Category Archives: Bearing Witness

I’m Done

By  Erin Branscome

FYI that I’m pretty much done with extended family and acquaintances who don’t believe that everyone should have access to healthcare.

To be clear, I’m not talking about people who disagree with aspects of the Affordable Care Act, or any other specific system. I’m not talking about people who agree that everyone should have access to healthcare, but who *disagree* with me on how best to accomplish that.

I’m talking about those people who believe that anyone who can’t afford health care should suffer and die. I’m talking about people who’s biggest complaint about “Obamacare” is that their premiums increased too much for them to be able to afford a new pool. I’m talking about people who believe as a matter of principle that you should be on your own when it comes to healthcare — if you can convince other people to help you out, great, but if you can’t do that, sorry; guess you’re gonna die a slow, painful, and utterly preventable death.

Because what every single one of you are saying, if you drill it down, is that if it were up to you, I would be DEAD.

This is not conjecture. This has been confirmed by multiple doctors. If I hadn’t been steps from an operating room when my intestines ruptured, I. Would. Be. DEAD. (I came very, *very* close to dying, regardless.) According to the ER doctor who admitted me that night, if I hadn’t had insurance — good insurance — I *wouldn’t* have been in the hospital, because at the time, they didn’t think I had anything that serious, and admitting me was a “better safe than sorry” thing. If I hadn’t had insurance, hadn’t had the ability to *afford* an optional night in the hospital, I would have pushed for discharge. The ONLY reason I didn’t go home that night, with what they thought was just an ulcer, is that I had insurance. I only had insurance because of the Affordable Care Act.

Without “Obamacare,” I WOULD HAVE DIED. Either alone and terrified in my bed, unable to cry out for help as the pain became excruciating and my lung collapsed — OR, were I able to crawl down the hall to my parents, I would’ve likely bled out in their arms while they tried to figure out what was going on, tried to get help, writhing in indescribable pain and suffocating to death on my own fluids, before mercifically losing consciousness and dying. Imagine the trauma to my parents and siblings.

And if you had your wish, that’s exactly what would’ve happened.

I’ve explained this, over and over. Again and again I strip naked for you, exposing my scars — flay my skin and rip it apart, letting you climb inside, *hoping* to find some scrap of compassion and always being disappointed. Humiliated, as you refuse to address the critical point and instead repeat talking points and lies, making it perfectly clear that nothing I said mattered. My pain — my *life* — doesn’t matter.

I’m done.

As so many people have said, I cannot teach you how to care about other people. I can’t explain to you *why* you should care; I can’t argue you into compassion. And I’m through trying.

But understand this: unless it’s preceded by a humble admission of guilt and a sincere apology, I NEVER want to hear “I love you” or “I’m praying for you,” or even “How are you doing?” ever again. I NEVER want to hear you offer your disingenuous concern or empty prayers to my parents, ever again. Your words are lies, designed to soothe your conscious and make yourself feel better, and I refuse to allow you that option, out of some misplaced sense of “civility.”

If it were up to you, I. WOULD. BE. DEAD. Period.

You’ve told me that you hate the ACA because of the non-essential items you were unable to purchase because of increased premiums. Even *assuming* that’s true — a big assumption — you’re *still* telling me that my LIFE means less to you than a new pool or a cross-country RV trip. And *I’m* the one lacking civility?

From now on, when you ask me how I’m doing, the answer will always be “none of your business.” When you tell me you love me, I’ll respond that I don’t believe you. And I sure as hell don’t want the meaningless, feel-good prayers you offer up to your false idols of American Nationalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism. (And if I see or hear about similar comments to my parents, my response will be the same.)

I’m. Done.

Advertisements

Screaming From the Margins

Quote by Maya Angelou. Black and White headshot of Maya Angelou with her hand partially obscuring her face Text: When someone shows you who they are, believe them. - Maya Angelou

Photographer and graphic designer unknown. If this is your graphic, please let me know so I can give you proper attribution.

