Interracial Marriage Realities

My African American husband has moved into all of our homes sight unseen after we discovered that once the rental/real estate people met him, housing suddenly became unavailable and our credit wasn’t good enough. When I handled all the in-person stuff by myself, suddenly it was easy enough to find housing.

My husband and I are not connected on facebook in large part so that I can run my mouth without worrying that his employment or career might be adversely affected if I say something controversial, particularly about race. He has essays on race issues that he won’t publish, despite having offers from a few high profile websites because of fear of blowback.

I have signed more than one confidentiality agreement with more than one of the corporations my husband had been employed by agreeing not to discuss the details of their racist treatment of him in exchange for a small severance package that didn’t come remotely close to covering the time it takes for a black man to find a job.

None of this stuff is unusual for people of color in our country. Which is why the claim that racial issues are the result of the media or “rabblerousers” and that white people experience as much or more discrimination than non-white people is utter dishonest, delusional bullshit.

The Fragility of Our Dominant Culture

True story: someone I’m connected with on facebook just posted an article claiming that “radical leftists” were guilty of shutting down discourse by insisting on trigger warnings, safe spaces and calling out micro-aggressions. I responded that this was bullshit. None of those things actually shut down discourse. People disagreed. I stood my ground. So the person who claimed that “radical leftists” were shutting down discourse decided that the conversation was too heated and deleted it. I believe that the word for this is irony.

15135763_10208953533409178_5817473775491816140_nOne of the things which has become abundantly clear is that there are a lot of people on the right, but also among neo-liberals who are engaging in heavy duty projection. They are the ones who can’t handle vigorous discourse and shut down at criticism or pushback, so they accuse others of doing so, for example. I mean, you will never find a bigger whiny special snowflake than someone who complains about political correctness. All you have to do is say the word “racism”  or call out intolerance and they melt down, claiming that you’ve make discussions impossible. Meanwhile, let a black person be told that they are pulling the race card or want to be given something for nothing and that same person will expect them to remain calm and composed.

What’s really happening here is that people who have previously been marginalized and whose concerns were ignored are gaining a voice. And it’s an uncomfortable, unfamiliar, challenging voice for those who are ensconced in the majority culture to hear. The impulse is to get them to shut up. To mock and marginalize their attempts to be heard and exert some influence on public discourse in ways that address their own needs. I’m sure that many of the people doing this have no idea that they are actually the ones who are trying to shut down public discourse because they’ve never considered that public discourse which includes and is mindful of everyone will look and sound different than public discourse they are used to.

The other dynamic which I think we’re seeing is that as those who have previously been marginalized push back against things which are hurtful and harmful to them, it exposes the fact that the dominant culture has been callous, cruel and completely unfair to many people. No one wants to think of themselves as callous, cruel and unfair, of course. But instead of recognizing that they haven’t done the work required to ensure that they aren’t actually callous, cruel and unfair, a lot of people just retreat into denial and scapegoating. They blame the person who brings their inadequacies to light for making them feel bad and become hostile towards them.

The discussion surrounding things like trigger warnings, political correctness, safe spaces, microaggressions and the like is extremely frustrating. People who oppose and complain about these things consistently show by their own words that they lack any actual understanding of the subject of their ire. But the good thing is that people who have been marginalized, far from being fragile children and special snowflakes are quite accustomed to dealing with and persevering through hostility and opposition. Once the dominant culture figures out that they are capable of doing likewise and actually engage with the issue like grown-ups, reality will win.

In Which I Own the Libraturd Title

I’ve avoided nearly all hot-button cultural and political topics around here for many years now. And I don’t write screeds about how terrible other people’s theology or morality is. Yet, somehow, the overwhelming majority of people who have responded to my writing are not, shall we say, politically conservative. I used to be conservative, but reading the bible has a funny way of changing that, it seems.  These days I’m a pretty flaming progressive. I’ll go back to being a conservative when we’ve dealt with our problems and have better traditions to hold on to.

I’m not remotely an ideologue. Ideally I’d love to see conservatives, liberals, progressives and (I guess) libertarians have a seat at the table and hash things out together. But as I’ve been saying for years, conservatives have so totally lost their way from a moral and ethical standpoint, that frankly, they need to be removed from the grown-up table until they can get their shit straight. (Hint: what you want to conserve, has to be worth conserving and can’t come at the cost of denying the dignity of some humans.)

Which isn’t to say that if you are conservative, you are unwelcome. Far from it. If you’re willing to put up with me, I assume you are wise and have excellent taste and want to engage with you. But I do find it interesting that, absent any liberal teachers or the influence of liberal theologians, just by following scripture and praying, I came to hold a theology which apparently appeals far more to people who are not politically conservative than those who are. I’m thinking that means something, frankly. I wonder if Jesus would be a libraturd too?

