Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Perplexing issue at hand

Homosexuals with licensed foster homes. At first glance, my natural instinct is to love this unconditionally. It's about time people tore down the walls of hate, and stopped letting hatred, intolerance, and judgment stand in the way of doing the right thing, particularly when children's welfare is involved. If there are loving homes needed, and a homosexual couple happens to have a loving, safe home and desire to open it up, what's the problem? Let's get going. Place the kids and move on.

Overall, this is how I feel.

I was thinking this over, however, and I came up with a glitch, so to speak. It's not prefectly perfect. It's great, and I support it, but as I said, there is a glitch.

The idea behind foster care is that it's temporary. These children are placed in a loving and safe home while their bio-folks get their shit together. Then, presumably if things can get put in place, the children go "home."

There are many issues with foster care, all aimed at keeping a sense of normalcy for the child as that child understands normalcy. Placement workers try to find similar culture, race, religion, etc. for a potential foster home, because this makes the transition both into the foster home and the transition back to the parent easier.

And I can tell you, it really does make a difference. I've worked with one young girl who was placed in a home with an African family. (I did not say they were black. Please don't assume that sort of thing. I said African.) They ate African style food. This young girl had nothing she found appetizing to eat, and felt uncomfortable the entire time. Eventually, they found a new home for her.

I worked with a young gal who was in a state run facility because there were no foster homes available for her in her area. The staff members were all one race and culture, by sheer coincidence, and they were different than this young girl. She had to go to a church that she didn't understand, which conflicted with the religion and method of worship and practice she'd grown up with. This violates the whole intent of foster care.

Sometimes it's unavoidable. Certainly concessions have to be made in order to acheive the main means: getting children into a safe place where their basic needs are met. Things like diet, clothing, religion, etc. can all be pushed aside for at least a short time in effort to get the main deal handled - kids in a safe place. Period. So for respite care, emergency placement, etc., just stick the kids where the fit in the homes so they aren't sleeping on chairs in a DHS lobby or some other ridiculous thing.

But longer term placement... I think the state has no choice but to respect families of origin, as the purpose and intent is to reunite families whenever possible. (Which isn't always possible.) So when you stick a three year old black toddler into a Japanese household, the child is tasting food different from what he's used to, and that makes the whole deal just that much harder. When you stick a child from a single-parent household into a foster home with a traditional family setting, returning to the single-parent household might be a bit harder. (There are single parent foster homes.) You catch my drift.

Now some of these details are not all that problematic. Stick an only child into a foster home where there are now siblings, and this may even make the situation easier for the kid. There are peers. Friends. Something to do. A way to keep busy. Stick a Catholic kid into a Baptist house, and the kid might not even realize it unless the family goes to church six times a week.

But when it comes to placing a child in the care of homosexual foster parents, is there any way to match that at all with the details of origin? I doubt there are many children being removed from homosexual households. (You can think I'm stereotyping all you want, but all the homosexual friends I've had in my life? Very clean, responsible, loving people who are amazing with children.) So the majority of the children placed will be from single parent homes, or heterosexual parents. I think that might be a tough transition.

Worth it, to acheive the means of getting the kid(s)safe, warm and fed. But tough.

I'm then left to wonder.... Are biological parents required to sign off on a change for the child that drastic from his norm? Curious...

My thoughts.... All extreme placements should probably be done with the child is fairly certain to be a long term placement. (Rather than temporary.)

The folks we met were a long term situation. The child in there care is expected to be up for adoption, and they are planning to adopt. Perfect outcome. The child only knows what he/she knows, doesn't have to transition back and forth, and is in the hands of some people who clearly are full of love.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Forgive, but don't necessarily forget...

Regarding the latest blog scam, April Rose, I am happy to have not sent anything or become embroiled in the scandal of it all. I have stepped in a few piles of Internet poo in recent years. Thankfully, not this one.

The first people my heart went out to when I read about the deceit were those who had been close supporters for any length of time. I was a daily supporter of Gina, the fake Cystic Fibrosis patient, and her friend Paul. That was the biggest one. There was also a Caringbridge baby that I followed daily for awhile that mysteriously disappeared under funny circumstances, smelling of falsity and deceit. When it happens, you really feel taken advantage of. As if you've offered your heart and hand in friendship, and you get punched in the gut in return.

But I also feel bad for Becca Beushausen. She's got issues. I know when you lose a baby, under any circumstances, it's painful. My first pregnancy lost was the hardest, and I was sure it was a girl. I nicknamed her Peaches, because that's all I wanted to eat, day and night, were peaches. I'm here to tell you, Internet, I am one of the toughest, least emotionally charged people I know. I am stable. A thinker. A realist, a rationalizer. I didn't think the whole thing bothered me that badly.

Guess what? When I looked at the calendar on my expected due date, months and months after the loss, I was a wreck. So many uncharacteristic thoughts of what could have been. Then "her" expected one year birthday. Then "her" expected two year birthday. And I'll tell you, it's just plain ridiculous how my mind would go bonkers with these images and daydreams of what she might have looked like, and how we might have celebrated her life, etc. Not to mention the constant thoughts and wonders if there really was anything wrong with that baby and if you should ever try for another.

So, as far as the pain that goes with losing a baby, I feel for Beccah. It's painful. And I feel for her especially because being obviously more tempermental and dramatic and emotional than I could ever be, I'm sure it's even MORE painful for her than me, or even maybe most.

Unfortunately, despite the condolences for her pain and grief, there is one major glaring difference. My thoughts of what my baby might have been stayed in my head. They didn't twist themselves all up into a bunch and explode onto a blog transcending into the form of a story about a make-believe baby in a make-believe situation. If her blog were private, entirely, and her own make-believe place to write her fiction and have her outlet, none of us would be talking about it now. But it was public, on purpose. When the first little baby gift arrived, it didn't serve as a big kick in her head that jostled her capacity to feel guilt and snap into reality, correcting things immediately before they went further. Nope. Instead, each detail that happened seemed to pull her further into her world of deceit.

