Take It Down

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#TakeItDown

                                                 ↑ Know what that means? ↑

It means I’ve drawn a line in the sand so deep that if you attempt to cross it now you will fall into a deep cavern and I hope you don’t come out till you are a worthy, yes worthy, earth citizen.

Take It Down – that blood stained, racist, confederate flag.
It’s time to TAKE. IT. DOWN.

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This isn’t “The Dukes of Hazzard” this is real life and not that it hasn’t always been this serious but Charleston has changed me and part of the commitment I made today when I tweeted ‪#‎IStandWithCharleston‬ means I walk it and talk it and call it out. So here I am.

I’m calling us out.

Nova Scotia has a horrifically racist past that has made very few gains with this issue given the deep and long standing history of racism that exists here. In many ways we have the ability to relate to what is happening in the Southern United States with our shared histories.

We consider ourselves very friendly and giving here, and we are. So we look at things like what just happened in Charleston and feel a bit somewhere between superior and grateful that it’s “not as bad” here. President Obama has been quoted everywhere I look talking about how the scale and frequency for these acts of terror are so much more frequent there. That brings up discussions about guns and rights to own them, etc. Something else we share here. Lots of guns and hunters. But despite our “polite racism” we don’t have mass public shootings.  Many of ours seem directed at Police Officers or women. So we cling to, “not like that, not so bad” and about our daily lives we go.

Which brings me to another little fact we white folk need to get our heads around now  – ‪#‎SilenceIsConsent

Every time you let racist attitudes, remarks and actions slide because of whatever reason you have come up with – it just takes us away from any small gains we are making. One person really does make a difference, I promise.  I know it’s complicated, but every one of us has contributed in some way and we have to tackle it now. I promise that too.

It’s time to stop. Here in Nova Scotia some people still openly fly the confederate flag in their yards, use it as a licence plate, some people burn crosses on the lawns of those who they deem not worthy of them. Doesn’t that make you want to vomit? It does me.

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I can’t find a way to properly vet (provide proof for) something I’ve heard and been told over and over again since I was a kid about the town I went to High School in and now live close to. I’ve been told there was a “law” in place (not now, but not that long ago – Grandparents generation) that prevented black people from owning land and living in the area. I feel even if it isn’t a written down on paper law, it’s a “country law” so to speak. And I think it was and is still a pervasive attitude here about anyone non-white and I’m sure that law or not we’ve created a lot of segregation. I mean, who wants to live where they aren’t wanted? Where your house might get burned down because of the colour of your skin and nothing more.  We are so severely non integrated here that people notice when there’s a black person in town and I actually hear people say,

“What are they doing here? Must be lost” and “Who let them in here?” and then laughter like that somehow justifies ignorance and intolerance at the very least.

I remember the same words as a child when a Pakistani (And I now realise that I am ignorant here and relied on the slurs/knowledge of others and could very well have this wrong. If so, please correct and educate me)  family moved in and opened up a restaurant/convenience store.

Once some locals decided they “knew their place” which was they were allowed there to serve us they were called, “The Pakies.” I heard stories of “they don’t pay taxes” and “they use the money to move all their damned relatives here” and jokes about the cars they drove and on and on. I remember people doing it to their face, and they’d chuckle but I always felt uncomfortable and like it wasn’t funny. I was a little girl, I hadn’t developed the language skills yet to say something. I have now.

I remember the very moment I was introduced to racism. It is seared into my brain like an unwanted visitor.

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Our family was friends with a black family when I was maybe 7? 8?  They had an unusual last name. Not unusual in the hard to pronounce or maybe from another country way. My last name at birth was “Hill.” Just kind of, how’d they get that last name, way? Remember, I’m a literal Autistic kid who was also examining words and language so I could understand the world around me.

So I set out to find out how people got their last names and in my families case – Hill was a more modern version of Hyll. Not an inventive lot, it’s Scottish and English and is an extremely common and widely distributed topographic name for someone who lived on or by a hill. This makes me laugh. There are also English and Scottish and German on another side with last names like Cook and Baker. Want to take a guess how they got those?

Not so cute and funny for black history. Know how many of them got their last names? Black slaves, IF they were GIVEN a name by their owners would often be given the last name of their captors. It’s called a “Slave Name.”  It was sickenly not enough to own another human and think you are entitled because you are white, but to totally steal their identity, their family name??!! It’s just so wrong. We need to be ashamed. Feel the burn of humility so we never go back.

