Three weeks ago the Saline City Council unanimously passed a proclamation to recognize the month of June as LGBT Pride Month in Saline. LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. I was at that meeting, and I was proud to see it pass. More about my opinion in a moment.
There has been a bit of blow back from the passing of this proclamation via letters to the editor and comments left on online news publications after reading about the story. I'd like to point out a couple of things that struck me while reading the opposing points of view. Before I do that, however, let me say that although I vehemently disagree with the opposing viewpoint, I am extremely grateful they have the right to speak and/or write it. What they have really done is bring about discussion on the topic at hand, and that is a wonderful way to bring awareness and move toward tolerance and mutual respect of our LGBT friends and neighbors.
One woman wrote a letter to the editor in the Saline Reporter. She quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saying, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Indeed. Does this woman not think it works the same for the other side? Since we are quoting the great Dr. King here, how about "A right delayed is a right denied," or "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity"? These too were said by MLK.
The same woman went on to list some things she thought mattered to a society and community. She said,"The United States is a 'representative republic' and therefore we expect our elected officials to actually represent the majority of the people who elected them; not allow outside organizations influence their decisions to govern." She mentioned "only 2% actually identifies with such a group". Really? Because a national poll taken on the week of May 5, 2011 showed that 53% of Americans support gay marriage, which is even more progressive than recognizing a group of people one month out of the year. As far as "outside organizations" go, let me point out that the proclamation was brought about by members of Saline Council, and supported by all of Saline council, and encouraged by a Saline group called Et al.
She also said, "Officials need to keep the taxpayers they represent informed about what actions they are contemplating;" True. This is why council meeting agendas are made open to the public, published on their website and hung on their bulletin boards. People who want to know what the council is up to should read agendas, check minutes and attend meetings.
Another Letter To The Editor came in to the Saline Reporter inbox, also in opposition of LGBT Pride month in Saline. This woman said, "Why did the Saline City Council find it necessary to select this particular group of citizens to be recognized? Perhaps we should nominate July as Christian Awareness Month. I wonder what the ministers and pastors of Saline think of this proclamation.?" First lets clarify that Christianity is a religion, and LGBT is not. I assume the ministers and pastors in Saline would recognize the First Amendment which separates church and state, the very amendment that keeps the government from coming into their churches and dictating what they must preach to their flocks. The woman ends her letter with "The bottom line is, God loves us all whoever we are." So I guess I have to wonder, why doesn't she?
Think for a moment of the headlines we have read of late, exposing gay teen suicides due to bullying. How many kids worry for their safety if they are openly true to who they are? What the Saline City Council was doing was raising awareness, because I have to believe, deep down inside of myself that if people really knew about the intimidation, abuse, and hatred that is subjected onto the LGBT community, there is no way they would agree not to support anything that could bring a stop to it. How could they?
I just don't see how the proclamation for June hurts anyone. It doesn't ask anyone to change their faith. It doesn't ask anyone to change their relationships. It doesn't ask you to run out and join a gay rights group. It is just a way of saying something like "hey everyone, let's be aware that there are people in our community who are terribly discriminated against, and not contribute to that discrimination."
If you are not a member of the LGBT community, whether you agree with it or not, this proclamation doesn't really have to have anything to do with you. But if we don't raise awareness, if we continue to encourage the next generations to be those of intolerance, then the results of that hatred will have something to do with you, because you will have done nothing to stop it. Personally, I want to be a part of the solution, a part of the healing.
Hippocrates said, "Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity." Our opportunity is now. Thank you Saline City Council for your votes.
I have nothing good to say here. Pearce is an Ann Arbor teen who was in trouble with the law just 11 months ago. Perhaps still on probation? I hope so. The disgusting act he was involved in last May looks like child's play compared to what he is accused of now.
Let's re-cap. Last May, he and a bunch of pals decided to smash in the back window of a police car, and pour feces into it. The feces was delivered via cups from a restaurant he and his pals were hanging out in prior to the incident. Classy.
He must not have gotten much of a consequence for that little prank because currently, 11 months later, he is driving a big ol' Hummer around town running over baby ducklings. Truly, I'm supposed to say "allegedly" running over ducklings despite the many witness accounts of the incident.
This kid, now age 19 and charged as an adult, was driving through a McDonalds for lunch, where there happen to be an adult duck and several baby ducks walking around the parking lot. I'm quite familiar with this area and know there is water nearby, and ducks are often wandering around. The passenger in Mr. Pearce's car jumped out and tried to pick up one of the ducklings, but did not succeed due to the dismay and shouts of McDonalds employees. The two in the Hummer parked in the lot to eat for about 15 minutes. Then...