That part doesn't even make me the angriest. The worst part of all, is the way she basically mooned the entire Internet, and took us all for fools. She posted pictures of a doll expecting nobody would figure it out. Can anyone really be so arrogant as to think nobody would notice? This saddens me above all else. She took her readers to be stupid and gullible.

Normally, when trolls are exposed, I see the troll(s) go away and disappear on the spot. I expect they are shamed and embarrassed. Not Beccah. She did a bit for her local paper, complete with photo. Who does that?

I can almost picture her sitting at a computer desk yelling, "Hey, blog readers! I duped you all! Ha ha! You even believed the pics of my doll that I passed of for a dead or dying baby! And now? I'm gloating in the paper getting attention and fame! Thanks for being so stupid...."

The April Rose blog is now a one page apology. Check it out if you are so inclined. www.littleoneapril.blogspot.com.

Abuse of Power

You have to see this to believe it.


Parenting thoughts

I know this is a very sensitive topic. And because of the sensitivity of it, I will not be linking to anyone's blogs that I might mention here. The few blogs I have in mind are favorites of mine, the authors are people I like very much. My intention is not to question them personally, but rather to express my wonderment for what parenting has become compared to what it used to be.

First, why do kids get to run the show now? Why don't kids have parents who parent? I see children in stores when I'm out, and mom or dad (but usually mom) is trying to have a conversation with someone/talk on the phone/think straight and the child wants attention. I watch these parents flip into autopilot, and give said kid anything that will work in a preprogrammed fashion to hush him and bring about peace, and give the parent what he/she wants. Suckers. Toys. You nake it. All the kid has to do is squawk, and something of interest comes flying at him within seconds. What happened to teaching them how to behave in public, have patience, and have respect? What happened to rewarding patience and good behavior, instead of reward tools being instant bribery fodder? What message does this give kids today?

Why are we always coddling bad behavior? WTH? I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning and there was a story of taking a child to an event. The event was FOR the child. The child whined and cried and screeched on the way because he wanted to do something else instead. I think this is a mark of being terribly spoiled. But then, we go a step worse. The child enters the scene of the event, starts to wig out and scream, and he is coddled. Then, when he is distracted because he sees a treat appear that he decides he wants, he stays, is reinforced that it's all good, and gets to participate in the whole event. Parent appears happy with this. I'd be halfway home telling the kid that if he can't hold his shit together, he gets no events. Period. End of story. And I'd mean it. This kid, and many others every day, get benefits and rewards for being horrible. When this generation grows up, I don't want to hear the parents complaining about what these kids become. Rather, I hope they take a bow and own their work. "Yes, we created a bunch of undisciplined, narcisstic, selfish, pigs who won't respect anyone, demand anything they feel compelled to have, have high expectations of everyone else but never themselves, and can't seem to be part of any healthy interpersonal relationships."

If my child whined about going to a birthday party, for example, then upon arrival began to scream, he'd be heading straignt home with a punishment awaiting him. And if he saw cupcakes before we could make it back out the door, and decided to stay, now only would we leave as scheduled, but he wouldn't have a cupcake in his hand for weeks. Good behavior is rewarded. Bad behavior is dealt with appropriately.

Second, why aren't parents being parents? I am totally sick of going to a 10 pm movie, and dealing with whiny, crying kids who are tired and don't want to be there, just because the parent(s) want(s) to be there, and either had no other options or no better options than to tote the kid(s) along. If you have children, and they are small, stay home, or get a sitter. Yes, it's a sacrifice. It's a sacrifice people have been doing for eons. Deal. Or, shame on you for having children in the first place.

Third, why do others need to parent children that do not belong to them? And, why do people make their children other people's problem? I recently read a blog that scoffed and giggled about the fact that a three year old was brought to a wedding celebration that said three year old and all other non-wedding-party children were NOT invited to. People, your children are not other people's problem. Please don't force them upon people. I don't care if this three year old was the best behaved kid in all of wedding history. It's unbelievably selfish and disrespectful. When you get married, it's YOUR wedding, and YOU get to decide who comes and who doesn't. When it's NOT your wedding, your choices are to show up and be polite, childless if that's how the invitation indicated, or to stay home, miss out, and send your regards to the new couple. The third option of doing whatever you want and taking your kid somewhere he's not invited is not really an option. If you can't get a sitter, it's YOUR problem.

Same for other social events. I'm often at gatherings where someone will show up with two or three children in tow, and proceed to leave others to tend to at least one while she/he busies with one or two. Yes, I get it, this person is out of arms, and three children in diapers is a big job. If the spouse/friend/parent wasn't available or willing to come along with you and give you a hand - STAY HOME.

It's not that I'm not kid-friendly. I love children more than I can express in written word. I think they are gifts. And I don't mind lending a hand if someone is struggling with a couple little ones and needs a favor. But everyone takes it too far. If someone is threatening a two year old to stay put while an infant's diaper is changed, I'll be the first one to wander over, kneel down to the child's level, and attempt to strike up a conversation and busy him constructively until his momma is finished with her task. Not a problem. I'll enjoy every minute of it. But, here's the deal. In times past, I think the mother would finish the diaper change, express her thanks, and take control of the 2 year old again now that she's not got both hands extremely full. But that doesn't happen anymore. No sir. What happens now, is momma smiles and says, "Oh look! Why don't you show your new friend the train set over there?" The 2 year old's eye's will light up, and he will grab at my hand tugging toward his train, and I will get sucked into his little world for a good twenty minutes while his momma bounces around, hungry for social interaction, and willing to pawn off her responsibilities to get it. I don't show up at parties to sit babysitting with an empty champagne glass. Nor would I ever show up anyplace with my children expecting others to mind them while I ignore them.

