Hey My Fellow White People! Stop talking about black-on-black crime

colored-_drinking_fountain_from_mid-20th_century_with_african-american_drinking

“But what about black-on-black crime?” is a common counter-argument to Black Lives Matter. This argument is simplistic and attempts to cherry-pick a fact. It ignores systemic poverty in the black community, the disproportionate impact of the Vietnam war, and the ongoing legacy of black lives NOT mattering in America.

Slavery is pretty obvious. Black lives were mere chattel; to be bought, sold, moved, beaten, raped, and killed with impunity by whites for about 400 years. When this finally ended, reparations were not made to the freed slaves and their descendants. In fact, while emancipated, these African Americans were codified as second-class citizens for the next one hundred years. Black lives did not matter.

Blacks born in the 1960s were the first in this country to experience full citizenship. Think about that. Plenty of living African Americans did not know the full protection of citizenship until their adulthood. Black lives did not matter.

Black men were grossly over-represented in the ranks of the US Military during the Vietnam War. They experienced racism at home, overseas, and at home again. They returned to communities still mired in poverty and were overly damaged by drug epidemics. Higher poverty leads to higher crime. Black lives did not matter.

Black children are punished more severely than white children for the same infractions, this is what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Black lives do not matter.

People with “black sounding” names must submit twice as many resumes to get a call back as “white sounding” names with similar qualifications. Black lives do not matter.

Black people convicted of crimes are punished more harshly than their white counterparts. Black people are more than twice as likely to be shot by police than white people. Black lives don’t matter.

The US has been telling black people that their lives don’t matter since before the US was a country, we shouldn’t be surprised if a community treated thusly has an internal violence problem. More importantly, we (white people) must understand that while black on black crime is terrible for the black community, police killings of blacks (wherein the officers nearly always walk) rubs salt in an old and festering wound; that is, in the eyes of the US Justice system, black lives don’t matter, and never have.

As a people, white people do not have the moral standing to criticize the black community. We have a moral and historical obligation to right the wrongs we and our forbears have perpetrated. This is not about feeling guilty, this is about owning the truth. If we start there, we have a chance to re-balance the scales.

#BlackLivesMatter

 

Posted in Prejudice | 8 Comments

12 June: a vigil in Astoria

I reblogged this on evol=, to balance my bloody thoughts. Thank you for this beautiful blog tribute.

Tangly Cottage Gardening Journal

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Last night at 1 AM I checked the news as is my habit before bedtime, to learn that something horrific was unfolding at the Pulse dance club in Orlando, Florida.  This morning, I woke to news of 49 of my extended tribe killed and many injured.  All I could do in the afternoon was read the news and share the grieving of friends online and edit and post the photos of yesterday’s beautiful and joyous pride parade.  Back in my 20s and 30s, I frequented gay dance clubs every week. Every single time, my friends and I were well aware that to do so put us in danger from homophobic fanatics…as did just walking down the street together looking visibly gay.  We did not let that fear keep us home, and many of my best memories of those years came from the joy of dancing in community.

I read…

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Until Gun Laws Change, Make Them See

WeMustDiscussIt2

It took only one week past the last massacre
before the NRA stopped their silence.
Their big guns say
we must dismiss it
we mustn’t discuss it
after all,
it’s just another blood-spattered day.

I can’t shrug it off.
I won’t shrug it off.
I refuse to remain silent.

Every lawmaker must see the imagery
of our expressionless babies surrounded by oceans of blood.
Every lawmaker must have dreams
of wounded bodies shrieking with terror into the night.
Every lawmaker must look
into the open gaping wounds,
bones twisted,
shattered,
and hearts exploded.
Lawmakers must be forced to look at their blood-stained hands
Until the dead invade their dreams,
with blood-soaked nightmares
echoing the shrieks of their victims every night.

Until they admit, they know what the NRA bought from them
Until they know the pain of the wounded lying in hospital beds,
Until they know they stole the lives of the living
Until they know they disposed of the bodies on a cold, morgue slab.
Until they know the sacrifice of the innocents came from their greed.

Until they look at all 31,000 images of death.
Until they realize the loss reverberates
in the hearts of hundreds of thousands more
Until they can feel the grief
of the mothers, and fathers,
the sisters, and brothers,
the sons, and daughters,
the husbands, and wives,
and all the friends,
until lawmakers can feel the pain of grief coming from the living.

