Monday, September 30, 2013

The Republican Party Needs Our Help

I got a message recently about one of my blog posts, saying that I was too nice to Republicans and telling me I didn't know enough about how they are trying to destroy our country. It's not the first time I've gotten a similar message. You can see my response to such messages in another recent blog post. This post, I'm sure, is going to make more people angry.

I watch the news and I read. I can't pretend I understand all the issues as well as some people but I see what's going on. What's going on is things have gone crazy. I think people have latched on to the crazy too much and I think that has the potential to hurt this country even more. It's important to know that the crazy is out there and it's important to refute it, don't get me wrong. But when we paint an entire party with the same color paint, we're making it less likely for ordinary voters to use their voices in ways that promote reason and we're making the country more polarized.

I know a lot of Republicans. I disagree with them on some of the issues. They aren't out there crazy talking and saying and doing the kinds of things I've heard from people like Ted Cruz. Actually a lot of these people are just as disgusted with what some people in their party are doing right now as I am. I also hear from people who say they don't even vote because they feel they have no one to vote for, and I get the feeling a lot of them lean toward the Republican side of things.

I'm not suggesting that my friends who are Democrats start campaigning or voting for Republicans. What I'm suggesting is that when we hear about Republican candidates who are acting reasonable, even if we disagree with their positions on some of the issues, we say, "Hey, that's cool." Maybe we could write letters to them, telling them that even though we disagree with them on the issues, we appreciate that they are not doing things like advocating laws to take other people's rights or ability to make choices away or do things like shut down the entire government. When we talk about candidates we support, and someone says they don't support that candidate for whatever reasons, we could suggest another reasonable candidate they could vote for.

I think if more of us start doing this, we might have a chance to help eliminate some of the crazy. But it's going to take time. We're in danger now of creating a generation of people who don't care. The government is supposed to represent the people, and when the people start appreciating reasonable voices, even if they don't agree, the government will start reflecting that. Fox News might not be fair and balanced but that doesn't mean we the people can't be.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Forever Alone

This week, I learned a lot about friendship. I'm lucky that I have a lot of friends who will be there for me, no matter what. One of my friends sent me a message recently after he read one of my blog posts. He was talking about relationships and how a lot of people get it wrong when they think about relationships. A real relationship is one in which the other person makes you a stronger person. You might meet someone and really like that person, and maybe that person likes you too. But even when people like each other, that's not enough to make a real relationship.

My best friend is a good example of what it's like to have a real relationship. We've been friends since we were little kids. We don't live close to each other, but our parents make sure we get to see each other regularly. We talk to each other almost every day. We share a lot of the same interests, but we're both interested in different things also. Through our different interests, I think we learn a lot. We approach problems differently in some ways and learn a lot from each other that way too. I know that if I were hurting or in trouble, there's no doubt in my mind he would be right by my side. He really does make me a stronger person.

I've heard the phrase a lot, "If you want to have a friend, you have to be a friend." I think the word friend is a word that gets used a lot because it's an easy word to use. No one who is your friend would ever try to hurt you or kick you when you're down. I've thought a lot about the kind of friend I want to be. Thinking about this proves exactly what my friend who sent me the message to talk about relationships was saying. When I think about what kind of friend I want to be, I think about my best friend and what kind of friend he is. I want to be the kind of friend who is that loyal and caring. I want to be the kind of friend who empowers my friends to be strong because they know, no matter what, I'll be in their corner.

I learned from a very early age that when you're successful, a lot of people will want to attach themselves to you. These people aren't friends, they're followers. When you fall, these people will turn away from you in a hot minute and when they see someone else who they view as being more popular, they will attach themselves to that person instead. If you make the mistake of thinking of these people as friends, you're going to get caught up in that same mentality. You'll start caring more about what other people think and not so much about how you think and feel about yourself.

The great thing is when you have a lot of people in your life who make you stronger, you attract a lot of other really strong people. I often joke that I'm forever alone, even though I have so many people in my life who really do care about me. I say I'm forever alone because people like my best friend have helped to make me so strong that I'm not afraid to step out there alone. Look at what's happened as a result. I'm inspiring other people to step out there too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


This is one of my favorite songs, and I listen to it every time before I start writing. Enjoy. 

I don't write to please people and I don't write to further the agenda of any party. I write to stand up for what I believe in. Words are my gift. This is my voice. No one will ever tell me what to write or especially what not to write. Nine thousand people read my last blog post. When you know anything you write will possibly be read by thousands of people, it's important that you make sure you mean what you say.

I've been honored to write guest blog posts for Liberals Unite and most recently for Moristotle & Co.  In neither case did anyone try to tell me what my message should or shouldn't be. I wasn't given these opportunities because someone wanted to use me as some sort of prop. I wasn't given these opportunities because I'm 12 years old and cute. I was given these opportunities because some very special people read and appreciated my previous work. I consider this a very great honor.

