bookmark_border“You are standing on Native land”

This picture, seen on social media, angers me.

It angers me that some organization or company or government entity (I’m not sure exactly who is responsible) made the decision to create a sign like this.

All my life, I’ve been told that I do everything wrong. That everything about me is wrong and bad. That I wear the wrong clothes, the wrong shoes, the wrong socks. That I read the wrong books, listen to the wrong music, watch the wrong shows. That I hold my pencil the wrong way, play with my toys the wrong way, wash my hair the wrong way, wash my face the wrong way, floss my teeth the wrong way. That I stand wrong, sit wrong, speak wrong, use words wrong.

And now I am being told that I have the wrong skin color and the wrong ancestry. After a lifetime of being told that everything about me is wrong and bad, I am now being told that I don’t deserve to exist in the city of Boston, due to the color of my skin and the fact that my ancestors came from Europe. Due to things about me that I have absolutely no control over.

All my life, I’ve suppressed my autistic self in order to fit in with neurotypical people. And now I am being told that because I happen to have European ancestry, I need to grovel at the feet of indigenous people in order to be allowed to exist. That because of where my ancestors came from, I don’t have a right to exist in the only city that I have ever called home.

All my life, I’ve been told that I need to apologize for everything about myself. And now I am being told that because of my skin color and my ancestry, I need to apologize for my very existence.

All my life, I’ve been made to feel wrong, worthless, bad, and messed-up. It is angering and demoralizing that someone would create a sign designed to make me feel even more this way.

I’m sick and tired of having to apologize for my existence. A native person is not superior to me. I have just as much of a right to exist in Boston as anyone else does.

bookmark_borderExcruciating pain

It figures that less than 24 hours after making a post about my (very slow and very gradual) healing from the destruction of everything that makes my life worth living, the horrific pain would attack again.

This time in the form of two vile and disgusting excuses for human beings, one named Trever Shields, and the other named Harold Carrender.

“Fuck the confederacy,” wrote one of these mindless lumps of flesh and bone.

“What is this? The inbred trash buttfuckers Brigade? Fuck everyone of you traitors!!!!!” wrote the other.

My entire body, my entire mind, my entire soul eviscerated. Shattered into a million pieces.

Screaming and screaming at the top of my lungs.

Howling and howling, desperate for someone to do something to fix it. To stop the pain. Unbearable and excruciating pain. There are no words that can adequately describe it.

Suicide. The only option. The only way to stop the excruciating pain.

The pain of the knife slicing through my wrist, in hopes of finding an artery, would be nothing compared to the pain of seeing these hideous comments, these hideous laughing face emojis.

Because nothing that I do matters, and nothing that I say matters. Nothing that I can do will cause these people to be punished. Nothing will make them feel the same anguish that I feel. Nothing will make the hideous comments, the hideous laughing face emojis, go away. They are burned indelibly into my brain, tormenting me as I go through each day, tormenting me while I lie in bed futilely attempting to sleep, and when I finally fall asleep at 3:00 in the morning, tormenting me in my dreams. No explanation that I could possibly give would be enough to teach these people the truth, to make them understand what I am going through, to make them realize that they are wrong, to make them apologize. 

One tiny thing that actually made me feel happy, made me feel excited, made me feel that there was something to look forward to… ruined. Destroyed. Contaminated with their vile comments and laughing face emojis. 

Enough already. I am so, so tired. This is not how this weekend was supposed to go. I was feeling better, I was healing. I was able to see patriotic decorations and hear patriotic music without being in pain. Over the past few days I had visited and photographed various monuments in my town, decorated for Memorial Day, and was planning to make an upbeat post with the photos. I happily looked up the schedule for the Memorial Day parade, and a dedication ceremony for new statues in the cemetery, and was planning to attend these events. I am starting a new job on Tuesday and was looking forward to using this weekend to relax, enjoy myself, and get a few tasks done around the house so that I could go into my new job feeling organized and well-rested. 

Now, I just don’t know. Whether I am going to attend the Memorial Day events, whether I am going to make a post, whether I will be able to go through with the two art festivals and a storytelling event that I signed up for, whether I am going to be able to start my job, whether I am going to be able to continue existing. 

I hope that all of Trever’s family and friends, and all of Harold’s family and friends, are slowly tortured to death as they are forced to watch. I hope that the images of their loved ones being dismembered, and the sounds of their loved ones’ screams, play over and over in their brains (if they even have brains, which is difficult to believe) forever. Then maybe, just maybe Trever and Harold will experience a teeny, tiny fraction of the pain that they have caused me to experience.

