D-Day

Today we lived through D-Day. 

First day of the new administration. First day of our fight.

My coworkers and I decided to wear all black as a sign of mourning but also as a show of solidarity. 

My boss, soft and kind, in his mid-60’s who as a gay white man has faced his set of barriers but still owns a different privilege than us, my extremely intelligent and academic coworker, a fiery red-haired white American woman who just turned forty and is fiercely compassionate and an activist, my friend/coworker in her late 20’s who is a quiet, hardworking but really funny young woman who loves music, especially from her ancestral country of Mexico, and who is proud to have been born here in America- we found a way to connect. 

Our decision to do something which at first seems so small, like wearing uniformed clothing, not only created an opportunity for conversation and presented a united front but it also gave me such a feeling of kinship and safety that will prove invaluable in the difficult times ahead.

I tried to stay off of social media and not give website visit counters any contributions all day and in order to rally and stay hopeful I turned to good ol’ music.

I sat tapping my pen along with the beat from  Kendrick Lamar’s unexpected anthem Alright. I watched perhaps for the hundredth time Beyonce’s MTV performance of Freedom and thought about what that means to me now.

I revisited my roots and soared with the voice of Lila Downs on the Frida Kahlo movie soundtrack imagining doves and fire, meditating on  how to channel the strength of that inemitable, queer, disabled Mexican woman in my life.

Then I decided I’d look up if Spotify had any topical playlists for the day. They did not, but my search for “inauguration” turned up President Obama’s 2009 inauguration speech. Needless to say, listening to it today was difficult, and I had to pause often to take a moment to think and try not to get emotional at work. Hearing the hope and promise that speech held eased the burden a bit but made the stark difference between that day and today even clearer.

I don’t know exactly what I clicked that took me to an album which has Maya Angelou reading a selection of her poems set to music and with accompanying vocalists. What better voice to pay heed to on a day like today than civil rights activist Maya Angelou? 

The poem I heard in the author’s own voice was, “Still I rise.”

It was tailor made for how I was feeling and I’m sure how many of us are feeling today that I have to share it. 

Still I Rise                                                           by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops.

Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

© by owner. provided at no charge for educational purposes

Let us honor those before us that have paved the way for us today to have the freedom to be who we want to be. 

Let us find ways to connect with each other now and spread a message of resistance to hate and take upon us the great burden of compassion and love. 

Let us rise.

Inaugural Post: The Locker Room


My new internet friends:

So I finally sat down, got the website address I wanted and can now share my thoughts publicly with the world via the inter-web.

Huzzah! Welcome to the Locker Room.

Perhaps I should explain the name.

I know, I know. “The Locker Room” Sounds more like a bondage club (also fun!) than a blog but I chose the name for a couple of very important reasons.

President You-Know-Who came under fire a few months ago for using misogynistic, lewd, and downright alarming language in a leaked video in reference to actress Arianne Zucker. If you’ve heard it I’m sure you share my sentiment when I understatedly say, GROSS.

Sadly many people defended and even excused his behavior by saying it was nothing more than Locker Room Talk™. (Please note I use the TM symbol loosely, as snarky/ironic commentary on the fact that the concept in reference is now an accepted and popularized “thing” with set, identifying characteristics. i.e. “Fuckboy”. More on that later….) But anyway, I digress.

Hearing people normalize conversations like that one as acceptable “boy talk” and saying it wasn’t offensive  because it is reserved for the inner sanctum of the holiest of holies – the locker room- prompted me to pause for a moment and consider the absurdity of this idea. That certain men, and some women, think it’s okay for men in general to talk about women this way. That it’s fine to use abusive sexualized language when referring to women when it’s done in a place reserved for the male narrative because “who hasn’t?”.

Now I’m no athlete. But I have endured my fair share of locker rooms throughout my school years and during the odd invite to try out a new gym from a well-meaning friend. The last time I remember being in a locker room where the occupants were actively engaged in joking and conversation was in high school. And let me tell you, some of those conversations were doozies.

My aim in repurposing this term of “Locker Room Talkas a blog name is to try and start a discussion about what kind of speech or “talk” we should be encouraging men to disseminate. And in turn what kind of actions we should encourage men to display in our society.

As a man, the best thing I can do is learn, recognize my male privilege, shut up and listen to what women are teaching me about their struggle and call out other men when they say things that are misogynistic, racist, homophobic and contrary to equality. I have to start with myself.

I have all sorts of thoughts and ideas based on my limited experiences and the experiences of many other people that I want to discuss and share. I can’t tell you how many scraps of paper with the beginnings of an idea I’ve collected into an old brown folio I got at Goodwill or how many unfinished notes I have on my phone with the outline for a blog post just waiting to be fleshed out. And now, as long as I hold myself to it, I’ll be able to hopefully spark up conversations with the world and be a catalyst for conversation and change. Aim high my friends.

I started putting the idea of a blog out into the universe when I mentioned it to friends a few months ago. It started as an idea because I’ve really been itching to write. Working a 9-5 and not having a creative outlet was driving me crazy… IS driving me crazy.

I want to share experiences, talk about subjects that are important to me and others and try to make sense of this crazy world I live in and my place in it.  And now, this space is a reality. I created a blog.

 I really, truly, (honestly) did it. 
ICONIC.

This is my first post and as such it needs to set the tone. The “mood lighting”, if you will, of what I envision “Locker Room Talk” to be about.  Almost a year ago I wrote down what I wanted my blog, back then a proposed newsletter, to accomplish. My goals were to: help educate other men on what it means to be a feminist (albeit without incredibly attractive models and actors wearing cute “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” t-shirts), to help educate men on how we can support in the feminist movement, engage with women on a personal platform to be able to educate myself, show men how we stand to benefit from true equality, address why a society controlled by the patriarchy is not beneficial to anyone and discuss how we can all work together towards true intersectional feminism and equal rights.

I want to learn and discuss. I want to create a safe space for people to talk about what they fear, what they’ve experienced, and learn from each other. I want a safe space to be myself.

I remember when I first started to realize the effect a podcast, a video or a blog post could have on the conversation society was currently engaged in. The comments, both positive and negative, were a deluge! People were reacting in all spheres of society. Creating that conversation led to people sharing each other’s struggles and slowly trying to walk the proverbial mile in another’s shoes.

If Facebook memories have taught me anything, it’s that I am not the same person I was last year, or the year before, or 6 years ago. I am ready to shed who I was and become who I will be. Let’s educate and share instead of tearing people down. Let’s call each other out but with love and for the right reasons.

2016 was a shitty year on many counts, but it also had oases of good. It made me realize I can’t sit idly by and live in a disconnected reality. Sitting idly by is what people taking advantage of us want us to do. And I simply refuse.

I decided to make my inaugural post today, January 20, 2017 to have a record of my journey to connect with my fellow humans in the current social climate.  2016 was a year of getting to know myself, accepting my strengths and weaknesses, and realizing that I have a story to tell and much more to do and grow into. Now my goals this year are to put those words and ideas and emotions into action.

Get ready, because in true Millennial™ fashion I’m hoping to do it with you.

Love,

P.A.H.