Words can hold people accountable for their actions. I'm not afraid to call people out regardless of what party they represent. I've experienced acts of extreme good will from Republicans and I've been dissed by Democrats. I don't judge people based on what box they check on their voter registration form. I didn't get involved in activism and start writing about politics and social issues to play party games. My loyalty is to the truth and to being true to myself.

Writing isn't just about getting a bunch of people to read your words. Words can inspire people to feel and can inspire people to take action. The whole reason I started this blog in the first place was because I saw how another writer had inspired people to take action and help support people facing injustice. I'd like to encourage other girls to not be afraid to share what they write. Even if only one other person reads what you've written and that one person is affected in some way by your words, you have succeeded.

It's important for girls to remember that we have power. Each and every one of us has some gift or talent that can make a difference. Each of us has the power to reach people. In my case, I have the power to write things that reach thousands, the power to call contacts in the media and give them a scoop, and the power to post on social media and it have the potential to go viral. I didn't get this power by accident. I got this power because I work hard. There have been times I've written something I was really proud of, and then maybe only a few hundred people read it. Then I'll write something else, something I may be unsure about or not think is very good, and people love it. You can't predict how your audience will react. You can't get discouraged by other people's reactions.

There are thousands of other people out there writing about the same issues. You have to keep it real with people and look deep inside yourself so that way, there's a good chance you're bringing something unique to your potential audience. People will try to steer you towards their message sometimes. Beware of those people. They do not have your best interest at heart, only their own. I wrote a post about abortion yesterday and several of my pro-life friends said they liked it, as did several of my pro-choice friends. That's when you know you're doing it right.

Today, I have a guest blog post featured on Moristotle and Co. about Moral Monday. I'm sure there are people on the right who won't like it and people on the left who won't like it. If there is one thing my readers can be assured of, agree or disagree, I mean what I say.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Open Letter to the Woman Who Called Me a Baby Killer

Dear Fellow Human Being,

It was shocking to me that you, an adult, were unable to engage in a reasonable discussion with me, a young person. When you recognized me, I didn't try to hide who I was. The reaction I got from one of the people there with you, that it was a good thing I was standing up and getting involved, is a response I've gotten from many Republicans. See, many people involved in politics can support the idea our democracy is about all kinds of voices being involved, even if people don't agree on all the issues. Believe it or not, there are even things people from both parties can agree on.

I was more than happy to discuss abortion with you. I was more than happy to explain the reasons I am pro-choice and I was more than happy to listen to you talk about how your experience having numerous abortions has made you pro-life. It took a lot of courage for you to talk about something so personal with me, someone you just met, and I really appreciate that. What you need to understand is that the purpose of these discussions should not be to change someone else's mind. Neither one of us, no matter how strong our positions or how right we think they might be, has the ability to do that by brute force. The real purpose of these discussions should be for us to understand where the other side is coming from.

You, however, couldn't have this type of reasonable discussion and instead chose to call me a baby killer. Had you been able to act like a reasonable human being and had this discussion with me in a reasonable manner, I bet we could have then found something we had in common. I bet you know some teenagers who are pro-life that would pre-register to vote at 16 or 17 years old if we worked together to restore that opportunity for them, as I know I sure do. We could have talked about our dogs. We could have talked about the weather and how we hoped the rain would hold off. We could have talked about all kinds of things if only you had been able to act like a reasonable adult.


Another Human Being

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Yesterday, I went to Raleigh for a Moral Monday led by young people. The experience I had was quite different than I thought it would be. The beginning of this rally was held in a church. There were caskets at the front to remember the little girls who were killed in the bombing of an Alabama church 50 years ago. This meant a lot to me, as I just finished working on a short film about race and justice. You can watch it here:

All the young people there got up in the front as the rally started and we were holding pictures of the girls. Several young people spoke. They spoke about taking action on voting rights and education. They talked about how they planned to take action to stand up for the rights of other young people. We sang and there was a prayer. Then it was time to march. People carried the caskets and we marched down Wilmington Street and circled around the Governor's mansion. Some people seem a little confused about why we did this. The death of those four little girls was because of a division so deep and so grotesque it led someone to commit violence. We marched with those caskets because we, the young people, don't want to live in a world where that level of division exists.

Then we got to the lawn there at the legislative building, the spot where many of us had gathered before at Moral Monday. As usual, instead of being in the large crowd, I found a quieter place to sit and watch. I talked to a few people I've gotten to know online and it was really nice to finally meet them in person. A very nice man walked up with his little boy, and he said he wanted his son to meet me because I was an inspiration. The little boy's name is Dantz and he is an 8 year old future leader. Dantz said he thought I was tall. I'm not tall, even for my age. I'm used to everyone towering over me. But here was this kid, looking up to me.

Reverend Barber spoke at the rally. He talked to us, the young people, about how important we are. He encouraged us to get involved. He talked about how it's important to work on bipartisan solutions to problems. He talked about how it's important not to fight with people and instead try to bring people together.