Mr. Pearce, according to spectators' reports, took his big ol' Hummer and ran down four of the baby ducklings, killing them. On purpose. As if putting on a show.
I am happy to report that Dillon Pearce was arrested a short time later at a nearby gas station for killing the animals. I have since learned that deliberately killing waterfowl is a Federal offense. Aaaaahhhh....that makes me feel a little better.
This kid is driving his Hummer down a road of destruction. The fact that he thinks running over ducklings is funny, or even acceptable, is disturbing. He obviously needs help. Unfortunately, after he "hires a private lawyer", he may not get much of a consequence. He was released on a $5000 bond and will be in court May 4th.
A different man in Washtenaw county got jailtime recently for killing a Parrot....so perhaps there is hope that something similar will happen to Pearce. It sounds to me like this is a spoiled kid who needs a heck of a wake up call.
I still get upset thinking of it, hoping there weren't little kids who witnessed it. What a horrible picture to have in their heads. Perhaps Mr. Pearce should think about that? How many little kids could he have really upset by his actions? I'm guessing he wouldn't care about that either.
There were over 200 comments on the article in the newspaper, many agreeing that punishment should be time served at the Humane Society. I think, if found guilty, he deserves both. Prison might make him think twice next time, and maybe some time forced to care for animals will brew some compassion within him?
I don't know. A troubled kid. An awful incident. This is what got to me today.
Hate speech of any kind is hard to take. Thank God most of the time I am able to tune it out, keep it away from the ears of my children, and hopefully not give any kind of unwarranted attention to those evil people who spread hatred and prejudice. I am, after all, a real fighter for free speech, even when I don't agree with it.
Sometimes though, I'm so struck by something so putrid, that it makes me want to rally the troops and spread awareness in hopes that maybe it'll do some good. The difference with this story, is the method of which the free speech was delivered, how it landed on private property.
I caught a snippet of news today as I was walking through my living room, something about hateful messages in Easter eggs. What I thought was a Michigan story, turned out to be a national story. The plastic eggs I'm about to tell you about were distributed in Oakland County, near Pontiac in Michigan, but originated out west in Idaho, and were copied in other locations across the country.
Leaders of a white-supremest, nationalist neo-Nazi group (I refuse to print their organization's name), spent their Easter holiday spreading colorful plastic Easter eggs all over the lawns of neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the eggs were filled with recruitment fliers and racist and anti-gay slurs.
I tried to imagine what it would feel like to find one of those eggs in my yard. I tried to think of the fury I would feel if one of my children opened up one of those eggs, looking just the same as others filled with candy and loose change. How would I be able to explain what they had found in a way that wouldn't devastate them on one of the most joyous and holiest of holidays? How would I explain it on any day?
Then I thought, my kids would be as sad and angry about the messages as I was, because my husband and I have taught them to know what is unfair, unjust, and just plain mean. Even at their young age, in a way that is age-appropriate for them, they know that people are just "people", not labeled by a color, a religious belief or by who they choose to be with.
So I guess the best defense of this kind of behavior is offense. The awareness I choose to spread today is that of a power that is real. It is the power of knowing what is good, what is right and what is responsible. We are the ones who should spread the word of equality, fairness and a love of thy neighbor. The more we choose not to give these horrible people our energy, the less they will be fueled. They can have no power if we choose not to give them any. Knowledge is the real power and we know better.
To those people who received those eggs, I'm so sorry that happened to you. Just please know there are so many more people that stand with you, then those who do not. We, united, will someday drown out the voices of those who choose to live in hate.
I have refrained from taking the time to complain in my blog about all of the issues I am having with Michigan's new Governor. I have refrained from writing about how I feel about appointing Emergency Financial Managers in cities like Detroit and Benton Harbor, and who knows how many others? I've been quiet about the idea of some business CEO coming in and muting out our elected officials. I have stayed quiet about Union Busting and tax breaks and the threat to end the film industry. But the schools, Mr. Governor...there are other ways
So I've been quiet until today. Today I became aware of a public school in Detroit, recently under fire. Now you might say, "What schools in Detroit aren't under fire?" But this school is different. It is inner city. It is a farm. It successfully graduates ninety percent of its students. It sends 100% of its graduates to college. That's right, ALL of them. Did I mention the graduates are all pregnant teenagers or new teen mothers?
Catherine Ferguson High is named after a woman, a freed slave, who lived in New York in the 1800's. She dedicated her entire life to the betterment of education in impoverished areas. The school began with a couple of desks and one playpen, then under The Salvation Army.
The school in Detroit uses adjacent plots of land for vegetable farming and livestock. Each student works the farm, in addition to their college prep courses, and then is privy to the fruits it bears. This, in a place where fresh vegetables aren't exactly plentiful.
