Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake

One night about a week ago, one of the news stations was on and I saw a man talking about Vladimir Putin's despicable actions towards the LBGT community in Russia and worldwide. His name is Harvey Fierstein and he wrote a fabulous op-ed in the New York Times. You can read it here:

When I found out he is also an actor and a playwright, I started following Mr. Fierstein on Twitter. I'm really glad I did. Today, two of his tweets really inspired me:

"Make it unacceptable to be homophobic and the laws will change down the line. So don't accept defeat before you've even taken action."


"Discouraging action is the coward's path. Encourage others to protest in any way they feel right and do your best to change the world."

This is truth. Too many people seem content with merely being dissatisfied. When it comes time to actually take a stand or take action, a lot of people are afraid. They are afraid people won't like them. They are afraid they will be excluded. These are really sucky reasons for not speaking out and not showing up.

Too many people right now feel like they don't have a voice. Too many people think things in our country are so screwed up that it doesn't matter what anyone does. Too many people believe everything is a conspiracy. Too many people tell others who do stand up that what they do doesn't matter. They tell us we can't change anything. They remind us nice girls keep their opinions to themselves.

The reason we have so many problems in our country and all over the world right now isn't just because of people with bigoted or greedy agendas. It's because not enough people will stand up to them.

When you see injustice and just sit back and watch or even worse, discourage people from taking a stand, it's the equivalent of sitting in your palace looking out at people in need and saying, "Let them eat cake."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Today, I learned about a whole new kind of cheerleading. I learned on the sidewalk across the street from my Governor's house. To be a part of this cheer team, you don't have to be popular or have years of special training in dance and gymnastics. All you have to do is show up.

The cheerleaders I hung out with today were cheering for women's rights. A lot of people think the only reason we were out there was because of abortions. The right of a woman to choose is only one reason our team was cheering. Access to birth control, health screenings, prenatal care, and so many other things that are important to women are on the line if clinics in our state are forced to close because they can't afford to stay open.

When I wasn't out cheering on the sidewalk, I sat under a very nice shade tree and listened to the other ladies talking. I learn a lot from just sitting and listening. They were talking about laws in our state, jobs, and registering voters. They were keeping up with things on social media and just enjoying each other's company.

We all worked together on our cheers. One person came up with, "Hey hey! Ho ho! Pat McCrory has got to go!" I led a cheer spelling out "SHAME" and there was another one that went "Show me what democracy looks like! THIS is what democracy looks like!" It felt like we were a real team.

I had to leave before the demonstration ended to go to a voice lesson. As soon as I came out of my lesson I looked at my Twitter and saw that Governor Pat McCrory came out of his mansion to hand the women outside cookies. He didn't want to talk with them about women's rights or how the bill he just signed into law would effect them. He just said, "God bless you."

"God bless you" was a very odd thing to say. We have an expression here in the South, "Bless your heart." What it really means is "Kiss my ass." I also find this expression weird because opponents to a woman's right to choose like to bring religion up all the time.

I also found his gift of cookies very odd. There were not enough cookies on that plate for all the women who were out there today. I wonder if he was trying to tell us we should be in the kitchen baking cookies instead of fighting for our rights? I wonder if he was trying to tell us that our health clinics were like the cookies and some people would just have to do without? Either way, I won't be cheering for Pat McCrory's team.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Big Girl Panties

I fully support Tuesday Cain, the 14 year old girl who protested abortion regulations in Texas. I feel bad that people called her names. I know what it's like to be targeted for standing up for what you believe in. I don't wish it on anybody, especially when I see another woman called a whore because she supports women's rights.

I'm a little offended at what I'm reading about in the media on this issue right now though. The reason the Right is wrong for attacking Tuesday Cain is because the Right's arguments are wrong, not because Tuesday is "just a kid" and they shouldn't target her. The reason it's wrong to call Tuesday a whore has nothing to do with her age. It's wrong because it's wrong to call a woman a whore.

Part of an article on New Civil Rights Movement states, "Tuesday, who thankfully does not have a Twitter account..." Thankfully? Why, because we need to protect the poor little girl from reading the bad bad things people are saying about her because it might damage her fragile little sense of self worth? No need to protect this girl here. When I read the bad bad stuff people say about me it lets me know I'm on the right track and inspires me to fight harder and make my arguments that much better.

