We Have to Talk About White Privilege

If you have ever driven along an Interstate, searching for the hotel where you have reservations, seeing it seemingly VERY CLOSE but realizing you have to figure out how to get off the interstate, get onto a service road, and find the entrance to your hotel, you know that things are not at all as easy as they first appear. White privilege is like a service road.

I have been wanting to write about intersectionality (and, related, white privilege) ever since I heard the word (yes, it’s been less than a year), but I have hesitated for a variety of reasons. The first reasons that come to mind are:

  1. I don’t understand the topics well enough
  2. I am afraid I will lose friends
  3. I alone can change no minds
  4. I am, as all of us are, so imperfect in my attempts to live life fairly

But those barriers are just going to have to co-exist with my attempt to say my piece on this. In my own home, in conversations with my closest family members, in multiple other environments, it’s time to talk about white privilege even if the attempt is grossly imperfect, if relationships unravel, if no minds are changed.

Because, whether it is a problem for us personally or not, our inability or unwillingness to put our privilege in context and figure out how to be in community with all our fellow people hurts us all in the long run.

White Privilege

One Book That Changed My Understanding About White Privilege

I wrote earlier that it has been within the last twelve months that I have heard the term “intersectionality.” I heard it at the We Won’t Wait 2016 gathering, as presenters explained the inequities faced by women of color. When I got home, I told my husband, “I felt guilty about being white.”

Sitting around feeling guilty about something I clearly can’t change about myself is not exactly constructive, so I set about trying to figure out what those speakers meant and what I could do.

I participated in an online book club about the book Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. Although I never ended up being able to join the group via Facebook live, the experience got me to read the book, and the comments in the Facebook group itself enlightened me.

Here are a few takeaways:

  1. The distribution of VA benefits after World War II, for example, led to inequities for African American returning soldiers. Many African American soldiers did not get access to the same educational or housing benefits that white soldiers received. (More here and here.)
  2. “Hide and seek” has a different meaning for inner city black kids than suburban white kids. Okay, this one could be vulnerable to being a HUGE generalization. But I believe Debby Irving when she says that many black kids are taught not to play hide-and-go-seek because they don’t want to associate being hidden with “fun” — because of the ramifications down the road for their interactions with law enforcement officers.
  3. “Helping” …….. isn’t always. Debby Irving talks a lot about how we as middle- and upper-class white people are brought up to help, to be optimistic (believe me, since me alter ego is the Optimism Light this one got my full attention). I get the irony of the fact that I am raising the issue, lover of causes that I am. But I have to look at myself in the mirror and ask about the lens through which I see my helping choices. Am I being a “white savior” or a “fellow human sharing my resources”? Author Nate Regier, Ph.D., writes, “Non-consensual helping is a personal violation.” Hmmm.
  4. Taking kids out of their environments to expose them to culture doesn’t always have the downstream effects we imagine it will have. One of Debby Irving’s first jobs was being the coordinator for an arts program in Boston. The program would bus children in from disadvantaged areas of the city in order to help them “get culture.” Irving writes convincingly of why that plan did not have the effects organizers hoped — these children didn’t necessarily understand the environment — the imposing buildings, the etiquette expected of them as arts consumers, the very “foreign-ness” of it all.

As a White Person, I Take Ease of Access Totally For Granted

Typically, we would think of interstate highways as helpful to reaching our destination faster. Limited exits so that no one slows down, the ability to drive at relatively higher rates of speed, uniform signage and format. The problem is, if the gas, food, shelter or other services we need are off of a service road, we have to get off.

White privilege is akin to being on the service road, doing whatever we need to do, easily. For people who do not have white privilege, they are speeding along, on a road defined for them by someone who presumed what they wanted, with limited ability to get the basics and extras they need and want in order to live a life equitable to ours because someone blocked the exits.

Things I Still Haven’t Made Peace With

  1. Reparations. Slavery was wrong. What’s a stronger word for wrong? Let’s go with reprehensible. Slavery created the foundation of the inequities toward black people that still ripple through our society today, in ways big and small. My challenge with reparations is two-fold: I don’t understand how they would work and I am not sure what positive difference they would make. The United Nations thinks they are a good idea, though, so that carries some substantial weight with me. (More about the recommendation from the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent in this Washington Post article.)
  2. Decisions Like the One Bill Proctor Made. Bill Proctor is an African-American county commissioner here in Leon County. He boycotted a commission retreat last December because slaves had been used on the property in the 1800s. While I am sensitive to the issues slavery poses to him, I guess this is one of those things that, taken to an extreme, could mean none of us could meet (or live) anywhere. Taking the example further, I should surrender the deed to my house and the property I live on to the Native Americans. It never really was mine to begin with and it probably was not handed over by them willingly or without sacrifice on the part of an entire people.
  3. Statues/Historical Monuments. It is a good thing that we are all so much more sensitive to the impact of monuments glorifying people who perpetuated racism. I struggle with the fact that removing the tangible evidence that these people were once celebrated doesn’t remove the fact that these people were once celebrated or the lessons we should learn from that. One article with more on the topic here.
  4. Language Hypersensitivity. Have you looked at any house plans lately? Notice anything different? Some designers are re-naming the master bedroom the “owner’s suite” or “mastre bedroom,” believing the term “master bedroom” carries too many negative connotations from a historical and gender perspective. Words evolve. Did you know the word “bully” started out with a positive connotation, meaning “sweetheart”? The word “sarcasm” has as one of its root meanings “stripping off of flesh” (ouch …. sarcasm can feel that way sometimes). Language hypersensitivity could render us all mute.

What Can One Person Do?

I ask that question multiple times every day. I think Farther Tim Holeda’s Awareness-Understanding-Action model may be a good guide.

