Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why I almost didn't vote AGAINST Amendment One

Let me be clear.  I voted against Amendment One.  The Amendment is discriminatory and wrong on many levels.  I never would have voted for it, but I almost didn't vote against it.  Here's why:

* You can't take a stand half way!
All of the sudden, people started coming out of the woodwork, ready to talk a lot and raise their voices to fight against prejudice and discrimination.  Where were these people when Melody Ann was told she couldn't get a job at Kmart because "we're not hiring people like you?"  Where were these people when Raeshawn and I were being verbally attacked by a police officer because he had dreads and I was challenging the officer's words?  These people are up in arms because of discrimination, yet they discriminate against people of color and lower socioeconomic backgrounds all the time.  They are coming out to take a stand, yet they're not willing to stand in the line at the Family Dollar or Quick and Easy on Freedom Drive.  They are shouting words of liberty, yet they'd never think of putting themselves in a situation where they'd be shouting cheers for their children as they play on a team at a school like West Charlotte High school.  They wouldn't dare send them there.  These folks are posting signs in their front yards; yards that have fences and security systems to keep every stranger away.

*Church and State
Who cares what the state does?  We aren't the state.  We are the church!  The church can and should recognize marriage.  The church and and should provide care and resources to her body.  The church could, if she wanted to, provide an environment of support, nurture, and even benefits to her people if the people really invested in the church.

*Church People (And I'm one of them)
They talk, but they don't act.  They point to the problems, but don't fathom themselves as the solution.  They pray prayers that they could answer if they tried.

* Privileged people (And I am one of them)
People of privilege took up this issue.  (That always makes me leery.)  And they get angry when others do not.  What they don't realize is that others got a whole lot more to worry about than voting and politics.  Some people are ignorant because no one of privilege has taken the time to educate them.  Some people aren't educated because no one of privilege has stooped so low as to learn a new language and speak within a different set of cultural norms.  Why didn't some people vote against?  Because they live in a different world than you do; speak a different language, worry about different issues.

*The people you care about (Am I one of them?  Is my neighbor one of them?)
When you were standing up and shouting out, you were paying close attention to Brooks and Pat, two middle class white ladies who love one another.  I like them too.  I think they are important.  But you forgot to mention Mary Ann and Nate or Joe and Shondella.  They aren't married for several reasons.  Social services benefits are better for them when they aren't married, church people have turned them off and away, no one is married in their family and they don't even know all the steps how or why to get married.  These people have faces too, just like Brooks and Pat.  But you don't see them.  You don't know them.  You refuse to venture to where you might see them unless maybe you might ignore their faces as they bus your table or mow your lawn.

Why now?  Why weren't you shouting before?  Is it out of convenience?  The safety in numbers? 

*Self Righteousness (of which I have a tremendous amount, unfortunately)
"Look at me.  I am radical.  I am taking a stand.  I say things to stir people up.  I want to be very public in my proclamations.  Everybody, see and pay attention to the fact that I say I believe this way."  That kind of mess gets annoying.

But, I did vote AGAINST and will hope that the good fight will be not just against the Amendment, but against all these other things as well.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


A creepy man tried to get me to come over to his truck the other day.  I was walking down the street and saw him at his house, in the driveway.  I try to make an effort to acknowledge everyone I walk by.  His dogs were barking and had scared the man in front of me off of the sidewalk and onto the other side of the road.  Following in the other walker's tracks, I spoke to the dog owner jokingly saying, "They're doing their job, aren't they?"   The man didn't say anything back to me.  He just gestured for me to come closer and pointed into the back of his pick up truck.  I looked with crooked eyebrows and said, "What?"  He said, "Come here.  Do you want some of this?" And then he pointed at something I couldn't see in the back of the truck.  I looked at him with a grossed out face that probably said something like, "You've gotta be kidding me!"  He figured out that I was uncomfortable and shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'm just kidding.  I just wanted to say 'Hello'."  He moved a little closer and I moved further away.  I said, "Hello, then." picked up my step, and got out of dodge.

GROSS!  Yuck!  Sick!  Bleh! Cringe! 

the things you hear

Yesterday, I met someone new.  Come to find out, according to him he was one of the "originals" that took to living together and extending their home to homeless folk on the other side of town.  I hadn't met him before, but I'd met some of the "originals", so I said something like, "Oh really!  Well, we know them.  They've been over here several times and we've talked.  Our friend used to live over there with yall.  I'm surprised we hadn't run into each other before."  And his response is, "Yeah, I'd heard there were some older people doing community over here, but had never had the chance to stop by and visit."  I burst into laughter.  Older people?  Are you joking?  I'm 34 years old!
He goes on to explain that he looks a lot older than he really is.  He has a degree, but it is a two year degree.  He's not old at all, he's 21.

Well, I won't go into how I felt at his "accusation" of me being old or how I am sort of annoyed that somehow he heard through the grapevine that there were older people doing community over here.  The thought of several people talking about us in a way that leads others to believe that we're old...and in this instance, he made it sound like old wasn't good ( or else why wouldn't he have come to visit sooner?) just rubs me the wrong way.

24 hours later, and I can't get the comment out of my head. But what's bothering me more his lack of manners and sensitivity is his...and maybe, potentially, other's perception of me, us, our community.

So we're not hipsters.  We don't wear tight pants and have visible tatoos.  I don't use hair product or know how to use all the apps on my smart phone.  Does this make us old?  Bad?  Not cool?  And then there's the fact that we don't wear baggy clothes and we don't have dreads, we don't wear potchouli.  Does this make us less than cool? 

And if people are talking about us in a way that seems to include some language that describes us in a not so popular or pleasant way, could this be one of the reasons why we haven't managed to gain committed community members. 

I know there are things about ourselves that others cannot see.  Are we old? dated? uncool?

I honestly thought we were living radically, doing things differently, being creative, and making our best attempt at being faithful.  I wanted to think that people thought we were cool but just couldn't buy into the radical nature in which we live.  I wanted to think that the reason we couldn't gain in number was because personalities clashed or the neighborhood or community just wasn't the right fit.  I can swallow these thoughts, though they are not pleasant.  But, if what this guy says is true, then there are people who are making attempts to live radically and they are doing things differently, but they are choosing not to do it with us...evidently because we're old, dated, "mature in our faith" is what he tried to smooth things over by saying. 

"Wise, experience, and seasoned," I'd much rather be described by these adjectives.  But, then the question still sits there...if he knew there were people living in intentional community and offering their homes as places of hospitality, much like him, then why didn't he make the connection earlier?  The only thing I can figure is that we weren't...enough.  I can't really think of it any other way.  To be a communitarian means to be in touch with and in partnership with other folks, especially those who are doing the same work and living similar lifestyles. 

We'd had contact with his folks (and others) because we respected what they were doing, wanted to show our support, and valued the perspective they had.

I know it's not the best place to land and that I might not be able to see all the sides of the story, but I'm left with a feeling of, well plainly put, not being valued. 

No body likes that feeling, including me.

I don't think the guy meant to say what he did.  It was probably a little slip up.  But it spoke volumes to me. Now I've just gotta figure out what to do about it.