Be brave during these difficult and trying times. Speak from your heart and your lives. Speak for your lives and the lives of our sisters, our brothers, and all our nonbinary siblings, everyone screaming from the margins! Make space, hold space for those with less voice than your own, for those who are brought forth to speak truth to power because the times demand that of them.  Speak out against violence, especially the systemic violence of racism, sexism, ableism.

Darken your profile or don’t darken your profile. Follow the news or don’t follow the news. Tell your story or wait until you find the spaces that are right for disclosure. Do not let the abusers and their apologists tell you what to do. Instead remember that this is a time of reckoning and the violent have a choice to hide who they are (or admit who they are) and reevaluate their actions or show us their body politic in all its brutality. The brazenness with which many choose to defend rape culture is truly impressive but unwise. 

We, the marginalized, the victimized, the silenced, the once silenced; are stronger than ever, though it does not always feel this way. Our secrets, the daily attacks on our body, politics that were conducted behind closed doors or under capes and hoods, under cover of night, are now out in the open. The perpetrators are scared and they are outraged. Their lifetime of entitlements are crumbling around them and the rules have changed.

It amazes: the number of people willing to defend abusers during these fragile times, on the social media walls of friends who have either stated or implied that they are victims of abuse without any sensitivity to the impact their words have on others. It is as if they think the world is split into the people they know and actual victims. It is as if the entire #MeToo movement went right over their heads: this happens to every woman, every day. We carry this trauma in our bones and in our cells, in the passageways of synapse, in the corners of memory. Listen to us to understand the geography of trauma. Believe us. We have no reason NOT to tell the truth once we break the silence. 

All you rape apologists showing us who you are. Watch out, some day your past will come up and bite you in the ass. It’s still a free pass for abusers but our day will come and your antics will be saved, for the record. We all known the likes of Brett Kavanaugh, in high school, in college, in the work place, in our kitchens and bedrooms. We know the abuse we brought down when we disclosed, when we named names, when we dared to tell anyone. We know the silence they assume and count upon as we carry their shame. We remember how funny it was to them to get girls drunk and abuse us, or corner us, or push us against lockers.  You’re all playing rapist bingo with your blame game. But we see what you’re doing. So yeah, keep showing us exactly who you are. We’re keeping receipts. There will be a day of reckoning.

Sisters and all people of the margins: feel free to set clear guidelines for your own spaces, including your social media spaces. This is not a violation of anyone’s right to free speech. They have their own wall on which to spew their hate. They have their groups, sanctioned by the powerful owners of the platforms. 

Use their self exposure to determine who you need in your life. Thank them for showing you who they really are. Plan accordingly. 

#PTSD #CrossGenerationalTrauma #MMIW #BlackLivesMatter #SayHerName #NoBanNoWall #DisposableJewishWomen #FeminismIsChoice #ScreamingFromTheMargins  #IntersectionalAgendas

Black rectangle

Inaccessibility Fatigue Rag

7/16/17

I am tired of negotiating my humanity to strangers.

Or trusting friends who just don’t understand.

Of trying to fit my body into spaces that do not accommodate me.

Only to be told how difficult I am to those who fit in, just right.

I am tired of accommodations to fads and fashions, to power and privilege but that DISability access is too demanding, or we did that the last time, we can’t do that EVERY time.
I am tired of loving  a world that doesn’t love me back.

I am tired of patience and desire.

I am tired of betrayal when an apology would be enough—mine or theirs.

I am tired of excuses and abuses.
I am tired of pity and scorn, and entitlement and hatred.

I am tired of the modern versions of the ugly laws and the look of disgust and contempt upon seeing me, by strangers who have no idea who I am.

I am tired of ableist jokes and insults
I am tired of abuse substituted for love, because there are good quiet crrpls and demanding shrews who need to be tamed.
I am tired of character assassinations when their arguments are no match for mine or because they will not be held accountable for their lack of real solidarity.
I am tired of infantilization and being treated like a child.

I am tired of excuses and favors because DISfolx aren’t seen as resources in our own experience.
I am tired of offense taken to be out argued or out spoken by a person like me, uppity, articulate crrpl that I am.

I am tired of having to ask for accommodations only to be treated with hostility for even posing the question.

