The Momtastic DNC Convention 2012 and Religion

I, as many others did, loved Michelle Obama’s speech. It was, as others have mentioned, amazing and brilliant. But I noticed something else–she is all about being mom-in-chief. Now, there’s nothing wrong with motherhood. I, myself, hope to someday be a mother. But I’m not, and more importantly, even when I am a mother, it will not be all I am, and it is certainly not all Michelle O. is.  Slate had a wonderful post, written by Katherine Lanpher about how single, childless women are, quite frankly, forgotten. I don’t fault Michelle for this; rather, I consider it a problem of our society that we can’t talk about people who are not parents, and especially women who are not mothers. What bothers me about this is that it, like calling reproductive health issues “women’s issues,” limits women to our uteruses, to our reproductive capacity. It limits us to being simply a vessel for brining new life into the world. Which, while it is miraculous when women are heroic enough to bring babies into the world, is not fully representative of all the amazing things we can bring into the world, nor all the amazing things we can do in the world. Michelle has worked as a lawyer, successful in her own rite, and she made more money than her husband; she is part of a new breed of women, one where women are more educated and more successful than their male counterparts (which I am so psyched to read more about in Hanna Rosin’s forthcoming book, The End of Men, and was initially discussed in her Atlantic article in the summer of 2010). Yet, when she mentioned in her speech that for dates with her husband, she could see only a dinner OR a movie, because she was an “exhausted mom,” she left out a word–working. Because part of the reason she was tired was because she was working, not just because she was a mom. It is frustrating to know that she really can’t mention that, because the demographic she’s going for isn’t that, but people who still see an ideal world as one where women and men have their clear and very different places, and women’s “place” is in the home. I find it restrictive, and not very representative of what I see around me. But what do I know, I’m just a progressive, urban heathen.

The other issue is religion. Originally, the democratic platform didn’t have anything mentioned about God. But after criticism and accusations that the Democrats were taking God out of the government (what? We’re not a Christian nation???!), they had to put it back in. I am still frustrated as ever regarding religion and its place in society. I do see that it seems to have helped (and continue to help) a whole lot of people through and out of difficult times. I think that’s a good thing. But we do not live in a theocracy, and the rallying cries about how the Democrats are ruining the world with their birth control that somehow (seriously?) thwarts and limits religious freedom is just ludicrous. Your religious freedom does not cover you pushing your religion on others. Because that infringes on their religious freedom. Get it? No? Well, I guess we’ll just have to keep fighting for our freedom from religion.

I’m pretty tired, so my apologies if my thoughts aren’t entirely coherent. That’s all for now. More later. Or sooner!

A Visit Home and Another Wedding

I am now waiting at the airport for my flight back to NYC, after an eventful weekend of my best childhood friend’a wedding, Rachel. It was lovely–cupcakes and a candy table, and I am looking forward to seeing the photos. I also got to see my friend Elana, which was really nice.

Outside the wedding, I got to see my famillas friend Jon (who I hadn’t seen in 4 years at least) and Matt. AND I convinced my dad to go register people vote (Obama!!). All-in-all a really excellent weekend. I’m ready to get back to my NYC life and play some improv tonight with my favorite improv-playing ladies at the PIT. Yay! Then back to real life tomorrow. It’ll be a bit of a long haul for wok, but I’m pretty excited to get back to work an get some things done. It is going to be an awesome fall. Heck, yes. More to come soon (DNC convention, perhaps some religion stuff).

Love, Shannon.

Racism and Murder

Today at work, I was meeting and brainstorming with a couple of coworkers. Both are women. Both are black. One is Jamaican–we’ll call her B, the other we’ll call A. We were talking about another coworker, and whether I’d described A as a “little black girl,” which I told them I didn’t need to, since he’d known who I was talking about. I added that white people didn’t like talking about race, though, and A started to joke about hoodies, iced tea and skittles, referencing the recent events of Trayvon Martin’s murder. While some people are busy worrying about hoodies, it is interesting to have this conversation with people who are not white. B and A both immediately had stories where they had experienced some sort of clearly out of touch comments by white people–one where someone at a meeting claimed that on a federal report, blacks were identified as “negroid,” to which she (and to their credit, the rest of the meeting), collectively said, “huh???!” The woman quickly corrected herself. The other coworker had a story about reviewing charts at a different organization and finding documentation with race listed as “other: colored.” She brought this to the attention of a white director, who was astonished and shocked, so both situations, other people were clearly as disturbed as A and B, but it’s just further proof that racism is alive and well.

I told them that that was the reason, too, though that white people are afraid to talk about race. We’re afraid to say something that offends someone, and that we won’t even know it offends them. But we have to. Trayvon Martin is another reason why we must discuss race, however uncomfortable it may be. We have to be willing to be called racist, and know that in certain ways, we probably are, but that that doesn’t mean something about our character or intentions. I have tried to be brave and to not shy away from race, as a topic of conversation, as a part of a description of someone, etc. I do notice when someone is black, white or Hispanic or Asian, or anything else. I’m always curious about people. And sometimes, I will offend people. But if I’m not willing to be corrected, how can I ever learn what individual people are offended by? I won’t say it doesn’t still make me nervous–I still have a visceral reaction, and sense that before I describe someone as black, I should mention something else about them, or maybe that I shouldn’t mention their skin color at all. But I’m a lot more comfortable talking about race with people who are not white because I’ve practiced, especially with people who already knew me, with whom I had established a relationship, and who knew already that I thought of and respected them as people.

I feel lucky to work with people of different backgrounds–who are not like me, and yet who are. And I am so proud that for the first time, when a horrific tragedy like the one that happened in Florida happens, we have a president who is able to say, “if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” This shit is hard, but we have to keep talking.