Lawmakers are blind, we must make them see
lawmakers are deaf, we must make them hear.
until we are heard
until gun laws change,
until the blood ceases to pool
we must make lawmakers see the price paid for their greed.

Don’t let them forget
as they have in the past.
Let us rub their noses in it
each and every day.

 

Update 06/20/16 An amendment proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) did not pass. Once again NRA’s money buys the vote.

Harry Reid (D-Nev.)  Voted “no” for a procedural move to preserve option to reintroduce the bill, which is a good move to help bring this back as a bill.

The Senators who voted against the bill. This is dedicated to you. Their blood is on your hands.

Democrats:

Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
Mark Begich (D-Alaska)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)
Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)

Republicans:

Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
John Boozman (R-Ark.)
Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
Dan Coats (R-Ind.)
Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)
Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.)
Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)
Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
Dean Heller (R-Nev.)
John Hoeven (R-N.D.)
Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)
Mike Johanns (R-Neb.)
Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)
Mike Lee (R-Utah)
Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
James Risch (R-Idaho)
Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)
Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
Timothy Scott (R-S.C.)
Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
John Thune (R-S.D.)
David Vitter (R-La.)
Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

Posted in Corruption, gun control/guns, Hatred, News, Politics, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dear Congress, thirty thousand plus and rising

BloodyFlag2

Dear Congress,

Thirty thousand plus and rising.

How many more will lose their lives?
What is the magic number?
When do you stop craving their gun money?

14 dead, 22 wounded in San Bernardino, California
I want to know, how much money did you earn with that one?

3 dead, 9 injured in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
What did you bargain for their death?

9 dead, 9 injured in Roseburg, Oregon
That holiday trip where you sat sipping bloody Marys, was it worth the cost of nine lives?

5 dead, 3 wounded in Chattanooga, Tennessee
The bloody steak in that restaurant must have been five stars for the five dead.

9 dead in Charleston, South Carolina
You dressed to the nines in your tailored silk suit, while they were being dressed in their best at the morgue.

27 killed, one injured in Newtown, Connecticut
We thought surely this would move you, but the blood of our babies bought you a fancier, blood-red car.

The list of the dead goes on and on.

And now the deadliest killing yet, 50 are dead and so many more injured in Orlando
You pledge your allegiance to the flag. One death is represented in each bloody star you have woven into your flag.

What magic number will it take before you realize
the tentacles of death, pain, and suffering
are on everything you touch?

This is your life, forever smeared in their blood.

Posted in Corruption, gun control/guns, Hatred, News, Politics, Violence | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Orlando you have my heart

Orlando

This last month it is uncanny that I felt strongly there was going to be an attack on a Pride event this year. A city that many of us think of as a fun place to go unfortunately, Orlando became the target of someone’s mental instability.

I constantly worry for the safety of my girls (my daughter and her partner). They are publicly open about their relationship –  I fear it puts them in danger, even in Seattle. Yesterday’s events reminded me again that this world is not safe for my precious ones.

All the hate in this world, weighs heavily on my heart. I don’t understand what is wrong with our species that we war on each other; especially pick on sectors of our populations. We believe we are so special in this world, but act every bit like wild animals, sometimes worse.

Yesterday will stay with us a long time. I want to blame someone, but whoever do you blame? Religious leaders of Muslim and Christians? Is their hateful rhetoric responsible for setting a mentally ill person off enough to commit such an atrocity? All these questions roll through my mind, as I try to cope with what just happened.

I know I must not let events cause me to hate, yet I am angry. Angry my girls live in a world that has caused so much harm to those whose sexual orientation is different from those who fear them. The fear turns to hate, and the hate turns to unspeakable acts of violence.

Let’s call it what it is. The hate is a product of fear. Who feeds that fear? Religions are the biggest propagators. I believe every minister, pastor, rabbi,  priest, or political leader who speaks ill of any LGBT, has this blood on his or her hands. I’m sure if you are Christian the first thing that comes to your mind is, oh but this was a Muslim. Doesn’t matter – this man was brought up in a religious sect that perpetrated this hatred. If your Christian group is perpetrating hatred, you are as much to blame. Moreover, if you are a leader you are even more culpable!

Damn tootin’ I am angry too. I am angry that Christians, who forget Jesus words of love, surround me with voices of hatred. They cling to every word in the Bible they believe supports their hatred and bigotry. I am well aware of how this works.

