Can You Please Wait A Damn Second Before Calling 911

charles kinsey

I’m sure you’ve seen the latest incidence of unnecessary police brutality – a black healthcare professional named Charles Kinsey who was shot while on the ground with his hands up as he desperately tried to calm his autistic patient. I hope you’re outraged and appalled. And I hope you’re tired of the violence. I am.

I’m not black, but I am a brown mother of brown boys who will grow up to be brown men, and I need you to hear me when I say that I fear for their lives, not because I expect them to do something wrong that will lead to a confrontation with the police, but because I fear that you – you being someone in the general public – will perceive them as a threat where no threat exists, and will call 911 for absolutely no damn reason. If you are reading this and are thinking to yourself, “Of course I would call 911 if there was cause for alarm!” then I am talking to you. Please don’t. At least not until you truly assess the situation. Continue reading

Rebuking the Spirt of Fear

spirit of fear(A picture of a  white dove against a bright blue sky, with white clouds and a slight rainbow with the words:  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV))

Several years ago, I accompanied my youngest daughter, who was then in undergraduate school, on a trip to Cherokee, North Carolina.  By the time we arrived back at her school, it was already getting dark.  She suggested that I stay with her or that I stay with my oldest daughter who lived about an hour away.  I insisted that I needed to head to my mother’s house, which was about two and a half hours away on some rather dark, long country roads.

About halfway through my journey, at one of the darkest and most lonely spots, I had a blowout.  I was able to safely stir the car to the side of the road.  However, despite the fact that I had four (count them) phones with four (count them again) different carriers, I was unable to call either AAA for assistance or my mother to let her know what had happened.  Since I was not sure of my ability to change a tire and it was very, very dark, I felt I had no choice but to drive (on my flat tire) back towards the nearest town.

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What Can I Do: A Heartbreaking Repost

I wrote a post called “What Can I Do” exactly one year ago tomorrow in response to a tragic mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. I am heartbroken that almost exactly a year later, it is necessary to repost this, changing just a few words, in response to yet another tragic mass shooting, this time at Club Pulse in Orlando, FL. I look at these two events happening less than a year apart, and I am horrified, HORRIFIED as an American, as a person of color, as a citizen of the world that this is happening. Sending love to the Orlando victims, those who love them, the LGBTQ and Latinx communities, and also remembering the lives lost at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC and mourning with my black brothers and sisters as the anniversary of that tragic event approaches. Come on, America. We’ve got to do better. Modified repost as follows:


When I woke up to the horrific news of the tragedy at Club Pulse in Orlando, I immediately thought of many of my dear friends in the LGBTQ and Latinx communities, and wondered how they were faring. As I texted and messaged my friends individually to check in, I found that the overwhelming emotions are, as expected, sadness and anger. And I thought to myself, “What can I do? How can I make their burden lighter?” Continue reading

A Few Hard Truths …

As we are assigning blame for the massacre of our LGBTQIA siblings in Orlando, let us not forget to look at ourselves.

If any of us has ever done any of these things —

  1. Remained quiet when someone (including a member of our churches) made the comment that “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve;”
  2. Laughed nervously at jokes about the LGBTQIA community because we wanted to continue to do business with or interact with the person telling the joke;
  3. Used phrases or words like “sugar in his britches,” “he/she,” “lesbo,” or “fa**ot” to describe members of the LGBTQIA community OR allowed those phrases or words to be used in our presence  —

Then we have contributed to the ignorance and “othering” of homophobia.

We need to stop. We need to speak out. We need to do better.

Walking With Giants

I had an opportunity in April, thanks to my good friend, Lizzie, to be at the screening of the film, Beauty In Truth . A biographical film about Alice Walker. one of the United States’ preeminent writers, it became one of those frozen-in-time, life altering, moments. Alice Walker is an “award-winning author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, Walker became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award.”

Lizzie and I inched our way into the theater and past 5 people to our seats, as we finally sat down, she leaned over to me and rather breathlessly, exclaimed she almost tripped over Alice Walker’s feet! “What? Where?”, my friend points to the seat just across the aisle and one row up from ours to the front. There, rather ingloriously, sat Alice Walker. Lizzie was very sure we should just go over and introduce ourselves, I was overcome with a reluctance to make my way past 5 people’s feet again. But, Lizzie pointed out the time wouldn’t get any better, since Ms. Walker wasn’t currently mobbed. We inched our way past everyone’s feet (again) and I approached Ms. Walker and introduced myself.

