Monday, April 14, 2014

Rep. Holmes is not a racist and he doesn't hate transracial families. Just stop it.


Are we, as a population, just no longer capable of understanding context and applying logic? The country (in a furious charge led by the patriots at Fox News) has lost its collective mind over statements made by Rep. Alvin Holmes of Alabama about transracial adoptions. At first I thought it was just a few right-wing, reading-is-for-dummies types jumping on the Fox News ‘He Must Be A Racist!’ train. Then Jezebel published an article about it, and I realized lots and lots of people are idiots, regardless of political affiliation.
 
 

Rep. Holmes said "I will bring you $100,000 cash tomorrow if you show me a whole bunch of whites that adopted blacks in Alabama," he said then. "I will go down there and mortgage my house and get it cash in $20 bills and bring it to you in a little briefcase."

Was this statement clumsily made? Yes, probably. But is it wrong? No. No it’s not.  

In 2013, about 21 percent of domestic adoptions in the US were transracial. That’s up from 8 percent in 1987, which was the last “official” estimate, (and it was 1 percent for white couples adopting black children). And the increase may have to do with the fact that black/minority children cost less to adopt. Also, starting in the late 1990s, the use of racial preferences in adoption agencies that receive federal assistance became more heavily regulated because 60 percent of the children waiting in foster care at the time were of a minority race (which does not match the general population breakdown).

Rep. Holmes’ statement came up in the context of an abortion debate (probably a very polite, reasonable discussion, since it was being led by white male Republicans in Alabama /s), who were trying to argue that abortion should be eliminated because adoption. Holmes also pointed out the “my abortion is valid, hers is not” dichotomy of white conservatives, which comes up so often.

While the argument that adoption negates the need for abortion is wrong on so many other levels (the woman still has to carry unwanted/unsafe pregnancy to term, the woman still has to incur COST of unwanted/unsafe pregnancy, etc.), Rep. Holmes was still RIGHT. It’s not a catch-all solution because minority children – PARTICULARLY black children – are still significantly less likely to get adopted than white children.  

Calling Rep. Holmes a racist or claiming he hates interracial families is just so obviously wrong it makes my head spin. This is the man who introduced legislation to make interracial marriages legal in Alabama. In 2000. Because there was still a statute on the Alabama books in 2000 banning interracial marriages. As in, this century. That’s the Alabama we’re dealing with here.

Interracial families should be championing this man for (albeit histrionically) calling attention to the fact that there are still huge race disparities in our foster and adoption systems in the US.

The only mistake Rep. Holmes made was saying so in a way that was so easy for Republicans desperate to detract from their own stupid statements  to misconstrue.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Horse hunting

So I've been horse-hunting hardcore since about November. I thought my budget was pretty generous, but it turns out I’m on the low side if I don’t want something that’s half lame or 25 years old.

But after riding lots of duds ($5000 for a scraggly, possibly neurologically-impaired mare who bucked the whole ride?!) I finally thought I'd found the right horse - big, flashy, tons of potential, and in my budget because of an old surgery.

Charming and I took time off of work to go out to the fancy show barn where he's in training and meet him, but when I got there, he'd been kicked so I couldn't ride him. I did get to see him lunge, groom him a little and just kind of experience his personality (he's a pawer and a bit on the bitey side - stress-induced is my guess, so hopefully fixable).


That was mid/late-March. I've been trying to get back in touch with the barn since. I've sent emails, called, left a voicemail - all in all 5 contacts, I think (I don't want to be TOO pushy) with absolutely no response. Radio silence.

The horse is still advertised on a bunch of sales sites. I guess I can't tell if they've decided they're not interested in selling to me, or if it’s financially in their best interest to keep him in training rather than selling him for the owner, or if they're just insanely busy with show season...? I thought meeting him went well, but maybe I was too timid and they don't think I can handle him? Even so, it still seems rude to not let me know anything.


