Anatomy of Power

Women whom I’m friends with on Facebook post photos of other women dressed in vagina costumes at the Women’s March.

So embarrasing!

A disgrace!

How to explain this to their daughters?

* * *

My girl only recently learned how babies are conceived. We call our body parts by their anatomical names—breasts, uterus, vagina. We avoid shy slang.

My girl does not like anyone to use vulgar words. She calls them bad words, but I correct her. There are no bad words, because a word itself does not have any moral value. Every word we invent serves a purpose. Sometimes our purpose is to hurt other people, and that’s when a word becomes a thing we shouldn’t say.

My girl did not know the word pussy as anything other than a cat until I had to explain what a then-candidate for president meant when he said that, if he wanted to, he could grab women by their pussies.

* * *

Photos of women dressed in vagina costumes at the Women’s March make me feel timid. A taboo has been broken. Some parts of a woman’s body, I have been taught, should always be covered. Breasts. Buttocks. Vagina. To expose these to view is to incite sexual urges in men.

Let’s be frank, this is what we’ve been taught, that we as girls, as women, must always be careful not to do anything that might cause a man to feel sexual desire. We girls, we women, have been taught to be responsible for men’s reactions, as if they are not capable of controlling their own behavior. We have been trained to be culpable. Continue reading “Anatomy of Power”

Election Aftermath

The past ten days have been rough. I have never before cried because of an election result, but I have cried multiple times since Hillary Clinton conceded. My body aches from the stress it is now holding. It has been a very long time since I physically held this much stress, and I know how bad for my body this is, and I know I must take steps to relieve my body of this stress. Writing here is one of those steps.

I am more afraid for my country now than I was after 9/11. That was an attack from the outside, a threat I knew everyone here would unite against. This is different. This is a threat perpetrated from the inside by my own countrymen and countrywomen, a calling to dismantle the very systems that have made the U.S. the free and prosperous country it has been for so long.

People are ascending to power who believe that they should control what the press is allowed to say about them, that they should control who is or isn’t allowed to call themselves American, that they should control how U.S. citizens define their own identities, that they should control what U.S. citizens can or cannot do with their own bodies.

Let’s not pretend this isn’t happening. Continue reading “Election Aftermath”

Do You See What I See?

Transracial adoptee Angela Tucker recently penned an insightful, thought provoking blog post over at Lost Daughters, in which she dissects the experience of being told after a speaking engagement that she was the “Whitest Black person” an attendee knew. She says she hears this sort of thing often, and that she tries to give people the benefit of the doubt when they say things like this, but that there seems to be no inverse; the people who call her the “whitest black person” cannot think of the “blackest white person” they know.

When I read this, I immediately thought of a woman whom I have, indeed, thought of as the “blackest white person” I know. She is a person close to my age, who grew up in the same city as me, yet had a very different childhood experience.

In 1973, after many years of protests by parents, the NAACP sued the Cleveland Public Schools, alleging intentional segregation of students based on race. The school system was found guilty of maintaining separate schools for whites and blacks, and in 1979 began busing white kids over to the east side of town and black kids over to the west side in order to integrate classrooms as mandated by law.

Many white parents, even non-Catholics, chose to send their children to the numerous private, Catholic schools in the area rather than allow them to go to school across town. Many white parents who could not afford private school tuition chose to move to one of the Cleveland suburbs to avoid having their children bused. Continue reading “Do You See What I See?”

Congratulations Ohio Adoptees!

In just five days on March 20, the estimated 400,000 people adopted in Ohio between 1964 and 1996 will be able to request and obtain their original birth certificates, and I am even more thrilled now than I was at the end of 2013, when legislation was finally passed to restore this right to us.

I am one of the people who fall into this category of Ohio adoptees, whose right to their real, factual birth certificate was revoked through legislation authored in large part by adoptive parents back in the mid-1960s. You can learn more about how this happened and the long effort to reverse this misguided law here and here.

Personally, I have been luckier than most of my fellow Ohio adoptees because I was able to identify and reunite with my biological parents without having my original birth certificate (OBC), and I was also able to obtain my OBC with the assistance of my birth mother. Even though I already knew my birth name, the names of my birth parents, and the circumstances surrounding my conception, birth, and relinquishment, it was vital to me to see and hold that one piece of paper that documents my entry into this world. Finally, I felt real–created and birthed in the same way that all the non-adopted people I knew were. Continue reading “Congratulations Ohio Adoptees!”

What an Average White Person Like Me Can Do About Racism

This post has been a long time coming. I began thinking about writing it back in August, when Michael Brown’s killing in Feguson first hit the news, well before yesterday’s announcement that Eric Garner’s killer would not be charged with any crime.

This post is about me, an average middle-aged white woman who grew up in the mid-western, Great Lakes city where less than two weeks ago Tamir Rice was tragically killed; me, an average middle-aged white woman who lived for a decade in the Deep South—during that time witnessing  how it remains haunted by the legacy of slavery—and who now resides in the state where Trayvon Martin was unnecessarily killed.

This post is not only about me. It is also about every other average, American white person just like me.

I grew up in a family in which overt racism was tolerated. My adoptive father often made crude, bigoted remarks at home, in front of me, from as early as I can remember. I have strong memories also of extended family members making loud, racist comments and jokes, which were met either with outright laughter in acceptance, or nervous smiles, or plain old silence. Continue reading “What an Average White Person Like Me Can Do About Racism”