To increase your awareness, start with an open mind then read things and talk to people who will help you expand your perspective. Here are some recommendations.

Book: Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving

Site: Being Black at School (personal note: this site and its mission are the brainchild of my friend Kelly. Feel free to fast forward past the other 1700 words in this post and donate to BBAS. It’s that relevant and necessary.)

Site: I’m Not the Nanny (especially the Multicultural Resources page)

Site: Black Girl in Maine and Blog Post: ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ IS MORE THAN A MERE SLOGAN

Article: Black Americans are Killed at 12 Times the Rate of People in Other Developed Countries

Article: What White Children Need to Know About Race

Article: White kids are bullying minority students using Trump’s words

Article: Why “All Lives Matter” is Such a Perilous Phrase

Article: Why Is It So Difficult for White People to Let Serena Williams Be Great?

Blog Post: 5 Truths About White Privilege for White People

Blog Post: 10 Ways to Practice Institutional Racism at Your Non-Profit Organization

Blog Post: All right, “color-blind” colleagues, we need to have a talk

Blog Post: Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: The Tale of A Progressive Professor Who Forgot To Hide Her Racism And Got Her Ass Fired

Blog Post: I Don’t Discuss Racism With White People

Blog Post: Nebraska high school A.D. writes column about the racism his students face

Blog Post: Please stop requiring anti-racism and diversity trainings for POC in the workplace

Blog Post: Police officer’s daughter asked to remove ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flag

Blog Post: Taboo Sex, Racism, and Gay Men: A Chat in Black and White

Blog Post: This is What White People Can Do to Support #BlackLivesMatter

Blog Post: Welcome to the Anti-Racism Movement — Here’s What You’ve Missed

Blog Post: Why I’m Absolutely an Angry Black Woman

Book Review: A Powerful, Disturbing History of Residential Segregation in America

Reality: Really watch what is going on in your family, your office, your community, our nation. Sometime there is book, blog post, or article more informative than real life

To increase your understanding, all I can say is that understanding often follows from awareness. Try step one, and I’m pretty sure you’ll make progress.

Regarding action, most of the links under “awareness” also have suggested actions. For me, much of the past year has been about opening my mouth when it would be easier to be silent. I was being shuttled from home to Enterprise Rental Car a few months ago by a driver who decided to pontificate on “Muslims lying in roads” and why white people will never get along with “them” (black people). I think his words to me, I suppose born out of the fact that I was younger than him, were “just wait and see.” UMMMMM. Short of jumping out of the moving car, I wasn’t sure what to say to indicate that absolutely nothing he was saying was appropriate, EVER. I managed something like “everyone has the right to express their opinion” (about the Muslims) and “that hasn’t been my experience” (about black/white relations). I am sure I didn’t change his mind, but I had to speak up.(I also shared the conversation’s content in my feedback email to Enterprise. I never received a response.)

I love a line in Korbett Mosesly’s piece (linked to above).

I realize that institutional racism may not be your goal or intention. You may not even be aware of the complexities of racism at your organization. I hope this post moves you from unintentional racism to intentional allyship.

 

I, for one, intend not to intentionally block any more of the “interstate exits” and do my part to help everyone have access to the things they need, especially, and the things they want, as an intentional ally.

White Privilege

(This post is a response to two Mama’s Losin It Prompts: “book review” and “share a quote you love.”)

Strengthening Community Relationships in Hard Times

Community relationships pose challenges at even the best of times. I was excited to read recently that California Governor Jerry Brown has declared California’s drought state over for now. Within days of reading that article, I read that Central Florida’s wildfires are being exacerbated by dry conditions. While Florida’s situation is different from California’s, it still occurred to me that the “for now” part of California’s governor’s declaration is something we should all remember. Crises can occur at any time, and as we learned in Tallahassee last year during Hurricane Hermine, community relationships do better in crisis with a plan.

I am re-sharing a post I wrote in 2015, inspired by my horror at the #DroughtShaming I learned about among California neighbors. It’s an important reminder that community relationships are fragile and it is in our ability to nurture them.

Community Relationships

PR Lessons from DroughtShaming

I have a confession to make.

I used to be an anonymous “PoorlyProofed” contributor on Twitter.

Eventually, I started feeling guilty for anonymously calling people out.

I hate typos as much as the next person, but I started to feel that the negativity behind my tweets was weighing me down.

(It doesn’t stop at PoorlyProofed, admittedly. I even blogged about someone who misspelled “angel” on a luminaria MEMORIALIZING THEIR LOVED ONE WHO DIED OF CANCER.)

But it’s a new day, a new year, and perhaps I have evolved.

I have evolved to the point that I have reached a critical mass in my tolerance for anonymous finger-pointing on Twitter.

DroughtShaming

When I was listening to a recent radio story about DroughtShaming, I couldn’t help but feel that this effort was not going to end well.

The drought conditions in California, and the civic actions that have been taken to try to mitigate the effects of the drought, have resulted in the birth of the DroughtShaming hashtag (#droughtshaming).

There’s even an app.

The citizen reporter stands at the offending area, and GPS knows where they are, so the report already includes the address along with the alleged infraction.

Most people will agree that measures need to be taken to deal with the drought conditions in California.

When I see the glee with which some people use DroughtShaming, though, I have to wonder if their motives are altruistic.

I mean, what are the homeowners’ association meetings going to be like for these neighbors in the future?

Distrust Does Not Build Community Relationships

My husband and I were on the receiving end of a summons three years ago for “high grass.”

We deserved the summons. I won’t argue that. 

Our lawnmower had broken, my husband was out of a job, and we did not have the money to fix the lawnmower.

Because the report was made anonymously, there was no way of knowing who had filed it.