The school offers on-site childcare so these young mothers and mothers-to-be can finish their education and provide a life for themselves and their children. The idea is to break the cycle. Give these girls a chance of getting out, to believe they are worth educating, to stop their children from falling into the same situation. These girls are succeeding.
Did I mention that in order to graduate, students MUST have been accepted into college?
So back to what got to me today...Catherine Ferguson High is on the chopping block...with many other Detroit schools. Troubling to say the least. But what is more troubling is what happened when the girls tried to come together and save their school. See, last year the school was up for closure and was stopped by communtiy outcry and protests. Detroit knows this award winning school is a gem within its walls. They know these girls don't have nearly as good a chance at success without it.
It makes sense then, when the girls found out about another possible shut down, they gathered at their school to plan a peaceful protest. During Spring Break, they met up at the school to paint signs to protest. They were just "planning and preparing for" a protest, they weren't even protesting yet.
Apparently, they weren't supposed to be gathering and preparing, so the Detroit Police Department showed up to arrest these girls for gathering and preparing? I'm curious what the charges were? Perhaps they were having a "sit-in" and there have been many a protester who have been taken away in cuffs for their cause, so perhaps there was indeed a squatting or trespassing charge...that, I get. If they weren't allowed to be in the building, and refused to leave, then I get it.
But what REALLY irked me was how the arrest was handled. There happened to be a news crew on site when the arrest took place. So...to keep the camera crews from hearing what the girls were saying, what they were trying to tell the news crews, which in turn would tell the public, the police department blared their sirens to drown out their voices. So on camera we have police officers putting teenage, pregnant, handcuffed, straight A and B students into their police cars to the tune of voice drowning sirens. In cuffs or not, these girls have the freedom of speech. They have every right to express their opinions.
GRrrr....I get fired up just thinking about it. This is forever my cause. Nobody has the right to silence another. We all have our right to free speech. We all have a right to be heard. We don't have to listen, we don't have to agree, but we ALL have the right to speak our own opinion. We ALL get a voice.
Shame on those sirens. This is what got to me today.
At first, I thought a new eco-friendly cosmetic line, free of chemicals like paraben, phthalates and sulfates was quite progressive for Walmart. The make-up is highlighted for its anti-aging properties, how well the products exfoliate and calm the skin. Hmmm? Not bad so far. Until....
It is a cosmetic line called "Geo-Girl" for 8 TO 12 YEAR OLD GIRLS! It is for parents who want their third graders to have make-up with natural ingredients, and to help girls who have sensitive skin. They are eight year olds, of course their skin is sensitive!
Anti-aging? Calming properties? Is youthful skin not at its most youthful, most flawless, most calm as it is on the faces of our children? These are children! They have a youthful glow already!
Do girls not have enough pressure on them to be beautiful? Aren't there enough expectations out in the world for girls to be sexier, thinner, more popular because of these things? Are we going to let our 8 year olds, even 12 year olds, think they need make up to be beautiful?
The Geo-Girl product line has 69 products, ranging from blusher to mascara to lipstick and will be sold at Walmart stores beginning in March 2011.
I know, I know, those who love Walmart will say that it is the parents' responsibility to buy or not buy the product, that Walmart isn't "making" any children wear the make-up. That we live in a capitalist society and Walmart has the right to make a profit, blah blah blah. Walmart also has the right to set a better example to benefit our youth. The bottom line is Walmart wants to make money. Look at the packaging of the Geo-Girl line. Its not trying to appeal to parents. It is even sized smaller for little hands! Look here from the Household and Personal Products Industry:
According to the company, the colors, while bright and exciting in the package, go on super-sheer and see-through to give her skin a healthy, natural glow.The formulas are mistake proof and easy to apply successfully.The product packages themselves were created to fit in smaller hands and apply to smaller features.
Walmart does not have to choose to supply products that contribute to the absolute encouragement and expectations that young girls, little girls, need make-up to gain acceptance and feel good about themselves.
I know Walmart gives a ton of money to charities, amidst their many, many sins, once in awhile they do something good. So why can't they take a stand in protecting the self-esteem and empowerment of young girls? C'mon Walmart. Here is a chance to make a difference. Do not put Geo-Girl on your shelves.
I also know there are people who will blame parents for setting the example by wearing cosmetics ourselves, doing everything we can to stay youthful. There is a time for everything. There is a time for a first date, high heels, outward self-expression. The age for shimmering, sparkling cheeks, thick blackened eyelashes and anti-aging properties is not age 8.