The events described in this post happened last night, and I composed the post this morning. Obviously, I did not commit suicide. And today I am feeling slightly better. But that was brutal. These comments and reactions are completely unacceptable. I am exhausted. Yet I will keep fighting, until I can’t anymore.

bookmark_borderThree years

This weekend marks the three-year anniversary of what I often characterize as the destruction of everything that makes my life worth living.

The past three years have been filled with anguish, grief, rage, and excruciating pain so extreme that the pre-2020 version of myself not only had never experienced such pain before, but would never have believed such pain was even possible.

My pain is something that most people do not understand. People do not get why someone would be this upset about the fact that statues were taken down. They don’t get why metal and stone sculptures are what I focus on, rather than real people who have lost their lives. I have been called a psychopath, a terrible person, gross, disgusting, self-centered, lacking in empathy, racist. People do not understand why statues of Christopher Columbus, Confederate generals, and other controversial historical figures are so important to me that I feel that life is no longer worth living without them.

But this is exactly how I feel, as incomprehensible as it may be to others. This is who I am. If it makes me a terrible person, so be it. My love of statues and historical figures is a part of me, just as a person’s gender identity, race, religion, and sexual orientation are a part of them.

For approximately the first two and a half years, I felt essentially no happiness whatsoever. (A few possible exceptions: the 2021 Columbus Day ceremony, finding out about the possibility of getting my very own Stonewall Jackson statue, and receiving updates on the progress of the statue.) My emotional state ranged from unbearable, indescribable pain at worst, to neutral at best. In other words, in addition to being filled with horrific pain, my world was also completely devoid of beauty and joy. For this entire time, I seriously considered the possibility of committing suicide. Logically, it was the most sensible option. Why, after all, would a person choose to continue living when everything that makes their life worth living has been destroyed? When there is no reason to expect the future to consist of anything other than a mixture of excruciating pain and feeling just okay? Yet some combination of cowardice and faint hope, as irrational as it seemed, held me back from doing so.

I hesitate to write this for fear of jinxing it, but over the past six months I feel that I have very slowly begun to heal.

For example, one effect of the genocide is that I hate America, because this is the country where the genocide took place, the country whose people committed the genocide, the country that allowed the genocide to happen. American flags, patriotic songs, and red, white, and blue decorations, all of which I used to love, have turned into a source of heartbreak. But this past week, when I visited my grandma at her retirement home, the entire place was decked out in flags and star-spangled decorations, and patriotic country songs blared in the dining room. Somehow, instead of making me feel like a knife was twisting in my stomach, they made me smile.

Healing is not linear. There have certainly been instances of excruciating pain in the past six months, and I am certain there will be more in my future. But overall, they seem slightly less severe, and they seem not to last as long.

The past three years have changed me.

In addition to the anniversary of the most horrific series of events that has ever taken place, this week was also my 34th birthday. I am the same little girl who adored history and art, who never fit in, who was excluded and bullied, who loved historical figures more profoundly than any friend or family member. I am the same, but different. I will always have an imaginary world, in which historical figures live alongside completely imaginary people and creatures, talking, interacting, and having adventures. But now, in addition to that, I have brought a historical figure into the world. Or at least, a beautiful, shiny bronze body for a historical figure’s soul to reside in. A second one will be arriving either late this year, or next year. Instead of doing whatever society expected of me, and escaping to my imaginary world in my spare time, I am making changes, in various ways, to bring my real life more in line with my wishes, preferences, and needs. Although most people don’t understand my pain, and although I am not a very social person, I have made meaningful connections with people who share my views. I am taking action to bring my imaginary world into the real one.

So in addition to inflicting anguish, grief, rage, and excruciating pain, the past three years have made me into a more genuine, authentic, outspoken, courageous, wise, introspective, and self-aware person.

Our society decided to destroy everything that makes my life worth living. But I made a new thing that makes my life worth living, where one didn’t exist before. I had to use my own funds and my own land to do so, because our society decided that the things that make my life worth living aren’t allowed to receive public funds or be located on public land. But I did it anyway. And I’m kind of proud of that.

bookmark_border“Basic white girls”

“Basic white girls.”

A little while ago, I watched a YouTube video in which the speaker casually used this term. It was a video about the two newest American Girl dolls, Nicki and Isabel, who are twins from the 1990s. The YouTuber stated that she is not a fan of the twins overall, but praised the fact that American Girl decided to make the sisters half Jewish, so that at least they are not just “basic white girls.”

The more I thought about it, the more this flippant, offhand comment bothered me. 

Why are white girls considered “basic”? Why are white people considered more “basic” than black people or Asian people or Hispanic people or indigenous people? What exactly is it about light skin that makes a person “basic,” while people with darker skin tones are not classified that way? 

To label white girls as “basic” is racist. 