I kept wishing whoever had filed the report had offered to let us use their lawnmower instead.

It wasn’t that we WANTED our yard to be an eyesore.

Admittedly, my feelings probably would have been hurt if I had been approached directly by a neighbor, even if they were offering a lawnmower, but after the summons incident, I have always been asking myself  “was it YOU?” when interacting with my neighbors.

Distrust among neighbors does not build a caring community.

Positively Solve Problems

As communicators, we can play a role in more positively solving problems such as the drought-measure compliance.

  1. Connecting: One of the first pieces of strategy has to be to foster a “we’re all in this together” vibe. California is not going to be in drought conditions forever. The day will come when it will not be news that someone is watering their lawn. We need to help people realize a mutual goal of creating a pleasant community is bigger than the issue of sprinklers.
  2. Acknowledge the Issue: I don’t mean to flit around rejoicing that drought is front and center as a problem. Some events are inevitable in the life of a community. If it wasn’t drought, maybe it would be a proliferation of invasive plants, too much rain, or a strike by municipal workers such as the waste management staff. Be clear that drought is a true issue. Don’t gloss over it.
  3. Encouraging Constructive Action: Getting your neighbors fined or using civic resources to write up tickets has little probability of bringing rain down from the sky or of preserving what little water you do have. As a community, you may be at half time of your water management game, but you can still win if you have the right plays.

How can we, as communicators, help keep the civility reservoir full rather than drain it dry?

This blog post was originally published at Spin Sucks as PR Lessons from DroughtShaming.

Community Relationships

Help #ProjectReadathon Generate Children’s Books!

I have been a Charity Miles ambassador for many years now, and it is astounding to see how the app and its impact on deserving causes have both evolved (big props to creator Gene Gurkoff for that). I am excited that Charity Miles is partnering with Penguin Random House to conduct a campaign around children’s books.

Charity Miles Expands Beyond Feet on Pavement (Or Pedals)

As a proponent of Charity Miles, one of my goals over the years has been to encourage people to use the app, to dispel misunderstandings, and in general to talk it up in order to help as many causes as possible.

For example, you don’t have to be a “serious athlete” doing “serious mileage” to make a difference. Walking from your parking spot into the grocery store, for example, can help. Anything over a tenth of a mile counts toward benefiting a favorite charity.

I know, I know — everything I have said so far involves physical exertion.

Now, however, Charity Miles has added READING to the ways you can help a cause.

READING, people! And you know how I feel about that!

Helping Save the Children Earn Children’s Books Through the Charity Miles Readathon

Though April 23, Charity Miles is partnering with Penguin Random House for  the #ProjectReadathon campaign. During the campaign, Charity Miles members will be invited to contribute minutes to the Million Minutes goal by visiting the Charity Miles Impact Hub!

Side note: Even as a veteran Charity Miles user, it took me a little searching to find the Impact Hub. Here’s a screen shot of what it looks like (assuming you have installed the Charity Miles app). Just follow the red arrow.

Children's Books

Today, for example, I read “Hardwiring Happiness” which generated a 3-book donation.

Children's Books

Reading inside the Impact Hub triggers book donations from Penguin Random House to kids in need in the US, Canada, and Mexico through Save the Children. The more you read, the bigger impact you have: read a 20-minute excerpt and you could unlock a 5-book donation, or read an hour and unlock 20. The excerpts expire in 24 hours so keep up your reading streak and read every day.

But Moving Is Always Good Too!

You can also unlock books by walking, running, or cycling and logging Charity Miles. Charity Miles has set a goal to log 10,000 Charity Miles for Save the Children. Each mile will translate to one minute read, for every 20 mins a book will be donated. Reaching the goals means moving 2,500 books to children in North America!

Why This Lights My Fire

So many of us have books peeking out of multiple little corners of our homes. Stacks of books our children discarded long ago. Books we grabbed on impulse at the bookstore and haven’t gotten to. Books we read, loved, and just can’t part with.

For many kids, that is not the case. Let this infographic from Reading is Fundamental sink in:

Children's Books

RIF says it well:

A productive, contributing nation is dependent on a literate society.  Every child deserves an opportunity to own books, learn how to read, and obtain the fundamental building blocks to achieve their highest potential.

 

I applaud Penguin Random House for helping kids become readers and, therefore, lifelong learners via #ProjectReadathon.

Getting Started Personally

Since starting yesterday, I have read two excerpts, resulting in donations of six books, and walked 0.28 miles. That part was a pretty tiny start, but hey, that means there are only 9,999.72 more to go? 

Children's Books

I would love your help in getting there. More importantly, so would kids in need of children’s books.

Children's Books

 

An Easter Adventure

It is Easter today, and I am not in the mental mindset to write either something sentimental or something candy-related. I feel like changing things up a little bit, and doing it in advance of Easter so I can enjoy the day Sunday.

I abandoned “Write a story about a serial killer who leaves his (or her) clues in Easter eggs” (I don’t want to get that twisted.)

I considered:

Write a story where one of the main characters is a professional artist who made him/herself famous by designing Easter eggs.

Write a story that begins with a modern-day pastor being time warped to the time when Jesus was resurrected.

(The above two ideas were from Litbridge.)

My hilarious friends had lots of suggestions, reminding me that “little bunny foo foo was a serial killer” (technically true!) and somehow devolving into twerking bunnies.

In the clearer light of day, let’s consider what our crazy cat, Bella, actually does when she escapes.

An Easter Adventure

For context, Bella is (ahem) an indoor cat. She has developed a codependency, however, with my father-in-law, who goes in and out of our French doors many (many!) times a day to smoke his cigars. I’ve tried lots of methods of trying to keep her in, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. There are birds to chase and there’s grass to smell, after all!