I am tired of assumptions and accusations of  people who know nothing but think they know everything, like why if I can walk up stairs one day, in one location, why I can’t another day in another location.

I am tired of entitlement of others to define for me the parameters of my reality.

I am tired of people deciding for me what I need, what I should be happy with, what I should like and how I should behave.

I am tired of people who never read a single book on DISability access, schooling me and ‘splaining to me how it’s going to work.

I am tired of people who seem to be allies, only to find out that they were keeping score all along, and anything they did to create access was weighed against my next request. I didn’t know you were keeping a running tab and that I was now in debt to you.
I am tired of pity and stares and stairs.
I am tired of “well no one else complained” or “there were other DISabled people there so it must be accessible.

I am tired of the assumption that if I’m the only one complaining that others must be comfortable when really it means that others may be silent because they don’t feel comfortable speaking up, and some people will harm themselves trying to fit in, and others won’t show up at all because they know the risk in asking.

I am tired of blaming the victim, of disparaging a complaint, of killing the messenger, of the cult of positivity, of silencing dissent.

I am tired of those who don’t need accommodations deciding without even a dialogue what access means.

I am tired of the expectation of gratitude for half a ramp, or one day’s effort or half measures in general.
I am tired of trying to fit into public spaces at all.

Words to Roll By:

  • Black Lives Matter
  • DISability inclusion always, all days,  every way
  • LGBTQIAA affirmative

    Wood or linoleum cut. Black letters on brown and white background. Text: If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. Aboriginal Activist Group

    – Lilla Watson, Aboriginal Activist

  • Gender justice
  • Free Palestine
  • Refugees have right of passage & right of return
  • Antisemitism is racism
  • Fat is a DISability issue
  • The only safe borders are open borders
  • U.S. out of North America (yeah, you read that right)
  • Indigenous rights now
  • Universal human rights
  • Universal humanity
  • Workers’ Rights
  • A woman’s place is in the world
  • Trans sisters are women
  • LOS MARINES NO PASARAN!
  • DIALOGUE MATTERS
  • HONOR THE TREATIES
  • No ban, no Wall!
  • IF IT ISN’T INTERSECTIONAL IT ISN’T CLASS STRUGGLE
  • CLASS STRUGGLE IS KNOWING WHICH SIDE OF THE FENCE YOU ARE ON, CLASS ANALYSIS IS KNOWING WHO IS THERE WITH YOU (anonymous poster c 1970)
  • Decolonize!
  • Socialism the means of production
  • Honor youth
  • Respect your elders!
  • Age in place!
  • No means no!
  • Radical consent!
  • Healing is a community issue.
  • Health care is a human right

    White text on dark blue background over two hands holding each other in a u-shape under text. Text: If you're truly intersectional in your activism and advocacy you're going to make a lot of enemies.

    -Emma Rosenthal

  • No blood for oil
  • No U.S. imperialism
  • Antifa
  • Prison abolition
  • No torture
  • Bullying is bigotry
  • Solidarity not charity
  • Exclusion serves the oppressor. Inclusion serves the struggle
  • Nothing without all of us: Justice not just us.
  • Housing, education, health care are basic human rights
  • Honor the earth
  • physical beauty isn’t a virtue
  • Down with white supremacy
  • Don’t cross a picket line
  • Fight the labor aristocracy
  • Nothing changes without a complaint
  • Never Again
  • Never Again Anyone
  • I remember the Armenian Genocide
  • Jihad means struggle.
  • This is my jihad…

If I left you out, let me know, because none of us is free unless all of us are free.

ANY QUESTIONS? DO YOU HATE ME NOW? UNFRIEND ME UNFOLLOW ME.
Some bridges need to be burned

Reiki for a Cause

Fundraiser for
The WE Empowerment Center

Reiki text in JapaneseFor a donation of $30 or more you can have a one hour reiki session with Emma Rosenthal

All donations over $30 are tax deductible.