I don't believe in accidents. You have to purposefully create a child, and then you have to purposefully avoid options such as adoption. If a human has children, it was by choice, and in that choice came the responsibility to be a parent.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Desire Grover's thoughts, and mine, part 2

I like this gal. I really like this gal. She’s got chutzpah, and that is to be acknowledged and admired. I wish everyone were as passionate as she. And I will tell you that honest to God, I would love to sit and have a cup of coffee with her just to talk about issues and perspective.

I love the little chess pieces in there. Neat visual. Especially when they move closer together in their little line. (Rather than move further apart.) I love the suggestion it brings. Creative.

Desire and I agree that labels that are too specific are divisive tools that separate. She makes this clear, and she and I are on one shared page there. And, I also don’t think that anyone who uses certain labels is AUTOMATICALLY a separatist at heart. Certainly not. But while the intention to be a separatist may not be there, that may still be the outcome. This is why we must all, as people, learn to respect the power of our words, and strive to travel in the direction of togetherness rather than separatism. I don’t call myself a Irish American, because that somehow makes me separate from my next door neighbors, who might have to then be German American or African American or Ethiopian American or Chaldean American. I’d like to sit on my back deck with them (if I had a back deck…) and share a bucket of beers, some great food, and memorable laughter. I don’t want to be wondering about where their ancestors from 7 generations back in history were living, and whether any of them were tied to any slave activity. Because whether their ancestors 7 generations back were in Haiti, Turkey, France, Africa, or Iceland, there is very little besides skin color, eye color, etc. that those distant ancestors affected with regard to my neighbors today.

Yes, we MUST be aware of and understand history, so the bad parts can NOT repeat. No doubt about that. But that does NOT mean we personalize history! I think the Holocaust is one of the biggest travesties in the history of the world. One of those neighbors I’d have on my back deck has roots in Germany. Should I snub her in case her ancestors all those years ago had anything to do with it? Is it her fault? Would she even know? It is not her fault. She had nothing to do with it. We must be aware of history. But we don’t pin scarlet letters on the chests of our fellow Americans because history happened, and we all have roots that go every which where. Rather, let’s band together, educate ourselves, educate each other, respect what’s happened in all relevant events in history,

What happens when we look at each other and see differences? Honestly? Let’s talk reality. When people look at each other and see difference, therein lies the start of curiosity, skepticism, and perhaps prejudice and mistrust. When people look at each other and see no difference, that doesn’t happen. The idea here across the nation is to STOP prejudice and hate, and increase tolerance. It is not working to proliferate tolerance and acceptance if we have one or more groups insisting that they won’t belong to the greater whole of America. It’s not working if we have one group saying, “hmm. I’ll only meet you halfway. I’m American, but I prefer you acknowledge that 7 generations ago, some of my relatives (not all, but some) lived in Ireland. So, you need to call me Irish American. And acknowledge, openly and constantly, that I’m different from you. Folks, what happens when two things are different? Is it normal for human nature to acknowledge differences and view the different subjects as equal? Not hardly. We have a situation where differences will lead human tendencies to line everyone up, and let the thought processes develop that seems to put one up against another and see one as better and one as worse. That, dear Internet, is where hatred, arrogance, and racism starts.

Did you know that the *ability* to really see difference is LEARNED! I’ll share a personal story. I spent most of my days during childhood with my Grandma. Two doors down lived another girl, one year younger than I. She and I played together constantly. We had a ball! I grew up with her. I went to her house, she hung out at my Grandma’s with me. When I was about 10 years old, I heard an adult refer to the family being Arabic. I had never noticed. It suddenly all made sense. And I realized, my friend and I weren’t as similar as I had always thought. Now really, that wasn’t true. We WERE as similar as I’d always thought. But you see where human nature took the acknowledgement of “difference.” I would have likely never noticed – or at least not for many more years. But once I was aware of this “difference,” it flooded me with questions and wonderment, and I no longer felt the same sense of kinship with her. I was too busy wondering about all the things I didn’t know about her culture, race, history, identity, etc. Because I had just figured that any differences I had noticed over time were explained simply through differing preferences. A quick example – one night while eating dinner at her house, there was a jar of eyeballs on the table. I just figured they liked different foods. And I left it at that. But then, to find out she was Arabic? Wait! THAT’S why they had eyeballs on the table! Because Arabic people eat different food! I wonder what else they eat that I don’t commonly eat? I wonder what else I eat that she’s not familiar with? Whoa! Suddenly I felt like her house was a different planet, and I began scrutinizing all of it. Some of this is HEALTHY. But, the point is, the highlighting of differences gets in the way of the feeling of togetherness. She felt like my sister when I didn’t realize we had any major differences. Once I knew of the differences, it felt different.

Anyhow, Desire and I agree that specific and distinctive labels and terms are generally divisive and separatist, but we seem to disagree about whether that divisive nature of these terms is reason enough to move away from them, and whether or not it’s productive or destructive to highlight our DIFFERENCES on purpose.

But the next part we’re worlds apart on. Unfortunately. And I would love to be friends with Desire, and to bridge our gaps. For now, we’re worlds apart. Buckle your seatbelt.

Desire opens with: “Who black people are in America is still some unresolved business.”


“Not only for the ancestors of slaves, but for the ancestors of slave masters.”

Oh dear.