I've heard older people who participated in the civil rights movement talk about marching with Martin Luther King. When I grow up, I'm going to talk about how I marched with Reverend William Barber.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

FYI (if you're a functional human being)

I don't have a lot of time to write this, but I wasn't going to be the only female blogger to not come out and say something about this post made as an address to teenage girls. Before you read it, you should know that this author made another post where she used the phrase "so-called same sex marriage."

First of all, the idea of a family sitting around at dinner deciding who they are "all" going to be friends with is creepy. The idea that adults think they have to monitor their kids all the time and make all their decisions is creepy. It sends a message to kids that they are not trustworthy. It makes kids focus more on not getting in trouble and less about making smart decisions for themselves. If your kids lie to you, you should ask yourself why they feel they have to lie.

Now let's talk about the idea that how you dress is important and that you will never go anywhere in life if you don't follow someone else's idea of what you should be. Please tell that to Miley Cyrus. I would never get up and do a routine like that myself. Just because I wouldn't do it doesn't mean she can't. I'm sure she set out to shock people and she succeeded. I don't see how she's much different than she was on Disney. Same message with a different outfit. Only now that she's using sexuality to sell things, it's a problem for some people. Anyway, she's still very successful at what she's set out to do.

The main problem people had with this post is that it sets a different standard for men than women because the boys in the pictures were shirtless and she was telling girls to keep their clothes on. The author replied to this by making a second post where her sons had shirts on. It wasn't just the image of women she was trying to define with her ignorant remarks. It was the image of men too. I wonder how she would feel if some of my hot gay friends started posting shirtless pictures all over her sons' Facebook pages?

FYI girls: you dress how you want. If you want to cover yourself from ankle to wrist, that's cool. If you want to wear short skirts and halter tops can I borrow your clothes? Seriously though, NO ONE - not a boy, not your friends, not your parents, not your teachers, NO ONE has the right to tell you what to do with your own body or make assumptions about what you do with your own body. YOU make that decision for YOU.

If you feel like your parents don't trust you, don't respect you, and won't let you make your own choices, be patient. Don't sneak around and try alcohol or drugs. If you think you can't handle it anymore, reach out for help. I know a lot of young adults and older adults who were once in your same situation and it will all work out ok. Just remember that in the end, your parents won't be the ones who have to live with the decisions you make.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Great Moments in Small Lives

Oh my gosh you guys, I got to talk to Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC. I know a lot of my friends and people out there on the internet want to know what that’s like. It started with a phone call notifying me MSNBC wanted to talk to me. Then I got to talk to Lorena Ruiz with the show. In two days, I would be going to Raleigh to appear on live TV.

Thank goodness for me it was a very busy two days. Having conversations is not my strongest thing. 300 words come into my head. There are a million ways to answer each and every question. And I would be talking to Melissa Harris-Perry. I was glad I had a lot to do that day. That night, I came out of a rehearsal and I saw that Feminist Justice League of North Carolina had pre-registered teenagers at a local high school that day, the last day of pre-registration for teens. They said my inspiration was one of the reasons they did it.

I spent the rest of that night feeling like I was in a dream. It was like all this was happening to someone I wanted to be in the future. Who is that girl I see staring straight back at me? I went and hung out and played Werewolf for a little while with friends before going home to sleep.

My mom went and got me Starbucks the next morning while I was in the shower. She got me a biscuit too, but I didn’t feel like eating much. I was so excited.  On the way to Raleigh I passed the time with social media. We got to the TV studio and I got to be the one hanging out in the green room for reasons for the very first time. After a little while Ann the makeup artist came. Meeting her was definitely one of the best things about the whole experience. Not only did I get to find out about her and her career, talking about another one of my passions for that time before the interview probably kept me from spazzing completely.

Then it was time to go to where television gets made. I never knew that those backgrounds they show behind people on the news are actually on a TV screen. I got my mic and my earpiece. I would need to do 10 more interviews like that to get used to that earpiece. Then it was countdown time. I started shaking. I was so nervous.

I heard Melissa Harris-Perry talking about protesters and people standing up for what they believe in. Then she started talking to me. Melissa Harris-Perry was talking to me. I just started talking like I was talking to any other person I had just met. That whole time I had to listen to what was coming into my ear, talk, and remember to look at the camera at the same time. I knew words were coming out of my mouth, but I had no clue at the time if I was even making sense. It felt like that moment took all of ten seconds. It went by so fast.

After the guy at the studio told me we were clear, I started crying. I really don’t know why I was crying but I think it was a combination of happiness and amazement at what just happened. Riding in the car on the way home I was getting all kinds of messages congratulating me. As soon as I got home I had to go straight to a class, so it was two more hours before I even saw the interview.

I still have a lot to learn about communicating well and improving my skills doing interviews. I am very thankful that Melissa Harris-Perry is so intelligent and such an easy person to talk to. I really admire her communication skills being able to sit on a panel and really make such good conversation and all the good points she makes. She makes it look so natural but there is a lot of hard work that goes into that. She’s such a great role model for girls like me and it was truly an honor to appear on her show.