with my grandfather owning his own travel and insurance company after starting off, shall we say, a bit less ‘legal’ in order to make ends meet. Before his death he told us all stories of his first job…running alcohol between Windsor, Canada and Detroit, MI for none other than Al Capone.

Both were discriminated against, but I don’t remember my history class teaching us of throngs of anti-immigrant Americans attempting to block the ships and send them all back. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if they had, in fact, tried.

So as I watch these children look out the windows of federal buses, seeing screaming (predominately) white folk waving the Red, White, and Blue…I wonder what they must be thinking. How scared they must be. How very, very scared their parents must be…willing to, perhaps, change their last names to sound more American or even deny their homeland in the hopes it will help them get through the processing center. Desperately willing their families be allowed to stay together, and desperately hoping what they have heard is true…that this truly is the land of opportunity.

I have yet to hear one of them say, when interviewed, they ‘heard’ they could get ‘free stuff’ if they made it. All of them talk of hoping to find work, any kind of work, immediately.

Hear that? They want to work. They aren’t asking for hand outs.

This morning I’m listening to another of these mothers…this one from Honduras, speak of how she nearly lost her children as they crossed a river trying to get to our land of liberty. She was in tears speaking of their journey, the entire time saying if only they could get to America, everything would be ok. She would find work and no matter what, it couldn’t possibly be as bad as the dirt floor of their shanty that was left behind.

I am sickened these refugees were ‘welcomed’ by residents (and non-residents) of Murrieta demanding they ‘go back to Mexico’ and ‘get their diseases out of our city.’

Sound familiar? It should. It wasn’t long ago Americans of a certain kind believed Black Americans should use different toilets for fear their imagined diseases. As if scabies (the disease most often seen by border agents) was some odd, untreatable malady and only brown people carried it.

So this 4th of July I find myself wondering what it truly means to be American. For the majority of us, it means to be an immigrant. Unless you are of Native American decent. There are tales of Native American blood in my family tree, although none confirmed. So really, just like most of us, my family risked a great deal to journey to a foreign land that held nothing but promises. That they heard offered opportunities where if you worked hard, you could become anything you wanted to be. I don’t ever remember that promise being ‘if you did nothing, you got free stuff…so come on over!’

No, just like my ancestors and just like these scared mothers I’m watching on the news, the tale remains the same. They heard if you came to America and worked hard you could be anything. And your children, your precious children, had a chance at a better life.

I want to take this 4th to thank my ancestors for believing in that dream and I want to tell those refugees those of us who are Americans still believe in that dream and I hope they still can too. We don’t all hate you or want you to be turned away.

This 4th of July I hope this new wave of immigration is welcomed-regardless of how they got here. I hope they are processed and given a chance. The same chance my ancestors were given. Some choosing to walk the straight and narrow to make ends meet and others bending the rules a bit, but all believing in hard work.

This 4th of July I also hope those of us citizens think hard about what it means to be an American, because I now think that definition includes offering that same chance to those who journey here under horrifying and harrowing circumstances we can’t even imagine and give some chance to these families. Not to mention respect, not hate and anger.

Shame on you, Murrieta.

*Update 8:24am July 3rd, 2014 – this is a link to the fliers they are passing out in Murrieta, CA. I ask you: How healthy are these families that have walked thousands of miles, hiking over mountains, and crossing rivers? Give me a break. Perhaps if we all VACCINATE and treat these families (if they do have any of these diseases, as I said before scabies has been the only reported one thus far) during processing (that’s what happens when the buses arrive, they are PROCESSED AND TREATED) we really won’t have any sort of health criss on our hands here, now will we? Unless you mean to tell me these people are different somehow? Cue scene from The Help where new bathrooms are build just for those diseased black folk….

Just One More

I’m back at the place I started.

My Aunt and Uncle live closest to the airport and have plenty of room…and the kids and I are again occupying the downstairs, but this time my Mom is upstairs in the room I was meant to sleep in when we arrived over ten days ago. Two weeks? Twelve days? I’ve lost count.