Now, this begs honest discussion. The idea that racial identity and history may not be well understood, I agree with. I think Desire wants me to know that she feels people of dark skin and African roots are misunderstood. She may be right. But what is there to understand that is not understood? I’m not quite sure. I’m open to listen. But she didn’t say. (At least not yet, but I’m fascinated with the way she speaks her mind, whether I agree or not, and I’ll definitely be a loyal reader. So maybe whatever is allegedly misunderstood about “who black people are in America” is yet to come. I encourage anyone here to read her too. Let’s come together, speak, share, and overcome.)

It’s the next line that reveals a hint of where she’s going. She’s talking about slavery. A dark, embarrassing slice of history pie that we all know about, at least in basic, but unfortunately, most of us know what we know through either American school texts in grade school, listening to our elders tell stories they heard in grade school, or a combination. Feel free to leave this blog immediately, right now, to go do some honest research.

Are you still here? Cool. Glad to have you.

Slavery in this country is widely misunderstood, as Desire suggests, but not likely in the way she meant. She may even have a few misunderstandings about it herself.

Blacks, or African Americans, which ever applies best and is personally preferred, seem to believe that the bulk of slaves, or all of the slaves, were black. (Or, African American…) This is not true. While I don’t care what race, religion, or creed the slaves were, because I ultimately believe there should have been no slavery, period, if we are going to make the slavery in American history a racially charged issue, we better come to understand it correctly.

Not all slaves were black. In fact, as many as 50% of slaves were WHITE. Here, let me run and get a quick citation for y’all. So you don't think you are reading OPINIONS. Be right back.

Oh that was quick – and I found one almost verbatim.
Up to one-half of all the arrivals in the American colonies were Whites slaves and they were America's first slaves. These Whites were slaves for life, long before Blacks ever were. This slavery was even hereditary. White children born to White slaves were enslaved too.
Whites were auctioned on the block with children sold and separated from their parents and wives sold and separated from their husbands. Free Black property owners strutted the streets of northern and southern American cities while White slaves were worked to death in the sugar mills of Barbados and Jamaica and the plantations of Virginia.

Source: Michael A. Hoffman II electronically via http://www.revisionisthistory.org/forgottenslaves.html

Interesting. He actually wrote a book. You can buy Hoffman’s book here: http://www.amazon.com/They-Were-White-Slaves-Enslavement/dp/0929903056

I’ll only pluck one site from cyberspace for two reasons. First, I don’t want this post to go on forever and a day, and more importantly, I encourage anyone reading to do your own research. Don’t believe what you hear, or only what you read in certain places. But I have news for you…. I studied this issue in earlier college days. The mainstream message about the history of slavery is not accurate and complete. It tells, at best, half the story. Half of a story we should all understand completely.

So. Not all slaves were black. As many as 50% were white. In addition, it is well documented that a condition existed where white slaves side by side with black slaves were actually threatened more, treated worse, and often beaten to near death for any suspicion that they meant to escape. The reason? Here’s the theory I learned way back while researching this until all hours of the night for weeks on end… A black slave on the run, escaped, was easier to identify in most of the plantation states**. A white slave had a better chance of blending in, and getting away. Folks, I couldn’t make this up. Go look for the facts. I was as surprised as you might be now.

**(such as Georgia or Alabama, where the plantation owners were mostly white. I’m not clear whether this applies to the areas like West Virginia, where there were wealthy and prominent black land owners who had slaves of their own.)

Notice whites were the first slaves in America. Thus, whites served as slaves longer in this country than any blacks did.

Think slavery of whites started here? Nope. There’s another research project. Plenty of enslaving white folks happened all down the coasts of Africa. Whites enslaved by blacks. Not only Africa. Whites were enslaved in other locales too.

We know that lots of slaves, mostly black slaves, escaped via the underground railroad. Who administered much of the underground railroad? Folks in the north who were… white!

How did the black slaves get here in the first place? No, they weren’t captured. No, they weren’t stolen. (At least neither in so prominent of number that it’s evident in history.) They were SOLD. By their own people. In droves.

Africa didn’t “lose” people to slavery, Desire. Africa SOLD its people into slavery. Fact. Honest. Sometimes the people were traded. Ultimately, that still qualifies as a sale. And don't feel bad. Black people weren't the only race to do this. Plenty of white, yellow, or latino folks in history, to name just a few, did similar business to off their own peeps as sacrifices for economic gain and survival.

Another interesting tidbit about slavery. The initiation of slavery, the choice of slaves, and the practice of slavery all had NOTHING to do with any ideas of social inferiority or racial inferiority. It was initially ALL economic. Landowners didn’t care if their slaves were white or black. Heck, they could have been purple. They took what was available. Initially, in this country, that was a plethora of whites. Initially, in Africa, that included whites.

Now let’s recap.

• African tribes sold their own people into slavery. (Yet some people want to be in touch with “African roots” and claim it as a piece of identity. ???)
• Whites were enslaved longer than blacks in America, and were commonly enslaved in Africa. (Yet, I’ve never once heard a white person talk about slavery as though it brings entitlement or any “pay back” on behalf of potential ancestors. ???)
• Whites helped run programs like the Underground Railroad. Black landowners “owned” slaves just as white landowners did. (Yet we hear that slavery is a black/white issue. ???)

There’s more.

How many people today really know if and whether their ancestors were slaves or slave-owners? Plenty of black people immigrated here in the years following the civil war. Thus, they had nothing to do with slavery (at least on this continent.) They went on to integrate, marry, have families, etc. All these years later, do we really know for absolute fact who has roots in slavery and who doesn’t? I’m talking about either race. Some certainly do. But I’d bet an honest wager that not too many do. Likewise with slave-owners, regardless of race.