Make your appointment today!

https://reikiwithemma.wordpress.com/

Reiki with Emma specializes in

  • FibromyalgiaDisability symbol for wheelchair access, cognitive emotional DISabilities, sign language and blindness
  • pain management
  • meditation
  • Focusing and ADHD
  • PTSD and ongoing traumaReiki sessions to be held at DragonflyHIll Urban Farm.
      DragonflyHill Urban Farm is a wheelchair accessible, DISability and LGBTQIAA affirmative, anti-racist, anti-sexist, decolonialist, social justice safe and sober space.

    Please let us know in advance of any specific DISability access requirements.

Cross Generational Trauma: a resource of links

Cross Generational Trauma: a resource of links

(Work in progress. I especially need links regarding restorative justice. Also, please post your favorite links on this issue. Newest links at the head of each section, by topic.)
Links on the ongoing exploration of cross generational trauma, something that has impacted my lineage and my life tremendously and must inform our activism and policy as we try to create systems of support and determine reparations. Some links posted for future reference. Please feel free to comment on the links and critique their premises. Some basic concepts to consider as we recognize and explore recent evidence that it’s not just socialization and psychological behavior that explains the cross generational transfer, but that the trauma actually is in our DNA.
  1. The wisdom of our ancestors– what has been lost, stolen, forgotten and abandoned– language, customs, wisdom, healing, is also in our DNA. We embody in our cellular memory all the hurt, but also all the love and knowledge of our ancestors.
  2. It stands to reason that it is not just victims who carry the DNA memory, but also the perpetrators. They two carry with them– entitlement, power, abusiveness, violence, guilt. Their inheritance isn’t just the monetary inheritance of centuries of theft and enslavement and exploitation, but the entitlement of and power gained from the abuses inflicted on our ancestors.
  3. That is, power and powerless carry with us, into each subsequent generation this relationship of owner and slave, colonizer and colonized, Abuser and abused, Victimizer and Victim.
  4. I reject the rejection of the term victim. The assertion by many that we choose to be victims, we perpetuate the systemic and cultural tendency to blame the victim, either for their victimization in the first place or in their healing and response afterward. By thinking we, individually can step outside of this history without collective work and collective healing and accountability is to side with oppression and perpetuate abuse. Blaming the victim is the religion of systemic and cross generational trauma. Another term for victim that can be used, is “target” and the term “survivor” is also acceptable, but with the understanding that there is nothing more moral about being a survivor than having not survived. It is NOT a choice. To privilege survivors over those who were massacred is to embrace essential white supremacist ideologies of fitness and worthiness.
  5. I reject the idea that soldiers are victims. Soldiers are perpetrators. If perpetrating violence is traumatic, then that’s easy– stop perpetrating violence.
  6. Trauma is insidious– it can make us lash out at the what triggers us, which may NOT be what caused the trauma or the flashback at all. Like the child who dives under their chair when a plane passes over head, miles from the location of the trauma of war, where passing overhead planes meant the dropping of bombs, those of us in communion, where spaces are actually safe, are not the source of the trauma, just because we are the location of the trigger. It is the work of our PTSD healing to learn to recognize the difference between danger, and the flashbacks that come up when we are safe.
  7. I also want to point out that POST Traumatic Stress Disorder, may not be accurate. Much trauma is not only in the past, the distance past and our DNA, but is ongoing. It is exceedingly difficult to recuperate from ongoing trauma because the wounds are not only fresh, but are constantly being reopened.
  8. Terms like “Children of the Holocaust” and “Post Traumatic Slave Disorder” are headlines here, for the much larger body of work on trauma among Jews and African Americans, respectfully. I use those terms because they also reflect the narrative within those communities, even where the issue of cross generational trauma may be greater than the scope that term may imply.
  9. Too often because of its scope and intensity, 6000 years of who Jews are and what we’ve done and what’s been done to us gets encapsulated in the 6 years of the Shoah, and now in Israel. As if aside from 6 years of being the victims of genocide and 60some years of being the perpetrators, is the sum of all we are. (That’s not the narrative, the narrative is that there is some redemption and deliverance for the years of suffering, via Zionism).
  10. The Shoah (Holocaust) came out of years of abuse and genocide– expulsions, crusades (where many Ashkenazi Jewish towns were massacred by the invading armies on their was to the Holy Land), pogroms, pogroms, pogroms, ghettoization, more expulsions, humiliations, incarcerations, segregation, discrimination, etc. Jewish trauma, specifically in Europe, reaches back hundreds of years. For Jews who were not in Europe, the Shoah impacted them in Northern Africa, and the trauma for non-European Jews was most experienced as colonization in the particular geographies of location. The Holocaust studies on cross generational trauma can inform the larger discussion on cross generational trauma, but it is not an isolated event. That degree of racism doesn’t just pop up like a camping tent and disappear just as quickly. The study of Holocaust survivors and their children is very important to this discussion on cross generational trauma, and it provides a very clear and distinct set of data, but there may also have been a predisposition to those genetic changes and the other changes that were passed on to children, due to the centuries of abuse and a much slower genocide, particularly for European Jews. (And by European Jews I am referring to Jews who were geographically in Europe, which would predominantly be Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, but would also include many North African Jews and Middle Eastern Jews, in Europe.)