The nights ran into days, the days into nights and too many things happened to even write about.

I came here to allow my kids a chance to run around the family mountain in West Virginia while I helped my Mom help the rest of my family deal with my ailing Aunt. I knew she rushed here quickly to be by her side, but I think for those first 24 hours or so we all had some hope.

I moved from relative to relative’s home, while the kids spent time with their grandparents, and just did as I was told. Mostly what I was told entailed being near my Mom, or cousins. Running errands that seemed like half an errand to keep me busy and half an errand to keep me out of the way and mostly just giving all of us something to do while we waited and watched and wondered.

The kids and I left California on June 16th. I handed them off to their grandmother at the airport we flew into on June 17th. On June 20th, after telling my Aunt I was really enjoying spending time with my God-daughter, and then going about feeling useless near the kitchen as we tried to keep things tidy…I watched as my Mom forcefully asked family friends to leave quickly out the back door and my Uncle rushed to  his wife’s side. Her daughters already next to her, her grandchildren having just left moments before, as if she knew they were too young and it would be too much to see her pass. There was so much movement, yet…barely any. A controlled chaos where all you could hear were hearts breaking and tears falling.

The rest is a blur. I know it’s June 27th and this morning we entered my grandfather’s nursing home, not far from where I’m typing this, and my son said hello and then wanted to leave the room. My Mom took him out in the hall and they sat on a couch. My daughter, loud and brave, sang “Let it Go” to my 96-year-old grandfather and he smiled and attempted to conduct her with his frail hand. He clapped when she finished. I held her and thanked her and escorted her out to my Mom waiting in the hall.

My brother and I talked to our grandfather and he proudly showed one of the aid’s my photo with President Obama that he has displayed in what seems like poster type size on his bulletin board, next to which is a photo of my two kids, the ones still a bit uncomfortable in the hallway. I dug through my purse as I wanted to show him I carry the locket he gave my grandmother everywhere I go…always in my purse.

At first he didn’t recognize it, then you could see the lightbulb go off.

She brings you luck, doesn’t she?

Yes, Grandpa, she does.

Earlier, I had given all I could emotionally after one night at the funeral home, then had to spend a day in bed from pure stress induced exhaustion/migraine, and then came the day that included the funeral mass and wake. On this day I broke my grandfather’s rule of no kisses (he’s afraid he’ll give me germs) and kissed him goodbye and told him I loved him and went into the hall while my brother talked to him a bit more.

Knowing what it took to get my body healthy enough to handle this trip to be there for my Mom and my brother and my family and for myself, and seeing the way my grandfather looked as we entered the room, sleeping. I knew I had said my goodbye for the last time.

I put on my sunglasses in the front of the car, kids playing with each other in the way back of the car and paying no attention to me. Again the tears streaming down my face as they had for a straight week. My Mom somehow always with tissue in her purse. No matter how good of a mother I think I am, and how prepared I think I may be, there’s my Mom with even more tissue because no matter how much I searched through my own purse I couldn’t find the pack I knew I had in there.

Somewhere in there we had driven to Toledo to pick up the kids after sitting in traffic dazed, unmoving, phones constantly buzzing and ringing with arrangements to be made and my Mom’s help needed. Somewhere in there I offered to take communion at mass so my cousin didn’t have to worry which row would walk up first. Somewhere in there I hugged childhood friends and college friends and family friends I’ve known since I was born. Somewhere in there I had to remind the kids not to worry if they saw Nana or their Uncle cry every once in awhile. Somewhere in there I called my husband wishing he were closer so I could just collapse in his arms. Somewhere in there I called my doctor and explained that unless he thought it was detrimental to my health I needed to stay where I was to be with my family. Somewhere in there I felt as though I was entirely useless, as no one wanted to worry about my health in the midst of all this, so I was never given a job or anything to do, I was just simply there. Somewhere in there I stood on a dock and watched fireworks, both kids in my arms, as we “ooooh’d” and “aaaaaah’d” while they boomed overhead and over the river. Somewhere in there we managed to get the kids Red Wings, Michigan State, and Tigers t-shirts and Coney Island loose hamburgers and Vernor’s floats. Somewhere in there I told them it really was fish fly season, the mythical time of summer I had told them about their entire lives, yet we still haven’t seen one so they may never believe me. Somewhere in there my entire childhood and adolescence flashed before me and my heart broke over and over again because nothing will ever be the same for anyone I love.