So we’d always go see them and one weekend they were finally coming to see us! I was excited! Their one daughter and I were the same age and got along really well.

The adults were acting weird though. There was this stress that never existed before. I didn’t understand.

It took a lot of convincing but finally I got permission to take my friend to play “kick the can” with the neighbourhood kids. I was SO excited introduce them my friend!

They were in mid game and when they saw her, everyone froze.

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I kicked the can. No one moved. I explained how the game worked, kicked the can again and told her to run.

No. One. Moved.

There was eventually some awkward talking, a small effort to play the game but, and this is the part that makes me feel so upset, no one wanted to touch her so one by one they all left. Now understand this is not a judgement on how any of us acted. We knew what we knew, we did what we did. We mimicked our parents, our older siblings. This was the middle 1970’s in a really, really small community – not even a town.  I’m sharing an experience that I’m choosing to re-examine and learn from. That’s what I do, part of who I am. I suppressed expressing these things for 4 decades now.  It’s not about shaming the actions of the past but it is about making our actions now better.

When her parents left that day we never saw them again. Small town living you don’t rock the boat, especially the white boat. I can’t imagine what was said to my parents. Yes, I can actually. You and I know what was said. You and I know the snide remarks they’d get about their choice of friends and bringing them to “our town.”

I’ve carried a lot of confusion and guilt about that situation. I’ve wanted to apologise for a long time. I can in part do that now by speaking out, by calling it out.

I’m not going to take or let go unchallenged racist, homophobic, transphobic or ableist language any more. I’m done.

I will not abide the idea that a little girl, barely older than my friend all those years ago had to lay down on the CHURCH FLOOR AND PLAY DEAD TO LIVE.

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This was not an act of mental illness, not in a way that gets a pass. It’s not mental illness when white people do it but when non-white people do anything on any scale they are a terrorist. That gives mostly white man-made laws, enforcement agencies and courts carte blanche to carry out nearly unspeakable punishments against all minorities. No, this was a thought out, cold, calculated terrorist, racist attack in a place of worship where people gather in love and prayer. This waste of human flesh (he will not be named here) sat with the people he murdered, for a hour – he said he almost didn’t do it because they were so nice. Let that sink in.

I don’t care about our precious, special white person feelings any more. Take the flag down, lay your hatred down and mostly just grow up!

I stand with Charleston. Will you stand with them too? Will you pledge to not let this type of behaviour continue by signing the Petition to Take The Confederate Flag down once and for all!  And equally important will you please, remember them! Know their names, learn their stories.

I encourage you to do what I did, take a few moments and if you can and say their names and ages out loud or in whatever way accommodates you. It’s very sobering and I think really important that we continue to keep their memories alive while honouring them by doing better.

Cynthia Hurd, 54, branch manager for the Charleston County Library System

Susie Jackson, 87, longtime church member

Ethel Lance, 70, employee of Emanuel AME Church for 30 years

Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, admissions counselor of Southern Wesleyan University

The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, state senator, Reverend of Emanuel AME Church

Tywanza Sanders, 26, earned business administration degree from Allen University

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, retired pastor (died at MUSC)

Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45, track coach at Goose Creek High School

Myra Thompson, 59, church member

Here’s a link of:⇓

[ Names, pictures, small bio of Victims of Charleston Shooting ]

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In Absence of Memory – Treasures

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I was very, very young when I got my first jewellery box. Like many young girls at the time it was a smallish box, covered in satin and when you wound the “key” at the underside of the box then righted it and opened – a ballerina appeared, spinning, as the music box played a familiar tune. Mine had a very delicate tutu. I wanted to be a ballerina back then. I even took a few lessons.

Over the years the jewellery boxes have come as birthday presents, as Christmas presents, from friends and relatives alike. They’ve been small, they’ve played tunes and not – they’ve been grand and had many sliding drawers and doors with glass that opened and closed. And they’ve been simple too, an eclectic mix but all loved for many different reasons.

(all the pictures in this entry will open to their fullest size in a new window when clicked)

Jewerley box

Jewelry Box – Simple on the outside but on the inside…

I don’t quite remember where ↑ this ↑ particular one came from, and I don’t remember how it got to where it was when I pulled it from the depths of a clothes drawer that hasn’t even been accessible in a very long time. But as soon as I saw it a few days ago, I yelled out loud and hugged it.