<<<cue mysterious ghostly suspenseful music here>>>

One day, Bella escaped as she had done so many times before.

“She’ll come back,” my husband and I said to each other, something we have said hundreds of times before which had always proven true. After all, the lure of her food bowl eventually wins.

The night before Easter, we were exhausted. I had gotten up early to volunteer at the water stop for the Palace Saloon Race. Wayne, as usual, was snoring away. My father-in-was in whatever land a combination of Percocet and Ativan gets you to, and my son was still out with his girlfriend.

To keep trying to lure Bella in or go to bed?

The bed won.

When I woke up Easter morning, the first order of business was (as usual), pressing “brew” on the Keurig. When the house’s quiet registered, I realized Alice Cooper, our other cat, was the only feline begging me for food.

WHERE WAS BELLA?

I was kicking myself for all those times I thought “I really should make her wear a collar with a tag that has identification on it.” Was she gone for good?

It is hard for me to relax about Bella. As my husband reminds me often, I am the family member who gets most stressed about her disappearances. It’s a long story but the bottom line is: she is my daughter’s cat, she brings us all happiness (when she isn’t destroying the furniture), and I don’t want her to disappear on my watch.

As the coffee finished brewing and the caffeine started infiltrating my system, I got distracted by my usual morning routine of checking email and social media.

Happy Easter! Wished so many friends on social media.

Easter wishes on a screen weren’t quite cutting it. I missed all the years when I was growing up when my parents would have my place at the table set with an elaborate Easter basket I could admire before getting dressed for church. I missed all the excited years of my children’s Easters: candy, dressing up, the famous bonnet contest at church.

This year, all I had to look forward to was giving some chocolate and cards to my husband and son (I had sent Tenley her Easter goodies in advance), and the inevitable first question of the day from my father-in-law: “anyone got a pain pill?”

Since no one else was up yet, I headed outside to get the newspaper.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted lavender. WEIRD. Upon further inspection, in the hedges by the mailbox was a plastic easter egg. HMMM. Maybe the Tallahassee Democrat had found the one way to reach out to me that didn’t involve me having to hunt for a password I couldn’t remember. I tucked the egg in my pocket and brought the paper into my house.

Still feeling a little out of sorts, I decided to treat myself to an everything bagel. I grabbed one out of the freezer, wrapped it in a paper towel, and opened the microwave to defrost the bagel.

HMMM. The microwave was NOT. EMPTY. Two mint green eggs stared back at me. Maybe my son had developed a penchant for holiday observances (hey, 17 isn’t too late to learn!) and spread treats throughout the house for me. I placed the mint green eggs with the lavender egg in a bowl.

Wishing I had bought orange juice to have with my everything bagel, I resigned myself to an oj-free breakfast and opened the refrigerator door to grab butter.

NOW THIS IS GETTING STRANGE, I thought.  A pint of pulp-free orange juice had hopped into my fridge. There was no way it had been there the day before.

As I got dressed for church, my mind was tossing around the possible origins of the eggs and the orange juice. I didn’t dare mention it to my husband – it sounded so bizarre.

I stopped by my laptop to take a peek at my social media before we left for church. Where the heck did *this* screen saver come from?

Easter Adventure

And the rainbow of Peeps (my favorite) and chocolate bunny so beautifully packaged (packaging matters) in my chair?

*meow* came a feline voice from the porch.

Easter Adventure

It turns out Bella’s latest adventure had been more about bunnies than birds.

And an Easter “Cat”astrophe was not a catastrophe at all.

Someone got a bowl *brimming* with food after her big adventure.

Empowering Women: It Takes a Tribe

There is a mountain in Mexico I want to climb. I don’t mean in a “carabiners and ropes” kind of way, but in a “take a vehicle as far as you can and then walk the rest of the way” kind of sense. The goal? To help my friend Felisa Hilbert, one of my favorite examples of women empowering women, with the clinic she has established in a remote Mexican community that has no running water.

Felisa is a fellow Shot at Life champion. Although as Shot at Life champions, she and I have attended multiple conferences and trainings about helping children around the world have access to life-saving vaccines to prevent diseases like measles, pneumonia, polio, and infections that cause diarrhea, she has taken the next step: actually built a clinic from the ground up to help children in Tetzilquila, Veracruz, Mexico.

Empowering Women

The clinic is “up” a mountain but you have to walk “down” to get to it!

Empowering Women

Empowering Women Requires a Variety of Strengths

Felisa is the first person who came to mind when I learned of Heifer International’s new women’s empowerment initiative, which encourages us to think about four types of women in our lives: allies, entrepreneurs, artists, and den mothers. Read about her dedication to her clinic in this article (highlight below):

Hilbert has taken that philosophy to a rural community in Tex Tiquila, Mexico, where she is working to build a medical clinic. The community, made up of 40 families who speak Nahuatl, a native Aztec language, in place of Spanish, is completely isolated and lacks basic services, she said.

Although most people know Heifer International for their animal gifting program, they also do critical, impactful work to support and empower women. They believe that women have limitless potential, but limited opportunity and equip and empower marginalized women with resources and training as a means to sustainable livelihoods and community leadership positions.

Identifying Our Tribes

Heifer International developed a fun quiz to help us figure out our own tribe personas. Not surprisingly, I found out I am an “ally.” For Felisa, I would say she straddles two of the categories, “entrepreneur” (seriously, building a clinic on a remote Mexican mountain is not for the faint of heart or timid) and artist (check out the jewelry she makes then sells to support the clinic at the Jewelry for a Purpose Facebook page (pix of a few example below)).

Empowering Women

I’m also lucky to have great “den mothers” in my life. These are the people who don’t get sucked down by details BUT always seem capable of making sure no one gets left out and ensure there are snacks, drinks, and whatever other provisions we need at any get-together!