People come in a wide range of skin colors, from dark to light. All skin colors are equal. People with light skin are not “basic,” any more than people with dark skin are.

People come with a wide range of eye colors, hair colors, hair textures, and hair lengths. Nicki happens to have long, brown hair and blue eyes, while Isabel has medium length blond hair and green eyes. These attributes do not make them “basic,” any more than a doll with dark skin, dark brown eyes, and black hair would be “basic.”

There is also the attitude that the only characteristic saving Nicki and Isabel from being completely “basic” is their Jewish ancestry. This, of course, implies that Christian people are “basic.” Therefore, this comment reeks not only of racism but of religious prejudice as well. 

People – both fictional and real – have all different personality traits, backgrounds, life experiences, abilities/disabilities, hobbies, interests, preferences, and views. People have different stories, different struggles, different obstacles to overcome. Yet our society has seemingly decided that some attributes make a person “interesting” and deserving of having their story told, while other attributes make a person boring and “basic.”

Honestly, comments like these hurt. I am tired of seeing and hearing comments like this being thrown around so flippantly and casually, as if they are nothing. Comments like this are not nothing. They are racist. The fact that it is so common for these types of comments to be casually tossed about, and so rare to see them called out as the bigotry that they are, demonstrates the systemic, anti-white racism that pervades our society.

Nicki and Isabel are white girls. But they are not “basic,” and neither am I. 

bookmark_borderGreen and gold

Golden light
Slanting through the branches;
Dry pinecones crunch underfoot.
Green leaves
Form a canopy over the bronze statue,
Glinting softly in the sun’s rays.
A wall of stones
Encloses his domain.
Ivy coats the trees,
Blades of grass spring up,
And little plants sprout from the ground
To form a lush, green carpet by his feet.
Birds’ chirps ring out
Through the still-warm air
As squirrels scurry,
Causing leaves to rustle
Beneath tiny paws.
In the distance a dog barks;
Cars zoom past,
Their drivers eagerly fleeing work.
The aroma of steak wafts
From a nearby grill.
Sunset will soon descend,
The world of green and gold
Gradually turning dark.

bookmark_borderThe ridiculous reaction to an act of self-defense

“It’s insane that Walgreens has armed security; there’s nothing in that store worth a human life, and Walgreens is not taking care of our community. We demand an end to armed security.”

These are the words of an activist named Jessica Nowlan, from an organization called the Young Women’s Freedom Center (source: Yahoo News). These words came in response to the death of Banko Brown, who was killed by a security guard while attempting to shoplift from a Walgreens in San Francisco. Because Brown happened to be black and transgender, the worshippers of political correctness predictably erupted in outrage, calling Walgreens and its security guard racist and transphobic.

Nowlan’s reasoning does not make sense from a moral point of view, for reasons that I will explain below:

First, all people have a fundamental right to possess whichever type of weapons they want, whether they are a security guard or not, and whether they are on the job or on their own personal time. Therefore, to demand an end to armed security violates the right of security guards to bear arms.

Second, I don’t really understand the criticism of Walgreens for “not taking care of our community.” Walgreens is not obligated to take care of any community. Walgreens is a business, and its job is to sell products. As long as Walgreens is not violating anyone’s rights, it is not doing anything wrong.

And Walgreens did not violate anyone’s rights in this case. Obviously, in normal circumstances, people have a right not to be killed. But that all goes out the window if a person is doing something wrong. By stealing things, Brown was violating Walgreens’ rights. And when you violate someone else’s rights, you forfeit your own. Neither Walgreens nor its security guard did anything wrong by defending their own rights against someone who was trying to violate them.

This brings me to my most important point, which is to address Nowlan’s claim that it is “insane” for Walgreens to have armed security because “there’s nothing in that store worth a human life.” The problem with this line of reasoning is that you don’t determine right from wrong merely by weighing two things and determining which is more valuable. Obviously, if you weigh a person’s life against the stuff that is sold in a store, yes, a person’s life is the more valuable of the two things. All else being equal, of course it is better for Walgreens to lose some of their products than for a person to lose their life. But in this situation, all else is not equal. The person in this situation – Brown – did something wrong, while Walgreens did not. It is actually morally preferable for Brown to lose their life than for Walgreens to lose their products, because Brown created the situation that necessitated choosing between life and products in the first place. It is wrong to expect Walgreens to just absorb the theft of its products in order to protect the life of the person stealing them. This would punish Walgreens, an innocent party that did nothing wrong, while allowing Brown, who did something wrong, to avoid punishment. Any outcome that involves an innocent entity being punished is not a morally acceptable outcome, even if the entity is a huge corporation such as Walgreens.

