Why I March – Assimilation No More

WomensMarchWashington

This Saturday, I will join the Women’s March on Washington in honor of my mamma – Betty Laverne Mekelburg. This weekend marks what would have been her 81st birthday. The march begins, I recently learned, one block from the National Museum of the Native American.

This is profoundly meaningful to me for a couple of reasons… My mom was born on a reservation.  And, I never met my Native American grandmother, who meant so much to her.

As the story goes… my mom was born on an Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Her mom was white and her dad was Native American. She always told me that, as a white half-breed, she never fit in on the reservation. Her community, she recalled, always whispered and pointed at her curly auburn hair and the fair freckled skin that covered her youthful frame.

The only solace Mamma seemed to recall from her early childhood was her Indian grandmother. This full-framed lady, with salt and pepper hair, was a safe-haven of hugs topped off with a secret stash of warm breads and government issued butter and honey. Back then, Grandma’s embrace was the only thing that would wash away mamma’s whiteness. While my mom never shared much about her past, I do recall a certain fondness spilling out whenever she’d mention her native grandmother.

Mamma’s time as an Indian was cut short. When she was about five years old, the Catholic nuns arrived to remove her and her siblings from the reservation. The details of the sudden exit were never discussed, but she vividly remembered the trauma of nuns dipping her in kerosene to kill any mites, or other germs, that may have been infesting her small, white body. With sadness, she told the story of how they shaved her head to clear out any possibility of lice which may have nestled in her locks of red hair. They took every measure to clean up the “little Indian half-breed”.

I can’t imagine how traumatic and horrifying this experience must have been for my young mamma.

Arriving in her new life, mamma quickly learned that the 1940’s white America was no place for an Indian half-breed. In that regard, her fair skin and red hair served her well. After leaving the reservation, she assimilated as quickly as possible, and never looked back. So much culture and heritage tossed and discarded – a family tree pruned for survival.

There’s a huge gap in the story of my mom’s life. What I did learn from snippets of her early childhood is that racial intolerance, no matter where you are born, or where you end up in life, breeds hatred and fear.

Set me free

People are people are people. I believe that all lives matter. Part and parse as we may, our DNA proves that we are all human with hearts pumping blood and lungs breathing air. The rest is a distraction.

I join the Women’s March on Washington carrying the spirit of Momma’s native soul. In addition, I march with the intention of universal healing across all racial divides. Too many stories of hatred and bigotry line our path to 2017.

 

© 2017, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.

Friends with Benefits, Starbucks, and Trump’s Genius

starbucks coffee shop

It’s been a week. The world is still spinning. The laundry is still piling up. The fridge needs restocking. And, client deadlines didn’t go away.

The election is over and we now know that some of our friends and loved-ones chose Trump.

Does that have to mean that they are not who we thought they were, at their core? We have a choice to make. Are we going to participate in hate acts that we so strongly denounce? Are we going to tell them there’s no room at the holiday table for their worldview? Are we going to officially un-friend them on Facebook? In some cases, the answer is a resounding YES. In others, it might behoove us to take a closer look.

It’s been said that we are all a sum total of our experiences. I will never be a Muslim woman or a transgender man. I’ll never worship Buddha or be able to understand the plight of the sex-trafficked teenager. I can read books, talk to people, form opinions… which, by the way, seems to change the more I read books, talk to people, and form opinions. (Anyone else have that happen?)

Opening the Door to Tolerance…

In recent days, many journalists have had to eat crow and admit that everything they thought about politics is now completely out the window. Don’t cast stones – many of us were flying in on the same plane, headed for a different landing.

Last Friday, I watched Meet The Press (I kind of have a political man-crush on Chuck Todd. Don’t judge me.) Chuck had Chris Clayton, an agricultural policy reporter on his show. It was a smart move, on Chuck’s part, because his viewers – like it or not – need to somehow figure out how to move on. The best way to start that process is by inviting a wider range of people, with differing views, to the discussion table.

I found Chris Clayton to be extremely level-headed and very eager to help those of us on the “other side” better understand our Trump-supporting counterparts. To watch the segment, click here. It’s well worth the 8 minute investment of your time.

chris clayton

My take-a-ways from the segment were threefold.

First, Democrats (and Washington) completely overlooked Middle America. Second, technology has empowered us to deepen our limited worldviews. Third, Trump is a marketing genius.

First: Democrats and the mainstream media completely overlooked Middle America. Big Time!

Trump’s campaign met mid-America where they were. His team visited the Heartland with a message of hope and prosperity. To those with farms or living in rural America, he discussed issues that were top-of-mind like water rights, land rights, oil rights, gun rights… For many people who earn (or previously earned) their living working the land, processing oil, or working in factories – the Trump message was one of hope.

Don’t get me wrong, they also heard about his indiscretions. However, most were focused more on their lost jobs, lost wages, and the growing perception that they were losing everything they grew up believing was American.

