Please Make the List

hurricane harveyToday I saw a Facebook post from a friend who shared the idea of having those affected by the hurricane and flood make a gift registry or Amazon wishlist to let people know what they needed. The immediate response from many of those in need was, “I feel selfish making a list of things I want people to buy for me.” I responded on the thread, but it was important enough to me that I wanted to make a separate post to just say this: Please make the list.

Y’all, I’ve been there. I’m a single mom of 5. My ex-husband went to prison when I had a newborn, 1 year old twins, a 2 year old, and an 8 year old, and at the time I was a stay at home mom with no source of income, a mortgage, a car payment, and tons of other bills – all in my name – to pay. I lost everything and had to move back home with my mom. My car wasn’t big enough to fit all of my children inside, so I was basically homebound for the first several months until my stepdad traded in my beloved Ford Edge for a minivan and financed the difference between the two. Please believe me when I say that I know what it feels like to need things and to HATE with every fiber of your being that you cannot provide those things for your family on your own. I learned – and continue to learn – a hard, hard lesson that feels counterintuitive, but is actually true, and that is that interdependence is greater than independence. This is important, y’all. I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again: interdependence is greater than independence.

Independence is awesome. Being able to provide everything you need for yourself is ideal. But, the truth is, we were never meant to do it all on our own. We’ve always been designed to be social animals, to interact with each other, and to depend upon each other. One of the most beautiful things you can give someone else is your vulnerability. Vulnerability is the glue that binds us to each other and turns acquaintances into friendships. And it takes a lot of vulnerability to put an actual list of things you cannot provide for yourself out there and ask for help.

I’ve had a rough few years. Caring for 5 young children on my own has been the hardest challenge of my life. There have been times when I’ve wondered if I might *actually* die from the stress and physical and emotional exhaustion I experienced. I have a little Facebook group that is filled with my very best friends, and at one point when I was having a particularly difficult time, my friends basically staged an intervention. They stepped in and said, “we need you to make an Amazon wishlist and fill it with things that you need in order to function.” I didn’t want to do it. I balked at it and then felt guilty for putting things on the list that I needed. I didn’t make the list public. But, then my very wise friend put out a call in our little Facebook group asking for everyone to post their Amazon wishlists “just in case,” so that if someone was having a hard time, we could go to the list and easily grab them a little something that we knew they wanted/needed, and send it to let them know we were thinking about them. I knew everyone else was posting their list just so that I wouldn’t feel like the group’s BHON (Black Hole of Need), but their willingness to be vulnerable with me allowed me to feel ok about being vulnerable with them.

I posted the list.

I will be forever grateful that I did, and that my friends answered my unvoiced call for help by asking me to post that list. My friends saved me when I needed them, and if you are one of those who is suffering as a result of Hurricane Harvey, you deserve friends like mine to help you through this. Here in Texas, I’ve realized that there are friends everywhere that maybe you don’t even know. Because here’s the thing: people want to help. They want to help YOU…not just to throw money at the general problem, but to help specific people in tangible, meaningful ways. It feels good to know that your contribution is going TO someone specific and fills a need they actually have. I know how uncomfortable it is to put that list out there in public, knowing that people may judge you for it. BUT, I also know what it feels like to be vulnerable and accept the help that is offered. It was a lesson I needed to learn – that in some seasons of our lives we will be blessed with abundance and will be able to bless the lives of others through giving; in other seasons, it will be our turn to receive gifts and allow others the blessings that come from giving. Don’t deny others the blessing of being the giver just because it’s not your turn. Remember that interdependence is greater than independence. Vulnerability creates connection. You’ll have your chance to pay it forward. But, today, please make the list.

“Can I Say the N-Word?”

The first time I remember being referred to as a “n**ger” is permanently etched in my mind.  It happened in 1968.  I was eleven years old and in the 7th grade.  There were only a few black students (all female, but that is another story for another day) attending the “white school.”  My classmates and I were standing in the lunchroom line. A white girl (let’s call her Missy Anne) took note of the fact that she and a white boy were standing in between me and the only other black girl in our class.  She then said to the white boy who was standing beside her:  “Look at us, standing ‘tween two n**gers.” Continue reading

Remembering April 4, 1968

I was ten years when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

I remember the night so vividly.  My mother and stepfather had gone to a meeting and my younger brother and I were watching television.  It was an episode of “Bewitched” and we were eagerly watching to see how Samantha would, with a combination of charm and magic, extricate herself from another sticky situation.

Suddenly, the episode was interrupted with one of those “Breaking News/News Flash” type of announcements and the newscaster reported that Dr. King had been shot.