A Few Words and Some News About This Here Blog of Mine

Howdy to the imaginary audience in my head. Who has great taste and smells lovely and finds me enchanting. So. This Upside Down World blog o mine. It’s a thing. Maybe not the biggest thing in the universe, but I know that for some people it’s been a big thing. “Profound difference” is a phrase I’ve heard used repeatedly in reference to the effect that my blog has had. There are families and friend groups who pass my stuff between them and talk about it together. Not nearly enough of them, of course. But it’s a thing. (The imaginary audience in my head just smiled, btw.)

Anyways, if you’re reading this, odds are good that you’ve read one of the hundreds of essays I’ve written on religion and spirituality. That’s been the main subject around here. Particularly between 2011-2014, I produced a ton of essays which touched on nearly every religious and spiritual subject you can imagine.

If you read those essays, I was very open that I was going through an incredibly difficult time. A dark night of the soul experience was the only explanation that made sense at the time, so I went with that. But the even the dark night of the soul doesn’t last forever. Light finally broke through and I’ve spent the last 2 1/2 years coming out the other side and re-adjusting to life out in the open, free of the darkness.

I’ve mentioned before that judgment is really more of bringing everything into the light of day where it can be properly seen than it is about declaring good/bad – right/wrong. It’s simply about being able to see things for what they are which then allows you to respond appropriately. Well, when I was able to get a little light on the situation, what came out of the dark was some really heavy duty mental illness which had been badly triggered and I couldn’t resolve because I didn’t fully understand the root of it.

What I was experiencing turned out to be pretty characteristic of an active dissociative disorder. But I had no real way of knowing that at the time. And it takes, on average, 7-12 years of seeking help from multiple therapists for someone with a dissociative disorder to be diagnosed. So I sought help, but it was just taking the edge off a bit. It wasn’t helping.

During the time that I wrote the bulk of this blog, my circumstances were difficult, thus the reason that my underlying mental illness had been so severely triggered to begin with. Anyone would have struggled while dealing with the stuff going on in my life. But the intensity of what I was experiencing was on a different level. For much of 2012-2014, I flat-out wanted to die almost every day. Not only was I unhappy, but nothing good could get through to me. My kids would show me love and affection and it was like I could watch it pass me right by without touching me. I didn’t even realize it had happened until I had finally started recovering, but during this time, I lost my connection to my positive memories and even the memory of having once been happy was like a dream, probably a fiction of a wishful mind. It was awful. It’s nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t kill myself.

It’s also nothing short of a miracle that I was able to go through all that and not only recover, but come out the other side all in one piece with no lasting damage done to my family and our life together. Such as it is. (It is mostly very good, btw.)

Which is all to say, I’m here. I’m good. My brain has recovered and my life, such as it is, has recovered. I’m ready to start writing again. Except I’m going to be taking the blog in a different direction. The religious and spiritual stuff is my foundation. It’s who I am and forms the basis for how I see and understand the world. It’s what I kept my eyes fixed on during my darkest times. But it’s not remotely the only thing I’m interested in or want to write about. In fact, away from this blog, it’s not something I even talk about all that often. Partly because it’s a private relationship I’ve got going on here with Jesus and partly because the bible specifically says not to do stand on street corners and in the marketplace and make a spectacle of being religious. And I’m pretty sure that instruction didn’t actually come with an asterisk saying *unless you call it “being on fire for Christ”. No matter what your pastor says. IJS

Anyways, now that I’ve laid the foundations of this here Upside Down World, so to speak, I’m going to be unleashing my big mouth and overfull brain on y’all. I’ll be turning the site into an old school blog with multiple posts a day, covering a variety of inter-related topics such as religion, culture, politics, science, relationships, psychology and whatever other ridiculous thing I see fit to include. If you are one of the people who is connected to my personal facebook page, you’ll see a lot of the areas of interest I share there show up here. If you aren’t one of the people connected to my personal facebook page, um, well, I don’t know how to break this to you, but I’m super opinionated, kind of rude and much smarter than you. Probably. But you’ll either love what’s coming or hate it. If you hate it, don’t expect me to care. IJS. Nobody’s forcing you read my shiznitz. (You’ll love it.)