Now we will get back on a plane and go back to our lives. I’ll resume treatment and the kids will continue their summer vacation. However things will need to change.

I said goodbye to two people I love this week and I can’t do it again. I am tired of so many of those thoughts where we  think of someone yet don’t pick up the phone. Where we are reminded of a fun time yet fail to email those involved just to re-live the good times had by all. I refuse to be a slave to these tears and everything  I want to say, I’m saying it. Everyone who I  love will know it and hopefully feel my love.

My eyes swollen, my heart heavy, I leave with suitcases full, my mind still jumbled, and my thoughts all over this state in which I no longer live, but provides me with memories and heartache and family. A combination you can not take for granted and you must remember to honor or it will sneak up on you and steal your most precious memories and leaving you wanting, wishing for just one more.

 

 

 

When Faced With Memories

I’m in Michigan but not on vacation.

All the memories keep flooding back in waves and then are gone as quick as they came.

I feel fragmented. Pieces of me in California and West Virginia and at 9 Mile and Harper and in a living room on Yankee Rd.

All the reasons I left. All the reasons I love. All the reasons to come back. All the reasons to not look back. All the reasons a chunk of me will never feel at home anywhere else. All the reasons ‘…where the heart is…’ truly IS.

Pink peonies

I must have spent 20 minutes staring at these puffy, pale pink peonies wondering why they made my stomach do flip-flops. Thinking it was because I heard my cousin say they are one of my Aunt’s favorites. But knowing in my gut that wasn’t exactly right. Picturing them somewhere, but unable to place the ‘where.’

…and they had those huge ants on them, remember?

Just like that I was 10 and I could see them, with a huge, black carpenter ant crawling out from one of the petals. I could hear the slam of the back, screen door. They grew against my childhood home with that color and those ants visible even more against the red brick.

I wanted to be there again. To close the top of the sliver gate so the dog wouldn’t get out and to move my hand just so to avoid getting my fingers smashed as metal hit metal. I can hear the back door open and slam behind me and can see the back of my Mom’s head as she washes dishes and I fly past her and into my room.

The rainbow border looking down on me as I hit play on my favorite, totally worn out cassette and flopped on my stomach as the water in my bed sloshed around. The accordion door shut behind me, letting in just enough light and all of the noise of the house.

The phone ringing and not seconds later hearing the door slam shut again and listening to my Mom talk to my Aunt on the phone while listening to my cousin fill-in-the-blanks of the conversation simultaneously in person. She didn’t get her whole story out as quickly as my Aunt could call it in…my Mom mediating as always. The door slams shut again and I hear … yes, she’s on her way back…ok call me later or I’ll be over after dinner.

It would take only a minute to walk across the street to my Aunt’s house but you could make it in 14 seconds if you were running fast enough. Her side door was harder to open. Heavier. So it wouldn’t slam shut but almost slowly close and click itself locked behind you. Both of those doors had screens so you could easily yell inside instead of actually going inside.

But ours had the peonies with the big black ants.

Father’s Day 2014

My Dad is one of the reasons I am the way I am. Everyone says we’re a lot alike, and I can’t disagree.

From the earliest memories I have he would tell me ‘You do not need a man, you don’t need to get married, and you should always be independent’- in fact he said it so much when I made my Confirmation in 8th grade my special trait on my rock that we painted said ‘INDEPENDENT’ …

Then I met Aaron and thought for sure they wouldn’t want me to live with a boy – at least not yet, after a very violent and horrible relationship they helped me get out of. My Mom was skeptical… a story Aaron loves telling because she was so mean to him the first time they met. (Imagine my Mom being mean to anyone…it’s sort of funny) and I met my Dad on Amelia Island while he was away on business and stayed with him …with the intention of telling him I wanted to live with this boy and we were going to move in together and I really hoped he wouldn’t be mad.