Image of a tweet. Text: ash 𓂀 ‏ @mama_ashley_ Follow Follow @mama_ashley_ More I feel like lots of us were raised by parents who experienced trauma as children they never healed from and even though they love us and nurture us we’re left to deal with the every day ways that their trauma affects them and us without fully understanding it 6:21 PM - 17 Apr 2019 1,869 Retweets 8,028 Likes JadennnÜtal💘Grace With Luvӄʏɛ ☾TK Egan°₊·ˈ∗♡ ᵐᵃᵐᵃ ᵏ⁸ ·ˈ( ˃̶᷇ ‧̫ ˂̶᷆ )♡∗ˈ‧₊°˗ˏˋ 𝚂𝙴𝚁𝙴𝙽𝙰 ˎˊ˗J👑🔗 23 replies 1,869 retweets 8,028 likes Reply 23 Retweet 1.9K Liked 8.0K Direct message

Topics:

Children of the Holocaust 

(And other Jewish traumas, but this was the title of the book that started the current discussion on cross-generational trauma)

Post Traumatic Slave Disorder and Cross Generational Trauma in African Americans

“The Truth is that disability has been with us, in us since the beginning of time. Disability has held and kept us. It is in our marrow, in our blood, our sweat and tears. Disability does not make us less than, it makes us who we are. Ableism and anti-Blackness are the enemy. Disability is our kin. While the world has convinced itself and the Black community that disability is a bad word and a bad circumstance. It is neither. Disability and Blackness is pride. Disability and Blackness is innovation. Disability and Blackness is brilliance.

Native Americans: Cellular Memory

Childhood Trauma, particularly ongoing trauma and violence

General Research and Cross Cultural Considerations

Expanded Research: Beyond Jews, African Americans and Native Americans. (New material)

Cambodia:

Responses and Resources for healing:

Restorative Justice

(What it is and what it isn’t)

Meditation and Healing

Bearing Witness

 

letter to a friend who suggests i am sick because i want to be

your ideas aren’t new to me. i don’t talk about my illness nor am i sick in order to get attention or because this is what i actually want. i have enough talented and intelligent, that if i weren’t this sick, could get a whole lot of attention doing a whole lot of things. as it is, i could get more attention pretending my illness didn’t impact my life the way it does. i could get a whole lot of attention pretending to be positive and happy, when i’m really not. i think there is a greater truth to be told, and a cost to that truth, but i also appreciate that my ability to articulate my experience is of benefit to those who also endure what i endure, but don’t have that capacity. —they tell me this! hearing from people who are validated by my words is priceless and makes my efforts valuable, to me, and apparently to others.

i think we live in a very compassionless society that blames people for their misfortunes and loves stories about people who “made it”. it’s a lot easier than actually taking care of each other. it’s easier than compassion, and it’s a politic that supports a brutal ruling class– that the rich got where they were, because they THINK better, that healthy, beautiful people are somehow more spiritual, superior.

it’s a politic that i embraced at one point in my life, and it rejected me. it doesn’t work. at a certain point all it does is create huge areas of denial –denial of pain, denial of people from the margins.

