Seriously, Charlottesville? Really?

(Written August 13th, 2017)
Is this real life? Did I just wake up to an Alt-right white nationalist protest lit with torches on my Twitter feed in 2017? Are ya’ll serious?
If you, for a single moment, think that what just occurred in Charlottesville is even remotely OK, at all, from any “open minded” standpoint you might try to argue, you are automatically wrong. This is not a topic that’s up for debate. Under no circumstances is what just took place in Charlottesville OK in any part of reality. If you, some conservative, are about to fly into an argument about why ‘free speech’ is important in our society and why ‘the liberals are over-reacting’ you need to check yourself. Obviously, somebody failed the “Civil War” section of high school history class.
What just took place Charlottesville is the very definition of a double standard so entrenched into American consciousness that people are somehow attempting to rationalize what just took place by throwing organizations like Black Lives Matter under the bus. Not only was there violence and hate speech at the Charlottesville rally, but the government did nothing to get the situation under control. If a group of Muslims had peacefully assembled outside for a picnic, the National Guard would have been there and FOX News would have run a news story about the ‘looming terrorist plot.’ If a group of black people would have assembled there, someone would have been shot. Instead, a bunch of armed, white men whose wives Amazon Primed them their very own ”be a white supremacist kit” decided to use their insecurity and anger to meet up and scream at people about how unfair their lives are — if that isn’t a snowflake, I don’t know what is.
I am sick and tired of people telling me that the racism that minorities feel in this country isn’t real. Every single one of you needs to turn on the news and watch all of the insecure, angry white men running around in the middle of the night screaming slurs like frat boys at happy hour who never passed a fire safety class. Not only that, but the idea that protests like these have a valid argument is completely absurd. In no way is the experience of the white man remotely similar in anyway to the experiences of the black, LGBT, Japanese, Indian, Hispanic, Arab, or Jewish communities.
Now, I get that it sucks that white men don’t get to throw protests like everyone else, and even you guys want to get in on the fun, but that’s not how this works. Y’all do not get to throw a protest and jerk off in a circle to other people’s pain just because you’re angry that the black guy at work is better at his job than you are. You do not get to buy all the tiki torches that your heart desires and run around in the middle of the night terrifying everyone around you in the name of free speech. That’s not free speech — that’s domestic terrorism. If you think that a bunch of black people demanding they be validated as human beings is domestic terrorism because they decided to march down your street and ruin your Sunday brunch, then congregating in the middle of the night with fire is probably a little bit much.
And if you disagree with any of that, I suggest you pick up a history textbook and call the closest therapist you can find, because I feel like it’s time you reevaluate your priorities.
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All My Friends Are Dead: The Cost Of Republican Health Care

(Written July 25th, 2017)
Over the course of the last couple of months, health care protests have erupted all over the country to ‘Kill the bill’ ― the Republican act to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare.” Healthcare advocacy has never been this present in our country ― disability organizations like ADAPT and NCIL (National Center for Independent Living) are rolling out protests, along with other organizations like Our Revolution and even the Democratic Party. These discussions are always plastered all over the news, covering headlines and filling up the push notifications on my phone. No matter where I go or what I do, even when I’m trying to avoid the topic, there seems to be no escape from the looming headlines.
As a young woman with a chronic illness, my relationship with the health care debate is a little bit different than your average 20-something. Disability and health care are an important part of my life and have been since my health began deteriorating when I turned 15. Since then, I’ve dedicated the majority of my time to the disability community— from volunteering in hospitals to establishing organizations with my peers. Over the last year, I’ve built relationships with people all across the disability spectrum, most of whom I consider close friends. Most of the people being arrested on TV for these causes are people who I know.
While my journey into the world of disability and healthcare began as an attempt to understand my own experiences, this is no longer about me. Everyone who I’ve met on this journey has incredibly valuable experiences ― rich lives of their own. The more that I learn about the different ways in which people experience disability, the more urgent this fight becomes. These people are your friends, too— maybe more than that. They’re our mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, and best friends from high school. They’re our teachers and lawyers and doctors. No matter how severe their preexisting condition or situation in life, they deserve to be given the opportunity to live. But if the Republicans succeed on their quest to repeal the ACA, we will all be living in a world where all our friends are dead.
I do not want to live in a world where all my friends are dead.