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Desegregation and Allyship – A Personal History

When the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision was handed down in 1954, most white people and school systems in the South viewed the notion of white and black students attending school together as nothing short of the apocalypse.   In 1955, when Brown II said that desegregation had to occur “with all deliberate speed,” southern school districts took that language to mean that they could use all sorts of tactics to delay compliance.  Even the use of federal marshals or the National Guard to protect black students seeking to enroll in “white schools” did not convince the majority of southern school districts to desegregate the public schools.

With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the filing of additional school desegregation cases by the federal government, many southern school districts grudgingly began to realize that doing nothing with respect to desegregation was no longer an option. My county, Meriwether County, Georgia (the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Little White House) decided on a two-pronged response.

First, as was being done in so many counties in the South, the white parents decided to create a private school for their children.  In the fall of 1967, Flint River Academy opened in Woodbury, Meriwether County, Georgia.   The official dedication was done by none other than the Governor of the State of Georgia, Lester Maddox, who, prior to becoming Governor, had achieved hero status among segregationists when he and his supporters wielded ax handles as they turned away three black students who were seeking to be seated and served in his restaurant.  In fact, that episode was largely responsible for the launching of his political career.

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FEMWOC Stands with BYU Rape Survivor

At FEMWOC we have followed the stories of various brave women as they spoke out about their experiences with sexual assault and rape at Brigham Young University. We were encouraged by the early actions taken by the university as these stories came to light. However, recent disturbing events negate some of the earlier progress made. Please read the words of Colleen Payne Dietz and support BYU Rape Survivor as they fight this new obstacle to justice.

From Colleen Payne Dietz:
This last summer, we as BYU Rape Survivor banded together in an effort to urge BYU to revise the way they handle victims of rape and sexual assault on their campus. Following much coverage by the media, BYU commissioned an Advisory Council that provided BYU with a report in October of last year. Last Friday, BYU announced the hiring of a new Title IX coordinator and a brand new position hire of Victim Advocate. Together, a group of strong survivors and I drafted a response to BYU’s decision to hire internally for the positions of Title IX Coordinator and Victim Advocate. This decision reflects a gross failure on the part of BYU to commit to and act in a way to bring about change in the way BYU handles rape and sexual assault. We feel it does nothing but reinforce a systemic error in collective thinking at BYU. We are outraged.

As recently as May of last year, Tiffany Turley (newly appointed Title IX Coordinator) was against an Amnesty Clause, or an immunity for victims of rape and sexual assault to be pursued for circumstances surrounding the attack. This demonstrates to us that she will not be loyal to victims. This is an egregious failure. The “chilling effect” that BYU needs to overcome will only be perpetuated by appointing an individual who believes in this way. Victims will continue to fear punishment at the hands of the Tile IX office.

Many of us in the BYU Survivor community, when we turned to BYU for help, were shamed, threatened and absolutely wounded by the treatment we received. By simply moving around existing personnel within an already offensive organization, BYU has shown they have not understood the true spirit outlined in the Advisory Council Report that they committed to follow.

Please, hear our outrage! Feel our pain! We need your support as we continue to fight for a safer place for our sisters and brothers at BYU.

To view the Salt Lake Tribune article about this travesty, please click here.

I’m Gonna Call Out Your Christianity

This post by our own Dr. Fatimah Salleh, a woman called and anointed by God and who speaks truth and power, was originally posted at feministmormonhousewives.org on November 10, 2016.  Its message is so compelling that we felt we need to share it here, as well.

As I sit here and reel from the recent results of our election, I find myself heartbroken, scared and infuriated—nothing new to this brown American woman.

What baffles me the most is how, just how, many of my Christian brothers and sisters voted for Donald Trump. So, naturally my mind and heart try to make sense of how a people who claim to love their neighbors vote for a man who instills hate.

Why is it that white American Christians fail to grasp the deep disconnect between their political leanings and the teachings of Jesus Christ?

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When Being An Ally Means Being Quiet

This piece is a guest post by Shannon Hall-Bulzone.  It was originally posted in BuzzFeed Community: 

Learning to be silent is crucial if you want marginalized groups to consider you an ally.

“I can’t wait until Trump gets rid of you fucking faggots.”

These words were hurled at a close friend as she walked into a bathroom at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. Ten days after the election there has been no shortage of bigotry fueled attacks by those Hillary described as the “basket of deplorables.”

Well, they’re speaking up and making it known those of us who are not cis straight white men or women are unwelcome. Minorities are largely fearful, angry, and unsure if and when they’ll be on the receiving end of these attacks.

It was with these attacks in mind that I created a thread intended to be a space for people of color to heal, share their stories without intrusion, and to feel validation in a world that normalizes racism and intolerance. I shared my friend’s story and stated – “Don’t comment on this thread if you’re white. I’m sorry. I don’t want to hear your solidarity, your regret, or your apology. Too little too late, get your people and go to work – save the kind words for now because they’re empty when we are being targeted. Words and safety pins don’t fix a damn thing.

The exclusion of my white friends from this thread was inevitably ignored, and that is a problem.

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