This little bit here from the "Public Shaming" website made me a little more than disturbed:
"What were you up to when you were 14 years old? Worried about making the baseball / softball team? Writing your school crush’s name one thousand times in your notebook? Trading Pokemon cards in the hallways after class? Picking your nose and wiping your boogers on the underside of your desk?
Nothing’s wrong with any of those things, of course! But just how many of you were not only politically aware, but actively engaging in politics at the age of 14? How many of you were hitting the streets and partaking in the most AMERICAN thing you can do: protest. AT THE AGE OF 14."

Young people are capable of so little. When one of them does something so shocking like pay attention to what's going on and participate in a civil rights or social justice movement, they are a freak of nature. No kid could ever do something like follow women's rights issues and attend a protest and still do stuff like try out for softball. You can't possibly worry about both of those things at the same time. Forget about Pokemon, because once you start paying attention to the news, you'll never have time for that again kids. 

I appreciate the people who let me sit at the grown-up table and there are a lot of them. I'm not just talking about discussing issues either. I'm talking about my friends who hang out and play games, enjoy movies, music, theater, and so many other things together. My friends, the ones who know me, welcome me to the table because I genuinely enjoy being there and they genuinely enjoy having me.

I would rather be labeled a whore than be treated like an idiot. Don't invite me to your table if you think I need a booster seat. Know that if I sit down to play, I came to play and I don't want or expect you to take it easy on me because I'm more of a novice player. I would rather lose an argument than have someone else fight with me for any reason other than they believe in the same thing I believe in.

For anyone out there who wants to attack me for what I believe in, come at me bro. I've seen your kind before and I'm not afraid of you. Know that when you come at this girl, I won't be mad at you for attacking me because I'm 12 years old. I'll just refute your crap the same way the rest of the functional, freethinking world does.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Not for Sale

My vagina isn't being used for much right now, but it has plans for the future. Does it make you uncomfortable that I'm talking about this? Good. It makes me uncomfortable that my State Legislature decided to regulate it like a motorcycle. Even though I'm not worried about my sex life right now, this legislation does effect me right now.

According to Governor Pat McCory, NC has no money for anything that could directly improve the lives of regular people like me. What we do have money for is enforcing a motorcycle safety law and certain other things bundled with that legislation like new regulations for health centers performing abortions. As a result of the need to protect motorcyclists, many women will find that their health insurance plans won't cover pregnancy termination at a time when clinics may very well have to increase costs for these procedures in order to meet new regulations. Governor McCrory doesn't think this motorcycle safety legislation will restrict access to abortion services.

This new law also imposes fines on any doctor who has reason to believe a woman is terminating a pregnancy for reasons of sex selection. I wonder how the doctor is supposed to know? Hmm? I'm sure this provision in the motorcycle safety law has nothing whatsoever to do with a desire to shame women who seek safe abortion services by putting them through questioning to find out their reasons, right? This part of the legislation doesn't have anything to do with the lie that our country is under some kind of attack from radical extremists who want to turn us into China, right?

Because I'm a teenage girl, I know a whole lot about slut shaming. Every fashion choice, every conversation with a boy, even doing something as simple as eating a popsicle in public can earn you a slut label by the insecure and uninformed. Conservatives want slut shaming taught in schools under the label "abstinence education" to make sure that securing a man in wedlock is the first thing on every girl's mind when she thinks about sex. Girls, you better not give away the milk for free or no one will want to buy the cow. Above all ladies, you have to sell that cow. Bullshit.

I don't know exactly what my vagina has in store for it in the future, but I plan to take it to college with me. It would be nice if there were a women's health center nearby where I could afford to go get birth control pills because there are lots of good reasons for women to take those even if they aren't sexually active. It would also be nice if men didn't expect the decisions I make about my own body to be about them instead of about me. The rest I'll figure out later. For now, I just want to make it clear I'm not a motorcycle.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

To everyone on Facebook and Twitter who has shared my posts, thank you. To all the writers I read on a regular basis, keep writing and thank you. I love fashion and writing is sort of like that for me. Looking at different styles of how words and ideas go together is not much different than putting outfits and accessories together. A lot of people I read have great style.