I'm still exploring other avenues (and am going to look at a lovely schoolmaster next week as a possible lease) but I'm just so disappointed that I can't even try out this guy.


Especially since I’m pretty sure he really wanted to come home with me.
 
 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The kitchen is done! And other house updates

Okay, I still harbor secret fantasies about stenciling one wall, but for the most part, the kitchen is D-O-N-E done!

It’s been almost exactly one year and 5 months since we moved in, and more than 6 months since we started the renovation, but I’m finally ready to call it finished. We went from blue and pink nursery-diamond wallpaper with a fruit border and more laminate-per-square-foot than an Ikea showroom to antique white painted oak cabinets, stainless steel and copper accents.

It was a long journey, with some detours along the way, but I’m happy with it. Thrilled, even, since I stopped changing the color around the window every other day and settled on Benjamin Moore’s Bone White for the walls.



The oven is my favorite thing ever - it's the GE Cafe series and the gas burners don't try to catch me on fire every time I use them (just every other time or so - but still, a major improvement over the old one!)

The island is from Ikea, stained a darker shade than the ugly pine color it came. It's hard to tell from the picture, but the backsplash is neutral-colored tiles with an accent strip of copper to tie the sink into the room a little more. And man do I love that sink. It's like a bathtub! You can't even tell that we hide the drying rack in there because it's so deep and spacious. 

The pantry doors were the last major project in the kitchen, and I finally pulled the trigger and went with Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy for those. Thank goodness for snow days – got those bad boys painted yesterday. They’re dark, but I love the dramatic pop they bring to the space.




And, in the meantime, we also had the living room, stairway and upstairs hallway painted. Benjamin Moore’s owl grey in a half tint. The first coat accidentally ended up being full tint, and I freaked out a little when I realized the 2nd coat was considerably lighter, but after staring at it for a while, I’m glad we ended up with the lighter shade. It does look a little bluer than I expected, but our space is pretty small, and I don’t think anything darker would have really worked.

I tried to take a picture of the color, but this guy thinks all cameras are meant to capture his handsomeness.




My house is really starting to feel like a dream board on Pinterest… or at least a home. Next up: breakfast nook, dining room, guest bedroom, office. …We’re getting there!  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Arizona's right-to-discriminate bill

Oh Arizona. You just couldn’t let Kansas have all the bigotry fun, could you?

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Republican-controlled Senate and House in Arizona have passed legislation (SB 1062) that would allow anyone claiming a “sincerely held” religious belief to discriminate against anyone they choose (notably LGBT individuals) in any “action or refusal to act.”

To be honest, this is even scarier than various media outlets are making it out to be. Any “action or refusal to act” means the nebulous claim of “but I really believe…” can actually supersede “the enforcement of state action.” Just the claim of a religious belief could actually trump state laws designed to protect the public. It means a “religious” doctor could allow an unmarried pregnant woman to die in front of him, because he sincerely doesn’t agree with sex outside of marriage. It means Catholic bank managers could refuse loans to divorcees. It means Muslim men could refuse access or services to any woman not wearing a burka.

This bill gives an awful lot of leeway to cry “religion!” when actively seeking to harm someone who doesn’t adhere to your specific religious doctrine. Of course, when you put it that way, it sounds a bit like sharia law.

The bill is in flux at the moment as the nation waits anxiously to find out whether everyone’s favorite hexenbiest Jan Brewer will sign it into law.



To be honest, I hope Brewer does sign it. I hope she signs it and it gets challenged all the way to the Supreme Court. I hope Arizona loses millions if not billions in tax dollars and business revenue and tourist income. I hope the Supreme Court strikes this down on the basis of equal protection, which then sets the precedent for marriage equality in Arizona. In short, I hope this epically backfires and the bigoted, hateful monsters trying to destroy Arizona end up being the catalyst for actual progress in the state.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Metro street harassment

I was sitting on the metro this morning, reading my Kindle and minding my own business, when a large, drunk black man got on the train at Silver Spring. He immediately began addressing the entire train, telling us all to have a good day at work, and that if he had a job, he’d have a good day at work, too. He went on to explain that he wanted to go back to work and to school, and he wanted to cut hair. Men’s hair, women’s hair. All hair. I kept a nervous eye on him over my kindle, but like everyone else, pretty much ignored him.