I Was At The Health Care Protest In Senator Portman’s Office. Here’s What I Saw.

By the time that we were blocking the elevators, it was too late for security to close them off. People were rushing into the main lobby, holding open the back doors for wheelchair users as they rolled into their places. I heard the man at the front desk yell, and another security guard turned around the corner trying to stop the influx of people. Within a couple of minutes, about 30 people were in the building, most of them in wheelchairs, all chanting loudly about Medicaid. The front doors were blocked by protestors, and I found a spot in the middle, perched between elevators, to watch the cops come on the scene. Within about ten minutes, ten arrived and dispersed the crowd at different spots around the room. They listened to the chants with awkward stares, almost all of them wearing bicycle hats. This was going to be interesting.
I first found out about the protest through my work. As a young Ohioan with a disability, I was automatically interested. I’ve had personal meetings with Senator Portman’s staff before about the issue, but this was something different. I also understood the urgency. The Better Care Reconciliation Act is a different kind of beast that would harm Ohioans (the poor, the disabled, and women) in a State that is already becoming the center of the American Opioid crisis.
The protest itself was to be run by the National Chapter of ADAPT, an organization best known for their more radical efforts in the fight for disability. The organization itself is a cause for debate amongst many, but also has thousands of supporters and has become a valuable resource during the age of Trumpism. I knew enough about them to feel confident that I knew exactly what I was walking into.
Either way, this was a cause that could wake me up at 7 a.m. on a Friday morning.
The protest started around 9 a.m., and, although there was police present, was peaceful in the morning. I found out that somehow a couple of other activists had found their way up into Portman’s actual office the night before and had spent the night there. As for us, we weren’t able to get up into the office, so we settled for the main lobby instead. People clumped together in the back and lined most of the walls. For a couple of hours, I stood next to a couple of cops and made small talk. I walked one through my contemplation of whether or not I was going to Postmate myself Chipotle (which I did, by the way). As the hours went on, other people joined in the protest, and the police left. Apparently, according to an officer, the protesters in elevators were the real issue, but there was also nothing else they could do. Once they left, people settled down for lunch and told stories of what Medicaid/care actually meant to them. By the time it was 2 p.m., things seemed calm. Protesters were being peaceful, singing chants and songs, and talking amongst each other. I knew the police would have to come back eventually, but everything seemed under control. Protesters were even collecting each others garbage. There was a couple with a baby sitting right next to me; nothing that needed to be controlled.
That’s when I chose to leave the scene for a couple of hours. If they were still there around 6 or 7, I said, I would come back and help out. But by the time I’d gotten home, the tone of the protests had changed. Apparently, protesters had somehow managed to take another staircase or elevator, and the situation had changed. An employee was trying to get out, and she wasn’t able to get out of the building. Another person texted me and told me that they had left as well.
Soon afterward, the Columbus Police Department told protesters that there was someone in the building having an emergency, although that’s up for debate. As soon as protesters complied, the police took advantage of the situation and literally began dragging people out of the building.
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By this time, I was at home, watching everything unfold from Facebook Live. People being thrown across the room dragged out of chairs and thrown on the ground. One woman, in particular, was thrown flat on her face in the middle of the crowd. Police were over aggressive, and people were screaming in the background. Finally, after they had dragged everyone outside, they put them all in a circle on the ground and zip-tied people behind their backs. One man, who was deaf, was separated from the group without an interpreter and put in a police car. In the end, two wheelchairs were left behind at the scene — meaning that people were forced into cars without their mobility. According to reports, 15 people were arrested.
I am absolutely disgusted by the Columbus Police. I am absolutely disgusted by Rob Portman, for choosing to jail the disabled rather than listen to them. I do understand that protests like this are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The building Portman’s Senate office is located in is a private building, and technically protesters were on private property. However, maybe senators shouldn’t be allowed to have offices on private property. They are senators, after all. More on point, though, this was an act of unwarranted aggression by police. There was no need to drag people out of the building— and certainly not like that. Even those complied with the officer’s demands were told that they could never come back again or they would be arrested. It was unneeded violence and aggression toward people with disabilities.
But hey, good job Rob Portman. You got what you wanted. Congratulations on the nice, empty lobby.