Social media is great because it keeps us all connected with what's going on in our world and helps us understand what's going on in other people's worlds. On the way home from my recent trip to Florida, I was watching Texas women, including a friend's mom, standing with Wendy Davis. When we got back to NC, I was watching the SCOTUS Blog for news about DOMA and Prop 8. While government has attempted to legislate our reproductive rights, I've enjoyed watching the creative ways women have been taking a stand and getting other women (and men) involved.

There's really no excuse in today's world not to stand up, even if you can't vote yet. I've heard kids say, "I'm just a kid, I can worry about all that stuff later." By the time you get to later, if you have any rights left you can thank those of us who chose to participate now. Guess what? There's a big world out there full of people who can fill the emptiness in your soul when that one person unfriends you for doing something like standing up for your gay friends. It's much more fun to participate than it is to sit on the sidelines.

On Wednesday, I was listening to the NC Senate and took particular interest in one what person, Senator Josh Stein of Wake County, was saying about voting rights. So, like any teenage girl would, I stalked his Twitter and trolled his voting record. He's done a good job standing up for the people and he shows people he's listening, which is also good. He stood up for women's rights in the Senate yesterday as well as voting rights. I've seen several tweets today from people wanting him to run for Governor in 2016.

I've got what's probably the best Twitter feed of any 12 year old girl you know. One connection on social media leads to another, then another, and before you know it you can be really well-informed. When people can connect with the people in government who represent their ideas and the people in government realize this and start listening more to what the people say, this is democracy in the 21st century. It's easy to tell which of our elected ones are practicing 21st century democracy and which ones are stuck in the past.

Technology gives us the opportunity to invite lots of people to the party. We have the ability to occupy everything. It's funny to watch people with old ideas try to sell those ideas to people here in modern times. There was much coverage of Senator Bob Rucho and how he said in the Senate that he had to write to the Board of Elections to clarify when his confused teenage son was supposed to vote. Despite this, yesterday in the Senate Rucho spoke about the effectiveness of his family in teaching civics. Senator Rucho and his friends don't seem to understand how all those people end up out on the lawn outside the legislature on Mondays. They don't understand how democracy works in the 21st century. NC's teachers, some of whom teach the civics classes Senator Rucho doesn't think NC schools need, are going to give them all a lesson.

When my dad was a kid, he would rush home to watch the Watergate hearings. He didn't have 1000 TV channels, a computer, or mobile device. He still refuses to have a mobile device. Now, I'm sitting here blogging about current events while following the news, playing a game, watching Golden Girls, and texting a friend. My dad still prefers the newspaper and books to reading news on the internet and sometimes I get to tell him about stuff going on he doesn't know about. We like watching the Daily Show together. My dad is a funny guy and knows a lot about history. I'd much rather take his daddy civics class than Senator Rucho's.

Even in these dark times, there is hope. The Department of Justice, the ACLU, and a lot of ordinary people aren't going to sit by silently and let people's rights be trampled on without attempting to do something about it. We just have to be patient and in the meantime, we have a lot of ways to connect with each other and keep each other engaged. We'll make jokes to help us feel better. We'll keep sharing information with each other. In these dark times, new relationships are being formed and new bonds of friendship are being made. We'll make a difference and we'll have one heck of a good time doing it together.

E Pluribus Unum. Haters gonna hate. Forward together, not one step back. Time to get this party crunk.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I'm Confused

I've visited the voting booth in every election since I was born. My parents took me by force before I was even old enough to understand what was happening to me. By the time I turned two I had a general idea that my parents were picking the people we wanted in government like the people I saw on TV. When I show up with one or both of my parents to vote, the people at our polling place know me. They are happy that I show up, even though I can't yet vote myself.

One of the things the new voter suppression bill underway in North Carolina proposes is eliminating the ability of 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote. Students were encouraged to pre-register through programs at their schools and when they went to get their driver's license. In 2012, nearly 50,000 teenagers pre-registered, most as unaffiliated with any particular political party.

Wow, democracy! Young people participating in democracy is a good thing, right? Not according to some of our elected representatives in the North Carolina Senate. On Tuesday, July 23rd, a debate was held in the NC Legislature and sponsors of the voter suppression bill were questioned as to why this particular provision needed to be eliminated. Please watch this short portion of that debate:

What you just saw was Republican State Senator Bob Rucho, a dentist by trade, talk about how his son was confused as to when he was actually supposed to vote. Senator Rucho says he got a letter from the Board of Elections and had to write them back to ask for clarification on this matter. Let's just let go for a moment of the fact that Sen. Rucho somehow made it through college and dental school. Let's focus on the fact that Senator Rucho is Senator Rucho, a representative of the people of Mecklenburg County that has served over seven terms. 

