Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Guns, Law Enforcement, and Accountability for All

Nearly 100% of law enforcement officers and personnel I know (which is a considerable amount given my background)* are for citizens owning and carrying weapons. The current sheriff of my own former department has gone above and beyond to expedite the process of obtaining one's concealed weapons permit in that county. Here's the problem: how then do they know a good guy from a bad guy especially in a fast-paced, chaotic situation? Those blurred lines are creating even bigger issues than we had before, which were already plentiful and myriad.
Traffic stops are some of the most dangerous encounters law enforcement officers ever have. Tensions are already high. Suspicions already abound. Wouldn't you then want to know that someone with a gun in the car you just pulled over is *certainly* not legally justified in having one? Wouldn't you want to eliminate any question so you could act accordingly and appropriately without fear of being fatally incorrect?
Open carry is applauded by many of you I know, as well, and yet that only further blurs lines and creates confusion and heightened danger. If someone outside of a store is wielding a gun and you respond to that call in an open carry state, how can you instantly tell which person holding a gun is the bad and which is the good? Wouldn't you want to eliminate any bewilderment so you could more confidently and efficiently do your already terribly dangerous, stressful job?
Your unending support of the "guns, guns everywhere" mentality is creating infinite problems for you, for us, for everyone.
Your unquestioning loyalty for those sharing your profession does nothing but create further distrust as opposed to the feelings others would have for you if you would simply evaluate each case on its own merits, stand behind that which is right, but also firmly admonish and distance yourself from that which is wrong. People can get behind someone, anyone who says, "Ugh. I'm so sorry that one not-fully-trained or mentally unstable or highly emotional or inexperienced or just plain mistaken in this circumstance officer did what they did. It wasn't right. It also isn't representative of the overwhelming majority of us. As ever, we continue to do our jobs, because we care." People can get behind someone, anyone who says, "That was a mistake" regardless of its egregiousness. People distrust unfailing support of that which is sometimes so very clearly wrong, sometimes questionable, sometimes riding the line of morality.
As a teacher, I am understandably sensitive and defensive when others post negativity about teachers. My knee-jerk reaction is to stand up for them. What does that say to others, though, when it turns out the teacher has done something unconscionable? How does anyone trust me as a teacher if I jump to the defense of all teachers blindly and without regard for offense? They can't. And I can't ask them to.
I know you. I see you. Let down your walls, allow your humanity to show through, give others a glimpse of your heart as opposed to the coldness of your blue walls.

I wrote this just a couple of hours before seeing a similar plea about peer accountability from Officer Nakia Jones and then as she expounded upon that in a press conference the next day.  I wrote this days before hearing Chief David Brown speak eloquently and passionately about guns in public making his job and the jobs of his employees infinitely harder. I wrote this a week before reading the Associated Press' pointed questions as to the logic and wisdom of laws permitting open carry gun laws to which people are still vehemently responding with their standard 2nd Amendment quotes that serve no purpose in driving progress.  I am not alone in wanting, no, demanding more and better both for our law enforcement officers and for the people they serve, all the people they serve.  We will continue to set high expectations, hold each other accountable even when it is an unpopular act to do so, press the loud and well-armed minority on the prudence of their votes and decisions.  We do this precisely because we do so appreciate the intensely trying and, at times, life-threatening jobs our peace officers do and wish for only the cream of the crop to represent them.  We do this not because we value only black lives or only blue lives while dismissing the lives of the other; we do this because we value lives and care most immediately about protecting those that are most in danger, most at risk. 


*  6 years working in both training and as a Sheriff's Service Specialist with the San Bernardino** County Sheriff's Department, as well as living as a child of and family member to law enforcement officers ranging in rank from deputy all the way up to sheriff of the largest county in the United States. 

** Yes, that San Bernardino.  The one that got shot up and terrorized.  The one in which my sister-in-law and four-year-old nephew were having lunch around the corner from gunshots ringing out, feeling unsure if they'd make it home alive as they fled.  The one in which a former classmate of mine lost his life.  This is personal.  It's all personal.

Your "Drama" is My Reality - Racial Disparity in the U.S.

Guest Post by Tramane

A lot of you will not understand this, but that’s the problem. You don’t understand and you don’t try to.* People of color live in a very different reality than their white counterparts when it comes to law enforcement. The narratives we hear growing up are very different. If you watch or read the same news stories I do, then you should understand why. What I once thought were isolated incidents have somehow become commonplace. The reality is African-Americans are killed at a disproportionately higher rate than others.

I have an irrational** fear of being confronted by police officers and it not ending well for me. This thought runs through my head quite frequently. So much so that I play scenarios in my head of how the aftermath might play out. I have a list of four people who I would want to speak on my behalf or the behalf of my family in the event that I am unable to speak for myself. I wonder what pictures the news or social media will use to share my story. Will anyone even get my side of the story or will the anchor simply say, “A man resisted arrest today and police were forced to shoot him”?