Finding America’s Pulse Again: One Year Since Orlando

Everyone has a shooting.
I know, that line presents a multitude of issues within itself, but it’s true. If you ask someone on the street which shooting they remember the most, it’s different from person to person, especially for millennials.
Growing up in an age when mass shootings have slowly become the normal way of American life, there was never one that stood out to me quite like Pulse. Let’s be honest, I’m an upper-middle class white woman. People like myself are rarely the target of hateful attacks in America despite the clamoring of the evangelical right. Even in horrific cases like Newtown, some part of it didn’t feel completely real. Maybe it was because I was too young or simply didn’t take it completely to heart. I’m not sure I completely understood what it was like to have people just like you come under fire, just for being you, in America.
Pulse was the first shooting in my memory that actually made me feel something a little more than horror. As a queer woman, I remember immediately texting and contacting those in my life that were also LGBTQIA+. I got text messages from everyone too, telling me to take care of myself and not to worry. Suddenly, MY community was the one on the news and in the headlines. It was real — more real for me than any of the others before. When I went to college this past fall, and started going out into the LGBT nightlife, it hit me even more. It could be anyone. Literally.
Being a minority in America today is like one of those weird balancing boards you probably fell of off as a kid. If you so much as smile at the wrong person you could end up in a bad situation. Today, black men in America are told by their families to watch out. Muslim American women hope that no one will scream at them on the subway. Transgender Americans are afraid of the bathroom. Indian American’s worry about being shot. The Jewish people are threatened with bombs. This is the America of 2017. One year after the Pulse shooting.
But what now?
A good friend of mine once told me that in life you may not understand someone else’s pain ― but you still understand pain once you’ve felt it. Not all pain is the same, and there’s no way that a white woman like me could ever understand what it’s like the be Asian, Hispanic, Arab, or Black, but I do understand what it’s like to feel pain ― like you can’t move without being afraid. It’s different , but perhaps it’s enough.
Certainly, the last year has put that to the test for our minority communities. It’s also just the beginning.
If the American people collectively want to stand up to modern American bigotry, we need to realize that while we may not share the exact same experiences, we have all felt pain. We all know, in some way or another, enough to empathize with people who are different than us. That understanding within itself can move mountains.
Quite simply: Find America’s Pulse again.
It is out there. Even now.

The World’s Largest Dumpster Fire: Sponsored by the Trump Administration

(Today in Bullshit News)

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The United States as recently crossed the threshold from tiny, hobo fire on the side of the road into a full on dumpster fire that’s caught the entire city of New York up in a blaze that’s somehow, simultaneously, taking place in the middle of Super Storm Sandy’s younger sister, Superer Storm Sally. It’s actually quite admirable. In ten years, I have a funny suspicion that some kid in an 8th grade classroom will be doing a report on the “Russian-Collusion Scandal of 2017” and the rebirth of modern news and media, and everyone knows it too.

Thankfully for us, that kid is also going to have access to a GIF of Andersen Cooper rolling his eyes at Kellyanne Conway.

God is good.

But for now, let’s just talk about exactly how bad things have gotten over the last week by highlighting some of the best headlines from today’s media reports.

USA Today: Link:

Summary: This is really awkward. Like super awkward for literally everyone. Not only is he, a sitting president, talking about “tapes” (*gulp) but he’s also bad mouthing the Press again, all while saying that he can’t be on point and accurate all the time. This is so contradictory to everything he’s already said, it hurts. Plus, for a man that said Hilary Clinton should go to jail for “misleading the American people” this is incredibly perplexing. Apparently, it’s literally impossible to be right. I wonder what Hillary is thinking right about now.