If you are a Christian and think it excuses your faith for something a Muslim did, you should be questioning your own participation in hatred towards some of God’s children. In addition, the saying “hate the sin not the sinner” does not give anyone a pass. It’s the words of a Pharisee and every bit as hateful, no matter how much cover is dumped on it. I know not all Christians hate; however, too many still do, because their leaders teach them revulsion.

My responsibility? After LGBT marriage equality came through, I relaxed about being an ally to the LGBT community. Not that I ceased being an ally, I just wasn’t as active with my voice. I can make excuses that I’ve been busy with a new book, writing it, being published, and speaking engagements. I let a busy life keep me from activism. This is another wake-up call that the fight is not over.

No more excuses, I have to be vigilant. I need to protect my girls – and every other LGBT in this nation  – from those who propagate this fear, the religious or political groups that sow seeds of hatred. That is a tall order, I know, but adding my voice to a sea of other voices protesting the rhetoric that fuels these atrocities, is one more step of many, I must make. How about you?

Even though I feel anger, I am watching the outpouring of love from people around the world. This gives me hope, that attitudes are changing, and love is prevailing. Candles are being lit around the world! Muslims are speaking out in love, Christians too! Our Seattle Space Needle is flying the Pride flag at half-mast. Buildings are being lit up in rainbow colors from Tel Aviv to New York. Change has come, albeit slowly, but I couldn’t imagine this happening a couple of decades ago. Out of horror comes hope in these gestures of support and love, even though healing will not come easy for anyone.

My heart goes out to the victims, their family, friends, and the LGBT community.

Posted in gun control/guns, Hatred, News, Prejudice, Violence | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A Gay Dad’s Open Letter to Donald Trump: Stop Dancing on the Graves of our Slain LGBTQ Brethren

Trump evol

 

I woke Sunday morning to my phone chirping that a new text message had arrived. It was from my radio show co-host, Steph Taylor inviting me to a vigil to be held in our local town… a vigil for Orlando.

I did not know anything had happened in Orlando, but as with all other mass shootings, I usually got the first news from such a text as Steph’s.

A popular LGBTQ club called the Pulse had been invaded by an assault rifle wielding gunman and over fifty LGBTQ people were dead, and an equal amount severely wounded.

For whatever reason, my first exposure to commentary by those seeking to lead our nation was that of Donald Trump. He was opportunistic in his commentary. The first tweets I saw were: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

“Reporting that Orlando killer shouted “Allah hu Akbar!” as he slaughtered clubgoers.”

And “What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban.”

While mentioning the “victims and their families” once, Mr. Trump never once commented on the hate crime that had been enacted on the LGBTQ community as a whole, or the feelings, impact and terror the days events had on us.

He did have a passing reference about “2nd man arrested in LA with rifles near Gay parade.” This, Mr. Trump reported as passionless information. The man, as it turns out, was not a second to the Orlando shooting, but completely unrelated. He also did not fit Trump’s Muslim ban narrative — the man in Los Angeles was from Indiana.

As Mr. Trump was trying to pad his islamophobic opportunism, I was engaging with one of his supporters on Twitter. The man’s tweet read “Well there was a bad shooting in the gay community. Sorry for your lose .” It was followed by a meme that read: “Nice!”

I contrast Mr. Trumps response with that of his rival, Mrs. Clinton. She wrote a measured commentary and included this specific message: “This was also an act of hate. The gunman attacked an LGBT nightclub during Pride Month. To the LGBT community: please know that you have millions of allies across our country. I am one of them. We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America.”

Even former rival Ted Cruz, no ally to the LGBTQ community said, “Now is the opportunity to speak out against an ideology that calls for the murder of gays and lesbians. ISIS and the theocracy in Iran (supported with American taxpayer dollars) regularly murder homosexuals, throwing them from buildings and burying them under rocks. This is wrong, it is evil, and we must all stand against it. Every human being has a right to live according to his or her faith and conscience, and nobody has a right to murder someone who doesn’t share their faith or sexual orientation.”

Dear Mr. Trump,

I am a gay dad. I am the proud father of two boys, now both 13 years old, who I got as babies after they were given birth by drug-addicted parents. Our family is hurting today as an assault rifle-bearing thug targeted part of our LGBTQ American community. He entered a safe space and took lives of many people less than a decade older than my kids.