Not only was he not mad, he told me I would marry him one day. And that he knew this was the right man for me. I was stunned. I had my Dad’s blessing and Aaron had his respect. When Aaron moved to California to take his first VFX job we broke up for a bit and I was devastated. I knew this was the man I was supposed to spend my life with and if this wasn’t ‘it’ then I have no idea what was. My Dad, as I cried and cried, said ‘stop being so upset, he’s going to marry you- mark my words’ … and sure enough he was right.
….
Then, year later, after the wedding and after life…we welcomed a son and Aaron went from being the guy who never wanted kids to being the most amazing father ever. Seriously. He’s the guy who should have had 20 kids because he’s just THAT GOOD with kids. A few more years later and we welcomed a daughter. Which scared the hell out of him, but he took it in stride, knowing full well he’d protect her and teach her how to handle boys like the teenageHIM.

Hala's gift to Dad
Our daughter’s gift to Aaron today…a snuggle blanket for the two of them

Jack's gift to Dad
Our son’s gift…a video game controller organizer so they can have even MORE game time together

I am so thankful every single day that I have a husband who isn’t just a father, he’s a damn good father. He might have to work his ass off daily to make sure we can eat and have a place to live and can afford nice things, but the moments and time he has with his children he’s like SuperDad. He makes them feel like they can do and be anything, while teaching them all he knows. Even if it’s something as simple as grilling a good piece of meat. He isn’t afraid to snuggle them and tell them stories of his childhood and all the things they should try and do and all the things they CAN do. They look at him with wonder and awe and they should. He’s their play friend, their disciplinarian when need be (but luckily not often) and their #1 hero.

He may not think he is, but I know two kids who find him to be the most amazing man on earth. They talk about him to their friends, they brag about THEIR Dad. And when other kids come over to play they giggle and laugh because he’s even awesome with their friends.

He adores his nieces and nephew. In fact, I remember him holding his newborn niece and thinking what a great Dad he was going to be someday…he was so natural.

I was right. If he does nothing else in this world, he will be forever known as one helluva a father. It is his most important job and role ever, and he’s knocking it out of the park.
I’m so thankful to have such great men in my life.

Red, Blue, Purple and Persnickety

For the first time ever my children and I were confronted about our ‘otherness.’

We are not people of color, we are not minorities in any sense, unless you count being Democrats in a Republican town. We don’t encounter issues with police, or neighbors or well, anyone really. We are lucky to be able to live our lives in relative peace with the world.

Hair!

Except when some people get a glimpse of my tattoos. Or, as is the case this month, I have purple hair (I’ve been dying my hair purple every May for Lupus awareness month…I was a bit late this month, but I made it for the last few weeks of May and now into June) my son has a red streak in his hair, and my daughter’s hair is a nice turquoise. Standing together if you glanced over at us you might see nothing but a rainbow of hair color and the Mom’s wrist tattoo.

I never really think twice about these things. It is just not a big deal. My daughter and I have been dying our hair since the first Lupus awareness month we celebrated back in 2011 or so. This year, my son decided he wanted to dye his hair too…but he wanted red. This lead my daughter to think about blue and well…it didn’t make much difference to my husband and I. It’s just hair. They can do whatever they like.

Yes, they are 9 and 11. For some people. children shouldn’t be making their own decisions about their hair. Especially dying their hair. However we don’t subscribe to this sort of parenting. If they can decide what to wear and how they express themselves through their clothing (so long as it’s weather and age appropriate) we don’t really mind. My daughter spent a few weeks big on fingerless gloves and knee high socks. Cool by us. My son could care less what he wears so long as it’s comfy and he doesn’t have to think about it much. He is, however, very particular about his hair. He likes it long. Also cool by us.