Would you sincerely feel justified in standing tall and claiming that you need to assume an adjusted, hybrid-termed identity based on a possibility that you had roots in slave history if you didn’t really know whether or not you did? Of course not. That would be fraudulent. You don’t know whether you have ancestors who were enslaved any more than I know whether I have ancestors who were enslaved.

And, what if by some odd stroke of historical documentation, you did know, in fact, that you have ancestors in your bloodline who were enslaved? How would that change how you live now? How would that change who you are or aren’t? Would you really want a part of your identify to be attached to one of the darkest chapters in American history?

The result is, we view slavery as a part of history. We don’t brush it off as if it doesn’t matter, it does. But no group of people owes any other group of people any apologetic attention here in the 21st century. Particularly when you look at exactly WHO was enslaved, where, and for how long. If anyone owes anyone else anything, whites, blacks, yellows, latinos, and mixes owe all land and resources back to the red folks it was stolen from. Yes, I know, “we” today didn’t steal it. That’s my point. We aren’t here to avenge our ancestors’ enemies, nor are we hear to pay any price for our ancestors’ iniquities. We are here to learn history, understand it, and make the future better than the past was. Worrying that an entire race in today’s world is misunderstood because there was slavery in our past is not focusing on today, and the future. It’s not logical, constructive, justified, or yielding any peace for anyone. There is no good to be had from it. And, it’s clearly not based on a thorough understanding of what really happened in history rather than the common cliché textbook summary we read when we were eight.

It’s a part of history. Not a defining piece of our identities. We come to know history to ensure it’s understood and the bad parts can’t repeat. Aside from that, we love and respect each other. I’ve never looked down upon or judged a person based on skin color, and I don’t expect anyone to judge or look down upon me based on skin color.

One last thought before I run off and get some dinner. If I happened to be a descendant of at least one person who was enslaved at some point, particularly if that is what brought that person to this country I call home, then I will tell you, I would be equally heartbroken for that person’s lot in life as I were thankful that at very least, it left me to be born here, in this amazing country. For any of you who might be a descendant of someone brought from Africa, consider the same thought. Africa is an amazing, intricate place. But would you rather be living there today? Truthfully? We have no better choice in this lifetime than to have faith, bloom where we are planted, and count our every blessing.

Before you go, if you haven’t seen it, watch the lovely Desire’s message:

Sue Happy Nation

My better half sustained an injury to his person in December 2007. Specifically, he dropped a table onto his foot, and he experienced great pain, and announced, half factually and half in jest, "it's broken." This happened while we were cleaning up from hosting our first holiday dinner.

The table is a hand-me-down folding table from his grandmother, rest her sweet soul. I think it's very cool that we got a few regular household items that she used throughout her lifetime. This is particularly true for items that are used for company, and/or holiday gatherings. It seems in a small way she's gathering with us. I have a couple picnic table clothes too.

We are tough, verile people. We go to the doctor when we truly need to, and that is extremely rare. My better half once broke his ankle and went home to mow the lawn and take a nap before heading to the hospital waiting room to have it set, because he knew it was broken, and once the swelling took hold, he wouldn't be able to mow. Also - the hospital emergency room was allegedly overflowing, and he figured waiting was time wasted. I opened a cupboard door about a year ago and a coffee mug flew out and busted apart on contact with my wristbone, lancing my arm open with a gash a good inch-and-a-half long. I cleaned it up and superglued it. It healed perfectly. (Save for a scar.)

Over the course of the following several months, this foot continued to bother him. It seemed to not want to heal. Eventually, we took that foot to a doctor. Then to a specialist. It was in fact broken from the table drop, and it had in fact healed itself, but there was lingering latent pain from the injury and likely some nasty arthritis blooming.

The specialist required two sorts of bone scans, and prescribed orthotics. As the bills for the doctor visits, and then the scans, hit the insurance company's mailbox, we began to get various notices from the insurance folks. They would read something like, CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY - WE NEED INFORMATION FROM YOU.

We received at least two of these, and responded with a phone call. The questions were mostly a full interrogation to make sure there was no other insurance carrier besides that might be at least partially responsible for the charges. Repeatedly, we told them, no. We have but one medical insurance carrier. Then the questions persisted about the injury. Might it have happened at work? Might it have happened in an auto accident? For the love of Christ, it happened at home.

The very last step of this whole process was to run and get fitted for orthotics. There is a special orthopedic place we had to go to for this. A private little practice. Friendly.

The orthotics were made, and picked up a good 6 weeks ago. Maybe more. And yesterday, the mail carrier brought us correspondence from the orthotics folks. It's a bill for the full cost of the orthotics (minus the ginormous co-pay we already gave) and a note in handwriting that says the insurance company has put this claim on hold pending further information from the prescribing physician.

My better half called the insurance company to find out what they were looking for, when they requested information from the physician, and whether they had received it. The call was EMBARRASSING on behalf of insurance people everywhere. They asked him, repeatedly if he'd realized any work incidents or accidents this may have been ultimately caused by. Eventually, they resorted to asking him, point blank if there were ANY THIRD PARTIES WHATSOEVER THAT MIGHT HAVE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS INJURY. They were serious. How crooked. And in the end, it got worse. The dude on the phone said, "what about the table manufacturer?"

What has our world come to? And yes, this is what they sought from the physician, too. When we responded twice, initially, and confirmed this was an accident at home, the insurance company set out to investigate the physician hoping that some glimmer of proof would surface that there was SOMEONE to sue.

All I can think about is, what do people deal with who have seriously ill children or parents? What do people deal with who are sick themselves and have to deal with the insurance companies personally? Our injuries/illnesses are minor, and far and few between. Do people get pestered just as bad who are getting radiation or transplants or dialysis?