According to Senator Rucho, we should be concerned that if teenagers register to vote, they won't know that they can't actually vote until they reach the age of 18. They will be confused. Well, Senator Rucho, I am indeed confused. Why exactly should anyone vote for a person to represent them in government that is incapable of explaining to his own son that he has to be 18 to vote? Why should anyone vote for a man to serve in the North Carolina State Senate and have the ability to make our laws when he has to write a letter to the Board of Elections for clarification as to when his son can legally vote?

I'm not 16 or 17 years old. I'm 12 years old and I can see through this man's motives like a picture window. He wants to discourage young people from voting. Maybe it's because young people, in general, support things like marriage equality, women's rights, provisions for the poor and needy, funding for education, and strengthening the middle class. Could be, but Senator Rucho failed to give a good reason yesterday as to why eliminating teens to pre-register is a good idea, so all I can do is speculate. Whatever the reason, Senator Rucho believes insulting the intelligence of young people in the state of North Carolina, insulting the effectiveness of their teachers, insulting the ability of their parents to model citizenship, and insulting the people of Mecklenburg county and our whole state is a good idea.

I don't need you to protect me from confusion, Senator Rucho. I'm a functional human being. The only thing I am confused about is why anyone would want to re-elect you to represent them.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Feel the Heat

I wanted to make sure we got there early for the 12th Moral Monday. I wanted to be able to see the speakers on the stage, which for me meant being right up front because I'm a kid and only about 4.5ft tall. Getting there early meant we got to talk to quite a few people before the event started. I talked to ladies from the League of Women Voters and volunteers from the ACLU, among many others. I even got to watch some people from the NC Justice Center set up a pig made out of balloons.

Seeing Rev.William Barber speak was amazing beyond any words I could use to describe it. During his speech, one of the nice men who was helping organize the event gave me a sip of his drink. After the speech, I went to go sit in the shade for a bit because it was extremely hot. After awhile, I went back out in the crowd. They started to assemble the people who were going inside. There were more of them then there had been the week before. Then, something really terrible happened. I was so hot, I got a little dizzy. This meant it was time to go.

Social media is great because even though I was on the highway heading home, I could follow everything going on using Twitter and Facebook. Everybody who took the time to post updates, pictures, and video should really be commended for allowing people who couldn't be at Moral Monday in person to still be part of it.

Despite the thousands of people who came out to stand up for voting rights on Monday, on Tuesday, the Senate put through a bill that will make it much harder for people in our state to vote. This is more than just a "voter ID" law. This bill calls to eliminate per-registering high school students to vote, something I was looking forward to myself. The bill increases the number of observers that can be at the polls and makes it easier for them to challenge votes. The bill cuts a whole week off of early voting and eliminates same-day registration. These are just a few of the things this bill does. You should read it for yourself here:

A lot of people at the 12th Moral Monday stood out in the heat to stand up for our rights. Where were our lawmakers? They were somewhere keeping cool, I'm sure. Well, I say it's time to make them feel the heat. Too many people have felt for too long that contacting their lawmakers doesn't do any good. The lawmakers just ignore them or vote the way they were going to vote anyway. They want us to feel unimportant. They want us to feel like we don't have a voice, but these lawmakers work for us. We need to make their phones ring off the hook. We need to fill their email boxes and mailboxes. We need to show up at their offices. We need to remind them we do have a voice and that we will hold them accountable during future elections. They might ignore a few of us, but when a few turns into hundreds and thousands of people contacting them each day, it might make them a little dizzy.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Are You There, Flying Spaghetti Monster? It's Me, Madison

I went to church regularly for many years. I was taken by force at first by my grandparents before I was old enough to even understand what was happening to me. When I first started going to church because I wanted to, the head of the church was Pastor Allan. He was exceptionally intelligent and well educated. They had this thing there called "children's church" where the kids would leave the sermon and go play games and stuff. I always sat and listened to Pastor Allan instead.

For as long as I can remember, I never really believed the Bible stories. I think I was about six when I told my mom this and she told me her thoughts on ancient peoples and their lack of scientific understanding. She told me to think more about the point of the stories not whether or not the stuff actually happened. I think that's why I enjoyed listening to Pastor Allan so much. He talked about the point of the stories. He was always so kind. I never heard him pass judgement on anyone. I never heard him tell anyone what they should believe.

