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State of Chaos

I realize that my Facebook feed is a bit of an echo chamber at the moment.  I haven’t deleted anyone, but I suspect I’ve been blocked by plenty who are tired of my posts and memes and anger.  So the majority of my posts, and by extension this blog, are seen by those that agree with me and are sick with what’s going on in our country.  But that doesn’t mean I should be quiet.  Because for the first time in my life, I can’t stand down because it might not align with someone.  I can’t stay quiet because some don’t agree with me.  I just can’t. 

Mitch McConnell unwittingly gave a great phrase to the “movement” the other day.  “She was warned, she was given an explanation, and  nevertheless, she persisted.”  That certainly wasn’t his intent.  But it’s a great catchphrase.  We can put it on shirts, and change our profile pictures, and it’s an amazing exclamation in the resistance against an administration that doesn’t stand for us, an administration we don’t believe in.  And here’s the thing. It’s an awesome rallying cry.    How many women, throughout history, didn’t want to rock the boat?   Didn’t want to put their beliefs out there for fear of being too much, too over the top, too feminist, too everything?  The fact that we are, even if its in a small way, mobilizing, is amazing.  This is how shit gets changed. It doesn’t happen when we say nothing.

But we don’t want to think.  We don’t want to think too hard about what’s actually happening.  That this adminisration is slowly and quietly dismantling society as we know it.  I know.  You think I’m being extremist.  That I’m exaggerating.  Give him a chance, is the rallying cry.  Let’s see what he does. You know  what?  He lost his chance.
He lost his chance with his whole, “Grab them by the pussy,” comment.  He lost his chance when he was tweeting about Nordstrom dropping his daughter’s clothing line in the aftermath of the raid in Yemen.  He lost his chance when he continously made it about him, and his hurt feelings, and not everyone else.  When he signed orders that put men, women, and children at risk – and regardless of your thoughts on immigration, when he threw the entire country into fucking chaos, he lost his chance.

Donald Trump has made a portion – a large portion – of America believe that media, actual, vetted media, which has been around for decades, isn’t real.  There is no underestimating how dangerous this is.  When we stop believing the media, the legit media, and start believing the words of a man on a power trip, we’ve lost.  This. Is. How. It. Starts.  Do not tell me I’m overreacting.    To me, this is the biggest loss we’ve faced.  His supporters no longer believe true media sources, because he has told them not to.  Our media has never been perfect, nor is it without fault.  But find me an example where CNN has falsely reported anything – aside from what this admistration has said – before this.  Have there been mistakes?  Yes.  Is the entire source – and I’m using CNN as an example here – therefore not credible?  Because by that logic Sean Spicer is literally the SNL joke that he’s become.

Here’s a quote regarding the inauguration.
“the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”
People?  This just flat out isn’t true .  It’s not a question, it’s not a media thing, it’s not a joke.  It. Isn’t. True.  It is quite literally unfathomable to me that the White House, the United States government, felt the need to issue a (completely, utterly, false) statement regarding how many people witnessed the inauguration because the President of the United States of America got his panties in a bunch when the disparity of his inauguration crowd in comparison to the previous one.

This is not okay.

His statement that his reversal of the DAPL decision “wasn’t controversial,” and “he hadn’t received one phone call about it.”
There were literally thousands of protests.

His administration’s willingness to stand behind a woman who, A) invented a massacre that didn’t happen and B) provided a mini-infomercial for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line from the White House.
That’s illegal.

His refusal to disclose his business interests and taxes after leading the charge for transparency against Obama in the completely unfounded demand for his birth certificate.
The President cannot benefit from business interests in other countries.  This is also illegal, if he has them.  If he does not, in the interest of that transparent government, there is no reason this isn’t public information.

His absolutely embarassing display at the time-honored prayer breakfast, during which he pimped out his television show.
Here’s a tip – saying “What the hell!” to a priest at a prayer breakfast anywhere is tacky.  At the White House, it’s downright shameful.