One might, of course, argue that death is a disproportionate punishment for shoplifting, and I would agree with this argument. But the alternative to giving Brown a disproportionate punishment is for Walgreens to simply absorb the theft of its property, which is morally unacceptable for the reasons explained above. It is still morally preferable for someone who did something wrong to be punished excessively than for an innocent entity to be punished at all.

Nowlan’s reasoning is wrong because it completely ignores a fundamental, basic moral concept: the distinction between someone who has done something wrong and someone who hasn’t.

To reiterate sentiments that I’ve expressed numerous times, but which continue needing to be repeated, the fact that something bad happened to a black, transgender person does not mean that the bad thing happened because the person was black and transgender. Brown was killed not because they were black and transgender; Brown was killed because they were shoplifting from Walgreens.

Brown is the person who did something wrong in this case, not Walgreens and not the security guard.

bookmark_borderDouble standards

I recently came across an article about a hockey commentator who is facing widespread criticism for making fun of a player’s name during last night’s game between the Golden Knights and Oilers. 

Commentator John Anderson said: “13 minutes to go, we’re in the second. Zach Whitecloud, what kind of name is Whitecloud? Great name if you’re a toilet paper. His first goal of the playoffs.”

Zach Whitecloud is a defenseman for the Vegas Golden Knights. He is also the first NHL player from the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.

Unsurprisingly given today’s climate of political correctness, Anderson was widely criticized on social media, and as a result apologized profusely. In response, Whitecloud said he hoped the situation could be a ‘learning experience for everyone.”

The question that immediately comes to my mind is: would the public reaction have been the same, and would Anderson have issued the same apology, if Whitecloud was of European descent?

The presumption behind the article, and behind the social media criticism of Anderson, seems to be that Anderson’s comment was insensitive, offensive, and wrong because he was making fun of an indigenous name. 

Not that making fun of people’s names is wrong, period. 

Not that people should be kind and respectful to others as a general rule.

But rather that Anderson should have known that Whitecloud was indigenous and therefore should have refrained from poking fun at him.

Personally, I found the joke mildly amusing.

If you want to take the position that people should never make jokes about others’ names, because doing so isn’t nice, that is reasonable.

But I don’t get the sense that Anderson’s critics are taking that position. I get the sense that double standards are in play here, that people are bashing Anderson so harshly because he had the audacity to poke fun at a player who is indigenous. I highly doubt that people would have been similarly outraged – or outraged at all for that matter – if a European player had been made fun of.

If you’re going to criticize Anderson for making fun of Whitecloud’s name, do so because making fun of people’s names isn’t a nice thing to do. Don’t do so just because Whitecloud happens to be indigenous. 

bookmark_borderRights are not the same as “convenience”

Inconvenience. This word is used to describe many things, including:

  • Requiring people to remove their shoes and even clothes while going through airport security, or to pass through full-body scanners that reveal their nude bodies.
  • Requiring people to undergo covid testing or receive covid vaccines.
  • Telling people that they must stay home and banning them from existing in public places such as beaches and parks.
  • Requiring people to provide medical and/or psychological records in order to be allowed to own a gun.

Contrary to the opinions of authoritarian-leaning people, the above things are not inconveniences. They are violations of rights.

People have a right to privacy. People have a right to bodily autonomy. People have a right to move about freely. People have a right to bear arms.

Privacy, bodily autonomy, freedom of movement, and gun ownership are not “conveniences.” They are basic rights.

An inconvenience is having to wait in a long line at the post office, or having to pay for something in cash, or encountering more traffic than usual, or finding out that your train is running late, or experiencing weather that is different than you thought it would be so that the clothing you chose ends up being too warm or too cold.

Taking basic rights away from people is not an inconvenience. It is immoral, it is unacceptable, and it should never happen. It is the epitome of moral wrong.

To refer to violations of rights as “inconveniences” is to warp language so that aggressors avoid accountability for their actions, while the burden of scrutiny and criticism is unfairly placed on their victims. Rights are pooh-poohed as something silly and stupid, their loss dismissed as “no big deal” and something we should just get used to. This enables aggressors to be perceived as holding the moral high ground, while those who correctly object to their rights being violated are portrayed as the problem. We are described as entitled, spoiled, immature, petty, selfish, unreasonable, and lacking in grit and resilience, and criticized for valuing our “convenience” over other people’s safety, security, and health. 

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

And nothing could be more despicable than to frame debates in such a way.

Rights are not a luxury. Rights are not a mere convenience, like an Uber ride or a contactless credit card or a smoothly-running subway system or a mobile app that allows you to avoid waiting in line. Having one’s rights respected is a necessity, without which life is not worth living at all.

Whether people’s rights are respected or violated is a matter of moral right and wrong, not a matter of convenience or inconvenience.