As I got older, I thought a lot about what I really believed. I started to realize that not only did I not believe the stories, I didn't believe in a supreme being. Oh how awful! If I died I was going to hell! I  I told my mom. She assured me she didn't think I was going to hell and that she didn't think I was a bad person. She said that she went through a period where she didn't know whether she really believed or not and told me about how that period actually made her faith stronger in the end, even if her faith didn't come out looking like the faith of many others when it was all said and done. She also told me that some people never believe in a supreme being and that no matter what, my feelings and my beliefs belonged to me and no one else. She told me I should never be ashamed of what I believed and she wasn't ashamed of me either.

I continued to go to church because I wanted to. Then the church got a new pastor. She was a lot different from Pastor Allan. She always had something to say about me. She didn't like that I was homeschooled. She didn't like that I didn't have a bedtime. She didn't like my fashion choices. Nothing about me was right. One Sunday, I had a theater event to participate in and didn't go to church. That evening, there was a dinner at church and I asked my mom if we could go. Let me repeat that. I asked my mom if we could go. The pastor reprimanded me when I got there for not being in church that morning. I do not wish to return to where I am not welcome.

I don't generally walk around advertising that I'm a secular humanist. I'm not ashamed of it at all and I have some T-shirts I wear sometimes, but I really don't find it necessary to say, "Hi, I'm Madison, secular humanist, what's your name?" My family and friends know what I am. Some of them are very supportive, some are not. When people say prayers at group functions, I sit or stand there quietly. I listen to the words, and most of the time they are good words. If someone asks me to say a prayer, I just say, "No thank you, go ahead."

Over the last few years I have made a lot of friends who are secular humanists and other non-believers like myself. Many of them have been hurt by religious people. Many of them have been told they need to be saved, that without God they can't have morals, and that they are going to hell. There are some parents who won't "allow" their children to be around us non-believers and censor what their children see and hear so they are not exposed to "evil" and things the adults don't personally agree with. I find it ironic when some of those who follow a religion based on a supreme being who is supposed to be in charge always feel the need to be in charge themselves. I also find it hypocritical when some of those those who constantly state their faith is so strong act so threatened by the mere existence of people who don't share it.

Did you think this was going to totally be a "Rah rah atheist!" kind of post? Think again. There are atheists out there just as bad as the worst Bible thumpers. They declare anyone who believes in any religion is stupid. They declare anyone who believes in any religion is the source of the all world's problems. I find it ironic when some of those who claim to embrace reason throw all reason out the window when it's time to deal with those who aren't hurting anyone but don't agree with them. I also find it hypocritical when some of those who constantly state their reasoning is so strong act so threatened by the mere existence of people who don't share it.

In this country we have freedom of religion, meaning we can worship the flying spaghetti monster if we want to and have lo mein rituals on Saturday nights if we so choose. We also have freedom from religion, meaning we should be free from people trying to make laws that try to enforce the beliefs of any particular religion, have public schools where you can read the Bible or pray if you want but no one can force you, and not have our tax dollars being used to fund any religion. Our Founding Fathers had no problem coming together as people holding a wide variety of beliefs in order to work for the common good. Did they argue sometimes? Yes. The end product though was what was intended to protect the rights and freedoms of all.

In this country we have a lot of problems and I think it's time for people to decide what is more important, being right personally or being free collectively. Most people would say it is being free but actions speak louder than words. We all have to remember that our spiritual beliefs belong to us and no one else. Christians have to understand some members of God's fan club cause a lot of hurt and that being members of the most popular religion in the US gives them privilege they should not abuse. Atheists, humanists, and other non-Christians have to realize not every Christian out there wants to hurt us, save us, convert us, or impose their beliefs on the entire United States through legislation. Most people just want to hang out and be themselves, find things in common with other people, and learn from one another. It's only by working together that we can all be collectively free.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rights of A Child

Today on Think Progress, writer Zack Ford reported that Matt Barber of Liberty Councel Action told the American Family Association's OneNewsNow that he feels the parents of a transgender boy are guilty of child abuse. Why? Because the parents listened to their child, sought out the advice of professionals and are allowing their child, Tyler, to be the person he is inside. You can read more about Tyler here:

Matt Barber accuses the parents of tying to be "hip, cool, and trendy" and his insipid comments include the phrase "Parents need to learn how to parent." Well, Mr. Barber, I am a kid and I would like to inform you and your fans of a few things.