Honoring Felisa

Felisa, thank you for being you. Thank you for tirelessly supporting others. You inspire me to be better and today I am paying it forward to other women via a Heifer International Women’s Empowerment donation in your honor! This donation will fund a Heifer Women’s Self-Help Group that will teach women to read and write (empowering them to take control), give them livestock and training to increase their sense of self-reliance, and enable women to jointly better their communities through group savings and activities. SO INCREDIBLE.

Empowering Women

Celebrating the Sustainable Development Goals, especially HEALTH, with Felisa at the Social Good Summit in 2015.

Other Ways to Help Women Through Heifer International

To learn more about Heifer’s women’s empowerment efforts, check out heifer.org/joinhertribe. I would love all of my women readers to share about an incredible woman today!

There are several ways to be involved. While donations do, of course, rock, here are some additional social media actions you can take via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter between now and April 15 to be a part of this effort to amplify the #JoinHerTribe initiative and support women worldwide.

  • A photo of you + a woman who has inspired you (to grow your business, prioritize self-care, pursue creativity, help others, etc.)
  • A compilation graphic — 4 faces to fit the tribe roles of The Ally, The Den Mother, The Entrepreneur, and The Artist
  • A dedication to a mom or friend who has helped you through challenging parenting times
  • Public personalities you aren’t connected with personally but who inspire you to do great things (Oprah, Maya Angelou, etc.)
  • A video dedication to someone who inspired you to vlog

Who has made a difference by being part of your tribe? Give them a shout-out today!

Empowering Women

The Difference Only Planned Parenthood Can Make

***UPDATE — APRIL 14, 2017*** 

As referenced in this New York Times article, Trump Signs Law Taking Aim at Planned Parenthood Funding, President Trump “signed legislation on Thursday [April 13] aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood.”

***END OF UPDATE, NOT THE END OF MY ADVOCACY”***

Here is my original April 2, 2017 post:

I have received services from Planned Parenthood precisely once, but that one visit places me among the “one in five” women in America who have visited Planned Parenthood at least once. As I alluded to in this post when I disclosed my experience of being tested for HIV, I tended in my early 20s to be fanatically cautious. Just like my it was probably scientifically impossible for the activities I was engaging in to expose me to HIV, neither did I technically need the diaphragm I was fitted for at Planned Parenthood.

Fast forward to 2017. At 52, I am a member of a demographic that does technically need services such as testing and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Opponents of Planned Parenthood try to paint a picture of an organization which zealously lures women into having abortions (fact: abortions account for less than five percent of Planned Parenthood’s services). These opponents support the rollback of Title X program funding, which in turn allows states to withhold certain funds to women’s health clinics.

We all need to understand the difference Planned Parenthood actually makes.

Planned Parenthood Advocacy

Middle-Aged and Elderly People Need STD Testing and Treatment

According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 4 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the United States is 50 or older.

Our issues around STDs are not limited to HIV risk, however, and they incorporate our emotions as well as our bodies.

Medscape breaks down the psychosocial factors behind our new middle-aged realities:

  • Divorce rates are increasing; in addition, the rate of people who remain unmarried is rising.
  • Midlife “repartnering” is increasing
  • As we stay healthier longer, our potential for engagement in sexual activity increases.

Medscape also lists the possibility, even though the research base is more shallow, that middle-aged women place a higher priority on intimacy over sexual health, leaving them more open to risk. In addition, older people may associate sexual risk-taking with their adolescent years and may ignore facts and dangers that they face.

Planned Parenthood Advocacy

Planned Parenthood Is An Asset for Women’s Health

Although you can learn the basics of the high-quality, affordable health care Planned Parenthood provides to women, men, and young people here, let’s focus for a minute on our middle aged and aging people facing a new sexual behavior reality:

Every year, Planned Parenthood provides more than 4.2 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including more than 650,000 HIV tests.

 

Why Planned Parenthood Needs Our Support

Fifty-four percent of Planned Parenthood health centers are in health professional shortage areas, rural or medically underserved areas. Planned Parenthood health centers provide primary and preventive health care to many who otherwise would have nowhere to turn for care.

In 2014, Planned Parenthood health centers saw 2.5 million patients and provided more than 4 million sexually transmitted tests and treatment, more than 360,000 breast exams, more than 270,000 Pap tests, and birth control for 2 million people. Of Planned Parenthood patients in 2014, 15 percent were Black and 23 percent were Latino.

Although current efforts to defund Planned Parenthood cite Community Health Centers (CHCs) as a viable alternative health care provider for contraceptive and sexual health education needs, CHCs, while doing their own critical work for the health of our fellow Americans, are not equipped to replace Planned Parenthood.

Stepping Back and Taking the Long View

Right now, in April 2017, the dialogue around the future of Planned Parenthood is bookended on one side by supporters who strongly believe there is empirical evidence that blocking patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood comes at too high a cost.

On the other end, opponents believe sentiments like these expressed by Senator Ted Cruz and Dr. Alveda King: “millions of abortions make Planned Parenthood a business that the federal government does not need to be funding with our tax dollars.”

Without Planned Parenthood, women would be less healthy, especially women in medically underserved areas. Planned Parenthood makes a difference.

That difference is what Katharine Hepburn’s republican mother sought when she helped found the Connecticut Birth Control League in 1920.

That difference is what Republican Barry Goldwater’s wife, Peggy, sought when she helped organize Phoenix’s first family planning clinic in 1937.

That difference is ostensibly what Prescott Bush (George H.W.’s father and George W.’s/Jeb’s grandfather) sought when he served as treasurer of a nationwide Planned Parenthood campaign in 1947.