So when we left the grocery store the other day and we were getting ready to load bags into the car I really wasn’t thinking about much of anything, certainly not our hair.

An elderly woman walked towards us saying ‘wow. WOW. wow. WOW. wow. WOW!’ and varying degrees from a whisper to loud to average speaking tone. Looking at us and now openly tsking, she began to shake her head as she uttered her ‘wows’ … and walked past us to get a cart.

The wows and tsks now louder, I finally turned around to confront her, as I could fee her still staring at us as she begged for my attention.

‘You know you are RUINING those children by allowing that ridiculous hair. You are RUINING them! And you doing it too…you encourage this? This.. this… ridiculousness? You are RUINING them!’

I took a breath and looked at the kids who both had their jaws hanging open. My brother has just pulled up with the car and could see something was going on between the woman and I but wasn’t sure what to make of it…

‘We enjoy expressing our individuality…I hope you have a really nice day!’ is all I could get out with a huge smile on my face.

The kids, now realizing what happened had varied reactions but mostly were in shock.

My daughter, with a confused look said ‘Wait…WHAT?’

My son, repeated the woman but in a totally different tone of questioning and confusion, ‘WOW…really?’

We got in the car and on the way home I told them that some people may think we look strange with our hair different colors. And some people probably don’t like my tattoos much either. But do we care what other people think of how we look? Nope. And how much do we love our hair? A LOT…we’re having fun!

They agreed and we laughed and I felt sad for the angry, elderly woman…who clearly was so upset by our hair she absolutely had to confront me. It was shocking to her. This made me sad. Not for us, but for her. To be so angry at people who are different. To be so upset by things that are weird or not the norm.

I wanted to go find her again and give her a hug. Although I’m guessing she doesn’t want one from me. At least not until the purple fades from my hair…

 

Team

I think most of us dreamt what our relationships with our children would be like before they actually came along…

I thought I would have a hockey playing son who was also a drummer in a rock band. He would be sensitive and respectful and love sports and animals.

I thought my daughter would be just like me. She would LOVE PINK, anything with a tutu, but also be able to debate fiercely about politics and current events and play every sport out there, preferably on the same hockey team as her brother. She too would be in a rock band, when she wasn’t at roller derby practice or campaigning for class President.

And then my two children were born, grew up a bit, and became their own, amazing, people.

Still holding hands

Everything I thought I wanted them to be was blown away by everything they are. I’ve never been more thankful to be entirely wrong about what I wanted.

My daughter loves to sing. And she’s good at it- really good. She is very independent and she is only nine. She pretends she’s a kitten instead of chases boys. She watches ‘Too Cute’ instead of listening to ‘One Direction.’ And she refuses to follow the crowd. If her friends like Minecraft, she will play Animal Jam. She wants to be different. She wants to be a leader. Today she’s asked if she can dye her hair turquoise … I said ‘sure!’ She makes sure everyone is included in the games she plays and won’t have it when others say ‘oh that girl can’t play with us.’ I’ve also shown up to school unannounced and found her having lunch with the ‘new kid’ … a boy… showing him around and hanging out with him because no one else would and she wanted to make sure he wasn’t alone and knew he would have a friend. She didn’t care that others were ‘oh, you’re talking to a boy’ teasing. I’m so proud of her.

My son is a self-proclaimed geek. He loves science more than anything and already has several ideas for companies. He wants to learn to be a pilot and has already taken his first flight lesson. He’s tested video games for Disney to earn money for additional flight lessons and can’t wait to get up in the air again. He has zero interest in sports and I don’t mind at all. He’s also found his voice this year…the one where he stands up to other kids at school for calling someone ‘gay’ as a slur. I couldn’t be more proud. I also couldn’t be more proud when others tell me how amazingly mature he is…he’s got a very old soul.

Both of them are nothing like I imagined they would be but so much more. SO SO much more.