1. Children are human beings, functional human beings, no pun intended. Children are not possessions.

2. Being the person you are is not a lollipop. As a parent, you might tell your child he can't have a lollipop for various reasons. Telling your child he can't have a lollipop does not prevent the child from forming his own opinions or ideas. It does not prevent him from being the person he is inside.

3. Good parents don't act on anecdote. Information from the American Psychological Association on transgender issues can be found here:

This is yet another example of how organizations including words like "liberty" and "family" in their titles stand against both of these things. This is yet another example of adults advocating authoritarianism and oppression over love and logic. The only logic supporters of groups like this understand is fear and the only love they understand is the love of power, even when it's fake power.

Article 10 in the United Nations Declaration of Rights of a Child reads:
"The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men."

The United States is one of only three participating nations in the UN that has not ratified this human rights treaty.

parents need to learn how to parent
parents need to learn how to parent

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Listening and Trying

I'm so white that when adults see me out in the sun they worry about me. This simple fact means I have a lot of advantages. I don't have to dress up, attain a certain level of education, or do much of anything to keep people from looking upon me with suspicion, judgement, or disdain. I don't need special laws or policies to ensure I have opportunities or rights because of my race. This is called privilege.

My state was a slave state. A lot of the restaurants in our town here in NC used to have a designated door or window where "colored people" had to go get their food because they were not allowed to eat inside. When my dad went to elementary school, he was one of the first to go to an integrated public school here. There is a college near us called A&T, which was the "black college" at one time and where African American traditions still are celebrated, but many people of all races attend now. You will find people of all races working side by side now. You can go to a restaurant here and see people of different races eating inside together now. There are no more slaves and no more segregated schools, not officially anyway. We even have a black President. This means there is no more racism, right? Wrong.

Members of the Supreme Court seem to think the racial prejudice that made the Voting Rights Act of 1965 necessary has magically disappeared. This is not true according to the voices I've listened to. When people say others are not treated differently when they walk into a business because of the color of their skin, this is not true according to the voices I've listened to. When people say others aren't chastised for their the fashion choices because they are popular with a certain race, this is not true according to the voices I've listened to. When people say they don't treat members of a race differently when they achieve a certain level of education or attain a certain level in their career, this is not true according to the voices I've listened to. When people say getting jobs or being promoted in those jobs isn't harder depending on a person's race, this is not true according to the voices I've listened to. When people say injustices are not committed by law enforcement or the courts because of the color of someone's skin, this is not true according to the voices I've listened to. Notice I did not say voices I've heard, but voices I've listened to.

I have black friends. That doesn't mean I'm not a racist. I believe that people of all races should have the same rights. That doesn't mean I'm not a racist. I'm willing to talk about race. I'm willing to admit that there are things I don't understand yet about what people of other races experienced in the past and experience now in their daily lives. I'm willing to admit there are things I will never understand about race since I was born with privilege simply because of the color of my skin. When people express the hurt and frustrations they feel in their daily lives, I take them seriously. When people ask for my help supporting laws or policies that will give people a more equal opportunity, I help them. I don't feel like they have an agenda, are tying to take something without earning it, or are trying to take rights or opportunities away from me.

In order to be anything, you have to put forth effort, not just words. In order to have a friend, you have to be a friend. In order not to be a racist, you have to be willing to admit sometimes you say or do things that are racist and be willing to apologize and try to change when those things are pointed out to you. In order to understand where you're going, you have to understand where you've been.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

To Be Loved

I was just a small puppy then. I had no knowledge of the outside world and I didn't know what was going to happen to me. They had just brought me home from that place, the place where I was in the cage, with the glass window where people would look at me and smile. I would get excited but the people would just walk away and leave me there alone. I didn't know of anything different at that point so it didn't really make me sad. One morning, I was brought out of the cage and into a small room full of toys and brushes. It was amazing. The people started to pet me and play with me. I jumped around and it made them laugh. I fetched the toy when they threw it and they rewarded me with a belly rub and a hug. They put a collar around my neck and walked me out of the room. I went home with the people I played with that day. They loved me. I played with my humans all day and slept with them at night, and I started to think that maybe this was how it's supposed to be. Maybe I'm meant to be loved all the time, not just sometimes when someone wanted to comment on how cute I was then lock me back up in a cage.