Anyways, I’ll still hit the spiritual and religious stuff. But I’m also going to be sharing a lot of writing on things I’ve been working on like trauma, abuse, racism, sociopaths and just general “how life actually works in the real world” stuff. And news analysis. And whatever other ridiculous thing I see fit to share. And you can all be appalled at what a flaming libraturd I supposedly am. Feel free to disagree with me and argue with each other in the comments. Just know that I am not a babysitter or a referee nor am I required to meet your standards of fairness. So if you hate what I say or if I randomly decide that you’re being too stupid to speak at the grown up table, don’t expect me to care. IJS. Get your own damn blog if you want to be able to make the rules.

So, expect an expansion of topics and a shift in tone, along with much more frequent posting. I hope that The Upside Down World will be one of those places that you come to catch up on a few times a week, if not daily. Multiple times a day would be appropriate and recommended. IJS. But if you are subscribed by email, you may want to modify your settings so you aren’t getting multiple emails a day. You can, of course, also keep up with me on Facebook and Twitter.

(The imaginary audience in my head is very excited about all of this, btw. Haha – just kidding, they’re super confused about why I think they should care about any of this and think I’m an idiot. The imaginary audience swings wildly between finding me enchanting and thinking I’m embarrassing myself. You should start sharing everything I write on social media with your friends so I can rub it in the mean imaginary audience’s stupid faces. 😉 )

Update on Shamneet

So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been sharing the story of a 14 year old Pakistani boy named Shamneet who was kidnapped and brutally tortured by a man his father had a financial dispute with. He needed surgery to repair his injuries, but his family lives hand to mouth and had no way to come up with the $800 for his care. I have been collecting funds to pay his medical bills.

We still have a ways to go, but I have some good news to report on his case. Two days ago the doctor checked on him and, alarmed at his condition, agreed to perform surgery to in exchange for a partial payment upfront and the remainder later. He wanted half up front, which we didn’t have, but I sent Atif, my friend who is helping the boy and his family, what we had and he was able to negotiate with the doctor to accept that as a down payment. Yesterday Shamneet had surgery to repair his internal injury. His blood work after surgery looks good and doctors expect him to make a full recovery. Yay!

Now he just need surgery to repair fractures in his shoulder. Atif is currently pushing the doctor to go ahead with that surgery and the doctor is pushing Atif to make arrangements to finish paying off the bill. As I write this, there is $500 remaining on his bill.

So if you are one of the people who have already made donations, thank you again. You quite literally helped to save a boys’ life. It would not have happened without your help. If you have not made a donation yet, now’s the time to get this done. It’s been almost 2 weeks since Shamneet was attacked which means two weeks with breaks in the bones in his shoulder. Obviously, the longer he goes without surgery, the greater the chance that this injury will result in permanent, life-long disability. Any amount you are able to offer helps. The $300 we’ve collected so far was pieced together from donations ranging from $80 all the way down to $5, so any amount helps.

I will be updating the amount still needed as donations come in. So . . . whatcha waiting for? Let’s do this!

Amount needed: $0! We did it!

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Help Needed – Please Read!

On Monday, I share the story of a 14 year old Christian Pakistani boy who was viciously attacked and tortured by a man who had a financial dispute with the boy’s father. He is in need of surgery to repair injuries to his shoulder and his bowels, without which he will be permanently disabled and live with severe pain. Now, I know that terrible things are happening every day all over this planet. But it’s not often that we are individuals in the Western world are in a position to help a specific child in a hard to reach part of the world in their moment of crisis.

This boy’s name is Shamneet. His family is very poor – they are living hand to mouth. Surgery to repair his injuries and medication for recovery will cost $800. So far, we’ve been able to raise just 10% of that. I totally understand that money is tight everywhere. But I have several thousand readers. All we need is for 9 more people to make an $80 donation or 18 people to make a $40 donation.

This is a thing that we as the Body of Christ do for each other. It goes back to the earliest days of the church. If we do not do this together, there’s no magic wand that’s going to be waved to make everything all better. It really is up to us to take care of each other.

Amount still needed: $0! We did it!

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For those who are inclined to skepticism, please be assured that this is not a scam. I have worked with the gentleman who is arranging for Shamneet’s care on multiple projects over the past year, including acting as a go between to obtain assistance for another child through the Smile Foundation and hearing aids through the International Society of Audiologists. You can see a video which this man, Atif Jamil appears in explaining one of the projects his foundation worked on. Below are his business cards and a recent picture which you can see shows the same man as in the video I linked to. If you need further evidence, you can contact Dr. Chuck Cristo who also knows Atif and was able to perform a memorial service for victims of an earthquake in Pakistan with him. I know that scammers from developing countries are always a cause for concern, but we should not allow our fear of scammers to prevent us from supporting real people with real needs. Yes?

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