Meanwhile, their airways provided a dog and pony show including a “Crooked Hillary” laundry list with hours of justification to that end.

Over the past several decades, Democrats (and Washington) have overlooked this growing voice of concern. On November 8, 2016, this collective voice rallied far and wide. They fought for their right to be heard. Like it or not, it is our time to listen.

Yes, the result of this election will also spill over into what we hold dear: environment, human rights, and other social issues. And you know what? It’s okay. They have a right to believe how and what they believe. They are a sum total of their experiences.

And, so.are.we.

Our democracy allows us to disagree. Veteran’s Day is a good reminder of this fact. (Moment of silent appreciation to all Vets and their families who have made, and continue to make, the ultimate sacrifice.)

Second: Technology has empowered us to deepen our limited worldviews.

Since we are a sum total of our experiences, we tend to seek out information about things that are familiar to us. We can hear from a wide range of similar voices, and choose to ignore other opinions – even if we don’t realize that we are making that choice. (If you don’t believe me, read up on how social media and search engines use our selections to frame ads, newsfeeds, and other blurbs that pop up each day.)

Some of us may abhor everything that Trump stands for. However, I think we can all agree that he is a marketing genius.

If you are choking on my use of “Trump” and “Genius” in the same sentence above, please let me explain… (Good segue to my 3rd take-a-way)

Third: Trump is a Marketing Genius.

I am a marketing person and when I was working on my undergraduate degree, there was a whole section on the genius of Starbucks. It’s a classic marketing case-study which points out that Starbucks took a .25 cent cup of coffee and turned it into a $5 buck experience. Some people were outraged. And, it changed an entire industry, seemingly overnight.

White cup of Starbucks coffee on wood board.

I believe that Trump was spinning two effective and powerful messages concurrently. Those on Camp Hillary were so focused on his message to us, that we missed what he was saying to the rest of the country. It was a 50/50 A/B split. (Marketing lingo) And you know what? He rocked it, folks.

While we were busy being barraged with 3 a.m. tweets, racist comments, offensive gestures, and other forms of unacceptable rhetoric – we took the high road. After all, “When they go low, we go… HIGH!” Yup, we fought a good fight for social justice, with the intent of giving those without a voice a platform to stand on. The problem was, we never saw or allowed ourselves to truly listen to what he was saying to the rest of the country. I firmly believe that Donald J. Trump hangs his hat on the philosophy that “there’s no such thing as bad PR”. Don’t believe me? Check out Hillary’s ad spend vs. Trump’s. Checkmate.

Meanwhile, mid-America… those listed above, as well as, 1st or 2nd generation Americans whose family fought hard to take a legal path to citizenship, may have been listening to Trumps message on “Making America Great Again.”

For example, talk to the construction worker who has the last name Gonzales and is a 45 year old registered Republican. See how he feels when Democrats send a Spanish speaking Hillary supporter to his door, assuming that his language of choice, will win them the vote. His surname does not dictate his education level or worldview. No one really took time to ask. We were too busy knocking on doors.

Or, talk to the property owner who thought they were renting to a family of four and later found out that 10 illegal immigrants were also living in their 3 bedroom rental. Immigration reform looks very different from where this landlord sits. I think we can all agree on that.

In Summary…

I lay all this out, as if to say, we must stop judging the other side. America has spoken, and it’s time to phone (or text) a friend and begin rebuilding together. After all, friendship has its benefits.

Multiracial group of people with cellphones

I had dinner with a Trump-voting friend last night. It was a fabulous exchange and I believe we left our meal with a better understanding and appreciation for the democratic process. She, a republican, believes in women’s rights, marriage equality, and when asked if she gloated after the election replied, “Gloat?! Never! Donald Trump won. What’s to gloat about?” However, the topics listed above really resonated with her 2nd generation mid-American family.

If you haven’t opened your heart to reaching out to someone who selected the T instead of the H, I challenge you to pick up the phone and schedule a coffee or dinner. (Starbuck’s anyone?!)

Sometimes, in our technologically advanced world, we forget that we are all humans…searching for our place in this universe… each with a unique set of circumstances. Allow yourself to find common ground, remember your similarities, and work together for meaningful change.

Along the way, take care of yourself, speak your truth, and take time to breath. Every.day. Sometimes it is okay to disagree.

In closing, here’s a meme I saw on Facebook that seemed especially appropriate:

screenshot-2016-11-15-08-19-16

No matter what anyone says, there is more that unites than that which divides.

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© 2016, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.

Don’t Un-Friend. Stand Together!

There’s a lot of chitter-chatter online about the protests that are breaking out in many major cities across our vast nation. And, I’ll admit, burning flags does seem a tad extreme… not to mention the “Not My President” signs. After all, Trump won fair and square, right?!

Love Trumps Hate, San Francisco Pride Parade 2016

For those of us who didn’t vote for Trump, we are still licking our wounds and pulling our jaws up from the astonishment that a person in America could use the type of hate language he used and still be supported by half of our country.