When the questions were finished about whether or not the table manufacturer was worth going after for fund recovery, the insurance dude then moved on to what he saw were chiropractic appointments here and there. Were those related to an accident? A work injury? Good Lord. It's a preventative thing, folks. We're keepin healthy, is all. Go find someone else with a lawsuit in the making.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Colorblinded by the Semantics - Desire Grover's iReport

I know. This is opening a can of worms. But I can't help it. This is perplexing to me. And I want to hear from anyone who has an opinion. Sincerely.

I think we should be as colorblind as possible without ignoring culture and individuality, which are both important to all humans. And for reasons I won't go into for this particular post, because it would be eleventy pages long, I am a fan of affirmative action. I wasn't always a fan, but then I got an education and understood it better. I had previously believed the buzz about AA. It wasn't all factual. The facts are interesting. Sure, there is a downside. But the upside outweighed the downside when it was in effect. Statistics tell the truth. And often, for me, they bury theories and rumors in the process of revealing truth. Theories such as: women use abortions as birth control (statistics prove otherwise) or people COMMONLY have babies just to get more welfare support (again, facts show otherwise.) That doesn't mean there aren't occurrences of all of the above. There has to be at least one case where affirmative action did more harm than good for most involved. There has to be one case where a female human being used abortion as a means of birth control. There has to be at least one case where a human conceived and birthed a baby with intent to increase welfare benefits. But overall, these occurrences are so far and few between, that they may as well be non-existent. Thus, they are non-issues.


I have never personally liked the term "African American" for three reasons.

1. First, what was wrong with "black" or "colored?" I never regarded those words to be anything but simply descriptive, much like yellow, red, white, dark, pale, etc. I never understood or bought into this idea that we needed a new word for this one group of (important) people. Why create a problem when there isn't one? Why would anyone be offended by being referred to as "black" or "dark" if this were descriptively true, and that was the purpose and intent of using the terms? To describe. Now, let me quickly interject that there are in fact some words that were intended as description, but have developed other meanings over time. A perfect example is the term "mentally retarded." This was originally meant to describe a condition that was important to communicate. It was not meant to be derogatory. However.... That term has taken on a new life over the years, and it's now used in a derogatory fashion.

2. Secondly, how the hell do I know who came from Africa and who didn't? Honest to Pete. This is ludicrous. I would not like it if someone called me Polish American just in attempt to generalize and avoid using simplistic descriptive (and ACCURATE) terms such as "white" or "pale." I'm not any more Polish than many dark skinned people I know are African. And, even if someone does have some roots in Africa, long long ago, we all typically identify differently as time goes on. For example, my maternal great grandfather was 100% Spanish. My maternal grandfather, 50%. My mother, 25%. My great grandfather, as well as my grandfather, identified strongly with being Spanish. My grandfather might have even called himself Spanish American, if the term was recognized and he had the cause to identify so explicitly what his roots were about. My mother identified with the Spanish culture as far as to carry on one particular family heirloom dish: Spanish Rice. It's really a Paella. And, truly, Spanish people would never put red sauce on rice and consider it their own. I digress. My mother is simply American. I am simply American. A professor at a Michigan university explained to someone I know that the reason this African American term came about is because so many black people don't know where their original roots came from, but since Africa is so likely a part of it somewhere, they all adapted it. I say that's logical, and likely true, at least in part, but I'm still not buying it. Who would need or want to assume a nationality of origin if the true nation(s) of origin were not known? This does not follow logic at all. If you were born here, you are American. No matter whether your roots are Polish, Russian, Israeli, whatever.

3.Most importanly of all, why on earth did anyone start mixing nationality and race? For what purpose? The terms "black" and "colored" and "dark skinned" were in effort to describe RACE. Not nationality. Your race is black, white, yellow, red, or mixed. Period. Your nationality is a whole different story. German? Irish? African? Filipino? Obviously, most people with certain nationalities share the same race. But NOT ALL. Not every Filipino is part of the yellow race. Not every German is part of the white race. Not every African is part of the black race. Somehow, somewhere, someone decided to not like the descriptive term "black," which was used to describe race, and pushed to substitute a fabricated hybrid term for a nationality. Not every member of the black race has African roots, and not every human with African roots is a member of the black race. So we have an automatic oxymoron when we use "African" and "American" in a generalized term, and worse, we are using it to refer to a race rather than a nationality. This makes no sense. (While I'm at it, "Jewish" refers to a religion and a culture. Not a nationality, and not a race.)

And there we have it. I welcome all comments and opinions, no matter how much they align with mine or differ. All are welcome, come as you are, this is a place of peace.

Today, I ran across this video embedded below. Holy cats, people. She says she wanted to just be called "American," and I was ready for her to stop there. Great. You are American. So am I. Nice to know you, neighbor. But she goes on. Someone didn't let her be "just" American? Whom??? She doesn't say.

She does mention that when she want to college, they didn't let her "just" be American. Is she referring to the paperwork where you identify your race? And we now see choices for race that look like: caucasian(white)/pacific islander(yellow)/Native American(red) etc? And instead of "black," which for years was a perfectly respected term to describe race, you now only have this option to choose a hybrid term based on assumed nationality? So far, I get her. This is perplexing, and weird, that anyone did this. Race is race. Keep it simple. Except, of course, for the clear need to modify our generalized list whenever any new race is recognized, or, certainly, to account for many people who identify with more than one known race. I saw an interesting way this was handled on a recent job application under the optional and confidential EEOC survey. It asked what race the applicant identifies with, and then listed them, and then right below, asked for any other races the applicant also identifies with. I liked this because it was more specific than "mixed" or "multi." Someone who is half yellow and half black may not like the "mixed" button because in our country, "mixed" so often refers to half black half white. So I thought it was encouraging that people get to tell the whole story and identify specifically with race.

