Sunday, November 13, 2016

In the woods I am wild (poem) by Cassie Kinney

In the woods I am wild
Standing naked on a stump
I am the tree and branches
With outstretched arms.

Walking in the hills
I am a briar hopper
I am a ridge runner
I am honeysuckler.

From the backwards backwoods
I hold a basket of foraged goods
Of chanterelles and blackberries
Like I am the woods' beneficiaries.

My nature is intact--
I have never strayed from her.
I have disobeyed structure,
But adhered to the wind song.

The wind is me too,
Traveling much farther
To a land or crevice
I may never see.

From sea to shining sea
I am the goddamn tis of thee,
I am peace, love, & uncertainty,
I am here to be one with me.

If the federal minimum wage had kept pace with the rise in executive salaries since 1990, America’s poorest paid workers would be making more than $23 an hour. -Lamanna, Riedmann, & Stewart

Monday, November 7, 2016

Patriarchy has no gender...and instead of there being less violence, now more women do violence -bell hooks

Never underestimate images and words of strength, compassion, peace, and justice because they can influence the masses just as the words of war have dominated our language.

Images deeply impact our emotional, political, and physical selves. When I see a strong, articulate, female leader that is smart, funny, and full of joy--I think to myself: I can achieve that too. When I was younger and first saw paintings by Frida Kahlo, I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be able to express my pain in paintings. What I came to realize is that paintings contain the pain of the artist in their work. And certainly Frida and Van Gogh, to name a few of my favorite artists, painted behind their pain. I use painting very differently, but my therapy is words. I have felt many years trapped in silence, but recently, I have found it necessary to speak my truth and story through writings, and poems. I have found my inspiration in other writers, and particularly feminist writers, critical thinkers, and story tellers. So, never underestimate images and words of strength, compassion, peace, and justice because they can influence the masses just as the words of war have dominated our language.

HE who shall not be named (2016 election) -Cassie Kinney

His net worth is estimated at 3.70 billion dollars. His name is on casinos, hotels, golf courses, international realty, "university", steaks, a television show, you name it. He wants his name to be a brand. He wants his name in locations he never dreamed, and he got what he wanted. In fact, his name is on little signs of the yards of the poorest of folks in rural Kentucky. As I go down the road a couple of miles, I count four signs (and one large sign) with his name displayed. Signs with his name reach across the poorest counties in the United States. It invokes a negative energy in me that wants to buy a gun, and shoot these signs for what they symbolize. I hate his name and what it represents. The name is synonymous with outdoing, overshadowing, overruling, overriding, and surpassing people.
He is not just someone who aims to squelch the marginalized. Not only does this He-who-shall-not-be-named act against his party and people, use people of color like props in his world, and insight violence among people of color--but he is the disgraceful and frightening reminder that women are objects in his world. He reminds me of the moments I was held down, touched, kissed, fondled without permission. I once forgot these moments because I blocked them out. I said to myself I asked for it. I repeated the rhetoric that rapists and their sympathizers use to justify treating women like their cars, houses, and boats.
I do not worry that he will become President, but I worry that his supporters dismiss his claims that he would have sex with his daughter, dismiss footage of him touching and kissing women without permission, because this is the rape culture we live in. I do not suggest that rape is on the rise, but I worry that we do not take rape culture seriously. With that being said, we are having this conversation in America today. Yet, haven't we been through this before? What about the other men in the public eye who are accused of rape and unwanted touching? It seems we have forgotten about those men.

But I do not forget the names of men or the faces of strange men that instigated me in their life. Earlier this year: I was collecting my brother's medical supplies from the FedEx delivery man, and he reinforced domination over me by holding my hand as I signed my name to receive the package. I remember his fat body, red skin, swollen eyed and crooked smile. Another moment earlier this year, a male nursing home resident groped my breast and another insisted on talking about sex and wanting me to go to his room to fornicate and occasionally asked for a hug. Another less-than-gentleman group of boys in a large truck, drove by me waving as I waited for my ride at an empty bus stop, and when I didn't wave back, a man yelled out the window to me: "ASSHOLE!" Also earlier this year, I was learning restraining moves in a class, and one man in my group lifted me up off the ground and suspended me in the air for the class to laugh at me hanging in his arms. And all of these stories are from this year alone! Other stories in my past are far more disturbing and could have been life threatening moments.
Those moments remind me that I am only taught to silence myself; and not taught to call out these men. And He-shall-not-be-named silenced many women in the moments he sexually assaulted them. He-who-shall-not-be-named silences women because they are dominated by what he symbolizes: and that is the white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy.
So when I see these signs with his name on them in my community, I think to myself that these people are either blinded by the white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy, or blinded by his false promises to help other benefit from the same conditions that provided him with privileges.