But as I grew, the humans started to play with me less and less until finally they just started leaving me outside all day and would bring me inside only at night, condemned to a kennel. After awhile even that stopped. They would leave me outside all day and night and didn't feed me as much as they used to. Sometimes, I would go days without a meal. When I begged to get inside with a bark and a whine they would scold me when all I wanted was a hug. That was something they used to do often but now they didn't even acknowledge me...unless I did something bad. I barked all night and whined all day, just hoping that it would pay off, just one more belly rub. Maybe I would be able to see their face again, even if it just was a face of hatred towards me.

Finally, they opened the door to the small yard and lifted me into their arms. I was so excited! Maybe they were bringing me in to play or maybe they just wanted to cuddle. Either way I knew I was going to be happy. They didn't set me on the floor to play or put me on the couch to cuddle, however. They carried me out another door. I was outside again but they kept walking with me until we got to the strange machine my human called a “car” and we began to move. I wondered where we were going. I wasn't sure if we were going somewhere fun. We drove up to another strange place. Was it somewhere fun? What was going to happen here? They took me inside. This was odd. It smelled of other animals, just like me! They carried me over to the desk where the lady sat. They talked to her for a minute and she took me from them. I didn't know what was happening. The lady took me out of the room when the door closed behind me. The last glimpse of my humans face I got was them standing there not looking at me. Why were they not looking at me? What was wrong?!?! I had to know! I flailed around trying to get out the grip of the woman's arms but she held on tight and wouldn't let me go. I whined and whimpered. What was wrong with my human? Then she set me down on the concrete floor, amongst the barking and whining of all the other dogs around me and turned around. I tried to follow her but she pushed me back into the enclosed area with her foot. What was happening? 

Then I understood. She slammed the cold metal door behind her and walked away. It was happening again. I wasn't meant to be loved, played with, or hugged. I was just meant to sit in a kennel all my life. No one loved me and I knew that now. I didn't know why though. What did I do wrong?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Six More Years

For weeks, I heard about Moral Mondays. Finally, I had time to go yesterday. I've been to several demonstrations, but nothing like this. This was like a rock concert for people who care about what's going on in NC and around the country. There were thousands of people there.

One of the things I like best about going to any kind of demonstration or participating in different forms of activism is that I get to meet a lot of people and talk to them. One of the things that's great about going to a huge event like yesterday's is that people come out and demonstrate for a variety of reasons. The theme of yesterday's Moral Monday was women's rights. I met a lot of people there, like representatives of National Organization for Women, who were there standing up for the reproductive rights I want to have someday when I'm older. There were people there for other reasons too. There were people from Democracy North Carolina who were registering people to vote. There was a guy advocating for legalization of medical marijuana in our state. My mom spent some time talking to one guy who was informing people about Wal Mart. I had no idea there was an issue with Wal Mart, and the fact that guy was there made me aware.

One of the most powerful parts of my whole experience yesterday was the crowd parting and the people wearing blue ties on their arms walking inside the Legislature. Those people knew what was going to happen when they got inside. They knew they were going to be taken to jail. They were going to be taken to jail because they want me to have rights. They were going to be taken to jail because there are people who would get better health care, meals, and a place to sleep in jail then they would trying to survive on their own in my state that continues to take more and more away from those who have nothing. I wanted so badly to be one of those people with the blue arm bands on. Unfortunately, I'm just a kid.

I've noticed a distinct difference in the reactions of people who support discrimination and laws like those currently being passed in NC and the people who stand against these things. The people who defend the policies react to me by saying I've been brainwashed and can't think for myself. The people standing against the policies are all very nice to me. They welcome me. They encourage me to learn things and form my own opinions, whether or not I agree or disagree with them. Even though I can't march inside the building to get arrested because I'm just a kid, many adults told me yesterday I was welcome to attend the meeting about it next time.

It's time for people to wake up and realize that, like it or not, kids like me are going to run the country someday. We may not go into politics directly, but we will vote and take part in democracy in other ways. The policies of the GOP currently reflect old ideas and the attitudes of many of those who represent them reflect they do not welcome new ideas or the input of the next generation. It's common to shout "Four more years!" when people want a President re-elected. Well, I shout "Six more years!" because in six more years, I will be 18 and I will be able to vote, among many other things.