My daughter has been finding new music lately and recently discovered Lorde. She loves the song ‘Team’ and I think it’s perfect for her…and us. There is nothing I love more than belting it out with her in the car, together. With her brother rolling his eyes at us. But we don’t care…so there.

We’re a team. We’re all learning to live with everyone’s characteristics and appreciate them. My son is learning his sister doesn’t want to play the same things he does…and he doesn’t want to play the same things she does. For the first time, that’s ok. Instead they hang out and play what they want, while sitting next to each other.

Still close.

Still near in case one wants to tell the other something.

All while I watch in awe at the amazing young people they are becoming. Half their father, half me..but so much different than I could have ever have imagined. But that’s fine…Because at the end of the day…we’re on each other’s team.

 

Benghazi!

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…that’s what I thought was going to be screamed next from the podium as the William S Hart School Board’s public comments were underway.

It was like watching a Fox News Tea Party convention, minus the annoying anchors.

Let me back up a bit here…

It came to my attention awhile ago that my local school board was not in compliance with a new law here in California. Actually, it’s not a new law…it’s from 2012. It’s called the FAIR Act and it basically makes sure students are learning about all sorts of figures in American and Global history, specifically it’s making sure LGBTQ, the disabled, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders are included. It also makes sure anything left in old textbooks that discriminates against these groups is removed.

Not too hard, right?

Well, apparently for my local school board this a monumental task that has taken them over two years to get off their asses and accomplish. The really sad thing? They claim it’s because they don’t have the money for curriculum or teacher training (at last check the district had an over $40 million dollar surplus) and that they have until 2015 to really have to do anything.

Turns out, the district is either lying, or is  just really, really wrong and incompetent. There is FREE curriculum being offered, including lesson plans, by a TON of organizations. There is also FREE teacher training being offered by various organizations. And that 2015 thing? After speaking to the California Department of Education myself AND the ACLU myself, turns out it ONLY applies to TEXTBOOKS for K-8 and does not apply to the supplemental curriculum that is and was due in classes immediately after the law was passed. You know, over two years ago.

So why is this so important? Because when students see people like themselves, families like the ones they live in, representatives of who they are (gay, straight, white, black, female, male, disabled, you get the idea) they are less likely to kill themselves, feel bad about their own lives, become depressed, and generally do better in school. And you know what else happens as a side effect? Less bullying.

Enter tonight’s nuttiness at the school board meeting. A group of parents, students, and community members decided we’d all had enough with the board dragging it’s feet and did what we could to support a senior at one of our high schools. He’s the President of his Gay/Straight Alliance club and he’s been pushing the board for the past SIX MONTHS to get this curriculum going and to comply with the LAW. With our help, we learned a lot of what I just posted above and helped him gather signatures on a petition and distribute a survey to his fellow students – to get an accurate idea of what they think about these issues. We all, also, agreed to come show support and speak at the school board meeting.

He had great stats, great studies, we found and printed out several examples of the curriculum and lesson plans the district could begin using to supplement in classrooms NOW and we all told our own stories about why the board needed to be in compliance with state law. I spoke about being disabled and bi- and that my kids were asking why their school board leaders weren’t teaching their peers about Harvey Milk or Helen Keller- people like in OUR family…like their MOM.

Another community member read a very powerful letter from a 2013 graduate of the district. She was suicidal and did not feel supported by the district or her school during her time in high school. She said the FAIR Act would have shown her that people like her DO succeed, that they can do great and important things and that yes, it does get better.

This is how we went on…and on…standing up and speaking about why this Act needed to be implemented yesterday and how, it may seem to some, the district was discriminating against these groups by delaying.

Of course, the local school board member/conservative shock jock took our Facebook posts supporting the FAIR Act to be an attack on his free speech. (I have no idea, your guess is as good as mine here…apparently because he called it the ‘Looney law’ and has also tweeted incredibly insensitive things about the LGBTQ community and is generally against equality he assumed we were there to ask for his head on a platter.)

And cue the clown car.