That difference is possibly what then-Congressman George H.W. Bush sought in a 1968 address to Congress in which he advocated for government support of family planning programs, referring to the “tragedy of unwanted children and of parents whose productivity is impaired by children they never desired.”

That difference is what President Nixon and then-Congressman George H.W. bush sought when they supported Title X upon its introduction (and subsequent passage) in 1970.

That difference is what republican Barry Goldwater intended when he supported upholding Roe vs. Wade in 1983.

“That Difference” Changed Lives

It’s one thing to cite surprising moments in history that demonstrate “that difference” made by Planned Parenthood. It’s yet another to know that, for countless individual, real life flesh and blood women, Planned Parenthood impacted their lives for the better:

People like Bethany, who said, “Their clinics enabled me to maintain my reproductive health, and control over my body at a time when I could never have afforded to have a child.”

People like the woman whose breast lump was diagnosed and treated by Planned Parenthood, who shared, “Thank-you, Planned Parenthood, for understanding that nothing is more important than your health, no matter what your socioeconomic status is.”

(The source for the above two quotes is this Huffington Post article.)

People like Cassandra, who wrote for Grounded Parents that Planned Parenthood’s early diagnosis and treatment of her Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) saved her life. She writes:

When I hear politicians talk about defunding Planned Parenthood what I hear is that they don’t understand the services that Planned Parenthood provides for both men and women. What I hear is that they don’t care if both men and women have access to low-cost reproductive health care.

How You Can Make “That Difference” For Yourself and Others

Please tell your legislator why “that difference” is so much broader than many opponents would have them believe. Call them (it’s easy!) and tell them not to defund care at Planned Parenthood Centers. There are several resources here.

Planned Parenthood Advocacy

Here are some more resources:

Birth Control Coverage Should Always Be Guaranteed

There’s a Long History of Republicans Supporting Planned Parenthood—Why Is No One Talking About It?

Why I’m a Christian Who (Still) Supports Planned Parenthood

$200 Target Gift Card #Giveaway

Target Giveaway

Two (count ’em) TWO students in college. That’s what I am going to have starting August 2017. Although arguably my son’s idea of equipping his abode for college is different (and *maybe* less detailed) than my daughter’s, still — college kids need things and Target is the ideal place.

Whether you have college kids or not, you know you need something from Target. Wouldn’t it be nice to have $200 to kickstart your shopping spree?

Enter this giveaway and that kickstart may be yours!

Prize: $200 Target Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 4/21 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Currently Happening In My Facebook World

I often laughingly tell people that Facebook highlights have become a steady stream of “isn’t my new grandchild beautiful?” (they always are) and “so sorry to announce that Fluffly has crossed the rainbow bridge” (always sad). We Facebook users are older and grayer than many other social media channels, and it frequently shows.

Prompted by Mama Kat, though, a look at six hot topics in my Facebook world proves there’s more to my Facebook family than birth announcements and goodbyes to beloved pets.

Our Embattled Health Care

While I recognize that the Affordable Care Act is flawed, I also firmly believe The American Health Care Act was in no way a suitable replacement.

Having worked for Florida Healthy Kids for almost 20 years, I became a diehard believer in the power of preventive care, in the potential that can be unlocked if someone thinks out of the box and people with the patience to slog through the mind-numbing details of crafting federal policy and budgets follow up.

This is one of the graphics I received via my fellow advocates at I Stand with Planned Parenthood yesterday and posted to my wall prior to the failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

Facebook Highlights

#StandWithPP is (quoting from them): “A group of social media influencers across platforms – from Twitter to YouTube to blogs – saying together #StandWithPP to ensure that women have access to health care services that range from cancer screenings to birth control.” To join, complete this form.

The Emergence of Female Political Candidates, Especially at the Local Level

When I pulled up the Emerge America site while looking for a stat to use about the number of women entering the political arena (especially local) in the wake of the presidential election, I wanted to act on every single action point of the #WhySheRuns effort to increase the number of women running for office (with the exception of running myself), such as sharing the graphic below immediately.

Facebook Highlights

My belief in the power of women to make a difference locally, at the state level, and nationally (as well as internationally) drove me to donate to my friend Nicolette’s campaign for a seat on the Orange County Commission.

While there are traditional still photos of Nicolette and her awesome family on her campaign Facebook page, this picture, to me, best represents what women can do these days to make a difference: talk to people. Explain how to be a part of government. Overcome fears, objections, inertia. Talk. To people.

Facebook Highlights

Nicolette hosts an advocacy training for the Lake Nona Democrats.

If Our Kids Become Our Parents

Alexandra Samuel posted this to Facebook the other day.

If you knew your kids were actually time travelers who will eventually go back in time and become your parents, how would that change your parenting?

Aaaaaaaaaand I freaked out. I have always said that I imagine I overcompensated in my parenting for the issues that I took to the therapist’s couch, and I imagine that overcompensation in itself will give my kids plenty of material for their own therapeutic relationships.

It’s probably unfair to my kids to delve too deeply into this. For starters, I suspect Tenley would create a much more orderly, clean, environment in which I as a daughter would wear  more monograms and less “wow! doesn’t this quirky piece from Goodwill make you feel unique?” items. With Wayne Kevin as a parent, no one would get all worked up about the thousand and one administrative details of life; we would be too glued to YouTube.

Why Neal’s Mom Should Pay $120 For Great Tennis Shoes

My Facebook friend Neil Kramer asked Facebook Nation for help convincing his mom to indulge in proper footwear:

Please tell my mother that she deserves $120 New Balance sneakers if they are good for her feet.

Sounds like Neil’s mom is has a vein of the same self-sacrificing, frugal constitution that my parents have. $120 is, sadly, run of the mill for proper walking shoes these days. Honestly, if I had $120 I would have shipped them to her the minute I saw the post. I suspect the issue isn’t having the $120 to spend but her aversion to spending it “gasp!” ON SHOES.