His appointment of an Education Secretary with literally zero experience, either publicly or as a civilian, with public schools, which, you know, should be a cornerstone of this country.
Betsy DeVos and her family donated money to literally every single person that voted her in.  Do not tell me she didn’t buy that job. This is not coincidence.  Also, and this may be personal opinion, but anyone who “can’t remember” if they donated 200 million fucking dollars to something probably doesn’t have a super solid grip on what parents in Chicago who are sending their kids to public schools deal with.

Speaking of Chicago, what exactly is he doing here?  Because I seem to remember this city being a big part of the whole “tough on crime” portion of his campaign.  He could fix Chicago in a week, he talked to “top people” in CPD, he would send in the Feds if the “carnage” isn’t stopped.
Spoiler alert: he hasn’t fixed Chicago, nor made any attempt to do so.  The “top people” he talked to don’t exist, according to CPD, and when our mayor responded, “Send them,” to the Feds statement, there was a deafening silence that I can still hear.  Also, side note?  Defunding our public schools and Planned Parenthood?  Probably isn’t going to help.  (But that’s another rant.)

His horribly disjointed Black History Month speech.
I can’t even.  I can’t.  Aside from the Frederick Douglass comment, which I know was the big takeaway, reading the entire transcript literally made my brain hurt.  This is the President.  If he’s unable to draft a coherent speech that properly addresses the weight of what he’s talking about, he needs to at least surround himself with people smart enough to do so.

THIS. IS. NOT. OKAY.  Say it with me.

And that isn’t to mention countless other instances – Sessions and Bannon with their blatant, obvious, and clear racist backgrounds, the national security questions he dealt with in front of his public at Mar-A-Lago, the civilians killed in his raid that was without proper intelligence, his complete dismissal of the 2 million people that marched against him the day after his inauguration, the complete and utter disregard for the terror, fear, and inconvenience the Muslims  – or anyone that happens to “look Muslim” – in this country now face.  The LGBTQ couples worried about their marriage status and the incoming legal discrimination against them. Oh, and Russia.  Everything about Russia, from the election to the dossier to Flynn – everything.  It literally could go on and on, and keep in mind that I am only touching on the most publicly known instances of discordance.

But my question (and point) is this.  I need to know why the Republican party is party over country right now.  I want an explanation as to why they’re willing to let these absolute insanities roll off.  I truly cannot fathom that this entire Senate is behind this; that there is no one that’s willing to go against the madness.  I believe it’s just going to take one.  Once one stands up and says, “Wait a second, this is a fucking crazy person,” others will follow.

Until then, we keep resisting in whatever way we can. Keep calling and keep emailing and keep showing up and most importanly – keep voting.  Pay attention to your local elections.  To your senators and your representatives.

Is it making a difference?  I certainly hope so.  It doesn’t always feel like it to me.  But staying quiet is not an option.  Not anymore.

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Maybe, Just Maybe

In the last ten years there have been seven deadly mass shootings across the United States of America.  These horrific days in the past decade included the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the babies of Newtown, the theater goers in Aurora, as well as victims in  Blacksburg, Virginia, San Bernardino, California, Fort Hood Texas, and Binghamton, N.Y.  In ten years, there were 161 people killed and 186 injured by gun violence at the hands of madmen.  Innocent people, lives cut short, and for what?  As Americans that’s what we wanted to know.  We fought bitterly regarding gun laws and safety and police and more recently, about immigration.  How do we stop this?  What can we do?  This is an outrage.  This is tragic.  We are supposed to be the greatest country in the world and we’re letting homegrown terrorists attack our citizens.

We held vigils. We set up donations and GoFundMe pages.  We marched in parades and had moments of silence on the most public of stages.  We published People magazine articles giving all of these victims a face, showing their story, and deservedly so.   We demanded our politicians give us answers and plans.  We wanted change and needed answers; This must be stopped!!

Meanwhile, in my city, in my beautiful Chicago that I call home, let me tell you what’s happening.  We’re going to the beach.  To the air show.  To a fireworks show on the 4th of July.  To baseball games and picnics in Humboldt Park.  To Puerto Rican fest and pretty much every other festival this city has to offer, and there are many.  To concerts and to Millennium Park.  To the zoo.  We’re having block parties and talking with our neighbors.  This summer especially, if you look at my Facebook, we’re living a beautiful life here in Chicago.  And don’t get me wrong, we are.  We’re taking full advantage of everything this great city has to offer.