Anyway, point is, I was groovin with her for a minute. She couldn't just be black, and American, given her options, because some knucklehead along the way muddied the waters.

But she goes on. And come to find out, her POINT is that she PREFERS to be called an African American. She doesn't say what she prefers it against. Just that she prefers it. And she clearly is making reference to her race as the issue. Thus, it's an incomplete statement.

Then we go on to hear references of slurs, which don't seem to have any real purpose in this message, other than to identify them as wrong and insensitive, which we all know, and which is why we don't use those words in contemporary society. Much like we are slowly abolishing words like "retard" in favor of descriptive and functional words that do not carry a nasty or inappropriate connotation or undertone. We have to love and respect one another. That's a given, and doesn't seem to have much to do with this creation of the term "African American."

Then we move on to the mention of a "Proper Slur." There is no such thing, folks. A slur is by definition improper. Or we wouldn't call it a slur. Is she saying that the term African American is a slur? I'm open to that idea depending on her thought structure, but she never really explains it.

She wants us to know her dark skin was not a choice. She makes that statement very clear and pronounced.

Ms. Desire Grover, your dark skin is beautiful. And I would hope to see you on this iReport telling the world that even though "your dark skin wasn't chosen," you wouldn't change a thing, because you are beautiful as you are.

But, the message here is odd and confusing. Are you truly for or against the term "African American?" Who do you feel doesn't just consider you a human being, or simply an American? And why? You look and sound American to me. What's the deal?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Calm morning...

My dog is at my feet. My husband sleeps peacefully. The coffee is hot. Soon there will be French toast on the table with maple syrup, and we'll have conversation over breakfast while the washing machine hums from the other room.

Just in the last two or three months I've come to realize all I've missed by working so much. My mother-in-law said something to me a few weeks ago that was pretty insightful. "We find we don't need as much as we think we do." In some ways it's true; in other ways not. We need more of the things we don't get enough of when we're workaholics. When we live without those things long enough, we forget we ever needed them at all. Like peace, a comfortable and organized home, a balanced relationship, and a place to feel safe. When I finally move past the instinct to chase corporate success, money, and perceived "security," I can somewhat feel the need for things I haven't had any joy in for years. Things that I didn't even like to do anymore, because I was too full of anxiety. Who can sit aimlessly on the couch and read a book when she has three reports due the same week and a technical presentation to build from the ground up? After over a decade of that lifestyle being what's regarded as normal, I don't think anyone can.

Eight months without a job has presented an opportunity to remember who I am inside, and things I used to like to do. Remember how to relax and be still is not like hopping on a bicycle after several years. It doesn't just "come back to you." It's an entire re-learning process. The hardest part of all may well be allowing myself to feel a sense of pride for things I do in this role and lifestyle. Because I never regarded them as being worth anything. Interestingly enough, they may be the most important of all. When we both work constantly, and the dishes and dustbunnies multiply, and we get clean laundry but once every three weeks, there is stress we never even realized. Life without that stress and without all that money is possibly better than life filled with both.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Planning a Rebirth...

I've been very pensive lately. And I have not avoided the Internet as much as I've been in a state of reflection about everything, including my writing. Writing has always been an outlet for me.

But yet, I had a big revelation about three weeks ago. I was reading freep.com. You can sign in and comment on stories there.

I was reading the commentary, thinking to myself that folks around here are really bitter and angry and spiteful. It suddenly hit me like chilly spring raindrops on your face when you walk around the block in April contemplating existence - do I sound like that? I was reading the way everyone wrote about life and issues in a way that was(is)so beyond passionate, but downright angry? And it was a pure reflection to me of how the general span of personalities is in this area. Yes, I am sure of this. I have lived here my entire life excepting for a brief stint in Chicago that would make for a fantastic blog sometime, and I've visited other places where people are genuinely happier. Notice, I didn't say "nicer." I said happier. And this is important. I believe this area is full of people who would love a better lifestyle, but it's just not here. Folks that are here are here for one or more of three main reasons.... 1. Employment is here (at least for the brief present moment) and leaving is not an easy or sometimes feasible option. 2. Family is here, along with all the obligations and joys alike that go along with having the choice to live where family is. 3. Subject person or people living in Detroit has never visited anywhere else and has no idea what is being missed.

People around here talk like they are contemplating violence at any given time. Like rubber bands wound so tightly folks can't breath, and will bust open any moment.

Compared to what? Compared to most other places I've been exposed to. Check out the locak papers for Houston, Texas or Tampa, Florida or Seattle, Washington or Boston, Massachusettes.

People do not sound like they do here. And I have realized that I am no different. I live in a state of frustration twenty-four hours a day, with no real free time to speak of. I've had no social life for years. My marriage is strained, my finances are strained, and as a direct result, I'm ready to bust any second.

And - it shows. In my writing, at least.

But just as this isn't the life I wanted, or even chose, this isn't the way I wanted to ever resort to presenting myself to the world or feeling, literally. You can argue that this is the "real" me because I didn't censor anything that was actually published, but I'm going to take a hardcore stance and disagree. Because I believe, wholeheartedly, that life is what you make it.

And I haven't been making mine so good. I get upset because I'm so honestly tired. Yeah, I know, everyone is tired, and while I will say I don't live in a place where I'm victimized as a 7 year old stuck in 14 hour days working child labor, reality isn't honestly too far off from that. I've now had two miscarriages this year. I firmly believe this is a direct result of stress and strain alone. I am alone 3/4 of every day, including what little sleep time I have. My husband and any sense of family that I was starting to feel with him are out-of-state every day and night during the week, and have been for a good year-and-a-half now. Every single concession in life over the past 6 or 8 years was done with the expectation that it was a sacrifice to allow something good to happen later. And most of those concessions brought little or nothing more than just the agony of their existence.