Fox News:

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 2.05.37 PM

When Fox News is confused by a sitting Republican president, you know something weird is up. Coming from the “Trump Network” themselves,

When President Trump sat down with Lester Holt yesterday, he essentially altered the version of James Comey’s firing that his top aides have been pressing in public.

“I was going to fire regardless of recommendation,” he told the NBC anchor. The recommendation in question was a two-page memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been on the job for two weeks.

Once again, this is awkward. He’s changed his story again and that’s making a lot of this hard to justify. No matter what the timeline is here, it isn’t good. Like, literally, at all. If Fox News is having issues, then it’s not good.

Vox:

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 2.12.44 PM

Once again, this is a breakdown of Donald Trump contradicting himself on the Russian Scandal. At least Nixon was smart enough to keep his shit together, but this dude can’t. Not only has he now fully admitted that that’s why he chose to fire him, but he’s doubled down on it on Twitter.

Conclusion: At this point, this has nothing to do with being “Anti-Trump” or “Anti-Republican.” It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is or who you are. This is not okay. If Fox News is saying that it’s not okay, then there’s no possible way in hell that this is fine. Someday soon, the Russian Scandal is going to hit the American press just like Watergate did in the Washington Post in 1972. Now, all we have to do is wait.

Note: I use Allsides.com to find the stories used in this article.

The End of my Freshman Year

I have survived my first year of college! To break away from my normal political tirade, here are some things that I wish I’d known last year along with some updates to my life.

  1. It’s never as bad as you think.
  2. Be exclusive with your friendships. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to.
  3. Go. Do the thing. You won’t regret it.
  4. You are going to fail. You will not have a 4.0 GPA. That’s not what college is about. In College they actually want you to learn. Be challenged. Get B’s.
  5. You know nothing. Learn from people that don’t.
  6. You will not always agree. People are going to hurt you. That’s why good things are so special.
  7. Every opportunity is a learning experience. Not every learning experience is positive. Learn from negativity.
  8. Fight for your dream. Own your dream. Fuck the haters.
  9. You don’t need to desperately find love. Don’t be that person. Let it come to you.

This summer, I will be interning with the Center for Disability Empowerment in Columbus, Ohio. I will also be (hopefully) photographing a bit for the ODP. One of my summer goals is to continue to save money and go on adventures. Another is to edit my novel so that I can send to agents. In between, I’m going to NYC, France, and Washington D.C. This is the summer I’ve always wanted. Enjoy it all.

Note to self:

Enjoy it all.