Then he approached two young, probably early-college-age girls sitting across from me.

He started telling them how beautiful they were, asking if they were single, going into detail about how fresh-faced and wonderful they looked this morning. They were clearly uncomfortable, shrinking back in their seats and casting nervous glances at their two friends across the aisle.

I stared hard at him, my heart pounding in my throat, willing him to leave them alone, willing someone to say something, willing myself to say something. I made eye contact with the girls, trying to let them know they weren’t totally alone. But I was scared. What if I said something, and he attacked me? Or pulled out a knife? Or a gun? You just never know.

He took a step back from them, kissing a silver medallion around his neck and professing his love for Jesus. “No homo, man, just me and Jesus. No homo.” Then he started thrusting his hips at the girls.

I glanced around the train, but no one else would look at me, much less him. It was surreal, and we were all complicit as we sat there in silence and allowed this man to harass these two girls. It was over in just a few minutes, really, when he walked to the other end of the train, but it left me with a hollow feeling in my stomach and a horrible sense of regret. I should have done something.

Those two girls will internalize that incident, that sense of fear and shame at being a victim of street harassment in a crowded place where no one else was willing to step up. They will know, intrinsically, that being a woman means being a target. That they are never safe, and that they can’t count on the kindness or decency of strangers. They will be more cautious, more subdued in the future, because they will know that it was somehow their fault for drawing his attention. Even though they were the victims.

The guilt and impotent rage at not doing anything followed me off the train and into my office. So I posted on reddit about the experience, in the form of an open letter to the girls, apologizing for my silence in the face of their victimization. I know the likelihood that they’d end up reading it is impossibly low, but my point was more to call attention to how prevalent and insidious street harassment is, and the fact that we have a responsibility to stop it when we can.

I got downvoted to hell. Not that that’s surprising, really, in a predominantly male forum.

No offense, but if you aren't willing to say something, don't throw a pity party on reddit”

“dont post these things. keep it to yourself.”

The same message that women hear all the time. Keep it to yourself. Deal with it. Let him harass/assault you. It's your fault anyway, because you're a woman. This is normal. This is to be expected.

But it shouldn’t be. We all have a responsibility to do something when we see street harassment taking place – even if it’s something passive, like helping the girls change cars/trains. I wish I’d thought of that in the moment.


I don’t know if I did the right thing or the wrong thing by staying silent. Maybe I could have shut the guy up. Maybe it would have just escalated the situation into something dangerous. But I wish I’d done something more. So this is my something more. So long as it’s physically safe, I won’t be silent anymore. I will say something. Because those girls – and all girls/women – deserve better. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Free speech on Republican terms

I’m so sick of Republicans and their mindless, slavering, hate-mongering, idiot minions who can’t be bothered to pause Fox News long enough to recognize how blatantly evil the religious right has become.

How does one deal with the amount of cognitive dissonance it takes to vote Republican these days? Jesus says ‘love thy neighbor.’ But apparently that’s only so long as thy neighbor is white, male, Christian, straight and blindly agrees with everything Rush Limbaugh says.  

I’ve seen so many stupid images of people “protesting” A&E over the suspension of the Duck Dynasty ZZ Top-reject and decrying his lack of free speech and claiming he’s being persecuted. He had plenty of free speech. He said something hateful and bigoted and terrible, and he wasn’t thrown in jail for it. Free speech satisfied. Full stop.

You do have a right to free speech – but you don’t have a right to whatever speech you want without consequences. See: Yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.