As we spoke on the Fair Act, up came speaker after speaker testifying to what a wonderful human this guy is and why we are horrible socialists out to destroy America! and the Constitution!!. One woman even held up a Saul Alinsky book claiming it to be our Bible and telling us to ‘BRING IT ON!’ I actually couldn’t hold my laughter in and lost it in the back of the room. (for the record I’ve never even seen the book and have only heard about it from conservatives who swear it’s my Bible…)

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I actually snorted at one point by the sheer comedy of it all. There was even a mother of two boys who told us her 12-year old was VERY upset about the ball player who came out and the subsequent media coverage and why everyone cared where he put his penis because it was interrupting his TV time.

I wish I were kidding.

I was expecting someone to shout Benghazi! and, of course, blame Obama for California’s FAIR Act, but sadly the night grew long and the speakers finally were finished before tin foil hats ACTUALLY appeared as they sang the praises of a radio talk show host/school board member…instead of backing the students asking for their help.

And here we were, with our facts, our stats, our stacks of free curriculum, and our support for the student presenting it all to the board. I, personally, told the board they should be embarrassed a student was pushing them to comply with the law and they should be doing their JOBS so I can tell my kids they represent ALL kids, even ones from families with a disabled mother. But it all seemed lost in the clown car show.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get more humiliating for the board member, the ego of this man somehow compelled him to speak at the end of the public comment session (which, if you go by rules isn’t supposed to happen but hey, they don’t seem to comply with the law, why would they follow meeting rules?) – School board member and radio host Joe Messina told the crowd it was great to see ‘democracy’ in action in front of him and thanked both sides- even the ‘opposition’ (I’m sorry, opposition to what? Him? Um… no…opposition to board inaction? SURE!) as it became about HIM and again, NOT about the FAIR Act we all spoke about or the students…despite his assertion about how much he cares about these students.

Let me just say this, if Joe Messina cared about the students, he would have used his time at the end of public discussion (breaking the rules)  to have asked the rest of the board to do something about complying with the law instead of thanking the clown car.

It’s a sad day in education when a young, gay man with three weeks left until high school graduation stands before his board of education begging them to take action on a law already imposed upon them by the state so that no one has to go through what he did…and the only board response was from a straight man thanking everyone for the attention HE received that night.

As a disabled mother in the district I feel as if the board is willfully discriminating against me and my family – and I applaud Andy Taban for standing up and speaking truth to power at such a young age.

Even if it means I have to fight this with legal action or continued pleas in front of the board, Mr. Taban will be one of those American heroes future Hart District kids will read about in their new history books. Even with the clown car all around him, he stood tall and proud and OUT and refused to be silenced. That’s one hell of a start for a Senior in high school dealing with adults who were clearly less mature and informed.

Benghazi!

For My Kids

Sometimes you just have to tell your doctor some things are more important than staying away from germs, despite your immune system being entirely compromised.

You can't hear Happy Birthday on the morning of your #9th b-day without a brother squeeze #allhailhala

Sometimes you just have to sit down with your husband and discuss the ramifications for your family if you open your  mouth on an important issue, knowing full well it’s brought death threats and hate to your door before.

Sometimes you just have to say BECAUSE EQUALITY MATTERS – and say it standing up, not in a wheelchair, without your cane, and hope they are paying attention when it is your turn to speak. Because you are standing up in tremendous pain so they can see your face, and you do not want their pity or their prayers. You want them to LISTEN. You spent the day having lifesaving drugs pumped into your body, and you know some of those starting down from their place on high think are a ‘taker’ unworthy of  life because God is certainly punishing you for your wicked ways.

Sometimes you have to cry because any of it is necessary in 2014, two years after a law has gone into effect, that you’re not treated like a second class citizen, that LGBT friends and family are not treated like second class citizens, that STUDENTS are not treated like second class citizens and that your children’s peers are not taught disabled or LGBT American heroes simply do.not.matter. by your local school district.

Sometimes you need to go to a school board meeting and speak your mind.

To be continued…