And yet, I have the same soul within me that I'd have back when life was a little bit easier, or that I'd have if I lived in a place with 48 hour workweek industries, great nightlife, people my own age, and something to look foward to other than the next meeting to discuss how bad the economy is. The very same soul, and the very same heart beating. So there is no reason to fall into the cynical, crabby, ruthless, nearly violent persona that everyone around me has adopted, and I think I came very close to adopting myself.

I'm not a cynical person at heart. I used to write so light-hearted and brilliant with humor - usually pointed right back at myself. Then I started writing about family issues. Then, eventually, I only wrote about small-talk to pass some time, and/or some big issue going on in the news everywhere.

Blog fodder was everywhere around me. My life was exciting and vivacious. Where did that go?

I will re-invent it. I will find myself amongst this sea of deadlines and demands and overdue bills and responsibility overload. I will find myself under the rubble, dig me out, and start anew. And hopefully write about things and issues as I used to.

I started blogging in the year 2001. Three blogs ago, I still have many archives I've saved. I remember the very first blog I came across in the year 2000 was Acidman's. God rest his soul. He was a funny southerner who didn't pull any punches or take any shit. I read his blog for ages until he died, and when he died, I couldn't believe it was true. But he left behind quite a legacy. One of his music clips is on my desktop, and his blog is still alive and well. Someone close to him reposts old stuff all the time to keep it going.

What is my legacy? A bunch of lunacy and ranting and wishing I could score a job in some sunny state away from all these depressing people and a sinking economy, that would offer me relocation covering both of my houses and transplanting my entire family? Let's hope not.

A legacy is created.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Let's talk about the UAW....

But let's first get this out of the way. I've got but a few peeves in life, and one of them is when folks pass judgments or form opinions based on things they hear, or just from the "herding" effect. Remember the guy I blogged about who was voting for Bush just because he was Republican? And he was Republican just 'cause? And had never really thought about it? 'Cause you know, his parents were Republican, then is brother was Republican, and then his wife was too?


Please, if you take just one thing away from my blog, please take this:

"Think. It's patriotic."

Have any views and opinions you want. I don't care if I agree or not. I promise to embrace every viewpoint that comes around. Respect will always be abundant here. Provided those viewpoints and beliefs and opinions are formed through gaining education and understanding on an issue.

And now, the UAW. Love it, hate it, think it's outdated, think it's the best thing since velcro, whatever you think. Fine. But for Christ's sake, please learn about whether the suspicions you have are real before you decide it should be abolished.

I do not have membership in a union. I work in the private sector as an employee. However, I've served as a laison to several union plants over the years. And just as importantly, I have an education on the matter. A formal one. I studied labor relations and loved every last minute of it. So I have educated opinions based on what I've seen with my own two eyes inside union plants for years, as well as studying passionately the events of history through the present.

And let me share something with you, dear Internet. Never have I seen an issue so clouded and labeled and misunderstood as the UAW. Notice I didn't say "unions?" I said specifically "UAW?" Because when is the last time you heard folks cracking jokes about teachers taking too many coffee breaks? (The way we hear the jokes cracked about auto workers...) When is the last time you've heard slams about medical workers who "get their jobs back" if they are caught with a drug or alcohol problem? (The way we hear the same slam about auto workers.) When is the last time that you've heard a complaint that the fire fighters are too lazy and end up compromising their work and costing insurance companies more money on claims? (The same way we hear auto workers are a lazy bunch and are at fault for the prices of cars.)

And why do people immediately think of the automotive industry when someone says "union?"

The fact of the matter is that every major professional industry uses the principal of solidarity. Lawyers, doctors, teachers, law enforcement, painters, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, you name it; they belong to a union. Strength and power is found in numbers.

I'm going to take the time to address the myths that I've heard. I'll stick to only the abundant ones.

Common myth #1: The UAW is full of weak, lazy workers.

I will guarantee that the majority of people why have made this claim have not worked in a union environment. The UAW workers are the toughest workers I've known. And they care about what they are doing. It's the union folks who are tearing up when a first new model rolls of the line, or a last model rolls off a line. These are people who put their hearts into what they do fifty times more urgently than most white collar engineers I know. You want to talk about laziness and coffee breaks? The engineering center at GM has a coffee station every few feet. And it's always packed to the gills. I've known white collar engineers to come to work, read the paper, sit on the can for a half hour, get a coffee, and then go to a meeting at 10, after having been at work since 6:30 or 7. Those examples alone waste three to three and a half hours each day minimum. How can a UAW worker do that while working on a moving line that gives them each a new product to touch every few seconds? Do people seriously think they stop the line for the union workers to go sit in the can for a half hour or read the paper for awhile?

Common myth #2: The UAW exists to protect weak, lazy workers.

How so? Do people out there honestly think that corporations do not attempt to dismiss workers just because they are UAW members? And further, that they do not succeed in dismissing those workers? Being a union member is not equivalent to having a "get out of jail free" card. Yes, if a union member is disciplined or fired, he/she has a right to file a grievance with the union, and if the union sees fit, it will try to rectify the situation. But here's what you may not know... First, the union member has to do things exactly right for even a hope at that representation. One day late to the union steward, and no dice. Further, the union steward can (and will, often) deny helping. The union ONLY gets involved in situations where the employee was treated unfairly, treated differently than what has become past practice, or has special circumstances warranting another chance.

Now when I think about that, I think it's only decent. And I wish all companies allowed some room for dicussion and reflection in these matters. But they don't. The rest of us in the private sector can be fired on the spot after devoting thirty years to a company, simply because someone doesn't like our socks. Who thinks that's a crappy reality? I sure do.