Sadly for the gay-bashing, women-hating right, society is changing, no matter how desperately they cling to the glory days of open racism and persecution and inequality. Thanks to New Mexico, marriage equality now exists in 17 states. In just thirteen years, since Vermont became the first state to extend equal marriage rights to gay couples, we’ve seen a HUGE reversal in US opinion toward marriage equality. That’s progress. And no bleating cries of ‘but JESUS!’ are going to drag us backwards.

You don’t get to try to invoke your first amendment rights in the battle to deny someone else their first amendment rights. Because the second part of that first amendment people are so determined to defend protects the rest of us from having your convoluted religious pseudo-beliefs forced down our throats. Funny how that works, huh?

Oddly enough, these knuckle-dragging bible thumpers who are up in arms over the Duck Dynasty issue were surprisingly quiet when Martin Bashir lost his job for calling out Sarah Palin's idiocy. Wasn't that his right to free speech? They weren’t particularly outraged either when the Dixie Chicks were slammed for criticizing Bush. Wasn't that their right to free speech?


Oh wait, I see. Free speech is only important when it's the free speech to be an ignorant, intolerant asshole who shares your ass-backwards view of how you think Republican Jesus would want the world to be.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Long overdue kitchen update

Remember how I said I wasn’t going to settle – I was going to demand what I wanted and finally get what I thought I was paying for? Yeah that didn’t work out.

After weeks of avoiding us, the sleazy sales guy came back out and shook his head and played with our dog and tsked over the fact that yeah, these don’t exactly match what’s in the brochure, but gosh golly gee, there’s just not much we can do about it. I fought back tears while explaining that the money for the renovation came from my dad’s unexpected passing and man, he really just wished there was something more he could do.

They ended up giving us a $200 credit to help cover the $500 difference between the sink we originally bought and the new sink we had to buy to match the sudden turn of events.

We also had to change our countertops, because the old ones I’d picked were going to make the whole place look like one continuous beige-yellow 80s nightmare kitchen.

So the countertops and new sink (we went with copper, which is actually really awesome, although it’s the size of a small bathtub) are in, and we’re just waiting – yet again – for them to find time to come back out and finish up the last remaining details (discolored threshold piece between the new floor and old, random dangling cord, backwards cabinet door, holes in wall and ceiling, etc.).

And then we have to figure out a backsplash and paint, since the company doesn’t do that stuff (well, they’ll do a backsplash, but at this point, we’re not paying them any more for anything else, so we’ll have someone else do it).

So with no further ado, here’s the progress so far:



 

What you can’t see is that hideous 90s doctor’s office fluorescent light has been replaced by recessed lighting – one above the sink, 4 in the main kitchen area, and 1 in the hallway leading into the kitchen. So much brighter in there now. And we got a nice Kenmore French door fridge with freezer on bottom. Not the biggest thing on the market, but the biggest one that would fit. And it has an ice maker. Do you know what a luxury it is to be able to have ice WHENEVER YOU WANT?! Sorry, it’s still really exciting to me. One of those things you don’t notice until you do without for 3 years…

And holy crap I LOVE this oven. The control panel in the front makes SO much more sense than having to lean across 4 hot burners to set the timer or turn the oven on or off.

The granite looks really dark in that picture – it’s not so dark in person.

Here’s a closeup:

 

So it’s not my vision. It’s not what I wanted, but I think I’m reasonably happy with it. I still cringe when I notice the yellowy doors up against the glaringly white trim, or when I think of the fabulous white subway tiles I can’t use for the backsplash. But it’s just so much better than it was.

We were thinking about going with Sherwin Williams’ Breezy for the paint (which is a blue with a definite green undertone), but I bought a sample and the yellowyness of the cabinets makes the paint look a lot bluer on the walls, so we’re still not sure about that.

 

There won’t really be any paint around the cabinets since we’ll do the as-yet-undecided backsplash, but we still need a color that pulls everything together. Any suggestions, anyone?

Also on an unrelated note - I've changed the design around here again. I went back to something really similar to something I had a long time ago. Thoughts?