This might sound “dramatic” to some of you but it’s my reality. I’ve seen too many examples that started with a broken tail light and ended with a body bag.



Tramane is a beloved public high school teacher, passionate world traveler, and hopes to one day be a social justice warrior.

He lives his life consciously, learns as much from his students as they learn from him, and immerses himself in all cultures he encounters in effort to gain greater and deeper as a global citizen.

Tramane makes the world just a little better by being himself in it.






*We cannot all understand, but we can acknowledge our privilege and use it to effect change.

**Zen Parenting does not agree with Tramane's assessment that his very real fear is irrational, rather based on awareness.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 24: Area of My Life I Want to Improve

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

The Area of My Life in Which I'd Like to Improve

Budgeting.  I suck at it.  

I probably don't give myself enough credit, because we're able to live in home we own, under oppressive student loan debt, without significant other debt, and all on a single teacher's income in the 49th lowest state for teacher pay.  That we're all still able to eat, let alone sometimes have a little extra fun ("sometimes" and "little" being the operative words here) is fairly miraculous.  

Still, though, budgeting is not my forte.  When I take the time to write out my financial and budgeting goals, I am able to stick to the plan, but I too often try to wing it and that always ends in disaster.  At age 38, it's not cute.  I simply need to do better.  There's no way around it.  

So, that's it.  That's my secret.  I suck at budgeting, at managing my family's finances, at saving (with what money?), at money in general.  I suck at it and I'm working on it.  So far, I still suck at it after working on it, but I suppose I suck a smidge less.  

What area of your life do you need to work to improve?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 23: Lesson I Learned the Hard Way

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

One Lesson I Learned the Hard Way

I'm not one of the smart ones who learns from the mistakes of others.  No, no, I'm ridiculously hard-headed, I require my lessons to come at high costs.  Now, this does mean I really learn those lessons, they stick like glue, but, boy, it'd be nice if I didn't have to get hit upside the head quite so hard in order to gain clarity.

One lesson that took me a particularly long time to learn over the course of a particularly arduous internal battle was that I cannot trust my mother.  I don't write that lightly.  Just the mere act of stating what I stated is enough to cause Familial War XXIV.  However, I made a agreement with myself to always be honest on this blog (and in my life), so here we are.

There is no real need to go into the specifics of why I learned this lesson or all the myriad and multitudinous incidents that went into learning it.   Suffice it to say, my mother has spent a lot of time over the years touting the importance of honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity, but has spent the same amount of time showing she has none of it.  It's as vital to learn who you cannot trust as it is to learn who you can.  It only took me 32 years to finally, finally catch on.   

In the years since learning my lesson, things have become much simpler for me in my dealings with my  mother.  I know my boundaries, I clearly lay out my boundaries, I stick to my boundaries.  As even the word "boundary" is met with near violent derision by her, my simpler life has made her life as my mother more difficult.  I can no longer be gaslighted, I am no longer intimidated, I no longer let my guard down with her.  When those are your basic interpersonal tools and your tools no longer work, life gets difficult.  Part of learning this lesson has been becoming comfortable with the fact that I am not responsible for those difficulties.  I am responsible for me and my son solely.  Simple. 

I wish I had learned this lesson far earlier in my life.  I could've avoided so much pain and heartache.  However, I am the sum of my experiences and I like who I am now and who I am becoming.  I learned the lesson, however long and hard it was coming, and for that I am grateful and satisfied.  Perhaps it was the long and hard that made the lesson so worthwhile.  


Friday, June 10, 2016

"Hi, I'm a Slut"

A must-hear, must-see, must-inhale slam poem by Savannah Brown.  I invite the men in the room to pay particular attention.  I invite the women who have internalized misogyny for all these years to listen and reflect.  I invite all of you to share.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 22: What I Want to Say to 5 People

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

What I Want to Say to Five People

I have made it a point to be unfailingly honest in my life, which includes in this blog.  That sometimes means getting very uncomfortable and, perhaps, making others feel the same.  Today's post will do both.  

1. My Nephew B
You are, have always been, one of the most incredible, brilliant, loving people I've ever had the honor of knowing.  I wish you could see you as I see you.  I wish those on the outskirts of your world could see you as I see you.   I know you're loved by many, but I don't always believe you're appreciated for the unique you that you are and for that I am sorry.  I wish I could help you understand why some ride you harder than you deserve and than they do your brothers.  I wish I could stop that for you.  I love you more than you could ever know, have loved you I first held you in my arms just moments after you took your first breath.  More than that, though, I both like and respect you.  If you weren't my nephew, I'd choose you as my friend.  You always have a soft place to land with me.  