As we do in times of national tragedy, we turn to our leadership’s words for inspiration. We did collectively to Roosevelt in World War II, Kennedy with the Bay of Pigs, and to George W. Bush at 9/11. Whether we agreed ideologically with these leaders or not, we listened and embraced the inspiration they gave out. It was not necessarily because they themselves were brilliant, it was because we needed to find a sense of solidarity within ourselves.

So too now, we hear that call in President Obama’s commentary on the events in Orlando. He said to us, “This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights. So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.”

President Obama is a leader. You are not.

For whatever complexities this act of violence entails, at the core is a hate crime. The shooter’s father alleges that it was motivated by the shooter witnessing a kiss between two men in front of his child. As one who swears allegiance to a religion that throws suspected gay men from the tops of buildings, it is not difficult to see how such an event might throw him into an extreme and inordinate reaction. Most on the presidential stage today seem to understand that fact.

Except for you.

In your approximately 100-some words of tweets, you never once called out the hate crime terror enacted against the LGBTQ community. Mentioning the pain and shock millions of us are experiencing today seemed… inconvenient for you. It is as if such a mention might dilute your attempt to justify your own extreme ideas on Muslims in America. So, you danced on your drum beat of that mantra— throw the foreigners out.

In doing so, you are dancing on the new graves of our LGBTQ dead. Stop it.

As you “danced”, you jabbed at President Obama, “Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace!”

Islamic terrorism has not been proven. Homophobia has. The shooter did not target Disney World. He targeted a “safe haven” for LGBTQ people. He was not making a point about American values, he was trying to terrorize those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and more to retreat from public view.

The fact that your commentary does not even allude to this fact means that you are perfectly willing for him to accomplish that goal. Silence from a person in power says as much as their commentary. Ronald Reagan still wears the taint of silence about AIDS for several years after the time he should have appropriately discussed it.

So, it appears will be the case with you and another disease’s name that cannot be uttered: Homophobia.

That means for me, and my family, that should you become elected as the next American President…. You won’t be MY President. You won’t be my family’s President. You won’t be my community’s President.

If anyone should resign in disgrace, Mr. Trump, it should be the person unwilling to represent all Americans when we are attacked. That person is, singularly, you.

It’s time to delete your account.

Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

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Posted in Civil Rights, Hatred, Politics, Prejudice, US Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Gay Dad Sounds Off on Homophobia in the Family that Produced the Reigning Miss World 2015

Miss World evoleq

 

It is one of the great ironies. One family is capable of producing a member who becomes world renown for beauty. At the same time, it secretly houses another who excels at barbaric ugliness. It seems that is the legacy of the Lalaguna family of Spain.

December 19th is a day that pharmacy student Mireia Lalaguna will never forget. It was the night she was crowned Miss World 2015 and declared the most beautiful woman in the world.

Less than two weeks later, it would be a day that her fan Paul Skye Kahawaty would not forget either— albeit for very different reasons. He would run into the vile ugliness of her brother, Oriol.

For many of us, the standard of beauty is greater than just a pretty face. We idealists hope for excellence in humanity, integrity and grace to be of equal importance to any aesthetics. So far, those elements on Lalaguna’s reign have been a bit rocky. Already she has admitted that she “cheated a little” by presenting herself in a video playing the piano. The score of the video is a piano score that Ms. Lalaguna did not play and does not know how to play according to the Bangalore Mirror.

If cheating is at all unattractive, it pales in comparison to the homophobia in at least one of her family members however.

Paul Skye Kahawaty had not come from a beautiful life. By age 20, he had lost both his parents. He had experienced years of physical abuse from another relative. He sought healing through music, art, a love of animals and beauty pagents. “It is not external aspect of beauty pageants but the ethos of beauty pageants that I love.”

He was thrilled when Lalaguna won her crown. Miss Lebanon has been his first choice, but his Spanish blood could not help but be thrilled over that country’s historic win. No other Miss Spain had captured the Miss World crown before. “I can feel the sincerity of Miss Lalaguna and you can feel that she’s not being plastic. Her blue eyes are really eye catching.” As any fan would, he went online to find out all about his new celebrity. On Facebook he ran into Oriol’s profile and after a bit of research, determined that Oriol is Mireia’s brother.

He sent Oriol a note. “My intention was to congratulate and greet him, like I said convince myself that she’s from a virtous family,that she’ll live up to responsibility of being Miss World.”