The AHCA Discriminates Against Me And Other Young, Sick People

As a 20-year old woman with three autoimmune disorders, legislation like the American Health Care Act is really risky for people like me in multiple ways. However, there is a part of the bill that no one seems to be taking seriously: Subsides based on age. This has been a staple of Republican plans recently that hasn’t gotten as much attention in the headlines as it should. Especially if you’re a young person that voted for Donald Trump.
Here’s why:
Right now, the Affordable Care Act covers people based on income. This is a problem for many middle class families because the ACA leaves out the idea that a family of five with a middle class income can’t always dish out thousands for health insurance. However, this approach based on age would be a new kind of killer, especially to young people and families just starting out. It’s also discriminatory to disabled young adults because it assumes that all young people need less healthcare. That’s not true.
Let’s say you turn 26, can no longer get health insurance from your parents and have a low-paying starting salary job. Under the AHCA, because you’re young, you have limited options for affording healthcare if you buy it on the private market (outside of work) because the subsidies you’re eligible for are automatically lowered. This means that young people who have the luxury to opt out of healthcare will do so, leaving healthcare providers with only the young and sick who actually need health care to live. Those people, like myself, will not only have to pay more because we’re young, but also because our healthy peers aren’t helping us out anymore by lowering prices. Health care costs would shoot through the roof for anyone with insurance, and the more this happens, the more people with little need will continue to opt out of the system.
That’s a death spiral just waiting to happen.
As for the pre-existing conditions debate, under the AHCA, states would be allowed to raise prices on people with pre-existing conditions by opting out of the system and receiving waivers instead. There are a lot of questions about what states would actually choose to do this and why, but the law is reliant on most states choosing not to do this. In this instance, Republicans are going after the “mandate” idea of the ACA, in order to attempt to give more power to the states like they usually do.
The issue is that people with pre-existing conditions cost much more than you could ever imagine. Putting “all the sick people” in a pool with only sick people will make it impossible for people like me to maintain medical expenses. States forget that their allocated funding won’t cover anywhere near the amount of money they need.
This is also largely missing the point of “affordable health care” in the first place. “Affordable Care” doesn’t mean “just affordable” for healthy people or “just affordable” for the sick. It means creating a system in which you pay for what you use but within reason. This was one of the issues with the ACA, because healthy people were paying far more than they should, creating a “health care gap.”
This legislation won’t fix that gap, it will just reverse it, and it doesn’t even address the actual issue at hand (which is that it’s not always affordable for people in the middle). Instead, it does away with young, sick Americans’ ability to get health care at a reasonable price by refusing them more subsidies. Simply put: Donald Trump promised affordable healthcare. His actions are guaranteeing the opposite for the next generation of Americans.
Find this Article Here: On the Huffington Post