I was very overcome with fangirl feelings, so I won’t promise what I said is in the correct order. I managed to thank her for her work and her strength. I told her I come from a family of strong women and listed some of their incredible accomplishments. My mother, lawyer, Judge, Attorney General for our tribe. My sister, Director of White Buffalo Calf Woman Society.  We are strong, we are making changes.

I looked into her eyes, and said, with all my heart, “we rise”. She looked steadily back at me and said, “we stand”. In that moment, my heart soared.

We Stand

Lizzie and I watched the biography of Alice Walker, Beauty in Truth. It was truly inspiring. Born into poverty, she rose above it and pervasive racial oppression. Her words, “People really had a problem with my disinterest in submission, and they had a problem with my intellect, and they had a problem with my choice of lovers, and they had a problem with my choice of everything.” She has refused to be silenced, by the establishment, by the white run, male dominated society, by her own people and by her circumstances, no matter how difficult.

The movie showed scenes of violence against the black people during the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. My heart was torn in two, not just for people on the screen, but for my own people, the Native people, who have been subjected to genocide and violence at the hands and words of the invaders of our lands. So much of what was shown, was so familiar. The poverty, violence inside and outside our communities, and most of all, the strength. The power of the people to rise above what was shoved on top of them, to move it aside and rise. Most of all, to rise and STAND.

I was utterly struck during the movie at the similarities between Alice Walker and my very own mother. My mother, who has overcome poverty, violence, and pervasive racial oppression to rise and stand. To claim her people’s worth and her own. To refuse to pretend nothing bad happened, to be able to say it did, and then to say, I used it to rise. I will claim what you say, I do not deserve. I refuse your shackles, I refuse your vision of me. She will not be held down. She will use her voice for those who can not speak up. She will protect the defenseless.

How blessed I am. My mother rose, and she held her hand out to me, and told me I could be anything I wanted, and that she believes in me. I stand with her. My own accomplishments are not as flashy as Ms. Walker’s or my mother’s or sister’s. But they are mine. Advocate and activist for Native American children in foster care. College graduate, midwife for 20 years, foster and adoptive parent. Wife and mother I say, with pride. I chose to be those things. I was not forced into them and I do not regret those choices. I STAND.

And you? I see you. I see you standing there, thinking what you did, and what you are doing isn’t much, isn’t important. Do not believe the lies. I see you, single mother, doing it all, feeling inadequate at times. You, who do not fit the mold and feel unworthy because you don’t look and act like those around you. You, who let go of the fetters of belief and the weight of expectation and did what you believed to be the right thing. We all struggle with self doubt and discouragement. We all wonder if we have the strength to go on another day, or even one more step. You perhaps do not realize how amazing you are, and what a great job you are doing against all odds. You STAND.

Realize, where ever you are, what ever you are doing. There is no act that is small. The lost child you comforted and helped. The little girl you whispered to as you combed her hair, “what do you want to be when you grown up? You can do and be anything.” The pots of soup you shared, the kind words you spoke. The anger at injustice, the determination after the tears, the fury in face of discrimination. Every single time you spoke up, for yourself or for someone else. What you do, who you are matters. Where ever you are in your journey. You STAND and I am proud to stand with you.

Why My Voice Should Count For More Than One Vote

Black and white hand drawn comic with 12 men and one woman sitting around a table. All of the men are looking at the woman. Text reads, "Well, you're the only one who thinks we're a sexist organisation."

This comic has appeared in my newsfeed several times in the last week. It captures what many of us feel when we are the minority in any given situation. It captures the overwhelming feeling of loneliness when faced with the contrast of your difference. It captures why I don’t want a seat at the table.

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Overcoming the Election Year Blues

I voted in my first presidential election in 1976. I  proudly cast my vote for Jimmy Carter for President.  I have voted in EVERY election (in which I was eligible to vote) since that time.  I have taken taxicabs and public transportation to my polling place; I have begged and cajoled friends and relatives to take me to my polling place; I have driven through blinding rain and other inclement weather to get to my polling place; and I have stood in very long lines to cast my vote (even when I had to wear a back brace to do so).

I have enthusiastically supported my favorite candidates with donations to their campaigns — with their bumper stickers on my car — with their yard signs in my yard — with their T-shirts as part of my wardrobe. (In the 2008 and 2012 elections, there were so many bumper stickers on my car that my friends (and a few frenemies) referred to it as the “Obamamobile.”

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