I am irate over this. Really irate. I know Walmart isn't the only one at fault here, Walmart is just the pusher. The producer is a company in California called Pacific World Corp. Click here for their contact information to lodge a complaint. They make the product, but they would stop making it if Walmart wouldn't sell it. As for Walmart, click here to voice your opposition. I am so fired up, I might get a petition going. Stay tuned.
As parents, it is our job to protect our children, their health and wellness, their self-esteem and confidence. If Geo-Girl indeed ends up on the shelves, at the very least let this be a teaching moment to our young girls on what not to buy and why. At least we'll be able to try and teach them to be better consumers, and it will give us another opportunity to tell them how beautiful they are without Geo-Girl.
We have a saying in our house about using the word "hate". Since both our children were very young, my husband and I have always encourged them to refrain from using the word, even if used in a sentence as harmless as "I hate when my cereal gets soggy!" So whenever the word slips out, someone will voice the reminder, as if an auto-responder, "We don't like 'hate'." Said enough over time, to this day you would be hard pressed to hear a member of our family use the word, or at least pause before they do.
We don't like "hate". More today than ever, more last Saturday than ever, I don't like "hate". I've not written about the tragedy in Tucson until today because I have been so angry, so hurt, so concerned for the future of our political process, that I feared I would spew something venomous, or yes...hateful. So I waited.
Today however, I'm not really going to talk about the shooting. There are plenty of media sources still covering the tragedy, as they should. The victims, their families and all who are affected deserve as much support and justice as we can muster up as a country. I, like many, am still tuned in to the coverage, both horrified by the investigation and inspired by the reaction. What I want to talk about today, however, is how much these kinds of atrocities are considered when one chooses whether or not to go into public service.
I think about the people I know personally who are serving in office. I think about my political "rock stars" who I dream of knowing one day. I think about all of the important things that get discussed and accomplished because there are people who dedicate themselves to public service and public office. I am so appreciative of these people, whether at a local level within my City, or in Washington D.C. at national and international levels. I know we need these people. Which brings me to my next thought.
Debate has become hate. Peaceful rallies have become places to fear the worst. Somewhere there is a young, enthusiastic guy or gal, just itching to get involved in the political process who is taking pause because he/she wonders if it will be a safe occupation for his/herself and family. Opposing ideas have become vicious roadblocks and attacks instead of a means to find a way through to a solution.Broken windows or painted graffiti at a candidate's headquarters are common during election season. Common. Death threats are expected for someone with a passionate voice. Expected.
People who know me know I am extremely passionate about my political views. There are definitely people I do not like, whose policies I find ridiculous, who dumbfound me by things they say and do. All of us have our opinions and have the right to voice them. We should not, however, have the right to intimidate, threaten, fearmonger or cause harm to others because of our opinions. Opposing opinions should not be so hateful that they give pause to those wishing to serve. It seems ridiculous to even have to say this outloud, or put in print. Isn't this common sense? Treat thy neighbor? The golden rule? What is taught in kindergarten?
Will the tragedy in Arizona help tone things down? I don't know. If it does, then isn't it a shame it took such a horrific action to make it happen? Can't we all just adopt the phrase my kids say and know by heart?
I have a new hero to add to my growing list of awesome people doing amazing things on our planet. Last
night I was watching the Nightly News with Brian Williams and learned about a woman right here in Michigan who saw a need, and made a decision to help fix it.
Rachel O'Neill lives in Woodhaven (Brownstown Twp.). While visiting Africa on a mission, she noticed that so many of the little girls there had mere scraps to wear for clothing. One child might have one single outfit , to wear again and again and again. Well, thankfully for thousands of little girls, this particular fact kep tugging at Mrs. O'Neill's heart, and she found a way to do something about it.
Little Dresses For Africa is a non-profit organization that makes little girl's dresses out of pillowcases. Pillowcases! In four easy steps, which O'Neill gives on her website, just about anyone can change a pillowcase into something colorful, frilly, girlie and NEW for a little girl who has never had ANYTHING new and all her own. More importantly, these little dresses help instill a feeling of worthiness to the girls who wear them.
O'Neill's organization is growing at a record pace, thanks to a lot of media attention and national coverage. Individuals and groups from all over the U.S. are having "sewing parties" and sending them to Woodhaven, MI for distribution. To date, more than 120,000 dresses have been shipped to several different countries in Africa. And...so not to leave the little boys out, Little Dresses For Africa also makes "Britches for boys" shorts. How awesome is that?
I'm just blown away by Rachel O'Neill and the lesson she teaches us, and the simplicity of her mission. One person. One idea. Endless results. Mega kudos to Little Dresses. Anyone can help by sewing or donating. Here is the website: http://www.littledressesforafrica.org/.