My Bisexuality Is Valid: How I Found Myself In The Middle

My mother was flipping pancakes in the kitchen. As I stood next to her, I could feel the knot in my throat expanding — maybe, tightening. I was weighing my options. At the time, I was a sophomore in high school caught in between a couple of voices in my head. Finally, one won out. I took a deep breath.
“Mom,” I said, “I’m bisexual.”
She stopped flipping pancakes for a moment and asked me how I knew. I said that I just did ― that’s the best way to explain it. I called my father later that night, who was working in Tel Aviv, and told him too. He was much more dramatic than my mom, as usual, but still accepting. This was the reaction I’d been expecting, and the dream of any LGBTQ teenager. Even at my high school, in the white suburbs of northern Ohio, people initially seemed fine. This was before the Supreme Court decision, back when it was almost “cool” to fight for the LGBTQ community. Still, though, the people around me were generally ignorant about the spectrum of sexuality and so was I. But as I began to become more comfortable with my new found identity, I started to realize that people weren’t as accepting as they seemed.
It started with someone telling me that bisexuality was “just the first step to coming out as a lesbian” and was continued by multiple people mentioning that they’d “always known” I wasn’t straight. Whenever I corrected them, saying that I was bisexual, I was quickly given a look. To them, I was just another lesbian. That straight part of myself not only didn’t exist anymore, but my sexuality was assumed because of my short hair and less feminine style. It became exhausting to explain, and before long, all of the boys in the school were convinced that I was just gay. Eventually, I stopped explaining it.
Yes, I was a lesbian. That’s what everyone said I was, right? Maybe, I was the one that was wrong.
Around this time in my life, other things started to take root. I became incredibly ill and was almost completely withdrawn from the rest of my high school experience. Not only did I have a nonexistent sex drive, but I barely made it to senior prom. No girl, or guy, was asking me on a date anytime soon. I felt ugly and unlovable compared to my pretty, blonde high school friends. Whenever dances came around, I watched as the other girls were asked out on dates in cute and creative ways while all I got was chemotherapy and an appointment with my rheumatologist. For the next three years, whenever someone asked me about my sexuality, I said that I was a lesbian, knowing that I might not ever have to deal with it. It wouldn’t matter what my sexuality was if I died.
Until, one day, I started to get better. The day before I graduated high school, my life changed when I was given a drug that started to suppress my diseases. I spent the rest of the summer building myself back up, never even thinking about my sexuality until I got to college in the fall. The day before I left, my therapist told me that she hoped I would be able to explore my sexuality in college. I completely blew her off. I didn’t want to think about it.
It didn’t take very long for that the backfire, starting with an unexpected attraction to a boy that took me completely off guard. He was a close friend from high school, my best friend since junior year, who had been with me through everything. When I realized that I had lingering feelings for him, I immediately came clean over text message. I remember sitting in the common room of my dormitory, surrounded by my friends, with my head in my hands.
“I like a guy?” I said stunned, “What happened?”
“It is fine, you know.” One of the other girls patted me on the back, “You are allowed to like men. It’s not a sin.”
Over the next couple of weeks, I started to stumble around with the word ‘lesbian’ and slowly let it fade from my vocabulary. I had been so sure about my sexuality for so long that yanking my “lesbian flag” out of the ground was more difficult than I thought it would be. I stopped labeling myself to other people, and if someone asked what I identified as I told them that I was “leaving it open.”
Fortunately for my friendship with my best friend, I also decided to let that incident go and thankfully so did he. When I saw him over winter break he didn’t even bring it up. A couple of months later, when I asked him about it, he said that he’d always known that I liked men too.
“You’ve always clearly been attracted to guys, “he said. “I kind of thought you would come clean about it after a couple of years of college. You’re pretty stubborn though.”
He was right, of course. It just happened sooner than he thought it would.
After that, I decided to turn to my campus Pride organization for support. At first, I had a moment of panic. What if I wasn’t actually gay at all? What if this was “straight panic?” Would they all think I was lying about my sexual orientation? It didn’t take long for me to realize this wasn’t going to be the case. For the first time, I was around people who were really educated about the LGBTQ community and saw sexuality on more of a spectrum. Within a month, most of my friends were LGBTQ, and the more I spoke about what I had experienced, I realized that my confusion was okay. Amongst these people, sexuality came in all shapes and sizes, and while most of the group was LGBTQ identifying, a lot of allies of the community came too.
“No one is one hundred percent anything,” a friend told me one night at a meeting. “Except human, of course. Or, at least, I hope so.”
In a lot of ways, the LGBTQ movement has made amazing advances. However, just like everything else, people often try to simplify human sexuality into basic terms. Black or white. Straight or gay. Male or female. Looking back, I understand why this happened. The simpler a concept, the easier it is to sell to the general public. In 2014, getting people on board with basic “same sex marriage” was more important than ironing out all of the specific details of sexuality— because there are a lot of them. Currently, this is happening with the transgender community. The “bathroom” discussion often leaves out non-binary people or assumes that all transgender people have or will make a full transition to the opposite gender, forgetting that a lot of people fall somewhere in the middle. In the future, as the movement continues, more in-depth details of sexuality and gender will become more accepted in public as people are educated. Thinking that asexual, pansexual, or even bisexual people are nonexistent will become a thing of the past as visibility is increased.
In cases like mine, visibility can have a real life impact. Putting all sexuality in black and white terms can be harmful, especially for young people. Pushing a person in the “gay corner” is just as stressful as being pushed to be “straight,” because you’re leaving a part of yourself behind. For me, maybe gender has a lot less to do with my love life than I thought. That’s okay.
Accepting one part of myself doesn’t mean that I have to give the other one up. It also doesn’t make me “less” LGBT. The movement is based on love in a broad sense ― no matter how complicated people might make it to label or understand. The simple version is love who you love, and if it’s meant to be, then they’ll understand.
As for my family and friends, breaking the news has been a mixed bag. Honestly, most of them don’t know yet. I also had to have a conversation with my doctor about birth control, because getting pregnant was something that I never needed to worry about before. My disease makes that kind of complicated, but I don’t really mind. Overall, I’m happy with the way things have turned out. Right now, I’m dating a guy, but that could change. The person matters more than gender. Recently, when I told a close friend that I was dating a guy, her response was understandable.
“You’re dating a boy?” She gasped, “What happened?”
“Nothing happened,” I replied. “I just found myself in the middle.”
Find this Article Here: On the Huffington Post