2. Paul Ring
That you were young is not an excuse.  I was younger.  That it was almost 30 years ago now does not dampen what you did.  That you likely don't even remember it does not mean I don't.  If there were no statute of limitations on sexual assault, I would press charges even now.  You hurt me, you changed my life.  Should we ever meet again in life, I will not hesitate to throw the first punch I've ever thrown and, hopefully, land it straight in your throat.  I will remind you.  If I ever get the chance, I will ensure you live the rest of your life with the memory of what you did to me when I was just a little girl.

3. Alice Lee
I threatened you and you took those feelings out on me publicly, loudly, wrongly, and meanly.  I was a good student teacher.  I consistently got the highest reviews in my graduating class.  I was hired to teach honors classes the next year before I even finished student teaching.  I was good.  And yes, as I got better, I began to pull away from you, I began to see how little respect you had for the students, I began to understand all the ways I wanted to be different than you.  I relied on you less and less, I came into my own, I simply outgrew you.  You had no right to dress me down, attack me with lies and false assumptions, yell at me for a full 15 minutes in front of another teacher and student.  You didn't like that I no longer put you on a pedestal and you needed to put me back in the lower position the ugliest way you knew how.  I don't forgive you.  You are despicable.  

4. Dad
You abandoned us.  You used to see us twice a week, you used to send us letters telling us how proud you are of us, you used to be present in our lives until you found a new family.  You abandoned us.  You even stopped acknowledging us.  You stopped celebrating our birthdays, even calling us on holidays.  You stopped the letters, the visits, the relationships.  You moved 800 miles away, started your new family, and told everyone you had three kids instead of five.  Mom made things difficult on you, this I know.  Believe me, she made it difficult on me, too.  But we were there, living with the difficulties, while you decided we weren't worth the effort.  You somehow justified abandoning us for the sake of getting away from her.  You've expressed no remorse about this, only continued to justify it when asked even all these years later.  You abandoned us and it has colored everything we are and have done for the rest of our lives in small and large ways.  That you've never once apologized or, for that matter, been anything but proud of your decision to move on will be your legacy.  

5. Aunt L
I will not again listen to you defend my dad.  I will not ever again let you shut me down when I express hurt over our abandonment.  I will not ever again let you get away with telling me the same thing my dad always has: it's OK that he left, because my mom made things hard for him.  From now on, I will talk back.  The next time you do this, I will ask pointedly if you'd ever give up your children because it got hard to see them.  The next time you try this, I will point out that the difficulty that simply is my mother is even more of a reason why he should've stayed near and present, so that we could have a more stable influence somewhere in our lives.  The next time, I will say that this paltry, pathetic excuse no longer works on me, because I am a parent now and understand exactly what you would do for your child no matter how hard things get.  Never would I abandon my son.  Never would you abandon your children.  There is not a single excuse that justifies him leaving us and the next time you give one in that snotty tone, I'm going to respond accordingly.

Uncomfortable yet?  I am.  That's how I know it should be written, probably should've been written long ago.  

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 21: The First 10 Songs on Shuffle

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

First 10 Shuffled Songs

This is either going to make me look really cool or really uncool and I'm betting on the latter.  Whatever happens, this is me.

1. What the World Needs Now is Love by Jackie DeShannon
My Best Friend's Wedding soundtrack is most excellent and most kitchy.  No apologies.

2. Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac
Classic.  

3. I Say a Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin
Even classicker!

4. Without You by Harry Nilsson
I almost always skip past this.  I must've been feeling particularly angsty when I added this.  

5. Stuck With You by Huey Lewis and the News
I was born in 1978.  Clearly, I'm a product of the 80s.  Nostalgia.

6. Something to Save by George Michael
His most angsty album that spoke to my angsty middle-schooler and hasn't ever left me.

7. Drive By by Train
I don't even know this song by its title.  I'd have to listen to it to tell you why it's here.  Train doesn't do much for me but for Meet Virginia.  This has me thinking it's time to purge some songs from my iTunes.

8. Every Time I Close My Eyes by Babyface
A god.  No shame.

9. All I Want for Christmas is You by Olivia Olson
If you'll recall my confession that the problematic Love Actually is one of my favorite movies, you'll not be surprised that the soundtrack is also a fave.  Thus, I have to love this soundtrack version of this song and not the Mariah Carey version.

10. Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes
That's more like it.  I'm a little cool.  Sometimes.  

Shuffle is a jerk.  Where's my Sublime, my Tracies (Tracy Bonham and Tracy Chapman, that is), my Prince, my Presidents of the United States of America, my Journey, my Joss Stone, and my Jack Johnson?  These artists are all over my iTunes, but do they come up on my shuffle for this particular post?  Noooooo.  Thanks, Shuffle.  Ass.