But let me tell you what else happens here.  Yesterday, my husband didn’t go fishing because at noon, on a Tuesday, there were 20 shots fired less than a mile from us, near the fishing spot at the park.  A few weeks ago, my roommate lamented that he’d love to get red Nikes, but he can’t wear them in our neighborhood so what’s the point?  It’s not wearing certain football jerseys because of the colors.  It’s me asking the question, with hope every time, “Those were fireworks, not gunshots, right?” and being told I’m wrong, to call 911 again.  It’s staying home and in the backyard on the actual 4th of July instead of going downtown like we wanted to because we didn’t want to be on the street at night.  It’s no one leaves the house alone after dark.  It’s crossing the street when coming home late because of the twenty people standing on the corner throwing gang signs.  It’s having one of them swing a gun in your direction and walking head down and quickly, trying to get the gate open as fast as possible.  It’s calling the police nine times this year because of gunshots and seeing a response twice.   It’s learning gang tags and who lives where.  It’s not walking north on our street.  It’s avoiding the gang member memorial at the end of the block when there are too many people standing there.  It’s finding a 9MM shell casing on North Ave.  Oh, and it’s paying $1300 a month in rent because our neighborhood is one of the most up-and-coming in the country.

On average, every two minutes someone is shot in Chicago.  On average, every eleven hours someone is killed in Chicago.  In 2016 alone, 474 people have been killed by gunshots in Chicago.  In 2016 alone, 2,589 people have been wounded by gunshots in Chicago.  In 2016 alone, 3,063 people have been shot in Chicago.  I want you to go back and reread that.  Then do it again.  Then, for a little perspective, go back to the first paragraph and compare.  Ten years mass shootings across the country, 161 killed. One year in Chicago, 474.  Ten years mass shootings across the country, 186 injured.  One year in Chicago, 2,569 injured.  For a little more perspective, 2,996 people were killed on September 11th, 2001.  Think about it.  More people have been shot in Chicago in a single year than were killed on the deadliest day in US history. 

And what do we do?  Do we hold vigils or parades?  Are all of these murdered ever even recognized by name in our local paper?  Do we demand of our politicans answers and strategies?  No, we do none of that.  We make up names like Chiraq and print it on T-shirts.  We profit off of documentaries detailing what a war zone Chicago is.  We develop disgusting memes that say, “Chicago, come for the entertainment, stay because you got shot.”  We’ve made ourselves a joke, a cartoon.  A revoltingly accurate one at that.  We don’t do anything.  We argue about who’s at fault – is it the BLM movement?  Is it the police?  Surely it has to be one of those things.  We try and argue and pinpoint one specific thing to blame.  Because if we have something to blame, we don’t have to really think about it.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s not just one of those things.  Maybe it’s the systemic racism and wildly corrupt politics that has held this city captive for years.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s the absolute and utter crumbling of the Chicago Public School system, where upper middle class schools have fundraisers and the teachers in the “bad” neighborhoods have to bring their own toilet paper and supplies.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s that the opportunities in these bad neighborhoods are few and far between and the kids that are born and raised there don’t know any different than guns and gangs.  Maybe, just maybe, when little kids aren’t allowed to ride bikes at night for fear of being shot, they learn that they better be able to shoot.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s because it’s pretty clear that no one cares if they live or die.

Likely it’s a combination of all of those things.  The BLM and police issues can’t be discounted.  They’re part of the rhetoric, problem, and solution, all in their own way. But to point the blame directly at either of them is sticking our heads in the sand.

Because the other thing that can’t be discounted?  That can no longer be ignored?  Are the 3,063 people that got shot here in less than ten months.  The 474 of them whose families will never hug them again.  The ones who won’t see their own kids grow up.  The ones whose mothers won’t see them graduate high school.  Because I think the main thing we have lost sight of here is that all of these gunshots? There are actual people on the other side of them, no matter the decisions they’ve made or the paths they’ve taken.  They are PEOPLE, just like the 161 innocents that got the respect and mourning they deserved.  We are all humans.  We are all living in the land of the free, home of the brave.  And yes, we should all matter. 

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