Loud and Proud

When you speak out against bigots, a lot of good things can happen. One of the best things that happens is getting together with other people who want everyone to be treated equally and making lots of new friends. A lot of not-so-good things can happen when you speak out against bigotry too. Bigots don’t like it when people speak out because one person speaking out can lead to others doing the same thing. The bigots know if too many people think it’s a cool idea to speak out that there will be a lot less bigots, so they try to fight for their survival by trying to silence as many voices as they can. They most often do this by shame, exclusion, and trying to get revenge.

I went to Florida recently and took part in a demonstration. We were demonstrating because The Hands On Children’s Museum in Jacksonville, which operates tax-free, wanted my new friend Karen to pay more to renew a family membership because, after three years, this time the museum noticed the other name on the membership was Karen’s wife, not husband. I wrote my story about my experience after we got back to NC, and a lot of people on the internet were really supportive when they read it. It was shared with many people.

The bigots of the internet world, not surprisingly, were apparently not too happy. It’s estimated that over five million young people under the age of 13 have Facebook accounts. I am one of them. After my story hit social media, I made sure to go to many Facebook pages to thank people who were being supportive on Facebook. I also had no problem defending myself, my positions, and my ability to think for myself to form those positions. I never lied about my age or tried to hide behind a fake account. Facebook knows they have users under 13 but doesn't delete accounts unless someone reports them. I always knew it was a possibility that someone would sink that low. The bigots, their arguments, and their actions are very predictable. Someone did report my account and it was deleted. I have no idea which Facebook page they saw me on or which comment they thought was so important to wipe away. I don’t like it but haven’t lost any friends over it though. I haven’t lost my voice either.

When I told my story, I knew there was no turning back. When I chose to stand up to those who wanted to defend other people’s right to discriminate and who wanted to criticize my actions, I knew there was no turning back. America is moving forward and it will keep moving forward as long as people refuse to be silenced. No matter who tries to silence me or shame me, I will not turn back. Follow me on Twitter @madisworldofpie.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

In some places in this country, there aren't separate water fountains anymore, but people still make racist remarks in the comfort of their own homes. I live in such a place. It’s a small town in NC where “everyone has a right to their opinion” and nice girls keep their opinions to themselves. This is how the bigots operate. Anyone who calls them out on their bigotry is shamed somehow for speaking out.

One day, my mom saw a post from my friend Dominic’s mom on Facebook about a friend of hers who was discriminated against by a children’s museum. My friend Dominic had played at that museum when he was a little boy. My mom knew exactly how to get the story out on social media, and I helped her. We must have sent out 100 messages that first day. Before we knew it, we had over a thousand signatures on the petition asking the museum to stop discriminating. As the word continued to spread, I saw a letter some boys my age from Jacksonville had written asking the museum to stop their discrimination. That’s when I decided I wanted to deliver the petition to the museum during the demonstration planned for June 22nd. I thought since it was a children’s museum that children had to be involved.

We had fun times at the demonstration. I have no idea how many people there were gay and how many were straight. I know they were all equally concerned with me drinking water and not getting sunburned. We waved, cheered, and held up signs. When cars honked at us, we cheered louder. We cheered extra loud when a lady decided not to visit the museum after finding out why we were out there. As it started to rain, we went to the restaurant next door. Several people spoke about human rights and about things we can do to stop this kind of discrimination from happening. Then it was time. I had my friend Dominic right behind me, the petition in hand, and just…started…walking.

What did I think was going to happen when I went to deliver the petition? I thought I was going hand the petition to the director, say thank you, and then turn and walk away. But a woman at the door stopped me. She proceeded to tell me I was not allowed to go inside and that we were trespassing. I handed her the petition, thanked her, and walked away. The reality of what happened wasn’t that much different than what I imagined. The difference was this woman made it a point to call me a trespasser. Later, I learned someone connected with the museum called the police because we were there. Shame on us, I guess. I have news for them. I’m not ashamed of what I did.

What did I learn on my summer vacation? I learned that some people really like it when nice girls don’t keep their opinions to themselves. I learned that other people will go to great lengths to defend their right to be bigots. I learned in some places in this country, a child can’t walk into a children’s museum.