Treasures revealed

Treasures revealed

And when I opened it? Oh my, how can I explain the collective sensory explosion that took me over? My eyes unable to rest in one place for more than a few seconds…is that? Oh my! I haven’t seen that since? When did I see that last?!

It took me a few minutes to even touch anything inside. I felt an almost reverence towards the chaotically placed contents. I wanted them to rest a bit longer in place before I went to stage 2 of sensory exploration – touch.

Bunnies and FlowersKey chains and bracelets

With each touch of a necklace, a brooch, obviously 80’s earrings, I was granted access to pieces of myself that I didn’t even know were lost. My memory loss has been a bit of a mystery to me. Not how it happened, that part is perfectly understandable though it’s taken me a while to really see the extent of it which is also understandable.

Necklaces

Necklaces! I made the Dream Catcher on the bottom left side.

The mystery is in how I am not as panicked as I thought I’d be. I had a spectacular eidetic (also known as photographic) memory most of my life. I was always worried about what it might be like to lose it. But it turns out you might not stress what you don’t remember, or at least that’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Watch

From a trip taken to Prince Edward Island in the early 1990’s this watch became a constant companion for many years. Lennox Island First Nation is a Mi’kmaq Community located in Malpeque Bay off the northwest coast of PEI.

Always looking to see the big picture this has come just when I needed it. What plagues my memory has after 3 (of course) years started plaguing me in many other ways. I have no problem saying I have Epilepsy, I’ll tell the story of how that came to be but I have yet to accept and understand it. Impatient with my lack of progress my  body started forcing the issue on its own about 2 months ago with the return of seizures in the form of Simple Partial. 3 (ha!) days ago (I really do NOT mindfully plan this stuff) I have (wait for it) 3 Simple partial seizures in 12 hours.

I wish I would have written down just how much I messed up a sentence (spoken) yesterday. When I was asked to repeat it and I “heard” what I said I decided to laugh instead of cry for how scrambled my brain is right now.

This picture has the least amount of items and carries some of the largest meaning

This picture has the least amount of items and carries some of the largest meaning. (L-R) I helped to design the Pin to represent the Hubbards Area Lions Club Cenotaph in 1985. A simple “P” pin from my Grandparents when I was quite young, ticket stucb for Van Morrison concert 1998, a pay stub from the late 1980’s and the key to my first ever car, a 1987 Toyota Tercel.

My creative process however remains a near mystery to me. This started out as me taking 1 picture to post on twitter. The creative process is intrinsic to who I am and through it I heal, I grow, I change when change is called for. Not always easily, mind you. Rarely in fact.

Granddad Treasures

My Grandfather’s Treasures (l-r) Sears, Lions, Legion, Lions and Navy.

The simple box contained a treasure trove of memories that span decades. The far back reach of that span is what makes this discovery particularly appreciated right now. Many of these objects take me back to a time before I was married. After 23 years of marriage you get a wide view of things. Marriage is not easy and rarely properly prepared for. With so much of my 46 years wrapped up in this union (been together 27 of the past 30 years) and with so many of my memories lost or maybe just missing, I don’t have a lot of me any more. And when I go back that far to find me? That kid was diagnosed as Manic Depressive by the time she was 15. She was in a lot of trouble, very little of it by her intended guidance and mostly just a fight to survive moment to moment.

Earrings

An eclectic collection of earrings – I yelled out loud with joy seeing some of them.

Touching, seeing, smelling, these pieces of my history is like a belated birthday gift from someone who you thought forgot – but it was just lost in the mail. It’s allowing me to colour in shaded pieces of my past that have been greyed out for a while now. Gifts from the past that have become gifts once again. Their meaning and personal wealth, doubled. They aren’t worth anything monetarily which makes them priceless to me. The attachment strictly emotional and if physically lost now tucked away safely in my heart and soul forever.

Brooches

I sat back and looked at this assortment and all I could think was wow. Apartment keys, Grandmother’s brooches, the elastic bands to my braces for my teeth!! Guitar pick, bracelets, lost marbles 😉 Key chains. What a gift this rediscovery this has been.


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I akke the effort for you

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* Cast Your Net *

This entry is dedicated to Stella Young. Through her Tedx talk I found my way to writing this entry, which is something I’ve wanted to do but just couldn’t let go of that last bit of fear.  Thank you Stella. Rest Peacefully ♥

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Why has “this” ↓ not been named yet?

You are losing an online argument and the person makes a spelling or grammar mistake. You grab at the chance to take a swipe at your opponents intellect by pointing the spelling mistake out and….