Just do it, Neil’s Mom. I am sure you deserve it. As I told Neil, go to RoadrunnerSports.Com, and get a special deal on day one of visiting the website ($25 off a $75 or more order) as well as the option of their 90-day return policy, where you can return shoes no matter how worn within 90 days if they don’t work out (for credit toward another pair of shoes). We have tested this feature out and they mean it!

Editor’s Note: Neil’s mom got shoes! She got Nikes instead of New Balance but all reports say she is pleased with her purchase. In other news, Neil has now gone down the podiatry rabbit hole and “plantar fasciitis” is in his vocabulary (as well as words like “pronation“). He may never be the same! 

Why Everything About Everything Bagels is Awesome

In addition to his plea for help convincing his mom to take care of her feet, Neil posted this (titled “remains of everything bagel”):

Facebook Highlights

Which brought out ALL the “everything bagel” lovers on Facebook (me included). In addition to the wonders of the everything bagel (they’re best eaten in one of the five boroughs, to be specific, but those of us not currently in NYC have to do the best we can), we discussed:

And guess what I had for breakfast today?

Disney

Since I wrote about Disney last Sunday, am still coming down from the high of spending a few days there last week, have lots of young friends doing the Disney College Program, and in general have many friends going to Disney right now (maybe spring break has something to do with it), there’s a lot of Disney on my Facebook feed and I’m okay with that!

Facebook Highlights

How about you? How is Facebook edifying (or annoying) you lately?

Facebook Highlights

6 Life Truths From Fast Passes

I’m honestly not sure how you “do” Disney parks these days without a smartphone. With your device in hand and the help of the MyDisneyExperience app, you can plan and coordinate your entire visit, especially the Fast Pass process.

With a Fast Pass, you get expedited access to attractions, character meet and greets, and shows. After my recent visit, a few thoughts on how using the Fast Pass system intersects with six general life truths.

Planning Ahead Pays

If you want to avoid lengthy lines on the “big” Disney attractions, a Fast Pass is a necessity. When we went to Hollywood Studios, Tenley got fast passes for Tower of Terror, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration in advance. Although I didn’t do the two thrill rides, it helped expedite our trip that Tenley and her friend could do them with a minimum of waiting. And we all enjoyed being able to walk right into the Frozen Sing-a-long without standing around in a line moving at a glacial pace.

If You Fail to Plan Ahead, You Have to Watch Everyone Else Who Did Move Faster

Disney has definitely mastered the art of making long lines look deceptively manageable from the outside looking in. Get in line for something with a 110 minute wait time, thinking “ah … that doesn’t look that bad,” and find yourself enviously watching the Fast Pass holders stream on by, on their way to their fast-tracked experiences.

Standing in Line Isn’t ALWAYS Bad

Although this directly contradicts the above, life is full of contradictions, no? We chose to stand in long lines for several attractions we did not have Fast Passes for, and we had some of the best experiences of the trip during those waits. We spent time talking to a fun family from Oklahoma, discussing the challenges of siblinghood, the pros and cons of uniforms for school kids, and lots of other fun topics. Time flew.

We also played Heads Up! (mostly the Broadway version) and discovered a) how generational some Broadway knowledge is and b) how much fun you can have waiting in line (thanks, technology!).

Sometimes Planning Ahead Doesn’t Make THAT Much Difference

While Tenley and her friend were on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, I chose to do The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The Fast Pass available to me was 35 minutes away, and the regular wait time was 40 minutes. BUT … I chose to get a Fast Pass so I could squeeze in a little errand I wanted to do. Technically, though, having a Fast Pass only saved me five minutes.

Overplanning Can Result in Missing Out on Serendipitous Happenings

The Fast Pass process can lure you into thinking only the Fast Pass activities are worthwhile. I think much of the Disney Magic is generated by being open to the unexpected, the small-but-magical, the discoveries you can’t force. We ended up doing pictures with Mickey Pretzels at Hollywood Studios (after I oh-so-brilliantly observed “oh, the pretzels are Mickey shaped! (SIGH….)). The lighting at that spot was perfect. Any other angle of the sun and it wouldn’t have worked. We were there at the right time, no Fast Pass required.

Disney Philosophy

If only the magic could have taken care of my cowlick!

The Big Things Have Limits

Anyone remember paper tickets? How after a day at Disney your “E” tickets would be history while you would still have a fistful of the less valuable “A” tickets? The same principle still applies, just via an app. We still can’t (or shouldn’t) do ALL “big things” — discovering the hidden gems matters.

Disney Philosophy

Belle and Lumiere were enchanting, even without Fast Passes.

NOTE: There is plenty of fine print with Fast Passes, like who gets the earliest selection window (60 days for people with reservations to stay on Disney Property), how many you can get at a time (three), and more. Read up ahead of time to get the most out of your Fast Passes (I linked to the official Fast Pass site above but Undercover Tourist has great tips here too)!

Things I’ve Never Done

I was inspired to prepare this piece based on a post called “Confessions: Things I’ve Never Done” from Andrea of Living on Cloud Nine. We share so many “nevers” in common, for a portion of this post I kept her  “nevers” and added my commentary. I’ll throw a few more original-to-me ones on at the end.

Seen an episode of The Bachelor (Andrea’s)

Unlike Andrea, I have seen several episodes of The Bachelor but I have never been a die-hard. I have to admit Twitter during The Bachelor is really fun though! (Jennifer Weiner’s Bachelor tweets were especially hilarious before she broke up with the show (thanks, Donald Trump.)
Life Goals
And fun side note: my daughter’s name (Tenley) had a brief popularity spike when there was a contestant on the show named Tenley (Tenley Molzahn — check her out at Tenley’s Sweet & Free Life).
 