Kahawaty wrote: “I can’t be mistaken you must be the brother of Miss World 2015 Mirea Lalaguna Royo. You must be proud of your sister, even though I never knew her at all, I can feel that she really wanted to (be) the voice of Beauty With a Purpose campaign of Miss World. Her response was so heart-warming and you can really feel her passion, actually my paternal grandfather is from there, so somehow I’m proud of her triumph, wherever my late dad is for sure he’s very happy that someone from Spain has already captured the Miss World Crown. Thanks so much, Regards to your entire family and god bless. Belated Merry Christmas.”

It seems upon receiving this bit of fan mail, Oriol Lalaguna Royo checked out Kahawaty’s Facebook page and determined his sexual orientation. This, alledgedly, was his reply:

“yes, and so what. And who cares. Are you stalking me, you’re just a fucking faggot. You bring nothing but diseases like AIDS. You gay people cause nothing but trouble, may your mother fucker die now.”

Kahawaty was devastated by the outright vitriol and hatred. His hurt was multiplied over the allusion to his mother who had died recently. He apologized:

“I’m sorry Mister Royo, I did not mean to irk you. But you, I was so offended by the “MF” word cause my mum past away almost 2 years ago and I still feel the void over her loss. Once again, I’m very, very sorry.”

Just as his sister had pushed forward in a showcase of beauty that few have hopes of attaining, Lalaguna Royo, allegedly, pushed with similar passion into the darkness of ugliness and homophobia.

His final response to the apology was to send Kahawaty a picture of a boy with half his face blown off, with this note: “So now she is in hell burning with other doomed souls. I hope you die before the new year comes, shame on you, you must die like this kid. MAY YOU ROT IN HELL BULLSHITBULLSHITBULLSHIT!!! “

See image of the exchange below (warning, the graphic is extreme — the graphic is so awful that it does not pass Facebook standards, and was removed from the Facebook page Stop-Homophobia where it first appeared.)

My note to Miss World:

Dear Miss World,

Congratulations on your win of such a prestigious title. My hope that this accomplishment iDear Miss World,s not the end of a road, but the beginning of one. We are in a world where there is horror and monstrosity daily. You have an opportunity to bring a ray of beauty and kindness in your new role, and I hope you can live up to that challenge.

It seems you may need to start at home.

The alleged abuse by your brother towards one of your fans is unfathomable. I sent a note to your agents and got no response. My hope is that you see this and build a bridge back to decency.

This is not just about an exchange between two young men. This is about homophobia, a plague of darkness that rips families apart, throws teens from their homes, while subjecting others to devastating bullying and leading still more to suicide.

We live in an age where we now know that physical harm, just like physical attractiveness, are not as lasting as destruction to the psyche or the depth of beauty in the soul to heal such devastation.

The ability to bring healing to others lives is the only passionate beauty, truly. I have experienced it in my own life, in many small ways. I have lived it fully however in being able to take two small infants in harms way from drug addiction and neglect, and raise them into two happy, well adjusted young teen boys.

My hope is that you can represent true beauty. My hope is that the sparkle in your eyes is not of a superficial babble, but indication that you wish to transmit love and dignity to all who admire you.

Please speak out against the vile hatred that has been expressed out of your own family tree.

You are Miss World the winner of beauty. Maybe a stronger accomplishment would be the miss who can bring healing and beauty to the world.

One of your fans has already been devastated by ugliness in the wake of your win. Please turn that around for the rest of your fans and be not only the beauty who won in a pretty world, but the one who brought beautiful healing to an ugly one.

That then would certainly be an accomplishment worthy of a crown.

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Below is the graphic image of the exchange described above, please do not look at it if you are disturbed by extreme images.

 

oriol lalaguna message

Note: We have received an email from Mr. Lalaguna Royo who claims the exchange to be a fraud. From everything that Mr. Kahawaty has shown indicates otherwise– but this is Mr. Lalaguna’s denial: “My name is Oriol, Miss World brother, and I have already reported 2 months ago to the local authorities the news you are spreading for a fake identity and finally the case had been closed, reporting all the guilty webs, but now I have seen this again and my obligation is to do it again. The capture of the fake conversation you are spreading was created using a photo editor and fake (facebook, twitter, etc) accounts, and you are helping that person to achieve his awful purpose. So please, erase that information you shared via social networks to start solving the problem. I have been brought up to be a respectful person. This kind of news destroy my reputation.”

Posted in Family, Hatred, News, Prejudice | Tagged | 8 Comments