YOU MAKE AN ERROR AS WELL.

The percentage of this happening must be darn impressive!

I don’t play those games because I’d always lose and in observing these exchanges of communication I’ve become acutely aware of how mean people can be about spelling and grammar.

A few years ago I found a really great article that deals with literacy privilege.  Literacy privilege?  I know, right? That uncomfortable feeling though is what we need to push past to have a better understand of the life of others.  And when I did that I found all sorts of great information and learned more about accommodation and how to strike a balance between myself and others.

Here’s the link to that article.↓

⊕ Literacy Privilege: How I Learned to Check Mine Instead of Making Fun of People’s Grammar on the Internet

I woke up today and worried about the fact I hadn’t written anything here in a while. It’s a lot of work and I have been especially drained. Ever since the EEG at the end of March I have been having Simple Partial Seizures.  I didn’t understand what they were for a few weeks and then when I did I went to see my family Doctor and things went from there. I’ll write about that experience in a separate entry.  They are under control now though, I should mention. Just under 2 weeks seizure free but it was daily, so much better.

(edited to add: had more seizures after the publishing of this article. As of June 29th, 2015 I have just over 3 weeks in. Really hoping this is the start of another long run of seizure free living.)

I’ve really come to understand that I have no control over my creative muse. Today’s turnaround from “what could I wrote about” to here is quick even for me 😀

I did something today on facebook, spontaneously. (and not) Not because I’ve thought about doing this many times and spontaneously because, well, that one is self explanatory!

There are several comorbid (occurs together but can occur separately) conditions on the Autism Spectrum. Mine started to be picked up fairly early, considering where I live and the information available. Epilepsy developed later in life, though I am seeing where the signs and some symptoms have been there for years.  The 2 I am going to write about today are Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.

The comorbid conditions to the Spectrum are really what cause most of it not all of the problems we have. This is where the struggle lies. This is why more and more “voices” of older Autistic adults like myself in the community are asking people to move past awareness and onto acceptance. Please!

So today I opened facebook and started typing about this issue and part way through I realised something. I wanted to finally show you a part of me that I go to great lengths to accommodate others for. I started to wonder, what if I allowed myself to be accommodated? What if I didn’t correct the visual effects of Dyslexia and Dyspraxia for others all the time? Would I still be understood? Made fun of? Will it lighten my load just enough to make my life just much easier? Only one way to find out.

Please know that I do not expect or am asking that my particular set of learning disabilities or issues be the only ones to be accommodated or the standard for anyone else. Some people cannot read words written without some attempt at correction or without punctuation because their brain doesn’t allow without tremendous effort, if at all. I’m no more deserving of accommodation than they are. I’ve just lived in such shame for so long about this and I don’t think I or others like me should any more.

Here’s we go…

Ive thought about doijg this fora vwert long time. Eahc time I do, or start I get too scared. Each tme I show who I rruly am it hurts me more than it jhelps me in teh outside world, so I keep it to myself.

(I’ve paused, this makes me fel such shame and I’;m tire dof feleinghame)

There are sevral co=morbif conditions on the Autism specturm and I have my share,. But teh 2 I’m hightling here are duyslexiua and dyspraxia.

Yes, this is ehat it looks like beofr eI make it so YOU can undrtsand me. Not only do I struggle throuhg this, I then have to corrct it all and hope i find most of it. This is what teh words that make you laught and cry look like before you read them.

Soetimes I dont; even know what I was trying to say.

Sme days tis is much worse and some days beter. This is a medium day.

On hard days I get angry and cry. I eranse it all and you never knwo wat I wanted to say. O hard sdya not only do i have toruble trpying, I have troreubel verbally communicating too.

Communicatiin is many, many things. It’s not just vernbal, or written and those who only acept those as lefitmate foems of summunication are harmign those of us who nees to communicate in other ways as well.

I works hours, sometimes days at the written thigns I share. You can;t see the effort I kae to reach YOU – so today U am givign you asmall poeek into my pecturm world.

Ironivally, those of us who have the most diffuculty with the norms of socirty works the hardest to accomidate those who don’t really needs it.

I want thyat to change.

If you think less of me after this, it’s a meansure of who youare as a persion, not me.

I’m mot correcvitn this – you figire it out – you expericne a small, small part of what it is like to be me.

 I akke the effort for you – can or will you make it for me?

(Facebook says yes! The amazing respone is why I decided to bring it outside of that platform to this one.  Thank you for your kindness!)

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