Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Confessions of Deflection, Deferral, Denial.....

I am struck at how yesterday the idea that there is discrimination against minority voters was scoffed at by the Supreme Court and today that same Court embraced the idea that the United States is discriminating against same sex marriage. It is almost as if we as a society do not have an ability to hold in our minds the prejudice of two groups at the same time. In both cases, these fights have been sent back to the state level - upholding the view that state rights is paramount. As a Southerner this disturbs me. I am all too familiar with what happens when States have control of making and governing minority groups. Things here in Georgia are unlikely to change for my friends who wish to marry whom they love regardless of gender. Just as I suspect that more voting laws will be attempted making voting more difficult for minority groups and redrawing district lines to keep Georgia a red state for as long as possible, given the fact that these practices of voter suppression have been on going. I do not think the United States people should breathe a sigh of relief. This Court clearly shows the great imbalance between the will of the people and the people who hold power. A clear reflection of the disparity of power between the will of the people and the Senate and Congress. Now isn’t the time to celebrate, it is the time to recognize two important thing. 1. Any minority discrimination is too much discrimination, whether the issue is around same-sex marriage or voting rights. 2. If the states retain the right to restrict minority groups indirectly, we should understand the dangerous precedent and remember the historic cost of state rights throughout history.

“A country divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln said. Yet today we are possibly more divide, more fractured and more at odds than we have ever been.  Now more than ever a discussion of tolerance and a true reduction of government in our personal lives should be taken up – whether that government hides behind federal or state buildings. An understanding should develop that we all could be a minority where the courts decide select freedoms have been guaranteed long enough and our individual state can decide and govern us in the best possible way.  Neither of these things have proven to be true for a majority of my brothers and sisters of the craft and my fight with them is the acknowledgement that my minority religious rights could someday suffer the same blow.

I know my sister, Crystal Blanton, has more to do with my view point than anything. Crystal has spent thirty days in a discussion about prejudice and her African heritage which I have watched with equal parts horror and fascination. It isn’t that I wasn’t aware that prejudices still existed. I have dismissed friendships quickly when they see a prominent picture of my sister and mother in my living room and made disparaging comments. My biological family was such a nightmare that being loved by Coco, however brief it was, gave me a glimpse of a Mother Goddess I wouldn’t have had. That precious gift, I can rarely discuss, is a beacon of light, hope and love in my heart that I carry daily.

However, living in the deep-South the layers of subversive racism here became more and more revealed to me through Crystal’s thirty day journey into a new Black History Month. It spurred discussion between my partner and I that have led to us both revealing our own feelings of equal parts shame and humiliation while having to somehow justify our pride of being born and raised in the South where things are different, not just the flora and fauna, the energy itself is different unlike anything else in the world I or my partner have been to.

My partner in exasperation cried, “What I am supposed to do? When I can I fight racism on the job, I do. I work hard to make sure that I check my own racism. But I love the South, the mountains, the energy even some of those southernisms that lots of people do not understand. What am I supposed to do!?”

I have pondered this question while POTUS has been handing down their decisions. The suggestion by POTUS that fifty years of strict voter insurance was enough struck me as bizarrely inappropriate and I began to see POTUS doing what Congress has been doing for nearly six years: deflect, defer, deny.

Our government is good at this. Deflect the issue. The issue isn’t about voting rights or marriage rites or even abortion rights, it is about state rights. Even my white southern self understands that rhetoric was use, is still used by many, to justify the bloodiest war in our history.

POTUS has deferred to the states. Is it a real possibility that I may need to move out of my state to ensure that I can support the freedoms I believe are part of a human’s inalienable right? I fear that I might be looking at more hospitable states in the future and that saddens me on so many levels. I have a deep hope that it would never come to that; however, even I can see the federal government simply bowing out of doing their job.

Once these issues hit the state level, denial is the order of the day. It can be a denial that southern racism is still prevalent. An outright denial of marital rights to anyone who loves and wants to marry. It also gives the states a plausible deniability. After all our state legislators tells us they vote because of the will of the people, when in truth our governmental system has been taken over by those who can afford to buy the seats our politicians vote from. The will of the people matters little in what is ultimately a business of profit and power. Calling it politics anymore seems like a farce.

And yet – it is these very things that I believe Crystal is calling my husband, I and others who read her thirty day journey to do. Do not deflect. Own our feelings. Admit our prejudices. Monitor our emotional outbursts. Do not defer to your boss when issues of discrimination come up. Stand up in every moment you can. Take personal responsibility for our society in every way that you can. Do not believe or think for one moment that someone else will pick up your slack. Do not deny that there is racism, sexism and discrimination based upon a thousands of little things we easily perceive and a million more we do not.

It is as simple as the lesson of a bag of trash. On my way out of my community I saw a bag of trash in the road. Obviously a neighbor had forgotten it was on the hood or trunk of their car and it had fallen in the road. I thought about stopping and picking it up and I didn’t. I returned not an hour later to find trash everywhere being blown about by the wind. Later that day one of our maintenance men was sweating in the hot sun picking up hundreds of little pieces of trash in the sweltering southern heat. I deferred to someone else to pick up the trash. I deflected my own responsibility to my community by driving by and doing what was at the time not only right, but easy. I denied that any of the results were my responsibility.

This is how our rights and the rights of our brothers and sisters get strewn along the streets of our lives. We must attract, accept, admit. We are witches and we can attract to us the opportunity to do the little things that can have the largest impacts on our societal influence. We can accept that we are either part of the problem or the solution and that decision is our alones. We can admit that we have had no control over past discriminations and we have unlimited control over future ones. In other words, the next time you see a bag of trash on the side of the road fully intact, pick it up, throw it out before it has a chance to explode and create damage and scars that will haunt our society will beyond our passing by.

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