Had stitches (Andrea’s)
Can’t say I’ve never had stitches (hello, childbirth).
 
Had a broken bone (Andrea’s)
I hate to jinx things by leaving this “never” here but, no.
 
Been in a Semi Truck (Andrea’s)

Funny/quirky that this was on Andrea’s list but …. I haven’t either!

Gone swimming under water (Andrea’s)

Yes, I’ve been swimming underwater.

Been on a Jet Ski or Water Skis (Andrea’s)
No to the jet ski, yes to the water skis. I have vivid memories of the friends who taught me to ski — I failed many times before finally staying up, and remember so clearly the key to success: staying “down” in a seated position longer than expected — until we were making progress — and then standing up. Not standing up prematurely before the boat had sufficiently pulled me into position. Kind of a great metaphor for life too.

Eaten Brussels Sprouts, Caviar, Eggs Benedict, Oysters, SpaghettiOs or a Big Mac (Andrea’s)

I need to cook Andrea some brussels sprouts (a fave!). I can check all of these off my list.

Joined Facebook or Instagram (Andrea’s)

(From Paula) I am never going to be able to escape Cal Newport (I wrote about his positive impact on my thoughts about attention span here and here, and my disagreement with his anti-social media stance here.) He impacted one of Andrea’s “never” answers (see below).

(Andrea’s original answer) I simply cannot do all Social Media and work and have a blog and raise a family. A couple outlets have to get sacrificed. Now while I admit I am probably missing out a little not having an insta, and you’re probably all gonna tell me that, lol, not having a FB is 110% fine by me. I read an article why one guy [Cal Newport] refused to join HERE and even had others try to argue why he should HERE and his stance remained the same. 
Been inside a Costco (Andrea’s)

Me either! How is that?!

Been on a Cruise (Andrea’s)

Nor have I . Andrea says it’s not for her at all, but I would love to go on a cruise.

Been to a Circus (Andrea’s)

Yes! I’ve been to the circus! While I’m glad so many measures have been taken to protect mistreated animals, I’m still a circus fan, especially the Florida State University Flying High Circus.

Taken My Kids to Disney World (Andrea’s)

It wasn’t a BIG part of my children’s childhoods but yes, they’ve been. Tenley loved it so much she went to work there (for a few months as part of the Disney College Program). This picture is from our visit to her while she was in the program.

Life Goals
Gotten a Tattoo (Andrea’s)
I haven’t done this either, and in most respects it isn’t my thing. However, I do love the idea of a semicolon (to reflect suicide awareness as inspired by Project Semicolon). If you are here in Tallahassee, come to No Regrets Tattoos on 4/9/17 from 12-7 p.m., and either get a semicolon tattoo or draw one on yourself with Sharpie. No Regrets is donating 50% of the proceeds for all semicolon tattoos to NAMI Tallahassee, which provides support, advocacy, education, and research for people with mental illness, their families and friends.

Life Goals

Plucked My Eyebrows (Andrea’s)
Yes, I’ve done this, although I get them waxed now instead of plucking. If you read this post, you know the waxing process doesn’t always go smoothly!

Worn False Eyelashes (Andrea’s)

Nope. I haven’t either and don’t foresee a time when I will.

Now that I’ve worked through Andrea’s list, here are a few of my own:

Won a Grads Made Good Award

I have always admired the winners of the Omicron Delta Kappa Grads Made Good award at FSU, such as author Diane Roberts, retired astronaut Winston Scott, and Sister Michelle Carroll. It feels funny writing this because I could frame it as “I’m only 52 — that  may be midlife but by golly I’m going to go out and write that book, create that world-changing social media campaign, or achieve that transcendent feat that earns me a nomination” but I just don’t see it happening (I probably also have dug my political grave in a few ways with the kind of people who make the Grads Made Good decisions, even if I solved World Hunger tomorrow.)

I remind myself that there are accomplishments in life for which there isn’t a cool batik award (I don’t know if they still do, but winners used to be given a hand painted batik likeness of themselves) and public notoriety, like raising two children and caregiving an elder through severe memory loss and terminal cancer. That matters too.
I particularly remember the 1996 Grads Made Good ceremony, when Wayne and I got a babysitter for a months-old Tenley and attended the breakfast. One of the honorees was Cliff Freeman, who created the Little Caesars “Pizza Pizza” campaign. Judging by this 2009 article about Mr. Freeman’s agency’s difficulty navigating a changed advertising landscape, success can be fleeting; perhaps I should be inspired to keep trying yet reassure myself that no award guarantees continued accolades.

 

Gone to Europe
I checked “international travel” off when I went to Guatemala in 2011 with Tenley. However, my dream international trip is to Valencia, Spain. That’s more likely to happen than winning a Grads Made Good Award.
Driven a Manual Transmission Car
While it isn’t technically true that I haven’t driven a manual transmission car, I surely have not mastered the skill. I did drive to Publix once, with Wayne talking me through it from the passenger seat, but I stalled out once and definitely could not have done it solo. This is a problem because the best car in the family right now is the one that has a manual transmission. I know once I master it I’ll wonder what all my anxiety was about but I’m not there yet.
Honorable Mentions: Are “honorable mentions” even a thing for a blog post like this? They are today, because explaining each one is a blog post in itself, which I don’t want to dig that deeply into right now, but they are tugging at me enough to deserve mention:
  • Never became a doctor
  • Never became fully Spanish/English bilingual (yet!)
  • Never binge-watched anything streaming (yet)
  • Never jumped out of an airplane (never will)

How about you? What’s on your “I never have” list?