Half.

Another whole article will be written about how the Dems didn’t do their jobs to earn the mid-America vote. The message has been received and things must change. We hear you loud and clear. For today, I’m focused on something else…

I have friends, good friends, who are Trump supporters. I sincerely pray that this issue will not divide the love and relationships we share. I don’t want to be un-friended. These people have been by my side through health issues, financial issues, family struggles… they show up to events for my kids, attend milestone celebrations, and are a safe and loving community. Simply stated, I want to grow old laughing and cutting it up just like we’ve done for many years.

hires

I’m trying really hard not to succumb to pack mentality. I know that participating in a losing battle of “we vs. they” will end badly for everyone. There has to be common ground. And pretending nothing is happening and avoiding the elephant in the room isn’t going to do anyone any good.

There’s so much to consider. Let’s face it, a blog post is too short to attempt any great feat. So, I’ll focus on two issues that have pulled at my heartstrings today.

First, our children have seen a man elected as President who said horrific things about almost every minority group. Unapologetically. We are told that we shouldn’t be upset about the Trump comments and how they affect our children because we can’t rely on the government to raise our kids.

Second, the protests. Are the protestors overreacting? “Eventually, they’ll have to stand down, right? I mean, how bad can it be?!” This has become the question of the day.

Regarding the kids… It’s true, our government cannot be held responsible for raising our children. It’s up to us to raise our kids and teach them right from wrong. That being said, when the newly elected leader of the most powerful country in the world is not held to task over his comments (we all know what they were) it shows our children that it’s ok to make fun of groups of people who are different (and perceived less) than us.

Freedom of speech concept

By taking no action, we become bullying bystanders like the kids on the playground who didn’t throw rocks but watched the whole thing happen. Not acceptable. Because it’s our responsibility to raise our kids WE MUST STAND UP AGAINST THE HATE RHETORIC whether it’s about Mexicans, Muslims, Fat People, Women, African Americans, LGBT, Special Needs, or any other segment of human beings who are different from us.

History teaches us that bad things happen if we don’t speak up for those who are pushed to the margins.

Living in a place of BOTH/AND is the only safe space…

Our government cannot raise our kids AND we have a responsibility to call out unacceptable and dangerous comments and actions when we know they are happening. Turning a blind eye on what we watched unfold is not an acceptable go-forward strategy.

As the days, weeks, and months unfold, please consider listening with a close ear to the words spoken by the leaders of our county. Whether or not you voted for Trump, we can agree to stand up and speak out against hate rhetoric. Our children are watching and are learning, from us, how to play in the sandbox.

Now, on to the protests…

These aren’t just small groups of confused individuals without a real cause. These are citizens who represent the other half of America who fear that a Trump presidency will impact their freedom of speech; equal pay for equal work; women’s health rights; environmental issues; LGBT; and basic human rights for every race, gender, and religion at the collective table of the United States of America.

Trump promised to be President to all people. However, before tossing the protesting out as malarkey, please consider what Donald J. Trump did within a week of the election…

He appointed a known white supremacist and leader of the alt-right movement, Steve Bannon, to be his chief strategist and senior counselor. Don’t take my word for it, please research it for yourself:

Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/11/13/trump-to-name-priebus-chief-staff-bannon-senior-counselor.html

NPR: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/13/501937200/trump-taps-reince-priebus-as-chief-of-staff-steve-bannon-as-chief-strategist

Think Progress: https://thinkprogress.org/trump-chief-strategist-ad23b5c166f6#.3z28yr5at

If you are still reading… Thanks for not giving up on me yet.

WHY WOULD A HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL NEWLY-ELECTED PRESIDENT-ELECT MAKE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT WITHIN ONE WEEK OF HIS ELECTION?

What message is this sending?

Can you see now why there is protesting in the streets, folks? The fear is real. When people of color and diverse backgrounds hear that a white supremacist has been appointed, their fears become a reality. This is scary. Whether or not you voted for Trump is no longer the issue. And, we cannot be bystanders and simply watch hate unfold.

Please try to understand why people are gathering to collectively share their concerns in a public forum. Public demonstration has lead to many great changes over the course of our American history, and folks are acting within their constitutional right to let their opinions be known. (Granted, there is a huge difference between peaceful protest and dangerous rioting. The latter is unacceptable and should not be tolerated or encouraged. At the time of this writing, riots were the exception, not the norm.)

Please pay attention to what is going on in Trump’s cabinet and let your representatives know that this is an atrocity. At this point, he is actually fueling the anger and legitimizing the fear that so many in our country are taking to the streets in protest.

Good people on all sides of the political spectrum must find common ground. We can debate guns and abortion later… but for today, I think we can agree that we must take a stand against hate and let our collective concerns be known.

Standing up for unity in a divided nation.

Don't boo. Vote.

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© 2016, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.