i do make healthy choices– eat healthy foods, do yoga, meditate, take vitamins, etc. i’ve tried many expensive modalities for treatment. i’ve thought good thoughts, etc. i’m sick. it’s just the way it is. (actually there are things i can do to get better, but some of them are too expensive right now. i simply don’t have the money.) thing is, when i get sick like this, speaking the truth about my condition, and resting resting resting is what helps. i’ve had this condition for 15 years. i know what it takes to manage it.

friends who want to help can offer to do so. they can ask my partner what they can do to ease his responsibility. they can give me rides to drs offices, bring over food, help out around the house, bring groceries, help raise funds for the care i can’t afford, support my work, or even, just visit. just sit and bear witness to what i real, what the present challenge is. — the things people used to do for each other, what they still do in compassionate communities.

life isn’t changed because we think good thoughts. nice idea, but it just doesn’t work that way. i’ve know a lot of people who were really silenced and marginalized with this thinking– people who have survived cancer, but not because they thought better than the people who didn’t. i lost friends to cancer who tried to be positive, ate all the right foods, did all the right things. i think it added to their stress, when what they really needed was to say exactly how frustrated, scared, alone they felt.

we tell people they create their own condition because it excuses a whole lot of injustice and marginalization, and because it makes us comfortable. it’s not easy listening to people in pain. it’s not easy listening to people who complain. it’s a lot easier to silence that in a spirituality of complicity and obedience. it’s certainly a lot easier than actually fixing this mess the world is in, and creating a society that meets human needs.

i also am not a fan of madonna. (the friend who this is to, used her as an example of positive actualization and insight).  she’s a very mean and narcissistic person who has left a lot of bodies in her wake. the way she treats people who work for her, in her own words, is hardly positive, kind or healing. she’s no one i look up to. she has masterfully marketed her extreme talent into meaningless pop drivel and sexual objectification. as for her attachment to kaballah– it’s an ancient tradition, not a passing fad. it is very complex, not something that can be simplified for mass production. cultural appropriation is never attractive.

i haven’t come to these ideas casually, nor have your suggestions failed to make their mark on my life, nor have i rejected them capriciously.

i think greater healing though is had through telling the truth, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable. i know i am at odds with the culture around me, but nothing changes without complaints and non-conformity. i would rather find myself a small counterculture of resistance than find ways to please and appease an intolerant and compassionless society that blames people for their conditions, instead of insisting on ways to meet human necessity and asking people what they need.

i don’t want to have this conversation more than once, because i find it very hurtful and isolating. there is something more negative than the negativity sick or otherwise marginalized people are often accused of. it is the negativity of negating the full range of human experience and existence. it is the negativity of telling people what they have to say, who they are as they are, has no place in the larger society and is their own fault, if they only thought better or adopted some magic protocol.

there is a difference between curing an illness, and healing. healing is a much deeper process that requires deep truth telling, process and transformation. it is often quite wrenching, lonely and painful. (it is why so many cultures have initiation rituals that involve pain).

(at this point in time, there are no cures for my condition, though there are ways of managing it.)

i am not interested in maintaining the world the way it is, on either a small or large scale. i am interested in the deeper transformation, the deeper healing, and we won’t get there by insisting we need to think positively. we will only get there when we can clean up the muck that keeps us apart, that separates, that exploits and that poisons us. we certainly won’t get there by telling people in difficult circumstances, that their reality exists because they want to live that way.

(anyone who really knows me, knows i have a tenacity and a spirit that is hardly complacent or stagnant.)

my illness is caused by trauma and environmental toxins. without going into the details here (storytelling doesn’t mean some things aren’t private), the trauma i endured most people don’t survive. the trauma i endured is rooted deep in the power relationships of a brutal body politic, that i am determined to fight, on every level.

i tell the truth. i don’t just lie in this bed, sick, meditating, waiting, eating well, etc. i share my journey and i express my journey as a political one, among the larger issues of the day, imperialism, health care, education, oil spills, domestic violence, genocide, racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, etc. and i challenge those systems that allow these negative realities to go unchallenged under a cloud of enforced positivity and false blame.